The crackdown on political protest in Iraq, from Baghdad to autonomous Kurdistan, shows that the country is far from a flourishing democracy.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
Toward the end of February, Iraqis took to the streets to commemorate the anniversary of their own – ultimately unrealized – attempt at starting an uprising against a corrupt, increasingly authoritarian political order.
"Security forces blocked access to protest sites in Baghdad; beat and arrested peaceful demonstrators in Sulaimaniya, Kurdistan; and briefly detained, beat, or confiscated equipment from media workers and prevented others from covering the protests," according to Human Rights Watch.
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On Wednesday President Obama hosted a dinner for a select group of veterans and officials involved with the Iraq war. "The nation's gratitude dinner," remembered the more than 4,000 soldiers who died, the thousands more who lost limbs and suffered permanent injury, and the sacrifices made by the families at home.
Obama called the men and women who fought in Iraq "the patriots who served in our name." He went on to say that "after nearly nine years in Iraq, tonight is an opportunity to express our gratitude and to say once more, welcome home."