On this episode of the Order From Ashes podcast “Shia Power” series, Taif Alkhudary explains how the October 2019 protests formed a popular response to years of thwarted democratization.

The Tishreen protests movement, Alkhudary argues, represents an indigenous democratization movement that is resisting the putative democracy put in place after the U.S. invasion. Since 2003, Iraqis have endured corruption, dysfunction, and ethno-sectarian tensions, which the political elite justified as the cost of democracy. The Tishreen movement, while still politically immature, has revealed an alternate path.

This episode of Order From Ashes is the third in a four-part series about the transformation of Shia politics in Iraq, and what Iraq’s experience teaches us about the role of religion in politics everywhere.

In episode 1 of “Shia Power,” Sajad Jiyad and host Thanassis Cambanis chart the powerful role of religion and the Shia clergy in the creation of a new Iraqi order after Saddam Hussein. In episode 2, Marsin Alshammary draws on her fieldwork in the seminaries of Najaf to argue that clerical authority has not diminished, despite setbacks over the last twenty years. In episode 3, Taif Alkhudary chronicles the revolutionary efforts of the Tishreen protest movement to establish an alternative to religious politics. In episode 4, the final in this series, Ali Al-Mawlawi connects some of today’s sectarian rhetoric to Iraq’s long history of anti-Shia prejudice.


  • Taif Alkhudary, research officer, LSE Middle East Center, and PhD candidate, Cambridge
  • Thanassis Cambanis, director, Century International