Supporters of Iraqi leader Seyed Moqtada al-Sadr set up tents today (Sunday) and barricaded themselves in the Iraqi parliament, in a move that could prolong the political deadlock or unleash a new wave of violence on the country. Thousands of followers of the Shiite Muslim religious leader stormed Baghdad's fortified Green Zone on Saturday and took over the empty parliament building for the second time in a week, as pro-Iranian Shiite rivals try to form a government. "We are staying until our requests are met. We have many demands," a member of al-Seder's political team told Reuters.

The Sederist movement of A-Seder demands the dissolution of the parliament and the holding of new elections, as well as the replacement of the federal judges, according to a source familiar with the matter. The movement became the largest in the parliamentary elections in October and won about a quarter of the 329 seats. The parties that support Iran recorded a stinging loss, with the exception of former Prime Minister Nour al-Maliki, al-Sadr's opponent.

But al-Sadr also failed to form a government without the parties that support Iran due to opposition from the parliament. He kicked his lawmakers out of parliament in protest and has since used crowds, mostly poor Shiites, to ignite protests in the streets.

This is the deepest political crisis in Iraq in years. In 2017, Iraqi forces with the US-led coalition and Iranian military support defeated the Sunni Islamic group ISIS, which had taken over a third of the country. Two years later, the Iraqis, who suffered from a lack of jobs and services, took to the streets demanding an end to corruption, the holding of new elections and the ousting of the powerful Shiite parties that had run the country since 2003.

Sadr continues to take advantage of the popular opposition to his Iranian-backed opponents on the grounds that they are corrupt and serve Tehran's interests. 

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