Sadly, Muhammad Tahseen sits under the Freedom Monument (in the center of Tahrir Square, the center of the protests in the Iraqi capital) in Baghdad, in the place where he set up his sit-in tent with his colleagues a year ago, in the flame of the fiercest protests in modern Iraqi history.

Until yesterday evening, with the commemoration of the first anniversary of the Iraqi demonstrations, which began in October of last year, and their sit-ins continued after the overthrow of the previous government headed by Adel Abdul Mahdi;

Security forces raised dozens of tents and opened the Republic Bridge near the square, which the demonstrators closed for a year, amid controversy between activists and supporters of the protests, and the blessing of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi.

Tahrir Square after opening its surroundings to traffic and pedestrians (Reuters)


ahead of the day commemorating the outbreak of the protests on October 25, and against the background of leaks that talked about plans to escalate and clash with the security forces, the forces took strict measures, which were to prevent the buses of protesters coming from the southern governorates from entering Baghdad, and imposing security checkpoints in the vicinity of Liberation, as well as the deployment of additional forces in the Alawi region, close to the heavily fortified Green Zone.

Muhammad Tahseen confirmed to Al-Jazeera Net that strange groups had frequented the scene throughout the week before the first anniversary of the start of the second wave of protests.

Indeed, the anniversary of the outbreak of the demonstrations witnessed an escalation "not agreed upon", interspersed with clashes in which some protesters used incendiary grenades of the type (Molotov) against the security forces, which was disapproved by a large number of well-known protesters and activists in the square, which was a sufficient reason to end the sit-in and raise Tents, adds Tahseen, who sat after raising his tent under the Tahrir monument, lighting a candle for the souls of those killed in the demonstrations.

Security forces evacuating Tahrir Square from the tents (Reuters)

A new battle

and the Iraqi demonstrations turned into an open sit-in after the resignation of Abdul Mahdi's government, and with the outbreak of the Corona virus in the country, the gradual withdrawal from the square began, in conjunction with the assignment of Mustafa Al-Kazemi to head the current government.

A security source says that the date for the opening of Tahrir Square took place in agreement with the demonstrators a week ago, indicating that "the forces that entered the square were accompanied by a number of young protesters, and they informed the security forces of some of the wanted and perpetrators of recent violence.

The source added - in an interview with Al-Jazeera Net, on the condition of anonymity - that the security forces arrested 15 wanted persons in the Tahrir Tunnel, accused of using incendiary grenades in clashes with the forces stationed on the Republic Bridge near the square.

Our youth in Tahrir Square set the most amazing national examples for a whole year, today they confirm their patriotic pride by showing the utmost levels of cooperation, to open the stage for traffic and restore normal life.

The free and fair elections are the date for the next change that the youth started with their bare chests before the year

Iraq will not forget its youth

- Mustafa Al-Kadhimi (@MAKadhimi) October 31, 2020

Coordination and understanding The

spokesman for the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Major General Yahya Rasoul, confirmed, on Saturday, that the reopening of Tahrir Square and the Republic Bridge (central Baghdad) came in coordination with the peaceful demonstrators.

In turn, Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi commented on the reopening of Tahrir Square that free and fair elections are the time for change.

Al-Kazemi said in his tweet, "Our youth in Tahrir Square have set the most amazing patriotic examples for a whole year, and today they confirm their national pride by showing the utmost cooperation, to open the scene for traffic and restore normal life."

He added, "The free and fair elections are the date for the next change that the youth started with their bare chests a year ago. Iraq will not forget its youth."

Activist Ahmed al-Husseini points out that the October demonstrations are not reduced to raising the protesters ’tents or the reopening of closed streets and bridges as an expression of protest, noting that“ the October demonstrations are considered the first pure Iraqi addition after 17 years of abuse, tampering and chaos, and it is a clear and explicit opposition that calls the corrupt. "With their names, the finger of blame is firmly and boldly pointing at those responsible for wasting lives and money in the country."

Al-Husseini added to Al-Jazeera Net that the protest movement has produced - for the first time - a popular trend that explicitly rejects sectarianism and calls for citizenship, "a situation that did not happen since the establishment of the Iraqi state until October 2019."

In coordination with our peaceful demonstrators, the Baghdad Operations Command began to open Tahrir Square and the Republic Bridge in the center of the capital.

Yahya Rasul |

Yehia Rasool (@IraqiSpoxMOD) October 31, 2020

Preparation for the elections

. Activist in Tahrir Square, Muhammad Salim, believes that "the protest movement is no longer just a demonstration and open sit-ins or closed bridges," indicating that "the majority of the protesters realized the opportunity to enter the new battle and bring about change in the political arena."

Salim added to Al-Jazeera Net that "all political forces and their groups do not want to reach the elections, and in front of them are competitors from the womb of the demonstrations, and they are betting on distracting the protesters and wasting them with clash and new blood with the security forces," noting that "everyone is watching the possibility of the protesting youth entering the upcoming elections with a high popular score capable of On influencing the political map in the country and ending the influence of the current parties.

Between passion and political calculations, Muhammad Tahseen - who is spending his last moments under the monument to liberation - considers that the opening of the roads that came against the background of the decision to raise the tents is a necessary step to miss the opportunity for the elements that want to shuffle the cards and push the demonstrators to new clashes and blood.

Actors in the protests see this step as an opportunity to reorganize and prepare for entering the political process, crowding out the ruling parties and forces, and transferring the protest action from the streets to the corridors of political action.