The popular unrest in southern and central Iraqi cities and towns have shocked the ruling political class.
Ordinary people’s demands have turned into a complete condemnation of everyone who ruled Iraq; the American-Iranian Iraq, which a group of Shiite Islamist partisans tyrannized along with another bunch of Sunni Islamists and some Kurds.
Groups that traditionally support the Iranian Republic or rather the ruling Khomeini regime have had the lion’s share of Iraq’s wealth, influence and governance. At the forefront of those groups is the Badr militias, Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, Kata'ib Hezbollah and the rest of the sectarian Popular Mobilization factions like Al Khorasani Brigade, which has frankly announced it’s an authentic part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
What’s dangerous and terrifying for Iraq’s new rulers, from the Dawa Party to the rest of the Shiite political Islam groups supporting Iran, are the protestors’ loud chants: “No to corruption” in a country that ranks as the 12th most corrupt country in the worldMashari Althaydi
Protests ring louder this time
Why did the Iraqis’ protests and anger shock the gentlemen of the Green Zone and the commanders of Shiite armed militias this time?
It’s because this time the angry Iraqis are these groups and gangs’ natural “human reservoir.” The spark of protests broke out in Basra, in the country’s far south, at the beginning of this month, and the wave of anger then spread to Nasiriyah, Samawah, Al Diwaniyah and the rest of southern and central cities that have a sweeping Shiite majority.
Add to that the Iranians’ angry protests since the beginning of December until today, under the slogan of combating corruption and due to water and electricity shortages. In short, condemning the incapable, corrupt and politically immature regime.
On July 8, sparks of anger erupted in Basra and the situation was further complicated when a few were killed. Those killed are from Basra, Najaf, Karbala and Samawah, i.e. from within the Shiite depth in Iraq.
What’s dangerous and terrifying for Iraq’s new rulers, from the Dawa Party to the rest of the Shiite political Islam groups supporting Iran, are the protestors’ loud chants: “No to corruption” in a country that ranks as the 12th most corrupt country in the world.
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The protestors’ raised the ceiling of demands as the coordinating body of protests in Nasiriyah issued a statement calling for protests in Baghdad. The statement read: “All demands have been suspended and we assert only one demand: overthrow the corrupt. This is our only demand. The demand to topple and prosecute the corrupt is a popular and national demand.”
Neither Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi nor Muqtada al-Sadr, the symbol of popular anger, is in a situation that allows them to contain this anger until now. So will this popular anger be the introduction of a bigger Iraqi change that heals Iraq from the disease of sectarianism and corruption or is it a warning signal that does not necessarily mean comprehensive change or is it a loud scream that will melt in the valleys of silence?
This article is also available in Arabic.
Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy.