iraqi spring came late but a winner

wamith alkassab

in the tahrir square in hot august day while the country suffer from heat wave, in over 50 degrees in the streets of Baghdad, with the shadows of the war against the Islamic state (EI) is tearing Iraq politics and society , Iraqi youth stood to create their own late Iraqi spring shouting for reform and end of corruption of the politicians of green zone the area created to harbor the government in the heart of the capital .

Since July 31, demonstrations were held in the capital, in the big south of Iraq , Basra and Najaf , mysan ,dewynia and Kerbala. It denounces power cuts in the heat , corruption within the state, which is one of the causes. Driven by the street, the Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi presented Sunday, August 9, an ambitious plan to reform the functioning of the state. This plan provides for the immediate abolition of three posts of deputy prime ministers and vice presidents, attributed by convention to a Shiite, a Sunni and a Kurd. This power distribution system of sectarian and partisan lines is a legacy of the US occupation and a symbol of the deep dysfunction of the Iraqi state. also reducing the lifestyle of officials and improving public services.
Already, the Deputy Prime Minister Baha al-Araji, a member of the Shiite Sadr movement, resigned. An investigation into suspicions of corruption was initiated against him.

the plan “was unanimously approved,” said Parliament Speaker Salim al-Juburi applause after the vote, which took place immediately after reading in early trading reform program without even a debate n ‘takes place.

this is consider a great victory for the Iraqi protesters who started to celebrate this and call for more action through civil society to enforce more changes in the government of Iraq ,as millions are displace from war ,economy suffer from war and oil prices , sectarian powers control the political scene , many youth believe this is only the successful start of Iraq spring , as social media organize it self by young voices and create movements in the street to change in a non violent way

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Iraq heat rising : from 31 July to 7 of August

wamith alkassab

Thousands of Iraqi citizens marched on the afternoon of Friday 31 July, in a demonstration in Tahrir Square in the center of Iraq capital Baghdad to protest against poor service amid tight security , roads were blocked around the area forcing many protesters to walk for few blocks to the square .

According to the chief of Baghdad security 3000 protesters was demonstrating in Tahrir Square this evening, “noting that” nearly a thousand security element involved securing the demonstration. ”

3 or 4 lines of anti rebel forces stood blocking the road towards Jumhooria bridge leading to Baghdad’s Green Zone , protesters focus their demonstration inside Tahrir square , as the sing , cheer , holding Iraqi flags and signs calling to government to stop corruption .

Chief of Baghdad security admired the the discipline of the demonstrators in the square:

we did not score any security breach, “adding that” the demonstrators have now begun to clean up the scene. ”

“There was a large consensus between security forces and demonstrators, and the security forces helped the demonstrators and handed out bottles of cold water.”

this scene came as a result of stressful summer , after 18 months of ISIS invading Mosul city Iraq was exhausted by long war and sectarian and political differences ,as thousands are force to leave their cities from the east providence in Iraq , the new government is struggling to coordinate their war against ISIS and building Compilation of views among different Iraqi political parties and power who see each others with distrust and dislike .

War , and the corruption in political life since it was established on the sectarian quota policy by occupational authority of Iraq following the 2003 invasion by the United States , has taken it effect of life in Baghdad , and Iraq in general

Austerity policies by the new government in 2014 has not been fair as it took hard effect of the ordinary people , especially from delayed payment of salaries and more income deductions and the level of already bad governmental service getting worse ,while the politicians and green zone is far away from it

the summer of 2015 came to Iraq carrying a heat wave pushing the mercury in the thermometer above fifty degrees Celsius about 127.4 degree Fahrenheit , the high temperatures accompanied by falling in electricity network , long hours of no electricity , forced people to depends fully on privet generators which cost a lot of expensive full , harmful to health and environment and provide weak electricity not enough to survive in this heat , this forced people to go out protesting in the biggest city in south of Iraq Basra , an act that was meet with violent response from local authorities resulting on the death of young boy , and heavy criticism from both people ,civil society and even the religious authority in Najaf, which ended the government of widespread corruption and poor services on an ongoing basis.

The political leaders called Basra protests and other cities demonstrations as conspiracy , the transportation minster called the demonstrations of trains transportation services as something organized at night ,,which is a famous aphorism to describe conspiracy

social media was buzzing with anger as temperature rises and not even a long holiday to government employee in response to the heat wave could makes them satisfied , the minster of electricity was called for a hearing to explain to the government why the electricity was so bad ,his responded were illogical Superficial Justifications of his ministry failure blaming it on the previous governments failures , war and people using electrical water heaters in showers , last justification was the focus of ridicule from many civil society activists because of the high degree of tap water temperature that can burn your skin normally ,

calls started on the Facebook from several activists and civil society organization to protest this lack of service , a young activist wrote on his wall : I just burned my back from hot bathroom douche water , I am feed up , will march to Tahrir Square in the center of Iraq capital Baghdad to protest

thousands marched and plan to stay all night if the could , singing : we have to suffer war and Isis , crisis and now no electricity ,
stop using religion to steal us
our soldiers and protecting our children ,we must protest for their children

the Iraqi and Arabic media and trying to ignore their voices but hash tages , groups ,pages and spreading like fire of social media , one activist wrote:

come see the Tahrir Square and tell me who is Sunnis or shiaa or Kurdish or Christian here , we all stand together

when evening prayer called protesters gathered in united prayer between Sunnis and shiaa , no violence , no harassment , men ,women , children ,artists ,journalists ,civil society are gathered together agreeing its time to change , this corruption is unbelievable , and need to end , a young activist wrote :

maybe if things went peacefully today ,we will come back next Friday and bring more people ,, they need to hear us ,,they need to change

On Friday 7 th of august central Baghdad is experiencing tight security and wide spread of the army the police and security services hours before the Iraqis preparing to come out in mass demonstrations in Tahrir Square, the center of the capital and near the Green Zone this evening to protest against poor services and in order to fight against the corrupt , The Iraqi Interior Minister, Mohamed Salem Ghabban security leaders met Thursday to secure the demonstrations planned for today.

The witnesses said that “Baghdad will witness today nocturnal demonstrations in Tahrir Square in central Baghdad called by hundreds of intellectuals, journalists, artists and civil society organizations raise the slogan one is to fight corruption and make administrative reforms and evaluate the work of the government.”
“Iraqi forces took all the roads and streets leading to the field and military vehicles deployed in the public squares, witnesses pointed out that” the demonstrations will be peaceful non-politicized in favor of this side or that. ”
this came after few days of radical Islamic parties and militia from both sectarian sides of Iraq political conflict announced that they will also join the protests in order to call for reform and stop Secularists from leading the people demand , the announcement was meet with a wave of discontent from Iraqis people on social media , they saw it as the Islamic powers are trying to hijack their movement and felt the accusations and threats to secularist and civil powers is a direct insult to the Iraqi people who suffer from the bad service and failed security situation for a long time on a daily bases , while the religious authority, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najaf province has called on citizens to come out in demonstrations to demand the services and accounting spoilers.
Baghdad and seven other iraqi cities have started today the 7 th of august protest , buses were gathering thousands of people carrying only iraqi flags , young people start to wash the square to cool the area down as the temperature in Baghdad rises to 50 c .
the organizers of demonstration announce they will not allow any protesters wearing military uniforms of militias to join them , no signs or pictures to prompt any political group is allowed
The demonstrations taking place in Iraqi cities, particularly the capital, Baghdad, Basra, Najaf, Karbala and Nasiriyah, since July 31, are showing an almost daily basis, to pressure the government to improve services, particularly electricity, where most regions of Iraq suffer from constant interruption of the stream of electricity at the time exceeded the Temperatures of 50 degrees Celsius.

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افكــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــار ٌ مبعثــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــره

اثير حداد
…………………… في عيد المراة العالمي 8/3 ‫#‏لأول‬ مرة لن اقدم تهنئه للمراة العراقيه في هذه المناسبه . منذ عدة ايام وانا افكر بماذا اكتب , حتى ارقي لم يسعفتي . وكلما التقطت بدايه يعود ظميري ليؤنبني.
كيف اكتب وهناك اليزيديات المغتصبات والمستعبدات في اسرة ” فحول ” داعش . كيف اهنئ وهناك المسيحيه ضمن السبابا , كيف اكتب وهناك المسلمة التي لا تامن عودة أبنائها واحباءها لتحتضنهم بحنان المراة . كيف اكتب تهنئة والمراة ما تزال تعطى ” نهوه” و ” عطوه ” و ” فصليه ” لاطفاء حماقات ” الفحولة ” العراقيه .

ولكـــــــــــــــــــــن أقول تعيش المراة العراقيه انسانا حرا . لولاك لما شبعت حنانا ولما عرفت ان هناك حب ولا هناك دفئ في الحياة .
الماء اقوى من الصخور ، والحنان اقوى من القسوة .

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sexual harassment against women rising online

A rising numbers of sexual harassment against women are increasing in the world especially in the middle east as women express themselves online more and more after the Arabic spring .

Many suffer of harassment especially who distinguished themselves in public. in the form of  violent threats, hateful depictions and sexual innuendos.

Most harassing came as messages on Facebook or trolling on twitter and other social media. Targeting voices that have a message to deal with more serious aspects of human rights in the region, to force them to withdraw somewhat from the public debate

those who experiences threatening harassment and threats has few means to report it to the police. some may  took  personal security measures  to protect themselves , by changing accounts or cutting links or even asking for help from their families .

Most of the messages are a mixture of hatred and sexuality  ,especially from those who don’t except difference ,or debate from different prospective and see women criticism is an attack on the standard social and religious values ,they show more violence and sexual hat in their attacks  , Agitation against women manifests itself online is sexualized in a completely different way than about men. And it is done entirely on purpose.

the goal is persistent harassment over time can cause women to reluctant to participate in the public debate. many may withdrawn from it because of harassment.

This has become a cultural problem and we lose the background to conduct an objective debate.

we need to empower women on how to deal with such attacks and create pressure for laws and regulation that will put stop to them ,social media big platforms must develop a better methods for reporting especially in cases that target women , social media organization and activists must start a wider  campaigns فo raise awareness of how to debate and accept the other, to respect women and accept their participation in society and public issues


wamith alkassab

iraqi researcher

@wk_alk contact by twitter


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Iraq future: Where to go now ?

By Dr. Wamith Kaleel Alkassab

There is no doubt that the departure of Nuri al-Maliki from power in Iraq had brought comfort to all Iraqis and international powers, as his 8 years in power were a reign of political nightmares that took a heavy toll on Iraqis because of his sectarian policies and his hostility to his partners in the government, without forgetting the increase in rates of corruptions in all sectors of the state especially the defense and security ministries, which ironically participated in the end in the man downfall from power.

As we go further away from al-Maliki times we can not stop wondering if we are really over with the crisis of the political system, and of the state and national entity in Iraq. Does this mean his departure will end the state of political crisis & the severe and long-lasting corruption in the country, as the polarization and internal civil strife continued, to tore apart the social fabric and national levels of the region turning Iraq from the multicultural, unified homeland to ghettos or cantons of closed areas which are unwilling to share power and wealth together.

The fact is that the roots of crisis in Iraq were not only in the reign of al-Maliki but he helped to make it worse, its main collateral start with the American occupation and recompose of the political system on the basis of deconstructive set of rules that empowered the sharing of power on sectarian bases and lead to help the unqualified people to role just because they demand their sectarian share of the cake, with keeping in mind the long history of Iraq religious and political conflicts that regenerate again in the atmosphere of free chaotic weak state that followed 3 decades of central dictatorship regime.

All these factors lead to the crisis of the national state in Iraq today, which has two aspects: the crisis of the political system, based on sectarian, ethnic bases, and the crisis of the invasion of “jihadists” that is tearing apart the social fabric of Iraq.

11 years of interference of regional and international powers in Iraq, lead to the formation of weak political system that falls under the influence of its neighbors, leading to bad decisions like getting involved with the different sides of conflict in Syria, which made the already weak country become part of the Islamist extremists goals to create their Islamic state (IS) by exploiting Iraqi weakness with brutal efficiency, and weakened the state further. Now they are operating in an area stretching from Aleppo in civil war-torn Syria to Mosul, 500 km east all the way to the border with Iraqi Kurdistan, and 300 km south of Fallujah, near the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

In the outcome of such state, what should the incoming Prime Minister al-Abadi and his government do?

All the major players believe he needs to unify his government and country to fight IS, his task is to find friends among Sunni Muslims, and gain the Kurdish support, he needs to reinforce the shaky Iraqi government and demonstrate to his new partners that political decentralization of power from Baghdad is possible.

The Kurds are not so enthusiastic to return back to work within the Iraqi state. They dreamed of independence since World War I, and their political demands will point in the direction of future secession. The action of the previous PM made the Kurds feel that the had no stable future in a unified Iraq, the international support to them when IS attacked them made them feel its time to build their powers and have a strong position from the new government in Baghdad, they gave a 3 months deadline for their financial demands to the government to be meet or they will have another position.

While Sunni political leaders have begun responding positively to Mr. Abadi’s government and his plans to bring Sunni Arabs into military units to fight IS, they had in the other hand a list of demands that will challenge the voting voices that helped the Shia political collations rise to power, among them the new PM who came from the same Islamic political background as his predecessors, demands that may lead to Iraqi politicians to review the sectarian sections and troubled broadly interrupted paragraphs of the government constitution and its controversial terror laws.

The most dangerous challenge is in the Sunni neighborhoods and provinces which after years of war and mistrust due to the sectarian political order that rose during the American occupation of Iraq many of them fell that even the barbarous extremist control zones are safer to them than to be under control of security forces of the government which they see as the long hand of Iranian loyal Shia militants which to them is just another face of Islam extremism that hates them and wants to take revenge of decades of Sunni regimes that had prosecuted the Shia faith, in fact they believe that any international collation should include these militants in his attacks, as they fear if the extreme Sunni will go they will be left as easy target for the Shia militants revenge.

The Shia collation has few enemies for the new PM, people who believe he is a tool of US, and that the old PM was betrayed by his partners, who stabbed him in the back, several voices are criticizing his choices for his government and blame him for unreasonable demands made by the Kurds and Sunni, they say he will help the old Baath party to return under his cape, 2 of the major militants (Asaib Al Haq & al-Sadr ) have hinted that they are opposing the US military aid in the fight against IS, and they might act hostile with any future US presence in Iraq, which if was true mean the man might end up with a confrontation with his on sectarian base.

We may not forget also the position of neighboring countries around Iraq , as the Sunni world welcomed the new government with a test of gloating in the previous PM, till now the relationships between Iraq and Sunni world is still standing on an edge, as they see Iraq as Iran strongest alley in the region while the Iranian on the other hand has not shown more than preserve welcome to the departure of their allies in Baghdad, with no real interest in joining the collation to fight IS, regardless that they had been already involve in the fight against it in Syria and in Iraq.

The challenges of corruption, and bad economy that depends on oil production as main export, which has lost good portions of its daily production after IS lay their hand on more than one oil field and started to sell it in the black market to Iraq’s old costumers Turkey and Syria, another two players whom call the shots in Iraq politics and are desperately needed to play part in the success of any real fight against IS.

Iraq is standing on a cliff that has only two ways to go, either jump into the hole and wish for a miracle to happen and he lands on its feet, or to cross half broken ,shaky,  torn apart, rope bridge that is hanging by a thread, that may seems like blind man trying to cross the grand canyon on a rope, which can be done by the will and determination to have conversion to a national project that focus on rebuilding the state and the nation on the basis of citizenship and the system of civil and political rights, and the principle of power-sharing, and the state of law and institutions, creating a civil nation that has fair representation for everyone, hard goals for Iraq but if we act seriously and learn from our previous mistakes, not impossible .

Dr. Wamith Kaleel Alkassab is an independent Iraqi researcher and civil activist, currently based outside Iraq. You can follow him on twitter at @wk_alk

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