Issue Brief on “Protests in Iraq: An Assessment”


In October 2019, large-scale protests erupted across Iraq. Tens of thousands of people, angry over corruption, maladministration and rising unemployment (which reached 8% in 2018, according to the World Bank), have occupied the streets in Baghdad and the south of the country. The Iraqi government has tried to appease the protesters by promising reforms. 

Demonstrations against the corrupt elite are not new in Iraq. In 2016, Iraqis raided government headquarters or as they are known the ‘Green Zone’. In 2018, there were large scale outcries at the poisoning of over 100,000 people due to polluted water and lack of sanitation facilities. Overall, the demands have been similar to what they are today – economic and political reforms. However, even in the face of these regular rallies, little progress has been made. Despite increased oil revenues and relative peace post 2003, the government has been incapable of handling the high poverty rates and the ever increasing unemployment. To this day, the areas devastated by war remain dilapidated.

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