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Theme Changer

 Topic: Protests in Iraq

 (Read 7855 times)
  • 12 Next page « Previous thread | Next thread »
  • Protests in Iraq
     OP - November 08, 2019, 10:39 PM Fariborz Pooya and Maryam Namazie on the protests In Iraq
  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #1 - November 10, 2019, 11:41 PM
    From Baghdad to the Shiite Muslim shrine city of Karbala and farther south, Iraqis are pushing for a revolution. They fill central squares to sing and dance from daybreak, and face down riot police when night falls.

    Iraq’s streets are no stranger to power struggles. They’ve been a stage for sectarian conflict and for the Islamic State’s emergence. But the crowds are different this time, and so is the threat now posed by the largest grass-roots movement in Iraq’s modern history: A new generation raised in the shadow of the U.S.-led invasion is rising, and politicians from Baghdad to Tehran have been caught on the back foot.

    “To the generation of the sixties and seventies,” reads a sign flying high above Baghdad’s central square. “We have more courage than you.”

    Although the unrest is confined to mostly Shiite areas, leading clerics for once have not marshaled it, and Shiite-dominated Iran, a powerful political and security force here, has been openly excoriated. The Iranian Consulate in Karbala has been torched and its national flag ripped down. In scenes reminiscent of the fall of Saddam Hussein, protesters have used their shoes to beat photographs of Tehran-backed militia leaders.

    “If anything, these protests have challenged the sectarian formula of governance, which has reduced Iraqis to their ethnic and religious identities,” Harith Hasan, a nonresident fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Center, wrote in a research note. Under Iraq’s political system, power is split among parties based on sect, and economic spoils are divided accordingly.

    Fearful that its influence could erode, Iran is stepping in to help marshal a brutal response. In an earlier wave of protest last month, Iran’s leading general, Qasem Soleimani, flew into Baghdad late on the second day to make clear that Iran would be supportive of efforts to shut the protests down, according to Iraqi officials. They say an Iran-backed militia commissioned snipers to shoot protesters in the streets.

    This time, government officials say, Iran has pressured Iraq’s weakened and embattled prime minister not to step down and fueled his belief that the protests are a foreign conspiracy.

    Since protests initially erupted earlier this year, at least 264 people have been killed and more than 12,000 wounded, according to the country’s human rights commission.

    Iraqi security forces fired tear gas and live rounds into the air to disperse protesters in central Baghdad on Thursday, beating young men they could grab, as the biggest wave of anti-government demonstrations in decades spread across the capital. The human rights commission said 23 people had been killed, and more than 1,000 wounded, in the past week.

    “The biggest responsibility is on the security forces,” a representative of Iraq’s leading Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, said Friday, as the latest round of protests entered its third week. “They must avoid using excessive force with peaceful protesters.”

    Since Oct. 25, Baghdad’s Tahrir Square has become a vision of a different sort of Iraq. Government authority is largely absent. Young men and women clean the streets and paint walls with pictures of their revolutionary heroes and their dead.

    Hundreds have pitched in to cook for the crowd, stirring steaming pots of rice, chopping meat and brewing tiny cups of tea drenched in sugar.

    “When I walk out into that square today, I know that if I’m hungry, someone will feed me. If I’m wounded, someone will carry me away,” said Al-Hassan Fahmy, leaning his elbow against a grubby mound of blankets. “This is a different society here.”

    In front-line clashes, predominantly at night, demonstrators have held their ground with a mix of nihilism and glee. As adrenaline-pumped teenagers confronted riot police on a recent night, scampering among the tear gas trails and throwing stones back where they could, the crowd pumped fists in the air and bellowed in unison: “Are you Iranian? No. Are you American? No! Are you Baathist? No? Are you Iraqi?” The cheer was deafening.

    Almost 60 percent of Iraq’s population of 40 million has grown up with a political system molded by the United States after Hussein’s ouster in 2003. Allocating power among religious and ethnic groups, it has entrenched corruption at the heart of public services and become a vehicle through which Iran spreads its influence. Iran has backed powerful militias that answer to the state in theory but operate with broad impunity in practice.

    “We need a government without militias and without religion. We need a government of human beings, not militias who control everything,” said a 19-year-old medical volunteer, Mohammed, in Tahrir Square, resting a knee injury from days earlier when a gas canister smashed the bone as he ferried wounded men to safety. Like others, he spoke on the condition that only his first name be used, citing concerns for his safety. “I need a good school — just one good school — and instead I’ve seen protesters with their heads smashed open and bullets in their chests.”

    Scrawled across his bandages: “My knee for my country.”

    In mostly Shiite southern cities, protesters have burned militia headquarters and mobbed the ambulance of a leading member of the powerful Iranian-backed militia Asaib Ahl al-Haq. His death was captured on film when he was pulled into the crowd. “Like a battlefield,” was how one witness described it.

    Although unrest has not spread to the country’s mostly Sunni Muslim northern and western provinces, young men and women there said it was not for lack of grievance. The Islamic State’s rise to power there in 2013 began when the militants capitalized on anti-government protests to hold ground. Students in the city of Mosul, still reeling and partly in rubble, have joined civil-disobedience campaigns this week but said they could not go out to the streets.

    “Everyone knows what happened here before. We couldn’t protest even if he wanted to,” said Heba, an architecture student. She and others interviewed said they believed that the government would accuse protesters of trying to bring back Islamic State militants. In the western province of Anbar, Iraqi security forces have arrested several men who expressed support for this month’s protests on their social media accounts.

    The growth and persistence of the protests, which began Oct. 1 as a small-scale cry against corruption, have caught political elites, as well as much of the country, by surprise.

    During his visit to Baghdad early last month, Soleimani told Iraqi officials that Tehran knew how to deal with protests, recalling that it had gotten them under control when they previously erupted in Iran, according to two people with knowledge of the meeting.

    The crackdown in Iraq intensified quickly, with snipers deployed on rooftops, media outlets attacked and leading activists abducted. Protesters in Tahrir Square this week said the violence, initially focused on a mostly poor crowd from Shiite suburbs, inflamed wider anger, persuading a broader demographic of sects and ages to take to the streets in the second wave.

    In repeated speeches to the nation, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has voiced support for the crowds’ demands, promising reform and condemning violence on all sides. But his early promises to step down have disappeared, and in an address to Iraq’s cabinet Tuesday, he described resignation as the “easiest” way out.

    Two government officials said Abdul Mahdi had originally prepared a resignation speech but abandoned it after pressure from advisers and officials linked to Iran.

    “He wanted to resign, but after a long meeting, they convinced him not to,” said one official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. “The Iranian side considers this as their government, and for the first time they have control of the decision-making. They don’t want to lose that easily.”

    The prime minister is increasingly isolated, people close to him say, convinced by those around him that the demonstrations, far from being a response to socioeconomic conditions, are a conspiracy stoked by the United States and Israel.

    “This is the largest grass-roots movement in Iraq’s modern history,” said Hasan, of the Carnegie Middle East Center. “The government lost the narrative in the face of a very vibrant movement.”

    Report from and
  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #2 - November 13, 2019, 08:04 PM
    “I’m going out to claim my rights” — this was the phrase posted by Iraqis on Facebook in the final days of September. Then on October 1, mass demonstrations were mobilized against corruption, unemployment, political quotas, and the interference of neighboring states, particularly Iran, in Iraq’s government and policies. Protesters sought to make these demands heard in all of Iraq’s provinces. Nearly six weeks later, the protests continue.

  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #3 - November 13, 2019, 08:12 PM
    Informing Iraq’s leaders are lessons from protests in Basra last year. In September 2018, a collection of parastatal armed groups killed 23 demonstrators protesting poor state services like electricity and clean drinking water. Baghdad also sent the CTS to help disperse protests. But over the past year, parastatal armed groups in Basra have strengthened their intelligence-gathering capabilities, facilitating an environment of fear among residents of the southern city. More than a year later, this blueprint of violence has been adapted as the central strategy to suppress the ongoing uprising today. This coercive blueprint works in tandem with political and legal maneuvering within other Iraqi state institutions.

    Barhim Salih, Iraq’s president (a largely ceremonial position as head of state), addressed the Iraqi nation on October 31. In his speech, Salih stated new elections could be held once a new electoral law was passed by the current parliament, and a new prime minister could be chosen once the major parties agreed on a candidate. But this position ultimately entails using the old hands and tools of the system in order to defend it, not “reform” it. Major political parties across the ethnic and religious spectrum support keeping the Abdul Mehdi in power. The discrete actors within the political system come together to defend the whole against foreign threats. In this case, the threat is the public it claims to represent. As these moves toward reform inevitably fall short, the more violence becomes the policy of choice that is backed by legal authority.

    The coercive apparatuses in Iraq are multiple. Those who operate them must be seen as equally implicated in the lethal attacks on peaceful protesters. Parastatal armed actors have done the bulk of the killing in the last month. However, those who lead official state institutions like the different ministries, security institutions, and the judiciary – from the prime minister on down – also hold and exercise power. Grasping for a hierarchy of accountability is a convenient way of letting those who appear less culpable or complicit in the violence off the hook. But such a hierarchy ignores the point that demonstrators have been making for weeks if not years: The entire political system is rotten, and it all has to go.

  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #4 - November 13, 2019, 10:51 PM
  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #5 - November 14, 2019, 12:46 PM

    Human Rights Watch - Iraq: Security Forces Attack Medics Treating Protesters
  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #6 - November 15, 2019, 06:06 PM
  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #7 - November 23, 2019, 03:55 PM

    Iraqi anti-government demonstrators react to Iran protests
  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #8 - November 25, 2019, 08:07 PM

    Protests attempts to demolish the blast concrete walls in Al-Ahrar street

  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #9 - November 28, 2019, 01:09 PM

    Iraq protesters burn down Iran consulate in night of anger
    Iraqi protesters in the southern city of Najaf burned down the Iranian Consulate there on Wednesday night in an outburst of anger at Iran, witnesses said.

    Video showed sizable crowds outside the consulate shouting “Out, out Iran!” and waving Iraqi flags as the building burned.

    Thirty-five protesters and 32 members of the Iraqi security forces were injured, according to the police in Najaf.

    No Iranian diplomats were in the building at the time, according to witnesses and Iranian news media, and there were no reports of Iranian casualties.

    But the attack struck a significant symbolic blow against Iran, which places a high value on its outposts in the Shiite Muslim heartland of southern Iraq. Najaf houses important Shiite shrines, and Iran’s presence in the city demonstrates its ties to this ancient site.

    Iraqi secular and religious authorities condemned the violence but did not blame any particular group. The government imposed a curfew in Najaf until further notice.

    The attack on the consulate “sends a clear message that a segment of the Iraqi society rejects the Iranian political presence in the country and holds it accountable for bringing this government,” said Sheikh Fadhil al-Budayri, a senior cleric in Najaf.

    This was the second attempt in a month by protesters to burn the Iranian consulate in Najaf. In the first attempt, Molotov cocktails were thrown over the consulate walls but the flames were put out and the damage was limited.

    The demonstrators in Najaf are almost all Shiites, and Shiite religious authorities there have encouraged the protests, although they have insisted that they remain peaceful.

    The Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most senior Shiite cleric in Iraq, has faced intense pressure to resolve the standoff between the protesters and the government.

    Although he usually tries to stay out of direct involvement in Iraqi politics, he has urged restraint by the government and admonished the protesters to refrain from violence. However, he has used increasingly strong language urging the government to make far-reaching changes in its election law, to crack down on corruption and to accommodate the demands of the “peaceful protesters.”

    In addition to having allies in Iraq’s government, Iran has ties to several militias, known as popular mobilization forces. These militias have recently been incorporated into Iraq’s security forces, but there are fears that Iran might exert pressure on them to act in its interests.

    Within hours of the attack on the consulate, it appeared that Iran was preparing to strike back through these militias.

    The leader of those forces, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, framed the attack on the consulate as an attack on Ayatollah al-Sistani.

    “We will cut off the hand that attempts to get close to Marjaiyia Sayyid al-Sistani,” he said, using an honorific for the ayatollah. The statement appeared to be laying out a justification for future militia attacks on protesters by casting the response as a defense of Ayatollah al-Sistani.

    In a live report from Najaf, Iran’s state television reported Wednesday night that the consulate had been completely burned down and referred to the Iraqi protesters as “rioters and hooligans.”

    “The Iraqi forces just watched and did nothing,” the reporter said. “Hooligans entered the consulate in Najaf and completely burned it down.”

  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #10 - November 28, 2019, 01:22 PM

    #Iraq : since last night government forces have launched a very violent crackdown in #Nasiriyah, killing over a dozen protesters.

    Footage shows soldiers opening fire in the city this morning
    Iraq deserves a lot more public attention as situation gets uglier by the day. For the most part, the demonstrators are young men and women who have grown up in shadow of 2003 US-led invasion. They want futures they can control, and they're getting shot for asking.

  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #11 - November 28, 2019, 06:10 PM
    Firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and head of biggest bloc in the Iraqi parliament Sairoon bloc demands the Iraqi government to “Step Down” immediately, following the crackdown on protesters today in Nasiriyah city.
    Via his Twitter, #Iraq’s influential Shia cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr has asked PM AbdulMahdi to step down immediately, warning that no doing this would turn Iraq into a second #Syria
    It comes after the night that a group of protesters torched #Iranian consulate in #Najaf

  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #12 - November 28, 2019, 08:32 PM
    A range of different security forces descended on protesters in the Iraqi city of Nasiriyah overnight, killing at least 25 people and injuring scores more by this morning, Amnesty International confirmed after interviewing eyewitnesses and verifying a dozen videos and images from the scene...

  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #13 - November 28, 2019, 09:14 PM

    My comments on the burning of the Iranian consulate in Najaf and the challenge to Tehran's regional influence

  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #14 - November 29, 2019, 12:31 AM

    How Iraq’s protests are also changing the country’s culture
  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #15 - November 29, 2019, 04:14 PM
    Iraq’s embattled prime minister announced Friday that he will submit his resignation to parliament in hopes of curbing two months of widespread protests that have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Iraqis.

    Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi decided to resign in response to a call Friday by Iraq’s powerful Shiite Muslim religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, for a change of leadership, according to a statement issued by the prime minister’s office...

    Video of reaction in Tahrir Square:
  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #16 - November 29, 2019, 06:18 PM

    Regarding events in Iraq today: first, this is the text of Abd al-Mahdi's "resignation" statement. I would encourage media to be careful about using the word "resignation" to the extent that implies AAM has left or will imminently leave office.

    My take is that this is the end of the beginning of this crisis, not the beginning of the end. AAM simply says "I will submit my formal resignation" to parliament, after noting that he said he was ready to resign last month. There is no clear rule parl't has to accept it...

  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #17 - November 30, 2019, 07:23 PM
    #Mosul tonight is out protesting & sending solidarity messages to Tahrir Square by chanting “With our blood & soul, we redeem you Tahrir”. People in Mosul have been avoiding anti-government protests to avoid being called “#ISIS supporters or Ba’ath supporters”.

  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #18 - November 30, 2019, 07:29 PM

    Threats, arrests, targeted killings silence Iraqi dissidents
    The government official, asked whether Iran-backed militiamen had killed the couple to silence them, said: “A powerful militia threatened them, they fled and when they returned were killed. Everyone knows who did it, but doesn’t dare say.” He didn’t specify which group.

    Other protesters have died in circumstances that activists and some government officials say point the finger squarely at Iran-backed groups because the protesters had spoken out against them, but which are still under investigation.

    Gunmen driving unmarked cars killed two other outspoken activists in November using silenced pistols in separate incidents in Baghdad and southern Amara, the two security officials said.

    In the Baghdad incident, Adnan Rustum, 41, was shot dead returning from an anti-government protest in his neighborhood, which is dominated by one Iran-backed militia. Asked about whether Iran-backed militia were responsible, two local police sources said Rustum’s role in the protests was the reason he was killed but didn’t elaborate.

    The Iraqi parliament’s human rights committee has demanded the government investigate “assassinations and kidnappings” of activists and bloggers, including Rustum’s death.

    As previously reported by Reuters, Iran-backed militias deployed snipers on Baghdad rooftops during anti-government protests in October, according to two Iraqi security officials.

  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #19 - December 01, 2019, 10:43 AM
    Tribal leaders in southern Iraq, where the latest bloodshed was centred, have turned on security forces in the wake of the killings, which they say were directed by Iranian officials who have played a central role in the crackdown.

    Iran – which also has a majority Shia population – has played a prominent role in the affairs of Iraq throughout the post-invasion years, and especially since the US withdrew its forces in 2011. The Iranian general Qassem Suleimani has been a central figure in the crackdown, directing a lethal response that started roughly a month ago.

    At the same time Iran is facing pressure on the home front and an uprising in Lebanon, where the most important arm of its foreign projection, Hezbollah, plays a vital role in the fragile country’s affairs.

    “In Lebanon and in Iraq, they are on a war footing,” said a regional official familiar with Iranian thinking. “They might be able to calm things in Lebanon, but in Iraq they have the tribes to deal with, and that’s where they’re coming unstuck.

    “What has been unleashed in the south in particular is a blood feud, and they are blaming Iran and its proxies for this. It’s very dangerous, and unchartered territory for Tehran.”

    Tribal leaders in Dhi Qar province have demanded that security forces and militia leaders responsible for the killings in Nasiriyah be held accountable. The stance adds a new layer of complexity to a standoff, which now looms as the most serious Iran has faced in the post-Saddam Middle East. “They are convinced the Americans are behind this,” said the official. “I have never seen them as rattled as they are now.”

  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #20 - December 02, 2019, 11:06 AM

    Iraqi protestors take over government buildings and sit on the chairs of the officials who failed them. Pic from @babylonfm. Not sure who photographer is.

  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #21 - December 02, 2019, 03:21 PM

    A possible unintended outcome of Iraqi youth's revolution: ending shaming culture. One of the most dominant features of Iraqi and Middle Eastern societies and perhaps the most damning and harmful is shaming those who choose to stray from strict social codes.

  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #22 - December 07, 2019, 09:27 AM

    Tahrir Square yesterday:

    Sistani’s role:
  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #23 - December 07, 2019, 12:11 PM

    Iraqi officials raise Friday’s toll to 25 protesters killed
  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #24 - December 08, 2019, 07:23 PM
    07 Dec 2019, 08:57pm

    Amnesty International has gathered detailed eyewitness testimony of the coordinated attack by unidentified gunmen in Baghdad last night, which claimed at least 20 lives and left more than 130 injured.

    The organisation also verified footage from Baghdad that corroborated testimony of witnesses who described the arrival of fleets of gunmen.

    Witnesses describe how “endless gunmen” arrived in pick-up trucks and minivans whilst others who had mingled with the crowd shot and stabbed protesters and attacked and set fire to parts of the Garage al-Sinak building.

    Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty’s Middle East Research Director, said:

    “The testimony we have a gathered leaves little doubt that this was a well-coordinated attack and raises serious questions as to how heavily-armed gunmen in a fleet of vehicles were seemingly able to pass through Baghdad’s checkpoints and inflict such a bloody onslaught. 

    “Last night’s attacks are by far one of the most bloody in an ongoing campaign of intimidation and violence against protesters. Iraqi authorities must urgently investigate these attacks and bring the perpetrators to justice and immediately act to ensure protesters are protected. Failure to do so would send a message that such abuses will be tolerated.”

    One witness told Amnesty: “They came to kill. They opened fire immediately. They targeted people by shooting straight at them, not in the air. They were not masked. I do not think they cared if anybody saw them.”

    Another witness told Amnesty: “They came in pick-up trucks and mini vans. Endless gunmen. We don’t know how they drove through Baghdad unstopped with all its checkpoints.”

    A third witness said: “It was terrifying, especially because the situation had been so calm for the past few days. The protesters were hopeful and had given so much importance to being organized and peaceful. Everyone felt strong after the Prime Minister’s resignation.”

  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #25 - December 08, 2019, 08:11 PM
    No, there's no turning back from this route
    No, we won't step back or be mute
    No, we'll reclaim our right
    With all of our might
    And every corrupt we shall remove
    Let whoever stole us
    Try and tell us
    What shall he do or prove
    When we are to stay
    But he's to be going away
  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #26 - December 11, 2019, 07:40 PM

    This short documentary about the protests is worth watching.
  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #27 - January 03, 2020, 05:11 PM
    People who spent months ignoring how a living Soleimani was affecting Iraqi lives suddenly feel strongly about how a dead Soleimani might affect Iraqi lives. If you sat silent through the repression & genocide he perpetrated, then your concerns are counterfeit.

  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #28 - January 03, 2020, 05:15 PM

    The reaction in Tahrir Square:
  • Protests in Iraq
     Reply #29 - January 05, 2020, 11:35 AM
    Iraqi students are continuing to protest and they are carrying signs asking the U.S and Iran to keep Iraq away from the ongoing turmoil

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