Is Internal Violence in Iraq Cresting?
Pinhas Inbari, December 16, 2019
Tribal elders in Basra in solidarity with public demands of protesters (YouTube screenshot)
The internal violence in Iraq has reached levels of repression not seen since the times of Saddam Hussein. Iranian General Qasem Suleimani’s militias are slaughtering protesters in an ISIS-style of brutality. Meanwhile, protesters are lynching in the streets anyone they identify as Iranian supporters. Protesters are trying not to fire at Iraqi officials. Still, they are facing increasing difficulties because official security forces are often under Iranian control, and in many cases, collaborate with pro-Iranian militias. Those arrested, for example, who were slaughtered by the Suleimani militias, were initially detained by the Iraqi police and handed over to the pro-Iranian militias.
The insurgents are still having trouble convincing the Americans that the U.S. allies in the Iraqi government are actually Iran’s allies. Without the United States throwing its weight behind the uprising, it will fail.
In our discussions with the Sunni branch of the uprising, it became clear that the United States offered them to work with Saudi Arabia to coordinate the disturbances together with them. However, the Sunni protesters rejected the U.S. proposal because it reminded them of all the conferences on Syria when Saudi Arabia led the insurgent groups, which failed – just as Saudi Arabia had failed in its war in Yemen.
The insurgents are deeply concerned that the West has not learned from the failure of the rebellion in Syria. They are worried that everything that happened in Syria will happen in Iraq as well, and if the United States does not get involved, Russia will. There are already signs of a pact between Russia and China on dividing the Middle East – Russia will be based in Syria, and Iraq will be in China’s domain.
To make the Iraqi uprising into an international issue, the insurgents have turned to the UN, but now they fear that Russia and China will pass the issue to the Security Council to protect the pro-Iranian regime through their veto power.