‘This was one the worst weeks in Iraq’s history. I never thought the government was capable of such crimes,’ exclaimed one civil society activist in Baghdad when describing the protests that ripped through Baghdad and other parts of Iraq from 1 October.
While protests have become frequent events in Baghdad over the past few years, this time was different. For the first time in Baghdad, forces seeking to defend the political system opened fire on demonstrators, killing hundreds and injuring thousands. The same forces, a mixture of official security forces and government-aligned paramilitary groups, also attacked independent media outlets and cut off the internet.… Seguir leyendo »
Over the past week, protests and violence proliferated across Iraq’s southern provinces. In unprecedented scenes, buildings of provincial capitals were stormed, and the offices of political parties and militias were attacked and burned down.
These are Iraq’s Shiite heartlands that contributed most of the manpower to the fight against the Islamic State. The political elites who have dominated the post-2003 order have legitimized their rule by claiming to represent and advance the interest of this previously marginalized constituency.
And yet, in recent elections, these provinces recorded some of the lowest turnout. That political disengagement has now transformed into a new and more radical means of contesting political power.… Seguir leyendo »
On May 12, Iraq held parliamentary elections in which a coalition of the Islamist Sadrist movement, led by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) secured more seats than any other alliance. It was a shocking victory that left the party of incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi — the pre-election favorite — trailing in third place.
The Sadrist-ICP electoral pact seemed to mark a transformation in Iraqi politics as two previously antagonistic groups aligned behind a single political vision. But why do such shifts continue to take analysts by surprise? When dealing with Iraq, a focus on political elites and sectarianism has produced an image of a society incapable of collective action against the political class.… Seguir leyendo »