Monday, October 28, 2019

More Confrontations Between Protesters And Govt 3rd Day Of Renewed Demonstrations

Student strike in support of protests in Baghdad (Baghdad Today)


October 27 saw people come out across Baghdad and southern Iraq again demanding that the government resign. There were some peaceful gatherings as well as confrontations, while the authorities continued their crackdown.

Baghdad saw a new twist. In the morning students conducted a strike and marched to Tahrir Square. There protesters set up barricades to block one end of the bridge to the Green Zone, which they have repeatedly tried to cross. As usual, the police fired tear gas into the crowd. At night, they cut off the power as well in a continued attempt to clear the square. Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi condemned the student action and said that if any school was closed on October 28 they would face the consequences. The government also announced that it was shutting down two TV stations, Al Arabiya and Al Hadath. Both were attacked by the Hashd at the start of the month after they refused to follow a similar order. The situation in the capital is at a standstill. Everyday people go to the square and get tear gas shot at them. There have been no protests in other parts of the city like earlier.

There is some political pressure mounting on the government, but it is not decisive yet. Moqtada al-Sadr said that his Sairoon bloc was going into the opposition on October 26. He called on the government to step down. On October 27 six parliamentarians from Sairoon and Haidar Abadi’s Nasr resigned. The prime minister was put in power via a deal between Sadr and Abadi on the one hand and Hadi Ameri and his Fatah list on the other. That was one reason why the PM has been so ineffective because he was dependent upon two rival forces for his position. Sadr withdrawing support is a hit, but with Ameri and Iran still behind Abdul Mahdi he should be able to stay in power. Sadr on the other hand, has been the odd man out. He’s had little pull with the prime minister, which led Sadr to call for his followers to join the protests. They want to be non-partisan however and rejected his help. Going into the opposition only pushes the premier more into the hands of Sadr’s rivals.

Finally, the Hashd have said they are staying out of the protests, but have already been involved. The deputy head of the Hashd Commission Abu Muhandis commented that he was closely watching the protests. He said he hoped the government would meet the people’s demands and called on them to support Abdul Mahdi. On the other hand, witnesses told Human Rights Watch that Asaib Ahl Al-Haq guards fired into peaceful crowds outside of their offices in Amara, Maysan and Nasiriya, Dhi Qar on October 25. That resulted in several deaths. When the protests began in early October Iran created a crisis cell in Baghdad that included Abdul Mahdi’s chief of staff, Abu Muhandis and several Hashd commanders. Tehran provided support and advise on how to break up the crowds. They are likely doing the same now. Abu Muhandis’ statement therefore can be seen as a threat that he could do much more if his colleagues feel the demonstrations have gone too far.

Southern Iraq saw protests in Babil, Basra, Dhi Qar, Karbala, Muthanna, Qadisiya, and Wasit, with some support in the north as well. In Babil, a Badr office and two MPs from that party were all burned. Keeping with its previous tactics, the security forces (ISF) in Basra were pre-emptive and broke up people even before they arrived in central Basra city. That included arrests and chasing people through neighborhoods. There were new gatherings in two other districts of the province as well. One person also died of their wounds suffered on October 25 raising the total death toll to 71 civilians so far. People woke up in Dhi Qar facing a campaign to detain activists and journalists. Thousands still came out in Nasiriya and announced they would return tomorrow. There is an on-going sit in going on in Karbala city. At night people tried to storm the government building and burned at least part of it. Muthanna saw two marches in Rumaitha and Samawa that went off with no problems. The day started off with a candle lit vigil for those killed in Diwaniya. Later there was a protest, and like in Baghdad, the authorities cut the power to the square where they were gathered to try to disperse them. Government offices in three districts of Wasit were closed down by crowds. Finally, there was a solidarity gathering in the Ninewa Plains and a notice put up that the Diyala provincial council building would be closed in support of Baghdad and the south. The government continues with its tactics of arrests to try to sweep up the organizers and promoters, while confronting the gatherings in most cases. The two events in Ninewa and Diyala are notable. In early October there was one day when there was activism in Sunni areas. Many remember what happened the last time they came out however, which was against the Maliki government. They were accused of being terrorists and insurgents co-opted many protest areas, so they are very weary of getting involved. That’s the reason why the demonstrations have been in Baghdad and the south almost exclusively.

SOURCES

Al Aalem, “Al Aalem sources: an unknown force arrests prominent bloggers in Dhi Qar,” 10/27/19

Abdul-Ahad, Ghaith, “Thousands of Iraqis defy bloody crackdown on Tahrir square protest,” Guardian, 10/27/19

AIN, “Sadr demands the government to resign before dismissal,” 10/26/19

Al Alam, “Six Iraqi MPs resign,” 10/27/19

Baghdad Post, “By “order of the people” .. Demonstrators shut government departments in Wasit,” 10/27/19

Buratha News, “Spokesman for the Prime Minister: Involve students in childhood demonstrations,” 10/27/19

Al Forat, “Dhi Qar .. Arrests of activists and journalists,” 10/27/19
- “Karbala police prevent the burning of the provincial council and a government compound,” 10/27/19
- “Pictures .. This is what is happening in Karbala now,” 10/27/19
- “The tension in Babil after the burning of party headquarters,” 10/27/19

Human Rights Watch, “Iraq: Protesters Killed by Teargas Canisters,” 10/27/19

Al Hurra, “Iraq .. The resignation of four deputies in solidarity with the demonstrators,” 10/27/19

Al Jazeera, “Iraqi students join thousands in ongoing anti-gov’t protests,” 10/27/19

Al Masalah, “Abdul Mahdi: Any party that incites to disrupt official working hours will be held to account,” 10/27/19
- “In the picture .. Demonstrators close the Diyala Provincial Council building,” 10/27/19
- “Pictures .. lit candles at the scene of the fall of the protest martyrs Diwaniya,” 10/27/19
- “Sairron joins the opposition front in Parliament,” 10/26/19

Al Mirbad, “Cut off the lighting of the square with protesters in Diwaniya,” 10/27/19
- “The death of a demonstrator in Basra was run over on Friday,” 10/27/19
- “A demonstration in Zubayr to support peaceful protests against the corrupt,” 10/27/19
- “Dozens of people in Karbala flock to the sit-in yard in the Education square,” 10/27/19
- “Dozens organize a peaceful demonstration in the celebration square in central Samawa, 10/27/19
- “Nasiriya demonstrators decide civil disobedience tomorrow,” 10/27/19
- “Our correspondent: Nasiriya demonstration is peaceful so far and only local police provide protection,” 10/27/19
- “Our correspondent: a peaceful demonstration organized in the Rumaitha district attended by lawyers,” 10/27/19
- “Our correspondent: the end of the Muthanna demonstration without incident,” 10/27/19
- “Relatives to al-Mirbad: Arrest of a number of young demonstrators in Basra,” 10/27/19
- “Renewed demonstrations in Diwaniya with the participation of thousands amid tight security measures,” 10/27/19
- “Some Basra demonstrators return to Al-Andalus neighborhood and security forces chase them,” 10/27/19
- “Thousands of protesters are gathering in al-Haboubi Square in Nasiriya,” 10/27/19
- “The withdrawal of demonstrators in the district of Sadiq north of Basra from the site of the eighth oil station,” 10/27/19

NINA, “Al-Mohandes: The PMF Will Intervene At Appropriate Time Under The Command Of The Commander In Chief Of The Armed Forces,” 10/27/19
- “An Open Sit-In In Karbala,” 10/27/19
- “The people of Nineveh plain organize a solidarity stand with the Baghdad demonstrators,” 10/27/19
- “The Power In Tahrir Square Cut Off With Intensive Presence Of Demonstrators,”10/27/19
- “Security Forces Prevent Demonstrators In Al-Geneina Area In Central Basra,” 10/27/19

Shafaaq News, “Protesters burn Karbala provincial council building,” 10/27/19

Shakir, Serhad, “Iraq suspends 2 Saudi channels over protests,” Anadolu Agency, 10/27/19

Sotaliraq, “Babylon .. Burned the Badr headquarters and the house and office of two deputies of Ameri’s bloc,” 10/27/19

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