HomeUSAMany Iraqis injured in anti-government protests in Baghdad | IraqOUS...

Many Iraqis injured in anti-government protests in Baghdad | IraqOUS News

Iraqi security forces used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse stone-throwing protesters in clashes that left many injured near Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, where hundreds celebrated the anniversary of the anti-government uprising in 2019.

On Saturday, at least 86 people, about half of whom were members of the security forces, were injured and 38 protesters were shot with rubber bullets.

The Iraqi military said “infiltrating elements” attacked security forces with Molotov cocktails and shotguns.

Security personnel had set up checkpoints throughout the city, closed bridges and squares, and erected walls on some bridges leading to the fortified Green Zone, where government headquarters and foreign embassies were located.

Protest in Tahrir Square in central Baghdad
Protest in Tahrir Square in central Baghdad on Saturday, October 1st. Photograph: Ahmed Celil/EPA

Protesters in the square waved the Iraqi flag and chanted “We want to overthrow the regime”.

“We joined today’s peaceful protests because we want our demands met… we want security, jobs, and our simple rights… we are not here to fight or shed blood,” said Laith, a young protester from Baghdad.

A few meters away, a Reuters reporter saw security forces fire tear gas and stun grenades to disperse protesters who were trying to tear down a wall blocking the Cumhuriyet Bridge from the Tigris to the Green Zone.

Protests broke out in the southern provinces as well. Hundreds of people gathered in the central Haboubi Square in the city of Nasiriya, marched towards the provincial building and threw Molotov cocktails.

Iraqi protesters clashed with security forces at a rally in Basra on Saturday.
Iraqi protesters clashed with security forces at a meeting in Basra on Saturday to mark the anniversary of the 2019 anti-government protests. Photo: Essam Al-Sudani/Reuters

In Divaniye and Basra, protesters gathered in front of the provincial government building and burned the tires.

In 2019, protests erupted against the government of then-prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, and demonstrators demanded an overhaul of a political system they saw as highly corrupt and that kept many Iraqis in poverty.

More than 560 people, mostly unarmed demonstrators, as well as members of the security forces, were killed in raids by Iraqi security forces and unidentified gunmen.

Mahdi resigned under pressure from the protests and powerful Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr became the biggest winner of last October’s elections.

In June, Sadr withdrew all deputies, who make up almost a quarter of parliament, and resorted to fueling street protests after his movement failed to form a government, leading to the worst clashes the country has seen in years.

Neither this government nor the previous government. We are against the entire political system. We want fundamental change. That’s enough,” said Yaser, the casual worker.

Saturday’s meeting sparked further unrest and fears of tension among power-hungry politicians, which could further delay the formation of a government after Sadr quit politics in late August.

Four rockets landed in the Green Zone on Wednesday during the partial curfew as parliament convened, seven security guards were injured, and four more rockets fired from east of Baghdad on Thursday landed around the area.