Iraq’s October revolution

Iraq’s survival can only be guaranteed if the regime pays attention to the voices on the streets

Editorial November 18, 2019

The people of Iraq have yearned for a revolution since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. While most episodes of protests in the country have fizzled out without yielding any result, this time the citizens might not settle for anything less than a complete change of system that has failed the Iraqi people. Ordinary Iraqis have poured onto streets and squares to protest against a long list of issues that have crippled the Middle Eastern nation already riddled with episodes of sectarian strife and terrorism. The people have nothing to lose other than their lives. And they are willing to do that too.

With the national level of discontent, now near the boiling point, the Adel Abdel Mahdi regime has limited options, and one of them is to pay attention to the demands of the young protesters, who are asking for nothing more than a fair system of government. They are asking for a system of government that is corruption-free, one that provides equal opportunities for all its citizens regardless of their sect. But instead of addressing corruption and the gap between the elite and ordinary citizens, Mahdi’s technocrat government has expressed no desire to push back against the system that faces rejection on the streets of Iraq. Instead, he continues to find new ways to protect the interests of Iraq’s elite.

But what more can one expect from a prime minister who came to power as a result of a compromise deal between the most powerful religious blocs in the country?  He, more than any of his predecessors, is at the behest of those who installed him. Going by the trends in the Middle East, this uprising might be the revolution ordinary Iraqis have been waiting for, one that can make or break the war-torn nation. And at this point, Iraq’s survival can only be guaranteed if the regime pays attention to the voices on the streets.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 18th, 2019.

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