Supporters of Losing PMF Factions Surround Baghdad’s Green Zone

Pro-Iran militia supporters protest against the elections results in Baghdad. (AFP file photo)
Pro-Iran militia supporters protest against the elections results in Baghdad. (AFP file photo)
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Supporters of Losing PMF Factions Surround Baghdad’s Green Zone

Pro-Iran militia supporters protest against the elections results in Baghdad. (AFP file photo)
Pro-Iran militia supporters protest against the elections results in Baghdad. (AFP file photo)

Supporters of the so-called Coordination Framework, which brings together the majority of Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) factions that lost the recent Iraqi parliamentary elections, staged a protest around Baghdad’s Green Zone on Sunday.

The Green Zone is home to the majority of government buildings and foreign embassies and missions.

The protest was held in an apparent attempt to exert more pressure on the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) to force it to amend what they perceive are errors in the electoral process.

The losing factions had rejected the results of the elections, dismissing them as a sham. Their supporters have been holding rallies in protest of their outcomes in spite of international assertions that the polls were fair and lacked any major violations.

The protests were held as the deadline given by the so-called “organizational committee” of the rallies expires on Tuesday. The committee had given the IHEC three days to “amend the electoral process,” calling for a manual recount of the votes.

Coordination Framework protesters had set up tents near the Green Zone on Saturday for what appears to be an open-ended sit-in in the area.

They had kicked off their protests last week. Supporters of the pro-Iran Fatah alliance are among the demonstrators. The alliance was among the biggest losers in the elections, dropping some 30 seats from 48.

Supporters of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law Coalition, which had emerged as a surprise winner with 34 seats, had also joined the protests.

Informed sources have said that the majority of the protesters are loyal to the PMF and armed factions and that they had taken to the streets at the orders of the higher commanders of the PMF.

Influential cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who was the victor in the polls, and other winners are wary and have been critical of the protests.

“The losing forces are trying to extort the IHEC to force it to change the results,” said some of the critics.

Maliki at one point had called on the protesters to voice their objections in a civil and organized manner so that the rallies cannot be exploited by rioters.

It remains to be seen what move the protesters, and their backers, will make next.

Hashem al-Kandi, who is close to the armed factions and the so-called “resistance axis”, has said that all options are open after Tuesday’s deadline ends.

Among the options are the storming of the Green Zone and reaching the IHEC and prime minister’s office “to force the government to respect the choices of the people.”

Local observers have ruled out the possibility that the escalation of the losing forces would reach the point of no return given the dangerous repercussions that may have on Iraq, including possible clashes between rival Shiite groups.

They believe that the escalation is aimed at reaping whatever additional parliamentary seats they can get their hands on or at least securing the share of pro-Iran factions in the next government.

Member of the Coordination Framework and head of the Hikma alliance Ammar al-Hakim urged on Saturday the IHEC to seriously consider electoral appeals and complaints “to reflect a shining image of democracy in Iraq.”

He stressed the need for all sides to follow legal and peaceful means to demand their rights.

The IHEC had rejected 95 percent of appeals that have been submitted, citing insufficient evidence and criteria.

On Sunday, it said it will manually recount votes from 234 voting stations based on 18 valid appeals that were submitted in the Salaheddine, Basra and Baghdad provinces.

The recount will be held in the presence of the relevant officials and representatives of competing candidates.



Israel Strikes Gaza, Yemen, Lebanon Foes after Attacks

Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
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Israel Strikes Gaza, Yemen, Lebanon Foes after Attacks

Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)

The Middle East was reeling Sunday from deadly violence with Israel bombing Gaza, Lebanon and Yemen in quick succession in response to attacks from Iran-backed militant groups.
Despite Washington's top diplomat asserting a deal is near the "goal line" to end more than nine months of devastating war between Israel and Gaza rulers Hamas, the Israeli military said it intercepted a missile fired from Yemen, as it pressed on with its offensive in the besieged Palestinian territory, Agence France Presse reported.
Dozens have been killed since Saturday across the Gaza Strip, the civil defense agency said, including in strikes on homes in the central Nuseirat and Bureij areas and displaced people near southern Khan Yunis.
Residents said a major operation was underway in the district of Rafah in the south, reporting heavy artillery and clashes.
The deadly strikes in Gaza came hours after Hezbollah and its ally Hamas said they fired at Israeli positions from south Lebanon, while Yemen's Houthi group vowed to respond to Israeli warplanes hitting a key port.
The fire left raging by the strikes on Hodeida port "is seen across the Middle East and the significance is clear," Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said.
Detailing the first strikes claimed by Israel in Yemen, Gallant warned of further operations if the Houthis "dare to attack us" after a Houthi drone strike killed one in Tel Aviv on Friday.
In Hodeida three people were killed and 87 wounded, health officials said in a statement carried by Houthi media.
Netanyahu travels to Washington
The trio of militant groups has vowed to keep up attacks on Israel until a truce ends the violence in Gaza, which lies in ruins, with most residents forced to flee their homes.
The Gaza war was triggered by Hamas's October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom are still in Gaza, including 42 the Israeli military says are dead.
Israel's military retaliation to wipe out Hamas has killed at least 38,919 people, also mostly civilians, according to data from the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
The war has also unleashed hunger and health crises in Gaza, with Israel and the United Nations trading blame for vital aid supplies failing to reach those in need.
After the detection of poliovirus in Gaza sewage, though no individual cases, the World Health Organization said there were "monumental" constraints to mounting a timely response.
WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said Friday the agency believes many more diseases are "spreading out of control" inside Gaza.
The premier is due to address US lawmakers Wednesday in Washington, where he will be under pressure to reach a ceasefire with Hamas.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday a truce was within reach.
"I believe we're... driving toward the goal line in getting an agreement that would produce a ceasefire, get the hostages home, and put us on a better track to trying to build lasting peace and stability," he said.