On the eve of another Prime Minister, Iraqis discuss their experience in protests
Interviews with KAREEM BOTANE
What follows are three interviews conducted in the streets of southern Iraq during the period leading up to the failure of Mohammed al-Allawi to form a government. They were recorded and quickly transcribed, as such they appear in rough and unvarnished. We have left them in their original. They present a picture of the uncertainty and rumors circulating in central and southern Iraq in late February 2020.
Mahammad Dabour, 29, Technical to Production. I am a worker in Iraq. I graduated in 2017. I am activist at demonstration in Wasit. I am social activist and activist coordinator between Baghdad and Wasit. I participated the demonstration since 1st of October, first week I was in Baghdad after that I came back to Wasit (Kut) for different reasons. Then, in 25thof October, a new wave of demonstration has begun me with my colleagues.
The one who participate on suppressing demonstrators is the Third Part (Taraf Al-Thalith). They militias belong to some certain parties who is controls most of Iraq. The militias like Assaib, Nujaba, and Khurasani brigade. I saw these militias by my own eyes when I was in Tahrir, even I saw their vehicles and cars. They were using car 4*4 (Pick Up) with black color. They were using guns of Gas tears, sniper, with live bullets.
I remember on 3rd of October, in Tahrir a forces belong to federal forces they were holding RPG with them. I saw them, I considered them as terrorist group against demonstrators. I saw all these with my own eyes.
Here in Kut, who participate on suppressing demonstrators is police. But, they are always denies their involvement of killing demonstration.
In last recent days, we tracked the blue hat group that they using cables, stick and in Najaf they used a gun against demonstrators. According to victim's family, they belong to Blue Hat (Sadr) followers.
At the beginning, I was in Baghdad until the 7th of October, and after 25th I came back to Kut, and I spend my most of time here in Wasit.
Last, we came out the idea we had to clashes with blue hat because we never expect that we will going to clash with them anytime in the future. But, the clashes and the sensitivity started to come after there were argument between demonstrators and Sadr followers of who is belongs to whom.
That led to clashes between blue hat and demonstrators with live fire with stick for biting the demonstrations and example for that Najaf escalation. But we did have this in Kut.
There violation against me personally, on 1st of October. They excused me that I belong to a certain tribe which I don't. I have been bit up here in Kut square (Tamoz). The one who bit me they are belong to Saraya Al-Salam and they are still with Saraya.
Beside all that, I still continue in my demonstration and I am still inside demonstration square. We faced sniper, gas tears, live fire, and with other different weapons and violations.
Here the situation is "If you don't agree with them or don't follow what they are willing to they will accuse you that you are an agent or working for one embassies or parties. So, to kick you out of square and assault you and cut your role.
I have many friends here and especially in Baghdad, they have been attacked with knifes and gun as result some of them died. The one who died such as Safa Al-Saray, and everyone knows how he died. Many of my friends has faced attack with stamps with knifes, and provocation by gunmen groups.
The groups that provoke or threaten belong to the Shia parties. All these violations and provocation happened in Baghdad and it was against tents like (Nazil Akhth Haqi) and (Abna Dalawi) at Tahrir square.
So far, I would say the demonstration achieved goal in somehow beside all suppression and provocations. We are very optimistic about the future and we are believe that there will be the birth of political movement inside tents at demonstration squares in all Iraq.
So far, we have two person that has been chosen by most of the demonstrators - Dr. Kahthim Al-Sahlaw and Muhand Al-Naaim. These two person most of demonstrators agreed on. We don't have any comment agreement or interest with government in any points.
I as demonstrator, we will continue on our escalation in the future , escalation such as blocking oil field in most Iraqi cities. We are not afraid of any forces we may face in the future because we had faced many different kind of weapons. The tents at squares will not be removed only by fulfilling our demands.
The weakness the demonstration is facing, demonstration doesn't has proper and effective coordination. Always, we try to agree on some certain point there will be argument which lead to deviation among demonstrators.
We are in the stage of building the political movement that will lead the future of negations of demonstration's demand that will serves the demonstration. These political movement will revolutionary young personals inside of demonstration in all Iraqi cities.
The UN position toward demonstration still very embracing, it's not up to situation and not good at all. We have UN slogan and flag we many times demand for the right, we did demonstrated and called help and protection but there was not ear that listened to us.
We call for immediate intervention of UN to stop suppress and blocking the voices of demonstrators.
Part II KUT . February, 7TH 2020
TIME: 10:10 PM
The protester is 18 years old.
It's not only me who came out here it's all of us. I was waiting, we coming out from deep dark hall, so we get liberate to have freedom of speech and to express out point view. We as young demonstrators we have a huge motivation and strength a human nothing else.
My family (My father) has very high respect among the Sadrist community. He a power much bigger than governorate, he is capable of doing many things with out care about anyone.
My situation is like any other young demonstrator out here we all want to survive from slavery that we lived in. There are too many people considered as red line to talk about them such as Qais Khazali and others.
We demand the changes on institution it has been made with a lot of mistakes inside of it. It contains articles as it's a bomb because if we want to change it we can do that. There is article contradict anther which is says (Emphases on: NO CHANGES IN THE CONSTITUTION).
Our constitution has to change, the role of government has to change. Corrupted Parties, I call raze of all parties only communist party.
The first part is Al-Hikma, it's the extension of Iraq.
nian influence. Its Iran the one destroyed us and destroyed our economy. Iran destroyed everything even the children that is didn't burn yet his or her right has been taken. All these made us to come from all these slavery and brutal.
There were many even I have participate in, but after Saraya occupied everything here our right and activities became limited. They are acting and doing everything without any law excuse them (They are above LAW).
To tell you about Saraya Al-Salam or SADR itself, the reason that people started hating them and their leaders. It's true to say they have 47 seats at Iraqi Parliament and three ministries. They should do something these people. The simplest thing they can do is education. There is no education, young people whenever they graduate ending up with unemployment as result, they will look for immigration and going outside of Iraq. The second is health, I as my body don't have well resistant therefore, I will need Voltarine injection, I can't find it here in our hospital, and they will tell you go buy it at pharmacy. This the simplest thing that government should provide to its citizen. As emergency section, there is no emergency. In electricity services, there is no services at all, I would like to tell the investors and official people at ministry of electricity, its ok you steal but don't kill us.
These demonstration even if it took 8 years it will never dies, because we used be a slave as you tried to get out of these slavery you be done. You will feel like the rest of Iraqi people you won't like the situation. Government is not giving nothing, health, education, and agricultural.
Iran is almost occupying everything such fish project, manufactories, and others sectors. Within Iranian intervention to Iraq our economy has been destroyed.
Most of threats that we faces are Iranian militia such as Asaib, and Nujaba. Nujaba, we never expect they turn against us, unfortunately. The leaders that involved in that are Mahdi Al-Muhanadis and Qasim Sulaimani and the third person I Qais Al-Khazali.
I know all of them, AASAIB and other militia here. Their base is very close to here and many time we attacked them. These militia occupied all economic section in the area. They are not able to do things as they were doing before after young demonstrator came out from their silence. But, they have presence here, and they trying to make a conflict and clashes that harm demonstration. They have present here thought tribe leader and most of them belong Asaib. Police officer here belong to Badr and he is name (Haider) he belong to Iranian force. He is a military leader from Badr force, and he was from poor family until he became cruel person ever.
I hope my voice to be heard by UN, IF OUR REVOLUTION COULDN'T MAKE IT. DON'T LET IRAQI YOUNG BLOOD GO LIKE THAT
Part III An exclusive with intelligence coordinator
15 February, 2020
My name is Abo Jaffar, 26. I am medical and representative of young demonstrators in Baghdad and the rest of Iraqi cities. I coordinate with my friends and friends from neighboring countries of Iraq.
Neighboring countries include those, such as the Iranian government, Syrian government, Saudi government, and Turkey's government by different names as opposition parties or parties inside Iraqi government with Iraqi leaders. Personally, I didn't meet any Iranian personnel but I met Iraqi personnel acting as Iranian representatives, such as religious officials. The purpose of the meeting was to attempt to prevent the Iranian militia from intervening in Iraq's interior conflicts.
But, as they did with the Syrian government, they have a presence on the ground as opposition parties with direct communication. The embassies here in Iraq has strong contact with activists through intelligence organizations, such as Syria and Palestinians through Arab national movements. Palestinians have has played a significant role here. They are all working to bring Iraq back to its role among the Arab states as under Baathi party ideology for Arabic nationality. It’s the same though of Al-Baathi party for unity of Arab nationality as Arab countries has been divided from the British colonial area. They are trying to bring back Arab nationality or identity to Arab countries.
In term of invasion, all Arab countries tried to kick out US out of the region. They are helping Iraq in term of logistic to revolutionaries in here Iraq and Syria. The Syrian government tries to occupy Iraq through Syrian agents as well as political movements in Iraq's government. They are not working for the ultimate goal which is to bring the Arab nationality to its homeland therefore they try to dominate the demonstrations in Iraq so they can achieve their goal. The Syrian government tries to keep peaceful demonstration without any casualties. At the same, they are trying to create youth movement that will remain their domination on the demonstration. All of them are only Syrian intelligence representatives.
There were no clashes between these powers in Iraq, but they worked together in many cases and operations including the operation of assassinating Qasim Sulaimani and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis. And all the crimes happened in inside the demonstration. All these has been planned for it. All players were aware of what was going to happen.
All the assassinations that took place including of Qasim and Mahdi were done through Syrian and IRGC intelligence. IRGC has a very strong present in Baghdad such as leader elements of IRGC which their base is in Tehran. We all know this in Adel Abdul-Mahdi era with supervision of Qasim.
According our friends quoted by Syrian intelligent that Sadr is one of IRGC leader has been chosen by Iran. But, the reality is not Sadr who run the case here, it's Walid Al-Zamli.
Based on my present here among people at demonstrations and my coordination with others from all cities, I coordinate with our friends (Intelligent) to calm down the situations and prevent the casualties just like that happened in Baghdad , Nasariya, Najaf , Basra and Wasit.
The future of demonstrations is a peaceful came out by civilian movement with weak or strong politician. The demands that revolutionaries call for I believe none of it will be achieved only earlier election that has been called even by UN.
The militia's that suppressed demonstrators were Khurasani, Asaib Aal Alhaq and other with riot force uniform. Sadr are Qais are leading all these and covering them behind.
I think Arabic dream is dream of all but without blood. Demand and the right of people should not be perished just lie that. It should be listen with earlier impartiality election, so it can achieved people's dream.