Iraq’s anti-government protests expected to escalate nationwide to mark anniversary

Activists will take to the streets across Iraq today for another round of protests. The demonstrations come after a government-appointed

iraq protests 1

Photo: Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters

Activists will take to the streets across Iraq today for another round of protests.

The demonstrations come after a government-appointed inquiry announced on Tuesday that Iraqi security forces killed 149 people and wounded over 3,000 in protests that began October 1. The government panel blamed the deaths on poor leadership on the ground and not on government policy.

A committee recommendation that dozens of senior security officials should be referred to prosecutors for trial is not likely to slow the momentum of demonstrations.

Iraq still suffers from endemic graft and economic mismanagement. Youth unemployment stands at 25.6% while a combined 33% of Iraq’s 2019 budget funds security and the oil ministry alone, compared to only about 8% going to education, healthcare, and reconstruction.

Without serious structural reform that addresses these inequities, Iraq is unlikely to see an end to protests in the foreseeable future. Sustained unrest will likely result in continued Iranian interference in Iraqi politics—Tehran-backed militias in the country are already aiding the Iraqi government in putting down protests. Such interference will only brew further tumult, especially among Sunni communities, which make up as much as one third the population.

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