European Council on Foreign Relations2019
This brief but interesting commentary was written after the first week of protests in October 2019, in which 100 people were killed and over 6,000 injured. Dawood discusses the immediate causes of the protests and the longer term failings of the government under Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, elected as a compromise candidate between two Shiite coalitions a year earlier. The author notes that opposition groups like the Communist Party and the Sadrist movement (followers of the radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr) were not involved, but that the lack of leadership among the protesters (even within cities) was a weakness in making credible demands for change. Nevertheless, the government (despite its immediate authoritarian reaction) was making concessions by offering economic reforms and pressing for passage of anti-corruption bills before parliament.