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Iraqi Protesters Set Fire to Government Offices

Demonstrators focused on unemployment, corruption, lack of electricity


Protests continue across Middle East (MSNBC, Feb. 16, 2011) — Rachel Maddow rounds up the protests taking place across the Middle East, including Bahrain where authorities cracked down on peaceful protesters in a pre-dawn raid. (03:53)

By Rebecca Santana

Feb. 16, 2011

BAGHDAD — About 2,000 demonstrators attacked government offices in a southern Iraqi province, ripping up pavement stones to hurl at a regional council headquarters in a protest over shoddy public services that left dozens of people injured, officials said.

The demonstration was among the most dramatic since Iraqis began venting their anger about dysfunctional government at all levels in relatively small protests across the country — an echo of the tumult happening across the Arab world. Unlike protesters in other countries demanding democracy or regime change, however, demonstrators in Iraq have focused on unemployment, corruption and a lack of electricity.

The top medical official in Wasit province, Diaa al-Aboudi, said 55 people were injured — including three critically — in the protests in the city of Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad. He said some of them were shot by police while others were hit by stones or suffered burns. …

Television footage obtained by The Associated Press showed billows of smoke, a palm tree on fire and protesters, many of them teenagers, filling the headquarters compound. The sound of gunshots could be heard and demonstrators could be seen riding on a commandeered police truck and armored personnel carrier, waving Iraqi flags. …

Wasit is a mostly Shiite province bordering Iran and is one of Iraq’s poorest regions. …

In the northern city of Sulaimaniyah, 160 miles northeast of Baghdad, hundreds of demonstrators also thronged the streets demanding better services.

Iraqi leaders have been eager to prevent a repeat of the scenarios played out in Egypt or Tunisia. Earlier this week, Iraq announced it would delay the purchase of American fighter jets and use the money to buy food for the poor. They’ve also vowed to reduce electricity tariffs.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has also announced he won’t seek a third term when his current one expires in an attempt to set himself apart from Mideast leaders who have held onto power for decades.

Full story


2/20/11 Update

Gunmen in Iraq Attack Kurdish TV Station that Showed Protest

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. Kurdish security forces opened fire on a crowd of protesters surrounding the headquarters of the party affiliated with the Kurdish president. (Photo credit: Yahya Ahmed / AP)

By Yahya Barzanji

Feb. 20, 2011

SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq — Gunmen burst into a Kurdish television station in northern Iraq on Sunday, shooting up the equipment and setting fire to the building, apparently in retaliation for the station’s airing footage of a deadly protest earlier in the week, station officials said.

A group of 40 to 50 gunmen wearing military style clothes attacked the headquarters of NRT television in Sulaimaniyah, 160 miles northeast of Baghdad, said Farhang Hars, a station spokesman. The station had been on the air for only a few days but had broadcast footage of a deadly protest this week in Sulaimaniyah. …

During Thursday’s protest, security guards opened fire on a crowd of demonstrators that had surrounded the Sulaimaniyah headquarters of Kurdish President Massoud Barzani’s political party and pelted it with stones. Two people were killed and dozens were injured. …

Full story


Related reports on this site

In this image from video riot police firing tear gas and wielding clubs storm Pearl Square in Manama, Bahrain before dawn on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011 driving out demonstrators and destroying a makeshift encampment that had become the hub for demands to bring sweeping political changes to the kingdom. Medical officials said four people were killed. (Photo credit: Tony Mitchell / AP)

Protests Sweep Middle East (Feb. 14, 2011)

Middle East Instability Spreading (Feb. 3, 2011)

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


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — February 16, 2010

Iraq-Afghanistan Casualties

One year ago today, I provided my weekly report of U.S. military deaths in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Army Pfc. Adriana Alvarez, 20, San Benito, Texas, died Feb. 10, 2010 in Baghdad, of injuries sustained while supporting combat operations. She was assigned to the 504th Military Police Battalion, 42nd Military Police Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. According to her older sister, Alma Alvarez, Pfc. Alvarez was found with a gunshot wound. She wanted to dedicate her life to public safety and wanted to become a police officer.


FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — February 16, 2009

George W. Bush Not ‘Worst President Ever’


Survey names Buchanan worst U.S. president (NBC Nightly News, Feb. 15, 2009) — James Buchanan, the 15th president of the United States, placed last in C-SPAN’s ranking of former commanders-in-chief. NBC’s Lester Holt reports. (00:31)

Two years ago today, on Feb. 16, 2009, I reported that historians ranked Abraham Lincoln the best U.S. president and James Buchanan the worst. Former President George W. Bush was ranked 36th out of the 42 men who had been chief executive by the end of 2008, according to a survey conducted by the cable TV channel C-SPAN.

4 Responses to “Middle East Protests Spread to Iraq”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Deadly Crackdown in Libya Says:

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

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Gadhafi Steers Libya to Civil War Says:

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  3. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » ‘Day of Rage’ in Iraq Says:

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  4. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Violence As Iraq Preps for Summit Says:

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