Protests continue in Iraq: What is next?

Submitted by Mohammed Sami on Tue, 11/12/2019 - 12:31

More than a month has passed since protests in Iraq began to unfold. Iraqis continue to march the streets of Baghdad and several other provinces calling for reforms and denouncing corruption as well as economic mismanagement by Adil Abdul Mahdi's government.[1] The protests also include a rebuke of foreign intervention by states, namely Iran, in Iraqi politics.[2] While uncertainty appears looming around the incumbent leadership’s capacity to maintain control over the situation, Iraq’s security apparatus continues its excessive use of force against the protestors. According to reports, 319 people were killed and another 15,000 were injured since the start of the protests in October 2019.[3]

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On the 31st of October 2019, Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi agreed to resign if political parties can agree on his replacement.[4] Nonetheless, his resignation never materialized. It's not very likely that this would change in a context where there are scant signs about a cohesive replacement that would be willing to take over Abdul Mahdi’s position. Yet this doesn’t imply that political parties are in a stalemate. It has been reported that Iraq’s populist Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the largest bloc in parliament, is working on a vote of no confidence to oust Abdul Mahdi.[5] However, this might not be the most appealing alternative for Hadi al-Amiri, the leader of ‘Fatah Alliance’ the second largest block in parliament, due to al-Amiri’s ties with Iran. Meanwhile, Iraqi President Barham Saleh is also drafting a new election law to permit early parliamentary elections.[6] All in all, Iraqi protestors appear to defy the bloody crackdown and are determined to subjugate the government to their demands.

 

[1] “Opinion | Regular People in Iraq Are Standing up to Iran, and It’s Terrifying Tehran,” NBC News, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/iraq-protests-against-iran-government-corruption-are-rare-sign-hope-ncna1078746.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Mohammed Tawfeeq, “Iraq Protests Death Toll Rises to 319 with Nearly 15,000 Injured,” CNN, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/09/middleeast/iraq-protest-death-toll-intl/index.html.

[4] “Iraq PM ‘Will Resign If Replacement Is Found,’” BBC News, October 31, 2019, sec. Middle East, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-50248954.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Mustafa Salim and Erin Cunningham, “Iraq’s President Promises New Elections Law and Early Polls amid Protests,” Washington Post, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/iraqs-president-promises-new-elections-law-and-early-polls-amid-protests/2019/10/31/c2676e4a-fbea-11e9-9534-e0dbcc9