Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Iraqi Security Forces Kill At Least 4 Protesters Creating Crisis Govt Was Hoping To Avoid

Protesters clash with security forces in Baghdad (AP)


Last year’s annual summer protests in southern Iraq exploded into riots in Basra after the security forces used violence to break up demonstrations and several people were killed. The anger in that province was at a boiling point due to Turkey opening a new dam that reduced the amount of water flowing into the Shatt al-Arab causing widespread water poisoning and Iran cutting off part of its electricity supply over unpaid bills by Baghdad. Prime Minister Adil Mahdi’s number one priority was to avoid a repeat of those disturbance fearing that it might cost him his position. He took a two pronged approach. First, the government worked on short term electricity projects to boost output for the summer. Second, it had the security forces (ISF) immediately break up any protests that started. There was also an intimidation campaign as well against activists. That resulted in very few people hitting the streets until October 1 when the government’s resort to force again incited crowds.

Protests in Dhi Qar where clashes led to one protester being killed by security forces (Al Mirbad)


Activists told Al Mada they were hoping to organize the largest protests of the year for October 1. That day people came out in ten provinces: Baghdad, Basra, Maysan, Qadisiya, Dhi Qar, Wasit, Muthanna, Babil, Karbala, and Najaf. Baghdad, Nasiriya and Amara saw the worst violence. In the capital, protesters marched on Tahrir Square, and when they tried to cross a bridge into the Green Zone where the government is located police hit them with stun grenades, tear gas, rubber bullets, and then live ammunition. Three people were killed, although one report had four dead. That kept people out on the streets until late into the night. In Nasiriyah, Dhi Qar protesters went to the provincial council building where the ISF tried to break them up with tear gas and gun fire. One person was killed, and buildings were set on fire in response. There were running clashes with the security forces into the night there as well. In Amarah, Maysan, things started off peacefully, but that quickly turned as the ISF fired into another crowd. Finally, there were stories of confrontations in Diwaniya as well, but with few details. Just like last year, the ISF’s over reaction to demonstrations incensed the people. In Baghdad, the protests went from calling for services and jobs to demands that PM Mahdi step down. They’ve now taken on a life of their own, and the government might have created the crisis it was hoping to avoid.

SOURCES

Baghdad Post, “4 demonstrators injured due to the use of tear gas in Diwaniya,” 10/1/19

Al Baghdadiy News, “Urgent Use of live bullets to disperse demonstrators in Maysan now,” 10/1/19

Cockburn, Patrick, “Baghdad protests: At least ’10 dead and more than 200 injured’ as riot police open fire,” Independent, 10/1/19

Iraq Newspaper, “Zaid Al-Fatlawi, The Correspondent Of Tigris Channel Of Karabila Beaten,” 10/1/19

Al Mada, “Security forces confront protesters in 10 governorates with bullets and liquefied grenades,” 10/1/19
- “Unidentified organizers are rallying for a demonstration by the end of one year,” 9/30/19

Al Maslah, “Demonstrations Moment by Moment: A new angry demonstration refuses to attack the demonstrators in Diwaniya,” 10/1/19

Al Mirbad, “8 injuries the outcome of the events in Diwaniya demonstration,” 10/1/19
- “Civil defense vehicles arrive to extinguish fires near the Dhi Qar provincial government building,” 10/1/19
- “Commander in Chief: We started a professional investigation into the causes of the demonstrations,” 10/1/19
- “The demonstration in Dhi Qar and arson continued in the vicinity of the government building,” 10/1/19
- “Our correspondent in Dhi Qar confirms heavy gunfire and tear gas,” 10/1/19
- “Our correspondent in Dhi Qar: a large gathering of demonstrators near the local government building and security forces trying to disperse them,” 10/1/19
- “Qassem Nazzal: burning tires in a street in the Hussein district of central Basra,” 10/1/19

Mohammed, Khalid and Mizban, Hadi, “Anti-government protests in Iraq lead to clashes, killing 2,” Associated Press, 10/1/19

Nabil, Steven, “The famous “People want to bring down the government” from Baghdad moments ago,” 10/1/19

NINA, “3 Demonstrators Killed And 60 Others Injured,” 10/1/19
- “Demonstrators continued to gather in Najaf in front of the security services that blocked the road to the governorate building and its council,” 10/1/19
- “Hundreds of demonstrators protest in Amara and demand the government to resign,” 10/1/19

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