The Iraqi government’s failure to meet a deadline set by the protest movement to carry out reforms such as holding new elections has led to renew demonstrations and violence across central and southern Iraq.
Things began on January 19 with new efforts at civil disobedience. In Karbala and Najaf for example the provincial buildings were closed, and the road to the international airport in the later city was shut down, while in Baghdad the Mohammed Qasim highway was blocked. Several pro-Iran Hashd offices were also attacked with the Kataib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl Al-Haq’s headquarters in Najaf burned. These led to new clashes with the security forces with one person killed in Baghdad.
These activities continued into January 20. Roads, schools and government offices were closed in Najaf for instance, and people sat on the highway from Dhi Qar to Baghdad. The security forces responded again sweeping away people from major intersections in Basra, and killing three people in Baghdad, 2 in Diyala, and 1 in Karbala using live ammunition and tear gas. Activists were also facing a new arrest campaign. This goes along with the ongoing threats, assassinations and disappearances by units of the security forces and Hashd.
This year’s demonstrations started on October 1 and were unlike previous ones. Originally, they weren’t connected to any political parties, although they once again have a rough alliance with the Sadrists. They also have been sustained and established sit-in camps in Baghdad and all of the major cities in the south. As usual however they are asking for the entire political system to be changed from the ending of ethnosectarian quotas to the curtailment of corruption. They forced Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi to resign, but he remains in office until a replacement is named, which means nothing has really changed at all. This represents the general opinion of the ruling class. They are not going to change a system which they gain all the benefits from and makes them aloof from the public and its needs. Still, the standoff between the two sides continues with no end in sight.
Agence France Presse, “Iraq protests swell with youth angry at slow pace of reform,” 1/19/20
Baghdad Post, “A journalist in Baghdad survives an assassination attempt … and another receives a death threat in Babylon,” 1/20/20
Bas News, “Iraq: Protesters Burn Pro-Iran Militia Group’s Headquarters,” 1/19/20
Al Forat, “Urgent pictures .. One demonstrator was killed and 17 others were wounded, on Saree Mohammed al-Qasim,” 1/19/20
Al Hurra, “Iraq .. Unidentified people burn Hezbollah headquarters in Najaf and cut the airport road, 1/19/20
Al Jazeera, “Iraqi security forces kill five protesters,” 1/20/20
Al Mada, “Protesters take control of the snipers building in Baghdad and armed factions take to the street,” 1/20/20
NINA, “Demonstrators Block A Number Of Entrances To Al-Diwaniyah,” 1/19/20
- “Masked Men Attack A Number Of Demonstrators, Wounding 3 In Southern Hilla,” 1/19/20
- “Protesters Block Baghdad-Kut Road,” 1/19/20
- “Protesters Block Muhammad Al-Qasim Highway,” 1/19/20
- “Protesters Block Shula Highway Northwest f Baghdad,” 1/19/20
- “Protesters Block The Road Linking Dhi Qar and Baghdad,” 1/20/20
- “Protesters Close The Parliament Building In Karbala,” 1/19/20
- “Roads, Universities, Intermediate And High Schools, And Non-Service Departments Closed In Najaf,” 1/20/20
- “Security forces disperse a demonstration in Basra,” 1/20/20
Rwanduzy, Mohammed, “At least two protesters killed in Baghdad as Iraq’s demonstrations swell,” Rudaw, 1/20/20