Iraq’s anti-government protests expected to flare once more on Friday

Following Friday prayers, demonstrators will take to the streets of Baghdad to again protest the government of Prime Minister Adil

iraq anti government protests

Photo: AFP

Following Friday prayers, demonstrators will take to the streets of Baghdad to again protest the government of Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi.

Demonstrations over poor living conditions and political corruption have battered the country for months, leaving more than 300 protesters dead and 15,000 wounded since October 1.

Politically, Baghdad is gridlocked. Despite repeated calls for the prime minister’s resignation, Abdul-Mahdi and his backers say he will only consider doing so if a successor is named.

The government faces conflicting pressures. Washington has called on Baghdad to stop using violence against protesters and hold early elections. Tehran has encouraged the government—which demonstrators claim is an Iran-backed, ruling elite—to stand firm and meet protester demands through piecemeal reform.

The fate of the Iraqi government will depend on the future direction of protests and the extent to which Iran continues to provide military and financial support to the government. If protests intensify, Tehran is likely to double down on its support, but only if the protests do not become so violent and disruptive that the prime minister faces no choice but to resign and allow early elections. Such elections would likely see Iran’s influence in Iraqi politics weaken.

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