https://diyaruna.com/en_GB/articles/cnmi_di/features/2019/11/26/feature-01

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Protests |

Iraqi protestors denounce 'hostile behaviour' of Iran-backed militias

By Faris al-Omran

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Iraqis organise a November 9th  exhibition for cartoons that depict the latest protests in the country, near Tahrir Square in Baghdad. [Diyaruna]

The hostile behaviour of Iran-backed militias towards protestors in Iraq has been met with public resentment, especially in the southern provinces.

Protestors who spoke with Diyaruna said that Iran's "agents" in Iraq are using excessive violence to suppress the protests as they consider them an "existential threat" to the Iranian regime and its proxy militias.

"Our protests are peaceful and we respect the law," said Hassan, a protestor from Karbala province who preferred not to give his full name.

"The security forces are protecting us and we are co-operating with each other," he told Diyaruna.

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Iraqis take part in protests in Baghdad and several other southern provinces on November 9th to demand an end to militia control and general reforms across the country. [Diyaruna]

However, "the militiamen are being oppressive. They are killing and persecuting us, and unlawfully detaining us because they know that we are out protesting against their dominance", he said.

"We no longer want them to control our fate."

Threat to IRGC existence

Salam, another protestor from Diwaniyah city in Qadisiya province, said Iran's "agents" consider the protests a threat to their very existence and to the influence of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Iraq.

"This is why they are confronting us with violence and brutality in an attempt to scare us and prevent us from continuing to protest against them," he said.

The protests mirror a growing Iraqi resentment towards Iran-backed militias, Salam said.

"These groups have taken our resources and are being used by the Iranian regime to drag our country into crises and regional problems," he added.

Iraq is a sovereign country and the protestors reject any foreign interference that "dictates their future, as they alone should have that right", he said.

Political analyst and former Iraqi MP Taha al-Lahibi said the protests came as a reaction to deteriorating economic conditions, widespread corruption, poor public services and the absence of radical solutions to unemployment.

"Militias whose loyalty lies with Iran have been directly responsible for manufacturing these crises and thwarting efforts to resolve them because they want to drown the country in a constant state of unrest and prevent it from benefiting from its resources," he said.

This is all being done "in the service of Iran's interests", he told Diyaruna.

These militias "have not benefited Iraq as they have only been working to enrich themselves at the expense of the Iraqi people and their economy", he added.

They have sought to turn the country into "an arena for Iranian influence that serves their agenda in creating an unstable environment in Iraq and the region".

Unified calls for change

All segments of Iraqi society have taken part in the protests, al-Lahibi said. "Youth, women and even children have raised patriotic slogans that demand a stable country that is independent of Iran and the grip of its militias".

"What is commendable is the solidarity among protestors and between them and the army and police, which reflects adherence to the law and their support of the legitimacy of the state," he said.

"The deep state that Iran [the IRGC] is trying to create using militias is falling apart as a result of public rejection," said political analyst Ahmed Shawqi.

The current protests -- which are not influenced by any component, ethnicity, party or symbol -- are only loyal to Iraq and have revealed the wide schism between the Iraqi people and the militias, he told Diyaruna.

Iraqis are now focused on getting rid of the "deep state" and reviving their homeland that has been hijacked by Iran-backed militias, he said.

They want to rebuild "a bright new future for their country that is safe and prosperous, where no outlaws can survive", he said.

The Iranian regime will not last long when confronted with popular demands for freedom and peace, he said.

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