Friday, November 1, 2019

PM Abdul Mahdi Ready To Step Down Will It Satisfy The Protests?

Iraq's Pres Salah (right) said that PM Abdul Mahdi (left) is willing to step down (AFP)


President Barham Salah announced that Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi is ready to step down. After two days of meetings with the ruling parties President Salah said that a new premier has to be found and that a new election law needs to be drafted, and that would be submitted next week. Iran and the Kurdish parties are reportedly against this scenario and want Abdul Mahdi to stay in power. One of the prime minister’s main policies has been to restore budget payments to the Kurdistan region (KRG). In return, the KRG was supposed to export oil for the federal government, but has not. Despite dozens of complaints about this from parliamentarians the premier has not punished the Kurds. In return, Irbil is one of the prime minister’s main supporters. Abdul Mahdi has also done nothing about pro-Iran Hashd groups who have carried out attacks on bases in Iraq that contain U.S. soldiers and attacked Saudi Arabia. Tehran has also been intimately involved in the suppression of the protests. Another important matter is whether this will satisfy the demonstrators? They have called for the prime minister to step down, a new election law and balloting so President Salah’s announcement meets all those demands. The process however matters, because if it’s just the ruling parties re-creating the current system, then the street will not be happy. The question has always been whether the political elite can really carry out change or will they just change the fa├žade on the government.

In the meantime, protests continued across the country. Another person died in Baghdad as a result of wounds suffered yesterday when people tried to cross the Senak bridge. There are ongoing sit-in sites in Babil, Basra, Dhi Qar, Maysan, Muthanna, and Wasit. There were additional protests to block the Um Qasr port in Basra for the third day, in the Qurna district of Basra, the Rifai and Shatrah districts of Dhi Qar, Karbala, and Qadisiya. As usual, these included a wide variety of secondary and university students and professionals. Tribes have also joined in the Basra demonstrations. There were gatherings in the north as well. Baquba and Jalawla had marches, and another in Ninewa was broken up however by the Hashd’s 30th Brigade. The protests are at their largest size since they expanded into the schools and government offices. That has put added pressure on the government because it is affecting its services.

SOURCES

Abdul-Zahra, Qassim and Krauss, Joseph, “Protests in Iraq and Lebanon pose a challenge to Iran,” Associated Press, 10/30/19

Gebeily, Maya, “Iraq leaders scramble to respond to mounting rallies,” Agence France Presse, 10/31/19

Al Ghad Press, “For the seventh day in a row Maysan citizens continue to rally in sit-ins,” 10/31/19
- “Pictures .. Continued sit-in Babylon students,” 10/31/19
- “Pictures .. Demonstrations in Jalawla northeast of Diyala demanding the dismissal of the director of the district,” 10/31/19
- “Video .. Kut students performing flag raising ceremony in the yard of the sit-in,” 10/31/19
- “Without blood .. Renewed demonstrations in large numbers in the center of the city of Baquba,” 10/31/19

Gilgamesh, “Mosul: The Popular Mobilization disperses a demonstration in support of Tahrir Square,” 10/31/19

Al Masalah, “Parliamentary blocs resolve the position of Fatah and others from Abdul Mahdi within 48 hours,” 10/31/19

Al Mirbad, “Continuing student demonstrations in Qurna district,” 10/31/19
- “Demonstrators flock to the Education Square in the center of Karbala,” 10/31/19
- “Iraq flag on the cheeks of children in the arena of the sit-in Samawa,” 10/31/19
- “People with special needs in Basra join the sit-in scene in support of the protests,” 10/31/19
- “Renewed attempts to besiege the house of the Secretary General of the Council of Ministers in Shatra and security forces chasing them,” 10/31/19
- “Renewed demonstrations in front of the gate of the University of Basra in Bab al-Zubayr in solidarity with the protests,” 10/31/19
- “Sit in Bar Association in Muthanna to provide legal support to the demonstrators,” 10/31/19
- “Students of the College of Nursing join the students of the University of Basra in their vigil,” 10/31/19
- “Thousands of tribesmen, members of the bar and journalists join the Basra sit-in,” 10/31/19

Nasiriya TV, “Despite tribal calls: Hundreds protest at night in Shatrah,” 10/31/19
- “Dhi Qar journalists participate in demonstrations in Haboubi square,” 10/31/19
- “Dozens sit on 40th Street for the fifth consecutive day in Rifai,” 10/31/19
- “Large numbers of Dhi Qar engineers sit in Haboubi street,” 10/31/19

NINA, “Fateh Coalition: No Resignations Or Dismissal Before Agreeing On Abdul Mahdi’s Alternative,” 10/31/19
- “Al-Nasr Coalition: We continue to question Abdul Mahdi and withdraw confidence from his government,” 10/31/19

Reuters, “Amid unrest, Iraqi PM will only resign if replacement found: president,” 10/31/19
- “Exclusive: Iran intervenes to prevent ousting of Iraqi prime minister – sources,” 10/31/19

Al Sumaria, “One protester dies of wounds and 10 others are injured near al-Jumhuriya Bridge in central Baghdad,” 10/31/19

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