Mass protest in central and southern Iraq

Mass protest in central and southern Iraq

The below is a report about the current situation in central and southern Iraq. It is over a week there has been a massive demos and protests against the central and local government and also against the oil companies . The report below briefly explains the situation .

Zaher Baher
Iraq- Sulaymaniyah
16/07/2018

It looks like the US and Western Countries’ propaganda, and the illusions of religion and nationalism, are no longer working for the people in central and southern Iraq. It might be that the time has arrived to end the sectarianism between Shia and Sunna. It’s fifteen years since the collapse of Saddam Hussain and there has been thirteen years (2005) of Shia government. The failure of the election process and parliamentary system should have given both Iraqi Shia and Sunna the lesson that the real changes cannot happen through this process and establishment. This was probably also the main reason only 38% of the electorate participated in Iraq general election in May this year.

During this period the real winners were the politicians, businessmen, government ministers, heads of government departments and the foreign companies. The loser are the ordinary people who has lost everything - even the little they had under Saddam Hussein’s regime. In addition, people has been suffering badly at the hands of corruption, privatisation, injustice, unemployment, a sectarian war, the widening a gap between rich and poor and lack of gas, electric and clean water.

People in central and southern Iraq obviously don’t want to continue living this kind of life. For almost a week the people of Basra (a city rich from oil and gas and controlled by the central government and foreign oil corporations) have been fighting the authorities. The oil companies employ thirty thousand people - none of them from Basra.

Basra is the 3rd most important city in Iraq after Baghdad and Mosul where over five million people live. They have suffered terribly at the hands of the local authority and foreign companies. They have no decent health treatment or education. According to one Iraqi report 48% of Basra’s residents have been diagnosed with a type of cancer whose cause has been linked to depleted uranium. Because of all this, the people of Iraq, especially those in the south and central area had no choice but to fight back against both local and central government.

Protesters in Basra have occupied many government’s buildings and offices and are involved in street fighting with the police and security forces. People have also set fire to offices and the headquarters of political parties in the city.

Since Friday 13th July protest have spread to many other towns and cities including Nasiryah, Maysan, Qadisiyyah, Karbal, Thi Qar , Babil and Najaf. In Najaf, the most Holy Shia City in Iraq, protesters managed to occupy and take control of the airport. In Basra they are trying to take control of the oil fields and refineries to stop oil being exported. On Saturday afternoon further protests started in four neighbourhoods of Baghdad very close to the Green Zone (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Zone) – a hugely sensitive place in Baghdad. It seems that the central government has now imposed a night curfew in certain areas of Baghdad. Other reports talk about the cutting off of the main road by the government between Baghdad and Kirkuk.

The situation is so tense that Haider al-Abadi, the Prime Minster of Iraq, shortened his visit to Brussels so he could return to Basra on Saturday to have a meeting with the authorities, politicians, and the heads of police and security in Basra. Protesters tried to occupy the meeting hall but they were crushed by the police and the security.

We do not know the exact numbers of people killed or injured as there are many different reports. Some reports confirm over twenty protesters killed, more than 240 injured and over 1000 protesters arrested. In the mean-time central government doesn’t want the news of protesters and their activities reaching other cities. From Saturday morning until Monday morning Facebook was down and form Saturday 6pm until after 11am on Sunday there was no internet.

We do not know what the outcome will be, but so far political parties haven’t managed to restrain or control the protests. And, at present there are no religion demand, slogans, anthems or shouting “God is Great” from the protestors.

However, if people do not organise themselves in non-hierarchical independent groups in every work places, streets and neighbourhoods to coordinate their actions it is difficult to be optimistic about the situation. There is also the possibility that protesters face the dirty policy of the government and the bloody tactics in killing of the state that push protesters to defend themselves with weapons. This could change their mass struggle through peaceful demonstrations and protests to a civil war. Recent history of the “Arab Spring” shows that civil wars only really benefit those in authority, the rich, the corporations and the system in general.

Comments

Blesk
Aug 1 2018 17:52

Long Live Basra Shora!

Quote:
Some reports suggest that elements within the army are siding with the demonstrators, and it is other forces that are primarily involved in suppressing the unrest. A split within the Iraqi security forces would be very significant.
(...)
In Basra, protesters were dispersed as one militia—the Badr Brigade—used live ammunition against them, as they tried to storm the party’s office.
The Badr Brigade is a major element within the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), the Shi’a militias raised after 2014 to fight the Islamic State. (...)
Despite the armed response of the Badr Brigade, protestors in Basra, nonetheless, managed to burn one of its offices there.
More Iraqi troops including an armored division and Counter-Terror forces, were deployed to the city to counter the protests.
Footage is also circulating on social media that shows demonstrators attacking and chasing a vehicle belonging to a delegation from Muqtada al Sadr, the mercurial cleric, who won the May 12 elections (...)
Sadr sent the delegation to try to negotiate with the protestors and restore calm, (...). However, the effort failed.
Notably, every major Shi’a leader—Abadi, Ameri, and Sadr—has been rejected by the protestors, who, themselves, represent Iraq’s Shi’a heartland.

http://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/8c94f008-0a5f-476e-8ad4-998e8300afb0

Quote:
Demonstrators burn pictures of Iranian leader Khomeini, a photo recently circulated by protesters on Facebook shows. (Photo: Social Media)

http://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/d2aaea57-d1b5-43f0-abea-21166aab9eec

Quote:
A video released by Iraqi activists on social media shows demonstrators trying to breach security gates to storm one of the oilfields in Shia-populated Basra while gunshots, fired by security forces, are heard behind the walls of the entrance.
(...)
Confrontations between protesters and security forces in the al-Huwair subdistrict in northern Basra Province injured seven people, including a police officer (...).
In the Shat al-Arab district of eastern Basra, hundreds of people gathered on the road leading to the Shalamja border crossing with Iran, blocking the movement of vehicles.
Elsewhere, in northern Basra, protesters blocked the main Basra-Baghdad road using concrete blocks.

http://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/887a1465-631c-4910-b117-bd0f445a9648

Blesk
Jul 19 2018 16:25

Iraqi Protests Megathread (self.syriancivilwar)

July 17

Protests Map

Government (Events in descending order)

Iraqi Army helicopters are flying over Basra, more security forces have been deployed to the city. The security forces are arresting those who participated in demonstrations.

Following Basra Protests Iraqi army is on the streets Basra

Iraqi protesters dispersed by police at entrance to Zubair oilfield

A high-profile Iraqi delegation, under Planning Minister Salman Aljumaili, will head for Saudi Arabia Wednesday to discuss a number of files with Saudi officials, topped by energy.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Abbadi at a press conference: We are with demonstrations and demanding legitimate rights, provided they do not become violent.

Protests (Events in descending order)

Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq militias open fire on protestors in Najaf many of protesters have been injured

Funerals are held in Karbala for those who killed in protests over unemployment and a lack of basic services in during last night

Truck drivers block Erbil-Mosul road in protest of high taxes, tolls

Protesters in Basra Province block the road leading to Burjisiah Oilfield.

Iraqi SWAT forces opening fire on protesters in Nasriyah southern of Iraq

Basra al-Zubayr Hundreds of demonstrators and security forces shoot the bullets to disperse them brutally

Iraqi security forces are firing in an attempt to disperse demonstrators in front of a gate in the al-Zubair oil field in the province Basra which has been in demonstrations for nine days.

Blesk
Jul 22 2018 18:21

Iraq protests: What you should know

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/iraq-protests-180717074846746.html

Quote:
As thousands demonstrate against poor services, unemployment and corruption, Al Jazeera asks what's next?
Thousands of Iraqis have taken to the streets of Najaf, Basra, Maysan, Dhi Qar and Karbala, rallying against rising unemployment, corruption, poor governance and perceived Iranian interference.
Smaller protests have also erupted in the capital, Baghdad.
The scale and ferocity of the protests have seen security forces use live ammunition, tear gas, and water cannon on the crowds, killing at least 14 since July 8, according to police and medical sources.

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/iraq-protests-180717074846746.html

Soapy
Jul 23 2018 13:37

If there is one positive to be gleaned from recent developments in the Middle East, it might be the total collapse in legitimacy of the nationalist and islamist ideologies. The brutality and corruption of first AQI, and then ISIS in the Levant has severely damaged the popularity of sunni extremism. On the shia/nationalist side, Iran was an inspiration for many, not just shia. Prior to 2011 it was the country that was overall looked upon most favorably in the arab world with something like 70%+ approval ratings, because of their support for Hezbollah in its 2006 victory over Israel, and their general confrontational stance towards the West. However, the arab world has been horrified as this last beacon of nationalist/islam ideology has fully supported the secular nationalist Assad regime in its relentless campaign of violence against dissidents and islamists. Iran and Syria's popularity amongst the arab world has plummeted.

There exists right now a real vacuum. People are more upset than ever, but established ideologies dont hold much sway. Promising?

Serge Forward
Jul 23 2018 19:56

I've added this article to the ACG website with a link to this page.

Blesk
Jul 24 2018 17:17

IN IRAN ALSO...

More protests over water shortages break out in Iran

https://www.ncr-iran.org/en/news/iran-protests/25022-more-protests-over-water-shortages-break-out-in-iran

Quote:
Published on 10 July 2018.
By Staff Writer

Thousands of residents of people in Borazjan, southern Iran, took to the streets on Saturday to protest the severe water shortage and the Regime’s “chaotic” handling of the issue, after spending days without water.

The protesters, who assembled in the city’s main square, chanted slogans against the local authorities and demanded that the Governor come forward to solve the problem.

The protesters chanted: “Either the Governor steps in, or we are going to raise Hell!”

The governor’s deputy and the city’s Friday Prayer Leader Hassan Mosleh tried to deliver a speech to the people, but the angry protesters caused them to turn back, despite the presence of hundreds of security forces, according to footage circulated on social media.

The demonstrators remained in the square for four hours, chanting about the “inefficiency” and “incompetence” of the local authorities, as well as decrying false myths by the Iranian Regime about who is to blame for the Iranian people ’s woes.

They said: “Our enemy is right here, it is not America as they [the Islamic Republic’s authorities] falsely say.”

Mohammad Baqir Sa’adat, an Iran regime MP for Borazjan told the city’s website, Fikr-e Shahr (City’s Thought) that the Regime’s handling of the crisis was incompetent.
He said: “People’s anger is justified. They are even entitled to insult the authorities.”

He then went on to explain why the water shortage, which has caused water to be cut off in the city for 10 days during 50 degrees Celsius heat, had happened.

He said: “The main reasons behind the water shortage are more than thirty powerful pumps installed by the owners of several orchards (affiliates to the regime) in the neighbouring city of Kazeroon on the local river for illegal irrigation of their properties during dark hours of the night. The governor of Kazeroon, originally from the city’s suburbs, has so far ignored an official verdict for dismantling the powerful pumps.”

These demonstrations mirror rallies in Abadan and Khorramshahr, where 10 people were arrested and 25 charged with “calling people to sedition” and “abusing popular demands”.

Many people in cities and rural areas of Iran have taken to the streets to protest the water shortages over the last few months. The water shortages were caused by drought, which affects over 95% of Iran, but were exacerbated by the Regime’s corruption and mismanagement.

This is part of the nationwide anti-regime uprising that has taken over Iran since December, with people protesting all manner of issues from human rights abuses to the failing economy, but all protesters recognise that the Regime is responsible for all of the problems in Iran. These protests are being organised by the Iranian Resistance, who seek to remove the mullahs from power.

https://www.ncr-iran.org/en/news/iran-protests/25022-more-protests-over-water-shortages-break-out-in-iran

Blesk
Aug 1 2018 17:50

Protests are mounting in Iraq. Why?
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/07/21/protests-are-mounting-in-iraq-why/?utm_term=.84375b1c024d

Quote:
by Benedict Robin-D'Cruz July 21

Over the past week, protests and violence proliferated across Iraq’s southern provinces. In unprecedented scenes, buildings of provincial capitals were stormed, and the offices of political parties and militias were attacked and burned down.

These are Iraq’s Shiite heartlands that contributed most of the manpower to the fight against the Islamic State. The political elites who have dominated the post-2003 order have legitimized their rule by claiming to represent and advance the interest of this previously marginalized constituency.

And yet, in recent elections, these provinces recorded some of the lowest turnout. That political disengagement has now transformed into a new and more radical means of contesting political power. As demonstrators attacked the offices of Iraq’s most powerful militias, which subject ordinary Iraqis to intimidation and extortion, there were reports of militia gunmen firing on protesters with live rounds.

The rhetoric emerging from these groups has been equally disturbing. The potential for a violent conflagration involving protesters, state security forces and heavily armed militias looms large over the ongoing demonstrations.

Anger has been building for months

This explosion of protests in the south should not come as a surprise. I’ve monitored protest activity in the area over the past year and in that time there have been more than 260 separate protest events.

These have taken various forms. Some are frequent, highly localized and small-scale demonstrations with limited and often sector-specific demands. Others include large-scale demonstrations, sometimes involving thousands of protesters. From November 2017 through April, for example, there were angry, mass demonstrations opposing the prime minister’s reforms of the electricity sector, which were perceived as a privatization scheme that would drive up costs.

Tribal fighting, and violent criminality, have also become a major source of grievance. While focus has been drawn to the war on Islamic State, cities and towns in the south have witnessed regular gun battles in the streets involving feuding tribes and criminal gangs, often resulting in innocent bystanders being killed or injured.

In June, I noted record levels of violence and protest activity across the south. There was almost one demonstration occurring every day. I also recorded 22 tribal fighting incidents. The underlying factors driving these events are often connected. A typical case occurred June 9, when at least one man was killed when tribal fighting broke out in a small town in the southern province of Dhi Qar. The cause of fighting, a dispute over an electricity generator.

The failure to provide electricity during the extreme summer temperatures is yet another recurrent complaint of protesters. At the start of July, this problem was exacerbated further when Iran cut off its electricity supply to Iraq. The ensuing shortfall left many Iraqis with only a few hours or unreliable electricity supply a day.

By early July protesters in Basra, Iraq’s main oil-producing province, were targeting operations at key energy-sector facilities demanding jobs and improved services. It was following the killing of a protester, and the injuring of three others, only July 8 near Bahla in northern Basra that the rates and intensity of protests in the south exploded. The Bahla incident involved 800 to 1,000 demonstrators attempting to block the road to West Qurna 1 and Rumaila oil fields to the south.

No easy solutions

The political class now has a long history of broken promises on reform. Consequently, their statements designed to appease protesters lack credibility. Earlier this month, an announcement by the oil ministry that it would create 10,000 jobs in Basra was met with justified incredulity.

But there are no quick fixes available to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Nearly 60 percent of the population is under age 25. Iraq’s higher education system leaves most of this group poorly equipped for employment in the private sector. Yet the public sector has been squeezed in recent years by falling oil prices.

Meanwhile, many protesters are demanding jobs in the energy sector, which employs only 4 percent of the Iraqi workforce. Demonstrators have targeted foreign workers they accuse of displacing them. But many lack skills to take on anything but basic roles (as security guards and drivers).

Oil firms are also reluctant to hire and train the local population. They consider Basrawis troublesome and, fearing extortion by local employees and tribes, they try to avoid them as much as possible.

There is also a lack of capacity to deliver services demanded by demonstrators. At the heart of this problem lies the way decentralization of service delivery from the federal government to the provinces has been implemented. This process has been criticized as uneven, chaotic, and for generating confusion about where accountability for service provision lies. The provinces still lack capacity and means for revenue generation, leaving them dependent on the central government and inhibiting what they can achieve locally.

Dangerous times ahead

Abadi is rapidly running out of options. A piecemeal strategy involving the deployment of resources at strategic sites, buying off tribal opposition around energy-sector facilities, may buy governing elites some breathing space. But over the long view, the grievances driving these protests require tackling deeply embedded challenges afflicting Iraq’s social, economic and political systems.

The Washington Post has also reported in the past few days on the reemerging Islamic State insurgency in central and northern parts of the country. This threatens to drain political will and resources away from the festering problems in the south.

There also remains ambiguity surrounding the role of Moqtada al-Sadr, the populist Shiite cleric. He is the only major political actor with motive and means to give the demonstrations the broader political organization that they lack. Yet, so far, Sadr has remained cautious, expressing support for protesters without throwing the full weight of his supporters into the streets. If this were to change, Iraq would be thrown into an even more dangerous predicament.

Benedict Robin-D’Cruz is a PhD researcher at the University of Edinburgh working on Iraqi politics.

Alf
Aug 3 2018 10:46
Blesk
Sep 6 2018 15:44

http://dialectical-delinquents.com/news-of-opposition-5/2018-2/september-2018/

5/9/18:

Iraq, Basra: state continues shooting live rounds “…distributed water is now so polluted that it has already forced more than twenty thousand people to hospital. Several citizens’ defense associations want Basra to be declared a “disaster” province. But, with a third of the country recently taken over from the Islamic State (IS), Baghdad says it is struggling to find funds. Yet, the amount of oil revenue is breaking records every month and almost doubled in one year….The province of Basra has become unlivable…demonstrations have resumed daily since the beginning of September, around the seat of the governorate. And the police replicate with live ammunition and tear gas canisters. The protesters respond by throwing Molotov cocktails and fireworks sticks.“

4/9/18:

Iraq, Basra: at least 6 killed as protesters set fire to government building “The situation is continuing to escalate after the death of a protester yesterday…Security forces are using live ammunition and tear gas to break up the demonstrations.” Yasser Makki died in a hospital following clashes with security forces on Monday night…Demonstrations have been ongoing for months in southern Iraq over poor government services, corruption, and a shortage of potable water….the government office caught fire after protesters hurled petrol bombs at security personnel. “There is a big fire in the provincial government building, which has now become completely enveloped in flames”….”Our orders are clear in banning the firing of live ammunition during demonstrations,” al-Abadi [Iraqi Prime Minister] said in his weekly news conference”…Nabil al-Assadi, another demonstrator in Basra, told Al Jazeera that, despite attempts to break up the demonstration, protesters have not retreated. “Security forces have been using tear gas and live ammunition to break us up, but that is making us more adamant to continue,” he said…Twenty-three protesters have been killed since July 8 when the wave of demonstrations erupted across Iraq over electricity outages, unemployment, and official corruption.”…curfew imposed after one guard is killed

2/9/18:

Iraq, Basra: angry protests continue “Protests have resumed in the southern Iraqi province of Basra this week following similar unrest in July over the lack of basic services, clean water, power outages, unemployment, and state mismanagement. On Sunday protesters blocked the road leading to the Shalamcheh border point between Iran and Iraq. The main road between Basra city centre leading towards Karmat Ali on its northern outskirts was also blocked with burning tires.” More here “Protesters threatened to break into the field if the government did not respond to their demands to improve basic services and address their complaints over Basra’s drinking water, which residents say is undrinkable due to high salt levels. “We will not allow the oilfield to operate unless we get clean water. No services, no jobs and now no clean water. We are fed up,” said Hassan Ali, a protest organiser….Oil exports from Basra account for more than 95 per cent of OPEC producer Iraq’s state revenues. Any potential disruptions to production could severely impact Iraq’s limping economy. Police also dispersed protesters who tried to prevent trucks moving on a main road to the east of Basra which leads to a border crossing with Iran, customs and police officials said.” See also entry for 31/8/18.