Thursday, July 19, 2018

Demonstrations Dwindling Amidst Govt Crackdown In Iraq


On the thirteenth day of activism in Iraq there were protests in just 3 provinces. Babil, the Shula neighborhood of Baghdad, and Basra all had demonstrations. There were also ongoing talks with the authorities. In Basra, activists gave the government three days to meet their demands. A committee in Basra’s Zubayr met with the local officials. There was talk about organizing new protests in Muthanna, and a large national gathering on Friday. At its height, people came out into the streets in 9 provinces. Since then there have been fewer and fewer because of Baghdad’s on going crackdown.

The government continued with its campaign to lock up organizers. Activists have been arrested in Baghdad and Qadisiya, the Iraqi forces were doing raids in Dhi Qar looking for more, and there were warrants for people in Najaf. This comes as the Abadi government has orchestrated a media campaign to discredit the demonstrations. This includes charges that infiltrators, Baathists, and terrorists are manipulating the marches.

The government has turned to repression because it has no way to solves the problems that have brought Iraqis out for years now every summer. For instance, its power development programs have never been able to keep up with the expanding demand for electricity due to increasing wealth amongst the population that allows it to buy more appliances. Growing salinity has been an issue for years in the south, which has never adequately been dealt with. Baghdad had around a year to prepare for a new Turkish dam that was going to cut the water supply, but made no preparations. Protesters have been demanding jobs from the oil companies but it is a capital intensive industry with few opportunities overall to offer. The government has turned to public sector jobs as alternative, but there are already too many of those many of which consist of meaningless tasks. Finally, Prime Minister Haidar Abadi is running a caretaker government that may be out of office soon. As one protester said, Abadi’s promises are meaningless because he has no mandate. These are all reasons why the PM has talked about meeting the demands of the demonstrations, while focusing upon suppressing them.

SOURCES

Al Aalem, “Source: The disappearance of a demonstrator in Baghdad and the imposition of two pledges … 22 convictions in Diwaniya and arrests of activists in Nasiriya,” 7/18/18

AIN, “65 accused arrested, including demonstrators in Diwaniya,” 7/18/18

Bas News, “Protesters Give Iraq Three Days Ultimatum to Meet Their Demands,” 7/18/18

Buratha News, “Coordinating committee for Zubayr demonstrations meeting with local government to discuss demands,” 7/18/18

Al Ghad Press, “A new demonstration opens in Shula, Baghdad demanding services and jobs,” 7/18/18

Iraq News Network, “Basra tribes to Muqtada al-Sadr: Abadi did not respond to the demands of the demonstrators,” 7/18/18

Al Mada, “A unified demonstration in all governorates tomorrow,” 7/18/18

Al Mirbad, “Agreement to organize a new demonstration in Muthanna,” 7/18/18

Rudaw, “Abadi chairs first meeting of crisis cell responding to protest demands,” 7/18/18


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