Monday, May 2, 2016

Protesters in Baghdad Demand Government by Experts

Fascinating events in Baghdad over the weekend:
Protesters stormed Iraq’s parliament Saturday in a dramatic culmination of months of demonstrations, casting uncertainty over the tenure of the country’s prime minister and the foundations of the political system laid in place after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Security forces declared a state of emergency in the Iraqi capital after demonstrators climbed over blast walls and broke through cordons to enter Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, also home to ministries and the U.S. embassy. Many were followers of Iraq’s powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who has been urging his supporters onto the streets.

Lawmakers fled the building in panic, with some berated and struck as they left. Others were trapped in the basement for hours, too afraid to face the crowds who complain that the country’s political class is racked by corruption.
And what is it, exactly, that the former firebrand al-Sadr and his followers want?
Street protests began last summer, when tens of thousands demonstrated against corruption and a lack of services. They were reinvigorated when Sadr put his weight behind them earlier this year, calling for Iraq’s government to be replaced by technocrats.
Under immense pressure, Abadi has tried to reshuffle his cabinet and meet the demonstrators’ demands. But he has been hampered by a deeply divided parliament, and sessions have descended into chaos as lawmakers have thrown water bottles and punches at one another.
So what al-Sadr wants is what self-proclaimed "centrists" in the US always say they want, an end to partisan squabbling and a technocratic government focused on concrete results.

Maybe we could lend them Michael Bloomberg; I hear he's restless in retirement and might want to get back into politics.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

You make light, but the complaints of corruption are spot on.

We installed a puppet government in Iraq with the expectation that it would ultimately accede to our demands and promote our interests. But the kind of people who are good at being puppet rulers are the kind of people who trade favors for power and influence, which makes them great targets for local corruption - especially when the last stable government in the area was itself corrupt under Saddam.

Reading through the article, I'm struck by the irony of quotes from the Iraqi lawmakers about how they're scared for their lives and how the activity in the streets is terrifying, because that's yet another complaint of the protesters. Their lawmakers live in isolation, insulated from the fear and chaos that the citizenry face on a daily basis. Reading their shocked words and reactions, I can't help but shake my head at how it seems to prove just how out of touch and unfit to rule they are.