Published December 25, 2019
There has been a rise in Iranian influence in Iraq over the years. This was since the invasion by the U.S in 2003. Their influence in this country has expanded, and they have even had a control over the formation of political parties and offered great support to the militia groups
It has been a challenge on the Iraqis side. They felt like Iran had too much control over them, but they could not criticize them or even eliminate the Iranian flag from their country. They could not get rid of Ayatollar Ruholla Khomeini photos. He is Iran’s spiritual leader of the Islamic revolution in 1979. They also had to retain the photos of Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, which have been prevailing in public squares all over southern Iraqi provinces.
Finally, the Iraqi citizens could not take it anymore, and they decided to demonstrate their anger through protests. The protests which began in Basra province mid last year were a reflection of rage against the government and the militia groups. The demonstrations were mainly concentrated on the Shia-dominated regions. The protestors raised slogan in Arabic and Persian as they tried to express their disagreements and show that they were against their country being an Iran subordinate.
As the Iraqis flooded the streets demanding for better services and living conditions, it is clear that they are against Iran’s control over their country. The citizens consider Iran’s influence over their state as one of the leading causes of poor living conditions. The angry demonstrators targeted the southern city where they were able to bring down the Iranian flag and replaced it with the Iraqi flag. This has been a significant step as it is something that they were unable to do for the longest time.
Unfortunately, there were killings and injuries during the protests where about 260 were left dead and that only show how serious and angry the protestors were. They also managed to tear up big posters of Ayatollah Khomeini which were hung on huge banners in the city.
Reports have concluded that the protests flared up as a result of the harsh and direct influence by the Iranian in the Iraqis affairs. They also got angrier because of the Iranians incitements against the protestors. The protestors claimed that the Iranians accused them of treason and this worsened the situation. The protests were also termed as a conspiracy by the enemies meant to cause a gap between Baghdad and Tehran. There has also been a rise in cases of corruption, like the incidence of Sirwan Barzani, who is both a Peshmerga general and businessman who colluded with Lebanese bank to obtain millions.
From everything that has been happening for the past few months, it is clear that the Iraqis have finally realized the negative impacts of Iranian influence on Iran. The Shias, especially have realized that the intervention is adversely affecting their economic, political and overall living conditions. It has also been a cause of insecurity, instability and poor services as they claim that all these misfortunes fall on Iran’s shoulders due to the influence they have on Iraq’s political parties. The protests were a clear message from the Iraqis that the citizens do not appreciate the Iranians presence and intervention any more. They do not want any deals from them. However, no statements are claiming that the protests will cause an end of Iran’s control over Iraq. The Iraqis are angry due to a rise in unemployment and unending corruption. They believe that it is a time for them to see significant changes, and that is only achievable if the Iranian leaves them in peace.