An Iraqi Spring?
Some of the people who have been demonstrating across Iraq in recent weeks had not been born in two thousand and three when the United States led an invasion which was supposed is to turn the country into a beacon of liberal democracy at least four hundred of the people who have demonstrated across Iraq. In recent weeks we'll never know if such an outcome ever occurs the response of authorities has been brutal with several instances of live fire used against protesters. The protests tests began in early October. They have persisted despite the heavy handed reaction of Iraqi police and other security services last weekend. Iraq's Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi admitted defeat and announced his resignation. It is unclear who or what comes next. Iraq's new protests protests a brief venting of frustration or is it something bigger than that a delayed addition to the Arab spring or a contribution to a current global eruption of rage. And will they change anything. This is the foreign desk. A lot of these really young demonstrators. And you're like kids. were like seventeen years old going to these really dangerous places where there's live bullets and all of them will stay universally. I'm not afraid I'm ready to die for this and asked him. Why aren't you afraid? And many of them will say something like you know I've gotten used to. This isn't something that scares me anymore. which is a hard thing to hear coming from early on kids? Mel Of the question is what you're on will do or will not do. It's what the the Iraqis will do or do on mainly the Iraqi political elite who are having constitutional legal and ethical obligations awesome to insulate the country from foreign influence. I would consider what we've seen in October until now this year is probably the greatest existential essential threat to the post. Two Thousand and three Iraqi State even when Isis rose the Iraqi parties and the people were together in condemning Isis and there was a clear strategy to remove isis assist. There is not a clear strategy of what needs to be done and I think the political leaders sat in Baghdad or feeling. You're listening to the foreign desk with me. Andrew Miller my first guest today is pressure Mageed a journalist based in Baghdad who has been covering the protests since the beginning of October tober pressure. First of all. Let's talk about what's been happening this week. What point have the protests got to now so the protesters have really dug in their heels? At this point. They've we've kind of set up their own mini infrastructure within Dr Square. They have tents people are sleeping there for weeks at a time. They have blankets. They have emergency health facility. Salihi stood up for people who are injured and people are really prepared to stay there for a very long time. Well let's go back to win. This started in October as as far as it was possible to tell. was there any particular thing that sparked it off obviously underlying these demonstrations a great many eh deeply-held grievances but was there. One particular thing that seemed to bring people out into the streets so at the very beginning of October the protests I I think we're kind of like normal protests right so there were huge huge huge huge numbers at the very beginning and they were protesting after office. The fact that there was no real change. They were protesting also to a certain extent military leader. WHO's popular removal from office? But they really. I think started growing quite intensely after the the government's violent response to those protesters you know. They started using bullets at the beginning of October. And I think that's part of the reason why the protests have have grown to such an extent you know there's the endemic economic issues. There's the corruption that people are just exhausted with and then there's the fact that people are just so angry that they're seeing so many people being and killed in the streets. The authorities in Iraq went incredibly quickly from a standing start to firing live rounds at civilian protesters as anybody buddy yet understood how why that happened. It's been reported by Some of the agencies that the Iraqi government gut advice ice from costumes Sulaimaniyah the head of the Revolutionary Guard on how to respond to the protests in that might have been part of the reason why the response was so violent and Y- it seems like you know how they felt at the time was that they could not allow for any protests whatsoever that they needed to stamp it out as quickly as possible. And when you say revolution regard the you are of course talking about the Iranian Revolution regard and it has been a theme of these protests that Iranian targets have often come under fire will will quite literally. We've seen several Iranian consulates and other buildings burned down in some cases repeatedly. was that something that was already in the the era kind of resentment at Iranian influence over Iraq or did that come about because of this perceived Iranian involvement in the the massacre of at least at least four hundred that we now know of demonstrators. I think it's both I mean. People were definitely already angry at Iran for its influence over Iraq and especially it's seen as the power behind zone of some of the political parties that many protesters regardless very corrupt in as one of the main reasons that Iraq is in its current situation. And and then you know people definitely Blame Iran to a large extent for the violence. That's occurred I mean you know it's not like they don't blame government as well well but you know people definitely see that. Iran is kind of like the power behind the throne