|Protesters in Tahrir Square Thursday (Nas News)|
For days now Iraq has been preparing for the return of protests on October 25. As it turned out, demonstrations started a day early catching the authorities off guard.
On October 24 there were protests in Baghdad, Dhi Qar, Basra, Diwaniya, Maysan, and Najaf. The most active were those in the capital. People arrived early in Tahrir Square to pre-empt the government’s counter measures. As usual the Iraqi forces closed the bridge going to the Green Zone. As people approached the bridge water cannons were turned on them. The crowd was able to break through however and reached the Green Zone and the parliament building. Masked men then turned them back with tear gas and sound bombs. People in Nasiriya and Amara were talking about sit-ins as well. This was a very smart move by the organizers. There was so much hype and expectation for the 25th, these early demonstrations caught everyone by surprise. Activists said their goal was to reach the Green Zone, and they were able to do so if even for just a short period.
October 25th will be the real test. Non-lethal means were used in Baghdad so far, but the real crowds are supposed to show up later. Will the government forces maintain that protocol when they are under more pressure? Will Iran send advisers again to break up the protests? If things turn violent quickly, and people end up being shot and killed, the country could be facing a revolutionary moment.
Al Hurra, “Abdul Mahdi: The resignation of the government without a constitutional alternative means chaos,” 10/24/19
- “Iraq pre-empt ‘Friday demonstrations’ with ‘sit-ins until the fall of the regime,” 10/24/19
Al Masaah, “Demonstrators in Dhi Qar: regime change and early elections under UN supervision,” 10/24/19
Al Mirbad, “The Iraq flag surrounds the Basra governorate building,” 10/24/19
- “The start of popular demonstrations in Diwaniya,” 10/24/19
Nas News, “Protesters withdraw from Al-Khadra to Tahrir after “Black Masked” intervention,” 10/24/19
NINA, “Dozens of demonstrators headed to the building of Missan province to erect marquees for a sit-in,” 10/24/19
- “A number of young activists gathered in al-Majasrat Square in central Najaf,” 10/24/19
Sotaliraq, “Iraq .. Security forces disperse demonstrators in front of the Green Zone,” 10/24/19