The views expressed in this op-ed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SyriacPress.
By Kazem Habib thinker and writer
In Iraq, several basic factors have enabled anti-people powers and forces to take over state institutions, branches of the government, to establish militias, and in effect create a deep state. For many years now, these factors have enabled the Persian Safavid state to infiltrate and dominate Iraq’s authority, its legislative, executive, and judicial powers, its economy, and the Iraqi street. These factors need to be identified and analysed to dismantle this illegal occupation of the Iraqi state by the Persian Safavid regime, which is a plague to Iraqi society and plots to colonize and enslave its people:
1- Foreign intervention and methods. The overthrow of the Baathist regime and dictatorship and the consequent occupation of Iraq, with a United Nations resolution in hand, provided a basis for the U.S. to control Iraq and make bargains of interest in the region at the expense of the Iraqi state and its people;
2- U.S.-Iranian compromise deal. The shameful U.S.-Iranian deal on the establishment of a sectarian quota system in the country paved the way for a new ancient-old colonial basis, i.e. it “divided” the state on national, religious, and sectarian grounds, and in this way aimed to “rule” its people. This “compromise-deal” enabled the Islamic Republic of Iran to fully participate in governing Iraq, even during the U.S. occupation of Iraq;
3 – All were in. A third factor in case is the opportunistic and highly disgraceful position of Islamic political parties and Arab and Kurdish nationalist parties. They all agreed to this corrupt political sectarian quota regime. Each party was only in pursuit of its own interests, all were in and their participation came at the expense of the Iraqi people and nation;
4 – Weak civil society. A fourth factor is the weakness of Iraqi civil society and democratic forces, including the forces on the political left and the Iraqi Communist Party. This was in large part due to long years of persecution under the dictatorial and fascist Baath regime. Because of the weakness of civil society and democratic forces and their inability to confront or stop international, regional and local bargains, they simply kept silent and joined the bargaining. In the end they simply accepted a deformed, dysfunctional, and highly harmful political process which would damage and negatively mark the future of Iraq and its people;
5 – The silence of the international community and global public opinion over what was and what is still going on in the country by the hands of Iran and its Iraqi followers and proxies: silence and negligence regarding their looting of the country’s economic and financial resources, their brusque interfering in Iraqi internal affairs and the overt formation of deep state facilities, rogue militias and economic affiliate offices.
And for a fairly long time the international community was also silent on the occupation of the state by toleration, implicit approval and support of the sectarian quota administration led by former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Shia Islamic political parties (the “Shiite House”), intended to break the thorn of the Sunnis in Iraq. It also broke the thorn of the Kurdish people, yesterday’s allies, and the Kurdish political leadership;
6 – A last factor is the support of the Sunni religious institutions and Shiite religious authorities in establishing the sectarian political quota regime in Iraq, combined with the latter’s support of sectarian Shia political Islamic parties opposing followers of the Sunni sect and Christians, Sabian Mandaeans, Yezidis etc., all in a haze of corruption and all after submission to Iran’s leadership and the mandate of the Safavid Legal Guardian had already long been established.
The public speeches of state agents calling for reform and their long silence about the actions of terrorist militias were only done out of fear of losing their credibility and popularity among the Shiite rank and file. The protesters understood that very well and expressed this with slogans like, “In the name of religion, the thieves looted us”, “In the name of God, the evil ones disgraced us”, “Iran, go out”, “Baghdad will remain independent.”
These real factors allowed for the emergence of a state governed by sectarian politics within and above the already fragile official state. The state militias are affiliated with pro-Iranian Iraqi Islamic political parties and take their orders from the Revolutionary Guard, al-Quds Force, and from recently assassinated Qasem Soleimani. These militias, operating under the so-called “Wilayat al-Faqih” or Guardians of the Islamic Jurist, have controlled the Iraqi street. They have become stronger than the official Iraqi military by force of some actors and parties operating the deep state – including the corrupt Popular Mobilization Forces who obey the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Despite rivalry and conflicts between the militias over who takes first role in controlling the Iraqi state, they have turned the economy and the Iraqi street into the greatest servicer of their Iranian Master! (see: Dr. Hisham al-Hashemi’s report entitled, The Internal Disagreement in the Popular Mobilization Authority, 2020).
The uprising on 1 October 2019 of the conscious, educated, and change-minded daughters and sons of Iraq gradually began changing the Iraqi political arena and, day by day, won over more sons and daughters for reform. The protesters exposed the corrupt, authoritarian, and fascist nature of sectarian power politics of deep state institutions and militias. The latter reacted by violent confrontation to crush the people’s uprising.
The people’s uprising was an extension of the civil movement that had been demanding reform since 2011 but the 2019 uprising presented a movement and slogans that were more radical, deeper in understanding, and were more capable and invigorating in attracting people to protest and demand change. Here I am alluding to slogans of change and rejection of the current political process: “I am going to take my right, Iraq’s resources are for all” and “I want back my homeland.”
This uprising also revealed the true face of power of former Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, a man who deserves the title of butcher of the Iraqi people. The true face of his administration and leadership had three characteristics: First, its subordination and service to the Shia Islamic Legal Guardian (Wali al-Faqih) and to Iran; secondly, its brutality and unrestraint in crushing the popular protests to retain power. His administration and leadership cleared the way for more power and intervention by deep state forces and institutions; Thirdly, providing the conditions for singling out more power into the hands of Iran and its Iraqi followers and proxies by submitting and approving to the biased and corrupt House of Representatives a motion on expelling U.S. forces and the international coalition from Iraq. This despite the continuous activity of ISIS cells and armed Shiite militias.
One of the most prominent achievements of the October 2019 uprising is that it forced the resignation of the government of Adel Abdul Mahdi and the formation of a new transitional government with clear and set goals. Its most important goals are to amend the election law, change the structure and functioning of the election commission, holding early general elections, pursuing the killers and assassins of the uprising’s martyrs and wounded, bringing the monopoly on weapons back to the state, hold the corrupt people accountable and bring them to justice, and protecting the independent Iraqi political decision.
Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s government was formed under exceptional circumstances and he swore to implement the demands of the protesters and uprising. Al-Kadhimi came to government with the backing of some Islamic political parties but only because they were with their back against the wall and in a critical situation. Their approach is very cautious; they remain wary of al-Kadhimi and have sought to get rid of him in various ways.
The forces of the deep state led by former PM Nuri al-Maliki have pointed their tactical maneuvers and conspiracies against al-Kadhimi’s government in three directions: First, they emphasized the removal of international forces, especially American forces, from Iraq, confronting and embarrassing al-Kadhimi with the decision of the House of Representatives in this regard. Secondly, they enact in continuous provocations against U.S. forces by launching Katyusha rockets on their military bases, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, etc. Plus they want to make Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s government appear weak and make al-Kadhimi personally look incapable in confronting the armed Shiite sectarian militias and hence incapable of implementing the promises he made. Thirdly, they continue to try to weaken the driving forces of the uprising and try to take advantage of the Coronavirus epidemic by intimidating, kidnapping, killing, and assassinating Iraqi male and female activists and intellectuals. By propagandizing and highlighting the weakness of al-Kadhimi’s government and its inability to pursue the perpetrators – these are known forces to al-Kadhimi who is head of the intelligence services, head of the government, general commander of the armed forces, and official commander of the popular Mobilization Forces! – they try to weaken the government’s popular and political basis.
The assassination of Dr. Hisham al-Hashemi was nothing but an open and clear sign of their rejection of al-Kadhimi’s government and, according to the statements of Hezbollah militia officials – which are leading in the official Popular Mobilization Forces – their desire to also kill him!
Are we facing an inevitable and real confrontation between the deep state and the Iraqi state?
I fully realize the difficulty of answering this question and I understand the critical position Mustafa al-Kadhimi is in. However, I also realize that postponing the confrontation is not in the interest of the Iraqi people and Iraqi nation. Postponing a confrontation with the deep state does not benefit the urgent need for a change of course of the Iraqi state and its political, economic, social, military and environmental direction.
Confronting and fighting the deep state has taken momentum and we need to take into account this important momentum and its opportunities:
- The public opinion and general atmosphere among Iraqis is in favor of the current government and against the existence, approach, policies, and actions of deep state actors and forces. This atmosphere and support was present during the uprising and increased after the recent assassination of Hisham al-Hashemi and others;
- The relative improvement in the status of democratic and progressive forces in Iraq that can provide the necessary support for al-Kadhimi’s government, if it decides to fight against the deep state forces;
- An anti-deep state atmosphere has emerged. There is real confusion and concern within the ranks of the deep state as they have alienated local, regional, and international powers, broken all taboos, and transgressed all laws;
- The problems of the Persian Safavid state have increased. It’s inability to provide full support to all its agents and proxies abroad, including the forces of the Iraqi deep state, has become evident. The irony is that because of its problems the Persian Safavid state is now expecting and waiting, to a great extent, for the deep state forces to come to its help;
- The possibility to request the support of the UN Security Council and international coalition forces to help Iraq in facing the dangers of ISIS and other terrorist forces that threaten the security and stability of Iraq;
- The forces of the popular uprising are completely ready to fight the battle alongside al-Kadhimi, if he has the courage, firmness, and determination to confront the deep state, take the initiative, and avoids engaging in reactions that only make matters worse. Because those who offered more than 700 martyrs, more than 27.000 wounded and disabled people, and those who were subjected to hundreds of assassinations, kidnappings, abductions, or imprisonment in the quota regime during the rule of Adel Abdul Mahdi, are ready today to offer more than that in order to save Iraq from the clutches of dependency and hateful Persian colonialism.
I say that the battle is coming! We must prepare for it with all means available! Victory is the ally of the people when they are aware of the nature of the battle and its importance in resolving conflicts in the interest of our homeland, in the interest of our people, and against the irresponsible non-state and non-patriotic actors… against the deep state!
Disclaimer: translated from Arabic. For the op-ed in Arabic: Here