On May 2021, one demonstrator has been shot dead and dozens injured during violence at a rally in Baghdad where thousands gathered to demand accountability for the murder of prominent Iraqi activists and protesters. What kicked off as a hopeful wave of demonstrations in Tahrir Square saw tensions brew throughout the day and violence as security forces cracked down on protesters in the early evening. Videos shared on social media showed tear gas, live fire and chaos reminiscent of October 2019 when the nationwide social uprising first began and several protesters were shot dead by security forces.
Demonstrators taken to the streets to demand those responsible for the killing of 600 protesters be held to account. Since then, almost 600 demonstrators have been killed and 35 activists have died in 82 targeted killings, according to the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR). In Karbala as anger spread over the killing of a prominent activist in the southern city. Ihab Jawad Al-Wazni, who was active in the organisation of the anti-government protests that swept Iraq in October 2019, was shot dead on Sunday 9th May outside his home by unknown assailants. His death sparked daylong protests in Karbala that saw demonstrators block roads and bridges with burning tyres. As a reminder, Ihab Jawad Al-Wazni was of Sunni faith, in a city of Karbala where the Sunni minority is oppressed by the Shiite militias, currently in power, in this region.
An Iraqi journalist, meanwhile, was in intensive care after being shot in the head early on Monday 10th of May, doctors said, only 24 hours after Al-Wazni was killed. Al-Wazni had led protests in the Shia shrine city of Karbala, where pro-Iran armed groups hold major sway. He was shot outside his home by men on motorbikes using a gun equipped with a silencer in an ambush caught on surveillance cameras. And in the meantime, the Iraqi authorities are negotiating with the United States on the involvement of the American troops in the region. On April 2021, The United States and Iraq concluded talks on America’s troop presence here, issuing a joint statement that emphasized the growing capacity of the Iraqi military, six years after it crumbled in the face of the Islamic State’s advance. The statement followed a third round of talks between Washington and Baghdad, known as « the Strategic Dialogue », and the first to take place under President Biden. « Based on the increasing capacity of the ISF [Iraq Security Forces], the parties confirmed that the mission of U.S. and Coalition forces has now transitioned to one focused on training and advisory tasks, thereby allowing for the redeployment of any remaining combat forces from Iraq, with the timing to be established in upcoming technical talks, » the document said.
To be continued : July 1st, 2021