While we focus on who’s going to which bathroom at Target, we forget great swaths of the world are in turmoil. It seems easy to ignore since it’s so far away, but too often their problems become ours.
This morning we learned ISIS blew up a three-ton truck bomb in a crowded market killing at least 21 and wounding at least 42 other civilians. ISIS regularly carries out attacks against Iraq’s security forces and civilian Shiite majority.
Separately, the capital city of Baghdad is in complete uproar as hundreds of protesters climbed over the blast walls surrounding Baghdad’s highly-fortified Green Zone for the first time on Saturday and stormed into parliament, carrying Iraqi flags and chanting against the government, according to AP.
The breach marked a major escalation in the country’s political crisis following months of anti-government protests, sit-ins and demonstrations by supporters of influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The Green Zone is home to most ministries and foreign embassies and has long been the focus of al-Sadr’s criticism of the government.
Earlier Saturday, al-Sadr accused Iraqi politicians of blocking political reforms aimed at combating corruption and waste. While al-Sadr didn’t call for an escalation to the protests, shortly after his remarks, his supporters began scaling the compound’s walls. A group of young men then pulled down a section of concrete blast walls to cheers from the crowd of thousands gathered in the streets outside.
As of 11:50 am EDT, IB Times reported a state of emergency has been declared in Baghdad. Live footage from the scene reportedly showed protesters waving flags and breaking chairs, and some lawmakers were beaten with flags as they fled the premises. Others remained trapped and fearful inside the building. All roads into the Iraqi capital have been closed.
The 42-year-old al-Sadr, born to a well-known family of clerics, rose to prominence as he founded the Mahdi Army, which battled U.S. troops following the invasion in 2003 that ousted then-President Saddam Hussein. He was a controversial and divisive figure as Iraq spiraled into a sectarian conflict; many accused him of stoking sectarian tensions.
He has since transformed himself into a statesman, and has emerged as a central figure in Iraqi politics.
The country’s government has been slow to deliver reforms promised last year, as Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has been focused on the battle against ISIS, which now controls large portions of Iraq, as well as neighboring Syria.
Abadi has voiced concern that the street protests, although nonviolent, could spiral out of control and hinder the fight against ISIS.
And you think WE have problems. Having said that, don’t think for a second the street protests here against Donald Trump are anywhere near over.