- The Secretary of State, deploring the deaths of dozens, called on the Iraqi government to take utmost restraint in dealing with the protesters.
- On Monday night, protests resumed in Baghdad's Sadr City.
- Iraqi security forces had begun arresting protesters Tuesday in the eastern and northwestern parts of Baghdad.
The US Secretary of State, in a phone call with the Iraqi Prime Minister, called for maximum restraint and measures to address protesters’ demands. The Iraqi government has introduced a second social reform package. Mike Pompeo talked with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi over the latest developments in the wake of the ongoing unrest in Iraq.
The Secretary of State, deploring the deaths of dozens, called on the Iraqi government to take utmost restraint in dealing with the protesters. According to Reuters, citing a statement issued by the State Department on Tuesday, Pompeo has called on the Iraqi government to take immediate steps to address discontent by reforming and tackling corruption.
An unnamed news source reported on a “recent” telephone conversation between two US and Iraqi officials. Earlier, the Iraqi Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement on Monday that Abdul-Mahdi had briefed Pompeo in a telephone conversation, referring to the country’s return to normalcy after the lifting of the ban on traffic. A statement from the Iraqi Prime Minister’s Office also referred to a package of reforms and measures put forward by the Abdul-Mahdi government to respond to the protesters’ dissatisfaction.
To meet the protesters’ demands, the Iraqi government presented its second package of proposed social reforms yesterday. Providing subsidies and housing for the poor, and programs and training courses for unemployed youth are among the key points of government reform planning. Following a cabinet meeting, the Iraqi Prime Minister released a proposed reform of social networks that would have cut access to the internet and social media for more than a few days for Iraqi citizens.
Security challenges with widespread protests in Sadr City
On Monday night, protests resumed in Baghdad’s Sadr City. At least one member of the Iraqi security forces was killed in Monday night’s unrest. Other reports suggest four protesters were killed in Monday night’s riots.
The spread of violence in Sadr City this week could heighten the security challenge for the government. Unrest in the region of Baghdad is caused by people facing unemployment and limited access to electricity and water. Sadr City, which accounts for about a third of Baghdad’s population of 7 million, has been difficult to control in the past.
Protesters set fire to tires outside the municipal buildings and courthouse in Baghdad’s Sadr City Square, police said on Monday night. Police say Iraqi security forces have fired from inside the crowd. Protesters, in contrast, say security forces opened fire on them. Reuters reports, however, say that its reporters have seen protesters killed and injured by sniper fire from rooftops.
The arrest of protesters and called for dismissed soldiers
Iraqi security sources, on the other hand, told Reuters that security forces had begun arresting protesters Tuesday in the eastern and northwestern parts of Baghdad. Iraqi police carried photos of the protesters to identify and arrest them, according to the Iraqi police. Reuters reports at the same time that the Iraqi Army on Tuesday called in officers and soldiers who had previously been dismissed for allegedly abandoning and surrendering cities and villages attacked by ISIL.