Why Baghdad's Attempts to Mollify Protests Are Falling on Deaf Ears

Oct 25, 2019 | 17:37 GMT

This photo show burning tires in a Baghdad street during protests on Oct. 5.

Burning tires block roads in Baghdad during protests on Oct. 5, 2019. Issues including corruption, poor public services and unemployment have fomented public anger at the Iraqi government. Its options for responding will come at a cost.

(AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images)


  • Popular anger at lingering political and economic grievances is bound to keep resurfacing in Iraq so long as the economy continues to suffer from deep structural problems.
  • Citizens, mistrustful after years of unfulfilled promises of more jobs and better services, are pushing their leaders to root out the corruption at the heart of Iraq's economic stagnation.
  • Contrary to popular perceptions about Iraq, the unrest isn’t sectarian in nature, but focused instead on poor governance, corruption and a general lack of economic opportunity.

Deadly anti-government protests in Iraq have shed fresh light on the fragility of Iraq's post-2003 government and economy. Like episodes of significant unrest in 2011, 2015, 2016 and 2018, these protests include calls for improvements in social services, an increase in economic opportunities and an end to government corruption. But in terms of scale and scope, this spate of protests is unprecedented, perhaps portending the beginning of a moment of transition for Iraq’s government -- not only for Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi's current administration, but also the broader system of governance as a whole....

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