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An Iraqi protester flashes the victory sign above an anti-government rally in Baghdad's Tahrir Square. A protester flashes the victory sign overlooking a huge anti-government rally in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq, Oct. 31, 2019 (AP photo by Hadi Mizban).

Defying Repression, Protesters Seek to Change Iraq’s Post-Saddam Political Order

Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019

“There was no order to kill, yet throughout the country protesters were shot in the head?” one activist in Baghdad exclaimed, incredulous. “How do you explain that?”

A bloody crackdown on anti-government protests in Iraq has killed more than 275 demonstrators and wounded 11,000 people in recent weeks, and the death toll keeps rising. In the face of the government’s ruthlessness, the continued determination of protesters represents a turning point in Iraq’s post-2003 political order. Diverse segments of the Iraqi population—including elementary and middle-school students, oil workers in Iraq’s southern provinces and trade unions—have mobilized to join the young, mostly Shiite protesters demanding widespread reforms and a new government. Protesters want to undo the entire political system set up by U.S.-backed authorities after the fall of Saddam Hussein, which distributes power along sectarian lines and features restrictive electoral laws that hinder independent candidates, giving the ruling elite little incentive to reform. ...

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