6 October 2019   Leave a comment

World politics is waged on many levels and we tend to focus on the most obvious issues. But if you are an iPhone user in China, you will no longer be able to access the emoji for the flag of Taiwan. The change occurred in the most recent Apple update to the iPhone (iOS 13.1.1). China does not recognize Taiwan as an independent country deserving of its own flag. Apparently, Apple agrees.

There have been five days of protests in Iraq, resulting in almost 100 deaths. The political situation in Iraq has never been really stable after the US overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. But the focus on defeating ISIS in Iraq sidelined many of the issues that have caused the recent unrest. The defeat of the territorial-based caliphate has rendered the security situation somewhat more manageable (many ISIS-adherents are still around). The protesters are exercised by corruption in the government and the decided lack of progress in rebuilding the infrastructure of the state. Additionally, the Iraqi nation is still fractured along ethnic and sectarian lines: 60% of the population are Shia Muslims, 20% Sunni Muslims, and 20% Kurds. All these groups have different aspirations and grievances which have so far defied resolution. Patrick Cockburn is a reporter in Iraq and he describes the recent protests:

“It turned out that the government had managed to turn a small demonstration of 3,000 people in Tahrir Square, who had been protesting for three months against official corruption, a lack of jobs and poor services, into a major incident. The protesters had tried to cross the Jumhuriya Bridge which leads in the direction of the green zone, the site of the parliament, the prime minister’s office and other official buildings. The riot police, who have a bad reputation in Iraq, opened fire with rubber bullets, stun grenades, and, eventually, live rounds. Soon a video was flashing around social media of the protesters, mostly under 20, being attacked by the police and hosed with hot water.

“It was this incident which turned a small scale protest into mass demonstrations which may bring down the government of prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi. The riot police inadvertently detonated the explosive resentment felt by almost all Iraqis towards the kleptocratic state which has stolen as much as $450bn since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003.”

The unrest in Iraq raises difficult questions for the US, which relies upon Iraq to act somewhat as a counterweight to Iranian power in the Middle East. Iraq is sympathetic to Iran, but most of the citizenry is also nationalistic and does not regard Iran as a reliable ally (one needs to remember that Iraqis are Arabs and Iranians are Persians).

Posted October 6, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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