Unrest continued to spread in Iraq on Thursday, with new protests erupting in several cities and reports from law enforcement officials that private security guards in Kurdistan killed five people who tried to storm the political offices of the region’s leader.
It was the second time in two days that rock-throwing protesters were killed, though the shooting Wednesday in Kut was by government forces. In most of the demonstrations, people are calling for better government services, including more electricity, but in the eastern city of Kut and in Basra in the south they are demanding the resignation of provincial governors.
The demonstrations, although over long-festering grievances, appear to have been inspired by the unrest elsewhere in the Middle East.
Iraq is not Egypt or Tunisia. That's why I'm wary of these protests spreading to different Iraqi cities. There is a real potential of a return to the bloody days of 2006 and 2007, especially if the government continues to respond to the protesters with force.