Monday, 14 October, 2019

More than 100 dead in anti-govt. protests in Iraq

Iraqi Protester #2 Protesters have rallied to demand improved services more jobs and an end to corruption
Steven Clarke | 09 October, 2019, 22:31

The spread of the violence into Sadr City on Sunday night poses a new security challenge for authorities dealing with the worst violence in the country since the Islamic State group was defeated almost two years ago.

But the capital's streets were mostly quiet and traffic thin.

"Chants by the Iraqi protesters included calls for intervention by the Marjaiya Shia clerical establishment, curses that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeini is a******", and that the Iraqi security personnel they were confronting were "worse than Israel".

The unrest is the most serious challenge facing Iraq two years after the victory against the so-called Islamic State. "We need a government that will hold the corrupt accountable".

"Amid all of this, I swear my only concern is for the casualties", Abdul Mahdi was quoted by state television as saying in the cabinet meeting. It is unclear how their demands could be met by the powerful Shi'ite religious parties that have dominated the country since Saddam's fall and show no sign of willingness to relinquish control.

Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Unrest is historically hard to put down in the volatile district, where about a third of Baghdad's eight million people live in narrow alleys, many with little access to electricity, water and jobs. Reuters could not verify its figures.

Demonstrators protesting unemployment and corruption since Tuesday have been fired upon with live gunfire by government forces.

The families of those killed during demonstrations this week will also get payouts and care usually granted to members of the security forces killed during war.

According to AFP news agency, thousands also descended on the governorate in the southern city of Diwaniyah. He also pledged to meet with the protesters and listen to their demands.

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In an address to the nation, Mr Abdul-Mahdi said the protesters' "legitimate demands" had been heard, adding that the security measures used against the demonstrations were like "bitter medicine" that needed to be swallowed.

All incidents in which security forces killed or injured protesters should be promptly and transparently investigated by the government, Hurtado said. The scale of the unrest appeared to take authorities by surprise. "Many people are calling for new elections to take place". Iraqis fear violence could escalate.

But any power vacuum in Iraq, should the Government be toppled, could prove challenging for the region, given Baghdad's status as an ally of both the United States and Iran, who are locked in a political stand-off.

"The protests are making people afraid to go out", he said, estimating his sales to have dropped by 70 percent.

Security forces fired live ammunition and tear gas at demonstrators on the fifth day of anti-government protests in the Iraqi capital.

The security forces have accused gunmen of hiding among demonstrators to shoot at police. Several policeman have died.

Iraq's government has scrambled to contain the popular anger that has convulsed Baghdad and a number of southern cities since Tuesday. At least one other major parliamentary grouping allied itself with Sadr.

Parliament had been due to meet at 1pm (1000 GMT) but could not reach quorum, after firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc of 54 lawmakers and other factions boycotted the session.

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