Iraq. During the fall, a wave of protests swept across the country. Unemployment and general dissatisfaction with corrupt politicians as well as demands on Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi’s departure in October-November resulted in at least 400 people losing their lives and over 5,000 injured, many of the police and security forces’ rubber bullets and tear gas.
Curfew went into effect in the capital Baghdad in October; Exceptional rules were introduced in other parts of the country. However, the protests continued unabated. At the end of October, Shi’a minister Muqtada al-Sadr, who is leading a partial alliance with the prime minister, declared that he no longer supports al-Mahdi. Some day later, the Shia Alliance Fatah also announced that they no longer had any confidence in the Prime Minister; however, they later changed and gave their continued support. In mid-November, Shiite religious leaders in Iraq, storayatolla Ali as-Sistani, called on Parliament to reform the country’s electoral system – a proposal is already on demand by the UN, but it has not been addressed. If al-Mahdi agrees to this and other UN proposals, among other changes to the constitution, the pressure on him may be diminished. He came to power in 2018 after a close alliance with Shi’a preacher Muqtada al-Sadr and pro-Iranian semi-military leader Hadi al-Amiri, among others. In late November, Prime Minister al-Mahdi announced his resignation. He and the government now seemed to have reached the end of the road. The day before, 44 protesters had been shot dead at the nationwide protests. In addition, in his Friday prayer, the Storayatollan as-Sistani had called on Parliament to reconsider its support for the government.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: Click to see the meanings of 3-letter acronym and abbreviation of IRQ in general and in geography as Iraq in particular.
At the same time as the violent protests in the country, dissatisfaction with the government, unemployment and corruption was manifested more peacefully. At the end of November, the race “Marathon for Peace” was organized, starting at Tahrir Square in Baghdad.
During the summer, the country’s anti-corruption commission announced that during the first half of 2019 they managed to raise a billion dollars in bribery and corruption money, and that over 800 arrest warrants were issued, of which just over 400 led to arrests. From 2004, a year after the US invasion of the country, Parliament estimates that $ 250 billion has been lost in bribery and other corrupt acts. An example: $ 10 million for two hospitals in Mosul went directly to the governor of Nineveh, now gone, as well as the money (he disappeared after he was deposited after the Mosul ferry accident in March, see below).
The protests against government and political corruption in the country gained a Swedish connection during the fall, when it was revealed in November that Iraq’s Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari had been registered in Sweden despite living in Iraq for several years. He and his wife are now suspected of gross grants, as they have received child and housing allowances even though they have not been resident in Sweden. And because al-Shammari is a Swedish citizen, an investigation into crimes against humanity was started by the Prosecutor’s Office, when he was suspected of being an accomplice to the hundreds of protesters being shot dead in the fall protests.
At a ferry accident in March on the Tigris River, at least 100 people were killed, most of them women and children on their way to an amusement park on an island near the city of Mosul to celebrate the Kurdish New Year. The accident caused the governor of the Nineveh province to be fired; moreover, Parliament decided that the relatives should be given the opportunity of damages.
At the beginning of September, some thirty pilgrims were trampled to death when panic erupted in the holy city of Karbala for Shia Muslims. It happened in connection with the important mourning ceremony of Ashura, which lasts for ten days in remembrance of Imam Husayn who was killed in 680 by the Sunni Caliphate Yazid’s army. According to the authorities, panic must have erupted when a man fell during a ritual where the pilgrims would run to a mosque. Thereafter, hundreds should have fallen, and in the panic that then arose, the pilgrims were trampled to death. According to other evidence, a footbridge must have collapsed, which should have led to the panic. However, this is denied by the authorities.
In June, the remains of a 3,400-year-old palace at the Mosul Dam near the Tigris River were found. The palace dates from the Mitann kingdom (1600-1350 BC) and the find, one of the most important for decades in the area, includes ten clay tablets with writing signs and murals in the colors red and blue.
According to CountryAAH, the population of Iraq in 2019 was 39,309,672, ranking number 36 in the world. The population growth rate was 2.280% yearly, and the population density was 90.5088 people per km2.