Iraq’s future uncertain as protests rage

Tuesday 3rd December 2019 | Jake

Political unrest is nothing new in Iraq. The latest upheaval has seen prime minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi resign after weeks of protests turned violent. His position became untenable after security forces killed at least 45 civilians late last week. The killings were in response to protestors setting the Iranian consulate in the holy city of Najaf alight. Many of the anti-government demonstrators are anti-Iran, and fear a growing influence on Iraq from their neighbours.

Having lasted six weeks, Abdul-Mahdi believed he could see off the protests. He hadn’t counted on them intensifying. The protests were initially against corruption in the government, but many underlying issues have consequently been brought to the fore, including Iran’s power in the region. After last week’s night of bloodshed Abdul-Mahdi duly resigned.

Iraq’s future is now uncertain. A new leader will be announced shortly, but the protests were never specifically in opposition to Abdul-Mahdi. Protestors oppose the government, with popular consensus seeing officials as self-serving and neglectful of the working class.

16 years after America’s disastrous invasion, Iraq has failed to recover. Corruption and nepotism in the pubic sector is rife, and so too protests. This protest movement is the largest since the Americans left in 2011, with large swathes of the country’s southern population joining. It is in the south where most protests are being held, although the most populous - and violent – take place in Baghdad.

There are under two weeks for Iraq’s parliament to decide on a prime minister. However, with rallying cries of revolution popular among protestors, it’s unclear whether they’ll last long in the job.