- Demonstrations: Violence escalates in Iraq with lynching of a teenager in the midst of protests against the government
The announcer did not forget the enormous symbolism that treasures Firdus Square in the recent history of Iraq. This was the same enclave where the demolition of the statue of Saddam Hussein that certified the end of his dictatorial regime was immortalized.
"This is a message for the Baazistas. Here was the statue of your leader. You can never return to Iraq, neither you nor the Americans, " said the interlocutor who tried to maintain the enthusiasm of the thousands of people who had gathered in the area .
The scenery also summed up the profound change that the Arab nation has registered since it was invaded in 2003. Now they are movements like Asaib Ahl al Haq (The League of the Righteous), one of Iraq's most powerful militias - linked to Iran - , those who exhibit their abundance of media and logistics.
The group that emerged in 2006 was created under Tehran under the guidance of the best specialists of the Lebanese armed movement, Hezbollah.
That is why the staging of the demonstration that took place this Saturday in the center of Baghdad seemed like a copy of any of those organizing the Lebanese formation, also established under the designs of the Iranian regime.
There were the familiar American and Israeli flags attached to the asphalt to serve as support for the protesters' footsteps and the purpose of their insults. And the reproductions of the atavistic enemies of Tehran: the American Donald Trump, the Israeli Benjamin Netanyahu, the Saudi king Salman bin Abdulazi and his heir, Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, and even the Emirati leader Mohamed bin Rashid al Maktum. They appeared hanging on a gallows that Asaib's followers were walking smilingly.
Then it was time for the force show. Seven hooded men dressed in militia uniforms displayed their knowledge of martial arts culminating in the destruction of two cement slabs kicked in with the US national flag and an Israeli badge.
The poetic declamations and the sophlamas against Washington and Tel Aviv were seasoned with a strident music, whose lyrics also lashed out at the American country.
"The cowards have no honor. The US wants to destroy Iraq, set the country on fire . We were the ones who defeated the Daesh (the Islamic State). We killed so many people that they didn't have time to bury all their bodies. Trump makes us laugh. We laughed at your measurements. What is America now? Nothing! ", We heard clamoring at the speakers.
The rally gathered several thousand people - far from the "million" announced by the organizers at the beginning - who marched from the nearby neighborhood of Kerrada carrying portraits of the main leader of Asaib, Qais al Khazali, and the many militants of this formation that died during the fighting against the Islamic State (IS) between 2014 and 2017.
Not far from there, a few kilometers away, tens of thousands of protesters continued to gather around Tahrir Square, demanding precisely the end of the significant influence maintained by groups supervised by Tehran as Asaib in the Arab nation.
The meeting sponsored by the pro-Iranian political formation takes place after the government of Donald Trump placed last day the main leader of Asaib ranks, Qais al Khazali, his brother Laith al Khazali - another of the top officials of this militia - Hassan Falah Aziz al Lami, head of Hezbollah Iraq, also close to Tehran, on the black list of the Treasury Department, restricting his travels and confiscating his possible assets in the North American territory.
The poster that dominated the main stage of the event referred to this decision. "The Americans have taken a long time to grant us this honor, they should have done it before," read the drawing of a statue of Liberty that seemed to crumble.
Surrounded by bodyguards and acolytes, Mohammed al-Tabatabai, number two of Asaib, dismissed Washington's accusations with a deep smile and a dialectical argument inspired by the same religious ideology promoted by Tehran.
"It is logical that a party close to God (Allah) is facing a country like the United States, an ally of the Devil. The Iraqis have to understand that if we are united the defeat of the US and Israel is inevitable," he said in statements to this newspaper.
"We are the Iraqi people"
When the journalist asked him about the accusations that indicate his dependence on Iran, the cleric kept his sarcastic grimace.
"We are not interested in the lies of Pompeo or the United States. The only evidence of our strength is the masses that are with us today in this concentration. We are the Iraqi people."
The concentration was able to attract numerous leaders of local tribes integrated into the same Popular Mobilization Forces (FMP) where Asaib and many other paramilitary groups related to Iran are framed.
Following one of the many turns that this nation has registered since the catastrophe that led to the 2003 occupation, the same FMPs who fought alongside the Americans against the IS are now the spearhead of Iranian influence in the country and therefore adversaries from Washington.
"The Americans were the ones who created the Daesh to divide Iraq. And we put the martyrs. Do you know what happened to my 3-year-old son, Saad Sucri? They killed the boy, roasted him and sent him on a tray with a message: there you have your food. I was only 3 years old, "says chief Hatem Al Anbequi.
Asaib's force is not limited to its militiamen - it is estimated that it has thousands of men equipped with tanks and heavy artillery - but to its own presence as Sadikun political formation, represented in parliament by 15 legislators such as Wajih Abbas or the two ministers who maintained in the Government of Adel Abdul-Mahdi. Another example of the ascendant that Tehran has over the political designs of Iraq.
The former journalist became popular in Iraq through the Asaib television channel - which even emulates Hizbullah, which controls his own network in Lebanon, Al Manar -, where he directed a colloquium space in which he mixed sectarian rhetoric with the rants against the local political elite.
Now, like Asaib, it has become the target of the signs of the popular uprising that is recorded in many cities of the country.
Asaib spokesmen denied that this march was a response to Tahrir's protests but the claims of the opponents were in all their responses.
" People have the right to demonstrate but without leading to chaos . We want a revolution without knives, without executions," said the former presenter.
"They are no longer peaceful demonstrations. Surely the hand of the US, Israel and Saudi money is behind these protests," Sheik Kinani seconded, another of those present at the event.
Both referred to the shocking event that shook the enclave taken by opposition protesters this last Thursday. A teenager was lynched by a riotous mob after a confusing incident in which he faced the young people present in the vicinity of Tahrir.
The 16-year-old teenager was repeatedly stabbed and his body ended up hanging from a lamppost before the enthusiasm or indifference of hundreds of people who filmed what happened.
The images recorded by mobile phones allow us to appreciate the brutality of what happened. Even dead, and when the body was transferred by the police, it looks like several kids cut the victim's neck with knives.
The tragic episode was condemned by most of the groups present in Tahrir but it still reflects the worrying spiral in which this country is mired.
"The presence of hundreds or thousands of citizens who stood still, filming and watching, is a dangerous step that confirms the acceptance of violence by a part of society," said Ali Al Bayati, a member of the Iraqi High Commission for human rights.
The protests that forced the resignation of the Prime Minister on the 30th have left almost 500 dead, thousands injured and detained, and the capital immersed in daily chaos, given the permanent occupation of its most emblematic center.
According to the criteria of The Trust ProjectKnow more
- Islamic State
- Donald Trump
- Benjamin Netanyahu
Near East Israel, very close to calling new elections after the failure of Benny Gantz to form Government
DefenseDonald Trump visits US troops in Afghanistan by surprise at Thanksgiving
Middle East The United States says that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are no longer illegal