104 people in Iraq were killed and 6,107 others wounded in nationwide protests this past week. Iraqi Interior Ministry Spokesman Maj.-Gen. Saad Maan said that the numbers of “martyrs” was confirmed by the Ministry of Health, and included “security forces, civilians and protesters.”
Despite efforts by Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to alleviate the situation by pledging to bring about much-needed reform, deadly violence by local security forces has intensified public anger. While Iraqi security forces claimed to have only resorted to live fire against “armed militants posing as protesters,” there is a growing belief among the Iraqi protesters that Iran and its local proxies are responsible for employing the lethal force.
Chants by the Iraqi protesters included calls for intervention by the Marjaiya Shia clerical establishment, curses that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeini is a******,” and that the Iraqi security personnel they were confronting were “worse than Israel.”
The allegations leveled against Iran were immediately rejected by the Commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces, who sought to lay the blame on Iraqi authorities, for fear of possible reprisal. Falih Al-Fayyadh insisted that his forces “only interfere to fight any conspiracy whenever an order is given, and no order was given this time.”