BAGHDAD — Iraqi authorities reopened Baghdad’s heavily fortified green zone Sunday to ease traffic congestion in the capital after it closed and reopened repeatedly in recent years.
Since early morning, the Iraqi authorities have removed the checkpoints and opened the main roads and tunnels crossing the territory on the western bank of the Tigris. Officials said cars would be allowed through the area, but trucks would be banned.
The green zone, which houses Iraqi government buildings and the huge US embassy, will be open daily for 2 hours starting at 5 am, Maj. Gen. Jassim Yahya told The Associated Press. During this period, “the entire green zone will be open to the public,” he said.
This area of 10 square kilometers with palm trees and monuments was closed to the public after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 to overthrow President Saddam Hussein. It was first opened in 2019, then closed and reopened several times.
“The green zone was opened in time to facilitate access to work,” Brigadier General Mohamed Mahmoud said. He added that the opening of the area was entrusted to Prime Minister Mohammed Chia al-Sudani.
Previously, only Iraqis with special passes could enter the area.
The fortified area, surrounded by concrete walls, has become a detested symbol of inequality in the country, fueling the Iraqis’ sense that their government is out of touch with reality.
“We have been waiting for a long time for the green zone to become fully accessible,” said Osama Hassan, a Baghdad resident who works at Baghdad University. It will make our life easier.”