By John Lee.

On Sunday, the UN issued the following statement on the crisis facing Iraq:

Over the past weeks, demonstrations erupted in Baghdad and other governorates in Iraq. Protester demands cover a wide spectrum of issues, including economic growth and employment, reliable public services, prudent and impartial governance, an end to corruption, credible elections as well as broader reform of the political system – including amendments to the constitution.

An accumulation of frustrations about the lack of progress in the last 16 years is clearly perceptible, and with rising numbers of deaths and injured (both protesters and members of the Iraqi Security Forces) a climate of anger and fear has set in. The Iraqi people cannot afford to be held back by the past nor by partisan interests.

Rising hope asks for a leap forward, including the understanding that – in today’s digital age – daily life has moved online. Meanwhile, the risk of ‘spoilers’ hijacking peaceful demonstrations is increasing and potentially derailing any attempt at genuine change. Time is therefore of the essence, as are tangible results.

To start with, and following consultations with a wide range of Iraqi parties, actors and authorities (including the three Presidencies, the Supreme Judicial Council, protesters and union representatives), the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) proposes the following principles and measures:

PRINCIPLES

The following principles apply to all parties at all times:

  1. Protect the right to life above all.
  2. Guarantee the right to peaceful assembly, demonstration and freedom of expression,
    as granted in the constitution.
  3. Practice maximum restraint in the handling of the protests, including no use of live ammunition, ban the improper use of non-lethal devices (such as tear gas canisters).
  4. Deliver full accountability for perpetrators and redress for victims.
  5. Act in keeping with the law, including in regard to public and private properties.

MEASURES

Immediate measures (less than a week) include:

  1. Release all peaceful demonstrators detained since 1 October, in accordance with the law.
  2. No peaceful demonstrators shall be targeted.
  3. Initiate full investigation of cases of abduction (including by making available CCTV footage), and reveal the identity of those responsible.
  4. Accelerate the identification and prosecution of those responsible for targeting demonstrators.
  5. Prosecute and punish those responsible for the excessive use of force and/or other violent acts, in accordance with the law.
  6. Publicly call on all regional and international parties not to interfere in Iraq’s internal affairs, respecting its sovereignty.

Short term measures (within one week to two weeks) include:

  1. Electoral reform: With the technical support of the UN, a single legal framework shall be finalized. Soon after, the framework shall be submitted to the Council of Representatives (CoR). The parliamentary procedure shall be completed as soon as possible.
  2. Security Sector Reform: Executive Order 237 shall be fully implemented without delay. Any weapons outside state control shall be prohibited. Any outlaw armed entity or rogue element shall be considered illegal and it is the state’s responsibility to take them on.
  3. Corruption: The political elite shall lead by example, for instance by publicly declaring their assets – at home and abroad, held under their own name or another. Additionally, political parties/blocs and movements shall abolish their economic committees.

Medium term measures (within one to three months) include:

  1. Constitution: With the technical support of the UN, the Constitutional Review Committee shall continue its work. Any amendment to the constitution shall be put to referendum by the people of Iraq.
  2. Corruption: The Commission of Integrity shall submit corruption cases to the High Judicial Council or the Central Anti-Corruption Court. The Central Anti-Corruption Court shall handle corruption cases at all levels of the state. All corrupt officials will be held accountable and prosecuted.
  3. Enactment of laws: The Government shall send the following draft laws to the CoR, and the CoR shall complete its due process as soon as possible:
    1. A law addressing the principle: ‘Where did you get this from?
    2. The Federal Court Law
    3. The Social Security Law
    4. Law on resolving the Housing Crisis
    5. The Oil and Gas (Hydrocarbon) Law
    6. Amending the Law on Encouraging Investments and Public-Private Sector Partnership
    7. The Council of Ministers and Ministries Law
    8. The Reconstruction Council Law

(Source: UNAMI)

By Saad Salloum for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Shiite protesters get broad backing throughout Iraq

The crowd in Baghdad’s Mohammed al-Qasim Street on Oct. 31 was not caused solely by a street vendor selling Iraqi flags for 1,000 dinars (less than $1).

The street, the longest highway that wraps around the perimeter of Baghdad, had never seen so many flags flying from the windows of every passing car, in a show of great solidarity among Iraqis.

The vendor smiled as he told Al-Monitor, “So far, I have sold more than 1,000 flags and it’s not even 2 p.m.”

Click here to read the full story.

From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq has been engulfed in violent protests in the past few weeks as soldiers fired live rounds into crowds.

But this has only entrenched the protesters’ position as they demand a complete overhaul of the political system.

The government has cut off access to the internet, as it says that its youth are being influenced by what they read.

But the protesters have found other means to get around the online silence.

Al Jazeera‘s Natasha Ghoneim reports from Baghdad:

By Douglas A. Ollivant for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

As Iraq’s demonstrations continue, what comes next?

Iraq’s demonstrations appear to have settled into at least a temporary “new normal.”

In Baghdad, the protesters have a more or less constant occupation of Tahrir Square and the adjacent “Turkish restaurant” building, which provides an overlook from its 14 stories.

While reliable numbers are hard to get, there are clearly hundreds of thousands, and some claim over a million, demonstrators who are maintaining  consistent, day-after-day presence.

This includes at least a significant minority holding the “terrain” at night so that it is not reclaimed by security forces, despite the use of lethal violence that has claimed over (perhaps well over) 200 lives.

Click here to read the full story.

By Douglas A. Ollivant for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

As Iraq’s demonstrations continue, what comes next?

Iraq’s demonstrations appear to have settled into at least a temporary “new normal.”

In Baghdad, the protesters have a more or less constant occupation of Tahrir Square and the adjacent “Turkish restaurant” building, which provides an overlook from its 14 stories.

While reliable numbers are hard to get, there are clearly hundreds of thousands, and some claim over a million, demonstrators who are maintaining  consistent, day-after-day presence.

This includes at least a significant minority holding the “terrain” at night so that it is not reclaimed by security forces, despite the use of lethal violence that has claimed over (perhaps well over) 200 lives.

Click here to read the full story.

The United States has a strong and abiding interest in a secure and prosperous Iraq able to defend the nation against violent extremist groups and able to deter those who would undermine Iraqi sovereignty and democracy.

As the world watches events in Iraq unfold it is increasingly clear that the Government of Iraq and the country’s political leaders must engage seriously and urgently with Iraqi citizens who are demanding reform. There is no path forward based on suppression of the will of the Iraqi people.

We deplore the killing and kidnapping of unarmed protesters, threats to freedom of expression, and the cycle of violence taking place. Iraqis must be free to make their own choices about the future of their nation.

(Source: U.S. Embassy in Baghdad)

By John Lee.

Anti-government protesters reportedly blocked the entrance to the Nassiriya oil refinery on Wednesday.

Sources told Reuters that protesters blocked tankers from entering the refinery, causing fuel shortages across Dhi Qar province.

The refinery has capacity of 30,000 barrels per day (bpd), but has recently been producing only 15,000-20,000 bpd.

Anadolu Agency also reported that protesters have closed the Al-Shanafiyah oil refinery, south of the province of Diwaniya.

The source said that hundreds of protesters prevented oil trucks from entering or exiting the facility.

(Sources: Reuters, Middle East Monitor)

UNAMI has found that serious human rights violations and abuses continued to occur during the second wave of demonstrations that started in Iraq on 25 October.

A second report, prepared by the UNAMI Human Rights Office, was published today [5th November]. It follows an earlier special report which covered the 1-9 October protests and was published on 22 October.

The latest report indicates that demonstration-related violence from 25 October to 4 November caused at least 97 further deaths, and thousands of injuries. Although Iraqi security forces displayed more restraint than in the early October protests, particularly in Baghdad, the unlawful use of lethal and less-lethal weapons by security forces and armed elements requires urgent attention.

The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, stated: “This report also highlights areas where immediate action is needed to stop the vicious circle of violence, and stresses once again the imperative of accountability”.

The report attributes at least 16 deaths – and many serious injuries – to demonstrators being struck by tear gas canisters. “There is no justification for security forces to fire tear gas canisters or sound and flash devices directly at unarmed demonstrators”, said Danielle Bell, Chief of the UNAMI Human Rights Office.

The report furthermore highlights concerns regarding continued efforts to suppress media coverage as well as an ongoing block on social media. Special Representative Hennis-Plasschaert added: “We must recognise that in today’s digital age, daily life has moved online. A blanket shutdown of internet and social media is not only disruptive to the way people live their lives and do business: it infringes freedom of expression”.

Download HUMAN RIGHTS SPECIAL REPORT

By John Lee.

Authorities in Anbar governorate are suppressing the right of residents to show support for demonstrations elsewhere in the country, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.

In recent days, they have arrested two men for merely posting messages of solidarity on Facebook, questioned a third, and sent a fourth into hiding.

More here.

(Source: HRW)