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article imageOp-Ed: Protests resume in Sadr City area of Baghdad in Iraq

By Ken Hanly     Oct 9, 2019 in Politics
Baghdad - Protesters have returned to the streets in Sadr City a Shi'ite district in Baghdad as they are unimpressed by Iraqi government of Abdul Mahdi's promise of reforms and his removal of the military from the are after numerous casualties.
Protesters demand resignation of the Mahdi government
Those protesting are echoing the position of the powerful cleric Moqtada al-Sadr who is demanding the resignation of the existing government. Al-Sadr has strong support in the area a depressed mostly Shia part of the capital.
Another article reports: "The spread of the violence to Sadr City this week could heighten the security challenge. Unrest has historically been hard to put down in the district, home to about a third of Baghdad’s 8 million people, with little electricity or water and few jobs."
Government promised new reforms after numerous casualties
As a recent article
reports: "Iraq’s government issued a second package of proposed social reforms on Tuesday in an attempt to meet the demands of anti-government protesters who have demonstrated nationwide for eight days, with the loss of 110 lives and 6,000 wounded." However, the government has promised reforms before with little result. Given the large number of casualties the promises of reform may not be enough to keep the government in power.
President Salih condemned the excessive violence used against protesters and replaced the army with police in the Sadr Cit area. While Sadr CIty's ties with important political figures make resolving protests there of particular importance the protests had spread from Baghdad to the rest of the country. The large number of casualties from the violent crackdown may be difficult to assuage but perhaps if the reform are actually carried out the protests might be isolated.
The reforms
A recent article sets out some of the reforms: "Confronted by its biggest challenge since coming to power just under a year ago, Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi's cabinet issued a decree including 17 planned reforms, such as land distributions and increased welfare stipends for needy families. The decree ordered construction of 100,000 new housing units. In September, local authorities launched demolitions of houses in informal settlements, home to three million Iraqis across the country. In response to staggering youth unemployment, which has reached around 25 percent according to the World Bank, the government said it would create large market complexes and boost benefits for those without work."
Iraqi MPs appear to be in strong support of passing all these reforms as they worry that if there were fresh elections they could very well lose their seats. However, the reforms may be too late if not too little as the casualties have built up a great deal of anger against the government. The government also blocked social media and the Internet during the protest as well as jailing, killing or wounding many protesters.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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