Tag Archives: Iraq

OPEC, allies may deepen output cuts: Iraqi oil minister

OPEC and allied oil producers will consider deepening their existing oil output cuts by about 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1.6 million bpd, Iraq’s oil minister said on Sunday.

The minister, Thamer Ghadhban, told reporters in Baghdad that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, together known as OPEC+, will consider increasing the cuts in their supply pact at meetings in Vienna this week.

OPEC+ oil exporters have coordinated output for three years to balance the market and support prices. Their current deal, which agreed to cut supply by 1.2 million bpd from January this year, expires at the end of March.

Ghadhban added that Iraq, as of Sunday, has exceeded 100% commitment with the supply deal and that an agreement capping production from the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region will also aid compliance.

Iraq, OPEC’s second-biggest oil producer behind Saudi Arabia, exported crude at an average rate of 3.5 million bpd in November, the oil ministry said on Sunday. Its total oil output averaged 4.62 million bpd in November, a Reuters survey showed.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak on Friday said he would prefer OPEC and its allies to wait until nearer April before making a decision on whether to extend the oil output deal, the TASS news agency reported.

However, Novak’s position is likely to be opposed by most of OPEC’s members as they seek to clinch a new deal at the Dec. 5-6 meeting in Vienna.

The agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) caps production from the northern Iraqi region at 450,000 bpd, Ghadhban said. About 250,000 bpd of the KRG’s output will be handed over to the central Iraqi government and 200,000 bpd will be used by the region to pay back debt to foreign companies, he added.

The minister also said that Iraq’s crude output has not been affected by anti-graft protests that broke out in early October across Baghdad and the oil-rich regions of the south.


Iraqi forces kill eight protesters, authorities move to stem unrest

 Iraqi security forces shot dead at least eight protesters in the southern city of Nassiriya today and authorities set up joint military-civilian “crisis cells” to stem unrest after demonstrators burned an Iranian consulate.

Security forces opened fire on protesters who had gathered on a bridge in Nassiriya before dawn, medical sources said. Eight were killed and dozens more were wounded in the incident, they said.

A curfew was imposed in the southern holy city of Najaf where protesters stormed and set fire to the Iranian consulate. Businesses and government offices were closed in the city, state media reported.

The torching of the consulate escalated violence in Iraq after weeks of mass demonstrations that aim to bring down a government seen as endemically corrupt and backed by Tehran.

It was the strongest expression yet of the anti-Iranian sentiment of Iraqi demonstrators, who have taken to the streets for weeks in Baghdad and the Shi’ite Muslim-majority south. Hundreds have been killed by Iraqi security forces.

Iraqi authorities had set up “crisis cells” in several provinces to try to restore order, a military statement said.

It said the cells would be led by provincial governors but would include military leaders who would take charge of local security and military forces.

The protests, which began in Baghdad on October 1 and have spread through southern cities, are the most complex challenge facing the Shi’ite-dominated ruling class that has controlled state institutions and patronage networks since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled long-time Sunni ruler Saddam Hussein.

Protesters are mostly unemployed Shi’ite youth who demand the departure of Iraq’s entire political elite.

Security forces have used live ammunition, tear gas and stun grenades against mostly unarmed protesters. Some demonstrators have lobbed petrol bombs, bricks and fired slingshots at police.

The violence has killed more than 350 people, according to police and medics. — Reuters


Two-day children’s carnival begins in Sharjah tomorrow

After entertaining children of the emirate last year, the Sharjah Baby Friendly Office (SBFO) has announced the second edition of the Sharjah Carnival for Children and Youth, to be celebrated on Nov.21 – 22 in conjunction with World Children’s Day observed annually on Nov.20.

Two full days of fun and games have been dedicated to this unique carnival, which will be organised on the picturesque Al Majaz Amphitheatre Island. It will be an occasion for children, families and the whole community to enjoy and learn, from 9am – 10pm on both days.

In celebration of Sharjah’s support for children’s rights and to mark the 30th anniversary of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child this year, the island has been named the ‘Children’s Rights Island’ for the carnival.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, this SBFO carnival celebrates the exceptional qualities and achievements of the city’s children and youth by bringing the whole community together to connect and celebrate.

Festivities will unfold on the island, completely transformed into a child-friendly edutainment zone filled with exciting games, educational workshops and fun activities, including roving dance performances and processions, a photo booth, a tunnel of light, giant chairs, flag poles themed around children’s rights.

Activities will include workshops on cube painting, stencil painting and tote bags painting, and a variety of games staged on various parts of the island. There will also be lounges where families can relax and unwind.

Dr Hessa Al Ghazal, Executive Director of SBFO, said: “On the occasion of World Children’s Day, we invite families and schools in to bring their children and students for two days of fun and edutainment. The carnival’s main theme this year is children’s rights as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. We pay tribute to this achievement with activities and games themed around children’s rights.”

She added: “The carnival reflects His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Al Qasimi’s vision and directives, and his wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi’s support to elevating the status of children and bettering their lives. This is a great opportunity for the community to unite, celebrate our children and youth, and recognise Sharjah’s achievements to create a nurturing environment for them.”

Sharjah will also participate in Unicef’s global GoBlue campaign through ‘Go Blue Sharjah’, which will be an intrinsic feature of the carnival, with the Al Majaz Amphitheatre building being lit up in blue symbolically, alongside other destinations such as the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and The Flag Island, to show the emirate’s support for children’s rights globally.

Fifteen government entities and organisations will participate in the carnival, each offering interactive edutainment activities and workshops for visitors, including Lughati initiative, Sharjah Broadcasting Authority, Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, Sharjah Girl Guides, Child Safety Department, Sharjah Government Media Bureau, Sharjah Police, Sharjah Municipality, Sharjah Education Council, Sharjah Children, Sharjah Health Authority, Rubu’ Qarn Foundation for Creating Leaders & Innovators, Sharjah Private Education Authority, and the Sharjah Social Services Department.

SBFO aims to protect and elevate the status and wellbeing of children of all ages in Sharjah. It creates relevant strategies and plans and implements them in cooperation with relevant institutions and government authorities. The office is currently tasked with overseeing the continuation and implementation of the Sharjah Baby-Friendly Project (targeting age group 0-2), the Sharjah Child Friendly City Project (targeting age group 0-18), and the Sharjah Child Friendly Schools project.

The new season of #letsmajaz at the Al Majaz Amphitheatre will open on Dec.6 with Iraqi and Middle Eastern musical legend Ilham Al Madfai, according to an earlier report.

The world-class destination with a strong reputation for attracting the region’s biggest artistes for concerts and celebrations to Sharjah has roped in the iconic Iraqi guitarist, singer and composer, who will be accompanied by the six-member musical ensemble by Iraqi-Swedish Tarabband.


Leak of Secret Iranian Documents Reveals Iranian Influence in Iraq

An unprecedented leak of secret intelligence documents from inside the Iranian government has shed new light on how Iran has taken control of much of the Iraqi government in the wake of the 2003 U.S. invasion. The 700 pages of documents from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security were leaked to The Intercept, which then partnered with The New York Times to report the story. Meanwhile, protests over a gasoline hike rocked Iran over the weekend. At least 12 people have been killed. On Sunday, Iran imposed an almost complete internet blackout. The Iranian economy has been hard hit by U.S. sanctions, which President Trump imposed after deciding to withdraw from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. After headlines, we’ll speak with one of the lead reporters on the major exposé of leaked Iranian intelligence documents: The Intercept’s Murtaza Hussain.


British troops may be investigated over alleged war crimes

War crimes allegedly carried out by the British military may for the first time be investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Killings of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq have been covered up by the state, a BBC news programme will report on Monday.

The United Kingdom’s ministry of defence denied the allegations.

But children were killed, civilians tortured, and British troops were complicit with evidence reportedly contained in a series of leaked documents sourced from within the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT).

That team, and Operation Northmoor – which investigated war crime allegations in Afghanistan – were shut down by the UK government in 2017 after Phil Shiner, a solicitor who had taken more than 1,000 cases to IHAT, was struck off from practising law amid allegations he paid people in Iraq to find clients.

But some former investigators said Shiner’s actions were used as an excuse to close down the inquiries.

No case investigated by IHAT or Operation Northmoor has led to a prosecution.

The ICC said it has taken the accusations “very seriously”, according to the BBC, whose Panorama: War Crimes Scandal Exposed will be broadcast at 21:00 GMT on Monday evening.

“The ICC said it would independently assess the BBC’s findings and would begin a landmark case if it believed the government was shielding soldiers from prosecution,” the corporation reported on Monday morning.

The ICC previously concluded it was credible that British troops committed war crimes in Iraq related to the mistreatment of detainees.

The year-long investigation claims to have found evidence of murders by a special forces SAS soldier, as well as deaths in custody, beatings, torture and sexual abuse of detainees by members of the Black Watch.

A senior SAS commander was also referred to prosecutors for attempting to pervert the course of justice, the investigation found.

Palpable outrage

When allegations of troop abuses first emerged in the years after the invasion of Iraq, the outrage was palpable. In 2006, video was published of abuse being carried out two years previous – British soldiers grabbing four Iraqi boys off the street and dragging them away for a beating, goaded by the soldier filming.

In the southern city of Basra, the video sparked mass protests with the burning of Union flags. Back home, there were calls for soldiers’ prosecution, but a year later the case was dropped by prosecutors as the statute of limitations expired.

But after similar stories began to emerge in subsequent years, the media outrage shifted to focus on the prosecutions instead of the abuses. Investigations into soldiers’ actions were deemed “witch-hunts” by influential right-wing tabloid newspapers. Former prime minister Theresa May blasted “activist, left-wing human rights lawyers” for causing distress to serving and former military personnel.

When IHAT, set up under a Labour government, was shut down by a Conservative government only 20 cases were taken forward. The other 3,400 on IHAT’s books were shelved indefinitely.


Iraqi officials say Iran runs ‘shadow government’ in Baghdad

Iran runs a shadow government in Iraq, which is “no secret” to the public, officials in Baghdad told The National, as leaked intelligence reports detailing how Tehran holds sway over Baghdad were published on Monday.

The New York Times and The Intercept say they have reviewed over 700 pages of reports written mainly in 2014 and 2015 by Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security that show “how aggressively Tehran has worked to embed itself into Iraqi affairs.” It includes paying Iraqi agents working for the United States to switch sides.

“Of course, it is no secret that Iran controls different sectors of the government and parliament,” a senior Iraqi official, who chose to remain anonymous, told The National.

“Everyone knows that there is a shadow government run by Qassem Soleimani that has infiltrated the political, economic and security sectors of the Iraqi state,” he said.

General Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, is Tehran’s point man on Iraq and travels there frequently during times of political turmoil.

Demonstrators took the streets of Baghdad and southern cities last month in anger over corruption and the government’s close ties to Iran.

The documents showed that Mr Soleimani was seen in Iraq after the protests kicked off.

He chaired various meetings to persuade allies in the Iraqi parliament to help Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to hold on to his role.

What the leaked documents show is a confirmation of the details and names that the public already knew about, the official said.

In the 16 years since the fall of Saddam, Iran has emerged as a key power broker in Iraqi politics, with arguably greater influence than the US in the Shiite majority country.

The documents “offer a detailed portrait of just how aggressively Tehran has worked to embed itself into Iraqi affairs, and of the unique role of General Soleimani,” the two outlets said.

Iraq has been rocked by anti-government protests against corruption, unemployment and poor public services that began on October 1.

The documents show that Mr Soleimani chaired various meetings to persuade allies in the Iraqi parliament to help Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to hold on to his role.

The information in the documents can be “classified as new black points to Iraq’s dark history”, Hashim Al Hashimi, an Iraqi security expert, told The National.

“Details of the report are not new to those interested in Iraq’s political affairs, they will also not renew concerns about the people mentioned in them,” he said.

The Iraqi foreign ministry did not respond to a request for comment on the matter.

“The documents prove how weak the Iraqi institution is and sadly the Iraqi officials are really not patriotic and they are ready to do everything for other countries including Iran,” Sarkwat Al Shamsi, an Iraqi member of parliament told The National.

“We have a deep crisis within the Iraqi state and system, it is at stake, there are individuals who keep switching sides from America to Iran, and maybe tomorrow another country, this is so dangerous,” he said.

Iraqi officials have done “everything to destroy the country and to enrich themselves,” he said.

In one of the documents Mr Abdul Mahdi is described as having had a “special relationship” with Tehran when he was Iraq’s oil minister in 2014.

It also named former prime ministers Haider Al Abadi and Ibrahim Al Jafari as well as former speaker of parliament Salim Al Jabouri as politicians with close ties to Iran.

One of Mr Al Jabouri’s top advisers- identified as Source 134832- was an Iranian intelligence asset.

“[I] am present in his office on a daily basis and carefully follow his contacts with the Americans,” the source told his Iranian handler, according to the documents.

Following the withdrawal of US troops in 2011, Iran was able to gain much more access inside Baghdad, which it said left Iraqi assets of the Central Intelligence Agency “jobless and destitute”.

They then turned to Iran, offering information on the CIA’s operations in Iraq in exchange for money, the report said.

According to the documents an Iraqi military intelligence officer had travelled from Baghdad to meet with an Iranian intelligence official in Iraq’s holy city of Karbala.

The Iraqi official delivered a message from Lieutenant General Hatem Al Maksusi saying that “all of the Iraqi Army’s intelligence- consider it yours”.

Mr Al Maksusi had also offered to give Iran information about a covert system established by the US to eavesdrop on Iraqi phones, run by Mr Al Abadi office and military intelligence, the reports said.


Iraq’s prime minister: from anti-Saddam activist to crackdown leader

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi is one of the central figures in a government that has killed over 300 people in its bloody response to mass protests in the last six weeks.

The soft-spoken French-educated economist, like many in senior positions in Iraq, hails from an exiled generation who once struggled – largely peacefully – against the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein before 2003.

Many in official positions once discussed how to protect human rights and freedoms after the US-led invasion of 2003. Many, especially Shiite politicians, spent years as the target of Saddam’s own violent crackdowns on dissent.

These figures have now undergone a 16-year transformation from voices of opposition to leaders of their own crackdown of protests that one Iraqi cleric described as being reminiscent of the Saddam-era.

Mr Abdul Mahdi’s reason for this, the cleric and an associate who had closely worked with him told The National, is the prime minister’s own political pragmatism. It also, they both said, comes as no surprise.

The 77-year-old adhered to the pre-Saddam strain of Iraqi-Baathism, Trotskyism and Maoism, before pivoting to political religion after he fled the country when Saddam came to power in the late 1960s.

Mr Abdul Mahdi finally realised his ambition to become prime minister last year after post-election backroom negotiations could come up with no other consensus figure acceptable to Iran and the US.

For Shiite politicians like Mr Abdul Mahdi, Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer Al Sadr was a key inspiration. One of Iraq’s most eminent theologians in centuries, Al Sadr was executed by Saddam in 1980 along with his sister, educator Amina Al Sadr – also known as Bint Al Huda.

Al Sadr was an Islamic reformist whose scholarship sought to harmonise Islam with constitutionalism, democracy and the rule of law – the same values Mr Abdul Mahdi and many of the Iraqi elite vowed to uphold after the fall of Saddam.

In December 2003, Mr Abdul Mahdi was among four Iraqi politicians who visited Saddam in his Baghdad prison days after he was captured by US forces.

Mowaffak Al Rubaie, who later became Iraq’s national security adviser, asked Saddam why he executed Al Sadr and Bint Al Huda, a question Saddam reportedly mockingly dismissed.

Then Mr Abdul Mahdi asked the former Iraqi dictator why he had killed Abdul Khaliq Al Samerrayi, an Iraqi Baathist leader who was once the now-prime minister’s mentor until he was executed by Saddam in 1979.

“None of your business,” Saddam replied, according to an account of the meeting by the late Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi and by Mr Al Rubaie.

The question showed how much the extrajudicial execution of Mr Abdul Mahdi’s old comrade had affected him, almost a quarter of a century later.

Inspired by Al Sadr, Mr Abdul Mahdi was part of a group at the vanguard of advocating human rights and the rule of law for the post-Saddam-era, holding a consistent view about the “new Iraq”.

They started off as widely respected and seen in Iraq as providing positive influence as the country sought a new political class after the de-Baathification following 2003.

Just two weeks before US forces invaded Iraq, Mr Abdul Mahdi put his name to an opposition manifesto hammered out in northern Iraq’s Sulaymaniyah.

Saddam’s main opponents – who at the time were poised to take power in a matter of months – pledged to “dismantle all Iraq’s repressive institutions and end those currents of thought in Iraq that gave rise to tyranny”.

The parties sought to build “a democratic Iraq based on the rule of law, characterised by internal peace, is the best guarantee for the spread of peace and stability with other countries”.

The 16 years since 2003 have, however, been anything but peaceful.

Even two years after the invasion, when he was re-running on a sectarian Shiite list for parliament and hoping to become prime minister, Mr Abdul Mahdi still echoed these ideals when he said Iraq needed to “develop the concept of citizenship”.

But once he was in power, Mr Abdul Mahdi ignored very similar acts of violence carried out with impunity that had been widespread under Saddam.

As vice-president in the mid-2000s, he avoided criticising Shiite death squads during the bloody chapters of Iraq’s post-invasion civil conflict.

Most politicians in Iraq were still opposed to a Saddam-style state dominated by intelligence operatives. But soon after the invasion, the split emerged between those who believed a continued US presence could help Iraq’s recovery – as it did for Germany after the Second World War – and those who turned to Iran.

Mr Abdul Mahdi chose a third way – remaining on good terms with both sides. The ticket to Mr Abdul Mahdi’s ascent was ultimately his association with the Al Hakims, a powerful religious-political family that took him under its wing and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq that they helped found in Tehran in the 1980s.

The council’s armed wing, the Badr Corps – later renamed the Badr Organisation – became Iran’s main paramilitary instrument in Iraq.

But Mr Abdul Mahdi was considered more open-minded than some Shiite doctrinaire figures.

Even after he had turned to political Islam, he still translated a book on development from French to Arabic by the late Marxist economist Samir Amin.

Given his history, when the security forces and Iran-backed militias first opened fire on the Iraqi protests in early October, some expected Mr Abdul Mahdi to take a stand.

Instead, he recycled old economic development plans and ordered more troops onto the streets, in line with tough action advocated by Iran.

Indeed, reports indicate Mr Abdul Mahdi’s continued role as prime minister is thanks to the intervention of shadowy Iranian Quds Force head General Qassem Suleimani.

Sheikh Ali Al Uboudi, an independent Shiite cleric who is among the most outspoken religious figures to support the uprising, cautioned demonstrators early on not to expect the prime minister to be any different from other governments.

The cleric told The National that those in power today have no qualms about being as brutal as Saddam, even though they were at the receiving end of his years of repression.

“Abdul Mahdi is weak, and a weak personality can be the most violent,” Mr Al Uboudi said.

Iraqi journalist Ali Nouri said Mr Abdul Mahdi has grown isolated, partially explaining “the degree to which his rhetoric has become so callous, talking about budgets and projects and construction while the youth of Iraq are being annihilated.”

For an old friend of the prime minister, the protesters’ resolve to bring down the entire political class had put Mr Abdel Mahdi on the side of the government’s most brutal elements and in opposition to the streets.

The associate of Mr Abdul Mahdi, who described how they worked together in the late 1990s and early 2000s on legislative and human rights issues in preparation for a post-Saddam era, talked about the shift in the prime minister.

“Adel has behaved first and foremost like a politician,” the friend said, adding that this didn’t absolve him. “Whether he gave orders to shoot the protesters or not, he bears responsibility.”

Despite lofty aims and ideals of enforcing the rule of law, neither Mr Abdul Mahdi nor his other Shiite predecessors appear to have made significant attempts and to build the state laid out in the 2003 manifesto they put their names to.

After 2003, Al Sadr’s unmarked grave was exhumed and his body moved to an imposing new resting place in Wadi Al Salam, the valley of peace in a sprawling cemetery at the Shiite holy city of Najaf.

Since then, Iraqi Shiite leaders have thronged to his gravesite to bolster their own credentials and reputations. While many still talk about the values Al Sadr once espoused, they don’t seem to be translating into the actions of the current administration.


Turkey ‘neutralizes’ 8 PKK terrorists in northern Iraq

Turkish security forces “neutralized” eight PKK terrorists in northern Iraq, the Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

“With the coordinated work of the Turkish Armed Forces and National Intelligence Organization, eight PKK terrorists were neutralized in an air-backed operation in the Metina region of northern Iraq,” the ministry said in a statement.

Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralize” to imply the terrorists in question surrendered or were killed or captured.

PKK terrorists often use northern Iraq to plan cross-border terrorist attacks in Turkey.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the EU — has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.


Iraq says oil extraction, exports stable despite ongoing deadly protests

 The Iraqi Ministry of Oil said on Saturday that oil export and extraction levels were remaining “stable” despite anti-government protests marred by violence continuing throughout in the nation’s central and southern provinces.

Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban said that the “extractive side is in very good health,” as well, according to a statement from the ministry. He also said Iraq is “committed” to its share of output in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). 

Since they began in early October, widespread protests in Iraq have resulted in the deaths of at least 300 and some 15,000 have been injured, according to the Independent High Commission for Human Rights of Iraq (IHCHR). 

Amid ongoing worries by government officials about the implications of the country’s current unrest to the economy, social media pages, human rights organizations, and media reports continue to show the use of government violence to counter and deter protests in various parts of Iraq, especially the capital of Baghdad and the oil hub of Basra to the south.

Security forces reportedly used tear gas to disperse protesters on a street along the Tigris River and near a bridge leading toward the heavily fortified Green Zone, where many government offices and diplomatic missions are located. The protesters have repeatedly tried to penetrate the area, emblematic to many in the general Iraqi population of the stark divide between them and the nation’s rich and powerful class.

Those who have taken to the streets and many other Iraqis complain of high levels of unemployment, the dismal state of infrastructure and basic public services, and widespread government corruption, widely perceived to be at the heart of it all. Demonstrators are calling for radical change in Iraq’s political system, which they say serves the interests of a small governing elite instead of the general population.

With protesters repeatedly rejecting government concessions and promises of reform, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi again on Saturday pleaded for calm, saying in a statement, “The protests have helped and will help pressure political groups… to reform and accept change.”

“However,” he added, “continuing protests must allow for a return to normal life, which will lead to legitimate demands being met.” 


Use of force against Iraqi protestors ‘deplorable’: EU

The EU on Thursday voiced concern over ongoing protests in Iraq, saying use of force against protestors is “deplorable”.

“Despite repeated calls for restraint, there has been further loss of lives, a great number of injured and destruction of public and private property.

“The excessive use of force against protestors is deplorable,” EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.

Mogherini said over the past month, the people of Iraq have exercised their fundamental rights, which needs to be respected in line with the Iraqi constitution.

“The reported attacks by armed entities against demonstrators undermine the right to peaceful assembly and the expression of legitimate demands.

“The European Union expects perpetrators of all violations to be held accountable,” she added.

The bloc also reiterated willingness to support Iraq in its work to address the citizens’ demands.

At least 260 people have been killed and thousands injured in a second wave of protests in Iraq since last week against deep-seated corruption, unemployment and lack of basic services.

More than 230 people have been killed in a first wave of anti-government protests in October.

Popular anger has been simmering in Iraq in recent years due to rising unemployment and rampant corruption. Many people in the country have limited access to basic services such as electricity and clean water.

According to World Bank figures, Iraq’s youth unemployment is around 25%. It also ranks the 12th most-corrupt country in the world according to several transparency organizations.