A Media War in Process: Demonstrations in the streets of Iraq
Since October 1st, huge demonstrations take place in Baghdad and the southern part of Iraq, against the government. I am sure though anyone would agree, that this is not something new or happening for the first time in Iraq, so it wouldn't come to us as a surprise!
What is really surprising here, is the fact that international media struggle in an attempt to cover and bring in public all the data considering the frustration of Iraqi people against their government, an attempt we never observed in the previous years. We can also be sure of the fact that Iraqi people have demonstrated also in the past and expressed their anger against the political and financial situation in the country.
But it is the first time we can actually listen to a description of the violence taking place in the streets of Baghdad, such as "senseless" and human rights groups condemning it as a wanton. And obviously those descriptions, help in turning the lights on Iraq and the demonstrators against the government of Adel-Abdul Mahdi a 77 year old president, who represents the Shi'a party in Iraq.
And there is no doubt that the death toll has risen to more than 100 people after days of mass protests, letting alone the injured ones and those who have been arrested, in this scenery of civil war in Iraq. Neither is there any demand that corruption in the iraqi government is so deep, that those demands can be characterised as "rightful ones", even according to the prime minister, who used this specific word, in order to describe them.
According to the World Bank the country of Iraq has an unemployment rate of almost 25% and is ranked as the 12th most corrupt country in the world by Transparency International. All these statistics ofcourse, can be explanatory factors of the fact that corruption in Iraq is not something new, demonstrations against corruption, is also not a new phenomenon, and ofcourse this time the incidents happening in the streets of Baghdad, are way more brutal, taking into consideration the fact that tolerance for civilians reached to an end.
Adel Abdul Mahdi's government is in power for a year now, but it seems it failed to bring stability to Iraq, as it concentrated all its power in fighting the extremist islamic state.
Huge protests have also taken place in the past during 2016, but the media did not point out the level of public discontent, or the fact that protests were out of security forces control. And now that this is happening, international media make sure they can make the picture clear to the rest of the world, by pointing out what else except for Iran's mingling in this situation... Iran is considered to be having a big influence to the existing Iraqi government. The flashpoint to this, seemed to be the dismissal of a popular army commander of Abdul-Wahab Al-Saadi, who is believed to have been ousted for trying to root out corruption particulary among the Shia militia groups. There have also been placards waved by protesters calling "out out Iran, set our country free".
And for someone who can have a broader view of the way international politics interact, and the fact that relations between U.S and Iran have reached a culminating point of no return the previous months, it is easy to realize that this concern for Iraq protesters, is actually a useful political argument against Iran once again.
And it is really enlightening, if we pay attention to the series of the facts that took place a couple of months ago and the incidents that caused tensions between Iran and the U.S., and the fact that after a while we witness an unprecedented concern for the situation in Iraq and the level of corruption of the state, and unemployment and civil discontent against the government, when all that is taking place for years now, and noone really cared so much or we haven't seen so much ink being spilled on that issue.
And there is only one quote coming to my mind when i read those articles about those undoubtedly rightful protests taking place in Iraq. And that quote belongs to Mark Twain ""Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."
written by Themis Panagiotopoulou, PhD in Political Science