The protests and bloodshed have continued this week in Iraq, leaving at least 240 people dead and over 8,000 injured. Protests began on October 1st in Baghdad and throughout the south of the country. Corruption and bureaucracy in Iraq are rampant, employment and opportunity are scarce, and the distance between political elites and average Iraqis could not be greater. As a consequence, protests in Iraq have become common since at least 2011. But this month has been different, both in the clarity of the calls by the protesters for a complete rejection of Iraq’s political system and the government’s astonishingly authoritarian response. Now, with political support drying up, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi is likely to be forced to resign. The central question now is whether his successor—or any individual—will be able to take on Iraq’s political class and enact any of the fundamental reforms that the protesters have been demanding. Whatever the outcome, the courage Iraqis have demonstrated in the face of repression has been nothing short of epic.

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