We have news breaking every 15 minutes it seems but beyond that we should not lose sight of Iraq and the trouble brewing there……
Violence is returning to Iraq…it was never that far away but recently it has gotten more and more violent…..
Public protests were launched nationwide over the past two days in Iraq, growing in intensity as demonstrators slam the lack of a post-war recovery from the ISIS conflict, and continued corruption woes.
While Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi confirmed the right of protesters to assemble, Iraq wasn’t just going to have public shows of dissent, so troops were out in force quickly, opening fire with live ammunition on the people, wounding hundreds.
Protesters and their supporters were armed in places as well, where security situations quickly worsened, and battles erupted. While this started in Baghdad and the city’s immediate south, before long it was a nationwide issue.
Iraq’s government is responding as governments in the region so often have in similar situations, violent crackdowns, an indefinite curfew across Baghdad and some other cities, and cutting off more or less the entire country’s Internet access.
Protests have been a recurring issue for months, almost always culminating with the government promising some reforms, and those reforms having by and large been forgotten.
The more this escalates into violence, the harder it’s going to be for the Abdul Mahdi government to back down and make promises to end the unrest. Continued fighting risks the public demanding bigger, and real, changes.
Update on the growing violence….
Demonstrations continued across Iraq on Wednesday. Casualty figures vary, but at least 22 were reported killed during a second day of protests and other violence. About 250 people were reported wounded.
The protesters are demanding better jobs and services, while denouncing corruption. Although protests turned deadly last summer as well, little has been done to help ordinary civilians. Despite the oil wealth, there is high unemployment particularly among the young. These are not the first protests this year, but the heavy casualties and violence have increased attention to them. Analysts have speculated that these protests arose spontaneously, without encouragement from any political organizations.
In Nasariya, four protesters and a policemen were killed on Wednesday. At least 33 people were wounded or tear gassed, including 11 security personnel. An exchange of gunfire between demonstrators and security personnel was reported.
In Baghdad, two people were killed, and 82 people were wounded on Wednesday, according to officials. With Tahrir Square — the site of Tuesday’s protest — sealed off, protesters moved into other neighborhoods such as Kifah, Shabb and Zaafaraniyah. Security forces were called in to protect the airport from being overrun.
Rioters attempted to break into a municipal building in Kut.
Ten security personnel were wounded in Hilla.
Curfews were imposed on Amara, Baghdad, Hilla, and Nasariya. The curfew in Baghdad began at 5:00 a.m. local time, Thursday, and movement throughout the city is restricted. Exemptions include travelers to and from Baghdad airport, ambulances, certain government employees, and religious pilgrims.
Demonstrations were reported in Basra, Diwaniya, Hilla, Muthanna, and Samawa, all to the south of Baghdad. To the north, peaceful rallies were reported in Diyala, Kirkuk, and Tikrit. Marchers blocked a highway near Taji.
Internet watchdog Netblocks reported that access to social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, and others were blocked by Internet service providers in Iraq “in a manner consistent with previous incidents of censorship.”
The country’s human rights committee admonished security forces for suppressing demonstrations, and the Iraqi government ordered an investigation into how the normally peaceful protests erupted into violence this week.
Iraq is a far from settled conflict……time to pay better attention or get caught up in this once again……
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