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World Veterans of Iraqi turmoil view protesters with sympathy, concern

04:46  25 october  2020
04:46  25 october  2020 Source:   msn.com

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some protesters blamed the Iraqi government of conspiring with the gunmen, indicating to a power outage that coincided with the time of the attacks However, several anti-government protesters are concerned that Moqtada's call to force US military out of Iraq could surpass their separate

Protesters in southern Iraq blockaded the border with Kuwait and occupied several oilfields. On 3 September, Iraqi security forces killed Makki Yassir al-Kaabi, an Iraqi tribesman protesting near the The US consulate was situated at the airport, and it expressed concern for the developments in Iraq .

A year after Iraqi youths launched mass anti-government protests, elder veterans of past "revolutions" have praise for the idealistic activists but also words of caution born from tough experience.

a group of people holding a kite: Iraqis demonstrate in Baghdad's Al-Firdous Square on October 1 during a commemoration of the mass anti-government protest movement that started a year ago © AHMAD AL-RUBAYE Iraqis demonstrate in Baghdad's Al-Firdous Square on October 1 during a commemoration of the mass anti-government protest movement that started a year ago

Jamil Mozzan, 76, sitting in a Baghdad cafe, has watched with a wary eye as young Iraqis have looked ahead to the first anniversary Sunday of the start of the 2019 "October revolution".

Like many other elderly Iraqi men, he likes to debate the country's turbulent past and present over cups of tea and water pipes in the capital's storied Al-Mutanabbi street, lined with cafes and book shops.

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Six demonstrators killed by security forces as violence grips the country.

If the current political turmoil ever reverts to anything like normalcy, what is likely to emerge out the other end is a coalition of grievance groups that have figured out that destroying things indiscriminately to make some people feel consumed with guilt so you can steal their money and property is a whole

From October 2019, unprecedented demonstrations across Iraq demanded the downfall of the ruling class © Haidar HAMDANI From October 2019, unprecedented demonstrations across Iraq demanded the downfall of the ruling class

"I have experienced many revolutions in my time," said Mozzan, reflecting on past revolts, coups d'etat and uprisings against former dictator Saddam Hussein.

"But I became disillusioned with the idea of change," sighed the civil engineer whose country is still struggling to emerge from years of war, insurgency and societal chaos.

a group of people sitting and standing in front of a store: Iraqis sit at a traditional cultural coffee shop, one of several gathering spots for the country's intellectuals, in the capital Baghdad's al-Rashid street © Sabah ARAR Iraqis sit at a traditional cultural coffee shop, one of several gathering spots for the country's intellectuals, in the capital Baghdad's al-Rashid street

Iraq last year saw the biggest protest movement since the fall of Saddam in a 2003 US-led invasion, with Baghdad's iconic Tahrir Square as its epicentre.

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It's a moment of shame for the country. At least 13 people have been killed in police firing as the environment vs development battle turned ugly in

Hundreds of thousands took to the streets demanding the ouster of Iraq's entire political elite, whom they accused of ineptitude, corruption and being beholden to neighbouring Iran.

Around 600 protesters were killed and thousands wounded in months of street clashes before the movement lost momentum, then ground to halt amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The protests helped bring in new leaders, but they are yet to deliver major reforms for the youthful country where, the World Bank says, one in three young people is unemployed.

a group of people in a large city: Iraqi demonstrators at Tahrir Square in Baghdad, the epicentre of the protests © - Iraqi demonstrators at Tahrir Square in Baghdad, the epicentre of the protests

- 'A generation will rise' -

Mozzan recounted how he went down to the protests "to see what could be different this time.


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"I couldn't shout slogans at the top of my lungs because, you know, I'm an old man," he told AFP.

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Iraq protests . media captionWatch protesters flee in Baghdad as Iraqi security forces fire tear gas. While in the past few years protests in Iraq have become common, the latest wave of unrest which has reportedly left over 100 people dead and thousands more injured could mark a dangerous turning point.

Now, some Iraqis say they are watching Iran's post-election events unfold with a degree of satisfaction, because they believe the root cause of the turmoil and internal conflict in their country is Iran. Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel-Hamid reports from Irbil, in northern Iraq .

"But I was completely sympathetic with the youth."

Academic Khayal al-Jawahiri, the daughter of a famed Iraqi poet, recounted how when she went to Tahrir Square, she was deeply moved to see young protesters hoist a placard bearing her father's verses.

a group of people sitting in a shop: A year after Iraqi youths launched mass anti-government protests, elder veterans of past © Sabah ARAR A year after Iraqi youths launched mass anti-government protests, elder veterans of past "revolutions" have praise for the idealistic activists but also words of caution born from tough experience

"A generation will rise from the depths of despair ... seekers of righteousness, mighty and determined," read one of the lines by her father Mohamed al-Jawahiri, who grew up during Iraq's anti-colonial struggle.

"His poetry explained the suffering of Iraqis," said his daughter, pointing out how it resonates with today's young people who have come of age in another turbulent era.

"This is a generation of youth that is politically conscious, that did not experience previous uprisings but was moulded by the tough living conditions under leaders unwilling to let go of their power."

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Kevin Jones, author of a book on poetry and revolutions in Iraq, and a Middle East historian at the University of Georgia, said "poetry remains a vital force in modern Iraqi society ... even as the voices, aesthetics and spaces of performance continue to evolve".

Last year's protests did not just utilise rousing poetry but also political street murals and other forms of artistic expression.

They were shared widely on social media -- as was footage of the often intense street clashes -- until authorities responded by cutting off the internet for several weeks.

- 'Keyboards and Kalashnikovs' -

Protest activist and poet Ali Riyadh, 27, was dismissive of Iraq's older generation offering its wisdom, considering them elitist and disconnected, like Iraq's politicians.

He said his generation had come of age in the digital age and at a time of brutal wars and insurgencies, growing up "with keyboards and Kalashnikovs".

"After 2003 our poetry became an archive of resistance," he said. "It's satirical, it screams and shoots like bullets, because it reflects a certain scarred psychological state."

Riyadh and his friends were drawn to the caustic satire and profane language of firebrand leftist poets such as Muzaffar al-Nawab and Erian Sayed Khalaf, who were influential from the 1970s onwards.

"They were true revolutionaries ... their poems were being recited on loudspeakers in the square amid a hail of stun grenades and bullets being fired at us."

Back at the Baghdad cafe, Mozzan said he worried Sunday's anniversary may fall short of rekindling last year's protest spirit, in part because it is leaderless.

"The revolutionaries are noble in their aims but any revolution with a chance of success needs a leader," he said.

Despite his worries, he added: "My advice to the youth is, don't give up on your values."

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Police declare northeast Portland riot as protesters smashed windows .
A group gathered for a march in NE Portland on Saturday evening at around 8pm. There quickly followed several reports of vandalism including smashed windows.Several businesses became vandalized and had their windows smashed.

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