The international community has abandoned democracy in Iraq
It has been more than two weeks since mass protests erupted in Iraq, with the Iraqi people expressing outrage that their annual demonstrations calling for more accountability, transparency and democracy have been ignored.
Iraqis have taken things up a notch after accepting that there is no hope for the defunct political system that was forcibly shoved down their throats at the point of an American gun barrel in 2003 and are calling for the system to be reformed and overhauled.
One would hope these reasonable expectations of the Iraqi people for their “democratic government” to be more democratic would garner support from the West. Instead, there has been a resounding silence as those who call for democracy are shot dead in the streets.
It is the international community that has abandoned democracy in Iraq even as the Iraqi people continue to call for it. This is particularly true of the Western democratic global order led by the United States and championed by powerful blocs such as the European Union.
Despite their vaunted democratic credentials, however, these major powers turn a blind eye to the Iraqi government’s excesses even though it is beyond all doubt that Iran has infiltrated the Iraqi state to its very core and dominates it through military, political and economic influence.
Backed by the decidedly undemocratic Iranian theocratic regime, Baghdad has initiated a crackdown against peaceful protesters in a brutal display of violence not witnessed since former Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered the slaughter of thousands of Sunni Arab protesters in Hawija, Ramadi and other Iraqi cities that rose up against Tehran-sponsored sectarianism in 2013-14.
Maliki, a known stooge for the mullahs of Iran, did exactly as his masters in Tehran bid him to do: He branded all Sunni protesters Ba’athists and al-Qaeda sympathisers, then slaughtered them en masse, which triggered a violent response. This fateful act of astronomic stupidity opened the door for the Islamic State to begin its campaign of conquest that saw the Iraqi Army routed across central, western and northern Iraq, including in Mosul, which has since been levelled in the government’s bid to liberate it.
Once more, there is another Iranian lackey, Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, who has long had ties to the radical Shia Islamist Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq standing idly by as his security forces kill hundreds of demonstrators.
Worse is how he is powerless to stop Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ proxies from setting up sniping points in towns and cities where there is unrest to kill and maim demonstrators who want what most in the West take for granted — the opportunity to have their voices heard and to be treated with dignity.
Rather than Sunnis, however, most of the demonstrators today are Shia Arabs who, like their Sunni countrymen, are sick of Iranian meddling and interventionism in Iraq’s affairs that have led to corruption on an industrialised scale.
This much was acknowledged in a communique released by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq’s most senior Shia authority, in which he called on the government to investigate the killings of demonstrators and to bring the perpetrators to account.
That’s all well and good but why did Hassan al-Zamili, one of Sistani’s clerical lieutenants, say at the start of the protests that it placed 16 years of Shia political gains at risk? He acknowledged in a video shared widely on social media that his narrative was “perhaps sectarian” but needed to be said.
Nevertheless, and despite this overwhelming evidence of cross ethno-sectarian support at the grass-roots level for meaningful change in Iraqi politics against the elite, the international community remains silent and complicit.
The United States and the world owe it to the Iraqi people to do something and to restrain the bloodlust of the Iraqi state and its Iran-backed jihadist partners. The Iraqi people were promised democracy but have received nothing but humiliation, human rights abuses, the rape of their resources and wealth and unending terrorism.