Südirak: 'Leaderless Protest'
The National über die anhaltenden Proteste im Südirak:
The hostility is largely directed towards a political elite deemed corrupt at a time when the feeling that politicians are unreliable is at an all-time high. Over the past week, protesters have attacked government buildings and branches of political powerful Shiite militias.
Undeterred by the scorching summer heat, demonstrations spread from Basra to Samawa, Amara, Nassiriya, Najaf, Karbala and Hilla. Minor demonstrations also broke out in Baghdad. On Wednesday, small protests broke out in Abu Al Khasib, south east of Basra city.
To most, however, these protests don’t come as a surprise. Each summer, when temperatures hit 50 degrees Celsius and basic services break down, disgruntled Basrawis take to the streets.
But behind the chaos of burning tyres and tear gas, the absence of an overarching leadership underscores the severity of their grievances and something of a change in a country where politicians regularly whip up their supporters to score political points against rivals.
This time, Iraqis are not being rallied by political parties in hope of compensation. Instead, they are spontaneously spilling onto the streets to demand basic rights.
“I live in a place which is rich with oil that brings billions of dollars while I work in collecting garbage to desperately feed my two kids,” one 22-year-old protester told Reuters. “I want a simple job, that’s my only demand.”
These protests, says Mr Robin-D’Cruz, lack coherent political organisation or a clear political agenda.(...)
“This is an unprecedented response by the government,” said Dr Renad Mansour, a research fellow for the Middle East and North Africa at Chatham House. Baghdad, says Dr Mansour, is worried because it is in the midst of a government formation and therefore more vulnerable.
These leaderless protests have underscored the widening schism that exists between Iraq’s political elite and their people.
“There’s a huge divide between that small minority and Iraqis. It frustrates them. There’s disillusionment and hopelessness,” said Dr Mansour. “These protests are against the political elite.”
The wider the gap between the demonstrators and the central government, the more Baghdad is likely to crack down on its restless people.
As well as the eight people who have been killed so far, authorities claim that over 260 security personnel have been wounded.