Monday, June 1, 2020 | ePaper

Change Regime

Is It Possible In Iraq?

  • Print


Abdulrahman Al-Rashed :
It is true that the Middle East has been shaken by revolutions of late, but no new regimes have risen to power in any of the affected states.
Leaders left and governments fell, but the regimes remained strong in Egypt, Tunisia and Sudan. In Libya and Yemen, state institutions completely collapsed, and so far both countries are still without alternative systems and effective states.
In the past few weeks, the world has watched the protests in Iraq with some surprise because they were not expected to be so robust and sustained in so many cities, and with such huge numbers of people involved. Despite the fact that telephone lines and the internet were blocked, and notwithstanding a media counter-campaign and premeditated murders, the protests have continued.
Despite the protesters' efforts, they are unlikely to topple the regime. The protesting masses have the capability to force the government to resign and change some political decisions.
Still, even if the demonstrators fail to overthrow the Iraqi regime, they have already brought down the "halo" of the religious leadership and the prestige of state institutions, and humiliated the representative "symbols" of Iran's influence. In addition, the unrest has united the demands and the regions. Today, the protesters occupy squares and block roads, and troops close the bridges to prevent them from advancing on government buildings. So they gather, instead, at oil refineries and the country's only port, Umm Qasr.
They want to access sensitive state facilities, but will not be allowed to do so as the regime has enough weapons to ensure its survival at all costs, with the Iranian regime in support. The latter has been present, through its leadership and militias, since the beginning of the popular uprising, participating in the repression and killings, and even directing the Iraqi security services.
That is why protesters went to the Iranian consulate and tried to burn it. They did so because they believe that those who participated in the shootings were Iranian functionaries.
Even though they have targeted oil facilities and the Port of Umm Qasr, I do not think the demonstrators embrace the idea of toppling the entire state system of governance, because that idea is dangerous and almost impossible. However, if the government continues to ignore the demands of the protesters and the killings escalate, their demands could change to include the overthrow of the whole regime, which is not currently on the table.
In the eyes of the protesters, the government seems powerless and not in control of its own security services or of the armed militias that receive their salaries from the Iraqi government but take their orders from Iran.
As Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has said, the resignation of the government is the easiest thing to promise protesters because it can do nothing else to satisfy them. The overthrow of the government is simple, but the alternative is no better. Parliament could be given more power, but it is worse than the government because the militias and corruption are also present within its ranks.
Well, what about handing power to regulatory bodies, such as the Commission of Integrity or the Supreme Anti-Corruption Council? These too have emerged from the same state institutions that are viewed with suspicion and distrust.
The Commission has actually accused the former head of the main branch of Rasheed Bank of involvement in the disappearance of 13 billion Iraqi dinars ($10 million), but he has not explained what happened to the money. Meanwhile, the start of the protests coincided with the announcement by the council of the dismissal of 1,000 government employees over their involvement in corruption. Even these measures were not convincing enough to appease or silence the protesters.
(Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al Arabiya news channel, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Twitter: @aalrashe

More News For this Category

Increasing transport fare cannot be justified while people are struggling hard

AMID rising infection and death due to Covid-19, the government mindlessly eased the clampdown in excuse of protecting the corruption-riddled economy, though millions of dollars poured for social safety net

Readers’ Forum

Handshake, Hugging Are On The Way To FarewellHandshake and hugging are generally greetings of gentleman gesture at the end of meeting, gossiping, farewell, birthday party, congratulations, expressing gratitude, as a

Cooperatives Still Vital In Corona Infected Agro-Economy

During British rule, the farmers were exploited by zamindar and village heads or influents. In order to save the farmers from poverty the cooperatives started its journey by proclamation cooperative

UN@75 The Future We Want

Crises make us think smaller. When everything is uncertain, we turn inward: to our families, our communities, the immediate needs around us. We focus on the essential and the immediate;

If plasma therapy is hopeful against Covid-19, experts should say so

MEDICAL experts have urged the government to undertake a national programme to expand the scope of providing plasma therapy for treating Covid-19 patients as the method has been gaining

Not only Libya, but many other countries also treat our migrant workers brutally

MEDIA reports on Saturday said Bangladesh government has sought justice from the internationally recognized Libyan government for the killing of 26 Bangladeshi nationals and the infliction of fatal injuries

If plasma therapy is hopeful against Covid-19, govt should ensure it for all

MEDICAL experts have urged the government to undertake a national programme to expand the scope of providing plasma therapy for treating Covid-19 patients as the method has been gaining traction

Stop our young people going to Libya

MEDIA report on Saturday said Bangladesh government has sought justice from the internationally recognized Libyan government for killing of 26 Bangladeshi nationals and fatal injury to 11 more in an

COVID Pandemic Distorted Practice Of Human Freedom

Md. Monirul Islam : As of May 30, 2020, a global total infected cases and deaths are counted for 58,28,159 and 3,61,549 respectively in 216 countries of the world, which indicates

Unimaginable Devastation World Leaders To Act Now To Avert

Samira Sadeque :Unless global leaders act now, the COVID-19 pandemic will cause unimaginable suffering and devastation around the world, the Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres said yesterday, May