Iraq: thousands of protesters defy curfew

Thousands of protesters converged on cities and towns across Iraq March 4, streaming in on foot in defiance of vehicle bans for rallies over corruption, unemployment and poor public services. Some 2,000 gathered in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, while large protests were also reported in Mosul, Basra and Nasiriyah and Basra. The Baghdad rally eventually ended when security forces overran the square, forcing the remaining 200-odd protesters to leave. In Basra, security forces used water cannons to disperse demonstrators. The wave of protests has prompted Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to give his cabinet 100 days to instate reforms or face the sack—but he remains the target of popular ire. The Baghdad protesters chanted “Liar, Liar, Nuri al-Maliki” as well as “Oil for the people, not for the thieves” and “Yes for democracy and the protection of freedom.” (Middle East Online, March 4)

See our last posts on the struggle for Iraq’s oil and the new Arab revolutions.

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