Protests in Iraq: Why Did It Begin?
The protests began in Iraq on Tuesday killed 60 people. With the intensification of clashes between demonstrators and police, the number of those killed within the last 24 hours has reportedly doubled.The Iraqi army said ‘unidentified snipers’ killed four people in the capital Baghdad.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi, in a statement, demonstrators’ legitimate demands are heard and asked for the call for sobriety. However, demonstrations in the streets of Iraq continued on Friday despite Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi’s call. Hundreds took to the streets of anti-government.
Health and safety sources announced that at least 10 people were killed on Friday, with the latest data increasing the total number of deaths to 60, of which six were members of the Iraqi security forces. More than 100 people were injured.
The country has not witnessed such demonstrations since the new government took office last year. Security forces intervened violently in the demonstrations. Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi, “I understand people’s frustration, but there is no magic solution to the problems of Iraq,” he said.
Protesters, most of whom are unemployed university graduates, are known not to act under the leadership of a leader, formation or political party.
Harsh measures since Tuesday or officials’ statements to calm the incidents have also failed.
We have compiled in 2 questions why the protests in Iraq started, the underlying reasons
What’s Behind the Protests?
The Iraqi Constitution was written in 2005, two years after the US-led allies invaded the country. The first elections were held in the same year.
However, the political structure in Iraq has not stabilized since then. This directly affected the social and economic situation and daily life in the country. The vulnerability in most of Iraq brought along bomb attacks and deaths of civilians. For this reason, the protesters went to the street from time to time.
Although 16 years have passed since the occupation, the US influence in the country continued to a great extent, and Iran, which tried to establish dominance in the country through Shiite militias and politicians, resulted in the lack of political stability. This has triggered “national motivation” demonstrations among Iraqis over the last few years.
The majority of the population is Shiite, and the Prime Minister is chosen among Shiite politicians. Most of these economic-based protests and reactions, although seen as privileged by other groups, began in Shiite-densely populated areas, especially in the south of the country.
After the elections held in May last year in Iraq, the government could not be formed for months; demonstrations in summer, protesting “lack of clean water, power cuts, unemployment and corruption”, grew again in the southern city of Basra. Both government buildings were set on fire.
Why Did the Protests Start This Week?
The latest protests began Tuesday in the capital Baghdad and in the southern cities of Basra, Nasiriyah, Amara, Samava and Hilla. Thousands of people gathered in Basra and smaller peaceful demonstrations were held in other cities.
There have also been small-scale demonstrations in Kirkuk, Tikrit and Diyala, the controversial regions where Kurdish populations also live.
“The protests continue unless the Prime Minister and the corrupt party system are overthrown,” the banners carried by the demonstrators.
Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi, who took office in October last year, dismissed General Abdul-Wahap al-Saadi, the “Commander of Elite Counter Terrorism Forces”, last week. There was no official explanation for the decision.
The allegations that al-Saadi was dismissed from the dissatisfaction of Iranian politicians sparked reaction across the country at the weekend, and small-scale protests were held in Baghdad on Sunday.
One of the protesters told reporters, “We think there are outside forces behind the decision to dismiss”, referring to Iran.
The demonstrations started peacefully on the first day, changed sharply on Wednesday after the harsh intervention of the security forces and the lack of convincing statement of Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi’s . The demonstrators tried to set fire to government buildings in some southern cities.
The slogans and banners on the first day were opposed to the deterioration of the health and education system, unemployment, the illegal possession of illegal weapons in cities, assassinations, the influence of Iran on Iraq and the distribution of power in a sectarian way.
On Wednesday, the slogan “People want to overthrow the regime” was thrown. This slogan was widespread in many Arab countries during the protests that began in 2011.