(A Savage Comment) Through Ignorance World Leaders Wasted Our Blood And Gold

Through Ignorance World Leaders Wasted Our Blood And Gold

(I first wrote this on June 21st of 2014, almost 6 years ago now. What really has changed?)

Yes I did say our, as in (you and I) who are part of this world conversation we call our lives. There is a section of the world’s population who have no faith system of any kind, what percent, I don’t know that answer but it probably varies from nation to nation wouldn’t you think? What I am going to get at is this, you don’t have to believe in something, for that something to kill you. Here in the States there are a lot of Atheist type folks who through their lack of knowledge degrade Christianity and Judaism every chance they get. Unfortunately we find many of these people in seats of power throughout many nations.

I want to ask you what you thought when your nation (if yours did) put blood and money into these Islamic nations, putting our soldiers in direct open conflict with various Islamic faith factions. I totally agree that after 911 when the experts figured out that Osama was behind it and they learned that he was in Afghanistan being protected by the Taliban whom would not give him up, we should have removed them from the face of the earth. The bigger problem after running those Satanic embers out of power was in how to rebuild this broken nation both physically via helping them build a national infrastructure and a solid national pride in getting all of it’s people a quality education both boys and girls. But, big but, how do you cure the inside of a person when their moral fiber is evil and they refuse to change their beliefs or culture within their own brains?

Our nations leaders should all have known that there is no way to help create a puppet government that can only stand for as long as we prop it up with a lot of our blood and money and honestly expect the nations of fundamental Islam to not retake everything once we leave? O, but isn’t that the same lesson our leaders didn’t learn in Iraq either? There is a fundamental reality about the Islamic faith at it’s core, they do not believe in democracies as the rule of law.

The whole world is in a position to have it’s ground stained with the blood of their own children. There are many major brewing and open conflict areas on the globe, all are dangerous, but no conflict can ever be as dangerous as one that is about what a group’s Faith teaches, especially if  that Faith teaches global enslavement by force. I would like to say to the world, please wake up, but I have no faith that we will. Folks the world of Islam is very much at war with you and they will kill you whether you believe in them or not, they would prefer we all be foolish, it makes us all easier to kill.

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Sharp rise in brain injuries from Iran raid on US base

(TRUMP DENIED ANY INJURIES TO US TROOPS, THEN ADMITTED THAT 17 HAD MINOR HEADACHES. NOW THE NEWEST INFORMATION WE ARE BEING GIVEN IS 109 U.S TROOPS WITH TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES. THIS HABITUAL LYING COWARD OF A PRESIDENT CARES NOTHING ABOUT ANYONE ON EARTH BUT HIMSELF AND THAT DOES INCLUDE OUR TROOPS.)
Iran attacked a US base in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of Iran General Qasem SuleimaniImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption Iran attacked a US base in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of Iran General Qasem Suleimani

The number of US troops suffering from traumatic brain injuries (TBI) after an Iranian attack on a US base in Iraq in January has risen to 109, according to US officials.

The figure is a significant increase from the 64 injured service members previously reported by the Pentagon.

President Donald Trump initially said no Americans were injured in the raid.

The attack on 8 January came amid tensions over the US killing of an Iranian general.

Nearly 70% of the injured service members have returned to their duties, the Pentagon added in its statement.

The rising number of reported cases results from the mild form of injury which means symptoms take time to manifest, the Pentagon said in a press conference in January.

US Republican lawmaker Joni Ernst called for more answers on Monday.

Media caption Inside the US base attacked by Iranian missiles

“It’s vital we have a plan to treat these injured service members.

“I’ve called on the Pentagon to ensure the safety and care of our deployed forces who may be exposed to blast injuries in Iraq,” he tweeted.

Last month President Trump downplayed the significance of traumatic brain injuries when asked about the impact of the attack.

“I heard that they had headaches, and a couple of other things, but I would say, and I can report, it’s not very serious,” he said.

When asked about possible TBIs he said: “I don’t consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries I have seen.”

Satellite images showing damage and destroyed structures at Al Asad base, Iraq
Presentational white space

What are traumatic brain injuries?

TBIs are common in warzones, according to the US military.

The most common cause of a TBI for deployed soldiers is an explosive blast, writes the US Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center.

They are classified as mild, moderate, severe or penetrating. A mild TBI is also known as a concussion, and can be caused by a blast’s “atmospheric over-pressure followed by under-pressure or vacuum”.

The air vacuum is capable of penetrating solid objects, making it possible for soldiers to avoid blunt force trauma but still receive an invisible brain injury.

More than 400,000 troops have been diagnosed with TBI’s since 2000, according to the US government.

Did God Shoot Down The Ukrainian Passenger Jet In Iraq?

Did God Shoot Down The Ukrainian Passenger Jet In Iraq?

 

Do you think that God ‘directed’ an Iranian missile into the Ukrainian passenger jet at the Baghdad Iraqi airport a couple of days ago? Even though I was hoping that the missiles the Iranian leadership had fired at military bases in Iraq would be the end of the tit for tat with the U.S. (President Trump) over his killing of their mass murdering General it appears that this was only wishful thinking. I read in this mornings news feeds that Iran fired 8 more missiles at another Iraqi Air Base where some American soldiers are based at. This attack was said to have been telegraphed to the Americans and they were able to get all of their soldiers underground before the missiles struck. It has been written that 4 Iraqi soldiers were injured though, how badly was not part of the news information though.

 

I had been hoping that with the Iranian government’s announcement that they were at fault for blowing that Boeing Jet out of the sky that just maybe that would be enough damage (176 dead) that Iran and Mr. Trump would grow up and decide to act like adults, but it appears that this was asking for to much of both. I have seen one live feed of the jet being shot down and it appears to me that Iran fired a bunch of missiles at 3 different Iraqi military fields and about 50 miles short of their target one of the missiles struck the jet very shortly after it took off from the Baghdad Airport. That was poor execution by Iran’s Military, not realizing that for their missiles to reach their target that the missiles would be whizzing right by a major airport, or they simply didn’t give a damn if a jet liner of two or three got hit in the process. Personally via their governments past actions I would go with option number two of those two lines of thought. I was honestly thinking that the unintentional death of 176 civilians just might be enough of an event that both sides would decide to become ‘gun shy’ and maybe the loss of their lives would stop a hot war between Iran and the U.S. from happening. It appears that this was just a flaw of decency hoping for there to be no war.

Did God Cause That Jet To Crash?

 

Personally to this question I say, no. There is Biblical precedent where God has taken (killed) a person or persons because He knew that they were young and innocent now but that as time passed He also knew that they would become lost so He took them before age corrupted their Soul getting them condemned later on in their life. But, God has only done this when talking about ‘A’ person, not a whole group of people. One of the reasons that we humans do not have any God given right to kill another person is because if we do kill we are in essence condemning others to Hell by not giving them their full time here on this rock and if they were not in a “saved’ condition and we killed them, we condemned them and our own selves. Even if there were a person or two or even a hundred on that plane that God had decided to ‘bring home’ early He would not have done so at the expense of 176 lives. No, evil, ignorance and ego killed those 176 people, God didn’t do this.

Do Not Be Ignorant Enough To Take-Out Iranian National Monuments

Do Not Be Ignorant Enough To Take-Out Iranian National Monuments

 

The General that President Trump ordered the hit on a couple days ago surprised me, I didn’t expect it. This General was a founding block of the hatred from within parts of Shiite Islam. To many now, this mass murderer is now a martyr for millions. But if President Trump did this with any thoughts turned towards to create a crisis, to get peoples minds off of his impeachment, then what?

 

Lets get to the main topic, President Trump has been threatening Iran that he/we will hit at least 52 of their monuments, personally I believe this to be a horrible idea. You do this, take them out and you will unite all of the population of the Shiite believers against us. You do this foolish thing then retaliation against our own, is a certain. Iran and the believers of hard line Shiite believe that they are now in a Holy War against the West, especially against the U.S.. When President George W. Bush invaded Iraq I believe it was just to one-up his Dad. A lot of people have died because of his tunnel vision. Then we bomb to bits Iraq’s infrastructure and at that time commit another huge miscalculation. W. and Mr. Dick rewarded a lot of great government contracts to American firms who hired Americans and Westerners which kept the people of Iraq unemployed and without basic fundamental services like electricity, running clean water, and food. Folks, we can’t go back into (military actions) in Iraq by doing the very thing that will unite those who hate us, against us in Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Iraq. The Government’s beliefs are the problems one may think, so do not take out our anger on their people, leave them alone. There is a difference in a mental state of war and a religion based mental state of war, the hate and the resolve are much deeper. We are going to now have to fight this Tiger with many Kittens as a part of our Nations new DNA. Taking out their National Monuments, is not a good idea folks.

Good riddance to Qassim Soleimani, Iran’s terrorist in chief

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER) 

 

Good riddance to Qassim Soleimani, Iran’s terrorist in chief

Qassim Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s terrorist Quds force, has been killed in an airstrike in Baghdad, a monumental event and great news for the United States and the countless victims of his strategy that has unleashed death and chaos throughout the Middle East.

Soleimani has been described as the architect of Iran’s malignant strategy to exert its influence from Tehran to the Mediterranean Sea, bolstering enemies of the U.S. and its allies. Under his leadership, in Iraq, the Iranian regime supplied roadside bombs to Sunni terrorists and used Shiite militias to carry out attacks on U.S. troops and, most recently, against the U.S. Embassy; in Syria, it has provided support for the brutal regime of Bashar Assad; in Lebanon, it has supported and advised the terrorist group Hezbollah; in Yemen, it has stirred civil war by supporting the radical Houthi movement.

In 2008, Soleimani wrote in a letter to David Petraeus, “Dear General Petraeus: You should be aware that I, Qassem Soleimani, control Iran’s policy for Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan.”

Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, writing for Foreign Policy, recently explained:

“Suleimani has grown from a military commander into a ghostly puppet master, relying on quiet cleverness and grit to bolster Iran’s international influence. Suleimani has grown from a military commander into a ghostly puppet master.His brilliance, effectiveness, and commitment to his country have been revered by his allies and denounced by his critics in equal measure. What all seem to agree on, however, is that the humble leader’s steady hand has helped guide Iranian foreign policy for decades—and there is no denying his successes on the battlefield. Suleimani is arguably the most powerful and unconstrained actor in the Middle East today. U.S. defense officials have reported that Suleimani is running the Syrian civil war (via Iran’s local proxies) all on his own.”

The loss of Soleimani is a devastating blow to the Iranian regime, which is already suffering from President Trump’s ratcheting up of sanctions. And it’s great news for the U.S.

Column: Iraqis storm our embassy, another sign of U.S. failure

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE)

 

Iraqi protesters use a plumbing pipe to break the bulletproof glass of the U.S. Embassy's windows in Baghdad on Dec. 31, 2019.
Iraqi protesters use a plumbing pipe to break the bulletproof glass of the U.S. Embassy’s windows in Baghdad on Dec. 31, 2019. (Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP)
It’s a matter of official record that Afghanistan has been the longest war in American history, still going on after more than 18 years. But you could make a case that the longest war is really Iraq. We initiated hostilities there in January 1991, and they’ve never really stopped.

You know something has gone wrong when a mob of the people you thought you were helping storms your embassy chanting “Death to America.” It brings back memories from 2003, when Dick Cheney informed Americans that our invading troops would be “greeted as liberators.” Yet the objects those Iraqis were hurling at the diplomatic compound were not flowers.

The protest came in response to U.S. airstrikes against sites in Iraq and Syria, which were directed at an Iranian-supported militia that killed an American contractor in a rocket barrage. Iran’s proxy forces have made several attacks on U.S. military facilities in recent weeks, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. “will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions that put American men and women in jeopardy.”

Why Americans are still in Iraq to be put in jeopardy is a long story. Why Iranian-backed insurgents want to kill them is another complicated tale. But the latest events are a reminder that when it comes to Iraq, we still don’t have a clue.

Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg have raised the issue because Joe Biden makes much of his foreign policy expertise. But as a senator, he voted for the invasion. Sanders voted against it, and Buttigieg thinks it relevant that Biden “supported the worst foreign policy decision made by the United States in my lifetime.”

Mayor Pete is too kind. The Iraq War was the worst foreign policy decision made by the United States in anyone’s lifetime. Over time, our leaders have made it even worse. And its effects have billowed like a toxic cloud over the national landscape, where they will foul our politics for years to come.

The 2003 war followed 12 years in which we enforced no-fly areas in Iraq, sometimes bombing targets and killing Iraqi civilians. That approach failed at one of its objectives: toppling dictator Saddam Hussein. Our leaders’ frustration at his survival served as motivation for the invasion, which was sold on deception and misinformation.

The invasion was a case of “catastrophic success.” We accomplished one mission only to be surprised and overwhelmed by the forces it uncorked. George W. Bush’s administration claimed the victory would be easy, cheap and quick. It turned out to be insurmountable, astronomically expensive, long-lasting and not exactly a victory.

By smashing Saddam’s regime, we eliminated one enemy but helped another. It’s been said that the U.S. and Iraq fought a war, and Iran won. The mullahs became a dominant factor in the aftermath, thanks to their close relations with numerous groups that had opposed Saddam.

As The New York Times reported in 2017, “Iran never lost sight of its mission: to dominate its neighbor so thoroughly that Iraq could never again endanger it militarily, and to use the country to effectively control a corridor from Tehran to the Mediterranean.”

The U.S. occupation pushed the two regimes into a close alliance. In the country we set out to liberate, our forces now face attacks from militias that Iran supports.

We left in 2011, because the Iranian-allied Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refused to sign an agreement protecting American troops from prosecution in Iraqi courts. The space we vacated was filled by militants known as Islamic State. In 2014, we returned to fight this new enemy in tacit cooperation with … Iran.

The bewilderment and regret the war fostered back home served to discredit leaders in both parties, as well as the premises of U.S. foreign policy. They fostered a widespread cynicism that sunk Hillary Clinton — who had supported the invasion — and boosted someone whose chief foreign policy credential was having nothing to do with such failures.

When respected experts were so wrong about something so important, the public might well wonder if maybe Donald Trump’s stupendous ignorance could really be worse. But it’s not clear he learned the lesson that military might does not solve all problems. It would surprise no one if he lurched into a war with Iran or North Korea — or expanded the one in Iraq.

This much is true: The Iraq War was the worst U.S. foreign policy decision of Mayor Pete’s lifetime. At least so far.

Steve Chapman, a member of the Tribune Editorial Board, blogs at www.chicagotribune.com/chapman.

Twitter @SteveChapman13

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Home-Cooked Food in Iraqi Square Brings Protesters Together

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Home-Cooked Food in Iraqi Square Brings Protesters Together

Sunday, 15 December, 2019 – 11:30
In this photo taken Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, a volunteer chef prepares rice to be served to Iraqi protesters as part of a free meal, at the center of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
In Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, there are the anti-government protesters demonstrating for a better future for Iraq, and there are the volunteers who feed them.

From stuffed lamb and fish, to the giant pots of soups and rice, to the plates of lentils and other beans, there is no shortage of food to go around. Volunteers from the capital and southern provinces cook traditional dishes that reflect the country’s rich cuisine and bring protesters together, reported The Associated Press.

Tahrir Square has been the focal point for the protests that have continued to roil Iraq since Oct. 1. The spontaneous, leaderless demonstrations were organized on social media over long-standing grievances including government corruption, unemployment and a lack of basic services. For many, the square in central Baghdad has become a miniature model for the kind of state they dream of, where factional and sectarian politics play no part and public services exist.

Services, including the near-constant supply of food, have been integral to keeping people in the square, but volunteers are eyeing a gradual drop in donations with concern.

Iraqis are used to communal meals and many volunteer food. Every year, during the annual Shiite religious commemoration known as Arbaeen, volunteers prepare food for pilgrims making their way to the city of Karbala. Shortly after the protests started Oct. 1, volunteers began setting up similar tents to cook and distribute traditional Iraqi dishes for the protesters in and around Tahrir Square.

“We make it for the hungry people, and people in need here in Tahrir Square,” said a woman who gave her name as Um Ammar, which means “Ammar’s mother.” She is from the southern province of Missan and was cooking Seyah, a thick mixture of rice flour and water fried on a hot plate.

Other popular dishes are lentils and beans; Tepsy, a traditional Iraqi casserole; Dolma, consisting of stuffed cabbage and grape leaves, onions and aubergines cooked in tomato sauce; and Makhlama, a mixture of potato, tomatoes, onion and egg all fried together and put in bread. It is a favorite breakfast for people in Baghdad.

“It is an old Baghdadi (dish). It is common in the morning. All the Iraqi people, but specifically the people of Baghdad, love this food,” said Muhsin Salman, a cook from the capital who was making Makhlama.

Arouk bread — a tandoor bread made of dough mixed with celery and spices — is another favorite.
And there are the popular sweets: Hareesa is boiled whole wheat sweetened with sugar and cinnamon. Cherek is baked wheat flour bread stuffed with dates. And there’s also the fried dough balls called Awamah.

On any given day, people can be seen lining up to fill plastic dishes with food. Protesters say the free food is important to help sustain the protest movement, especially for those who cannot afford to eat meat on a regular basis. But it’s not the main attraction, they say.

Hashem al-Jabouri said that after more than two months of protests, he’s worried that support for the movement is dwindling. Speaking as he fried falafel in a huge pot, he said support was not as strong as it was in the beginning. “There’s a lot of pressure and threats targeting the volunteers,” he said.

At least 400 people have been killed at the hands of security forces and unidentified assailants firing live ammunition and tear gas to disperse the demonstrations since the protests erupted in October. A string of targeted assassinations, forced disappearances and arrests of civil activists and journalists have also fostered fear among protesters.

Some said they will not be intimidated.

“I distribute food to my protester brothers. We will not retreat even if they kill or threaten us. We don’t care,” said Um Mohammed, who was cooking rice and beans on a recent day. Her husband was killed in Iraq’s sectarian conflict in 2006.

“I am a martyr’s wife, but it is OK,” said the mother of four. “I am not retreating and will not leave the square. My house is here now, until they give me my rights.”

Graffiti in Tahrir Square Documents Iraqis’ Anger, Sadness and Hopes

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Graffiti in Tahrir Square Documents Iraqis’ Anger, Sadness and Hopes

Thursday, 5 December, 2019 – 11:45
Protesters pose for a picture by graffiti murals during an anti-government demonstration in the Iraqi capital Baghdad’s Tahrir Square on November 23, 2019. (AFP)
Baghdad – Fadhel al-Nashmi
The Iraqi protesters, also known as the October Revolution Youth, did not stop at protesting and chanting. They utilized several other methods to deliver their thoughts and demands to those who wanted and did not want to hear them.

In addition to singing exhilarating songs, always running plays and movie screenings in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, all of which meant to encourage protesters and help them persist, their graffiti-covered buildings popped up around the Square and the tunnel that passes underneath it, as well as other squares in different cities, which they see as vital to documenting the protests.

Since in the early stages of the protests, a substantial number of artists of different ages have taken part in the initiative to decorate Tahrir Square with paintings that address the themes of the protests, document their events and pay tribute to those who had sacrificed for the revolution and worked to ensure that it succeeds.

From Tahrir Square, the wave of graffiti moved to the protest square in the southern city of Basra. A group of young people that call themselves “Shansheel” painted over cement walls that surround the square. Artists and activists also decorated the tunnels and streets close to the municipal building in downtown Karbala.

Graffiti, which first emerged in the 20th century and is closely associated with American hip-hop culture, is associated with very complicated and dangerous circumstances in Iraq. The same goes for several other Arab countries that witnessed waves of protests in 2011. Both address similar issues. A substantial number of graffiti works in Tahrir Square tunnel focused on the violence against the protesters, while others depict the initials of the victims and their heroic acts.

Works that deal with and criticize the political situation and poor living conditions also featured prominently. However, Iraq’s extremely dire circumstances did not hinder artists from creating pieces full of hope. In any case, these works have transformed what used to be neglected spaces into what resembles public art exhibitions.

Hadi Khattat, an artist who took part in the graffiti work and in creating banners in Tahrir Square and Mataam al-Turki (a building overlooking the square), says: “The October Revolution youth moved many artists and inspired them to be creative.”

Khattat told Asharq Al-Awsat that the message that these artworks and graffiti were trying to deliver was “clear and unambiguous, expressing the most important Iraqi moment since 2003. The most important aspect of it is that it provoked the political Islam groups that hate art in all its forms, from painting, music, singing, to poetry.”

Besides the calligraphy and graffiti in Tahrir tunnel, Khattat says that “alongside a group of artists, we created artworks and paintings that were related to the protests and what it entailed and were exhibited in the Gulbenkian Art Gallery. The artwork that we created with our colleagues revolved around the idea that Iraq is not a homeland that we live in, but that it lives within us.”

The Struggle of Wills Between Revolution, Regime Reshapes Iraq

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

The Struggle of Wills Between Revolution, Regime Reshapes Iraq

Tuesday, 3 December, 2019 – 12:45
Demonstrators gather at a protest during a curfew, three days after the nationwide anti-government protests turned violent, in Baghdad, Iraq October 4, 2019. REUTERS/Alaa al-Marjani
Baghdad- Fadhel al-Nashmi
Iraq today has to decide between one of two choices: either answering to the protesters’ demands and overthrowing the post-2003 regime or reforming the current regime. The latter is what the vast majority of parties in power want. This either/or binary, though often dreadful in politics, is precisely the case in Iraq today.

The protesters are putting forward specific demands that they are not willing to compromise. Most notably, they insist on replacing Adil Abdul-Mahdi’s government with a government that will hold those responsible for the murder of hundreds of protesters accountable, draft new electoral legislation, and form an independent electoral commission. The protesters want these steps to be taken in coordination with the parliament that will then resign to allow for early elections under international monitoring.

The protesters have already achieved their first demand. They have overthrown Abdul-Mahdi’s government, an indication that the regime is aware that it needs to compromise by scapegoating specific figures to satisfy the protesters.

The regime insists on finishing the remaining three years of its term, even if with a new Prime Minister, because of their fear that criticism of their notorious ties with Iran will prevent them from securing the 50 seats they need in the next elections. The Kurds are no longer heavily invested in Barham Saleh, with their interest in him restricted to demands that he secures budget that allows the nearly autonomous region to remain sustainable, protects minorities, and safeguards against the return of dictatorship.

This is similar to the young Sunni position highlighted in the May 2018 elections led by Mohamed al-Halbousi in that it insists on finishing its term to consecrate the new rule, while definitively excluding the old leaderships.

After Muqtada al-Sadr’s Saeron alliance withdrew their candidacy two days ago, the regime is in a better position to insist on finishing its term, and while doing so, propping up several obstacles and dragging the selection of a new prime minister for months. This will potentially spread despair among the protesters. It seems that Saeron withdrawing their candidacy was a pragmatic decision to save face with the revolution. A source from the alliance stated that it would go against their interests in front of their supporters and the protesters, in general, to get involved in this.

Besides, the alliance thinks that their competitors want to incriminate them in this vicious cycle of finding a new prime minister in order to reign in on whatever is left of Saeron’s popular support. Generally, no one side can be declared victorious yet. Still, the revolutionary forces are insisting on their demands and on crushing whoever stands against them. Whatever the outcome, the country is standing at the doorstep of radical change, and the scene after October will look nothing like it did before.

Iraq’s striking students defiant amid unrelenting protests

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AL-JAZEERA NEWS)

 

 

Iraq’s striking students defiant amid unrelenting protests

Despite pressure to return to classes, strikers say they will not stop until anti-gov’t protesters’ demands are met.

by

Iraq's striking students defiant amid unrelenting protests
Tiba, 23,says she believes the school strikes will force politicians to make concessions to protesters [Arwa Ibrahim/Al Jazeera]

Baghdad, Iraq – Tiba says she decided to boycott her university classes the moment she learned that her friend Amer had been killed during clashes with Iraqi security forces.

The pair first met in October in Tahrir Square, the capital’s main site for anti-government demonstrations which have continued for two months. Amer told her that he was protesting on behalf of his brother, who had died in clashes with security forces. Days later, Tiba received news that her new friend had joined a growing list of Iraqi lives cut short during the protests.

“When I saw his picture among the martyrs, I knew I had to do something for my country,” said Tiba, a 23-year-old engineering student at Baghdad University. “The best thing I could do was go on strike,” she added.

More:

For two months, protesters have taken to the streets in Baghdad and towns and cities across the mostly Shia south to demand jobs, basic services and an end to corruption. Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has since quit and now leads a caretaker government with limited powers, but the grassroots movement wants a complete overhaul of the political system before new elections are held. More than 400 people have been killed and thousands of others wounded in clashes with security forces.

Since October 25, university and school students across Baghdad and Iraq’s south have defied the government and gone on strike to support protesters’ demands.

The students believe the walkout is a potent tool to pressure politicians to act on the protesters’ demands.

“If we keep it up, the government will have to respond,” says Tiba. “Our university campuses have been literally empty for weeks. This can’t go on forever.”

‘No future’

For Hussein, an 18-year-old medical student at the University of Mustansiriya, taking part in the protests is his only hope for a better future.

READ MORE

Adel Abdul Mahdi, an Iraqi prime minister ‘doomed to fail’

“There are barely any jobs out there, even if you’re a university graduate,” he told Al Jazeera. “So, what’s the point of going to class now and then being unemployed a few years later.”

Instead of attending university, Hussein helps organise weekly rallies at the ministry of education, attends the protests at Tahrir Square and participates in campaigns to encourage the sale of local products.

“We do everything from cleaning the streets and painting the walls in Tahrir to holding protests at our university gates to encourage people to join in,” he said, adding that the strikes would continue despite the prime minister’s decision to step down.

“Abdul Mahdi’s resignation means nothing. He’s just a tool in the hands of the corrupt political parties,” said Hussein.

“We’re continuing our strike until the electoral law changes. Unless that happens, our main ask for a complete overhaul of the political system can’t be achieved.”

While university students say the ministry of education has done little to force them back to classes, university professors say strong measures have been taken against faculty members who choose to go on strike.

According to Fayez Abdel Hamid, who teaches medicine at the University of Baghdad, Iraq’s public universities received communication from the ministry of education to ensure staff were attending their jobs.

“Deans were given orders to pass on the names of professors who have been on strike and to deduct money from their salaries as punishment,” he said.

Zaid Shafik, an IT professor at al-Nahrain University, says while he has been forced by his university to prove his attendance, he continues to join the protests.

“After I sign the register in the morning, I head to Tahrir with the students,” he told Al Jazeera. “It’s our right to protest, and we’ll continue to do so no matter the measures taken against us.”

Dhamiaa al-Rubaei, spokesperson for the ministry of education, said students and teachers had been given space to protest.

“We’ve only been encouraging students to attend classes for the sake of their own futures,” she told Al Jazeera.

“With regards to lecturers, they have been mostly attending their classes even if some support students on strike.”

Iraq education story
University campuses in Baghdad and parts of southern Iraq have become empty as thousands of students continue to boycott classes and join protests in Tahrir Square instead [Arwa Ibrahim/Al Jazeera]

Schools participate

Most of those boycotting classes have been university-level students but school teachers and students have also taken part.

After the Iraqi teachers’ syndicate called for a nationwide strike from October 28 to November 7 to mark the beginning of school walkouts, most schools in Baghdad and Iraq’s southern provinces shut their doors, according to the syndicate’s secretary-general Odai Essawi.

READ MORE

Iraq PM resignation would only be ‘first step’, protesters say

“During the official strike, we saw 100 percent adherence at most schools across Baghdad and the south,” he told Al Jazeera.

Essawi claimed that when the education ministry tried to end the strike by threatening to blame the syndicate for any measures it takes against striking teachers, the body fought back.

“We warned the ministry of education that we would stand up to it. Protesting and expressing our opinions are human rights,” he told Al Jazeera.

Despite the challenges, Essawi says 50 to 75 percent of school students in Baghdad and the south were on partial strike or attended protests after school hours.

The ministry of higher education has warned that if university students continue to strike it may cancel spring break, while the army has warned it would detain administrators who keep schools shut as part of its fight against “terror”.

The threat forced many schools to resume classes, while some set exam schedules in an attempt to force students to return to class.

Omar al-Mukhtar High School in Baghdad, which took part in the strike for more than a week, officially resumed classes after security forces visited the school.

“The whole school, teachers and students, were on strike. Many of us would even go to Tahrir together,” Abbas Tamimi, the school’s headteacher, told Al Jazeera.

“But intelligence staff threatened to take measures if we don’t resume classes,” said Tamimi, adding that 80 percent of students attended classes after he set an exam schedule.

Iraq education story
Headteacher Abbas al-Tamimi says the government has taken measures against schools to ensure that teachers and students attend classes [Arwa Ibrahim/Al Jazeera]

Ali, an 18-year-old student at the school told Al Jazeera that while he had not prepared for the exams, he decided to end his boycott to avoid possible repercussions.

“I boycotted classes for a whole month to show my support for those who died for us,” Ali told Al Jazeera.

“But I had to come back when exams were set. I was worried my name would be sent to the ministry or that I’d be suspended from school altogether,” he added.

Tamimi said that while he has to enforce some rules, he remains lenient towards students who don’t show up.

“We won’t take any measures against students who don’t attend. But people [from the intelligence] do come asking for the register, so we have to maintain some level of adherence,” explained Tamimi.

“But as soon as we finish school hours, students and teachers go to Tahrir hand in hand,” he added.

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SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS