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Iraqi protesters defiant as president addresses Davos

Iraqi protesters remain defiant [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 January, 2020

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Iraq protesters remain defiant for change as their country's president addresses the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Anti-government rallies resurged in Iraq on Wednesday despite renewed violence across the capital and south this week, as protesters ramp up their sit-ins to pressure authorities to implement long-awaited reforms.

The youth-dominated movement is desperately trying to maintain momentum in the face of spiralling US-Iran tensions and a rival anti-American rally planned for Friday.

Iraq's President, Barham Saleh, warned against pushing the country to choose sides in escalating tensions between neighbouring Iran and the US, both allies of Baghdad.

He also met US President Donald Trump for the first time since the US killing of an Iranian commander in Baghdad led the Iraqi parliament to call for expulsion of US troops.

The two leaders, meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos, agreed on the need for a continued US military role in Iraq and discussed the protests.

Anti-government protesters have escalated their demonstrations but face being sidelined by regional tensions as well as a new wave of violence.

At least 10 people have been killed this week, according to the Iraqi Human Rights Commission -- four of them in Baghdad and the rest in the provinces of Basra, Diyala and Karbala.

Late Tuesday, 49-year old activist Janat Madhi was gunned down by unidentified attackers as she returned home from protests in the southern city of Basra, police said.

Activists have for months complained of an intensifying campaign of kidnappings and killings that they say aims to scare them into halting protests.

They are also worried about tensions with a competing rally this Friday organised by populist cleric Moqtada Sadr to urge the 5,200 US troops deployed in Iraq to leave.



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