}

World

In Baghdad, many fear what will come next

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

BAGHDAD — Three weeks of escalating tensions between the United States and Iran have left Iraq in the conflict’s crosshairs. An Iran-backed militia attack on Dec. 28 caused the death of a U.S. military contractor here, sparking a dangerous round of brinkmanship between Washington and Tehran. President Trump ordered the killing of Iran’s most powerful military commander as he left Baghdad airport; Iran hit back with ballistic missiles that came perilously close to killing U.S. soldiers. But as the violence ebbs, Iraq is still on edge. Wary and weary, many fear what might follow.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

Members of the Hashd al-Shaabi militias watch as photos featuring Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, right, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis are unveiled in Karrada, Baghdad, on Jan. 20.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

Two militia members pose with portraits of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, left, and Qasem Soleimani in Karrada, Baghdad.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

The killing of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis sparked a firestorm in Iraq, where the two had many supporters. Their posters adorn Baghdad’s city squares now. The U.S. drone strike — on Iraqi soil, and without consultation — has enraged many of the country’s Shiite political elites and piled pressure on the prime minister to expel U.S. troops. As mourners turned out in the tens of thousands earlier this month, they chanted at the coffins of their two fallen heroes: “You never let us down.”

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

People walk through a market in Sadr City, Baghdad, on Jan. 18.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

Men attend the midday prayer in Moqtada al-Sadr's mosque in Sadr City on Jan. 18.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

The center of Sadr City.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

But four months into their popular uprising, Iraq’s anti-government protesters have burned photographs of Soleimani and Muhandis, and they insist that they need a homeland free from Iranian or U.S. influence.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

Mostly Shiite, and overwhelmingly young, the crowds are of a generation raised in the shadow of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, and they are calling for an end to corruption, and for a chance to live their lives with dignity. Iraq’s security forces have responded with overwhelming force, killing more than 500 people and wounding thousands more, as they fire bullets and gas canisters into the crowds.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

A sign against U.S. and Iranian influences hangs on a tent in Tahrir Square, where protesters have gathered for weeks now, on Jan. 11 in Baghdad.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

Protesters clash with Iraqi security forces at Muhammad al-Qassim bridge in Baghdad on Jan. 19.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

A tuk-tuk, which became a symbol of the protests, is seen at Tahrir Square on Jan. 17.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

Iraqi flags are displayed at Tahrir Square on Jan. 17.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

Young men stand on guard as the Iraqi national anthem is played during a ceremony for Yousif Satar, a protester killed during clashes with security forces in Baghdad.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

Young men smoke narghile near Tahrir Square on Jan. 21. The graffiti behind them portrays a mass funeral.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

A view of Tahrir Square on Jan. 17.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

Teenage protesters peek through a barricade of concrete blocks on Rasheed Street in Baghdad on Jan. 12.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

Baghdad is uneasy, and many fear for the future. But life also goes on. Cafes and restaurants fill up in the evening. At the fairground last week, parents packed sons and daughters onto carousels and watched as children giggled with delight. On the road outside, a couple posed for their wedding photographs, holding hands and smiling quietly as a Ferris wheel continued turning in the background.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

Residents watch sea gulls over the Tigris river on Jadriya Bridge in Baghdad on Jan. 17.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

Baghdadis visit the al-Zawraa amusement park on a cold afternoon in January.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

The amusement park is a popular destination for Baghdadis on weekends.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

Families ride a merry-go-round at the amusement park.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

Men drink tea in a traditional coffee shop in downtown Baghdad on Jan. 17. This part of the city center has been affected by the clashes between protesters and security forces, but on Fridays, Baghdadis still get together to enjoy tea and hookah.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

A view of a busy market in downtown Baghdad on Jan. 17.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

A little girl stands in a street in Karrada, Baghdad, with two dogs and a monkey on a cold January day.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

Bikers get together next to Jadriya Bridge in Baghdad on Jan. 17.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

A bride's car drives on Jadriya Bridge on Jan. 17.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post

A boy draped in the Iraqi flag looks at the Tigris from a beach in Baghdad on Jan. 11.

Emilienne Malfatto for The Washington Post