Wednesday, October 23, 2019

In Iraq, the protest against the government hardens in the face of repression

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In Baghdad, 2 October. HADI MIZBAN / AP

A curfew has been declared in Baghdad, prohibiting any movement of vehicle or person from Thursday 3 October to dawn " until further notice ", after a second day of violent protest in the Iraqi capital and the southern Shiite of the country.

Testimonies and videos that dripped late into the night from Wednesday to Thursday, due to the cut of the Internet, depicted scenes of chaos in several cities.

The movement launched on Tuesday in Baghdad against corruption, unemployment and the decay of public services has spread and hardened over the hours in the face of repression by the security forces. According to a final official report, nine people were shot dead – including one policeman – and 400 others were wounded in the country, in twenty-four hours.

Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi's decision to remove counter-terrorism leader Abdelwahab Al-Saadi from his post "Hero" of the war against the Islamic State (IS) organization, rekindled the lick of a latent social and political protest. The one-third flash of Iraq in the hands of jihadists in June 2014 had exposed the bankruptcy of one of the most corrupt ruling classes in the world and the throes of confessionalism.

Shortages, unemployment and corruption

Two years after the end of the war, as the oil country recovers slowly, Iraqis are desperate not to see reforms implemented to improve public services in the face of chronic shortages of electricity and drinking water, and create jobs, while unemployment stands at 25% among young people.

From the first wave of anti-corruption and pro-reform protests in 2015-2016 to those of the summer of 2018 in the south of the country, social protest has turned into a rejection of Shiite political and religious authorities in power since the invasion 2003, accused of sacrificing the national interest on the altar of their personal interests.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also In Iraq, the revolt of the "2018 generation"

"The protests are not just about water and corruption, they are now an alternative to influence Iraqi politics, dominated by a small number and running in circles since 2003"says Maria Fantappie of the International Crisis Group.

As early as Tuesday, without any political or religious organization supporting the call to protest that was broadcast on social networks, hundreds of disappointed government, unemployed graduates and critics of corruption, have mobilized against "Thieves who looted the state".

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