Protests in Iraq have slowly grown in size, breadth, and intensity since they began in mid-February. They are still an amorphous group with a wide variety of demands and participants, but the call for better services and government have been the main unifying factors. Increasingly, they are demanding officials elected in the 2009 provincial elections to step down for not fulfilling their campaign promises. In the last few days, some have also begun to focus their anger upon Prime Minister Maliki as well.
The problem is that the government is stuck in between a rock and hard place. They have claimed that the 2010 budget has plenty of money for the people, although some ministries have claimed that they will not have enough for their plans. Maliki has also promised that the power shortages will be solved in 12-20 months, even though others have contradicted that claim. Basically, Baghdad does not have the means or money to meet the people’s demands at this time, and making grand promises of solutions that can’t be met will only make the situation worse. This may lead to a critical mass with more and more people coming out into the streets because of hollow promises, prompting a crackdown as happened in 2009 when there were protests over power as well. The on-going demonstrations then, could pose a critical challenge to Iraq’s fledging democratic system.
(Photo: Smoke billows from a burning building as Iraqi demonstrators stand atop an army vehicle shouting slogans during clashes at an anti-government protest in the northern city of Mosul on February 25, 2011 as a 'Day of Rage' across Iraq left at least 15 demonstrators dead in clashes with police. By AFP/Getty Images)
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