An Iraqi protestor in Basra, Iraq. Photo: Haidar Mohammed Ali/AFP/Getty Images

Protests that began in Basra over a lack of basic services and job opportunities have spread to several cities in Iraq and left at least eight dead and dozens injured, CNN reports.

The big picture: Saad Jawad of London School of Economics told Al Jazeera that unless people see "concrete improvements in their lives that satisfy their demands — improvements in electricity, employment, services and actions against corrupt officials — they won't stand down."

Why they're protesting
  • Basra is the "oil hub and Shia heartland" of Iraq, per the Independent, and holds 70% of Iraq's oil reserves, yet it suffers from crumbling infrastructure, unemployment and poverty.
  • The region "has long been neglected" by the government, starting with dictator Saddam Hussein, per Reuters.
  • Demonstrators are also fed up with political parties; one protestor, Abdulrahman Mohammed, told the Washington Post: "We've had enough of these parties who put Iranian interests ahead of us and treat the people like wood to burn when they need money."
Where things stand
  • In addition to the eight killed, dozens have been injured and hundreds arrested, per Al Jazeera. Police officers and security forces are among those injured.
  • Protestors have targeted "government buildings, branches of political parties and powerful Shiite militias and stormed the international airport in the holy city of Najaf," Reuters reports.
  • The government cut off internet access, the Washington Post reports, in efforts to "contain further violence."
What they're saying
  • Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced a financial investment for the region worth $3 billion, Al Jazeera reports, pledging spending on infrastructure like schools and housing, as well as other services.
  • Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the country's top Shiite cleric, sided with the demonstrators, saying there is an "extreme lack of public services," NBC reports.
  • A woman who lost her son in the protests, Um Faten, told CNN: "We are fed up with the situation — our sons had no other solution but to go out and protest. I want my children to live a normal life, but it seems we are losing hope that things will get better here."
  • Protestor Murtadha Rahman, told Reuters: "I live in a place which is rich with oil that brings billions of dollars while I work in collecting garbage to desperately feed my two kids. I want a simple job, that's my only demand...I won't go even if you kill me."

Go deeper

How Trump's push to reopen schools could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Trump administration’s full-steam-ahead push to fully reopen schools this fall is on a collision course with the U.S.' skyrocketing coronavirus caseload and its decades-long neglect of public education.

Why it matters: Getting kids back to school is of paramount importance for children and families, especially low-income ones. But the administration isn’t doing much to make this safer or more feasible.

Coronavirus squeezes the "sandwich generation"

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

As the coronavirus poses risks and concerns for the youngest and oldest Americans, the generations in the middle are buckling under the increasing strain of having to take care of both.

Why it matters: People that make up the so-called sandwich generations are typically in their 30s, 40s and 50s, and in their prime working years. The increasing family and financial pressures on these workers means complications for employers, too.

Why Scranton matters again in 2020

Biden and Clinton visit Biden's childhood home in Scranton in 2016. Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The hometown of Joe Biden and "The Office" is polishing its perennial status as a guidepost for the nation's political mood.

Driving the news: Biden returns to Scranton, Pa., today with a campaign stop just outside the city limits at a metalworking plant, where he'll deliver remarks on a plan to create jobs and "help America build back better."