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By MadMonk
#15052139
Iraq risks breakup as tribes take on Iran’s militias in ‘blood feud’

Unrest spreads after security forces fire on protesters and anger at Tehran’s influence increases

Iraq’s parliament will today begin the process of electing a new leader after the prime minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, resigned last week. His successor will have to cope with the severe unrest that is spreading across the country and which has pitched security forces against demonstrators for nearly two months. Fears are mounting that the country could unravel altogether.

Security forces killed at least 45 civilians who were protesting around the southern city of Nasiriyah on Thursday in one of the worst incidents in the recent outbreak of anti-government protests. The government’s actions were intended to be a show of brute force following the firebombing of the Iranian consulate in Najaf on Wednesday, an attack that was the strongest expression yet of the anti-Iranian sentiment by the Iraqi demonstrators.

But the crackdown has only fuelled growing resentment across central and southern Iraq and the standoff between defiant street protesters and an embattled political class has become more entrenched.

At stake now is whether the post-Saddam Iraq constructed by the US remains viable 16 years after the invasion that overturned the country’s regime and reset the balance of power in the region.

“When the Americans left in 2011, we thought that at least some structures had been left behind,” said Bassma Qadhimi, a doctor in Baghdad. “Then they started stealing more than ever before and everyone looked away. There were a few elections where it wasn’t important if you were a Shia, a Sunni or a Christian. It looked good. Then it unravelled, because every sect stole. But if there’s anything to come from the protests so far, it’s that not sect, but nationality, is leading it.”

Ever since 2003, Iraq’s governance had been apportioned along sectarian lines and its institutions used as fiefdoms by ministers whose allegiance to political groupings has often transcended fealty to the state.

One result has been endemic corruption and nepotism throughout the country’s public sector, which has plundered the country’s oil wealth and left many Iraqis without opportunities. Looting of state revenues has been the main driver of the protest movement that has been led by a disenfranchised youth but joined by other sectors of society, and has on some days seen up to 200,000 people demonstrating peacefully in Baghdad and other cities.

Toby Dodge, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics and a longtime researcher on Iraq, said the post-2003 system which embedded corruption in the Iraqi state, as well as sectarianism and coercion, was starting to break down – and violence was spiralling as a result.

“A rough-and-ready order was imposed on this political field through an elite pact,” he wrote on Lancaster University’s Sepad website. “The formerly exiled politicians who had done so much to campaign for Saddam Hussein’s removal were placed in power by the US.”

Speaking separately to the Observer, he added: “The ideological underpinnings of the system – the division of Iraqi society into sectarian communities – declined. At the same time the division of spoils between the ruling elites carried on and became increasingly public and apparent, which further delegitimised the system.

“They stopped seeing them as their champions and began to see them as carpetbaggers. Then the ruling elites had to increasingly depend on militia violence to suppress the mobilisation against them and to stay in power. We have seen that today reach its pinnacle.”

Tribal leaders in southern Iraq, where the latest bloodshed was centred, have turned on security forces in the wake of the killings, which they say were directed by Iranian officials who have played a central role in the crackdown.

Iran – which also has a majority Shia population – has played a prominent role in the affairs of Iraq throughout the post-invasion years, and especially since the US withdrew its forces in 2011. The Iranian general Qassem Suleimani has been a central figure in the crackdown, directing a lethal response that started roughly a month ago.

At the same time Iran is facing pressure on the home front and an uprising in Lebanon, where the most important arm of its foreign projection, Hezbollah, plays a vital role in the fragile country’s affairs.

“In Lebanon and in Iraq, they are on a war footing,” said a regional official familiar with Iranian thinking. “They might be able to calm things in Lebanon, but in Iraq they have the tribes to deal with, and that’s where they’re coming unstuck."

“What has been unleashed in the south in particular is a blood feud, and they are blaming Iran and its proxies for this. It’s very dangerous, and unchartered territory for Tehran.”

Tribal leaders in Dhi Qar province have demanded that security forces and militia leaders responsible for the killings in Nasiriyah be held accountable. The stance adds a new layer of complexity to a standoff, which now looms as the most serious Iran has faced in the post-Saddam Middle East. “They are convinced the Americans are behind this,” said the official. “I have never seen them as rattled as they are now.”

Candidates to replace Abdul Mahdi include Hadi al-Ameri, the leader of the Popular Mobilisation Units, which were formed after Islamic State over-ran northern Iraq, and have since become one of Iraq’s most powerful institutions. However, al-Ameri’s role as the organisation’s leader will draw powerful detractors, Iran potentially among them.

The Iraqi parliament has 15 days to nominate a new prime minister, but in the past new leaders have only been named after months of horse trading. Failure to reach a cross-factional consensus could plunge Iraq into an abyss.

“If they do that, they are finished,” said Mahmoud al-Qaisy, a steel worker from east Baghdad. “And so are we. I swear that these thieves have had their day. We cannot go home, and they cannot go on. This is a revolution.”


Iraq is heading for the abyss. Breaking the country up along sectarian lines has long been under discussion since post-Saddam appointed governments are ruling a weakened State. The ISIS insurgency was perhaps mid-point of the end and we may see the formation of Civil War. Lebanon and even Iran are far more stable but dealing with their own protests.

So, 'Mission Accomplished', I guess? Could someone throw a hand-grenade att former President Bush instead of a shoe? Or perhaps the 'Leaders of the Free World' are purely figureheads while democratic ideals die in the sand...
By Rich
#15052579
Welcome to the pathetic fantasy world of the left, it must be said, a cretinous, ignorant world view shared by much of the right and centre. In this view everyone is entitled to peace, security, democracy, opportunity, freedom and prosperity. If reality falls short of this in any part of the world, then it must be because of some evil or stupidity by our leaders. Rather than these things being incredibly rare in human history and rarely perfect when they do exist.

Iraq has had enormous economic growth since the 2003 invasion. If one just looks at the Shia and Kurdish areas then the improvement has been even more dramatic. The post 2003 Iraqi democracy is actually a remarkable achievement, considering how little experience Iraqis had with democracy prior to being liberated by the American led coalition. The Shia and the Kurds have suffered hundreds of years of oppression first by the Sunni Turks and then by the Sunni Arabs. it is inevitable that politics would initially revolve around ethnic community. This is multiculturalism for you.

Of course multi culturalism leads to corrupt and inefficient government. We see the same thing in many of the US's Black run cities. the fact that many ethnic Shia are starting to challenge the Shia establishment parties is a good thing. It shows a confidence that the Shia no longer need to close ranks in the face of the Sunni Arab terror machine, which is cheered on by western lefties.
#15052582
The demonstrators in Iraq are demanding an end to sectarianism , corruption , and Iranian influence , in their country . Iraq , like any other country should be secular , and free .
By Rich
#15053882
The problem is that people can't understand the difference between pre nationalism and post nationalism. They can't see the difference between between pre racism and post racism. They can't understand the difference between pre sectarianism and post sectarianism.

Lets look at seventeenth century Europe from a leftie perspective. It most surely was wracked by the most terrible religious conflicts, leading to war, starvation, near genocidal conflict, sectarianism, bigotry, hate and reactionary authoritarianism. The leftie says why did George Bush have to invent the printing press? It wasn't like this before the printing press. It was all fine before George Bush interfered and invented the printing press.

The truth is that things were not wonderful before the printing press, in the same way the Americas were not wonderful before the Europeans arrive, nor was the Middle East, nor was Africa, the Indian Sub continent or the far east. But as in Europe, so in the rest of the world the printing press and all the other culturally and socially disruptive technologies that followed it brought violent hate filled conflict.

Yes its nieve to think that America could just invade Afghanistan or Iraq and just magic harmonious, peaceful, prosperous democracies into being. But its just as naive to imagine that Europe and America could some how just leave the rest of the world to get on with it. Just to recognise a government is a form of intervention. When there is a war and conflict in a foreign land, the idea of some pure neutrality is itself a naive fantasy.
By late
#15053886
Rich wrote:The problem is that people can't understand the difference between pre nationalism and post nationalism. They can't see the difference between between pre racism and post racism. They can't understand the difference between pre sectarianism and post sectarianism.

Lets look at seventeenth century Europe from a leftie perspective. It most surely was wracked by the most terrible religious conflicts, leading to war, starvation, near genocidal conflict, sectarianism, bigotry, hate and reactionary authoritarianism. The leftie says why did George Bush have to invent the printing press? It wasn't like this before the printing press. It was all fine before George Bush interfered and invented the printing press.

The truth is that things were not wonderful before the printing press, in the same way the Americas were not wonderful before the Europeans arrive, nor was the Middle East, nor was Africa, the Indian Sub continent or the far east. But as in Europe, so in the rest of the world the printing press and all the other culturally and socially disruptive technologies that followed it brought violent hate filled conflict.

Yes its naive to think that America could just invade Afghanistan or Iraq and just magic harmonious, peaceful, prosperous democracies into being. But its just as naive to imagine that Europe and America could some how just leave the rest of the world to get on with it. Just to recognise a government is a form of intervention. When there is a war and conflict in a foreign land, the idea of some pure neutrality is itself a naive fantasy.



I wonder if you actually know how to do history. It's not easy, and you evince no familiarity with historiography.

Let's start with McLuhan.. Marshall Mcluhan was the guy that made a big deal over the first printing press. Among other things, it set off a couple centuries of war.

What he actually said was "The medium is the message." IOW, the technology itself is important, something we need to pay attention to.

Today we should pay attention to the transformative power of the new communication technologies. Putin certainly has.

Let me make this simple for you. America sucks at foreign 'adventures'. If you start the analysis after the Korean war, things rarely go well for us. From Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan, we failed.

There's a bunch of reasons that happens.

But I am going to focus right now on one part. We stopped believing. We believed we had to make things right in WW2. We were totally committed in Korea, we are still in Korea.

But, after Korea, we wanted to play the tough guy, but making things right wasn't on the menu.

That's the bottom line, if you're not all in, just stay home.
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By Patrickov
#15053889
late wrote:Today we should pay attention to the transformative power of the new communication technologies. Putin certainly has.


I am astonished to see how My Honourable Friend blames Putin for his side's apparent failure on achieving what they should achieve.

I mean, if the good people's message are so appealing then these new communication technologies would have come in their aid instead of Putin's. Take a look at Hong Kong.
By late
#15053895
Patrickov wrote:
I am astonished to see how My Honourable Friend blames Putin for his side's apparent failure on achieving what they should achieve.

I mean, if the good people's message are so appealing then these new communication technologies would have come to their aid instead of Putin's. Take a look at Hong Kong.



We were cyberattacked. We should have been ready, I mean we developed a lot of that technology, and were the first to use it to attack another country.

But we weren't. We're still not completely ready, thanks to Trump, who wants Russia to attack us for his benefit.

What a guy.
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By Patrickov
#15053901
late wrote:We were cyber-attacked. We should have been ready, I mean we developed a lot of that technology, and were the first to use it to attack another country.

But we weren't. We're still not completely ready, thanks to Trump, who wants Russia to attack us for his benefit.

What a guy.



Well, for the first time I found myself somewhat using the "inferior countries deserve attack" argument against the United States.

But seriously, if the people are so easily cyber-attacked they are probably weak-minded and do not deserve salvation from whoever My Honourable Friend supports. In addition, it is apparent that whoever My Honourable Friend supports (anti-Trumpers) are not that decent either, and worse, many of them are much less united.
By late
#15053905
Patrickov wrote:
Well, for the first time I found myself somewhat using the "inferior countries deserve attack" argument against the United States.

But seriously, if the people are so easily cyber-attacked they are probably weak-minded and do not deserve salvation from whoever My Honourable Friend supports. In addition, it is apparent that whoever My Honourable Friend supports (anti-Trumpers) are not that decent either, and worse, many of them are much less united.



I disagree with pretty much all of that.

What you are saying looks like Realpolitik. Whether we are talking foreign affairs or domestic, it's not a good long term strategy. You keep creating new enemies.
User avatar
By Patrickov
#15053915
late wrote:I disagree with pretty much all of that.

What you are saying looks like Realpolitik. Whether we are talking foreign affairs or domestic, it's not a good long term strategy. You keep creating new enemies.


I think Realpolitik is right. Enemies are necessary. Hate is always a better motivation.

It is just that the correct enemies are those who manifest themselves, instead of what our Leaders tell us to believe.

Even climate change or our own arrogance can be an enemy. Think about it.

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