Protests in Iraq Mean “Change” in More Ways Than One

The Turkish restaurant, protests in Iraq 2019.
(Photo, caption courtesy Hassan Majed via Wikimedia Commons)

If you had to sum up the protests in Iraq in a single word, it might be: change.

You can apply that to the demand for change, the lack of change, or the right to it.  It started October 1 and picked up steam until government security forces opened fire on the crowds. From that point forward, the protests shifted from a demand for better opportunities to a need for a whole new government.  Samuel of Redemptive Stories describes it this way: “It’s the disconnect between what the people want, and making their voice heard, versus how the government was actually implementing that.  That is where the impetus for this whole process started, but again, where is it leading? That’s the question I think that everyone’s asking.”

The benefits of change

In the past, Iraqis waited for the government to give them what they needed; today’s protesters are actively demanding it.  Most feel empowered to challenge the current system, and to some degree, it seems to be working.

In late November, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi stepped down after more than 400 people died during weeks of anti-government protests. Still, although the numbers grew smaller, anti-government protests continued due to the failed effort by politicians to nominate an acceptable replacement for the Prime Minister.  That flop brings the country one step closer to the brink of a constitutional vacuum.

Another hallmark of the protests: there’s a sense that the Iraqi people are protesting this time around with belief in themselves. Participation makes them feel as if they had a voice in the future of Iraq. That’s true in one sense, but also reveals another problem, he notes. “I don’t know that they even know what they really want. I think that’s part of the problem. They’ve been successful in getting the Prime Minister on December 1, to resign/step down. They’re working to create a new government, and then there (are) steps toward a democratic election, which will be part of that.”

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SOURCE: Mission Network News, R.B. Klama

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