- In a televised speech on Friday, the Iraqi Prime Minister calmly invited people to read their demands.
- Massive demonstrations by Iraqi protesters began in Baghdad and several other major cities on October 1.
- The Iraqi Prime Minister promised that all detainees would be released if they did not commit a criminal offense.
In response to continuing protests in Iraq, Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi vowed the government would follow up on the protesters’ demands. Widespread protests in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities have so far left at least 42 dead and hundreds injured. Thousands of Iraqi citizens took to the streets for another day in a row to protest violent clashes by law enforcement and security forces with demonstrators to protest against the poor economic situation and corruption.
In a televised speech on Friday, the Iraqi Prime Minister calmly invited people to read their demands. Abdul-Mahdi, who has led the coalition government in Iraq for about a year, says the government is trying to solve people’s problems, but there is “no magic solution” that can address structural problems and shortcomings in a short time. “We will not make empty promises . . . or promise what we cannot achieve,” Abdul-Mahdi said. “The security measures we are taking, including a temporary curfew, are difficult choices. But like bitter medicine, they are inevitable,” he said. “We have to return life to normal in all provinces and respect the law.”
He promised that the government would help needy families with insufficient monthly incomes and provide social justice. Protesters accuse the government of not doing enough to tackle corruption, unemployment and improving public services. The Iraqi Prime Minister also called on the protesters not to allow their peaceful protests to be turned into violence and chaos. He called the protesters’ demands to tackle corruption legitimate and called for the government’s help to succeed.
Massive demonstrations by Iraqi protesters began in Baghdad and several other major cities on October 1. The demonstrations were violent in many cities with the intervention of law enforcement, and protesters took violent actions on occasion.
The promise of the detained protesters’ release
Protest movements in Iraq over the past three days have killed at least 42 people and left dozens injured. Many protesters have also been detained, with no exact numbers reported. In a televised address, the Iraqi Prime Minister promised that all detainees would be released if they did not commit a criminal offense.
On Tuesday, a number of demonstrators, most of whom were young, blocked some of Baghdad’s streets and disrupted car traffic. The police tried to disperse the protesters by firing tear gas and attacking the protesters, resulting in violent clashes between the two sides. The Iraqi government has imposed a curfew on Wednesday night in Baghdad and several other cities, where protesters again took to the streets Thursday.
Iraq is estimated to be the fourth-largest country in the world with proven oil reserves. However, the infrastructure and utilities in this country are inadequate and many citizens are suffering from poverty and unemployment.
Corruption in government is not a new issue in Iraq either. For years, critics and protesters have accused government officials of thinking more about filling their pockets and those of their loved ones, rather than trying to improve the country’s plight. In the list of Transparency International, Iraq is ranked #1 in terms of corruption in the world.