How to support Iraq’s protesters while recognizing the limits to the government’s ability to handle these protesters’ demands? Washington Institute Senior Fellow Michael Knights asks.
“We should not be afraid to strongly support a sovereign, stable, and democratic Iraq,” he argues. “The events in October have made two things clear: Iraqi protesters and the Shiite religious establishment seem to have a very clear understanding that Iran is the country meddling in Iraq, not the United States. We do not need to be afraid of our own shadow.”
Iraq’s beleaguered prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi and his government have, at least, taken some steps to try and tackle the issue of corruption, analyst Maya Robinson writes for Eurasia Review. Indeed, the government is readily admitting that it has to address the endemic graft which is thwarting Iraq’s progress towards stability. “We have problems with those political groups who have their grip over money, banks and power, and rooted to corruption,” says senior adviser Laith Kubba (above), “it is a problem and there is no real answer to it.”
“I think the protests’ demands and expectations have moved from simply being about employment and improving conditions to changing the government and the prime minister,” adds Kubba, a former MENA director at the National Endowment for Democracy.
“And now they are pushing further. They are looking at election laws. They are looking even about foreign influence in the country. And this is what is worrying the establishment – is, how are we going to deal with all this increasing independent force that nobody expected to emerge so quickly on the scene? he tells NPR’s Steve Inskeep:
Of course, Iran is very powerful. But the counter-narrative – I think it’s pushed by pro-Iranian groups, the ones that are saying, well, America has an influence, too. And they try to paint the demonstrators as being proxies for the U.S. But that’s far from reality. So now the attention is focused about the independence of the Iraqi government from Iran’s influence. And this is a very recent add-on issue that emerged among the demonstrators’ demands.