Iraq Protests – 9 Demands


Elections looming on the horizon and 5 days of protests have led to a sudden burst of interest in Iraq, the country the world usually chooses to ignore. The protests erupted after the arrest of the Finance Minister’s bodyguards sparked already simmering anger. Prime Minister Maliki has denied ordering last Thursday’s arrests and suggested that they were the result of an investigation undertaken by the judiciary. Protesters say the issues are far greater than these recent arrests.

Western media is playing up the Sunni-vs-Shia “rising sectarian tide” angle on these events, which bear all the hallmarks of other similar uprisings in the MENA region, starting with Tunisia a little over 2 years ago. One of the protest areas, Anbar, is also claimed to be a location currently favoured by al Qaeda, with the suggestion it might be used as a transit point for fighters en route to Syria. The government is reported to have imposed emergency situation restrictions there.

28 Dec 2012

Tens of thousands protest in Iraq 28 Dec 2012

No revolution is complete without a Facebook page these days and Iraq has one, because in fact there have been protests there for at least two years; they just didn’t get the same level of attention as some countries.

Tens of thousands of Iraqis have joined demonstrations in Anbar, Falluja, and Ramadi, chanting slogans against Mr Maliki. During the protest in Ramadi a mock funeral was held for the Iraqi judiciary. Asharq Alwasat reports that around 60,000 people blocked the main road through the city of Falluja, 50 km (32 miles) west of the capital, setting fire to the Iranian flag and shouting “out, out Iran! Baghdad stays free” and “Maliki you coward, don’t take your advice from Iran”. At demonstrations in the northern city of Mosul and in Samarra, protesters chanted “the people want the fall of the regime”, the slogan used in popular revolts in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

Some journalists attempting to reach the city were held at an army checkpoint some 50km east of Ramadi for six hours, and were unable to cover the demonstration, says the BBC’s Rami Ruhayem who was at the scene.

Al Jazeera has already hosted a discussion asking “What is stoking Iraqi rage?”


In one protest today, community leaders issued nine demands and an ultimatum to the government during  a video interview:

  1. immediate release of detained protesters and dissident prisoners
  2. approve the amnesty law for innocent detainees
  3. the abolition of anti-terrorism laws used to target them
  4. repeal unfair rulings against dissidents
  5. provide essential services to areas which have been neglected by the state
  6. hold all members of official or security organisations who have committed crimes against dissidents accountable, especially those who have violated the honor of women in prisons
  7. stop financial and administrative corruption
  8. stop agitating divisions between groups, end marginalization of Sunnis
  9.  fight sectarianism

From tomorrow, Saturday 29 December 2012, an open-ended sit-in will begin, until these demands are met.


Turkey: Who’s Bugging Erdogan?

English: Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip E...

English: Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian president Dmitry Medvedev on state visit in Turkey. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During a televised interview on December 21, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan revealed that four unauthorized wiretapping devices had been detected in his parliamentary office and government car. A subsequent report from the Office of the Prime Minister on December 25 said that one more device had been found in Mr. Erdoğan’s home-office at this residence in Turkish capital Ankara. Who is behind the operation? In his December 21 interview, the Prime Minister told a nationwide audience that the bugs had been planted by “elements of a deeper state” within Turkey. “A deeper state exists in nearly every country”, he said, adding: “we try a lot but unfortunately it is impossible to [completely] eradicate the deeper state”. The term ‘deep’ or ‘deeper state’, which is used frequently in Turkey, is meant to signify a covert collaboration of convenience between organized crime and members of the country’s intelligence services.

One example of the Turkish ‘deep state’ that comes to mind is Ergenekon, a clandestine ultra-nationalist organization with secularist and anti-Western objectives. Its membership, which is reportedly drawn primarily from Turkey’s military and security establishments, is involved in both criminal and political activities aiming to preserve the political power of Turkey’s armed forces, while subverting the rise of Islamism and keeping Turkey out of the European Union. The existence of this mysterious organization was revealed in 2001 by Tuncay Güney, an operative of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT), who was arrested for petty fraud. In 2009, an investigation into Ergenekon uncovered a clandestine network of safe houses in Ankara, as well as in the Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, for the sole purpose of wiretapping the communications of targeted individuals and organizations. The safe houses were reportedly equipped with wiretapping systems purchased in Israel, some of which were portable and were thus moved to various cities and towns in Turkey, in accordance with Ergenekon’s mission directives. But are Ergenekon’s tentacles powerful enough to reach into the Turkish Prime Minister’s residence?

Perhaps. In September of this year, Mr. Erdoğan’s Director of Security, Zeki Bulut, was summarily demoted and reassigned to Turkey’s far-off Anatolia region. In the weeks that followed, most members of Mr. Erdoğan’s 200-strong personal protection force were scattered and reassigned to different posts around the country. Could there be a connection between the demotions and the recent wiretap revelations? Some observers believe so. There were rumors in the Turkish media at the time that Bulut and his team were removed from their bodyguard duties after a routine bug-sweeping exercise by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) discovered wiretaps in Mr. Erdoğan’s office. Others, including members of Turkey’s political opposition, believe that the bugs were placed in the Prime Minister’s residence by a foreign intelligence agency, and accuse Mr. Erdoğan of trying to use their discovery as an opportunity to rout his political rivals. There are clearly more questions than answers at this stage. Meanwhile, the Office of the Turkish Chief Prosecutor in Ankara has announced that an official investigation into the wiretaps is underway and that “a detailed report will be prepared”.