qtada al-Sadr shout slogans during a protest against corruption at Tahrir Square in Baghdad, July 15, 2016. (photo by REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily)
Baghdad — The Iraqi protest movement, calling for eliminating the sectarian quota system and forming a government of technocrats, held a massive protest in Tahrir Square in central Baghdad July 15 to revitalize the protest movement that seemed to have lost some of its momentum over the past two months.
On July 7, Ahmed Abdul Hussein, a member of the coordination committee of the Mustamerroun movement (We Will Not Back Down) stated on his Facebook page that a meeting was held between the leaders of the coordination committee — formed of liberals and leftists — on the one hand, and Muqtada al-Sadr, the young Shiite cleric and head of the Sadrist movement, on the other hand.
Hussein explained that the meeting assessed the situation of the social movement and discussed new and peaceful ways to pressure the government to implement the protesters’ demands.
The protests started in Iraq on July 31, 2015, under the leadership of young men calling for a secular state. However, at its onset, this movement formed alliances with militant groups such as the League of the Righteous and the Imam Ali Battalions. But these two factions soon withdrew from the protest movement and were replaced by masses supporting the Sadrist movement.
In fact, one cannot say that the protest experience in Iraq was perfect. The secular participants had withdrawn from the protests following the accusation of some of the leaders of the coordinating committee of the Mustamerroun movement of identifying itself with the Sadrist movement and its leader.
The protest movement in Baghdad and in some provinces is led by the coordinating committee of the Mustamerroun movement, which formed a coalition with the Sadrist movement. Yet, it seems that some activists and intellectuals were annoyed by this rapprochement with Sadr’s supporters; they announced July 2 a new protest group calling itself Madaniyoun(Arabic for advocators of civil movement), which includes prominent Iraqi intellectuals.
The group said in a statement that same day that it was formed to prevent the suspension of laws preserving the Iraqi people’s interests, and that the civil movement for reform deviated from its originally set objectives.
It is true that the protest movement committed several mistakes, yet it managed to pressure Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to introduce some reforms, including reducing the number of ministers and dismissing the vice presidents of the republic.
However, the rift among seculars within the protest movement prevented this movement from forming a political entity that can represent it in the government or the parliament.
Athir al-Jassour, a political science professor at Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, told Al-Monitor, “Protesters need to form a unified [political movement] that represents them and raises their demands, since the demands raised by the protest movement ongoing for a year now are falling on deaf ears.”
He said, “We have been repeatedly calling for forming a political movement, which may take part in the political decision-making process and represent the masses in the parliament. Since the outbreak of the protest movement on July 31, 2015, [and to this date] there is no political party representing the protesters who took to the streets to call for reforming the government.”
But so far, it seems that the protest movement led by the young leftist and liberal Iraqis has yet to establish a political party or movement. This is still an idea under consideration.
Yasser al-Salem, a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and a member of the coordinating committee of the Mustamerroun movement, told Al-Monitor, “So far, the idea of an electoral alliance for objective considerations is not being discussed. Elections will require the complete liberation of the Iraqi territory from the Islamic State and the conditions required for holding elections must be met, including electing a new board of the Independent High Electoral Commission and amending the electoral law that favors influential forces.”
He said, “The forces and figures taking part in the protest movement must be well aware that it is very necessary and crucial for the forces calling for reform to take part in the [parliamentary] elections and achieve good results. I expect — or I am rather sure — that we will witness the formation of an important civil electoral bloc that will have an acceptable impact in the next parliamentary elections.”
But can a civil bloc participate in the elections by forming a coalition with the Sadrist movement, especially since this is disputed among the secular members of this bloc?
In this regard, Salem said, “The alliance between the civilians and the Sadrists is not on the table yet, despite the convergence of the demands raised in the protests. I think it is too early to answer this question, especially since there is a clear difference between the civil movement and the Sadrist movement.”
Journalist Ammar al-Sawad, who had attended the meetings for the formation of the Madaniyoun group, told Al-Monitor, “Members of the protest movements — including the Madaniyoun group — may in the medium term take part in political action.”
He added, “The protest movements include figures that have criticized the authority and who have a clean slate,” questioning the Iraqi street’s capacity to elect new figures other than those affiliated with the current political parties. “But this situation may change in the medium or long term.”
However, Jassour said, “If the protest movement remains limited to actions on the streets and keeps storming fortified areas such as the Green Zone, it will face a fierce opposition by the authority and its demands will be delayed. The protest movement must arrange its ranks to produce a political project that represents it and expresses its demands.”
A Sa’ar 4.5-class Corvette of the Israeli Navy fires its canons during a naval exercise off the coast of Israel.
Israel’s Defense Ministry on Sunday announced a series of deals for the purchase of combat systems from local defense industries in the amount of $420 million by the end of this year. This is part of a project to acquire warships whose mission would to protect natural gas platforms within Israel’s “economic waters” in the Mediterranean against military threats.
An Israeli soldier training in Krav Maga.
Several dozen members of the Indian military are currently learning how to protect themselves using the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga, India Today reported this weekend.
“I brought Krav Maga to India in year 2002 after intensive training in Israel,” Vikram Kapoor — the head instructor at the International Krav Maga Federation — was quoted as saying. “This is the only self-defense technique that is being evolved every moment and that is why it is the best.”
Culminating a three-year process, delegates at the Mennonite Church USA assembly in Orlando on Thursday adopted a resolution titled “Seeking Peace in Israel and Palestine,” with approximately 98 percent voting in favor. The resolution calls on members to “avoid purchase of products associated with the occupation or produced in settlements in occupied territories.” It also establishes a process for the church to review its investments “for the purpose of withdrawing investments from companies that are profiting from the occupation.”
Rabbi Steven Wernick says Netanyahu recruited progressive Jews to find a compromise for the holy site; now that the PM has reneged, world Jewry won’t be silent
The fight for pluralistic prayer at the Western Wall is a battle already won by Jewry’s Conservative movement. For some 20 years, Conservative Jews have inhabited a spiritual home at Jerusalem’s contentious holy site, which they won through a series of Supreme Court cases — in a section allocated to the Davidson Archaeological
Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. (Photo credit: hebron.com)
In a secret ballot held at the World Heritage Committee’s 41st annual summit in Krakow Poland, on Friday, UNESCO voted twelve to three in favor declaring the Holy City of Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs “Palestinian world heritage sites”.
The resolution described a Muslim history of the city while blatantly ignoring the Biblical narrative describing 3,000 years of Jewish connection to the site. Six countries abstained from the controversial vote which, at the request of Poland, Croatia, and Jamaica, was a secret ballot; a first for such a vote.
During last month’s 2017 Chicago Dyke March, the true face of “inclusion” among “progressives” finally surfaced. According to the Chicago based newspaper Windy City Times, the march proceeded calmly with people “of all races, genders and gender identities” attending, until “the Dyke March Collective ejected three people carrying Jewish Pride flags (a rainbow flag with a Star of David in the center).”
Something is terribly broken in the relationship between American and Israeli Jews. I say this as an American Jew who has lived in Israel for almost half a century. But if anyone thinks this started with Women of the Wall or PM Netanyahu’s recent – and I believe unfortunate – backtracking on the agreement over egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, he is suffering from selective memory, if not total denial.
gentleman from times gone by. He was soft-spoken, courtly, and wore his pants hoisted high and held up by suspenders; clearly, a European who had personally endured horrors in the last century.
Indeed, he had personally survived the Holocaust in Poland. Therefore, I could not immediately understand why he now attends a very left-wing synagogue—but, totally incomprehensible, was his unexpected and rather passionate defense of Poland and of the Poles. He argued on their behalf as if his very life still depended upon it.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s decision to visit Jerusalem but not Ramallah has prompted much comment.
The expectation of equal treatment goes back to the Oslo Accords’ signing in Sep. 1993, when the prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, represented his government in the handshake with Yasir Arafat, the much-despised chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. No one found it strange or inappropriate at the time but things look differently nearly a quarter century later.
Matthew Healy at the Atlantic, one of the few remaining liberal anti-censorship magazines, offers a disingenuous counterpoint to the debate over political correctness.
The attempts to silence dissenting points of view are counter-speech, according to Healy. And counter-speech is an important form of free expression.