Iraq’s New Republic of Fear

How Youthful Protests Provoked an Authoritarian Turn

Iraqi security forces stand in front of demonstrators in Baghdad, Iraq in October 2019 Thaier Al-Sudani / REUTERS

On October 1, protesters flooded the streets of Baghdad, decrying high rates of unemployment and rampant corruption. In the ensuing weeks, the protests ballooned. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis marched in the capital and in other cities in the south of the country. As tensions mounted, government forces and paramilitary groups responded by killing over 300 people and wounding nearly 15,000 more. Baghdad has been in a near-constant state of upheaval for the past month. Government forces recently retook many plazas and bridges that had been occupied by the protesters, but the central Tahrir Square remains a hub for the popular uprising, replete with sound systems, medical tents, and even a free revolutionary newspaper.

Over the last decade, Iraqi leaders have defused multiple bouts of popular protest by promising reforms and reshuffling cabinet portfolios. That approach has not worked this time. Despite pledges by Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s government to reform electoral

Loading, please wait...

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.