Protests in Iraq

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Three days of protests in Iraq have now resulted in the deaths of 60 demonstrators, many shot by sniper fire.

The violence is the worst since Iraq put down an insurgency by Islamic State two years ago. The protests arose in the south, heartland of the Shi’ite majority, but quickly spread, with no formal leadership.

Security and medical sources gave a death toll on Friday of 60 killed across Iraq in three days of unrest, the vast majority of the deaths in the last 24 hours as the violence accelerated.

“It is sorrowful that there have been so many deaths, casualties and destruction,” Iraq’s most influential cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said in a letter read out by his representative during a sermon. “The government and political sides have not answered the demands of the people to fight corruption or achieved anything on the ground,” said Sistani, who stays out of day-to-day politics but whose word is law for Iraq’s Shi’ites. “Parliament holds the biggest responsibility for what is happening.”

Populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who leads the largest opposition bloc in parliament, ordered his lawmakers to suspend participation in the legislature until the government introduces a program that would serve all Iraqis.

Many government officials and lawmakers are widely accused of siphoning off public money, unfairly awarding contracts in state institutions and other forms of corruption.

It is suggested that the demonstrators are protesting government corruption. This could easily be true, since bribery, payoffs, embezzlement, etc, are very normal in Arab culture. At the same time, the factionalism that divides Iraq has not gone away, and these demonstrations could be a tactic by the opposition to damage the ruling party. Moqtada al-Sadr (who had been nicknamed “Mookie” by U.S. troops) has a long history of using force for his own political gain. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is behind these protests.


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  • Cotour

    And how does one attempt to deal with this particular crazy part of the world filled with corruption, violence and religious extremism (That sits upon all of that oil wealth) if one saw themselves as the ones that might deal with such a place? (Strategy Over Morality)

    If you were the powers that be in the world you might attempt to break it up and change the culture, “reform” or reshape such a place.

    And these actions might take the form of different economic, military and covert actions.

    And these military and covert actions focused on this desired change would have their opponents and that might reveal itself in different forms of terrorism as push back. Maybe, that may be how things might play out in the world.

    And that might be how we might get to a place where the security at many essential transportation modes throughout the world, especially where the corrective actions emminates from, become soooo concerned with security.

    Confidence in your security, Travel, power and your economic system is essential if you want to run the world and maintain your status as “The Ones” who decide what is what in the world. (I really do not have a problem with this model, someone has to do it if you want to live by your morality model rather than someone elses.)

    But there are prices to be paid for such actions.


  • Cotour

    And here is how another “Power” that be might attempt to deal with similar cultural differences and potential terrorism.

    But then the Uighurs do not control or sit upon any wealth of any consequence.

    I think that we can agree that any time one someone attempts to exert power over another someone, there will be push back if and when it gets to certain levels. There may even be blood. What am I saying, maybe. There will be blood.

    People, no matter who they are just want to be left alone. And in a perfect world you are able to live your morality model without consequence, without having to be molested at the airport. But that is in a perfect world. And we understand that we certainly do not live in a perfect world where we get to live as we please without there being push back and consequences.

    No excuses, no apologies, but there are consequences to actions taken related to perceived neccessary agenda executed.

  • Edward

    From the article: “‘We do not live in ivory towers – we walk among you in the streets of Baghdad,’ [Abdul Mahdi] said.

    But somehow that “we” are not the ones being shot. Only the “you” are. Apparently Abdul Mahdi is not as among the population as he thinks.

    “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” — Isaac Asimov’s character Salvor Hardin in “Foundation”

  • Lee S

    A couple of years ago I sat and took a beer with a guy from Iraq…. He actually shed tears when I asked him how it was over there..
    He told me that life under Saddam left no room for political dissidence, but that it was safe to walk the streets…. He and his kids were well educated, there was a good healthcare system… And there was freedom to practise whatever religion took your fancy. ( He was orthodox Christian )
    Now if he returned he would be killed.
    There were over a million people in the UK who protested against the invasion of Iraq. Their voices went unheard, and the largest protest in UK history went mostly unreported on UK media.
    This wasps nest is of our creation, there is no answer in sight, and the “coalition of the willing” is purely to blame. By attempting to inflict democracy upon a population not ready for the concept, and by using a method which the extremest factions understand only too well ( violence ) , we created a vacuum that is now filled with said extremists.
    There are no easy answers, but we owe a debt to the people of the middle East to help fix the chaos we created.
    The road to hell is paved with good intentions…. And the common people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya Deserve some sort of recompense for our misjudged intervention.
    I have no idea how we go about that compensation, but it is a debt of our own making, and a debt which needs paying.

  • wayne

    sorry, I don’t owe a debt or compensation, to any of these people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, or Libya.

    Iraq’s 1979 Fascist Coup,
    Narrated by Christopher Hitchens

  • commodude

    Lee S,

    If you want to place blame, go back to the end of WW1 when the French and British partitioned the middle east with no regard for historic, tribal or geographic boundaries.

    They created the mess.

    Compensation is liberal pap to signal virtue using other people’s money.

  • mike shupp

    Hmmm. It’s long struck me the US screwed up very badly in Iran after the Shah was ousted. It was Ronald Reagan’s one big failure in foreign policy. Granted, it was at the start of his presidency, and hammering at the Iranians was a great way of belaboring Jimmy Carter and Democrats — it must have seemed an obvious thing to do.

    Granted also, Americans were legitimately POed when student rioters stormed our embassy in Tehran and took so many people captive for so long — but people were legitimately mad at Japanese and Germans after WWII and somehow we managed to make friends and allies out of those former enemies. With Iran, however, we’ve had 40 years of distrust and enmity, benefiting no one. I’ve taken college courses with Iranians, I’ve worked with them, and we always got along fine. It would have been nice to keep that going, if politics and politicians in both countries hadn’t interfered. We shouldn’t be happy to have each other as foes.

  • daytelfoe

    Without regard to the various causes of deconstructing Sadam’s Iraq, The Willing did complete the take over. Like Germany and Japan, at later South Korea they were occupied for a time. In contrast Iraq was abandon to the predations of ambitious thugs, perhaps just to prove a domestic political point. A high price paid by the locals for our high-falutin ideals, or petty partisan point making. McCain was right that the occupation of Iraq should have lasted a generation. There are examples of the success of such efforts.

    I worry the gangs are still looking to carve out their several fiefdoms, and none will be considered friendly, to themselves, each other, or us.

  • Sam

    This is why fracking in USA ?? is so important so we will not be reliant on this part of the world.

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