IN THE wake of revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, demonstrations in Iraq that had been routinely ignored for years have swelled in size and already won major concessions from a shaken Iraqi regime.
Protests demanding basic civil services, jobs and an end to corruption have rocked the government enough for it to call off a billion-dollar deal with the U.S. military for F-16 fighter planes. Additionally, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is seeking a constitutional change to limit his office to two terms (and thus would not run for a third in 2014) and pledged to cut his $350,000 salary in half.
Demonstrations in February that were deemed "illegal" by authorities, but called "a right" by the apologetic al-Maliki, hit Iraq from as far north as Kirkuk of the so-called disputed territories to at least as far south as Najaf. In Al-Diwaniyah, 700 protesters hurling stones at police were dispersed by weapons fire. Hundreds demonstrated in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood, Najaf and Ramadi, along with smaller protests in several provinces. A thousand or more hit the streets of the war-pummeled city of Falluja.
A broad range of Iraqi society was represented at the demonstrations. Men and women, young and old, shop owners, students, unemployed, health care workers and technicians, turned out to state their demands. "We demand that our civil freedoms are guaranteed, that corrupt officials are punished, and that we get better basic services and cheaper fuel," demanded one protester in Sadr City. "There is no life without electricity," "Give us food," and "Down with al-Maliki," said others.
And the results have been striking.
"No more fighter contract," a government spokesperson Ali Dabbagh told Agence France Press. Some $900 million had been earmarked for the purchase of F-16s, which will be used instead to finance rations and social benefits. Speaking for U.S. forces in Iraq, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan says the long-term value of the 18 aircraft was $3 billion. The food rations budget will be increasing from $3 to $4 billion.
Winds of uprising have spread not only from without, but within. After a weekend of protests, thousands marched in Kut on February 16, a city about 100 miles southwest of Baghdad. Some 2,000 attacked government offices and clashed with police, resulting in one dead and dozens injured. "To all citizens: Electricity is only for officials" read placards.
[ 本帖最后由 萨马拉 于 2011-3-5 12:52 编辑 ]