Monday, November 11, 2019

Protests Continue In Iraq After Basra Demos Put Down

Were clashes between protesters and security forces in Nasiriya (Al Mirbad)


The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) successfully shut down the protests in Basra city and Um Qasr port using force. November 10 the authorities closed off the central square in Basra city and arrested those that showed up to demonstrate. Students however came out at their university in Zubayr in support of the larger movement. In Baghdad six people were killed in clashes trying to enter Khalani Square, which the government cleared yesterday. An office of the Justice Ministry was burned in the center of the city as well. Activists continued with events in the south. Government offices were shut down by protests in Babil’s Hilla. In Dhi Qar’s Shatrah people burned three politicians’ houses from Sairoon, Fatah, and State of Law. There were also clashes as people tried to enter the education directorate in Nasiriya leading to three deaths. A border crossing with Iran was temporarily blocked by crowds in Maysan as was a radio station in Diwaniya. Peaceful sit ins continued in most of the major cities in southern Iraq as well. Closing the Basra protest sites is the first real victory for the government since the start of the unrest in October. Um Qasr port was shut down and costing the country millions, while Basra is Iraq’s second city. That was followed by pushing the demonstrators out of parts of central Baghdad. These appeared to be the first steps in an effort by Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi to put an end to the protests using force. If this is the start of a crackdown it will be a bloody affair. Already 319 have been killed, although that figure does include a few members of the security forces. With the support of Iran, Hadi Amiri’s Fatah list, and the Kurds, Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi has dug in and refused to resign. Instead he is offering meaningless reforms like changing his cabinet and setting up a committee to amend the constitution, something that will never happen. If violence is the government’s last resort, it will make a mockery of Iraq’s democracy, and will not stop people’s anger at the political system. People will eventually return to the streets as they have for the last eight years. By ignoring this discontent the elite have created a revolutionary situation, that could either lead to their demise or a more formal oligarchic rule.

SOURCES

Baghdad Post, “Arrests of demonstrators in Basra and the use of tear gas in Dhi Qar,” 11/10/19
- “Protesters shut down official Diwaniya radio after abuse of protesters,” 11/10/19
- “Urgent: 30 demonstrators injured in Nasiriya after security forces fired live bullets and tear gas in al-Haboubi square,” 11/10/19

Al Forat, “Interior: The Ministry of Health is the only body that announces the true figures of the victims,” 11/10/19

Al Hurra, “A few hours later, Iraqi police reopen a border crossing with Iran,” 11/10/19
- “New death in Iraq and an international organization warns of “bloodbath,”” 11/10/19

Al Jazeera, “Iraq gov’t urged to rein in security forces to end ‘bloodbath,’” 11/10/19

Al Masalah, “Security forces close the scene of demonstrations in Basra,” 11/10/19

Al Mirbad, “A student demonstration on the campus of Bab al-Zubayr College in support of the protests,” 11/10/19

NINA, “Demonstrators shut down a number of government departments in Babylon,” 11/10/19

Rwanduzy, Mohammed, “Iraq heads of state ‘reject and shun’ security solution to protests,” Rudaw, 11/10/19

Sotaliraq, “Security forces take action to prevent demonstrators from reaching three bridges,” 11/10/19

Al Sumaria, “Spokesman for the Commander-in-Chief: The burning of the Justice Department in Bab Sharqi in central Baghdad,” 11/10/19

Turkish Press, “Protestors in Iraq set fire to homes of three lawmakers,” 11/10/19

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