Iraq: Saudi Power Play As Protests Continue

Iran-backed parties have not escaped the ire of protestors in Iraq’s Shia south. Riyadh stepped up efforts to woo Baghdad and curb Iran’s influence, but faces an uphill battle.

Chaos continued in Iraq’s southern provinces this week as demonstrators protested corruption, unemployment, a crippling water crisis, routine power cuts, and Baghdad’s inability to address these endemic issues. The highly influential Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani broke silence on the matter on 27 July, launching a withering critique on the political establishment that stands to fan the flames of protest further.

Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi tried to appease demonstrators last month by pledging $3bn for the southern provinces and sacking Electricity Minister Qassem al-Fahdawi just last week. But daily demonstrations continue.

Iraq’s wealthy Gulf Arab neighbors Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have made gestures of goodwill in supplying fuel to run in Basra’s power plants to reduce outages. Kuwait shipped gasoil to Basra on 24 July with Saudi Arabia following suit shortly after. (CONTINUED - 1068 WORDS)