Iraq Roiled by Protests, 2 Killed in Sulaimaniya

What I can’t understand is, if the American Right Wing were correct that George W. Bush was ‘right’ in trying to kick start democracy in the Middle East by invading and occupying it, then why would it be necessary for people to demonstrate and burn government buildings in… Iraq? And why have 5 people been shot down for demonstrating in two days in Iraq, as many as in the repressive monarchy of Bahrain?

Iraqis have been demonstrating against the al-Maliki government and lack of services for two weeks now. But on Thursday, a wave of rallies swept the country from north to south, leaving two dead in Sulaimaniya and government buildings torched elsewhere.

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that in the city of Kut in Shiite south Iraq (the capital of Wasit province), crowds threatened the provincial headquarters. This action came a day after they had burned down the provincial council building and saw 3 protesters killed by security forces.

Euronews has video of Wednesday’s events in Kut:

The Iraqi parliament set a discussion of the protests for Saturday, while Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki warned that unnamed sinister forces were attempting to divert the legitimate demands of the people to unstated nefarious purposes.

In Kut on Thursday, dozens of demonstrators gathered in front of the mansion of the governor of Wasit Province, demanding the removal of the local governor. They demanded better government services, an end to administrative corruption (constant demands for bribes by provincial officials to do their jobs), accountability for the corrupt, and jobs. On Wednesday, police had shot dead three protesters and wounded more in Kut after they had set fire to a government building.

On Thursday, in the town of Nasar in Dhi Qar province, 490 km south of Baghdad, police chief Sabah al-Fatlawi said that a curfew had been implemented after government buildings were burned.

Also on Thursday, some 600 demonstrators in the southern port city of Basra in Iraq rallied in front of the provincial governor’s mansion, demanding his resignation over failure to provide basic services. They were pushed back by police.

Al-Hayat says that medical officials announced that two persons had been killed and more than 30 wounded in Sulaimaniya when a crowd of some 3000 came out to demand that the Kurdistan Regional Government address problems of unemployment and undertake to improve the situation in the region. The demonstration was sponsored by “The Network for Safeguarding Rights and Liberties,” which was protesting the authoritarian rule of the two Establishment Kurdish parties that make up the Kurdistan Alliance. Iraqi political parties are patronage machines that leave non-members on the outside and sometimes destitute. They demanded a change in government and an end to corruption.

On Monday, Shiite clerical leader Muqtada al-Sadr had called for peaceful demonstrations against what he called the continued American occupation of Iraq. Sadrists have probably been key to the demonstrations in the southern Iraqi cities.

18 Responses

  1. -
    this is a bell that can’t be unrung
    nor can it’s sound be tempered

    it rings in the heart of every man

    tell me you felt nothing when the
    oppressor was finally relieved

    when the roar went up in the streets

  2. .
    Euronews the source for this video ?
    They need to hire a geographer.

    22 seconds in, a map places al Kut near Basra, rather than in Wasit Governate, which borders Diyala Governate.
    .

  3. .
    The video is vaguely reminiscent of events in al Kut the first week of April, 2004, when locals expressed their displeasure with the RTI approach to distributing food rations.
    .

  4. The Economist of Feb.12-18 issue on page 28 has a chart with a heading “Potential for unrest in the Arab world”. It has names of 17 countries. That did not surprise me.

    However, the thing that is surprising & gave me the biggest laugh of the day when down the line from the top I read 5th name in the list, “Iraq”.

    After spending billions of dollars, sacrificing over 4000 American, more than 100, 000 Iraqi lives & creating around 5 million Iraqi refugees, Iraq still remains number 5 on potential for unrest list, hungry for democratic change like Tunisia & Egypt.

    Why Iraq is not an Island of peace, prosperity & tranquility? It should be an island of democracy in the midst of all this Middle East turmoil. However, it is not.

    It shows how miserably Bush, Blair, Cheney & Rumsfeld have failed in bringing democracy in the Middle East on the barrel of the gun.

    • One can not fail at what one did not attempt.

      The goal was not Democracy but to re-locate the Military Bases that they could no longer maintain in Saudi Arabia without destabilising that kingdom; control of a major oil producer and the ability to squeeze Iran harder.

      They may yet succeed.

    • why is Iraq not an island of peace, prosperity, and tranquility? Because it was created by colonial powers after WWI, was ruled by a tyrant for 3 decades, and thousands of jihadists decided to make it their launching pad to “heaven” in their war on Islam.

      I’m not sure about your “hungry for democratic change” comment though. I imagine Americans were pretty hungry for democratic change in 2008 themselves. Thats a hunger that never leaves. I look forward to the next round of Iraqi elections myself.

    • You’re so…sorely right.

      I get sick to my stomach whenever Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice etc. show their mugs (and faces).

      Bring the troops home!

  5. “Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki warned that unnamed sinister forces were attempting to divert the legitimate demands of the people to unstated nefarious purposes.”

    Ah yes, those sinister ‘outside agitators’ who seem to mysteriously appear during any social movement and cause trouble. Who lead the honest, common (but simple and not too bright) citizens astray. But manage to avoid the best efforts of secret police and internal security forces to ferret them out.

    Because clearly the “legitimate demands” of the people would never be an issue for those in power or the status quo…

  6. What I can’t understand is why we haven’t heard the “They’re Terrorists!” card being played yet. All these malcontents are nothing if not terrifying, eh?

  7. I supported (and still support) the invasion of Iraq. I know that that will annoy some people here and elsewhere, but I did/do.

    I also have been disappointed at how things turned out. Crime has skyrocketed. There was (and, to a lesser degree, still is) great insecurity. Corruption has gotten totally out of hand. And the new democracy has functioned at best marginally well.

    But people demonstrating against corruption and lack of services isn’t the same as having to demonstrate against fake or no elections.

    Today, Iraq, just like Egypt, has something they haven’t had in a long, long time: a shot at democracy. Granted, that shot takes place in a country that has been badly wounded by actions, both foreign and domestic, to the point where forming a concensus is all but impossible.

    But if such things as severe internal divisions to the point of it being all but impossible to form a government render a country non-democracit, then the Netherlands must not be a democracy (as it just replaced Iraq as the country to go the longest with no government today).

    • Read Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine”, and you will know why America really invaded, and why that guaranteed that Iraq would be horribly governed.

      And America had no intentions of allowing elections under occupation. It was the growing uprising in spring 2004, only a year after the invasion, that forced it to give in to Ayatollah Sistani’s demand for elections. We tried to appoint a US puppet prime minister, which would have created an “Iraqi” government that could do what the Occupation was prohibited to do under international law: sign over the oil fields. No dice with Sistani.

      There was not a single tragedy in Iraq that was not forseeable, which means the blood of everyone who died from the sanctions and invasion, many more than died at Saddam Hussein’s hands, is on our hands. As a wise American judge said at Nuremburg, the planning of a war of aggression is the supreme war crime, for it contains within it the seeds of all the others.

    • But if such things as severe internal divisions to the point of it being all but impossible to form a government render a country non-democracit, then the Netherlands must not be a democracy (as it just replaced Iraq as the country to go the longest with no government today).

      First there is a very good probability that if things lasted so long in Iraq before they got a government it was due to US pressions, their ambassy pushing for another outcome (one that wouldn’t be so favorable to Iran); this probably encouraged Allawi to hopelessly try to form the next government.

      Second, you are mistaken : the EU country without government (and I think that they are beating Iraq at that) is not Netherland, but Belgium.

  8. Protests in Iraq?

    Good thing there’s always Article 27 of the SOFA.

    “Article 27
    Deterrence of Security Threats

    In order to strengthen security and stability in Iraq and to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and stability, the Parties shall work actively to strengthen the
    political and military capabilities of the Republic of Iraq to deter threats against its sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity, and its constitutional federal democratic system. To that end, the Parties agree as follows:

    In the event of any external or INTERNAL THREAT or aggression against Iraq that would violate its sovereignty, political independence, or territorial integrity, waters, airspace, its democratic system or its elected institutions, and upon request by the Government of
    Iraq, the Parties shall immediately initiate strategic deliberations and, as may be mutually agreed, the United States shall take appropriate measures, including diplomatic, economic, or military measures, or any other measure, to deter such a threat.

    The Parties agree to continue close cooperation in strengthening and maintaining military and security institutions and democratic political institutions in Iraq, including, as may be mutually agreed, cooperation in training, equipping, and arming the Iraqi Security Forces,
    in order to combat DOMESTIC and international terrorism and outlaw groups, upon request by the Government of Iraq.”…

  9. Prof Cole wrote “What I can’t understand is, if the American Right Wing were correct that George W. Bush was ‘right’ in trying to kick start democracy in the Middle East by invading and occupying it, then why would it be necessary for people to demonstrate and burn government buildings in… Iraq?”

    This is a non-sequitor. The Americans didn’t elect Maliki, the Iraqi people did, and now they are protesting against him. Right now, protests are running wild in the USA, in the streets of Wisconsin. Does that mean the USA isn’t ready for democracy?

    • Where did Cole say anything about anybody not being ready for democracy?

      • Hank,

        Prof Cole was implying that the “American right wing” were wrong and that Iraqis were not ready for Democracy because of the protests going on now.

        • Seemed to me like he was implying instead that Iraq wasn’t sufficiently democratic and that that was why Iraqis were demonstrating.

  10. thats like asking, why are people demonstrating in wisconsin if we have a democracy? its not rocket science. demonstrations are a part of the democratic process. we’ve seen our fair share over the years.

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