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Feb 24th, 2011


Updated 2/26/11

1 Killed as Iraqis Protest in ‘Day of Rage’


An Iraqi protester holds a placard during an anti-government rally outside the Iraqi Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, Feb. 25, 2011. (Photo credit: Lai Seng Sin / AP)

By Sinan Salaheddin

February 25, 2011

BAGHDAD — Iraqi security forces shooting into the air to disperse a crowd of demonstrators in northern Iraq killed one person Friday as thousands rallied in cities across the country during what was billed as the “Day of Rage.”

The Iraqi capital was virtually locked down, with soldiers deployed en masse across central Baghdad, searching protesters trying to enter Liberation Square and closing off the plaza and side streets with razor wire. The heavy security presence reflected the concern of Iraqi officials that demonstrations here could gain traction as they did in Egypt and Tunisia, then spiral out of control.

Iraqi Army helicopters buzzed overhead, while Humvees and trucks took up posts throughout the square, where a group of about 2,000 flag-waving demonstrators shouted “No to unemployment,” and “No to the liar al-Maliki,” referring to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

A crowd of angry marchers in the northern city of Hawija, 150 miles  north of Baghdad, tried to break into the city’s municipal building, said the head of the local city council, Ali Hussein Salih. That prompted security forces to fire into the air. …

A crowd of about 4,000 people demonstrated in front of the office of Gov. Sheltagh Aboud al-Mayahi, in the southern city of Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city, 340 miles  southeast of Baghdad. They knocked over one of the concrete barriers and demanded his resignation, saying he’d done nothing to improve city services. …

Hundreds of protesters were gathered in front of the provincial council building in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, demanding jobs and better services when guards opened fire, according to a police official. …

The demonstrations have been discussed for weeks on Facebook and in other Internet groups, inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. More people were expected to join after Friday prayers.

While demonstrations in other Middle Eastern countries have focused on overthrowing the government, the protests in Iraq have centered on corruption, the country’s chronic unemployment and shoddy public services like electricity. …

Iraq has seen a number of small-scale protests across the country in recent weeks. While most have been peaceful, a few have turned violent and seven people have been killed. The biggest rallies have been in the northern Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah, 160 miles northeast of Baghdad, against the government of the self-ruled region.

But Iraqi religious and government officials appeared nervous over the possibility of a massive turnout for Friday’s rally, and have issued a steady stream of statements trying to dissuade people from taking part.

On the eve of the event, al-Maliki urged people to skip the rally, which he alleged was organized by Saddamists and al-Qaida — two of his favorite targets of blame for an array of Iraq’s ills. He offered no evidence to support his claim. …

Full story

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2/26/11 Update

Mideast Engulfed by ‘Day of Rage’ Protests

People pour into the streets from Yemen to Tunisia to Iraq

Image: Anti-government protest clash with police in Baghdad
Iraqi anti-government protesters throw stones and trash at riot police during a demonstration in Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Feb. 25, 2011. (Photo credit: Hadi Mizban / AP)

The Associated Press and Reuters via MSNBC.com
February 25, 2011

Hundreds of thousands of people staged protests in countries across the Arab world Friday, some trying to shake off autocratic rulers and others pressuring embattled leaders to carry out sweeping reforms. …

Here’s a look at some of the events that unfolded Friday, billed as a “Day of Rage,” in Arab countries:

Libya

Militias loyal to ruler Moammar Gadhafi open fire on thousands of protesters in the Libyan capital of Tripoli. One man says gunmen on rooftops and in the streets open fire with automatic weapons and even an anti-aircraft gun. Witnesses report at least four killed, while other say the toll is higher. …

Iraq

Thousands march on government buildings and clash with security forces in cities across Iraq. Twelve people are killed in the largest and most violent anti-government protests in the country since political unrest began spreading in the Arab world. In the capital of Baghdad, demonstrators knock down blast walls and throw rocks. …

Video

Iraqis take to streets on ‘Day of Rage’ (NBC “Today,” Feb. 25, 2011) – At least six protesters were killed by security forces during clashes across Iraq. TODAYshow.com’s Dara Brown reports. (00:51)

Egypt

Tens of thousands jam Cairo’s main square. They are trying to keep up pressure on Egypt’s military rulers to carry out reforms and call for the dismissal of holdovers from the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak. …

Bahrain

Tens of thousands fill the central square of Bahrain’s capital, Manama. Protesters have taken to the streets every day for the past two weeks, asking for sweeping political concessions from the ruling monarch. Security forces make no attempt to halt the marches. …

Jordan

About 4,000 protesters rally in the capital, Amman, the largest crowd yet in two months of unrest. The leader of Jordan’s largest opposition group warns that patience is running out with what he called the government’s slow steps toward reform. …

Tunisia

Police in Tunis fired warning shots and tear gas to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters in the center of the capital. Demonstrators massed in front of the Interior Ministry to call for the ouster of the interim government that has run Tunisia since strongman ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was toppled Jan. 14 and fled into exile. …

Saudi Arabia

About 300 Shiites protest against the Sunni-led government in a march in the east of the country. They disperse peacefully under the close watch of Saudi security forces. The kingdom had been largely quiet, and its ruler earlier this week promised a massive package of economic aid, including interest-free home loans, in hopes of forestalling unrest. …

Full story

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Suicide bomber kills 15 in Iraq (Reuters, Feb. 24, 2011) — A suicide bomber blew himself up during a ceremony in a cultural center in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi Thursday, killing 15 people and wounding 21. … Earlier this month, three bombs killed at least six people and wounded 12 more in Ramadi, while a suicide bomber in a car tried to blow up Anbar’s governor in January. … Full story

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Related reports on this site

Image: Iraqi riot police officers
Iraqi riot police officers carry the body of a protester in front of the headquarters of Kurdish President Massoud Barzani’s political party in Sulaimaniyah, Iraq, on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011. (Photo credit: Yahya Ahmed / AP)

Middle East Protests Spread to Iraq (Feb. 16, 2011)

Protests Sweep Middle East (Feb. 14, 2011)

Middle East Instability Spreading (Feb. 3, 2011)

Fears of Egyptian Domino Effect (Jan. 31, 2011)

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — February 24, 2010

Grim Milestone in Afghanistan


Marines carry wounded troops to a waiting helicopter after their armored vehicle hit a roadside bomb during a major offensive in Marjah, Afghanistan. (Photo credit: Brennan Linsley / Associated Press — The Washington Post)

One year ago today, I reported that more than eight years after the Taliban was toppled from power, the number of U.S. military fatalities in the Afghanistan war was nearing 1,000, a grim milestone in a resurgent conflict claiming the lives of an increasing number of troops who had survived previous tours of duty in Iraq.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — February 24, 2009

Americans Still Dying in Iraq

Two years ago today, on Feb. 24, 2009, I reported that although the worst of the sectarian bloodshed and loss of American lives have ebbed in Iraq, U.S. service members continue to die in the 5-year war.

Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Mark C. Baum, 32, Telford, Pa., died Feb. 21, 2009 in Baghdad of wounds from small-arms fire in Mushada, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 111th Infantry Regiment, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Pennsylvania Army National Guard. Baum, a corrections officer at Bucks County Prison, reportedly had done tours in Kosovo and Iraq. He left behind his wife Heather and three young children – Alexis, 6, Kailey, 3, and 7-month-old Conrad.

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2 Responses to “‘Day of Rage’ in Iraq”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Violence As Iraq Preps for Summit Says:

    [...] ‘Day of Rage’ in Iraq (Feb. 24, 2011) [...]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » End of Iraq War for US Says:

    [...] Protests against Iraq’s U.S.-backed and democratically elected government erupted around the country in February 2011, alongside other demonstrations in the Arab world during the “Arab Spring.” The Iraqi government clamped down, sometimes sparking bloody clashes — as when 14 were killed in confrontations between security forces and civilians across the country during the Feb. 25, 2011 protests billed as the “Day of Rage.” [...]

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