Iraq’s Sunni Provinces Shut Down as Protests Turn to General Strike

Stores Close, Schools Are Empty Across Western Iraq

by Jason Ditz, April 22, 2013

The provinces of Anbar, Nineveh and Salahuddin, the three majority Sunni Arab provinces in Iraq, are in a state of virtually shutdown today as protesters declared a day of “civil disobedience” and took part in a general strike.

Stores, schools and even universities closed for the day, while government offices sat empty. Even Sunnis not taking part in the protests before got in on the general strike today, as spokesmen called for reforms from Iraq’s central government.

Though some reforms have already taken place, the sense of frustration is palpable, particularly in Anbar and Nineveh, which saw their Saturday elections get postponed indefinitely citing “security concerns.”

The town of Hawija also remains tense after Friday’s clashes, and while the protesters turned out again today they remain surrounded by Iraqi military forces, adding to concerns of an impending crackdown.

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