In the last couple of weeks, the Iraqi government has been subjected to surprise demonstrations from civilians in southern Iraq. After small outbursts here and there, the outcry did not come as a shock but the scale of the protests and events that followed has left many people wondering, what exactly is going on over there?

Here’s what you should know.

Saddam’s Rule Over Iraq

Saddam Hussein was President of Iraq for two decades and the primary reason for militarys conflicts with Iran and United States.

Corruption In Post-Saddam Hussein Government

Despite his execution in 2006, corruption, foreign occupation, and sectarian civil wars ensued until 2017 when ISIS was defeated. After that, a new government was elected and there was hope for peace and freedom.

Worsening Living Conditions

Two years since the IS were defeated; the country retains major oil wealth, however, the population of 40 million are still living in deteriorating conditions with lack of employment, terrible infrastructure, and persisting corruption.

Mass Protests Led By Youth

As a result, protests have ensued, a majority of them forefronted by the male youth under the age of 30 who claim to be suffering because of unemployment, poor healthcare and corruption in different areas of life.

The Government Cracks Down

Startled by the sudden public riots, the government initiated a crackdown on the protesters, opening gunfire and using tear gas on the civilians. Since then, the death toll has risen to 70, among which are mostly civilian protesters who were shot at by security forces in Baghdad.

Curfew Ensues

An indefinite curfew was imposed in the capital, as well as an internet blackout, while Prime Minister Mahdi made promises to understand and listen to the youth’s concerns, while also warning that there was no “magic solution” to Iraq’s problems.

The PM has pledged to provide graduates with job opportunities, and instructed Iraq’s Minister of Oil and government authorities to ensure that 50% of the staff should be Iraqis.

What’s Next For Iraq?

Despite the PM’s requests for peace, clashes between protesters and security forces still continue, making it the fourth day of clashes. If the chaos boils over soon, the PM would be expected to uphold his promises. However, if the situation takes a turn for the worse, and tribal or factional armed groups get involved, the situation will expectedly worsen.

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