November 2019 Protests: Lebanon, Iraq & Iran
The month of November witnessed an uptick in protests, specifically in Lebanon, Iraq and Iran, who joined last. More than 400 people were killed in Iraq, the Lebanese prime minister Saad Al Hariri officially resigned, and the Iranian government shut down internet and controlled media coverage . Moreover, these countries experienced mass protests sparked by a range of causes ranging from new laws to corruption and poverty.
In this blog, we provide a summary of the three major protests that erupted during the month of November in 2019, giving a closer insight into reasons, reactions and statistics.
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Lebanon witnessed one of the country’s longest mass demonstrations in the last decade. The demonstrations were first triggered by a new tax law. Additionally, deteriorating socio-political conditions like the austerity measures, political corruption, sectarianism, unemployment, and continuous power shortages further prompted the Lebanese people to take to the streets in mass protests. Demonstrators used methods like roadblocks, strikes, and sit-ins to call an end to the sectarian political system and to demand political and economic reforms.
However, the protests didn’t start in November, in fact, they first began on October 17th and have been ongoing ever since. In late October of this year, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri made a bold move and resigned after weeks of protests against his government.
Related: Lebanese New Government and its Agenda
Hariri’s resignation isn’t the only response to the protests; clashes have occurred between protesters and Lebanese Security Forces, resulting in deaths and injuries. On November 12th, members of the Lebanese Armed Forces opened fire towards protesters in Khaldah in an attempt to disperse them, killing one protester. In total, at least 7 people were killed and hundreds were injured as of November 27, 2019.
Iraq’s current protests are considered to be the bloodiest since the overthrow of Saddam Hussien in 2003. The ongoing protests that started on October 1st 2019, are calling for an end to state corruption, foreign sentiment, high unemployment rates, and poor public services.
The protests took the form of peaceful demonstrations at the beginning but then escalated to riots and civil disobedience. The protests were met with violence and reports indicated the death toll to exceed 400 with over 15,000 injured.
Several clashes occurred between security forces and protesters across Iraq. One of the deadliest clashes occurred on November 14th, four people were killed and 62 were injured in Baghdad; Similarly in Baghdad, at least seven protesters were killed and 78 were wounded by security forces on November 21st, according to Al-Jazeera. On November 29th, at least 15 people were killed in another round of clashes between security forces and protesters in the city of Nasiriya.
In response, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi submitted his resignation on December 2nd. Abdul Mahdi condemned the use of force against protesters and called for a new government.
Related: October 2019 Analysis: Syria, Iraq & Lebanon
What began as a protest over the abrupt increase of fuel prices on November 15th is now considered to be Iran’s largest and deadliest political unrest. Protesters took to the streets in Tehran and other cities across the country to call for economic reforms, prosecution of corrupt government officials, higher payments, the overthrow of the current regime, and an end to the Iranian involvement in regional conflicts.
The protests took the form of demonstrations, sit-ins, but later transformed into civil disturbance and vandalization as protesters were met with force. Security forces were reported to open fire on unarmed protestors, and according to Amnesty International, over 200 protesters were killed and more than 4,800 have been arrested. The state media reported the death toll of 3 security forces members and according to Iranian officials, 7,000 people have been arrested since the protests began.
The Iranian government previously acknowledged the deaths of only a handful of people and declined to give an official estimate of the total number of people killed. However, officials have openly talked about ordering security forces to open fire on demonstrators who were trying to raid government buildings. Although the government-imposed internet blackout is still ongoing in some parts of the country, media and NGO reports were still able to share a glimpse of the situation.