(3 Nov 2019) Thousands of protesters continued to demonstrate in Baghdad’s iconic Tahrir square on Sunday, the main demonstration area in the Iraqi capital.
A large poster of General Abdul Wahab al-Saad, former commander of Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS), was seen at Tahrir square for the first time.
Many on the street see the former commander of the elite forces as a war hero for his role commanding the CTS, which was the spearheading force in the fight against the Jihadists.
Tens of thousands of protesters have gathered in Baghdad’s central Tahrir Square and across southern Iraq in recent days, calling for the overhaul of the political system established after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Protesters have also taken over a large tower in the square that was abandoned after it was damaged in the war.
Thousands of students have skipped classes to take part in the protests, blaming the political elite for widespread corruption, high unemployment and poor public services.
Security forces have fired tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition at the protesters, killing more than 250 in two waves of demonstrations since early October.
Since the protests restarted on Oct. 25 after a brief hiatus, there have been near-continuous clashes on two bridges leading to the heavily-fortified Green Zone, the headquarters of the government and home to several foreign embassies.
Iraq is governed by a sectarian political system that distributes power and high offices among the Shiite majority, Sunnis and Kurds. It holds regular elections, but they are dominated by sectarian religious parties, many of which have close ties to Iran. The political parties bicker over ministries and then hand out jobs to their supporters, contributing to a bloated public sector that is unable to provide reliable public services.
More than 15 years after the US-led invasion that overthrew Saddam Hussein, Baghdad and other cities still see frequent power cuts, the tap water is undrinkable and public infrastructure is crumbling. Few Iraqis have seen any benefit from the country’s oil wealth, despite it being an OPEC member with the fourth largest proven reserves in the world.
Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/HowWeWork
You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/youtube/506ac1d37fca4ca4998f6fb06e46cb15