BAGHDAD — Demonstrations turned violent across Iraq on Friday, as protesters burned buildings and security forces fired on the crowds.
Thousands of Iraqis demanding better government services took to the streets in at least 10 cities, from Basra in the south to Mosul in the north, despite attempts by the government and by top Shiite leaders to head off the protests .
Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki made a televised speech on Thursday urging Iraqis not to gather, warning that insurgents would use the opportunity to carry out attacks. Security officials in Baghdad banned all cars from the streets until further notice.
The U.S. must have seen this coming. We've seen how this has been dealt with by the leaders of Tunisia (resign), Egypt (resign), Bahrain (consider negotiation), Algeria (crush dissent then offer a few concessions), Yemen (hang tight—for now), and Libya (what Reagan said).
And how will the Iraqi leadership, and their U.S. counterparts, deal with this green/jasmine wave?
According to Human Rights Watch, "Iraqi police allowed dozens of assailants to beat and stab peaceful protesters in Baghdad."