The Iraqi government crackdown on the country’s demonstrations was in its second day. It had a noticeable affect as there were fewer protests, and public accusations against the activists grew in the media.
July 16 there were protests across 6 of Iraq’s 18 provinces, that was down to 4 governorates on July 17. For a second day people came out in Baghdad’s Shula neighborhood, and were broken up by tear gas and live bullets fired by the police. Oil fields have been a main target in Basra as people have been demanding jobs from the international energy companies. That brought people out to the Zubayr field that the security forces dispersed. A sit in continued for its eighth day in front of the Lukoil offices, which runs West Qurna 2. People tried to burn a municipal building in Souk al-Shuyuk in south Dhi Qar, and health workers demanded an increase in pay. There was also a march in Najaf for services that was limited by police roadblocks. Finally, Diyala police said that they had postponed demonstrations because of security concerns. Protests started on July 5 at the Basra provincial council, and then suddenly grew after two people were killed outside the West Qurna field by police. At its peak, there were gatherings across nine provinces. That has since declined due to a government campaign to shut them down.
The Abadi government has made a series of promises to make it appear as if it is meeting the demands of the demonstrators, while launching an arrest campaign and attempting to discredit them. The cabinet announced that it would allot more fees to Basra province and work on supplying more water. There were also reports that the prime minister will dismiss some of his cabinet ministers, and local officials in the south. On the other hand, the police have arrested activists and journalists. The Iraqi Observatory for Press Freedom for instance, said that more than 50 from the media had been arrested across the south and attacked by the security forces. Baghdad also launched a media campaign to attack the protesters. The Basra Operations Command and provincial council, the Interior Ministry and a member of PM Abadi’s Dawa Party claimed the demonstrations were full of infiltrators, Baathists, criminals, outsiders, and terrorists. This was started by the premier himself who from the start stated that people had the right to organize and go out in to the streets, but also warned of people manipulating the events. This is all meant to put the protests in a bad light and justify the government’s crackdown. These are all having their intended affect. Baghdad appears like it is doing something when none of its proposed changes will fix the problems people are complaining about such as jobs, electricity, etc. The arrests have locked up organizers and the journalists reporting on the events, and the authorities can claim they are going after the bad elements that have led the demonstrations astray.
Al Forat, “A member of the Fatah reveals to the Euphrates command a serious confession of a demonstrator in Najaf,” 7/17/18
- “URGENT Basra operations: arrest of demonstrators from the western provinces,” 7/17/18
- “URGENT Sources: Abadi will give mandatory leave for ministers of transportation, electricity and health,” 7/17/18
Al Ghad Press, “Arrest of 4 demonstrators in Dhi Qar and the security services announced attempt to burn Shuyukh market,” 7/17/18
- “Gas and flares were fired to disperse demonstrators in the Shula area of Baghdad,” 7/17/18
Al Hurra, “Renewed demonstrations in Najaf,” 7/17/18
Iraq News Network, “The Baath Win!” 7/17/18
Al Maalomah, “Basra Council: the arrest of 46 terrorists, including wanted men by the judiciary during the demonstrations,” 7/17/18
Al Masalah, “Diyala: The postponement of five peaceful demonstrations in the province due to security concerns,” 7/17/18
Al Mirbad, “Sit-in in front of Lukoil north Basra,” 7/17/18
Mohammed, Aref, “Iraqi police disperse protesters outside Zubair oilfield as unrest grows,” Reuters, 7/16/18
Mostafa, Mohamed, “Iraqi govt adopts services, employment-related decisions to appease protesters,” Iraqi News, 7/17/18
NINA, “Ministry of the Interior: /274/ members of the security forces wounded in the acts of violence by insurgents in the demonstrations,” 7/17/18
Sotaliraq, “Iraqi authorities issue more than 50 arrest warrants against journalists covering the demonstrations,” 7/17/18
Al Sumaria, “Day workers in health directorate of Dhi Qar are demonstrating to demand increase and disbursement of their salaries,” 7/17/18