At Least 74 Killed as Iraq PM Orders Elite Troops to End Protests

Key cleric Sadr threatens to force Iraqi PM out of office

Demands for genuine reform from thousands of protesters and warnings to show restraint in policing by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani are falling on deaf ears in Iraq. With at least 74 killed in crackdowns on protests, and over 3,600 others wounded in the past 3 days, and 149 others killed in the last round of protests, the situation looks likely to further escalate.

Having previously promised reforms, Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi is now calling on Iraq’s Counter Terrorism Services to deploy on the streets and “use all necessary measures” to end public demonstrations against his continued rule.

Sistani has yet to react to this, which is the exact opposite of the restraint he counseled. On the other hand, politically powerful cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is demanding Abdul Mahdi back off immediately.

Sadr says Abdul Mahdi must either follow through on repeated promises of reform, or he will force him out of office. Considering Sadr’s dominant position in Iraqi politics, he seemingly could readily collapse the government.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.