08 January 2023

Baghdad’s Green Zone reopens to public in bid to ease traffic jams

08 January 2023

Iraqi authorities have reopened Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone in an attempt to ease traffic jams in the capital.

Starting in the early hours of Sunday, officials removed checkpoints and opened major roads and tunnels that cut through the zone on the west bank of the Tigris River.

Cars will be allowed to pass through the area but trucks will be banned, officials said.

The Green Zone, which houses Iraqi government buildings and the sprawling US Embassy, will be open every day for 14 hours starting at 5am, Major General Jassim Yahya said.

The 4sq mile zone with its palm trees and monuments has been mostly off limits to the public since the 2003 invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein.

It was opened for the first time in 2019, but has since then closed and reopened again several times.

Traffic policeman Muhammad Mahmoud said the aim is to help people get to work on time, and it was ordered by Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani.

In the past, only Iraqis with special security badges could enter the area.

The walled off area surrounded by cement blast walls has become a hated symbol of the country’s inequality, fuelling the perception among Iraqis that their government is out of touch.

“We have been waiting for a long time for the Green Zone to fully become open,” said Baghdad resident Usama Hassan, who works at Baghdad University. “This will make our life easier.”

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