Violence Escalates During Protests in Iraq

Protesters and police face off after months of protests across Iraq Protesters and police face off after months of protests across Iraq Thaier Al-Sudani / REUTERS

27 January 2020

Police and protesters turn violent after tensions raise in Baghdad

Iraqi security forces began using live ammunition against demonstrators as protests continued across the Baghdad area, Al Jazeera reported. The protests, which began nearly four months ago, have evolved from peaceful demonstrations to violent clashes between anti-government protesters and the Iraqi police. 

In Tahrir Square, anti-government protesters have called for the resignation of many Iraqi politicians on the basis of corruption, according to Al Jazeera. The protesters are also calling for the removal of US troops from Iraq, which is another source of tension between the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government. Recently, protesters stormed the US Embassy in Baghdad to send a message that US presence is no longer appreciated. 

On 18 January, riot police set fire to tents belonging to protesters by the Sinak Bridge, a few blocks away from Tahrir Square, witnesses told Al Jazeera. The security forces also reopened several roads that were previously blocked by protesters. Additionally, protesters retook areas near Khilani Square that security forces had already forced them out of. 

According to Reuters, ambassadors of 16 countries in Baghdad including France, Britain, and the United States have condemned the use of live ammunition by the Iraqi forces. The Special Representative to the United Nations for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, urged the Iraqi government to avoid using live ammunition on demonstrators. She emphasized the importance of listening to the needs of the Iraqi people instead of using efforts to suppress protests.

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Author: Vito Quaglia; Editor: Rachel Warner

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