The Jumhuriya Bridge has been a symbolic entity in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad since 1957 and it represents a prominent site during the protests today.
The Jumhuriya Bridge, translated into English as the “Republic Bridge”, has been a focal point of the protests in Iraq over the past couple of weeks. The Bridge connects two important parts of the city. One side, called Rusafa, holds some of Baghdad’s most famous landmarks, including Tahrir Square, the Freedom Monument, and Abu Nuwas Street. The other side, called Karkh, is where the Green Zone is situated, where the majority of governmental buildings are located, a prominent target for the protesters.
The Jumhuriya Bridge has been a prominent landmark in Baghdad since its construction in 1957 during the reign of King Faisal II. It was originally called the Queen Alia Bridge and was changed to the Jumhuriya Bridge during the tenure of Abd al-Karim Qasim following the 14 July Revolution. The bridge was destroyed during the first Gulf War in early 1991 and was rebuilt again and opened at the end of the same year.
Demonstrators have been gathered on and under the Bridge for days, setting up camps an barricades, standing in defiance of the security forces that have responded harshly, leading to several deaths in the process.
The security forces have nevertheless been attempting to close the Bridge in an effort to stop the flow of protests coming across the Bridge and to prevent any damage being done to it. Demonstrators are being limited to Tahrir Square.
In recent comments made by the spokesperson for the Iraqi Armed Forces, Major General Abdul Karim Khalaf, he warned that there is a risk that the Bridge will collapse as a result of arson attacks and damage caused to the Bridge’s joints.
Protests have been ongoing mainly in Baghdad and the southern regions of Iraq since their renewed outbreak on Friday 25 October, as had been planned from the end of the previous protests that came to a halt during the period of Ashura.