Iraq Protest: December 20th to the 26th

November 1 to  7th

November 8th to 14th

November 15th to  21st

November 22nd to 28th

November 29th to December 5th

December 6th to 12th

December 13th to 19th

This week has been relatively uneventful when compared to previous weeks but the big question of who will be the new Prime Minister still has not been answered, leaving the country in a state of limbo.

Protesters have been blocking bridges and security forces are focused on fortifying the Green Zone to prevent demonstrators of gain access.  With that said, the violent crackdowns have been much lower than in past weeks but there has been a hash of targeted killings of prominent figures in the protest movement.  

Below is a rundown of all the key events from the 20th to the 26th of December.

December 20th

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani continues to push for early elections in his weekly sermon, according to The New Arab.

Amid delays in finding a new prime minister, the 89-year-old urged lawmakers to "form a new government as soon as possible," according to his representative Abdel Mahdi al-Kerbalai.
"The quickest and most peaceful way out of the current crisis and to avoid plunging into the unknown, chaos or internal strife ... is to rely on the people by holding early elections," said the representative of Sistani, who never appears in public.

According to ABC, Sistani also stated

“We hope that there won’t be a long delay in the formation of the new government, and it must be an uncontroversial government that responds to the requirements of the current stage, and be able to gain back the state authority and calm down the situation," Al-Sistani said.

ABC provides some information on the precautions the security forces are taking to prevent protesters from advancing into the Green Zone.

Blast walls were erected by security forces on a bridge leading to the presidential palace in the heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat of Iraq's government. The move came in anticipation of future demonstrations there as discontent over President Barham Saleh's inability to name the next premier mounts among anti-government protesters.
Protesters currently occupy three bridges leading to and near the Green Zone — Jumhuriya, Sinak and Ahrar — in a standoff with security forces. The demonstrations engulfed Baghdad and southern Iraq on Oct. 1, when thousands took to the streets to protest government corruption, poor services and rising Iranian influence in state affairs. At least 450 protesters have died as security forces used live fire and tear gas to disperse crowds.

December 21st

Throughout the day according to Antiwar.com

Gunmen killed activist Ali al-Usaimi in Nasariya. Protesters responded by setting on fire several political party offices.

December 22nd

Massive demonstrations took place as Sunday was to be the day the new Prime Minister was to be chosen, according to SCMP

Thousands took to the streets in Iraq’s capital and across the south Sunday to protest against Iran’s kingmaking influence, as the latest deadline for choosing a new prime minister loomed.
...
As the clock ticked closer toward Sunday’s midnight deadline for choosing a new premier, the demonstrators stepped up their protests, blocking motorways and roads across the south of Iraq with burning tyres.
The deadline for parliament to choose a new prime minister to replace Adel Abdel Mahdi, who quit last month, has already been pushed back twice by President Barham Saleh.

...

Some in parliament – the most fragmented in Iraq’s history – argue that Saleh should use Article 81 of the Constitution, which authorises the president to step in as prime minister himself if there is no agreement among lawmakers on a candidate.
Saleh sought guidance from the Supreme Court on what constitutes a parliamentary majority to choose a premier, but on Sunday the tribunal sent him a letter saying “all options are open”, further adding to the confusion.
If the post remains vacant at midnight, the constitution will place Saleh himself in the role of acting premier for just 15 days until political leaders can agree on designating a new premier.

Throughout the day according to Antiwar.com

In Shoura, gunmen killed an imam.
Airstrike in Jalawla and Khanaqin left 10 militants dead.
Security forces killed eight militants in Makhmour.

December 23rd

The deadline for the new MP passed without anyone chosen, accordion to AP

Iraqi politicians have missed another deadline to name a new prime minister because of disagreements over which is the largest bloc in parliament, deepening a crisis that has roiled the country since October amid mass protests and state crackdown that has killed hundreds of people.
Thousands of Iraqis continued to protest and block roads on Monday in Baghdad and across the predominantly Shiite south, rejecting any candidate belonging to political groups that have ruled the country for years.
The protests follow a long night in which some politicians tried to convince President Barham Saleh to name an Iran-backed politician for the post, two Iraqi officials said. The midnight deadline Sunday for naming an interim prime minister passed with no apparent solution in sight.
The two officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity under regulations, said Saleh had threatened to resign if he was forced to name a candidate whose nomination is opposed by the public.

A new dead line had not been set.

December 24th

According to Reuters, a new election law pad passed parliament, answering one of the many demands the protesters have been calling for.

The new election law passed by parliament on Tuesday will allow voters to elect individual legislators instead of choosing from party lists, and have each member of parliament represent a specific electoral district instead of groups of legislators representing entire provinces.

Throughout the day, according to Antiwar.com

...thousands of people across southern Iraq demonstrated their frustration with the continuing political deadlock in Baghdad. Among the locations of escalated protests were Amara, Diwaniya, Hilla, Kut and Nasariya. Rioters attempted to storm a government building in Karbala, and detained the employees of a power station. Roads were blocked in Basra. Also, entrances to the Green Zone in Baghdad were fortified.

December 25th

According to AFP, Iraqi protesters are calling for a nation wide boycott of call Iranian goods.

Using the slogan "let them rot", protesters who have taken to the streets since October 1 to demand wholesale political change are now shunning everything Iranian -- from fruit to sugary drinks.

The Basra Governor was nominated for MP, according to AP.

The Fatah bloc, which includes leaders associated with the paramilitary Popular Mobilization Units, supported by Iran, proposed Gov. Asaad al-Eidani for premier.

This was of course rejected by the protesters.

Hours after his nomination, protesters poured into the streets of several southern Iraqi provinces, including Basra and the holy Shiite cities of Karbala and Najaf. The protesters rejected al-Eidani's nomination, saying they want an independent figure for the post.
In Karbala, shooting could be heard in the city but the cause was not immediately clear, local officials said.
According to the two officials, President Barham Saleh received a memorandum from parliament which stated that the Iran-backed bloc is the largest in the house and therefore has the right to nominate the next premier. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity under regulations.

December 26th

I was unable to find any articles about any particular events for the 26th.

With no MP selected that is satisfying the protesters and no new deadline for this decision to be made, Iraq is in uncharted territory.  Sistani is still calling for the early elections and with the new election law being passed allowing for voters to select indivuals and not just on party's, we could be seeing this happen somewhere in the not too distant future.

I do think it is important to highlight President Saleh mentioning he would resign if he was forced to name a MP that the protesters did not want.  This came from 2 anonymous sources, so should be taken with a grain of salt but given the circumstances, it is likely this would be the case as he would not want to risk the protesters turning their attention to him.

I also would like to highlight the boycott on Iranian goods.  This can have a large impact as Iran is already dealing with Trump's 'Maximum Pressure' campaign of sanctions.

And one more thing of note is the number of targeted killings that have taken place throughout the week of different protest figures and prominent members in the different communities is alarming.

Please check back next with for December 27th to January 2nd.

Take care.

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