Thousands take to streets across Iraq over quality of life
Iraqi security forces used water cannon and batons to disperse protesters in the southern oil hub of Basra yesterday as thousands of Iraqis rallied across the nation against corrupt officials and poor services.
Demonstrations against a shortage of jobs, electricity, water and other basic services have been rising as Iraqis, inspired by protests around the Arab world, demand reforms.
In central Basra around 700 protesters near the provincial council building were forcibly removed by Iraqi soldiers and police after they refused to stop demonstrating. Journalists were also beaten by security forces.
Despite having the power to elect their leaders, the public is still widely unhappy with a political system that has left figures with ethnic and sectarian power bases entrenched in office and that has failed so far to restore basic services. Many protests have taken place in provincial capitals, where Iraq's decentralised system concentrates power in the hands of regional bosses.
Oil-rich Iraq has been slow to rebuild infrastructure badly battered after decades of war and economic sanctions.