2018–19 Iraqi protests

Last updated

2018–19 Iraqi protests
Part of 2018–19 Arab protests
Location
Caused byUnemployment and poverty
Poor basic services
State corruption
Energy crisis [1]
Sectarianism
Growth of ISIL [2]
Anti-Iranian sentiment
Dismissal of army commander Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi [3]
Methods Demonstrations
StatusOngoing
Parties to the civil conflict

White Vans Armed Group [4]
Ahmad al-Hassan followers [5]
Basra Tribesmen [6]

Contents

Alleged support

Flag of the Ba'ath Party.svg Ba'ath Party [8]
Lead figures
Muqtada al-Sadr
Ahmad al-Hassan
Makki Yassir al-Kaabi  [9]
Sheikh Wessam al-Gharrawi  [10]
Flag of the Ba'ath Party.svg Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri
Casualties
Fatalities: At least 8 police officers
Injuries: At least 1,200
(as of 6 October 2019) [11] [12]
Fatalities: At least 100 protesters
Injuries: At least 6,000
(as of 7 October 2019) [11]

The 2018–19 Iraqi protests over deteriorating economic conditions and state corruption started in July 2018 in Baghdad and other major Iraqi cities, mainly in the central and southern provinces. During the latest nationwide protests erupting in October 2019, Iraqi security forces have killed over 100 people and over 6,000 have been injured, leading Iraq's president Barham Salih to call the actions of security forces "unacceptable." [13] Some police have also been killed in the protests. [11] [14] The protests are the deadliest unrest in Iraq since the end of the civil war against ISIL in September 2017. [15]

Corruption in Iraq Wikimedia list article

Corruption is pervasive at all levels of government in Iraq. Public survey from Transparency International indicates that a majority of general public is not satisfied with the government's current efforts in fighting corruption. Transparency International's 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index ranks the country 169th place out of 180 countries.

Baghdad Capital of Iraq

Baghdad is the capital of Iraq. Located along the Tigris River, the city was founded in the 8th century and became the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate. Within a short time of its inception, Baghdad evolved into a significant cultural, commercial, and intellectual center for the Islamic world. This, in addition to housing several key academic institutions, as well as hosting multiethnic and multireligious environment, garnered the city a worldwide reputation as the "Centre of Learning".

Iraq Republic in Western Asia

Iraq, officially the Republic of Iraq, is a country in Western Asia, bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest and Syria to the west. The capital, and largest city, is Baghdad. Iraq is home to diverse ethnic groups including Arabs, Kurds, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Turkmen, Shabakis, Yazidis, Armenians, Mandeans, Circassians and Kawliya. Around 99% of the country's 37 million citizens are Muslims, with tiny minorities of Christians, Yarsans, Yezidis and Mandeans also present. The official languages of Iraq are Arabic and Kurdish.

2018 protests

On 15 July, protests erupted in southern and central Iraq with protesters burning the headquarters of Kataib Hezbollah in Najaf and also sacking the city's airport. Protesters in southern Iraq have blockaded the border with Kuwait and have also occupied several oilfields. In response to the mass unrest the Iraqi Army redeployed forces in the north that were engaging ISIL and the White Flags group to the south to counter the rise in unrest. [16] In response to the unrest flights from Iran to Najaf were diverted. [17] During the protests in Basra two demonstrators were killed by Iraq's security apparatus, and protesters in Sadr City stormed the headquarters of the Iranian backed Badr Organization. [18] On the next day, protesters in Basra began burning pictures of Khomeini and continued to storm the political offices of the Islamic Dawa Party, Badr Organization, and the National Wisdom Movement, the protesters also demonstrated against Iranian drainage of the Shatt al-Arab waterway which has caused water in southern Iraq to become saline. [19] [20] The government started to crack down on the increasing violence during the protests, and there were eight reported deaths among the protesters. [21] On 21 July, a Badr Organization militiaman also killed a 20-year-old protester in the city of Al Diwaniyah. [22] [23] [24]

Najaf Place in Najaf Governorate, Iraq

Najaf or Al-Najaf al-Ashraf also Baniqia is a city in central-south Iraq about 160 km south of Baghdad. Its estimated population in 2013 was 1,000,000 people. It is the capital of Najaf Governorate. It is widely considered the third holiest city of Shia Islam, the Shi'ite world's spiritual capital, and the center of Shi'ite political power in Iraq.

Kuwait Country in Western Asia

Kuwait, officially the State of Kuwait, is a country in Western Asia. Situated in the northern edge of Eastern Arabia at the tip of the Persian Gulf, it shares borders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia. As of 2016, Kuwait has a population of 4.5 million people: 1.3 million are Kuwaitis and 3.2 million are expatriates. Expatriates account for 70% of the population.

Iraqi Army land warfare branch of Iraqs military

The Iraqi Army, officially the Iraqi Ground Forces, is the ground force component of the Iraqi Armed Forces, having been active in various incarnations throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. It was known as the Royal Iraqi Army up until the coup of July 1958.

On 3 September, Iraqi security forces killed Makki Yassir al-Kaabi, an Iraqi tribesman protesting near the provincial capital in Basra; in response to his death many tribesmen from Banu Ka'b have threatened to take up arms against the Iraqi government. [9] A few days later, at least 7 people were killed and 30 wounded after a protest about the lack of public services in Basra was fired upon by security forces. [25] On 8 September, an unknown group fired 4 Katyusha Rockets at the Basra Airport, no injuries or casualties were reported. The US consulate was situated at the airport, and it expressed concern for the developments in Iraq. No one had claimed responsibility for the rocket attack. [26]

The Banu Ka'b are an Arab nomadic tribe originating in the Najd region of Arabia, who often raided, then settled various areas of southern and central Ottoman Iraq, in cities such as Basra and Nasariyah, and also across the border in the southernmost region of Khuzestan Province of Persia, particularly near the city of Khorramshahr. From the early 18th century onwards, the Banu Ka'b began converting from Sunni to Shia Islam.

Basra City in Basra Governorate, Iraq

Basra is an Iraqi city located on the Shatt al-Arab. It had an estimated population of 2.5 million in 2012. Basra is also Iraq's main port, although it does not have deep water access, which is handled at the port of Umm Qasr.

Katyusha rocket launcher Family of rocket artillery systems

The Katyusha multiple rocket launcher is a type of rocket artillery first built and fielded by the Soviet Union in World War II. Multiple rocket launchers such as these deliver explosives to a target area more quickly than conventional artillery, but with lower accuracy and requiring a longer time to reload. They are fragile compared to artillery guns, but are inexpensive, easy to produce, and usable on any chassis. The Katyushas of World War II, the first self-propelled artillery mass-produced by the Soviet Union, were usually mounted on ordinary trucks. This mobility gave the Katyusha, and other self-propelled artillery, another advantage: being able to deliver a large blow all at once, and then move before being located and attacked with counter-battery fire.

In October, two bodies of activists were found in Basra and suspected to be victims of assassinations carried out by Iranian-backed militias. [27]

On 17 November, Sheikh Wessam al-Gharrawi, a leading figure during the protests against deteriorating public utilities and water contamination, was killed by unknown attackers outside his house in central Basra. [10]

On 5 December, protesters demonstrating in Basra wore high-visibility vests, inspired by the French yellow vests movement. They demanded more job opportunities and better services. Iraqi security forces responded by firing live ammunition at the protesters but no injuries were reported. [28]

Yellow vests movement 2018 social movement started in France

The yellow vests movement or yellow jackets movement is a populist, grassroots revolutionary political movement for economic justice that began in France in October 2018. After an online petition posted in May had attracted nearly a million signatures, mass demonstrations began on 17 November. The movement is motivated by rising fuel prices and a high cost of living; it claims that a disproportionate burden of the government's tax reforms were falling on the working and middle classes, especially in rural and peri-urban areas. The protesters have called for lower fuel taxes, a reintroduction of the solidarity tax on wealth, a minimum-wage increase, the implementation of Citizens' initiative referendums, as well as the resignations of President Emmanuel Macron and the Second Philippe government.

2019 protests

On 20 June, Basra's summer protest returned as demonstrators gathered outside the city's new administrative headquarters to vent their anger about poor basic services and unemployment. The old headquarters were burnt down during 2018's months-long protest. Basra and the surrounding region produce about 90 per cent of the country's oil wealth but most of its residents have not benefited from it. Protesters blamed the Basra's authorities for the city's problems, from a lack of job opportunities to unreliable and poor public utilities. Riot police were deployed at the scene but the protest remained peaceful. [29]

October protests

Main Article: 2019 Iraqi October Revolution

On 1 and 2 October, protests erupted in Baghdad and in several provinces over high unemployment, poor basic services, and state corruption. [30] Curfew was imposed in Baghdad and several southern cities, but protests continued on the following days. The authorities had also imposed an internet blackout and shut down 75% of the country's internet access. [14] Extra security troops were deployed at Baghdad International Airport. [14] For some days, the security forces had fired tear gas, water cannon, and live ammunition to disperse the crowds. The death toll had reached 38 on 3 October, including three security personnel. These nationwide protests are among the largest that the country has seen in decades. [14] [31] [32]

The protests are anti-government in nature, although Iraq Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi praised the protesters' demands as "righteous" in a speech broadcast on state television, and he agreed to make greater effort to combat corruption and provide a basic wage for the poor. [14]

By 4 October, the death toll had reached at least 46 from the nationwide protests. [33] The security forces fired live rounds to disperse the crowd of demonstrators in Baghdad. [34] Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr leads the largest bloc in the Iraqi parliament, and he ordered his party's lawmakers to suspend participation in the parliament "until the government introduces a program that would serve all Iraqis". [33]

For the first five days of protests, the death toll rose as snipers killed a number of protesters and policemen. [35] [36] On 5 October, The New York Times reported that at least 91 protestors were killed; [37] CNN reported that at least 93 people were killed, including police. [14] On 6 October, the Iraqi parliament's human rights commission said that at least 99 people have died and nearly 4,000 have been injured. [15] Government officials claim that 104 people have been killed and 6,107 wounded, with 1,200 security personnel among the injured. [38]

The Independent quoted on an anonymous Iraqi source as saying that pro-Iranian militia had occupied parts of Baghdad, controlled snipers firing on crowds, and ransacked ten or more television stations. [39] Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan said at a press conference that “malicious hands” were targeting protesters and security forces alike, though the security force had also fired on the protesters, and Maan did not specify who these actors were. [39]

As of October 7, Iraqi security forces had killed over 100 people, and over 6,000 wounded people were being treated in Iraqi hospitals. [13] The Iraqi military acknowledged that it had used "excessive force," and Iraq's president Barham Salih condemned the violence against protesters and media, asking Iraqi security personnel to respect the rights of Iraqi citizens. [13]

See also

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