The protest started on June 20, in Basra’s the demonstrators gathered outside the city’s new administrative headquarters to vent their anger about poor basic services and unemployment. The old headquarters were burnt down during 2018’s months-long protest. Protesters said the government take about 90 per cent of the country’s oil wealth but most of its residents have not benefited from it. Also the Iraq people problems, from a lack of job opportunities to unreliable and poor public utilities.
Moreover, the protesters returned back on the first of October in Baghdad and in several provinces over high unemployment, poor basic services, and state corruption.
The government imposed a curfew in Baghdad and several southern cities, but protests continued. The authorities had also imposed an internet blackout and shut down 75% of the country’s internet access as the same strategic plan in the Middle East.
On the other side the government put extra security troops were deployed at Baghdad International Airport, the security forces had fired tear gas, water cannon, and live ammunition to disperse the crowds.
The Iraqi parliament’s human rights commission said that at least 99 people have died and nearly 4,000 have been injured. Government officials claim that 104 people have been killed and 6,107 wounded, with 1,200 security personnel among the injured.
All of that by young unemployed men who are demanding jobs and better services. Women appeared among the crowd in Baghdad for the first time, some of whom handed out water to protesters. They wanting a better future for children they didn’t want the corruption from the government again.
We can called it the biggest protest movement in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein has pressed its demand for the removal of the elected government, staring down an embattled political elite and the widespread influence of Iran.
Why these protests now?
The Iraqi people came a day after supporters of Iraq’s embattled leader, Adil Abdul Mahdi, believed they had won the backing of one of two powerful figures that threatened his premiership, a development that appeared to stabilize his position.
On the other side the dissenters who thronged central Baghdad suggested popular opinion, rather than backroom machinations, may determine the fate of the government. Moreover, the size and momentum of protests has left officials wanting for responses and wrong-footed Tehran, which has not faced a threat to its authority of this scale in Iraq. Amnesty International this week accused Iraqi security chiefs of using military grade teargas up to 10 times more powerful than that typically used for crowd control to try to quell the unrest.
All of that due to the corruption and the impunity of a ruling class that has siphoned off huge cuts from state revenues. Other demonstrators, meanwhile, continue to rail at Iran, which has a whip hand in the affairs of Iraq and significant influence over its legislators.
We can guess whether these demonstrations are meant to destroy Iran because she is the only remaining country that America wants to eliminate.
Since the US-led invasion, political sectarianism has been entrenched by a system of governance that has demarcated power between majority Shias, Sunnis and Kurds in the country. On the other hand Shia Iran has developed close links to many Iraqi MPs and broad networks within the central institutions. In addition, military groups loyal to Iran have taken prominent stakes in the affairs of state.
In the end, the protests resulted by crackdown that has killed around 250 people since the rallies began, and wounded many hundreds more.
*Miral AlAshry, Associate Professor at Future University (FUE), Political Mass Media Department