“We are the revolution,” chanted a group of university students in Tahrir Square in Baghdad, the epicenter of the protest, as seen on television. Next to them, women of all ages, showed their support for a complete remodeling of the political system established after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein by the United States forces in 2003. In some marches, men have accompanied them by making a protective corridor, while in the capital they walked behind.
Unused in a patriarchal and macho country, Iraqis have been present at the demonstrations since day one. Although they normally remain in the rear of the fighting, among those providing health care there have been some deaths and several injuries due to the impact of the smoke boats that fire the security forces. However, it was the first time that women called a specific march.
The unusual appointment responded to the criticism of populist Al Sadr who criticized protesters a few days ago accusing them of disrespecting religion and public morals, while asking for sex segregation in the concentrations. The cleric, whose political group constitutes one of the main blocks of Parliament, has collided with the answering movement.
After his initial support trying to make the popular unrest profitable, he changed his attitude and tried to have his followers dissolve the protests after the appointment as prime minister of Mohamed Tawfiq Allawi, whom he supports. His volunteers, known as blue caps, attacked protesters last week and are responsible for the deaths of eight of them in the city of Naseriyah, south of Baghdad. That has caused defections in their ranks.
In the four and a half months of protests, police repression and violence by militias that support the political system have left about 600 dead and 30,000 injured, according to the Iraqi Human Rights Commission.
On the other hand, this Thursday there was a missile attack against the KI military base that houses US troops in the province of Kirkuk, in the north of the country, which would not have caused casualties, Iraqi and US security sources reported to AFP. This is the first attack against these facilities since December 27, 2019.