In what has been a relatively peaceful week in terms of violence, and a slow week in terms of new developments, parliament is still struggling to select a Prime Minister that will satisfy the protesters. Ever potential nomination as been shot so far by protesters.
I would like to highlight the watchdog group Human Rights Watch as finally called out the Iraqi government for using militias to carry out their 'dirty work' and the US for standing behind the Iraqi government in their clear abuse of human rights.
This to me is the biggest development of the week. I have been saying in my video's, as well as many others people across the internet, since mid October that this was the case. I am glad that someone in an official capacity is now drawing awareness to this.
Below are the key events that have happened throughout this last week.
Sistani spoke on the lynching of a teenage boy and called for a gun control inside of Iraq according to The New Arab.
Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani on Friday condemned a recent wave of killings and kidnappings of anti-government protesters during his weekly sermon in the holy city of Karbala.
In a statement read out by the Shia cleric's representative, he urged full state control over the widespread use of weapons.
According to Reuters, Sistani said in his sermon
“We strongly condemn the killings, kidnappings and assaults that took place in all forms,” he said in a Friday sermon in the holy city of Kerbala, read out by his representative.
“We call on all concerned parties to take responsibility,” added Sistani, calling for an urgent investigation into the “horrific crimes”.
Sistani said that all weapons should be brought “under the control of the state”.
“We must reiterate the necessity to build the army, and Iraq’s other armed forces, on solid professional foundations, so that they are loyal to the homeland and can defend against external aggression,” he said.
Sadr has left Facebook with a post saying "goodbye" on a black background has some believing he may be stepping away from politics, according to AA.com
Al-Sadr also replaced his profile picture, an image of his father Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr, also known as a Shia religious authority, with a picture of a black background with the world "closed" written on it.
Earlier, al-Sadr said in two statements on Facebook that he is against the candidacy of al-Sudani, who is a former Minister of Labour and Social Affairs.
Al-Sadr’s Twitter account remains open.
Conflicting reports are circulating surrounding the teenager who was lynched, Haitham Ali Ismael.
According to Middle East Monitor.
Despite contradictory narratives amassing on Twitter, ranging from allegations that it was Iraqi security forces who stormed Ismael’s home and killed him, to Ismael being a pro-government sniper, killing protestors thereby invoking the mob’s wrath – it has now been reported that Ismael “had been berating the protesters for three days for obstructing the street beside his house and making noise, but he had been largely ignored.” Yesterday, he is said to have climbed onto the roof of his home and began shooting in the air with a pistol. The protestors were under the impression that he had killed someone, and proceeded to attack him and storm his home.
According to Antiwar.com
Iraqi authorities say that a 16-year-old shot they were pursuing on drug charges, shot and killed two shopkeepers and four protesters in Wathba Square.
The recommendation of Mohammed Shiya al-Sudani as PM was not received well by the protesters, according to Ruedaw.
His candidacy is proving a hard sell to Iraqi protesters, who begun to take to the streets of central and southern Iraq in October to call for an end to corruption, improved provision of basic services, and an overhaul of Iraq’s system of governance.
In a statement read aloud on Friday, protesters in Tahrir Square refused the candidacy of Sudani, or anyone else nominated for Prime Minister by political parties
As a follow up to the redusal of Sudani as PM, protesters light his house on fire in Amara, according to Antiwar.com
Demonstrators in Amara set fire to the home of a candidate for prime minister. Mohammed Shia al-Sudani who has held cabinet posts before is too closely tied to current leadership for some protesters.
A journalist was killed by unknown assailants in Baghdad, according to The Baghdad Post.
A well-known journalist was assassinated by unknown armed men in capital Baghdad on Sunday.
Haqi Ismail Azawi, who was also known as a civil activist, was reportedly killed in the area of Shaabi in north of Baghdad, Iraqi media reports said.
A medical source said in a statement that his body was received by the forensic department for investigations.
Awazi was an active and well-known journalist covering news about the ongoing anti-government protests in Iraq.
Two protesters had been killed by a car bomb in Diwaniyah. according to Nina News
Two activists were injured when a sticky bomb exploded in the car they were traveling by in Al-Diwaniyah.
A security source said, "The accident took place in al-Eskhan road leading to the Technical Institute, and the injured were taken to Al-Diwaniyah General Hospital.
I have found no articles on anything of particular note that happened on this day.
An Iraqi lawmaker has been senticed 6 years on corruption charges, according to The New Arab.
Mahmoud Mullah Talal was arrested in late November as he attempted to bring down the industry minister for allegedly lining his own pocket through government contracts.
Mullah Talal was about to tell the minister that he had "found out that a private group linked to the minister had been winning all the ministry's contracts", a government source told AFP.
But in a deft move, an official close to the targeted minister, Saleh Al-Juburi, said he wanted to make a deal and proposed paying Mullah Talal $250,000 to buy his silence.
What Mullah Talal didn't know was that a team from the anti-fraud committee was on his tail.
As soon as the deal was done, the anti-corruption squad moved in and opened the trunk of his car to reveal $150,000 in cash - a first installment of the pay-off.
Mullah Talal was promptly arrested, "caught red-handed", the government source said.
Watchdog group Human Rights Watch called out the Iraqi government as 'complicit' in the murder of protesters by unknown armed men on December 6th, according to The New Arab.
Director Sarah Leah Whitson says it is "clear" Iraqi authorities "outsourced their dirty work against protesters, leaving just as the killings commenced and returning to assist with arrests".
She added: "If they stood by and allowed these armed men to attack protesters or carried out the murders themselves, the Iraqi government forces will be responsible.
Also from her statement:
"The US, UK, and Iran can’t have it both ways, calling on the Iraqi government to respect the rights of protesters while supporting the Iraqi forces killing protesters or standing by," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
"With killings of protesters continuing day after day, they should end this support," she added.
Witnesses told the human rights watchdog that on the evening of the 6 December seven pickup trucks sped into Al-Khilani Square - occupied by some 1,000 protesters at the time - and as the vehicles drove through the square slowly, gunmen in plain black uniforms and civilian dress with AK-47s and PK machine guns opened fired directly at them.
According to Antiwar.com
In Baghdad, unknown assailants murdered a store owner who was assisting protesters.
According to The New Arab
Protesters in Iraq blocked roads and bridges Tuesday evening in outrage at the possible nomination of the Minister of Higher Education Qusay Al-Suhail to head the country's new government.
The blocking of roads and bridges continued Wednesday over the potential nomination of Suhail as protests throughout Iraq carried the same sentiment, according to The New Arab.
Anti-government demonstrators in the southern governorate of Basra, where Al-Suhail is from, protested against outgoing premier Adel Abdel Mahdi's potential replacement into the morning on Wednesday, The New Arab's Arabic-language service reported.
Iraqi security services were extensively deployed in Basra, The New Arab reported, and managed to reopen one of the roads blocked by protesters early on Wednesday.
Baghdad's Tahrir Square also saw demonstrations, with protesters raising banners rejecting Suhail's candidacy for the position of prime minister.
Protesters told The New Arab that they reject Al-Suhail because of his close link with former Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki.
Meanwhile, protesters in Najaf Governorate erected a Christmas tree in Sadrin Square, bearing pictures and names of those killed in the anti-government demonstrations.
Parliament still scrambling to name a PM as the deadline looms that could place President Barham Saleh into the position at midnight. The three possible candidates still being discussed in parliament have all been shot down by the demonstrators. They are, according to the Daily Star
Qusay al-Suhail, outgoing higher education minister, has for several weeks been presented by officials as the candidate of Iran.
Earlier Wednesday, the front-runner was Mohammad al-Soudani, 49, former minister and ex-governor of a southern province now in the grip of protests and violence.
A third candidate is intelligence chief Moustafa al-Kazemi, a shadowy figure seen as backed by the U.S.
If Parliament does not approve a candidate who has emerged from inter-party negotiations, then the president has the constitutional right to appoint the premier himself.
Detained a large group of protesters are to be released, according to Bas News.
Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council ordered the release of 2,700 people whom were taken under custody for taking part in the protests across the country.
The council said in a statement that it will release the remaining after investigations conclude.
The deadline for selecting a new PM was pushed back by parliament until Sunday, according to The New Arab.
Parliament had been due to propose a new candidate by the end of Thursday.
But as parliamentary blocs remained deeply split, a source within the presidency said authorities had agreed to push the deadline back to Sunday, after Iraq's Friday-Saturday weekend.
With Sunday the new deadline for announcing the PM, parliament really seems to be at a loss. Protesters are not excepting anyone they suggest and it is not clear at all who will be the chosen.
Sisitani is still calling for early elections to reform the government and in my opinion anything short of this will not satisfy the protesters.
Please check back next week of December 20th to the 26.