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The World Should be Worried About the Uprisings in Basra
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The current protests in Iraq are the most serious seen in the country for years, and are taking place at the heart of some of the world’s largest oilfields. The Iraqi government headquarters in Basra was set ablaze, as were the offices of those parties and militias blamed by local people for their wretched living conditions. Protesters have blockaded and closed down Iraq’s main sea port at Umm Qasr, through which it imports most of its grain and other supplies. Mortar shells have been fired into the Green Zone in Baghdad for the first time in years. At least 10 people have been shot dead by security forces over the last four days in a failed effort to quell the unrest.

If these demonstrations had been happening in 2011 during the Arab Spring then they would be topping the news agenda around the world. As it is, the protests have so far received very limited coverage in international media, which is focusing on what might happen in the future in Idlib, Syria, rather than on events happening now in Iraq.

Iraq has once again fallen off the media map at the very moment when it is being engulfed by a crisis that could destabilise the whole country. The disinterest of foreign governments and news outlets has ominous parallels with their comatose posture five years ago when they ignored the advance of Isis before it captured Mosul. President Obama even dismissed, in words he came to regret, Isis as resembling a junior basketball team playing out of their league.

The causes of the protests are self-evident: Iraq is ruled by a kleptomaniac political class that operates the Iraqi state apparatus as a looting machine. Other countries are corrupt, notably those rich in oil or other natural resources, and the politically well connected become hugely wealthy. However big the rake-off, something is usually built at the end of the day.

In Iraq it does not happen that way, and among the angriest victims of 15 years of wholesale theft are the two million inhabitants of Basra. Once glorified as the Venice of the Gulf, its canals have turned into open sewers and its water supplies are so polluted as to be actually poisonous.

Protests erupted earlier this year because of the lack of electricity, water, jobs and every other government service. The injustice was all the more flagrant because the oil companies around Basra are exporting more crude than ever before. In August this totalled four million barrels a day, earning the government in Baghdad some $7.7bn over the course of the month.

Few things epitomise the failure of the Iraqi state so starkly as the fact that, despite its vast oil wealth, Basra is now threatened by a cholera outbreak, according to local health officials. Basra hospitals have already treated 17,500 people for chronic diarrhoea and stomach ailments over the past two weeks, after they became ill from drinking polluted water. Salt water is mixing with fresh water, making it brackish and reducing the effectiveness of the chlorine that would otherwise kill the bacteria. There is plenty of bacteria around because the water system has not been updated for 30 years and sewage from broken pipes is mixing with drinking water.

Iraqi governments are not much good at coping with crises like these at the best of times, and this one strikes at a particularly bad moment because the two main political blocs are failing to form a new government in the aftermath of the parliamentary election on 12 May. The new parliament met for the first time this week, failed to elect a speaker and decided to take 10 days off, but is now to meet in emergency session on Saturday to discuss the crisis in Basra.

But even if a new government is formed under the current prime minister Haider al-Abadi, or some other figure, it may not make much difference. The party that unexpectedly polled best in the election was the one following the nationalist populist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, which was allied to the small Iraqi Communist Party, thereby emphasising its secular, non-sectarian and progressive policies. On the other hand, critics claim that in the past government Sadrist ministers have been just as corrupt as those of the other parties. The problem is not just individual corruption but the political mechanism as a whole: ministries are shared out between the parties which then use them as cash cows and sources of patronage jobs. Mudher Salih, a financial adviser to Abadi, explained to me in Baghdad earlier this year how this works, adding that “unless the political system is changed it is impossible to fight corruption”.

This system of jobs for the boys, regardless of personal merit or professional qualifications, has damaging consequences for ordinary Iraqis. Many of those who have climbed onto the gravy train over the past 15 years would not know how to improve matters even if they wanted to. One former governor of Basra is reported to have handed back a large part of its budget because he said he could not think of anything on which to spend the money.

Why is this happening now? The Iraqi government, backed by the US, Iran and many other allies, won its greatest victory last year when it recaptured Mosul from Isis after a nine month siege. Paradoxically, this success meant many Iraqis were no longer preoccupied by the threat posed by Isis to themselves and their families. They focused instead on the ramshackle state of their country – the lack of roads, bridges, hospitals and schools, as well as the shortage of electricity and water, in a place where summer temperatures reach 50C.

ORDER IT NOW

Many Iraqis say they favour radical or even revolutionary change but the status quo will be difficult to uproot, however unsatisfactory it may be. It is not only the elite who plug into the oil revenues. Some 4.5 million Iraqis get salaries from the state and they – and not just crooked billionaires – have an incentive in keeping things as they are, however toxic.

Iraq will most likely continue to be misruled by a weak dysfunctional government, thereby opening the door to various dangers. Isis is down but not entirely out: it could rally its forces, perhaps in a different guise, and escalate attacks. Divisions within the Shiah community are growing deeper and more rancorous as the Sadrists – whose offices, unlike those of the other parties, have not been burned by demonstrators – grow in influence.

A festering political crisis will not be confined to Iraq. The outside world should have learned this lesson from the aftermath of the US-led invasion of 2003. Rival Iraqi parties always seek foreign sponsors whose interests they serve as well as their own. The country is already one of the arenas of the escalating US-Iran confrontation. As with the threat of a cholera epidemic in Basra, Iraqi crises tend to spread swiftly and infect the whole region.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Iraq 
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  1. krollchem says:

    Iraq still has a ways to go to match Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and the UAE.

    Goes to show just how much a dictator can control the population with a little head chopping.

    Strange how that violence in Basra is happening just as the SAA with Russian backing are about to destroy the CIA/Israeli/Gulf states backed terrorists in Iblib? Is the CIA a catalyst behind the protests in Basra?

    See the Moon of Alabama site for additional background on the Iraq crisis. Remember that the US occupied Iraq and is ultimately responsible for fixing it!!!

    • Replies: @Weaver1
    , @Demonize
  2. Saxon says:

    There’s no realistic way to fix this. The average IQ in that country is in the low 80s. They’re not fit for anything but a more primitive type of society which they have already bypassed the carry capacity for. When they gained a lot of wealth previously from natural resources like oil, they had to have western engineers and other types come in and actually set things up for them i.e. build them functioning infrastructure. This wealth has also been used to feed unsustainable population growth in their countries far beyond what they could possibly sustain on their own.

    The oil wealth in a lot of these Arab countries has just been a gigantic Malthusian wealth transfer from the populations that created the technology to get the oil out and use the oil to those who simply sit on the land the oil is being extracted from.

  3. Yee says:

    “It is not only the elite who plug into the oil revenues. Some 4.5 million Iraqis get salaries from the state and they – and not just crooked billionaires – have an incentive in keeping things as they are, however toxic.”

    Poor man version of the USA…

    All in all, the “Iraq mission” has been a success for Bush.

    • Replies: @jacques sheete
  4. https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/09/08/573537/Iraq-Basra-protest

    “Iraqi officials condemn violent Basra protests, point finger at US, Daesh, Ba’athists”

  5. Virgile says:

    Iraq is the only place where Iran and the USA are face to face.
    The chaos will not stop until one of them is kicked out. Saudi and the Gulf countries are on the USA side and are stirring the Sunni population into demonstration and violence against Shias supported by Iran. ISIS is not far.
    Therefore it is an impossible situation to solve and it may degenerate into a full squale civil war.
    In Syria, the USA is persona non grata therefore the country could be pacified by Russia and Iran that get along well.
    In Iraq the USA is legally a guest to ‘protect’ the country but its presence is one of a greedy parasite that wants to stay on to control the oil, appease the Sunni Gulf country and kick out Iran.
    It may take years but ultimately like it happened in Iran, the USA will be kicked out of Iraq.
    In the meantime, there will be blood.

  6. @Saxon

    At least the Shiites don’t marry their cousins. That’s got to be worth an IQ point or two.

    • Replies: @Saxon
  7. chris m says:

    yes, it is surprising that not there is not much focus (on Iraq) from the media regarding current events in Middle East. (not withstanding the current ongoing Syrian Government offensive in Idlib)

    however Elijah Magnier does have a good article on his blog (via his twitter feed)
    regarding current events in Basra.

    https://ejmagnier.com/2018/09/07/a-wake-up-call-to-the-us-in-baghdad-will-haidar-abadi-become-the-mohammad-morsi-of-iraq/

    reading through that article and just looking at the complete mish-mash of
    names of politicians and political parties, one can not possibly be surprised as to why the country of Iraq is in the straits it is in today (and the previous x number of years)

    although Magnier does go on to say that, in conclusion that

    “All the same, an unstable political situation in Iraq or a civil war would fall to the advantage of the US and not Iran. Many Iraqi leaders are well aware of this. It is unclear how the anti-US camp can succeed in thwarting the US attempt to bring their man into the prime ministership, and at the same time manage that essential damage limitation.”

  8. Buckwheat says:

    This is a fine example of let them all kill themselves and let God sort it out. Make it none of our business……..

  9. I’m surprised that Iraq doesn’t implement the Saudi model. That’s supported the most corrupt of regimes for almost 100 years. They simply use foreign labor to produce and market their oil. And they share the wealth with the subjects who all have income, healthcare and education (if they want it) free from the Gov. Most of the subjects are smart enough to support the monarchy for that reason. My conclusion is that likely, Iraq’s oligarchy is ‘capitalist’ and therefore, much more corrupt than the Saudis. LOL

  10. With Iraq’s infrastructure and stability destroyed by years of yankee intervention, perhaps Basra should join neighbouring Khuzistan (which also speaks Arabic but is predominantly Shia) by demanding to join Iran.

  11. Saxon says:
    @Fidelios Automata

    Sure it does, but it’s still below anywhere in Europe except maybe some Turk-destroyed hellhole regions in the Balkans.

  12. Manshour says:
    @Saxon

    Boy! This is just a racist comment. Average IQ in the low 80s? According to whom? What is the measure? Have you ever been in that part of the world? That land is where civilization began. “a gigantic Malthusian wealth transfer from the populations that created the technology to get the oil out and use the oil to those who simply sit on the land the oil is being extracted from,” sounds like what the ultra right says in this country.

  13. SandMan says:

    The Iraqis are just like the Vietnamese: Not grateful for the kind assistance of the USA. Where would they be without the sacrifices of the Americans, the Exceptional People, the Indispensable People . Yes, Americans who have the highest IQ’s in the universe.

  14. The U.S. is strong arming the Iraqi govt to sour relations with Iran by not paying the electricity bills. We will take every opportunity to demonize Iran in the eyes of the Iraqis. We do not care how much strife this causes because we don’t have to live there. It creates turmoil on Iran’s borders.
    - Chris Chuba

  15. anon[228] • Disclaimer says:
    @Saxon

    I think your IQ hovers around 65.8

    • Replies: @Herald
  16. @Saxon

    The average IQ in that country is in the low 80s.

    Just WTF do you know about it? And so what? In any case, you IQ cultists should have brains enough to know when to just STFU.

    PS: I think anon’s assessment of your IQ was more than a bit generous.

    • Agree: Herald
    • Replies: @Johann Ricke
  17. @Yee

    Poor man version of the USA…

    You beat me to it.

    Iraq will most likely continue to be misruled by a weak dysfunctional government, thereby opening the door to various dangers.

    In some ways they have at least the advantage that the government is “weak.” It’s probably highly preferable, overall, to the Zio-mob, Commie-Fascist monstrosity we in the US live under.

  18. anonymous[204] • Disclaimer says:

    [A festering political crisis will not be confined to Iraq. The outside world should have learned this lesson from the aftermath of the US-led invasion of 2003. Rival Iraqi parties always seek foreign sponsors whose interests they serve as well as their own. The country is already one of the arenas of the escalating US-Iran confrontation. ]

    This embedded ‘journalist’ and US-MI6 propagandist never tells you what is REALLY going on. All his analysis is withing the axis of evil US-Israel-Britain stories.

    He does not tell you that all these chaos are desired by the axis of evil to bring the region fully under the control of the JEWISH MAFIA and its members including the criminal trump family, to steal the resources and erect ‘greater Israel’ for the interest of criminal zionist jews and the west including his own country criminal Britain. Remember that this embedded ‘journalist’ was spreading lies of the axis of evil to promote the US-Israel-Britain terrorists and pawns, the kurds, to divide Syria, Iraq and later Iran to construct a puppet entity ‘kurdistan’. Well, now that plan has been destroyed, but these criminals never stop, you have to destroy them all now.

    The axis of evil was promoting a traitor, Ebadi, to remain in power, because Ebadi promised the mass murderes and killers of Iraqi people, US-Israel-Britain and their embedded journaists, that he will cooperate with the illiterate Jewish Mafia servant, Trump, to honor Jewish sanction on Iran and cooperate with its servants including Trump and Saudi Arabia. But, as a result of the recent riot, things changed for ever, and now Ebadi is going to be KICKED OUT LIKE A ROTTEN RAT to join the other Jewish Mafia criminal members. Most important, the traitor kurds that this embedded ‘journalist’ promotes, are going to GET NOTHING as the result of their cooperation with the enemies of Iraqi people. Down with the traitor kurds. We never allow a second Israel in our region. The invaders must get lost from the region now or face destruction from all sides.

    If you are interested to know what is going on in Basra and who is behind it and for what reason, please read the following essay:

    https://www.globalresearch.ca/us-favorite-candidate-for-iraq-pm-haider-al-abadi-has-fallen-with-the-burned-walls-of-the-iranian-consulate-in-basra/5653860

    “US Favorite Candidate for Iraq PM, Haider al-Abadi Has Fallen with the Burned Walls of the Iranian Consulate in Basra”

    [Iraqi political parties had been divided into two camps: one supported by the US and led by Abadi and Moqtada, and another, led by Nuri al Maliki and Hadi al Ameri, defying the US and aligned with pro-Iran groups. The latter coalition had Faleh al-Fayyadi as their candidate and shared the goal of creating one big Shia coalition along with the Sunni.]

    [The rider Abadi fell off the US horse and Iran won influence in Iraq when its consulate was torched in Basra. Important questions remain: Is Iraq capable of avoiding a US embargo if it doesn’t abide by US sanctions on Iran? Will the US accept failure in its efforts to dominate Iraq? Will the US support Mesopotamia in its war against ISIS, or will it allow those who created ISIS to once again undermine the stability of the country?]

  19. @jacques sheete

    Just WTF do you know about it? And so what? In any case, you IQ cultists should have brains enough to know when to just STFU.

    PS: I think anon’s assessment of your IQ was more than a bit generous.

    Don’t feel too bad. 80 IQ or not, your Arab ancestors rose out of the Hejaz to spread a new faith by the sword across a good chunk of the world, such that almost 1/4 of the world’s population adheres to that faith. From a Darwinian standpoint, your people are the some of the fittest on the planet.

  20. Weaver1 says:
    @krollchem

    The US is responsible for exiting Iraq, you mean.

    It is Iraqis who are responsible for fixing their own problems.

  21. Demonize says: • Website
    @krollchem

    Yes, never blame your own despotic womanizer culture, enslaving or murdering everyone who is too weak to oppose you. Make your women illiterate, shut them up in the kitchen, and make her pregnan, to bring you a boy kid. If she fails by giving birth to a girl, beat her up and try again, until you have 12 children. Then always blame CIA/Israeli/Gulf states for your misery.

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