Iraqi Prime Minister Mahdi Won’t Be Last to Resign as Protesters Try to ‘Reclaim Their Land’

© AP Photo / Hadi MizbanAnti-government protesters in Tahrir Square in Baghdad
Anti-government protesters in Tahrir Square in Baghdad - Sputnik International
Violent protests have swept across the central and southern provinces of Iraq over the last few months as Iraqis have taken a stand against corruption, unemployment and the lack of public services in the country, Basma Alawee, a former Iraqi refugee and the founder of the Iraqi Activists Society, told Sputnik.

“We do see a big silence from the world and the US about what’s happening in Iraq,” Alawee, who is also the Florida refugee organizer for We Are All America, told Radio Sputnik’s By Any Means Necessary hosts Eugene Puryear and Sean Blackmon on Monday.
“The Iraqi protests, also called the October Revolution or the Iraqi Revolution - it’s an ongoing series of protests that started a week before the revolution. On September 25, 2019, a group of high[ly] educated people held a protest in front of the prime minister’s office in Baghdad demanding employment. However, the protests were met with great repression by the security forces with armed vehicles,” which sprayed the protesters with hot water, Alawee said. 

“That incident occurred and was really shocking to the Iraqis, and that’s how the October 1 protests start[ed]. People were shocked about how much our Iraqi government [is] corrupt,” Alawee explained, noting how the September 25 event triggered a wave of demonstrations.

“So the Iraqi government is now accused of using bullets, snipers, hot water and tear gas against demonstrators, and it’s not OK. Human rights violations already happened, and what’s really most shocking is that the US is just watching,” Alawee added.

According to Vox, at least 354 people have been killed by Iraqi security forces since the protests began and at least 8,000 have been injured. Dozens more protesters were injured by security forces after protesters set fire to Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Bakir al-Hakim's shrine in the city of Najaf on Saturday, Reuters reported. 

That incident occurred after Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi submitted his letter of resignation to the country’s parliament, which approved it in an emergency session Sunday. Mahdi was asked to step down by the country’s top Shia Muslim cleric, Ali al-Sistani.

“We’re seeing these Iraqis coming together. It doesn’t matter now where you come from - if you’re Shia, Sunni, Muslim, Christian, Yazidi - people don’t care anymore. What they are really asking for is to reclaim their land,” Alawee noted.

He continued that Iraq is “ruled by other countries: by Iran, by the US,” but that “there is no push to stop the bloodshed in Iraq” by those nations, adding that the US-based Iraqi Activists Society is “in support of these peaceful protesters.” 

“All … they are asking for is getting their basic needs met. I don’t think these protesters are going to go back home until everyone in the Iraqi government leaves and we have new elected people who the Iraqis themselves elect,” Alawee explained.

“We [the Iraqi Activists Society] are trying to connect the Iraqi protesters who are on the ground with media outside. We are trying to help them with interpretation to share the message,” Alawee added.

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