Shadow of strife looms over Iraq’s political crisis

Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Friday he would step down after two months of street protests across the country’s south and centre.

The announcement came hours after Iraq’s top Shia religious leader, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, released a statement calling for a change in leadership in Iraq. On Thursday, powerful Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr, who leads the largest bloc in parliament, Sairoon, had also demanded that the government resign and said that if it did not do so, it would be “the beginning of the end of Iraq”.

Over the past week, an escalation of violence took the lives of more than 60 people, with many victims shot dead. Since the start of the protests in early October, some 400 people have died. Demonstrators have demanded the resignation of the government and a complete overhaul of the political system. They have also called for an end to foreign interference in Iraqi political affairs, with their anger directed primarily at Iran.

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