France's Macron arrives in Iraq for official visit
Macron, who has been in Lebanon for the past two days, said the trip to Iraq was to focus on starting "a new initiative in co-ordination with the United Nations", but declined to give details for security reasons. Iraq had "suffered a lot," Macron said.
Iraqi broadcaster al-Sumaria said the French president would spend "a few hours in Iraq" to meet with officials, but failed to give further details about the trip.
Violence erupts during protests in Iraq
Iraqis ushered in October with anti-government protests in Baghdad. These quickly deteriorated into violent confrontations resulting in hundreds of injuries and dozens of deaths. Unease remains in several cities. By Cristina Burack
Days of violence: despite promises of reform by the government, protests against corruption and mismanagement in Iraq continue. Once again on Friday people gathered in central locations in the capital Baghdad, as well as in the south of the country
Protests without end: following days of violent protests, a curfew was supposed to provide peace and quiet - after all, at least 100 people have died and some 1,600 have been injured. However, many demonstrators ignored the curfew and spent the night outside to protest further
Protests without a party: these are by no means the first protests against the difficult living conditions in Iraq. In some places, there are only four hours of electricity a day, and according to the World Bank, youth unemployment stands at 25 percent. Iraq's most senior Shia cleric Ali al-Sistani called for "serious reforms" before it was too late
Lockdown: there is already talk of the first protests "without flag, without posters and without party slogan". They were, however, obviously fanned by the dismissal of a popular general, Abdel-Wahab al-Saadi. In Baghdad, the demonstrators tried to enter the so-called Green Zone. Numerous government buildings and embassies are located in the high-security district
Allegations of police violence: security forces have been using tear gas against demonstrators since the beginning of the protests. The UN Human Rights Office in Geneva also fears that police officers have been using live ammunition and rubber bullets. Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi came under fire when he praised the security forces and blamed the unspecified "attackers" for the violence
The country's president, Barham Saleh (photo, March 2019), reiterated his condemnation of the violence and called for "restraint and respect for the law". "Peaceful protest is a constitutional right granted to citizens," Saleh stressed. The Human Rights Committee of the Iraqi Parliament criticised the "repression" of the protests
Street protests have roiled Iraq since early October 2019, with demonstrators calling for the resignation of the government, the dissolution of parliament and an overhaul of the country's political system, which has been in place since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
The protests prompted then-prime minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi to resign in late November. Current Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi announced in July that early parliamentary elections will be held in the country in 2021.
The Islamic State extremist group is still active in various parts of the country. (dpa)