The population of Iraq flooded into the streets of Baghdad this October, calling for a better life; the life that was promised to them when the US invaded Iraq in 2003. This invasion was supposed to replace a dictatorship with democracy, and poverty with jobs, and a decent life. Instead Iraqis have found that the country’s vast oil revenues are wracked by massive corruption and feed greedy elites and their international partners (the US above all), while leaving the population hungry and bitter.
These protests were not called by any party or organization. Outrage that began in the worker’s neighborhoods and slums spread to encompass most of the population. Now they have gone beyond the capital. Brutal repression by the government has only fueled the outrage, and sent more people into the streets. While the Prime Minister, Adil Abdel-Mahdi, may resign, the protesters want more than his resignation. They want real changes in their daily lives: jobs, and the end of corrupt leaders that skim their wealth. Their slogan is “We want a country!”
These protests in Iraq accompany mass protests in Chile (one million people in the streets a week ago in the capital after the government raised the price of the subway), Lebanon (thousands protesting the fall of their standard of living, set off by a tax on WhatsApp messages), and Haiti (thousands in the streets protesting government corruption and police violence).
Any day now, we will have had enough too. Working people around the world, from the Middle East to California, have the same bosses: global companies that dangle our politicians from their purse strings; states that force us to tighten our belts, claiming they’re broke, while cutting taxes on the rich. Until we show our power, all together, their wealth grows while ours shrinks. Who knows what straw will set us off. When it does, we will know what real power feels like, and decide what changes we want to make, for the benefit of our families, with dignity for those who do the work.
Featured image credit: Wikimedia user FPP, licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0