Iraq Protest: November 29th to December 5th

November 1 to the 7th

November 8th to the 14th

November 15th to the 21st

November 22nd to the 28th

Following the most violent week of crackdowns on protesters, we finally have the prime minister Mahdi stepping down.  This week has been much less violent as the demonstrators celebrate their first victory and mourn the loss of loved ones as parliament begins to deliberate over where to go from here, and influential figures as well as human rights groups demand accountability.

Mahdi's resignation is the first of many steps in reaching the protesters goals.  The following cover key events from the 29th of November to the 5th of December.

November 29th

Sisitani condemned the increased violence of the previous week in his weekly sermon, according to Reuters.

Iraq’s top Shi’ite Muslim cleric on Friday condemned the use of lethal force against protesters and urged demonstrators to reject acts of violence and vandalism, warning against another spiral of violence in the war-weary country.
“Attacks against peaceful protesters are forbidden,” a representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said, addressing worshippers at Friday prayer in the holy city of Kerbala.
Protesters “must not allow peaceful demonstrations to be turned into attacks on property or people ... and peaceful demonstrators should coordinate to eject vandals,” he said.

Mahdi issued his resignation according to Antiwar.com

After months of protests and growing condemnations of his continued rule, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi announced that he will submit his resignation to Parliament. This ends slightly over a year in office.

Abdul-Mahdi said his resignation was in response to calls from Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the top religious leader in Iraq. Sistani has for weeks called on the government to give in to protester demands.

More information of journalist being harassed for covering the demonstrations.  

According to the Middle East Eye

A journalist from the Babil governorate in central Iraq, who requested anonymity for his own safety, told MEE he had recently been interrogated in his home by someone who identified themselves as a military official for the Kataib Hezbollah - an Iran-backed Iraqi paramilitary group.
“The doorbell rang, I opened the door and saw a bearded person accompanied with five people wearing normal clothes. I invited them into my house, but their language was very tough,” the journalist said.
“I felt as if I was under investigation,” he added. Upon asking why he was being interrogated, the journalist was informed that the reason was a report he had done on thousands of Sunni residents being prevented from returning to their town after it was retaken from the Islamic State (IS) group.

IJRDA had documented more than 50 cases of journalists being attacked, threatened or killed since the mass protest movement began.

A missile was fired into the Green Zone, According to Xinhuanet.com

A Katyusha rocket landed Friday in the perimeter of the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad, but there were no casualties reported, the Iraqi military said.
The incident took place in the evening when a Katyusha rocket hit the zone, which houses some of the main offices of the Iraqi government and some foreign embassies, according to a statement by a media office affiliated with the Iraqi Joint Operations Command.
The statement gave no further details about the attack, saying that more information will be released later.

Throughout the day, according to Antiwar.com

At least 30 people were killed, and 193 more wounded:
In Nasariya, protesters attempted to storm a police station; security shot and killed 21 of them. About 160 people were wounded.
One demonstrator was killed and 18 were wounded in Baghdad. A rocket attack on the Green Zone left no casualties.
In Najaf, six more people were reported dead in yesterday’s clashes.
Revised estimates of the number of wounded on Thursday top 1,000.
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani condemned the violence and warned that attacks against peaceful protesters are forbidden.
Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi says he will hand in his resignation in order to avoid more violence. However, this would meet only one of the demands made by the protesters.

November 30th

Mahdi's resignation is the first of many changes demanded by the protesters as they continue to turn out in mass numbers.  According to the Middle East Eye

But, for most protesters, the beleaguered PM’s resignation is just the first step towards more radical changes they are demanding, including the overthrow of the entire current government and parliament, and the establishment an emergency governing body headed by Iraq’s President Barham Salih.
“Mahdi’s resignation is not the solution. We want the whole government to resign. We want early elections under a new electoral committee working to international standards, a new parliament and a new constitution,” oil engineer Hussein Abdulrahman, 25, told MEE. “We have been optimistic since 2003 and after 16 years we’ve still seen no improvements and people have had enough

Throughout the day according to Anitwar.com

At least seven people were killed, and 84 more wounded:
At least three people were killed, and 24 others were wounded in the holy city of Najaf, where protesters set fire to a gate at the al-Hakim shrine. Sayyid Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim was once the head of the Iranian-backed Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and was assassinated in 2003 in Najaf.
In Nasariya, 25 people were wounded near the police headquarters.
In Baghdad, 11 people were wounded at the Ahrar Bridge.
According to Dr. Ali Albayati, a member of Iraq’s High Commission for Human Rights, the official casualty numbers are 409 dead and 17,745 injured.

December 1

A large number of students gathered in Morsul to hold a moment of silence of those killed in the protests, according to The Middle East Eye.

The gathering on Sunday marks one of the largest public displays of support for the protests by Sunnis thus far.
“As a student from Mosul city, I would like to say that we all stand with our brothers and sisters in the south, we grieve for those lost, and we will continue to stand with Iraq’s protests against the corrupt government until victory is gained," said Atheer Nazar Saadallah, 24, a medical student at Mosul University

Parliament accepts Mahdi's resignation  according to The Middle East Eye.

The Iraqi parliament will now have to decide on Abdul Mahdi's replacement.
Influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who leads the largest bloc in the parliament, warned that established political parties should have no say in deciding the make-up of the new government.
“I will not let the corrupted to enter the government again in new clothes and in a new form and we will not let anyone or any party influence the new government,” Sadr said in a statement on Sunday.

But the path forward is unclear as Antiwar.com notes

Some Iraqi MPs are complaining that the constitution doesn’t have a specific formula for what happens when the PM is removed from power, though this is not the first time this has happened in Iraq since the US invasion and occupation.

While there is no obvious successor for Abdul-Mahdi right now, the parliament has tasked President Barham Saleh to nominate a new premier. That’s probably not going to happen right away, and in the meantime, there will likely be calls to advance on a new election.

Sadr and the Sairoon block of parliament  called for a travel ban on prime minister and senior security officials, according to The New Arab

Sabah Al-Saadi, an MP in Muqtada Al-Sadr's political party Sairoon, on Sunday urged the judiciary to form a court specialised in what he dubbed the "October Revolution" to hold to account the outgoing prime minister and security leaders for the violent crackdown on demonstrators across the country.

The Iraqi Council of Representatives "accepted today the resignation of the prime minister... however, this does not relieve him and his government of accountability for massacres committed against the people," a statement by the bloc read on Sunday.

Antiwar.com has published the Monthly report of protesters killed of injured in the month of November.

During November, at least 373 people were killed and 3,136 were wounded. Mass graves gave up 73 bodies as well.

December 2

Parliament is in deliberation of who to choose as the new Prime Minister, according to AFP News.

Talks on a new premier began before Abdel Mahdi resigned, a senior political source and a government official told AFP.
"The meetings are ongoing now," the political source added.
Such discussions produced Abdel Mahdi as a candidate in 2018, but consensus will be harder this time around.
"They understand it has to be a figure who is widely accepted by the diverse centres of power, not objected to by the marjaiyah (Shiite religious establishment), and not hated by the street," said Harith Hasan, a fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Center.
The candidate would also have to be acceptable to Iraq's two main allies, arch-rivals Washington and Tehran.

Throughout the day according to AntiWar.com

In Karbala, protesters are attempting to enter a provincial assembly building. There are casualties reported.
Seven protesters remain missing. It is unclear if they were abducted or detained.

December 3rd

Christians in Iraq cancel Christmas in solidarity with the demonstrators, according to the New Arab

The head of Iraq's Chaldean Catholic Church revealed his community would not hold public celebrations of Christmas out of respect for those killed and wounded in recent anti-government protests.
"There will be no decorated Christmas trees in the churches or streets, no celebrations and no reception at the patriarchate," announced the head of Iraq's Chaldean Catholic community, Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako.

At a presentation at the UN Security Council the Iraq envoy Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said the use of lethal force must stop, according to The New Arab

Hennis-Plasschaert warned that attempts to buy time with "band-aid solutions and coercive measures ... will only further fuel public anger and distrust."
"The vast majority of protesters are evidently peaceful," Hennis-Plasschaert said. "Any and all forms of violence are intolerable, and must not distract from the rightful demands for reform."
However, she said that despite a review of the rules of engagement to minimise the use of lethal force, "the harsh reality is that the use of live fire has not been abandoned."
"Non lethal devices - such as tear gas canisters - continue to be used improperly causing horrific injuries or death, ... unlawful arrests and detentions continue to take place - as do abductions, threats and intimidation," she said.

Reports of the victims of of crack downs is coming out suffering from life altering injuryies. Human rights and watchdog groups are calling for justice, according to Aljazeera

The young student is just one of an estimated 3,000 protesters who have suffered life-altering injuries that have led to paralysis or amputation, according to a local NGO.
Ali al-Bayati of the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR), told Al Jazeera that both protesters and security forces have suffered this fate.
According to local media reports, Parliament's Human Rights Committee has said that the use of excessive force by security forces - including live ammunition, military-grade tear gas canisters and rubber bullets - has caused one-sided or total paralysis in a large number of demonstrators.
Rights groups have condemned the government for allowing an excessive and "unlawful use of lethal force" against protesters.

December 4th

The Iranian consulate in Najaf was again torched by protesters, according to Alarabiya.net

Anti-government protesters have set fire to the Iranian consulate in the restive city of Najaf for the third time in a week, according to Al Arabiya sources.
Protesters initially burned down the Iranian consulate last Wednesday. Authorities declared a curfew in Najaf after the incident.

Protesters are still demanding an overhaul of the political system and the removal of the ruling class by calling for the end of the Muhasasa, according to Aljazeera.

While the muhasasa was introduced in Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003 in attempt to provide proportional government representation among Iraq's various ethno-sectarian groups, many Iraqis believe the system is deeply flawed and embodies all that has gone wrong since.
.....
"The term muhasasa is a byword for the political system and all its ills," Fanar al-Haddad, a research fellow at the Middle East Institute at the University of Singapore, told Al Jazeera.
"The system underpins the corruption, collusion and the patronage networks that characterise public life in Iraq," he added.
Not only do protesters blame the muhasasa for triggering sectarian violence across Iraq, they also say it allowed certain individuals and groups to enrich themselves over the years and expand their influence, while much of the oil-rich country's population endured economic hardship.

Throughout the day, according to Antiwar.com

In Baghdad, the body of a missing activist was found with a gunshot wound to the head. Zahra Ali had been missing for three days. On Rasheed Street, a hand grenade wounded nine policemen.
Najaf police announced that 114 personnel were wounded over the last 10 days.

December 5th

15 people were stabbed in Tahrir Square as pro-militia groups briefly join the protesters, according to the Middle East Eye.

They chanted against the United States, Saudi Arabia and Saddam Hussein, who was toppled in the US-led invasion of 2003.
Briefly, the Hashd supporters even chanted against Iran. Some of the most powerful Hashd units are supported financially and ideologically by Tehran, which has been a target of protester anger over its involvement in Iraq.
Some carried portraits of Hashd fighters killed while battling the Islamic State group and of the country's top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.
The Hashd first backed Iraq's government against the protests, but after Sistani's intervention last week, it dropped its support.

The previously pro-government group is making demonstrators nervous as they believe their movement could be 'infiltrated', according to the Middle East Eye.

The new crowds carried signs opposing "vandals", referring to those who have been attacking public or private property during the protests. However, demonstrators sensed something more threatening was afoot.
"They've ruined it," one demonstrator told the AFP news agency, while another muttered: "It's going to get messy."
Though there were no fatalities, the attacks raised concerns, with one protester suggesting to the AP that the attacks “might have been perpetrated by the parties or someone who wants to ignite problems with the parties”.

Antiwar.com is reporting 25 stabbed

In Baghdad, pro-militia groups joined protesters at Tahrir Square. It is unclear whether the group was sincerely joining the demonstration or if they were infiltrating it as witnesses claim. At least 25 people were stabbed, but no deaths were reported.

The Iraqi parliament passes electoral commission law, according to Xinhuanet.com

Iraq's parliament on Thursday passed the law of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), as part of efforts by the Iraqi government and parliament to ease the tension of anti-government demonstrations demanding comprehensive reform in the political process.
In a televised press conference, Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi, told the reporters after the parliament session that the lawmakers approved the electoral commission draft, which will be chaired by a council of nine commissioners.
He said that seven of the commissioners would be judges to be selected by lot to ensure transparency, and the two others to be chosen by the State Consultative Council.
The Consultative Council is a judicial body administratively linked to the Ministry of Justice and represents the administrative judiciary in Iraq.
According to al-Halbousi, the lawmakers also voted in favor of dissolving the current commissioners' council, but left the staff in their jobs.
The parliament is continuing its discussions to vote for a new elections law, and that the lawmakers are scheduled to vote on it next week after the end of discussions and agree on the final wording of the law, al-Halbousi added.

This relative calm may continue and hopefully becomes a trend in the weeks to come as parliament looks to satisfy the demands of the protesters with transparency and accountability while reestablishing the governing body. But if they continue to try and hold on to their power and ultimately again placate the demands of the protesters, this calm can short lived.

Also if the fears of  'infiltration' into the movement by pro-government militia groups prove to be founded, this can lead to more violence in the future as well.

Please check back next Friday of the post covering December 6th to the 12th.

Take care.

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