21 January 2020
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Iraqis fed up with corruption and the slow pace of recovery from the wreckage left by the war with Islamic State have been in the streets protesting since early October. As in Lebanon, demonstrators have channeled their anger into demands for the abolition of the country’s sectarian political system, which was fathered by the U.S. after it overthrew the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003. They also want to roll back the control wielded by Iraq’s neighbor Iran. Unable to agree…
Alexis de Tocqueville would not have been surprised by the recent demonstrations in Iraq, which have resulted in hundreds of deaths and now the resignation of Prime Minster Adel Abdul Mahdi. De Tocqueville wrote in “The Old Regime and the Revolution” (1856): “Nations that have endured patiently and almost unconsciously the most overwhelming oppression, often burst into rebellion against the yoke the moment it begins to grow lighter. . . . Evils which are patiently endured when they seem inevitable, become intolerable when once…

Iraq's trailblazing protesters Friday, 22 November 2019 22:43

In recent weeks, the so-called ancient hatreds of Iraq – between people of different faiths – have largely gone missing in a 14-story abandoned building in downtown Baghdad. It is there in central Tahrir Square that tens of thousands of young Iraqis have not only organized nationwide protests against the government, but also created a model “ministate” for a new Iraq – and perhaps much of the Middle East. According to journalist Pesha Magid, protest organizers in the building are…

As Iraq Burns, World Leaders Stay Silent Thursday, 21 November 2019 21:49

The wave of unrest that has swept through Iraq has gone from protest to violence, creating tension in the region. The demonstrations, which were initially motivated by discontent over the country’s economic stagnation and rampant government corruption, quickly devolved into chaos. Since their start in October, hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets, burning down several political party buildings. The security forces and the militias backing the government, some linked to Iran, responded with sniper fire, tear gas and firing live ammunition at the…
On the day after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death, President Trump identified an unlikely partner in the global fight against ISIS. “Iran is right there,” he said, along with Russia, Syria, Turkey and Iraq, all of which maintain close ties with Tehran. “They all hate ISIS,” the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. It’s a familiar refrain. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump argued that Iran, along with Syria and Russia, has played a positive role in combating the terrorist group. “I don’t like Assad at…
Are Donald Trump's sanctions working? Iran's economic pain has created unrest that is weakening the Tehran government at home and abroad. Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards have killed at least 106 protesters in violent demonstrations against fuel price hikes, Amnesty International said in a report Tuesday. The London-based human rights organization, citing "credible reports," said the actual death toll could be far higher, with reports from Iran alleging as many as 200 have been killed. The Iranian government has not provided…
Developments in Iraq and Lebanon, two Arab states where the Iranian regime boasted of controlling their capitals, are becoming very worrying for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Long considering the Middle East as its fiefdom the mullahs’ regime regards a decrease in influence in these areas as a prelude to sparking new protests and even a nationwide uprising back home.  This turn of events gained a broader perspective as protesters in the city of Karbala, a major Shi’ite stronghold considered vital for the Ayatollahs in Iran, stormed the Iranian consulate on Sunday night. The site was torched and the significance of the development gained further global…
At least 320 people have died, and thousands have been wounded since the unrest began on Oct. 1. “We are jobless and poor, but every day we see the flares of the oil fields,” said Huda, an activist in Basra, the province that accounts for the lion’s share of Iraq’s crude exports. She spoke on condition she be identified only by her first name for security reasons. “Where do the millions go?” she asked. It’s a good question. Oil accounts…
The sanctions against Iran are obviously working as Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has again called for the United States to return to the 2015 nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Instead, the U.S. should continue the policy of “The worse, the better” and use the recent protests in Iraq and Lebanon against Iran’s “system” to create additional leverage against the clerical regime. Highlighting how Iran’s meddling in their countries has enriched Iran’s local placemen and the clerics, security officials, and…
BAGHDAD - For his latest exhibition, Iraqi cartoonist Khudair al-Humairi chose 36 cartoons that summarised corruption in and around political power in a manner symbolic in its general outlines. He chose “Chairs” as the title for the exhibition because his cartoons focus on the object and concept of the chair as a symbol of political power. Humairi said he finds inspiration in Iraqi politics and politicians who desperately cling to positions of influence and power symbolised in his cartoons by…
Since October, protests in Iraq and Lebanon have re-energized the Middle East region as hundreds of thousands of young people descend onto public squares, repeating 2011 Arab Spring slogans that call for regime downfall. But while Iraq and Lebanon could offer great promise if protesters learn from past failures in the region, they could also prove to be bloodier if Iran gets its way. Middle East protests that have taken hold in the past decade have had their own unique…

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