Protests sprang up in Iraq on Friday, February 7, against Mohamed Tawfiq Allawi standing as a candidate for the prime minister and against the crimes committed by militia members of Muqtada Sadr in Najaf, Karbala, and other cities across Iraq.
Violence against protesters
In Najaf, the Health Department reported that 23 protesters were killed by Sadr’s forces on Wednesday, while another 16 are in a very serious condition, and 181 have been left injured.
In response to the violence, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement on Thursday.
He wrote on Twitter: “We strongly condemn the violence in Najaf. Peaceful protesters must be allowed to demonstrate for a government free of Iranian influence without facing death and violence. The government must bring the killers to justice.”
In Karbala, demonstrators organised a massive rally to condemn recent violence by Sadr’s forces, while in Habubi Square, Nasiriyah, demonstrators chanted slogans against Sadr’s forces.
In Baghdad’s iconic Tahrir Square, demonstrations were held to condemn the violence against protesters in Najaf on Wednesday as well as to reject Allawi’s candidacy. There were also students from Mostansariyeh University at the protests.
Sadr’s followers attacked the protesters and set fire to eight of their tents. This only increased the anger of the protesters.
In Dhi Qar Province, college students organised a march against the Iranian regime’s meddling in their country and Allawi’s appointment to form the country’s next cabinet. While in Diwaniya, Qadessiya Province, college students held a demonstration in Qadessiya University and could be heard chanting in support of demonstrators in Baghdad, Najaf, and Karbala.
Protesters in Basrah continued their protests and blocked a major road that led to oil storage tanks in Faw.
Demonstrators in Al Ramitheh, Al Mothana Province chanted slogans against Sadr, while in nearby Samawa, demonstrators chanted against the Iranian regime and emphasized that Tehran has used its influence to have Allawi named as the next prime minister to establish the new cabinet.
These Iraqi protests against corruption and the Iranian regime’s malign influence reignited in January after a deadline for meeting the Iraqi people’s demands passed without any change on behalf of the Iraqi government.
The protests, which began in October, had the sole purpose of rooting out corruption in the Iraqi government, which was destroying the lives of the people. The Iraqi people identified the Iranian regime as a major cause of the corruption and wanted the regime and its militias booted out of the country.