Iraq Protest: November 15th to the 21st

November 1st to the 7th

November 8th to the 14th

Protest continued this week in Iraq as Protesters inch closer to the Green Zone and begin to occupy more vital shipping ports.  The demonstrations are also sweeping through more parts of the country as students and workers are showing out in support of their fellow Iraqi's in Baghdad.  Below is a breakdown of key events for the week of November 15th to the 21st.

November 15th

Sistani's weekly sermon showed further support of the protesters demands and warned the government officials that Iraq is changing and they should take note.  He calls for new elections and accuses the government of being delusional.

According to the Daily Star

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said authorities must respond quickly to the protests which have flooded the capital and cities across the mainly Shiite south in an outpouring of anger over rampant corruption and lack of jobs.
“If those in power think that they can evade the benefits of real reform by stalling and procrastination, they are delusional,” Sistani said in his sermon, delivered by a representative in the Shiite holy city of Karbala.
“What comes after these protests will not be the same as before, and they should be aware of that.”

Further According to Aljazeera, the sermon said

"Passing a law that does not give such an opportunity to voters would be unacceptable and useless," al-Sistani said.
"If those in power think they can evade dealing with real reform by procrastination, they are mistaken," he added. "What comes after the protests is not the same as before, so be careful."

Throughout the day according to AntiWar.com

At least 10 people were killed, and 130 more were wounded:
Protest news:
In Baghdad, security forces killed at least three demonstrators and wounded or suffocated about 100 more at Khulani Square, after protesters breached barriers preventing them from entering the square. A car bomb killed six people and wounded 30 more near Tayaran and Tahrir Squares. The vehicle may have been a tuk tuk, which is small motor vehicle currently used to transport the wounded to medical care.
Demonstrations took place in Babil, Basra, Diwaniya, Karbala, Maysan, Najaf, Nasariya, and Wasit, but the number of casualties, if any, was not reported.

November 16th

The Protest in Iran had caused the Iranian government to close the boarder.

According to XinhuaNet

al-Shalamjah border crossing has been blocked to all passengers from Iraq to Iran, but still opened for commercial trucks from both sides.

The Protesters began to push closer to the Green Zone, regaining

According to AP

Iraqi security forces withdrew from Khilani Square and part of Sinak Bridge on Saturday, after firing live rounds and heavy tear gas the previous day against protesters trying to tear down a concrete barrier blocking entry to the square.
Security forces kept control over part of the Sinak Bridge and erected new concrete barriers to block protesters from pushing into the Green Zone, which houses Parliament and many foreign embassies.

Iraq’s defense minister Najah al-Shimmari had accused an unnamed “third party” of killing protesters to cause instability and escalate violence.

According to Rudaw

“The Iraqi national security forces are not who is killing the protesters,” Shimmari said. “There is a third party killing the protesters, to push protesters to clash with security forces to spread instability in Iraq.” He offered no elaboration on who said “third party” may be.

Shimmari claimed the canisters are not used or purchased by Iraqi security forces.

“The tear gas canisters and the kind of weapon that are used against the protesters on the streets do not belong to the Iraqi security forces, nor do we import these kind of weapons into Iraq,” he added.

November 17th

Protesters storm a third bridge leading to the Green Zone

According to Reuters

Iraqi protesters regained control of a third bridge leading to Baghdad’s Green Zone on Sunday, taking further ground in the biggest wave of anti-government demonstrations in decades.
Security forces used tear gas and stun bombs to prevent protesters from getting right across Ahrar Bridge in central Baghdad, part of a weeks-long attempt to disrupt traffic and reach the Green Zone housing government ministry and embassies

A rocket was fired into the Green Zone

According to Reuters

A rocket hit Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, which houses embassies and government buildings, on Sunday but caused no casualties or major damage, two police sources said.
Diplomatic sources said aerial bombardment sirens sounded after a blast.

Students skipped school to join the sit in Baghdad.

In a follow up on the US endorsement of the protesters, Washington threatens to sanction individuals responsible for the deadly crack downs.

According to Antiwar.com

Officials said they are aware that Iranian General Qassem Soleimani has been to Baghdad recently and is “behind the suppression of the protests,” and will sanction Iraqi officials who are working alongside him.

Ayad Allawi, head of the Iraqi Minbar (Platform) alliance blamed the Iraqi Government's lapse in security resulting in car bomb on Friday night.

According to the Baghdad Post

Allawi referred to the penetration of the security checkpoints around Tahrir Square, calling on the security services to uncover the circumstances of that "criminal incident" and those behind it.

Allawi stressed that "the preservation of the safety of demonstrators and the peacefulness of the protests is the duty and responsibility of the government."

A journalist was kidnapped according to CPJ.org

... gunmen abducted al-Shamari, a reporter for the state-run Iraq News Agency and the news website Baghdad Today, in the southern city of Al-Diwaniyah, according to news reports, broadcast interviews with those affected, and posts on social media.

Throughout the day according to Antiwar.com

In Baghdad, a tear gas canister killed a protester on the Ahrar Bridge, which was captured by the demonstrators; 32 were wounded as well. Rocket that fell on the Green Zonewounded a civilian. In Karrada, another civilian was wounded when a rocket fell.
Roads were blocked in Basra province, including a main road to the Majnoon oil field. Security forces were able reopen the roads at some point.
People also gathered in Diwaniya, Hilla, Kut, Najaf, and Nasariya.

November 18th

The protests spread to Southern Iraq as protesters again block the major port of Umm Qasr near Basra.

According to the New Arab

Iraq protesters blocked entry to the country's main commodities port on Monday, as demonstrations escalated in southern cities.
Hundreds stopped employees and tankers from entering the Umm Qasr port near Basra, halting operations in half on Monday, according to port sources who warned a continuation of the protest would bring operations to complete end.
“Our protests in Umm Qasr are in solidarity with our brothers in Tahrir Square and other provinces," said protester Karim Jawad, referring to the main protest site in Baghdad, Reuters reported.

700 pages of Iranian intelligence reports which were leaked from the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security.  They pertain to Iran's view of the US's toppling of Saddam Hussein and the installation of a Shi’ite government as well as how Iran officials used this to gain influince in Iraq.

The kidnapped journalist was released according to CPJ.org

Al-Shamari was released on November 18, according to news reports and a post on Facebook by the journalist.

According to Antiwar.com

Early indications are that the reports are authentic, and while some of the early reports are trying to spin this as new revelations of Iran having done something untoward, the reality is that it has been well understood that the US war and the US installation of a Shi’ite dominated government in Iraq was beneficial to Iran. Indeed, this has been a common analysis of the US war in Iraq for well over a decade now.

November 19th

Iraq's second largest Gulf port was occupied by protesters.

According to Reuters

Protesters have blocked the entrance to Iraq’s Khor al-Zubair commodities port near Basra, preventing trucks from entering, port officials told Reuters on Tuesday, as the biggest wave of anti-government demonstrations in decades continue.

November 20th

The Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement about the kidnapped journalist and the rocket that was fired into the Green Zone.

According to CPJ.org

“Iraqi authorities must ensure journalists’ safety, and widespread protests are not an excuse for failing to thoroughly investigate attacks on the press,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “The individuals or groups behind the recent abduction of Mohammad Qahtan al-Shamari and the rocket attack on Al-Arabi TV must be held to account.”

Throughout the day according to Antiwar.com

Protest news:
In Baghdad, early morning violence at the Ahrar Bridge left 27 wounded.

November 21

One port occupied by the protesters had been reopened and resumed operations.

According to Reuters

Iraq’s Khor al-Zubair commodities port near Basra reopened on Wednesday and operations resumed normally, port officials said.
....
Officials said they have been holding talks with protesters and finally managed to convince them to leave the entrance, which allowed the port to resume normal operations.

Violence picked up again throughout the day according to Antiwar.com

Protest news:
In Baghdad, ongoing clashes at the Ahrar and Sinak Bridges left four dead. Four more demonstrators were killed later. At least 90 people were wounded. Separately, a bomb killed one policeman and wounded six more.
Fighting was reported in Karbala. Protesters were said to have thrown fire bombs and police throwing stones.
The Iraqi Independent High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR) reported that nine protesters died and 135 more were wounded from November 16-20. That’s one more fatality and 76 more injured than previously reported. Two people were killed in Dhi Qar province, and another was killed in Basra. The rest of the casualties occurred in Baghdad. The Iraqi government stopped readily releasing casualty figures after the numbers topped 320 dead and 15,000 wounded since the beginning of October.

It is looking like the violence for the most part is at a relative low, likely because of the attention paid by the UN, as well as support of the current government dwindling and protest spreading to new parts of the country. Hopefully this small drop in violent crackdowns is a trend and not just a lull.

With the Iraqi Religious leaders, the UN, and the US in support of the protesters demands it appears that the ruling class will soon be forced to abandon their 'delusions' and accept early elections and a change of status quo.  

Please check back next week on the 29th for a summary of events from November 22nd to the 28.

Take care.

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