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11/26/2020
 

Protests Explode Against Iranian Influence in Iraq

How the protests revealed Iran’s iron-fisted subjugation of Iraq.


BY WARREN REINSCH

On Sunday, Iraqis stormed the Iranian consulate in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, Iraq, scaling the compound’s concrete barriers and lobbing stones and firebombs at the building to protest Iran’s hold on the nation. As Iraq’s largest protests since the removal of Saddam Hussein in 2003 continue to intensify, Iranian leadership is becoming seriously concerned.

Gathered outside the consulate, hundreds of protesters chanted, "Iran, get out; get out from Iraq," as they burned Iranian flags and raised the Iraqi flag in its place. According to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, protesters also trampled on pictures of Quds Force Cmdr. Qassem Suleimani. According to the Iran Primer news site, Iraqi security forces fired at protesters, resulting in three deaths and 19 injuries.

Similar protests also occurred in the southern port city of Basra. Iraqis shouting, "Stop the Persian occupation of Arab Iraq," set the Iranian consulate ablaze. Iraq’s Foreign Ministry condemned the attacks, calling them a "red line that should not be crossed."

The string of protests began on October 1, when thousands of anti-government demonstrators gathered in Baghdad, Iraq’s capital, to express anger about unemployment, economic poverty and government corruption. Since they began, more than 250 people have been killed and more than 4,000 have been wounded.

In response to the protests, the Iraqi government has cut Internet access across much of the nation, deployed the Iraqi Army to subdue the protesters, and imposed an indefinite curfew.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi attempted to appease the mobs by promising them better economic conditions and various reforms. These promises fell flat, however, and the protests continued. Mahdi was about to give in and step down.

Then Iran intervened.

 
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