Iraq Protests Reach Record Levels, Defying Curfews and Crackdowns

Protesters demand 'hands off' amid claims of Iranian interference

Public protests have been growing all week in Iraq, and what started as big demonstrations have now reached a record. On Friday, Iraq had the biggest mass demonstration since Saddam Hussein’s ouster in the 2003 US invasion and occupation.

The protests continue to grow in spite of, and in some cases because of, violent government crackdowns on public displays of dissent and threats to impose curfews in major cities to try to restore order.

Calls for quiet on the streets and everybody returning home in Baghdad led to people honking car horns and blaring music in open defiance, the arrival of Shi’ite militias at protests on Friday were scorned, though some of the militias insisted they support the people.

Media reports that Iran was opposing the resignation of the Iraqi PM, along with the sense of Shi’ite militias being broadly pro-Iran, has fueled suspicion of attempted interference, and protesters calling for Iran’s leaders to take their “hands off” Iraq.

Iraq has historically felt a lot of pressure from regional powers, and in the post-Saddam era has been pushed in various directions by both the US and Iran. Deep corruption is seen by many protesters as inexorably tied to politicians in the services of foreign powers.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.