Is the US behind the protests in Iraq?
Is the United States behind the protests in southern Iraq? Well, the answer to that question is both yes and no.
Yes, because the US led the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, which destroyed much of the infrastructure the country needed to remain a modern society.
No, because before the US, former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein punished the south's residents by not building infrastructure after they rose up against him during the 1990-1991 Gulf War.
But there was another game afoot here that did allegedly involve the US.
The protests in the south, which kicked off in Basra almost two weeks ago, were sparked when Iran stopped supplying electricity to that region after it said it was owed $1.5bn in unpaid bills.
The protesters didn't blame Iran, but pointed to what they called an inept and corrupt Iraqi government. However in recent days Al Jazeera has been told, off the record, that the US put pressure on Iraq not to pay the Iranians.
Following its withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known colloquially as the Iran nuclear deal, in May, the US is currently preparing new sanctions against Tehran - and it's rallying support for those measures from allies.
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