Wednesday, 29 January, 2020


Iraq's president calls for 'halt to escalation'

Anti-government protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in Baghdad on Friday Anti-government protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in Baghdad on Friday
Bennie Garza | 09 October, 2019, 22:32

The Iraqi government has given an assurance that there have been no clashes between the security forces and protesters, and that "opportunistic groups" have taken advantage of the unrest to commit crimes, Rabiee stated.

The attack on the mass media comes on the fifth-day of countrywide anti-government protests, which began last week in response to high unemployment and alleged government corruption.

At least 84 protesters were killed, a lot of them in Baghdad, since Tuesday when demonstrators initiated rallies to demand jobs, improvements to services and an end to corruption in the oil-rich nation.

"Security forces did all they could to preserve the safety of the protesters and security personnel", Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Saad Maan said.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi launched measures to appease the demonstrators, such as paying unemployment benefits and providing subsidized housing for the poor.

The statement said the government has put forward a package of reforms and will continue to provide more to meet the demands of the protesters.

The unrest is the most serious challenge for Iraq since the defeat of ISIS two years ago.

Islamic State militants could also take advantage of any chaos and thousands of U.S. troops are stationed in the country in positions not far from those of Iran-allied Shiite militia. They reportedly fired at the protesters to suppress them.

In his only address to the protesters last week, Abdel Mahdi had insisted security forces were acting "within global standards" in dealing with demonstrations.

In Baghdad, traffic was running though the streets again today after authorities finally lifted a days-long, around-the-clock curfew that was imposed in a desperate attempt to curb the massive rallies.

Armored vehicles blocked access to Tahrir square from as far as four kilometers (2.5 miles.) Protesters have been trying to converge on the central square.

"We call on the Iraqi Government to allow people to freely exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly", she said. The protesters have been demanding jobs and an end to corruption and now include calls for justice for those killed in the protests.

He said 6 107 were wounded, including more than a thousand police and security force officers and dozens of buildings were set ablaze. As protests spread to other parts of the country, the bloody clashes continued.

"The security forces' admission of using excessive force is a first step that must be translated on the ground, to rein in the behaviour of security forces and the army", it said in Arabic.

The United Nations envoy for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, took to Twitter on Saturday to denounce the violence, saying: "This must stop".

Five protesters were killed on Saturday in Baghdad raising the death toll since Tuesday to 99, the according to parliament's human rights commission. Those responsible for violence should be held to account.

Moreover, Nadhim al-Jubouri, another political analyst from Salahudin province told Xinhua that even if Abdul Mahdi is to be replaced, his successive premier will not be able to come up with needed and tangible reforms because the political process is built on ethno-sectarian power-sharing that would make the decision-making hard among the fragmented political blocs. Students made it to schools and government employees returned to work. Burnt tires and debris littered thoroughfares while security remained heavily deployed in many neighborhoods.

Atheer Assem, a pizza restaurant owner, said he was able to shop Sunday, the start of the working week, for ingredients for his baked goods.

At least 18 people were killed in Nasiriya during the week after police fired live rounds at protesters. The offices of Dijla, NRT, Arabiya Hadath, Fallouja, Alghad Alaraby, Al-Sharqiya and Sky News Arabia were also reportedly targeted.

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