Protest mark the one year anniversary of previous major protests
The earlier protests ended with a series of promises of reform but the reforms have largely failed to be carried out. Protesters demand a more responsive government, free elections, and political blocs that are tied to voter wishes not to the US and Iran. Elections are still months away and the interim government has been just going through the motions of governing with no reforms.
Main real reaction of government is to use police to repress them
As with previous protests, the government has not acted to correct peoples’ grievances but used the police to quell demonstrations. However, the demonstrations appear to be spreading. Yesterday protests were only in Baghad but today there were also demonstrations in the Shi’ite south indicating that the crackdown was not successful but generated even wider demonstrations. Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi has called for security forces to use restraint against the protesters. There is little sign of any engagement with their demands but there is a growing police presence at the demonstrations.
The Baghdad demonstrations
The police confronted the demonstrators at the strategic al-Jumhuriyah bridge that crosses Tigris river, and leads to the highly fortified Green Zone where government offices, parliament and the US embassy are located. The protesters were burning tires and throwing rocks at police who fired stun grenades and tear gas at the protesters. The bridge is barricaded by high concrete walls and separates the Green Zone from Tahrir Sqaure the center of the demonstrations.
Overnight in the south demonstrations were held in the shrine city of Karbala, a key point of demonstrations last year. Police actually fired live bullets in the air to disperse protesters.