Iraq News - Local News - Baghdadpost

Iraqi PM faces protests over power shortages and graft

Adil Abdul-Mahdi
Iraq’s exclusion from US sanctions on Iran and allowing it to import gas and electricity will not ease the pressure on Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi’s government, Iraqi politicians and officials told Arab News on Sunday.

Mass demonstrations are planned for later this week in the Shiite-dominated southern provinces to protest about the lack of basic daily services including electricity and drinking water, high rates of unemployment and corruption in ministries and government departments.

Iranian energy and natural gas imports amount to about 4,000 megawatts per day, equivalent to 20 percent of Iraq’s total production.

The US three-month extension waiver allowing Iraq to import Iranian gas and electricity is expected to dampen some of the anger and give Abdul-Mahdi’s government a chance to find more radical solutions to the electricity shortage caused by terrorist actions, lack of planning and government corruption over the past 15-16 years.

People in Basra plan to take to the streets on July 20, activists told Arab News.

“Unemployment, scarcity of electricity and potable water and corruption are all still in place and none have been addressed despite the fact we have been protesting every year,” Sheikh Raied Al-Fraijai, the head of Basra tribal council and one of the Basra’s key activists, told Arab News.

“We will demand the dismissal of Abdul-Mahdi and his government,” he said.

Electricity supply from the national grid does not exceed a 12-hour-a-day average during the summer, when temperatures exceed 50 degrees Celsius. This is one of the most powerful engines of the demonstrations, which usually turn violent and lead to clashes between protesters and security forces.

Last summer demonstrations extended to most of the southern provinces and Baghdad. There were massive riots, especially in Basra and Amara, where government and party headquarters were set on fire, as well as the Iranian Consulate. At least 22 demonstrators and security personal were killed.

Controlling the demonstrations and preventing Iraqi political forces from exploiting them is one of the challenges facing both local governments and activists.

Security services in Basra were on high alert on Sunday after the circulation of an image of a leaflet with the slogan of ISIS on it calling for support for the protests and inciting demonstrators to attack members of the “Savage army,” a term used by ISIS to describe the Iraqi army.

“This game (the circulation of the leaflet) aims to give the necessary cover for the local government in Basra to target us,” an activist told Arab News.

“Now they (local officials) have a good pretext to come after us. They can easily say that we are belong to ISIS or just say these are aimed to provide the cover for sabotage and targeting security forces.”
Last Modified: Monday، 17 June 2019 01:53 PM