Friday, July 20, 2018

The Atlantic Council notices the protests in Iraq

Emily Burchfield (Atlantic Council) writes:

As most headlines continue to focus on US President Donald Trump’s recent meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and fallout from the NATO summit, Iraq is witnessing some of the largest and most prolonged protests in years. The protests began last week, triggered by water and electricity shortages, unemployment, and government corruption. Despite the growing unrest in a country where the United States has significant interests and forces deployed, there has been little mention of current events in Iraq by American officials or the mainstream media.

The United States’ narrow focus on Iraq’s military and security challenges, particularly pertaining to ISIS, is indicative of current US policy. Military counterterrorism operations devoid of a broader strategy for Iraq discount evidence that economic and social challenges in Iraq are intrinsically linked to the genesis of instability, as demonstrated in a recent report from the Atlantic Council’s Iraq Initiative, Beyond Security: Stabilization, Governance, and Socioeconomic Challenges in Iraq.

The protests over Baghdad’s failure to provide basic services began on July 8 in oil-rich Basra province, mobilized by power cuts, water shortages, and sanitation issues set against the sweltering heat of Iraqi summers. They quickly spread to other provinces in the country’s Shia-majority south as protesters attacked government buildings and stormed Najaf international airport, where at least three civilians were injured in confrontations with police.

On July 14, at least nine security forces and twenty-one protesters were reportedly injured in clashes at government offices in Maysan province, and thirty-six police and six protesters were reportedly injured in Dhi Qar. The next day, Iraqi police used tear gas and water cannons against demonstrators in Basra, and used batons and rubber hoses to disperse protesters outside Zubair oilfield in southern Iraq. The day after that, the protests spread to Baghdad. By July 18, Iraqi health officials reported that eight civilians were killed since the protests began, and sixty others were injured. 

Use the link to keep reading and ask yourself why so many others are silent?