Iraq Protest: November 22nd to the 28th

November 1 to the 7th

November 8th to the 14th

November 15th to the 21st

This very well may be the most violent week since the start of the protest in October.  With the protest spreading across more of Iraq's south, the Iranian consulate being burned down, TV and Radio stations being taking off air, and massive crack down by security forces nation wide, a 'Crisis Cell' being deployed to quell protesters, we are finally seeing Prime Minister Mahdi submit his resignation on Friday, November 29th.

This post covers the major events from the 22nd to the 28th that lead to his resignation.

November 22nd

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued his weekly sermon.

According to Reuters

“We affirm the importance of speeding up the passing of the electoral law and the electoral commission law because this represents the country moving past the big crisis,” his representative said during a sermon in the holy city of Kerbala.

Protest continue to grow as a 'Million-Man March' of demonstrators spreads to more and more cities.

According to The New Arab

Thousands of Iraqis returned to the streets on Friday in response to calls for a "million-man" protest against the government.
Demonstrations were widespread in Baghdad, Karbala, Basra, Dhi Qar and Qadisiyya on Friday, but clashes between riot police and protesters in the capital proved deadly.

The violence also began to pick up as protesters continued to creep closer to the Green Zone.

According to Aljazeera

Friday's casualties took place during fierce clashes near a strategic bridge in central Baghdad that leads to the city's heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat of Iraq's government.
Two people died from bullet wounds, according to police and medical sources, while two died after being hit by tear gas canisters. At least 61 others were wounded.

November 23rd

US Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise trip to Iraq to visit the al-Asad base in western Iraq's Anbar province. It is reported that he did not go to Baghdad or meet with any Iraqi Officials but according to The New Arab

Pence did met Iraqi Kurdish President Nechirvan Barzani and his prime minister Masrour Barzani in Arbil, the Kurdish presidency said, publishing pictures of the encounters.

This unannounced visit was not welcome by Rayan al-Kildani and Waad Qado, two leaders of paramilitary forces who had been sanctioned for 'serious human rights abuse' and accused of being tied to Iran.

According to The New Arab

Kildani reacted to Pence's visit on Saturday, tweeting: "To the American vice president who came to Iraq stealthily... You are not welcome on Iraqi territory."
Hashed leaders and Iran have been widely criticised in the recent protests, accused of defending the very government the demonstrators want to bring down.
Many of their offices have been burned in Iraq's restive south, the scene of new protests on Saturday.

Throughout the night according to The Telegraph

The demonstrators had gathered overnight on three bridges over the Euphrates River and when they came under security forces’ lethal fire. A fourth man who was shot in the head later succumbed to his injuries.
The deaths followed a night of chaos on Nasiyirah, Iraq’s fourth-largest city, which included government offices being set alight and the evacuation of infants and children from a hospital after tear gas was unleashed in the courtyard.

November 24th

Violent crack downs begin to sweep Iraq's south as protesters clash with security forces.  Protesters lit government building on fire and tossed molotov cocktails at he security forces.

According to The Telegraph

The deaths followed a night of chaos on Nasiyirah, Iraq’s fourth-largest city, which included government offices being set alight and the evacuation of infants and children from a hospital after tear gas was unleashed in the courtyard.

Throughout the day according to

At least 25 people were killed, and 261 more were wounded:
Protest news:
Security forces at the Umm Qasr port fired upon protesters, killing seven. About 87 people were wounded. The port had reopened on Friday after being closed down due to demonstrations.
Four people were killed in Nasariya province, and 71 were wounded. Government buildings were set on fire, and a hospital had to be evacuated.
In Baghdad, fighting on Rasheed Street left two dead and 20 wounded on Saturday. Thirteen were wounded on Sunday.
One person was killed in Najaf, and another was killed in Diwaniya.
In Basra, about 35 people were wounded by rubber bullets and tear gas canisters. Demonstrators set fire to a police vehicle in the city center.
About 24 people were wounded in demonstrations in Karbala, where protesters lobbed Molotov cocktails at security forces.
Demonstrations were reported in Amara and Kut as well.

November 25th

A twitter account owned by Shaghati, the a head of the Counter Terrorism Services was hacked with the intruder posting that a coup was in action.

According to

Monday, the CTS head’s Twitter account claimed the start of a military insurrection and “the start of the military coup against the illegitimate government in response to the demands of the Iraqi people.”

Shortly Shaghati took to Facebook and deny the coup.

According to The Middle East Eye

Shaghati denied the coup in a statement on Facebook shortly after the original posting, saying the CTS would remain a "protector of the people, the democratic political system, the Iraqi state and its national institutions".

Iraq's Parliament debated on an electoral reform draft.

According to Aljazeera

The draft electoral law aims to ban successful candidates from forming political blocs until after the formation of a government as an attempt to limit the influence of Iraq's established political alliances and blocs.
The draft electoral law also seeks to bring down the age at which Iraqis can nominate themselves for parliamentary elections from 30 to 25, and reduce the number of parliamentarians to 251 instead of the current 329.

Sweden begins a probe into an Iraqi Minister for 'crimes against humanity' for allegedly ordering the use of deadly force on protesters in October.

According to Al Arabiya

Swedish media identified the subject of their inquiry as Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari, but the statement from the Swedish Prosecution Authority did not name anyone.
The prosecutors’ body said in a statement that it had received complaints about “an Iraqi minister suspected of crimes against humanity”. The investigation was “in a very early stage,” it added.

TV and Radio stations are shut down by the Iraqi government for favorable coverage of the Protest in Iraq.

According to

With the Iraqi government’s attempt to keep a lid on public protests by censoring large portions of the Internet having shown little sign of working, Iraq’s Communications and Media Commission (CMC) has announced they are closing 12 TV stations and four radio stations.

Officially, the stations are accused of “inciting violence,” which in practice means they are believed to be functioning as mouthpieces for the protest movement, which the CMC says violates licensing regulations.

Throughout the day according to

Protest news:
Near al-Gharaf oil field in Dhi Qar province, 28 security personnel were injured.
In Baghdad, 11 security personnel were wounded when a grenade was lobbed at them.
Non-protest-related violence:
In Uhlila, the bodies of two civilians were discovered.
Six militants were killed during security operations in Kerha.
Five militants were killed and another was wounded during security operations in Hawija.

November 26th

As always, using any situation as an excuse to condemn Iran, US general Mark Milley made a trip to Iraq.

According to Reuters

The top U.S. general, Mark Milley, arrived in Iraq on Tuesday amid a spate of anti-government protests in the Middle East and questions about how they could impact Iranian influence in the region.

He is quoted saying

“Iran is aggressive in the region against their neighbouring states, both overtly and covertly,” Army General Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters this week.
“So will they continue to do that in the future? I don’t know. I would like to say no, but it is certainly possible that they will,” he added.

Throughout the day according to

Protest news:
One protester was killed in a Baghdad shooting, and 18 more were wounded.. Another protester was found dead under the Ahrar Bridge, but it is unclear when he was killed.
At least one person was killed during protests in Karbala.
Sixty people were wounded in Hilla when security forces began firing tear gas canisters.

November 27th

Protesters burned down and Iranian consulate.

According to The Times of Israel

Protesters destroyed the Iranian consulate in the holy city of Najaf in the evening. One protester was killed and at least 35 people were wounded when police fired live ammunition to prevent them from entering the building, a police official said. Authorities declared curfew in Najaf after the incident. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, in line with regulations.
The demonstrators removed the Iranian flag from the building and replaced it with an Iraqi one. Iranian staff were not harmed and escaped the building from the back door.

Throughout the day according to

Protest news:
Demonstrators in Najaf stormed the Iranian consulate on Wednesday, setting it on fire. Consular staff were evacuated shortly before the invasion. Security forces killed two people and wounded 33 more while security forces were dispersing the crowd; 47 security personnel were injured. The city is under a curfew.
In Baghdad, two demonstrators were killed, and 35 were wounded during clashes on Rashad Street near Ahrar Bridge.
As many as four people were killed in Karbala.
Two army brigades have been dispatched to Maysan province.

November 28th

In response to the Iranian consulate being torched the deadly crackdown on protesters drastically increased.

According to

A day after protesters in Iraq’s holy city of Najaf burned the Iranian consulate to the ground, Iraqi security forces are out in force with increasingly aggressive tactics, shooting live ammunition into crowds of protesters, and killing at least 28.

Iraq Government announces 'Crises Cell's' to help quell the protests.

According to Reuters

Iraqi authorities on Thursday said they had set up “crisis cells” that would be jointly led by military leaders and civilian governors in Iraq’s provinces in order to stem spiralling popular unrest, according to a military statement.
The statement said the cells would be headed by provincial governors but that military leaders would be appointed as members and “take over military and security services in (each) province.”

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi blames the Iraqi Government for not protecting their consulate in Najaf, according to Reuters.

“The Iraqi government is responsible to secure safety of diplomatic missions and diplomats in Iraq ... Tehran strongly condemns the attack and demands the Iraqi government’s firm response to the aggressors,” State TV quoted Mousavi as saying.

Prime Minister Mahdi fired General Jamil Shummary over the murder of 22 protesters in Nasiriyah. According to Al Arabiya

Iraq’s Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi on Thursday sacked the military commander he had dispatched earlier in the day to “restore order” to a protest-hit southern city after a crackdown there killed 22 protesters.
Abdul Mahdi sent General Jamil Shummary to the city of Nasiriyah on Thursday morning. Following the deployment, the toll in a bloody crackdown on the city rose to 22 protesters dead and more than 180 wounded.

Throughout the day According to

At least 45 protesters were killed, and 258 more wounded:
In Nasariya, security forces killed 29 demonstrators who were blocking a bridge or had gathered at a police station. About 233 were wounded during what has been described as merely a “sit in.” Thousands took to the streets later, defying a curfew in order to bury the dead. Some of the wounded are security personnel.
The security personnel who fired on the Nasariya demonstrators may have been part of the Quick Reaction Forces from Baghdad. Their commander was recalled to Baghdad, and Governor Adil Al-Dikhili has resigned.
Twelve people died in clashes in Najaf. At least 25 more were wounded.
In Baghdad, four demonstrators were killed.
The escalation in violence began hours after protesters set fire to the Iranian consulate in Najaf. It is the third Iranian consulate to have been burned down in the last two years. Many demonstrators consider Iran to have too much influence in Iraqi politics.
Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr warned protesters not to provoke the authorities into clamping down the revolution, as the head of the Popular Mobilization Forces (P.M.F.) commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis threatened violence towards demonstrators in Najaf under the guise of protecting senior clerics.
Some tribal forces have reportedly joined the protesters. The tribes of al-Bedour and al-Ghazi now control Fahd Bridge near Nasariya.

Later Reports from The New Arab describe Thursday the 28th of November as a 'Bloodbath'

The sudden turnaround came after one of the bloodiest days of protests yet, with 44 demonstrators killed and nearly 1,000 wounded on Thursday in Baghdad and across the south.

This week has seen some of the heaviest crackdowns and the highest numbers of dead and wounded.  

The burning of the Iranian consulate looks like the final nail in Mahdi's coffin and with Iranian government now blaming him for not protecting it, the clashes with security forces and protesters rapidly rising along with the number fatalities and wounded, and Sistani calling for his ouster, he finally has submitted.

On Friday, November 29th Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi announced his resignation. According to

After months of protests and growing condemnations of his continued rule, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi announced that he will submit his resignation to Parliament. This ends slightly over a year in office.

Abdul-Mahdi said his resignation was in response to calls from Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the top religious leader in Iraq. Sistani has for weeks called on the government to give in to protester demands.

Mahdi said according to The New Arab

"I will submit to the esteemed parliament a formal letter requesting my resignation from the premiership," Abdul Mahdi wrote, just hours after Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani called in his weekly sermon on parliament to replace the cabinet.

This has not stopped the violence as Friday or Saturday as also seeing high numbers of dead and wounded.  I will be posting a blog next week covering November 29th to December 5th.

Take care.


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