In this second round of protests, no demonstrators in central and southern Iraq took the warnings issued by government officials about evacuating Baghdad’s Tahrir Square seriously, even though at least five protesters were killed there on Monday.

Reports from Karbala show that security forces were opening fire on demonstrators early Tuesday morning. There are many videos posted online that show young demonstrators being shot in the face and dying, whilst other people rush to take the injured to hospital. The demonstrations and clashes with Iranian regime-backed militia forces continued into Wednesday. 

 The student protests began on Monday, with thousands of Iraq’s younger generation actively participating in demonstrations. Young people make up 60% of the Iraqi population and are facing a major unemployment crisis. The Iraqi Central Teachers Union Council issued a statement of solidarity with the students’ four-day strike.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Bar Association and the Engineers Union announced a weeklong general strike, despite security measures to prevent access to areas where demonstrations are taking place.

Many of the protesters are expressing anger at Iranian interference in Iraq.

The Iranian regime’s state media has been presenting these protests as a “conspiracy”, which is designed to distract from the legitimate anger of the Iraqi and Iranian people.

One state-linked analyst said in a report: “The volume of these protests and the expansion of this movement, parallel to the behaviors witnessed in attacks targeting government centers, senior officials, private property, assassinating certain individuals, torching banks, storming and torching governors’ offices, provincial headquarters, ministries, stealing from banks and chants calling for the government to resign, the constitution to be revoked and the government to be annulled… I believe these are far beyond legitimate demands… All these events are taking place between Baghdad and Basra. All these events, deaths and injuries are between Baghdad and Basra. This means nine Shiite provinces. Do they want to launch a Shiite-Shiite war? It appears the scope of this conspiracy is massive.”

Sa’dollah Zarei, a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) who is close to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, revealed that Iran is worried about its militia groups in Iraq, which indicates that the Iraqi people despise the IRGC Quds Force for interfering in their country.