Though the eyes of the world are clearly on the public uprisings in other nations, particularly Libya, another nation has erupted into mass protests against its regime today, demanding major reforms and improved access to services. That nation is Iraq.
Indeed despite angry threats from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki against the possible demonstrations, such protests were held nationwide today, prompting the resignations of a number of local officials and violent crackdowns by the nation’s securty forces against tens of thousands of discontented protesters from northern Kurdistan to the southern port of Basra.
Official tolls have continued to rise throughout the day, and at present it is believed that a minimum of 23 Iraqi protesters were slain by security forces, slain while demanding access to clean water and better hospital services. Hundreds of others are believed to have been wounded.
It is noteworthy that the Obama Administration has been entirely mum on the Iraqi crackdown, particularly as the US still has some 50,000 troops in Iraq to back up the Maliki-led regime. One can at least be relieved that the US troops were not directly involved in any of today’s crackdowns, but if the protests in Iraq continue to escalate as they have elsewhere in the region, one wonders how long it will be before the regime requests their help in “controlling” the upsurge of pro-democracy protesters.