The Foreign Affairs magazine has dealt with the ongoing protests in Iraq for more than six weeks, describing it as a popular uprising that has become the biggest challenge to the political system since the US invasion in 2003. In many respects, it poses a greater threat to leadership than the insurgent violence of the Islamic State.
Renad Mansour, a researcher and director of Chatham House's Iraq Initiative, said the revolutionary youth-free protest movement had rocked the ruling class, forcing Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish proxies to form a united front behind beleaguered Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi. She said the cohesion of the disintegrated political elite and their unified support to quell the protests suggest a return to tyranny and the emergence of a "republic of fear" along the lines that the United States and Iraq's new leaders have vowed never to return after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
He added that the current uprising is different from the events of the previous unrest in several important aspects, most notably that the previous protest movements were run by members of the intellectual and political elite, which was inclined to seek gradual change, and attracted participants from different age groups, but the current demonstrations are not led by A particular party or an educated movement. More importantly, it is supported by a large youth segment of society that has not been heavily involved in politics.
The current protest movement is not just about better services or jobs, it reflects an amorphous and strong desire for radical change, and seeks to restore the "dignity" of young people who feel that the current political system treats them harshly and carelessly. After the protests began with familiar calls for better government jobs and services, they quickly turned into a sweeping rejection of the regime.
He warned that the inability of the government and its allies to defuse the growing revolution through other means made it increasingly violent, as government forces and paramilitary armed groups fired live ammunition and tear gas directly at the demonstrators, and the Ministry of Communications stopped the Internet to prevent the spread of videos showing State brutality, the courts also summoned anti-terrorism laws to justify the killing of demonstrators.
But the violence has fueled anger among protesters, who were shocked at first that the state does not hesitate to kill them or inflict permanent disability, and responded with their own escalation demanding not only jobs and reforms but a completely new political system. She concluded that the demonstrators had a difficult road ahead because instead of yielding to them, Iraq's post-Saddam leaders restored heavy repression tools to maintain their control of power.