By: Karzan Hameed
Iraqi have been protesting in the last four months, trying to end corruption and foreign intervention.
Iraqi activists accuse Iran of trying to “disturb the movement and link it to foreign interference.”
In a phone Interview with Avatoday, Ihsan Shamry, director of Political Thinking Center in Iraq believes that protesters are especially angered over Iraqi government insisting to continue its relationships with Iran.
The following interview has been translated from Arabic and was edited for clarity.
Why Iraqis stormed into the streets in the last three months?
There are many reasons for the protests. First, I believe the government’s mismanagement and the fact that it did not fulfill its plans is one of the reasons. Furthermore, the government didn’t meet the demands of protesters, and additionally, the government was not able to put an end to corruption or to improve service. And last but not least, the government’s insistence to keep its alliance with Iran was the main reason.
Can the protesters make any change in Iraqi policy?
In my opinion, they can. This is the first time since 2003 that such demonstrations in Iraq made prime minister to resign. This is a big achievement. They (protesters) also forced the parliament to change the elections’ law and replace the member of Election Commission. These are big achievements.
Some people say that foreign countries have a hand in shaping the demonstrations, even some neighboring and international countries are accused of intervening.
This is part of a plan to link the protests to foreign intervention like the United States and some of the Gulf countries. This claim is not true. This is part of a plan to disturb the movement. The officials are trying to misinform the public and the world about these protests by linking it to some foreign countries. The ongoing national movement in Iraq is very clear about its purpose: It calls for reform and for establishing a government far from tribal and party influences. But there are some forces backed by Iran, who want to put an end to the protests. I believe this is the only foreign Intervention.
Some politician and analysts say the reason for the protests is a deal that Iraqi government signed with China, what do you think?
I don’t believe a deal with China can motivate millions of people to storm into the streets for almost four months. And the deal with China is actually a memorandum.
Nowadays, the condition of Iraqi Parliament is uncertain. We cannot expect passing a bill with the approve of the majority of the parliament. Is the parliament able to decide on new prime minister?
Regarding the House of Representatives (Iraqi parliament,) I agree with you. Such uncertain atmosphere approves that we are ahead of a severe division in the Iraqi Parliament. But I believe the partition in the parliament is because of protests, and of course due to a bill to expel US forces in Iraq. But regarding the parliament approving new prime minister, I think there would not be such division in the parliament, because Sunnis as well as Kurds--as it is agreed--said the issue regarding a new prime minister is under Shiite’s power and they must decide on it. The parliament must also know that the new government must be cabinet of experts and independents. If Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds prefer partition than agreement, I guess we are going to see more confrontation.
But Iraqis and Ali Sistani, the top Shiite clerics in Najaf, are trying to end this crisis. Because the continuity of this crisis can lead to the dissolvement of the parliament and political parties don’t want that.
What kind of system can best rule Iraq politically and in economic sense?
A democratic system, whether its parliamentary or presidency. The problem in Iraq, I believe, is not the system, it’s those people who are inside the system. Parliamentary system is a great one and the one that most of the developed countries have. But Iraq misunderstood this system and has a wrong vision of it. About the economy, I am supporter of the freedom of trade, because the socialist system has failed in Iraq.
Does Iran let Iraq to be stable?
Iran is under severe pressure from US sanctions and is very isolated now. Iran is using Iraq as a pressure card against Washington and as a field to confront the United states. I believe Iran will not leave or give up on Iraq easily and it will do all in its power to keep Iraqi government under its control. Iran was backing the resigned prime minister, Adil Abdul Mahdi, but he was rejected by people and protesters, so Iran changed its plans to impose its hegemony, which I believe it will not succeed. The case is awareness emerged for the first time among Iraqis and they know that the sovereignty of their country is important. They will not let Iran to impose its hegemony. Iraqi people don’t want any foreign interference.