Here’s what Iraqi protesters want.
Behind the headlines about the Middle East crisis, there’s a casualty you may have missed. Most already know that, in retaliation for a U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani and militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis at Baghdad’s airport, Iran launched missile strikes on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops.
But here’s the hidden news: This crisis is threatening to undermine the peaceful protest movement that for months has been challenging the Iraqi political system and establishment — putting the protesters in a very difficult situation, diverting attention from their demands and, worse, making it easier for the Iraqi establishment and its attendant militias to mistreat them.
Since before the crisis, I have been in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, researching the protests that started in October and moving through the tents of different protest groups. Here’s what they are saying about the uprising and the recent escalation.