Iraqis living in fear over Iran-fueled violence
Iraqis living in fear over Iran-fueled violence
Death has become an important part of Iraq’s daily routine. Pro-Iranian militias, death squads, hit lists and cold-blooded assassinations underscore how bankrupt the Iraqi state is despite international and local denial.
When five Iraqis die, that is no longer news. When 50 people are killed, this is not the latest news. When 100 people die in a terrorist attack, the Western media can talk about it generously for a few hours.
In October 2019, large-scale anti-government protests took place in Baghdad and several southern provinces, with protesters denouncing corruption, banning militias and foreign loyalty. Even though the demands of the young protesters were neither outrageous nor luxurious, they faced violence and brutality.
More than 800 peaceful protesters were killed, around 25,000 were injured and hundreds were kidnapped, while the government was busy forming committees of inquiry, issuing sentencing statements and hiding the true identities of the murderers under pretext to protect the Iraqi political process and the new democracy.
Nurturing a young democracy and building an institutional state has never been achieved thanks to successive governments in power since 2003, which have continued to adopt oppressive policies or provide legal cover for such practices. This means that the dark age of Saddam Hussein’s regime remains as it was, only with different names and political affiliations.
Who is leading these death squads and how do they choose their targets? If an Iraqi official or politician says he has no answer, he is hiding the truth, which makes him an accomplice in these heinous crimes.
Despite being filled with thousands of surveillance cameras, main streets and popular squares have seen political and human rights activists being gunned down, with executioners still disappearing into the air, convinced their footage would never be recorded on tape.
Just last week, activist Ihab Al-Wazni, who led protests in the Iraqi city of Karbala, was murdered outside his own home by a motorcyclist. The Al-Wazni neighborhood is one of the most protected areas due to its proximity to Shia holy places.
The dark age of Saddam Hussein’s regime remains as it was, only with different names and political affiliations.
Al-Wazni, like millions of other Iraqis, longed for a homeland that gives his children hope for a better future. A previous attempt to kill him in 2019 did not stop him from continuing to oppose tyranny. He spoke about the dangers of the Tehran regime, the corruption of Islamists in his province and the importance of maintaining the peaceful and focused nature of the protests.
The assassination process in Iraq begins with one of two types of fatwa issued by religious politicians like Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, who is known to lead one of the largest and most pro-Iranian militias. brutalities of the country. The Mahdi Army (Saraya Al-Salam), created in July 2003, is responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people in the country. It is run by ruthless thugs. Al-Sadr was once wanted for his role in the assassination of senior Shiite cleric Mohammed Baqir Al-Hakim in the town of Najaf. Ironically, he described the murder of Al-Wazni as a “cowardly” act, calling on the government to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The first type of fatwa is a general order to punish, kill or kidnap anyone who does not show support for the Popular Mobilization Forces or criticize its leaders. Basically it’s a license to kill. The second type is a specific order to assassinate a certain individual which irreparably damages the reputation of Al-Sadr or other militia leaders. Leaders develop a plan to monitor the victim’s movements, choose the method of execution, then assign the location, date and time, as well as the murderer.
Security and extremism expert Hisham Al-Hashimi was previously assassinated outside his Baghdad home in July 2020, but Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s government has still failed to stop the spate of deaths.
Saraya Al-Salam is not the only pro-Iran militia sowing terror among the Iraqi people. More than 70 militias operate in the country, serving the greed of the Iranian regime. These include Kata’ib Hezbollah, Harakat Hezbollah Al-Nujaba, Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq, Rabaallah, Saraya Al-Khorasani and Saraya Awliya ‘Al-Dam.
Al-Wazni’s assassination sparked memories of the many protesters who chose to put their lives on the line for their homeland and paid the ultimate price, including Safaa Al-Saray, Hussein Adel Al-Madani and his wife Sarah Talib. , and Fahim Al -Taie.
After Al-Wazni’s death, the Iranian embassy in Baghdad chose to insult the information of the Iraqi people by issuing a satirical statement condemning its own actions. “Iran has not and will not demand the murder and assassination of Iraqi citizens, and it condemns in the strongest terms these terrorist acts. The Islamic Republic of Iran has always promoted security, peace and prosperity for the Iraqi people. “
With these words, the Iranian government gave the order to assassinate the victims again.
- Dalia Al-Aqidi is a senior researcher at the Center for Security Policy. Twitter: @DaliaAlAqidi
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