Too Little, Too Late

29 November 2019


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Protesters Oust Iraqi PM


The Prime Minister of Iraq has announced his resignation after the religious leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani called for new political leadership in light of almost two months' protests. The people took to the streets to voice their disgust with the massive corruption in Iraq and against the large influence Iran has over the current regime. Since early October, security forces have killed 350 or so protesters, and the protesters want justice for the dead. The resignation is an attempt to end the protests, but it is too little, too late.

The Grand Ayatollah has been the power behind the throne in post-Saddam Iraq, and like his counterpart the Supreme Leader the Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Iran, he has allowed the government to operate freely within certain limits. The limits were clearly passed earlier today when 40 civilians were killed. The Associated Press reported that Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani issued a statement saying, "We call upon the House of Representatives from which this current government emerged to reconsider its options in that regard."

Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mehdi understood that he has lost the backing of the religious leader, and he announced his resignation after just 13 months in office. "I will submit to parliament an official memorandum resigning from the current prime ministry so that the parliament can review its choices," he said.

The hope for the regime and the religious hierarchy is that the sacrifice of the PM will be sufficient to bring an end to the street violence. The AP also reported, "Al-Sistani also said protesters should distinguish between peaceful demonstrators and those seeking to turn the movement violent, following the burning of an Iranian consulate building in Najaf on Wednesday that government officials say was perpetrated by saboteurs from outside the protest movement." Thus, he has signaled that there are limits for the people as well as for the government.

The people appear to be of a different opinion. Mohammed Jamjoon of Al Jazeera reported, "This is an extremely vibrant scene and it really goes on to show that right now in this particular moment you have these demonstrators here in Baghdad who feel this is a win for them. Some people wonder what exactly is going to happen next, but at this particular moment people are extremely happy by this development." Street protests don't suddenly peter out after a big win. This will go on.

Yanar Mohammed, the co-founder of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq, told Al Jazeera this move is "a first step to a victory over a corrupt sectarian and criminal government. This feels like the victory of the uprising of the people, that finally the power and the willpower of the people of the uprising has overcome. The condition is that all the ruling political parties have to step out of the political formula. They are not acceptable anymore. They all took part in the criminal killings of the demonstrators. We will have to continue the uprising until all our conditions are met."

Getting rid of corruption and getting the Iranians out will probably require a root-and-branch change in how Iraq works. The corrupt will not leave readily, and it will require a great deal more effort to get rid of them. The Iranians are even harder to address. They have no interest in leaving, and they have a very large standing army to enforce their desires.

This is a victory, to be sure, but it is not the end of this violence. The people have tasted blood, and the governement has done too little to assuage the anger of the populace.

© Copyright 2019 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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