Inspired by protests in other countries such as Libya and Egypt, Iraqis are holding a “day of rage” against corruption and a lack of services. Clashes in Hawija left at least two people dead. There were unconfirmed reports of deaths in other cities. Large numbers have streamed into Baghdad‘s Liberation Square. Crowds of protesters carrying flags and banners chanted anti-government slogans as security forces were deployed in large numbers.
On the day that [Moqtada al-Sadr] came back to Iraq [Wednesday], his movement issued a statement saying that people should not join the planned “Day of Rage” protest on February 25. Instead, the Sadr Trend said that it would conduct a survey across the country on February 28 to see what services they wanted. If those were not met by the government it would hold its own protest in six months. That, along with a announcement by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s office that the demonstration could get out of hand and be exploited by others, will probably greatly reduce the Shiite participation in the march.