The US intervenes into Iraqi protests

On Monday, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States was prepared to impose sanctions on any Iraqi officials who were deemed corrupt, as well as on those responsible for the deaths and injuries of peaceful demonstrators.

An Iraqi soldier holds US and Iraqi flags as around 50 ‘Sahwa’ fighters attended a ceremony on October 10, 2008 marking their transition to the Iraqi government at the Forward Operating Base Shield in Rusafa, Baghdad. Iraq’s Shiite-led government began this month taking control of some 100,000 Sunni Arab anti-Qaeda fighters from US forces, amid concerns that many in the militia credited with curbing the bloodshed in the country will be neglected. The transfer of responsibility and payments for all Sahwa militia, also known as the ‘Sons of Iraq’, began in the province of Baghdad and the government has said 20 percent of them would be absorbed into the country’s security forces and that most of the rest would be considered for civilian jobs. AFP PHOTO / ALI YUSSEF (Photo credit should read ALI YUSSEF/AFP/Getty Images)

“We will not be inactive until corrupt officials make the Iraqi people suffer. The United States will use our legal powers to punish corrupt individuals who steal the wealth of Iraqis, as well as those who kill and injure peaceful demonstrators”, – Pompeo told the reporters at the Department of State. 

At least 315 people have been killed since the beginning of the riots in Baghdad and southern Iraq in early October, which was the largest demonstration since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Protests are an outburst of public anger against the ruling elite, which is believed to be enriched at the expense of the state and serves foreign powers, especially Iran, as many Iraqis languish in poverty without work, health care or education.

On Monday, protesters blocked the entrance to Iraq’s main merchant port, while schools and government offices in many southern cities were closed in response to calls for a general strike.

Pompeo said the United States was watching developments “very, very closely”.

At the same time, as Turkish publication Daily Sabah reports with reference to the scientist and analyst Mukhttin Ataman, external interference almost always accompanies protests in the Middle East.

“The United States, seeking to weaken Iran’s influence in Iraq, supports the protesters, while Iran remains on the side of the Iraqi government”, – the analyst said. He cited the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as an example of political sponsorship of protests by the United States, in which he accused the Iraqi government of corruption and demanded that it refrain from using force against protesters.

Regional and global powers “exploit and instrumentalize protests” for their own purposes, Ataman summarizes.

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