With Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s “100 day” period for reform expiring earlier this week, anti-government protests, mostly centering around condemning corruption, were scheduled for today in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square.
Those protests did not happen today, however, as a large number of Maliki supporters armed with bats arrived to hold a “counter-demonstration” which mostly involved beating attempted protesters. Security forces declined to intervene.
Of course the real battle to keep protests to a minimum began weeks ago, when security forces started rounding up opposition leaders and raiding the organizations’ offices. The protests before the introduction of the “100 day” grace period saw similar violence against them.
Officially, Maliki’s government sees no reason for the protests, insisting that every ministry in the government met their goals during the 100 day period. This has put would-be protesters in the position of not just complaining about corruption, but of calling Maliki a liar. The pro-Maliki crowd reportedly condemned the marchers they were beating as ‘Ba’athists.’
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