Lebanon has been in the headlines for the last few weeks. But the Middle Eastern nation isn’t the only one experiencing a major uprising. Since the beginning of October, Iraq has been witnessing its biggest protests in decades.
Frustrated with corruption, unemployment, and poor government services, Iraqis have taken to the streets to demonstrate against Adil Abdul-Mahdi’s government, just one year after the Prime Minister began his term.
Aside from economic frustration, anti-Iranian sentiments have been widespread with demonstrators chanting anti-Iranian slogans, in a bid to put an end to Iran’s influence on the Iraqi government, which many believe led to the ousting of General Abdul-Wahab al Saadi, Iraq’s counterterrorism chief.
Iraq’s youth have been at the forefront of the demonstrations. The group, which makes up 60 per cent of Iraq’s population of 40 million people, are facing dire living conditions, with high rates of unemployment, long power outages and a severe lack of access to clean water despite the nation’s growing income.
Thousands of angry protestors stormed Baghdad’s Tahrir square, but unfortunately the government’s reaction has been anything but peaceful. The protests have turned deadly, with more than 250 demonstrators killed so far by Iraqi government forces.
And as of last week, Abdul-Mahdi agreed to step down. The Iraqi president also announced that changes would be made to the electoral system. Despite this, protests have continued, with demonstrators declaring that they will not cease to protest until all of their demands are met. Which in a nutshell, entails a complete dismantling of the current Iraqi government.
Faced with intensifying protests , which are heavily documented by demonstrators on social media, the Iraqi government has responded by shutting down internet access across the nation starting last week. Since then, the government has intermittently restored internet access in small waves, but social media is still blocked for the majority of Iraqis.
But a few Iraqi photographers have managed to keep the world up to date on what’s taking place on the ground by connecting to the internet by using foreign sim cards. One photographer, Ameer Hazi shares videos of the protests on Instagram Live regularly.