Friday, February 25, 2011

Maliki Tarring Legitimate Protest with Baathist Brush?

Today is slated to be a "Day of Rage" in Iraq, with thousands of protesters expected to take to the streets to insist on better services and less corruption from the Maliki government.  US officials continue to tout the progress of Iraq's new democracy, the installing of which has cost the US billions of dollars and thousands of lives, as well as ripped apart Iraqi society.

A "real" democracy allows peaceful protest and dissent.  But if recent pronouncements from both al-Maliki and his Shii religious allies are any indication, there's a strong possibility that today's protests will be met with a very harsh response.  Evidently, the Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most highly respected religious figure in the country, has expressed concern that the protests will be infiltrated by Baathist and al-Qaeda elements, and is therefore advising his followers not to join the protests.  Muqtada al-Sadr has once again returned from Iran, and has advised his followers to hold off on such protests for six months - probably because he recognizes how fragile Maliki's situation is and would rather his followers not imperil it.  Now, Mr. al-Maliki himself has advised Iraqis to stay away, claiming that the protests are backed by Baathists and al-Qaeda.  As noted in Al-Jazeera's report,

 "I call on you...not to take part in tomorrow's protest because they are suspicious," al-Maliki said.

"I call on you to be cautious and careful and stay away from this (event)."

He said that he did not want to deprive Iraqis of their right to protest legitimate demands, but wanted it to happen with someone other than "Saddamists, terrorists and al-Qaida'' standing behind the march.

"Frankly speaking, they are planning to take advantage of tomorrow's demonstration for their own benefit,'' he said.

All of this suggests that, especially if the protests today are large and rambunctious, it could be open season on the protesters, who now have been warned by both the prime minister and two of his most important religious props to stay off the streets. Those who take to the streets will be assumed to be collaborators with al-Qaeda, the Baath party, and other nefarious Sunni elements.

Here's hoping that this scenario doesn't play out.  But if it does, and al-Maliki's security forces resort to violence to quell legitimate dissent (of which, Iraqi politics now has an abundance), will Obama-Clinton have the courage to come down hard on their protege?

No comments:


Blog Archive

Cluster map

Search This Blog

ICAHD - 18,000 Homes Campaign (large banner)