The Road to Iraq’s 2019 Mass Demonstrations

Dr. Roberta Fiske-Rusciano

Since 2014 when Iraq was invaded by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Iraq has been suffering from not only the consequences of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons, but also the increasing gap between the Iraqi citizenry’s basic needs as a society, and the government’s ability and/or willingness to respond to them. From lack of potable water, constant interruption or complete lack of electricity, 25% unemployment rate, dearth of health care, and most recently, vast abuses of human rights. Prime Minister Mahdi’s demand that security forces shoot demonstrators on sight has as of October 6, 2019 resulted in well over one hundred deaths, and thousands of injuries. The use of live ammunition, water cannons, tear gas, internet cutting, and curfews, has as of now, made these mostly young men more resolved than ever to continue their demands for a new administration in Iraq’s federal government. The Prime Minister has been recently promising to put an end to the Generals’ actions who have gone beyond proper policing protocol, punish them, and pay money to those families who have lost a member. Other promises include jobs, allowances, and remedies for the lack of basic services. Young voices coming from Iraq, (presently using APPs that circumvent the government’s restrictions of communication), speak of the PM’s complete lack of credibility at this point, and all fear for their lives, as they try to continue their daily routines, amid violence from Federal security forces and now from rebel groups. This paper will include an analysis of this youth generation of Iraqis whose expectations have vastly changed from even those of ten years ago, and the consequences of such a rapidly changing generation within a government that has been enriching itself since 2004.