Iraq’s Al-Mada paper reported a split in the Baghdad protest movement. On June 20, 2011, two groups, which had been carrying out weekly protests in the capital’s Tahrir Square held talks with representatives from the Iraqi government. The spokesman for the Baghdad Operations Command said that the meeting lasted for five hours, went well, and that another was planned in the future. Four days later, Al-Mada ran a story saying that several groups that did not participate in the June 20 conference formed a coordinating committee that did not included those who did, and called them traitors.
The protest movement in Baghdad is obviously a diverse group. The Iraqi Communist Party, students, and several non-government organizations have all been named as prominent members. Whether the invitation to meet with the government was meant to create such divisions is unknown. The fact that activists expressed such an eclectic set of issues ranging from fighting corruption to releasing family members that had been arrested to demanding Americans forces withdraw immediately pointed to the wide set of ideas and people involved. That meant that whatever groups were invited to meet with the government, there would always be others that would feel left out. That has boiled over into the public eye, and created some jealously and rivalries that can only hurt the activists whose numbers have dramatically fallen off since earlier in the year. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is actively trying to break them up, and these divisions can only hurt their cause.
Al-Mada, “The government recognizes “liberation”: Protests constitutional and incite violence,” 6/19/11
- “Threatens to split because of the liberation protesters lined up with the government,” 6/24/11
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