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Death Toll in Iraq Soars as Pro-Iran Gunmen 'Shooting Protesters'
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Iraqi paramilitary groups close to Iran are suspected of joining attacks on protesters in Baghdad and other cities, leading to heavy loss of life among demonstrators. Some 107 people have been killed and over 6,000 wounded in the last six days, though hospital doctors say the government is understating the true number of fatalities.

“The pro-Iranian militia have each taken a sector of Baghdad and are responsible for its security,” a source, who does not want his name published, told The Independent.

He said that snipers belonging to these groups had fired live rounds at protesters, often aiming for the head or heart. Eyewitnesses say that Iraqi soldiers are also firing directly into crowds of the protesters, who are demanding the fall of the government, jobs and an end to corruption.

The gunmen shooting protesters come from pro-Iranian factions of the Hashd al-Shaabi or Popular Mobilization Units, an 85,000-strong strong body that came into being to stop the Isis advance on Baghdad after the fall of Mosul in 2014. It is a coalition of about 30 groups, many of them predating Isis, which is paid for by the Iraqi government and nominally under its control, but with widely varying political loyalties. They includes powerful units, such as Ketaeb Hezbollah, which say opening that their first loyalty is to the Iranian leadership.

The demonstrations in Baghdad and in much of Shia southern Iraq are largely spontaneous, but where there are local leaders they have sometimes been singled out for killing.

Haider Karim Al-Saidi, a leading organiser of the protests, was shot dead by a sniper near Al-Mudhafar Square late on Sunday night. Earlier, witnesses had reported that they had seen snipers taking up positions on roof tops overlooking the square.

The paramilitaries have assaulted injured protesters in hospital: a doctor working in the Medical City complex in central Baghdad said that members of a paramilitary group called Asaib Ahl al-Haq, known for its pro-Iranian sympathies, had broken into a hospital ward filled with wounded demonstrators and started hitting them. When he protested, he was told “to mind his own business” and was beaten with a baton.

An Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan said that 6,107 people had been injured in the unrest, including 1,200 members of the security forces. Public buildings and political party headquarters have also been destroyed.

A paramilitary group called Kataib Hezbollah, which has no connection with the Lebanese group with a similar name but is strongly supportive of Iran, is alleged to have ransacked at least ten television stations that had been giving full or sympathetic coverage to the demonstrations. In one case gunmen in balaclavas arrived in twelve white cars without license plates and wrecked studios, seizing computers, beating up staff and taking their wallets and mobile phones.

The government has expressed suspicion that a third party is playing a role in provoking greater violence, through using snipers who shoot to kill. Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan said at a press conference that “malicious hands” were targeting protesters and security forces alike. This may be true in part but is also a bid by the security forces to evade responsibility for firing directly into crowds, though there is every sign that they have been doing just that. Repressive measures have included a two-day curfew, a continuing ban on the internet, and pre-emptive arrests.

The demands of the protesters have become more radical since last Tuesday, as the casualty toll has mounted, with growing calls for the fall of the government of Adel Abdul Mahdi. He has shown himself to be ineffective, making a speech at the weekend in which he outlined a 17-point plan including unemployment benefit and subsidised housing but he made little impression. In his year in office, Mr Mahdi has failed to introduce any important reforms, so his sudden zeal for change carries little credibility.

The signs are, for the moment that repression will continue but also that it will not succeed.

“The protesters are very young and feel they have little to lose,” says one observer. “They will go on protesting whatever happens.”

Despite Iraq enjoying monthly oil revenues of over $6 billion, pervasive government corruption since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 has meant that there has been little new building of roads, schools and hospitals and there is a chronic shortage of electricity and, in some cities, water.

Above all there is a lack of jobs with a population pf 38 million, growing by one million year and 70 per cent below the age of 30. Many of these are jobless and include 307,000 graduates. Some of the have been camped outside ministries in Baghdad for the last three months asking for jobs appropriate to their qualifications, but not getting them.

Popular anger over long-standing socioeconomic grievances has been increasing year by year and the defeat of Isis in the siege of Mosul in 2017 means that the government no longer has the excuse that all its energies and resources are absorbed by the war against al-Qaeda type groups.

But this does not quite explain why the Iraqi government – along with pro-Iranian paramilitary groups – should have reacted so violently and counter-productively against a relatively small protest march on the Jumhuriya Bridge in Baghdad last Tuesday.

There have been much bigger protests without provoking such violence in previous years, including one last year in Basra that was close to a general uprising, but without live rounds being fired at demonstrators. In 2016, demonstrators stormed the Green Zone in Baghdad and ransacked the parliament building and the prime minister’s office while the security forces stood by.

Explanations for the self-destructive reaction of the government this time round include Prime Minister Adel Andul Mahdi’s advisers being dominated by military hawks prone to rely on force and with little political understanding. The aggressive role of the pro-Iranian paramilitaries is evidence that Tehran fears peaceful anti-government mass protests, along the lines of the Green Movement in Iran in 2009 and in Syria in 2011, both of which, at their peak, threatened regime change.


“The Iranians want to militarise the situation so it cease to be a mass movement,” says one Iraqi commentator. This would explain the shooting of so many demonstrators. But by over reacting the government and the Iranians may have provoked the very situation that they want to avoid.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Iran, Iraq, Shias and Sunnis 
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  1. Here is an article that takes a detailed look at Iran’s military capabilities:

    By consistently blaming Iran for events around the Middle East, Washington is setting the stage for an extremely long war in yet another nation.

  2. Realist says:

    Another great victory for regime change…American style.

  3. lysias says:

    When I read about snipers shooting into crowds, I have to suspect a Western false flag.

    • Replies: @A123
    , @Robb
  4. A123 says:

    When I read about snipers shooting into crowds, I have to suspect a Western false flag.

    My first thought is to suspect a Globalist, anti-Western false flag.

    The other possibility is that the story is accurate. Iranian colonialism at work. Iran reduced Lebanon to a dysfunctional colony by using al’Hezbollah to displace local government. They could be trying the same thing in Iraq to obtain a land border with Saudi Arabia. That would facilitate Ayatollah Khameni’s desired first-strike strategy.

    PEACE 😇

    • Replies: @NegroPantera
  5. anonymous[307] • Disclaimer says:

    [Iraqi paramilitary groups close to Iran are suspected of joining attacks on protesters in Baghdad and other cities, leading to heavy loss of life among demonstrators. ]

    This ‘journalist’ is MI6 agent and western propaganda informant. Don’t trust him.

    According to all information available by now, the riot is taking place due to criminal acts of western head of state, including Britain, US, and sanction on Iraq. Iraq is an occupied place like Palestine by the criminal zionist terrorists including Trump regime where must be fuck off from Iraq.

    The western terrorists including US-Britain and its colonies are involved in this riot using the bad economic situation created by the Evil empire and its colonies Britain, Holland and Saudi Arabia where so far they have killed millions of Iraqi population.

    The criminal Trump regime, a zionist mafia servant, along with its colonies Britain, Holland and Saudi Arabia are trying so hard to topple government and bring a regime who can be used against Iran and Iraq. Don’t forget that US and its criminal colony Saudis recently tried to kill Ayatollah Sistani as well as to assassinate Iran Army General Suleimani in Kerman, a city in Iran.

    The US-Britain-Israel are so angry that their vicious plan, Oded Yinon – to destroy all the regional states, has been defeated. Their behinds are burning so the journalist propagandists’ ass.

    The MI6 informant ‘journalist’ only spread lies against Iran and push the crimes of US -Britain -Israel in Iran and in the region under the rug.

    We don’t need more FAKE news.

    • Replies: @JP McEvoy
    , @Curmudgeon
  6. @A123

    Rightly said. Persian colonialism is at work with utter savagery and disregard for any life. Komeini was a Persian Aryanist and a racist and had utter contempt for Arabs even though he mooched on them for decades in Iraq.

    This is a great opportunity for the Iraqis to demolish Komeini “greater Iran” expansionist plan and send all mullas back to their rat holes in Qom and other so called holy places.

    The destruction of the Mullas in Iraq would bring about their demise in their own turf as well.

    Prayers and victory to the Iraqis for their revolutionary struggle against Sectarianism and colonialism.

  7. This is another Ukrainian Maidan countrywide. Paid snipers killing both the security forces and the protesters. Just a few days ago, the government called for US withdrawal and this happens. This is a false flag operation that will continue to prevent the ‘Arbeen pilgrimage’.

    with growing calls for the fall of the government of Adel Abdul Mahdi. He has shown himself to be ineffective, making a speech at the weekend in which he outlined a 17-point plan including unemployment benefit and subsidised housing but he made little impression. In his year in office, Mr Mahdi has failed to introduce any important reforms, so his sudden zeal for change carries little credibility.

    It’s quite telling that the speech made by Adel Abdul Mahdi had no effect on the rioters as they had been lethally opposed and inflamed by paid infiltrators.

  8. Patrick Cockburn is a tool and mis-informer. He’s always done this fence-sitting and injecting poison surreptitiously. I have zero faith in his credibility.
    I thought this was written was by Patrick Buchanan and made a mistake.

    • Replies: @nsa
  9. nsa says:
    @Rev. Spooner

    “I thought this was written by Pat Buchanan…..”
    Not possible. Cockburn writes mostly in the third person. Buchanan manages to insert a very annoying first person plural “we” or “us” into every other sentence.

  10. OFF COURSE Iran a Shia country, followers of Imam Hussein would support riots in Najaf and Karbala so close to Arbaeèn.. That sounds very plausible and TOTALLY not like cia propaganda at all.
    Ffs, this is kindergarten stuff and would take only a few moments to research even for a semi literate buzzfeed “reporter”..
    Trying to blame Iran and Iranian supported PMU`s in Iraq for US and saudi regime change bs only work on stupid people and NPC`s..

    A LOT of those walking from Najaf to Karbala are Iranians.

  11. Robb says:

    When I read about snipers shooting into crowds, I have to suspect a Western false flag.

    My first thought was Ukraine.

  12. anonymous[307] • Disclaimer says:

    NegroPantera = Hossein = A123 = TROLL A zionist liar has more than one name.

    The death of the zionist mafia is near.

    • Replies: @anon
    , @Hossein
  13. anon[117] • Disclaimer says:

    Next time they might resurface as the anal orifices of the lost 13 th tribe.

  14. EoinW says:

    Thanks to the Ukrainian protests, these events – even if they are a genuine popular uprising – have no credibility. Whether it be Venezuela, Hong Kong or Iraq, the first thought must be that the Amerikaner Reich is behind it. When you follow the timeline and see the protests flared up immediately after the Iraqi PM took actions that would anger the Americans then the protesters deserve no benefit of doubt.

    When these things erupt I find the western media to be the best barometer to determine what’s really going on. If the media plays up the protests then you can be sure they are not authentic. If the media ignore or are critical of the protesters – as in the case of the Yellow Vests – then you know such protests are credible.

    I’m sure people in Iraq have things to protest and I don’t want to be unfair to them, however the Americans and their puppet allies are continually manipulating people and no one wants to be played for a sucker again. Why are the protests happening now(maximum pressure?)? Who benefits if the Iraqi government falls or the country descends into chaos? Why would any decent person support anything that is to the advantage of the West’s ruling elite?

    When the USA and its allies decide to behave like normal nations – live and let live with its neighbours – then I’ll be more open minded when it comes to street protests. Until then I’ll believe anything that hurts the Empire and benefits the brave countries standing up to the Empire. The Americans and the western media have lied so often that we’ve reached the point where they are now hoisted on their own pertard.

    • Replies: @Amon
    , @anon
  15. g b says:

    Nice try! But doesn’ t fly.

  16. hoarse says:

    Moar cocky Zionazi bullshit. Cui bono? The US fascist regime and their little genocidal Zionazi offspring in the middle east.
    I wouldn’t touch this stinking pile of shit with a ten feet pole.

  17. Talha says:

    That feeling when you were born with the perfect name to aspire to become the spokesman for the Iraqi military!


  18. Amon says:

    I stand in awe at the sheer level of stupidity I see from the right side of the political isle these days when it comes to China. I really thought the blatant coup in Venezuela and how fast the “No mo war” conservatives started drooling at the thought of sending n the marines to fight commies to the south was the height of hypocrisy.

    But not, now, I think the grandest of moments that has cause me to lose absolute faith in the conservative party and its followers, was someone trying to shut me down by claiming that I can trust the media on China because it only lies 90 percent of the time.

    Let me repeat that.

    I can trust the media on China because it only lies 90 percent of the time.

    That was the moment I gave up and walked away from the conservatives.

    Democrats, conservatives, there is no damn difference. Only disagreement on who should be bombed back to the stone age.

    • Replies: @EoinW
  19. JP McEvoy says:

    Patrick Cockburn is an MI6 agent?.. He’s not even a Brit!..
    It’s bad news and you just want to kill the messenger.

  20. Hossein says:

    Your boy lover SAVAK agents Sistani and Sadr sat down with Wolfowitz , Bremmer and Rumsfeld on behalf of their handlers in persia. Your disgusting support of thse pedos reminds me of the Zionists who white wahsed Epstein pedo sex mafia.

    The fascist mullas and their criminal dope dealers and pimps in Iraq are facing a stiff resistance by revolutionary Nationalists.

    Soon or later foriegn agents of sectarianism and colonialism will have to pack their suitcases and go back to their rat holes in Persia.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  21. @anonymous

    Would your first hint have been “Pro-Iran Gunmen”? As in Hong Kong, pro-American rioters are protestors. Those who understand that “Western liberal democracy” means subjugation to corporate interests are “gunmen”.

  22. The article is debunked on my website: http//

    In #Iraq unseen snipers are firing at both protesters and police. The last time this

    happened was in 2005 and the 2 British SAS were caught being behind it.— Syrian Girl 🇸🇾 (@Partisangirl) October 6, 2019

  23. anon[269] • Disclaimer says:

    I agree.
    I would add that the best policy for Americans toward these events is to NOT CARE. It is vitally important that we stop paying attention to foreign quarrels within and between nations far from our shores. It’s none of our business and not important to us. Any action we take will only make things worse for ourselves and for the people over there.
    We need to stop having an empire and stop having hegemony. We need to mind our own business. Our nation will become more secure, more stable, more prosperous, more free, more ethical, and less criminal, when we learn to mind our own business.

  24. anonymous[307] • Disclaimer says:

    [Soon or later foriegn agents of sectarianism and colonialism will have to pack their suitcases and go back to their rat holes in Persia.]

    Your anger reveals that you should be one of those traitor kurds who are spying for the zionist baby killers and working for US and ISIS to steal more land like your masters, the zionists.

    The sectarianism is YOUR signature to erect ‘kurdistan’ according to zionist evil project Oded Yinon where has been DEFEATED by Iranians and Syrians fighters against US-Israel-ISIS that you are in bed with.

    No ‘kurdistan’ will ever erected and you should stop being a pawn of the zionist baby killers and the evil empire before anyone start respecting you. No one will pay any attentions to fifth columnists and spy agents for Israel and US against the interest of the states in the region.

    • Replies: @Hossein
  25. EoinW says:

    I call them political conservatives because there is nothing conservative about them. They have no interest in preserving past traditions, which is what conservatives should care about. They’re just as progressive as liberals. In fact, in Canada the party used to call itself Progressive Conservative. Holy oxymoron!

    The fact is that political conservatives stand for two things: 1) supporting Big Business and the corporate fascist takeover of every western economy. 2) warmongering – with the usual jingoistic nationalism that goes with it.

  26. Hossein says:

    Neither kurdistan nor Arabistan, AlAhwaz or Baluchistan are Persian territory. they were all handed over to the Pahlawi dynasty and the fake name of “Iran” was created .
    Your knowledge of history and geography is aweful.
    Kurdistan is divided between 4 countries and Baluchistan between Iran and Pakistan.
    As for Arabistan or Alahwaz it was a self ruling enclave that encompassed the entire shores and territories of the Gulf and the Alahwaz territory which now is given the fake colonial name of Kuzistan.
    BTW if it were not for the Zionists and other Imperialist powers the Mullas who used to buy their guns from the Zionists to “liberate” Palestine would not be in power now .

    • Replies: @anonymous
  27. What’s happening in Iraq has many similarities to 2014 Ukraine, and the Madian Sq. massacre. Specifically the reports of rooftop snipers. In the Ukraine, it is known, snipers were imported and paid for by those who wanted Yanukovich out. Primarily the CIA/MI6/MOSSAD.
    Rather than Iran, I’d put my money on it being the CIA/MI6/MOSSAD, using the same formula, to push out the current government which has shown a tendency to work with Syria, Iran and Turkey. Of course we can’t have that, hence riots and murder are in order.

    • Agree: Pat Kittle
  28. anonymous[307] • Disclaimer says:

    [Neither kurdistan nor Arabistan, AlAhwaz or Baluchistan are Persian territory. ]

    No doubt in my mind that YOU are one of the servants of the criminal US/Israel, most likely the traitor kurds.

    You can spread the lies of your master till you drop dead. All of Kurdistan was part of Iran where in 1514 the aggressive Ottoman invaded Iran to steal land where was able to get chunck of Iranian Kurdistan provice, and fuck off.

    [The Battle of Chaldiran (Persian: جنگ چالدران‎; Turkish: Çaldıran Muharebesi) took place on 23 August 1514 and ended with a decisive victory for the Ottoman Empire over the Safavid Empire.]

    Later, the criminal west toppled Ottoman and divided the Kurdistan that was stolen from Iran further
    into Iraq, Syria, Turkey to create destability to be used in the future. That’s why the traitor kurds as as an army for the evil empire and the zionist colonists. The zionist baby killers have used the traitor kurds for their geopolitical gain, so the West. The traitor kurds have been used and reused many times because they act as lackey of the criminals in the region.

    The Kurds and other traitor US servants, Arabs, Baluchis are used as Evil Empire’s army to create choas to topple government and partition the regional states for geopolitical gains where these servants think they will gain ‘a state’. The criminal divide and rule has been defeated and YOU the traitor must accept it.

    Look at apartheid entity and learn from it. Israel will never survive and these colonists have to get lost from the region and go to New York, the true ‘jewish state’ now.

    The following is the history of Iranian province Khuzistan:

    [The intellectual center or city of Sassanid Empire was Jondishapour (or Gundishapur), founded in 271 CE, by Shapur I, one the most powerful rulers of the Sassanid dynasty, in Khuzestan near Ahvaz and not far from the Karun River. Gundishapur was home to the world’s oldest known teaching hospital, and also comprised a library and a university. ]


    [in 639 CE, Arabs Muslims, under the command of Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari from Basra, invaded Khuzestan and drove the Persian Hormozan out of Ahvaz.]

  29. Mideastern politics at any given time are best understood by finding out what the Terrorist Theocracy of Israel wants.

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