Tighter security measures may soon come to Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, as agreed upon by U.S. President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister al-Abadi. The news, issued by the White House, comes a day after a protest in the Green Zone resulted in at least four deaths and more than 100 injuries.
Iraqi security forces had used bullets and tear gas against anti-corruption protesters in an area near government buildings, Parliament and embassies. The protest was the second attack around the Green Zone in less than a month. These events have included people who take issue with the government’s failure to approve anti-corruption reforms, and those who seek more security in the fight against Islamic State group militants. This group is aligned with Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Obama spoke with al-Abadi on the phone and discussed the need to continue the fight against the Islamic State group (aka ISIS or ISIL), Reuters reported. The president also commended the prime minister for working to finalize an agreement with the International Monetary Fund.
On Friday, the Iraqi government had imposed a curfew on Baghdad in a bid to restore order. "The law must take its course with every transgressor,” al-Abadi said in a late-night speech Friday.
Earlier in the month, hundreds of protesters rioted in the Green Zone and broke into Parliament, ransacking rooms. "I stand waiting for the major popular uprising and the major popular revolution to stop corruptors,” al-Sadr said prior to that riot, according to CNN.
U.S. officials have been working to assist more in the fight against ISIS. Vice President Joe Biden visited the area in April to call for more stability. The commanding general of U.S. Central Command, U.S. Army Gen. Joseph Votel, recently traveled to Syria for a secret daylong visit to meet with US. special operations forces that are training local forces in the fight against ISIS.