Friday, October 18, 2019

Iraq Situation Report: October 11 - 16, 2019

Street protests rooted in popular discontent and a harsh government response have embroiled Iraq in a crisis since early October 2019. The protesters – largely though not exclusively from Iraq’s Shi’a communities in Baghdad and southern Iraq – are airing growing frustrations over the Iraqi government’s failure to enact reforms and deliver basic services, a lack of economic opportunities, and the Iranian regime’s deepening control over the Iraqi state.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) is assessing the ongoing unrest and its effects on political-security dynamics in Iraq. The Iraq Situation Report (SITREP) series summarizes key events and likely developments to come. This SITREP update covers the period October 11 - 16, 2019.

Key Takeaway: A combination of a violent crackdown and short-term government concessions dampened protests in Iraq by Friday October 11, but they will likely resume after the Shi’a religious observation of Arba’een concludes on October 20. Iraq’s Shi’a Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a two-week deadline on October 11 for the Iraqi government to enact basic reforms and prosecute the security forces responsible for violence against civilians. The government will almost certainly fail to meet Sistani’s demands due in part to the fact that Iran’s proxies are responsible for much of the violence. The behavior of Iran’s proxies will contribute to renewed protests. Multiple Iraqi news outlets report that activists are quietly planning to resume protests on Friday, October 25.

Click on the image to enlarge the map.