Mass protests shake Baghdad regime

Following weeks of mounting protests over economic conditions and corruption, tens of thousands took to the streets of Baghdad Aug. 7, filling Tahrir Square to demand basic services including electricity in the midst of a crushing heat-wave. The protest had the support of all Iraq's Shi'ite factions—in a challenge to Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi from his own constituency. Even parliament speaker Saleem al-Jubouri called on Abadi to dismiss of a number of ministers accused of corruption related to a budget-cutting package that just passed, under pressure from fallling oil prices. Large protests were also reported from across Iraq's Shi'ite south, including in the cities of Basra, Najaf, Karbala and Nasiriyah. A week earlier, secular and left-wing groups held a smaller protest in Tahrir Square. But the leftists also had a contingent at the Aug. 7 march, chanting "Secularism, secularism, no to Sunni, no to Shia." (In Defense of Marxism, Aug. 10; AP, Aug. 7)

  1. Iraq labor law passes

    Under pressure from mobilized workers, Iraq's parliament on Aug. 17 approved the new Labor Law, accepting most provisions proposed by the country's unions. The law covers basic working conditions, wages, hours and safety standards. It does not cover the right to organize and bargain. This is to be covered by the Trade Union law which has yet to be adopted. (US Labor Against the War)