Staff Writer/Copy Writer
Since last Tuesday, anti-government protesters have taken to the streets of Baghdad and other southern Iraqi cities to protest for jobs, services and an end to government corruption that seems to be rampant in Iraq.
So far the protests have proven to be deadly, with a death toll of over 104 people and thousands of Iraqi citizens wounded. Iraqi Security forces have been opening fire on the protests using tear gas, rubber bullets and even live rounds.
Iraqi Prime Minister, Abdul Mahidi has issued a series of reforms in order to appease the Iraqi population, including plans to distribute land, military enlistment jobs and welfare stipends for families in need. He also pledged, “I am ready to go wherever our brotherly protesters are and meet them or send them envoys to other locations without any armed forces. I will go and meet them without weapons and sit with them for hours to listen to their demands.”
Iraq, an oil-rich country within a tumultuous region, has had its fair share of trials during the last generation. This country has been plagued by war both from external and internal forces, of recent, the seizure of territory by ISIS militants. While Iraq declared the end of ISIS’s territorial rule at the end of 2017, there is insurgency is still existent.
The Iraqi Government needs to play its hand well. With mass protests or insurrection comes an environment where outside influences such as ISIS or other terror groups can start to seep themselves back in; by taking advantage of this uprising, regime change can happen very quickly in the country.
For example, during the Arab Spring in 2011, President Hosni Mubarak was forced to leave office 18 days after the start of the initial protests in Egypt, and for close to the same reason that the Iraqi’s are currently protesting. Egypt had a weak democratic government that had a regime change in just under three weeks.
Now, while PM Mahidi attempts to bring new reforms to the citizens of Iraq, the question is; will its population be content with that alone or simply keep wanting more? We must keep in mind that Iraq has had an entire generation of people that have seen nothing but regime change and constant war stretching back all the way to the 1980s.
In my lifetime, the Second War in Iraq and the “War on Terror,” including ISIS, have been the hallmarks of my knowledge of this country. Besides that, I know that the country is rich in oil and its people are both resilient and tired of this constant state of war, poverty and death.
Perhaps Americans can learn something from the people of Iraq, and that is to never give up. Never give up fighting for your quality of life. Your home, your family, your neighbors and your community have need for more people like those in Iraq fighting for those rights to basic needs. While we are not in a war-torn state, we can see the fabric of what humans need and what we are capable of doing to achieve those ends.
Meanwhile, the prime minister of Iraq seems to be trying to come to a consensus of what the people need and the willingness to expedite reform, but it is possible that those talks could crumble, and inevitably the cycle could continue for citizens of Iraq and eventually other countries in the Middle East.