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Green Zone Breach Exposes Iraq's Growing Political Paralysis

  • Unrest threatens to undermine fight against Islamic State
  • Country's oil output has so far been spared from war, chaos
Iraqi protesters gather in the parade grounds outside the parliament in Baghdad's heavily fortified 'Green Zone' on May 1, 2016, a day after supporters of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr broke into the area after lawmakers again failed to approve new ministers. Protesters were withdrawing from Baghdad's Green Zone after breaking into the fortified area and storming Iraq's parliament in an unprecedented security breach the day before. The move, which lessens the pressure on politicians in Baghdad, came as rare bombings in the south killed 33 people and wounded dozens. / AFP / HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI (Photo credit should read HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP/Getty Images)
Photographer: Haidar Mohammed Ali/AFP via Getty Images

The hundreds of protesters who pulled down blast walls and forced their way into Baghdad’s Green Zone on Saturday laid bare growing political chaos that increasingly poses a threat to the country’s security and the economy. Here is what you need to know about the first major breach of the country’s fortified administrative heart.

Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s supporters led the breach, demanding more efforts to fight corruption and to protest what they regard as sectarianism in the selection of government ministers. The unrest heaps more pressure on Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi to break a political stalemate that’s preventing him from appointing a government of technocrats to steer the fight against Islamic State and revive the economy. Abadi’s push has been blocked by parties seeking to preserve the country’s traditional system of patronage.