Anti-gov’t Demonstrations Resume in Iraq Even as Protesters are Freed
Acting on the directive of newly sworn-in Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, Iraq’s judiciary on Sunday ordered the release of people detained in connection with the country’s anti-government protests. Nevertheless, fresh protests quickly broke out on Sunday in Baghdad and other locations despite the partial amnesty and word that a popular general was being promoted. Kadhimi announced the moves on Saturday evening during the first meeting of his cabinet, adding that those detainees directly linked to violence would remain in custody. The protests, which began at the beginning of last October, grew out of widely held perceptions of government ineptitude and corruption, as well as an economic malaise many protesters blamed on Iran, which is seen as using mostly Shi’ite Iraq in an effort to skirt harsh US sanctions on the Islamic Republic. It is estimated that the protests, which dwindled with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, have claimed upwards of 600 lives.