Iraq: Chaos as al-Sadr quits.

Muqtada al-Sadr’s ‘final withdrawal’ from politics announcement spurred followers to violently force their way into Baghdad’s presidential palace.

Iraq’s powerful Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr announced he is quitting political life for good and closing his political offices in a move that could further inflame tensions in the country.

Gunfire rang out in the Green Zone and security forces launched tear gas cannisters on Monday to disperse al-Sadr supporters converging on the area. At least two people were killed and 19 wounded, police and medical workers said.

Al-Sadr’s statement, published on Twitter, came after months of protests by supporters backing his call for the dissolution of the Iraqi parliament, which has seen 10 months of deadlock – representing the longest Iraq has gone without a government – and for new elections to be held.

“I hereby announce my final withdrawal,” al-Sadr said.

He added “all the institutions” linked to his Sadrist movement will be closed, except the mausoleum of his father, assassinated in 1999, and other heritage facilities.

The announcement was quickly met with escalation from al-Sadr’s supporters, who stormed the presidential palace, a ceremonial building inside Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone of government buildings.

Hundreds pulled down the cement barriers outside the palace with ropes and breached its gates. Many rushed into its lavish salons and marbled halls of the building, a key meeting place for Iraqi heads of state and foreign dignitaries.

Supporters, who have gathered at a sit-in since the end of July near the Iraqi parliament, also approached a counter-protest held by al-Sadr’s Shia rivals. The two sides hurled rocks at each other

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