IRAQ PROTESTS: At least 23 killed as Iraq cracks down on huge protests 25Feb11 February 26, 2011 -  25 February 2011

Despite angry threats from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki against possible demonstrations, protests were held nationwide today, prompting the resignations of a number of local officials and violent crackdowns by the nation’s security forces against tens of thousands of discontented protesters from northern Kurdistan to the southern port of Basra.

Official tolls have continued to rise throughout the day, and at present it is believed that a minimum of 23 Iraqi protesters were slain by security forces, slain while demanding access to clean water and better hospital services. Hundreds of others are believed to have been wounded.

It is noteworthy that the Obama Administration has been entirely mum on the Iraqi crackdown, particularly as the US still has some 50,000 troops in Iraq to back up the Maliki-led regime. One can at least be relieved that the US troops were not directly involved in any of today’s crackdowns, but if the protests in Iraq continue to escalate as they have elsewhere in the region, one wonders how long it will be before the regime requests their help in “controlling” the upsurge of pro-democracy protesters.

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