Sunday, November 3, 2019

Attempt at A General Strike In Iraq As Najaf-Tehran Stand Off Continues

Confrontation at Um Qasr Port, Basra (Al Ghad Press)


Iraqi activists continue to try to expand their actions. They were attempting to organize a general strike on Sunday November 3 via social media. Already schools have shut down after teachers and students walked out. Some unions and other professional groups have joined in as well. The Teachers’ Union for example extended their strike for another week. It seems only natural that they would try to build upon this even more.

Sit-ins are happening across Baghdad and southern Iraq in Babil, Basra city, outside the Majnoon oil field in Basra, Karbala, Amara, Samawa, and Najaf. For several days now the entrance to the Um Qasr port in Basra has been blocked. that led to clashes with the security forces (ISF) on November 2 that included firing live ammo at the crowd. There were protests in Qurna and Fao in Basra, tear gas was used to disperse a crowd in Nasiriya and in Shatrah in Dhi Qar, protesters tried to cut the railway leading out of Rumaitha in Muthanna, and the demonstrations in Baquba continued for another day with teachers in Diyala saying they would continue with their work stoppage for another week. Students in Kirkuk left school as well. There is an ongoing campaign of arrests and intimidation against people support the protests in Anbar or thinking of joining hem. One person was taken in for simply posting something on Facebook. In the capital protesters are now trying to push out from Tahrir Square along two bridges. Since the start they have tried cross Jumhoriya Bridge into the Green Zone. They have also made attempts on Senak Bridge that leads to the Iranian embassy. On November 2 one person was killed on Jumhoriya by the ISF. According to the Human Rights Commission, 260 protesters have died since October 1. A female protester Saba Mahdawai was also kidnapped by a group of men on her way home from Tahrir. Several activists have been detained by the security forces since the unrest began. Those that get a lot of media attention have eventually been released. Hopefully that will happen with Saba. The others have disappeared into the various prisons run by the different units of the government’s forces.

The political maneuverings over the future of Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi entered another day. The head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Hossein Salami said that Iran would protect its interests in other countries against its enemies, which was a reference to Iraq. Quds Force Commander General Qasim Suleimani is back in Iraq to try to convince parties to back the premier. He is supposed to have a meeting with Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani as well, who has come out for the protests and against Tehran’s interference. Bolstered by Iran’s support the prime minister’s adviser told the media he might head a transitional government rather than step down as President Barham Salah announced a few days ago. Moqtada al-Sadr and Badr/Fatah List head Hadi Amiri are also in talks about a possible replacement for the premier. Sadr wants more including a new election law and voting, but that’s opposed by Amiri. Tehran’s gone all in to maintain the status quo. Bigger picture this has now become a test of wills between Ayatollahs Sistani and Ali Khamenei. More importantly it is unlikely that any of these elites will push through the structural changes which the protesters have called for.

SOURCES

Abdul-Zahra, Qassim, “Security forces kill protester in Iraq, wound dozens,” Associated Press, 11/2/19

Al Arabiya, “Teachers’ union in Iraq announces the extension of the strike until next Thursday,” 11/2/19

Baghdad Today, “Diyala teachers’ union confirms the continuation of the strike until next Thursday,” 11/2/19

Al Ghad Press, “Pictures … Hilla demonstration just before,” 11/2/19
- “Pictures .. Kirkuk students in solidarity with the demonstrators in Baghdad,” 11/2/19
- “Pictures .. Women’s demonstration in Najaf,” 11/2/19

Al Hadath, “#Iraq – Security forces use tear gas to disperse protesters on Al-Senak Bridge,” Twitter, 11/2/19

Al Hurra, “Iraq .. Security disperses protesters using gas in port of Umm Qasr and Dhi Qar,” 11/2/19
- “Testimonies of activists suppressing supporters of protests in Anbar,” 11/2/19

Al Jazeera, “Iraqi protesters block major port near Basra as unrest continues,” 11/2/19

Al Maalomah, “Adviser: Abdul Mahdi may assume the presidency of the transitional government,” 11/2/19

Al Mada, “Calls for a general strike are heard from Baghdad to Basra and fake accounts trying to incite demonstrators to engage,” 11/2/19
- “Human rights: 260 dead and 12 thousand wounded .. and fires in 100 government and party buildings,” 11/2/19

Al Mirbad, “Continued participation of tribes in the sit-in Basra,” 11/2/19
- “Demonstrations in Al-Faw district in support of Basra protests,” 11/2/19
- “The demonstrations in Qurna continue at night,” 11/2/19
- “Karbala demonstrators remember the victims of the demonstrations every night by lighting candles,” 11/2/19
- “A large increase in numbers in the arena of the sit-in Samawa,” 11/2/19
- “Al-Rumaitha protesters in Muthanna threaten to cut the railway line and prevent officials from traveling,” 11/2/19
- “A sit-in at the entrance of Majnoon oil field north of Basra,” 11/2/19
- “The sit-in in Maysan continues for the ninth day in a row with the participation of thousands,” 11/2/19

Nas News, “During her return from Tahrir Square .. News about the kidnapping of an activist south Baghdad,” 11/2/19

Nasiriya TV, “Renewed clashes between demonstrators and security services in Shatrah,” 11/2/19

NINA, “Protests In Diyala To Demand Implementing Legitimate Demands Renewed,” 11/2/19

Al-Salhy, Suadad, “Tehran fury as Iraq’s Shiite leadership rejects Iranian ‘interference,’” Arab News, 11/2/19

Sattar, Omar, “Iraqi president pledges early elections while protesters call for more radical solutions,” Al Monitor, 11/1/19

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