Baghdad, Iraq – “The government doesn’t care, they are useless, and the political parties are fighting for power for themselves,” reflects Nada, 27, in a cafe in Baghdad’s Karrada district. via. messy week – and years – Iraq’s political crisis. “We have nothing left to lose,” she added, referring to the youth-led protests. “We need to be braver…we need to wake up, no one speaks for us.”
As a part-time volunteer for children with autism, Nada’s views are shared by other young activists around a table on the top floor of a smoky cafe.
The group is discussing plans to mark the second anniversary of the founding of Iraq Anti-Tishreen . Movementand the best way to fix Iraq’s deep-seated political unrest after some deadly clash Iraq has seen for years unfolding in Baghdad at the end of August.
“Tishreen will be back even bigger soon, I promise you,” Nada said confidently. At opposite ends of the table, two men in their thirties shook their heads at plans to perform on the same scale. “We lost too many friends to try again,” said one of them, Rami. “Perhaps in a few years.”
“I feel lost – like all Iraqis – we don’t know what our future holds, not even the days to come,” said 26-year-old Muser. a chat on the way to our rendezvous point. “Even the taxi drivers are tense, asking if there will be a solution or a civil war… Iraqis are worried and tired.”
Many young Iraqis feel they have no voice in their direction the future of the country.
Tired of the ongoing Iraqi political drama, and lifted with a series of deeply traumatic events, they are caught between competing political groups and militias that they say do not represent represent them.
Memories of Tishreen
Activists’ background is, perhaps, wary of new protests, threatened by repression by Tishreen protests in 2019resulted in the deaths of at least 600 young men.
Held more than 11 months ago, Iraq’s most recent elections saw opposition-based parties drawn from Tishreen win a sizable number of seats, encouraging tentative hopes in elections. alternatives to what many see as corrupt political parties and factions.
However, progress has been hampered by the ongoing conflict between the Sadrist Movement, who support the Shia religious leader. Muqtada al-Sadrand the Iran-backed Coordination Framework Coalition.
An initial political disagreement over the formation of an Iraqi government led to bloody clashes in August after al-Sadr announced his departure from politics.
But a lack of government means little or no public spending – even as Iraqis grow more desperate.
Kerrar, 32, a water resources engineer from Karbala, told Al Jazeera: “It’s been almost 20 years since the US invaded Iraq and we still don’t have electricity, electricity or fresh water. “Iraq had all the necessary resources but everything was stolen. There is nothing left, just ignorance and stupidity.”
New politics needed
That is the sentiment shared by many young activists.
According to Dr Ameer al-Haboubi, 29, a prominent activist and medic who stood in last year’s election as an independent candidate under the Tishreen banner, the problem is system.
“We want parliament is dissolvedand the constitution will be revised,” al-Haboubi told Al Jazeera, adding to calls from some young activists for a secular approach to politics, rather than the current system of Muhasasa.
The nationalist sectarian division of power shows the division of key positions among the country’s Shia, Sunni and Kurdish politicians – “with no connection to those on the streets”. – ensure that the majority of the country’s resources are allocated along sectarian lines. “I was 13 years old when our constitution was written, and this next generation did not vote for the constitution,” al-Haboubi continued. “It doesn’t represent my ambition.”
Sitting in a co-working space in Baghdad, he said: “The chaos is ruining everything, our leaders are not serious about change and only care about their own pockets.”
Many now say they feel new elections are the only way out of the deadlock, but if new elections are called – in doubt – as they face significant constitutional hurdles – Voter turnout is expected to be around 40% lower than last year’s figure.
Therefore, the solution to the country’s crisis is not clear, and hope is running out.
Iraq’s youth have been particularly hard hit. 60% of the population is under the age of 25 and the United Nations estimates that around 35% of young people are unemployed.
Al-Haboubi founded the Baghdad Student Association in late 2019. “Many of my friends became depressed and anxious,” he said. After the Tishreen protests in 2019 and 2020 ended, he added, “some of them committed suicide, others left the country.”