The Iranian consulate in Basra, #Iraq, was set on fire by angry protesters as part of ongoing demonstrations. The demonstrations have led to a city-wide curfew, as Iraqi authorities attempt to limit the number of individuals on the streets.
Approximately 10 protesters have died in clashes with Iraqi security forces since the protests became more violent on Monday. Protesters lobbed Molotov cocktails into the offices of Shi’ite militias and a government building.
Protests ongoing since July
The residents of Basra and other cities in the area are protesting the endemic corruption, soaring joblessness, and poor public services. Clashes have left civilians and police dead, with other injured. An investigation was ordered by the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, but the violence shows no signs of ending.
An emergency meeting is scheduled on Saturday to discuss the increasing number of protests and the violence. The newly elected Iraq parliament held its first session since the election in May. They face two tasks. The first is to rebuild the northern section of the country after the war with ISIS. The second is to rehabilitate public services in the south, where water and electricity shortages have been severe.
Calls continue for a government to be formed to address the issues fueling these protests. Right now, the two blocks in the Parliament claim to have an equal number of seats, making it impossible to form a government without some sort of coalition.
Iran factors into Iraqi politics
During the protests, anti-Iran slogans have become prominent, as Iraqis acknowledge the influence of #Iran in their politics and their government. One of the blocs is an alliance between former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Hadi al-Amiri, a militia leader. This alliance is backed by Iran. The other coalition has individuals within it who used to have ties to Iran but are now backed by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Iraq’s two Kurdish parties have not taken a side, while the largest Sunni blocs appear to have sided with al-Abadi and Moqtada al-Sadr, who are backed by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
Protesters not only burnt the Iranian consulate, as well as an Iranian flag. Accusations of Iran-backed political parties and their influence in Iraqi politics. Others believe Iran is the reason that their cities are being mismanaged, thus resulting in poor services throughout the region.
With the increasing violence, the Iraqi elected officials find themselves needing to address these issues without appearing to bring Iran into the solution. At the same time, it appears that anti-Iran sentiment is growing in the southern region of Iraq.