Iraqis protest in Baghdad as currency crisis continues

Iraqi protesters rallied Friday in Baghdad, demanding the government take action to stop the economic crisis and the slide of the national currency after the Iraqi dinar plunged further.

Measures taken by the United States in recent months to stamp out money laundering and the channeling of dollars to Iran and Syria from Iraq have severely restricted Iraq’s access to hard currency.

The Iraqi dinar slipped to around 1,750 to the dollar at street exchanges in some parts of the country on Thursday, compared to the official rate of 1,460 dinars for $1. On Friday, most exchange stores in Baghdad were closed, while in the northern city of Irbil, the dollar was trading at around 1,710 Iraqi dinars.

A small crowd of about 150 gathered in central Baghdad on Friday, chanting against Prime Mohammed Shia al-Sudani and carrying slogans. “The rise of the dollar means death to the poor and children,” said one banner.

Another read: “Today we will see which of the MPs are with the demands of the people and which are against them.” Some protesters raised pictures of demonstrators who were killed during mass anti-government protests that began in late 2019.

Since the U.S. Invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iraq’s foreign currency reserves have been housed at the United States’ Federal Reserve, giving the Americans significant control over Iraq’s supply of dollars.

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