2018–19 Iraqi protests

2018–19 Iraqi protests
Part of 2018–19 Arab protests
Caused byUnemployment and poverty
Poor basic services
State corruption
Energy crisis[1]
Growth of ISIL[2]
Anti-Iranian sentiment
Dismissal of army commander Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi[3]
Parties to the civil conflict

White Vans Armed Group[4]
Ahmad al-Hassan followers[5]
Basra Tribesmen[6]

Lead figures
Muqtada al-Sadr
Ahmad al-Hassan
Makki Yassir al-Kaabi [8]
Sheikh Wessam al-Gharrawi [9]
Fatalities: At least 8 police officers
Injuries: At least 1,200
(as of 6 October 2019)[10][11]
Fatalities: At least 100 protesters
Injuries: At least 6,000
(as of 7 October 2019)[10]

The 2018–19 Iraqi protests over deteriorating economic conditions and state corruption started in July 2018 in Baghdad and other major Iraqi cities, mainly in the central and southern provinces. During the latest nationwide protests erupting in October 2019, Iraqi security forces have killed over 100 people and over 6,000 have been injured, leading Iraq's president Barham Salih to call the actions of security forces "unacceptable."[12] Some police have also been killed in the protests.[10][13] The protests are the deadliest unrest in Iraq since the end of the civil war against ISIL in September 2017.[14]

2018 protests

On 15 July, protests erupted in southern and central Iraq with protesters burning the headquarters of Kataib Hezbollah in Najaf and also sacking the city's airport. Protesters in southern Iraq have blockaded the border with Kuwait and have also occupied several oilfields. In response to the mass unrest the Iraqi Army redeployed forces in the north that were engaging ISIL and the White Flags group to the south to counter the rise in unrest.[15] In response to the unrest flights from Iran to Najaf were diverted.[16] During the protests in Basra two demonstrators were killed by Iraq's security apparatus, and protesters in Sadr City stormed the headquarters of the Iranian backed Badr Organization.[17] On the next day, protesters in Basra began burning pictures of Khomeini and continued to storm the political offices of the Islamic Dawa Party, Badr Organization, and the National Wisdom Movement, the protesters also demonstrated against Iranian drainage of the Shatt al-Arab waterway which has caused water in southern Iraq to become saline.[18][19] The government started to crack down on the increasing violence during the protests, and there were eight reported deaths among the protesters.[20] On 21 July, a Badr Organization militiaman also killed a 20-year-old protester in the city of Al Diwaniyah.[21][22][23]

On 3 September, Iraqi security forces killed Makki Yassir al-Kaabi, an Iraqi tribesman protesting near the provincial capital in Basra; in response to his death many tribesmen from Banu Ka'b have threatened to take up arms against the Iraqi government.[8] A few days later, at least 7 people were killed and 30 wounded after a protest about the lack of public services in Basra was fired upon by security forces.[24] On 8 September, an unknown group fired 4 Katyusha Rockets at the Basra Airport, no injuries or casualties were reported. The US consulate was situated at the airport, and it expressed concern for the developments in Iraq. No one had claimed responsibility for the rocket attack.[25]

In October, two bodies of activists were found in Basra and suspected to be victims of assassinations carried out by Iranian-backed militias.[26]

On 17 November, Sheikh Wessam al-Gharrawi, a leading figure during the protests against deteriorating public utilities and water contamination, was killed by unknown attackers outside his house in central Basra.[9]

On 5 December, protesters demonstrating in Basra wore high-visibility vests, inspired by the French yellow vests movement. They demanded more job opportunities and better services. Iraqi security forces responded by firing live ammunition at the protesters but no injuries were reported.[27]