Based on recent research in Iraq, this Clingendael Alert examines the prospects of the current wave of protests to realize radical political change in how the country is governed.
As the Iraqi government continues to face massive protests that demand better governance, better services and less foreign interference, this Clingendael Alert takes stock of what is new about the current wave of demonstrations and examines what to expect. Based on recent research in Iraq, it suggests that there is little appetite among the Iraqi elite for radical political reform. And as long as the standoff between Iran and the US remains unresolved, the cost of repression remains low. It is for these reasons that things are likely to get worse before they get better. Yet, the recent protests feature several new elements that could develop into a prolonged campaign of civil resistance. If such a campaign can evolve together with a cross-sectarian network of grassroots mobilisation, a credible platform for political reform might emerge that can compete in the 2022 elections. This way, pressure could go hand-in-hand with a positive direction for Iraq's national development.