Politics

Al-Nasiriyah protestors malign pro-Iran militias

By Omar Ali in al-Nasiriyah

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Iraqi protestors in al-Nasiriyah gather in al-Habboubi square on January 29th to call for an end to corruption and to Iranian interference in Iraqi affairs. [Alaa Hussein/Diyaruna]

Hundreds of protestors in al-Nasiriyah, the largest city in southern Iraq's Dhi Qar province, have been giving voice to their anger at Iran-backed militias, chanting slogans and accusing them of being behind the murder of local activists.

The wave of protests against the militias escalated following a January 27th attack on the city's al-Habboubi square, epicentre of the protests, that left one person dead, several others injured and protestor tents set ablaze.

Iran-backed militias were behind the attack, activist Amer Mohammed told Diyaruna, and are also responsible for the sniper fire deaths and assassinations that have taken place in Iraq since the protests began on October 1st.

"Listen to their chants," Mohammed said, as protestors nearby chanted slogans calling the militias Iran's "tails", denoting their subordination to Tehran. "They know full well that those militias are responsible for killing them."

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Iraqi protestors raise the Iraqi flag while chanting anti-Iran slogans in the city of al-Nasiriyah in late January. [Alaa Hussein/Diyaruna]

Mohammed played a video recorded on his phone showing the father of the protestor who was killed in the attack on the square recounting with immense grief the details of the murder of his son.

Demonstrators responded to the torching of the canvas tents set up in al-Habboubi square by building brick structures to replace them, protestor Thulfiqar al-Ghazi told Diyaruna.

This was meant to send a message that they intend to hold steadfast, whatever the challenges, he said, as he helped his comrades build a brick structure.

'Barrier of fear broken'

"If they think that burning the tents will cause us to go home, they are mistaken," al-Ghazi said.

"We are building rooms with bricks at our own expense to let them know that we are not afraid, and will not be cowed by their militias' weapons."

The barrier of fear has been broken, he said, and no one is afraid to utter the names of the militia leaders in public or to accuse them of being subordinate to Iran and acquiescing to the implementation of its destructive plans in Iraq.

Chants labeling them as sycophants and tails (cronies) are being shouted by hundreds in the protest squares, along with the names of senior militia leaders who "no one dared to criticize openly in the past", he said.

Iraqi security services have failed in their duty to adequately protect the demonstrators from those militias, who have in turn shown disregard for the blood of Iraqis, he said.

Capt. Majid al-Fadhli told Diyarana that security forces in the province caught sight of the recent attack on al-Habboubi square, and police forces pursued the perpetrators before losing track of them in al-Zidnawiya area near al-Nasiriyah.

He said the police are investigating the incident, but have no clues yet as to the identity of the perpetrators, although they appear to be "organised groups whose aim is to sow chaos in the country".

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