Syria's inferno should not be duplicated in Iraq

Let he who first started this infernal cycle bear the full blame.
Wednesday 09/10/2019
In this Oct. 2, 2019 file photo, Iraqi security forces close streets to prevent anti-government protesters from reaching Tahrir Square in central Baghdad, Iraq. (AP)
In this Oct. 2, 2019 file photo, Iraqi security forces close streets to prevent anti-government protesters from reaching Tahrir Square in central Baghdad, Iraq. (AP)

When, in February of 2011, a schoolboy, impressed by the revolutionary wave of the "Arab spring," wrote in Syrian Arabic on a wall in the city of Daraa: “It’s your turn now, O Doctor,” Syrian authorities, had they been reasonable and had the minimal level of respect for the rights of their people, could have quietly wrapped up the case by simply pinching the boy’s ears and those of his school chums and let the storm die out safely.

That way Syrian President Bashar Assad, his brothers and cousins would ​​continue to rule Syria by relying on intelligence services, thugs, assassinations, arrests, exploitation, theft and embezzlement, and would have been spared all of those fierce battles with his people who have been kept silent through decades of injustice and corruption.

However, the arrogant head of the oppressive regime, who inherited from his father his love for bloody violence and his philosophy of collective punishment, could not be satisfied with punishing just the feisty schoolboys. He ordered his agent in Daraa to humiliate and insult their parents, too. That was enough to push people to protest, calling for just the punishment of the official.

True to its sanguine nature, the Syrian regime opened fire on the demonstrators in Daraa, causing other Syrian cities and villages to erupt in street protests in solidarity with Daraa.

In Iraq today, we have a similar situation. Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s government and the Popular Mobilisation Forces' militias had no qualms firing on demonstrators in Baghdad and elsewhere, and the whole country erupted in protests.

In Syria, the regime responded to demonstrations with deliberate killings, burnings and assassinations, until the masses started the now-famous chant: “The people want to overthrow the regime.” When the regime’s "Shahiba" hordes began attacking neighbourhoods, sit-ins and citizens' homes with all kinds of weapons, Syrians had no choice but to take up arms against them.

The Iranian regime gradually expanded the murderous campaigns of its Lebanese and Iraqi militias in Syria against demonstrators. It was aided by the fact that the Syrian revolution had the ill chance of being plagued by Sunni sectarian terrorists from the remnants of al-Qaeda, the gangs of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other jihadist thugs and then the Islamic State. They all donned the cover of Islam and jihad and had gone on a destructive rampage all over Syria.

Frightened, Iran invited Russia to help it in Syria and the latter was only too happy to oblige. Together, they waged a war of extermination against all Syrians, be they honest patriots or dishonest and corrupt, who dared oppose the dictator and his regime.

Needless to mention here the scale of destruction in Syrian cities or the number of martyrs, wounded, detainees, missing and displaced people. Iran alone bears the responsibility for that wanton destruction.

This sad introduction brings us to the current uprising of Iraqi masses. It started out as peaceful protests, merely demanding jobs for the unemployed, medication for the sick and the most basic of basic services. Protesters wanted the thieves who had embezzled the nation’s wealth to be held accountable for bringing suffering and poverty upon millions of Iraqis and for destroying the future of the younger generations.

It is obvious that the Iraqi rulers do not have honest, sincere and effective solutions to meet the demands of the masses. They can only deceive and numb them with promises that they are neither able nor eligible to carry out. For example, the prime minister pledged to bring the corrupt to justice but the package of legislative, financial and administrative reforms he promised turned out to be nothing more than air caught in a net.

Iraq is at a crossroads. The first option for Abdul-Mahdi and the Iran-backed Popular Mobilisation militias is to take a hint from Assad's madness and stubbornness in confronting demonstrators with all kinds of weapons, including using explosive barrels. In this case, he will be forced to seek Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' help to defend the threatened Iranian presence in the cities and villages of the Shia community so that Iraq becomes another Syria, ruins upon ruins.

The other option would be for Abdul-Mahdi to surprise the world by turning into a "new Nelson Mandela" and peacefully relinquishing power to an independent national salvation body that could manage the country’s and the people’s affairs with rational measures and policies to fix what can be fixed before it is too late.

However, this is an impossible scenario because Abdul-Mahdi has no power to decide, even if it were his own resignation.

In the absence of solutions, without the resignation of the government and parliament, and with the continued assassination and arrest campaigns, the angry masses could have no choice but to respond to fire with fire, to sniping with sniping and to bullets with bullets. Let he who first started this infernal cycle bear the full blame.

I am fully convinced that more than one foreign and Arab embassy​ and more than one Arab and foreign intelligence apparatus are waiting for the right moment to join the fray and start pumping dollars, riyals, dinars and what have you, along with tons of weapons, ammunition and equipment, as gifts and gratuities for this group of protesters or the other. That will mark the beginning of another episode of the hateful Syrian inferno in Iraq that would consume all Iraqis, murderers and victims alike.

Unless the masses of all Iraqi provinces quickly rise to the aid of the rebellious demonstrators, encircle without delay and without hesitation the Green Zone with no room for negotiation with the enemy army of thieves and executioners and besiege all presidents, ministers and militia leaders led by Qassem Soleimani and the ambassador of velayat-e faqih to blackmail Iran with them since the latter has always done that with its adversaries, the Iraqi rebellion and the rebels are in serious danger because, as time drags, Iran will send over its army and Revolutionary Guards before its agents and proxies are arrested.

It is difficult to predict the fate of the confrontations because they are not between the angry Iraqi masses and the Iraqi government and parliament but they will evolve to become between Iran, which cannot bear the cost of being defeated and expelled from Iraq, especially given its financially, militarily and politically difficult circumstances, and the angry Iraqi masses who can.