go to top
A man waves an Iraqi flag during anti-government demonstrations in Tahrir Square, Baghdad. A man waves an Iraqi flag during anti-government demonstrations in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq, Feb. 9, 2020 (AP photo by Khalid Mohammed).

Iraq’s Protest Movement Is an Existential Challenge for the Political Elite

Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020

BAGHDAD—Anti-government protesters in Iraq have spent more than four months calling for political and economic reforms and venting their anger at the failure of successive governments to provide better living standards and economic opportunities. Security forces, caught off-guard by the strength and resilience of the youth-driven protest movement, have responded with a campaign of repression that has killed more than 600 people and wounded tens of thousands more across the country. But the crackdown has only intensified the crisis, as Iraqis continue to take to the streets demanding justice for slain demonstrators and reforms of the political system.

The government has been largely ineffective in the face of the unrest. Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has led a caretaker government since announcing that he would resign in late November, as the country’s leading political factions—the pro-Iran Bina coalition and the Sairoon bloc, which is headed by the influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr—took two months to settle on a compromise candidate to replace him: Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi, a former communications minister. But immediately after President Barham Salih announced Allawi’s nomination earlier this month, protesters denounced Allawi as part of the same political establishment that they have been railing against. Like Abdul Mahdi before him, Allawi was chosen after weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations between the leaders of the largest blocs in Iraq’s parliament. ...

To read more,

enter your email address then choose one of the three options below.

Subscribe to World Politics Review and you'll receive instant access to 10,000+ articles in the World Politics Review Library, along with new comprehensive analysis every weekday . . . written by leading topic experts.