Monday, February 14, 2011

Protests Spread To Twelve Of Iraq’s Eighteen Provinces

Since January 30, 2011 small protests have broken out across Iraq. A few have drawn thousands, but most are in the hundreds. There have now been demonstrations reported in 12 of the country’s 18 provinces. Those include at least twelve in Baghdad, five in Qadisiyah, three in Najaf, two in Basra, Anbar, Ninewa, and Babil each, and one apiece in Karbala, Wasit, Maysan, and Muthanna. Demonstrators have spread from regular citizens to government workers, including those from the Ministries of Industry and Oil, the Facilities Protection Service,  and the North Oil Company. More are likely and planned in the coming days putting more pressure on local and national officials to actually govern the country.

As the number of protestors have increased and spread from city to city, so have their demands. Originally, people were asking for better services such as electricity, jobs, and an end to corruption, but now the rule of law, an end to abuses in prisons, amnesty for prisoners who have been tortured, aid for farmers, and the resignation of local officials have all been added. Support for the marchers has also allegedly spread all the way to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani who refused to meet with speaker of parliament Osama Nujafi over the matter. 

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has tried some half-hearted attempts to quell the growing anger. He’s talked about cutting his and other politicians’ salaries, placing a two year limit on the premiership, and giving each family $12 in cash to make up for cuts in food rations. None have worked, since they do not address the actual issues the marches have brought up. It’s important that the premier has acknowledged the growing anger in the streets, but at the same time, his remarks show that he has not taken them seriously yet. When he does something substantial, that’s when the demonstrations have actually accomplished something.

Babil (Alsumaria)
Baghdad (Associated Press)
Baghdad (Associated Press)
Add caption
Baghdad (Associated Press)
Lawyers in Baghdad (Agence France Presse)
Baghdad Lawyers (Associated Press)
Lawyers in Karbala (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
North Oil Company workers in Kirkuk (Iraq Oil Report)
Farmers in Mishkhat, Najaf (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Mosul, Ninewa (Agence France Presse)
Mosul, Ninewa (MEMRI Blog)
Ramadi, Anbar

Agence France Presse, “Hundreds of lawyers march in Iraq to protest against corruption,” 2/11/11
- “Oil workers in Iraq’s Kirkuk threaten strike,” 2/12/11

Alsumaria, “Iraq Babel residents stage protests,” 2/10/11
- “Iraq government acts to contain Diwaniya anger,” 2/8/11
- “Iraqis anger spelled out in street protests,” 2/11/11

Aswat al-Iraq, “Security forces prevent protestors from entering Green Zone,” 2/11/11

DPA, “Iraqi protestors demand more jobs, better living standards,” 2/9/11

Juhl, Bushra, “Lawyers lead anti-government protest in Baghdad,” Associated Press, 2/10/11

McEvers, Kelly, “Iraqi Protestors Call For Better Jobs, Benefits,” NPR, 2/11/11

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “Protestors In Iraqi Cities Demand Better Social Services, Corruption Probes,” 2/11/11

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Wasat Online, “’Fever of Liberation’ Moves To Baghdad With Intensified Demonstrations,” MEMRI Blog, 2/11/11


LB said...


Do you really think that people in Najaf and Karbala can demonstrate against the will of the clerics?

Search for Muqtada Al-Sadr's role.

amagi said...

This is the kind of evidence of civil society that I've been wanting to see all along.

I understand that the Middle East is where optimism goes to die, but I think this might really be the beginning of an honest-to-God capital-r Reformation throughout the Arab world.

They said it couldn't be done. They also said if man were meant to fly, he would have been born with wings...

Now let's not jinx it.

Joel Wing said...


I would not be surprised if the Sadrists were trying to organize some of these protests. There was one in Sadr City for example. That being said, these appear to be pretty spontaneous and have happened in every region so I wouldn't say that political parties are behind them, but they could definitely be taken advantage of.


I think we really need to see what happens with these protests to see if they will have any lasting affect. Last year Maliki ended up banning the electricity demonstrations. This time he's responding, but not with anything that will stop them. Many of them have been relatively small so he can do that. They need to reach a critical mass and be sustained to really change things I believe especially in Iraq where politicians like to ignore the public and each other usually when it comes to actually doing anything of substance.

Joel Wing said...

Fro Alsumaria TV today:

Najaf Residents reluctant about Sadr protests
Tuesday, February 15, 2011 10:44 GMT
Al Sadr Front leader Iraqi Cleric Sayyed Moqtada Al Sadr called Iraqis to take to the streets and protest against lack of services in Iraq.

Al Sadr Front spokesman Salah Al Ubaidi stressed that protests called for by Sayyed Moqtada Al Sadr are peaceful demonstrations to voice Iraqis’ stand against US Forces in Iraq.

The residents of Najaf City on the other hand showed controversy over Al Sadr’s call for protests. Some underline the importance of protesting against bad services in their country without taking side with any political party, while others argue that these demonstrations are not favorable at the present time