Protests and demonstrations started again on 1 October 2019, against 16 years of corruption, unemployment and inefficient public services, before they escalated into calls to overthrow the administration and to stop Iranian intervention in Iraq. The Iraqi government at times reacted harshly, resulting in over 500 deaths by 12 December 2019.
On 27 December 2019, the K-1 Air Base in Iraq was attacked by more than 30 rockets, killing a U.S. civilian contractor and injuring others. The U.S. blamed the Iranian-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah militia.
On 29 December 2019, the United States bombed five Kata’ib Hezbollah militia’s positions in Iraq and Syria, in retaliation for the presumed Kata’ib attack of 27 December. According to Iraqi sources, at least 25 militia fighters were killed.
On 31 December 2019, after a funeral for Kata’ib Hezbollah militiamen killed by U.S. airstrikes, dozens of Iraqi Shia militiamen and their supporters marched into the Green Zone of Baghdad and surrounded the U.S. embassy compound. Demonstrators smashed a door of the checkpoint, set fire to the reception area, left anti-American posters and sprayed anti-American graffiti. U.S. president Trump accused Iran of orchestrating the attack.
On 3 January 2020, amid rising tensions between the United States and Iran, the U.S. launched a drone strike on a convoy traveling near Baghdad International Airport, killing Qasem Soleimani, Iranian major general and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Quds Force commander, the second most powerful person of Iran; Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF or PMU), four senior Iranian officers; and four Iraqi officers.
Following months of protests that broke out across Iraq in October 2019 and the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and his cabinet, Mustafa Al Kadhimi became a leading contender for the Premiership.
On 9 April 2020, he was named by President Barham Salih as prime minister-designate, the third person tapped to lead the country in just 10 weeks as it struggled to replace a government that fell last year after months of protests. Kadhimi was nominated by President Barham Salih, state television reported, shortly after the previous designated prime minister, Adnan al-Zurfi, announced he was withdrawing having failed to secure enough support to pass a government.
Spanning 437,072 km2 (168,754 sq mi), Iraq is the 58th-largest country in the world. It is comparable in size to the US state of California, and somewhat larger than Paraguay.
Iraq mainly consists of desert, but near the two major rivers (Euphrates and Tigris) are fertile alluvial plains, as the rivers carry about 60,000,000 m3 (78,477,037 cu yd) of silt annually to the delta. The north of the country is mostly composed of mountains; the highest point being at 3,611 m (11,847 ft) point, unnamed, but known locally as Cheekah Dar (black tent). Iraq has a small coastline measuring 58 km (36 mi) along the Persian Gulf. Close to the coast and along the Shatt al-Arab (known as arvandrūd: اروندرود among Iranians) there used to be marshlands, but many were drained in the 1990s.
Iraq’s economy is dominated by the oil sector, which has traditionally provided about 95% of foreign exchange earnings. The lack of development in other sectors has resulted in 18%–30% unemployed and a per capita GDP of $4,000. Public sector employment accounted for nearly 60% of full-time employment in 2011. The oil export industry, which dominates the Iraqi economy, generates very little employment. Currently only a modest percentage of women (the highest estimate for 2011 was 22%) participate in the labor force.