Iraq is yet another shining success for the neoconservative vision of the Middle East. From Middle East Eye at theantimedia.org:
Major protests were set to take place across Iraq on Friday as anger continued to mount over power cuts, unemployment and water shortages in the south, as well as the heavy-handed government response to demonstrations.
Protesters attempted to gather in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, as well as in public spaces across the country, as a mounting death toll and reports of arbitrary arrests by security forces and militias stoked resentment.
Thousands gathered in Nasiriyah, Dhi Qar province, which has been a hotspot for protests in the south. Placards and Twitter hashtags referred to a “hunger revolution”.
At least 16 people have been killed and hundreds wounded and arrested since protests began less than two weeks ago in Basra over power cuts and high water salination.
Some activists have put the death toll much higher, but repeated government shutdowns of the internet have made documenting the violence difficult. The Ministry of Defence has claimed that 274 security personnel have been injured.
In a statement on Friday, military spokesperson Brigadier General Yahya Rasool said that the “right to peaceful protest is guaranteed by the Iraqi constitution” and that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had “instructed the security forces to facilitate and protect peaceful protests”.
However, the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights said on Friday that 336 people had been arrested and then released during the protests in the south.
Amnesty International quoted sources in Baghdad saying that protesters were being “beaten and killed” under the cover of the internet blackouts.
“Deliberately disabling the internet is a sinister restriction to the right to freedom of expression and strongly indicates that the authorities have something to hide,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, in a statement on Thursday.
“We fear this blackout is deliberately designed to give carte blanche to the security forces to repress peaceful activists without being recorded and held accountable.”
To continue reading: Deadly Protests in Iraq Push Country to Brink of Revolution