He submitted his resignation after a session that witnessed stormy disputes over responsibility for the killing of Iraqi demonstratorsWednesday 13 November 2019 10:53
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Repression of protest movements in Iraq kills more than 300 protesters (Getty Images)
[size=17]Conflicting reports about the fate of a senior Iraqi official reveal the extent of internal political disputes over who is responsible for the killing of unarmed Iraqi demonstrators who have come out since the beginning of last month to demand their constitutional rights in a country the authorities say is democratic.
Diversion and exile
A government source leaked to dawn on Wednesday to local media close to the authority, the news of the resignation of Abu Jihad al-Hashemi, director of the office of Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, but media owned by Iraqi armed factions loyal to Iran, denied the news.
Hashemi is a prominent member of the Supreme Council, which was founded by Iran from Iraqi opponents to fight their country's army in the 1980s war between the two countries. After 2003, he was known for his close proximity to the Quds Force commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Qasem Soleimani.
When Iraqi President Barham Saleh commissioned Abdul Mahdi to form his ministry, al-Hashemi was named director of his office, with the rank of minister, not only as a reward for his efforts, but to participate in building the executive branch and monitoring its performance.
Much is said about al-Hashemi's influence in the Iraqi government and political circles. Politicians do not hesitate to say that the man plays major roles in appointing ministers and choosing generals to command certain military units, as well as contracts that give local and foreign companies for billions of dollars.
When the Iraqi protests broke out about 43 days ago, and the Iraqi government responded to them with excessive violence, al-Hashemi reportedly led a crisis cell overseeing the handling of demonstrations.
A mediator between Soleimani and Abdul Mahdi
Numerous sources leaked information related to meetings of a security nature in Baghdad, chaired by al-Hashemi, during the past few weeks, with the participation of advisers from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, to develop plans to contain the protests, while identical sources said that al-Hashemi conveyed to Abdul-Mahdi Soleimani's commitment to Iran's full support Until the crisis crosses.
Two sources in the office of Abdul-Mahdi and another in the Iraqi parliament told "The Independent Arab" that "al-Hashemi submitted his resignation from his post, director of the Prime Minister's Office, on Tuesday evening."
The sources explained that "the resignation came after a stormy session to assess the government's security dealings with the demonstrations, witnessed significant differences between Abdul Mahdi and the director of his office, who was accused of issuing direct orders to kill demonstrators in certain cases, including an attempt to reach the Green Zone," which includes the headquarters Iraqi government and embassies of important foreign countries.
[rtl]read moreShe added that the evaluation session was held after a telephone call received by the Iraqi Prime Minister from the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, included a clear criticism of the government repression of the demonstrators, causing hundreds of deaths, injuring thousands, and the disappearance of dozens of activists and demonstrators.[/rtl]
This call was preceded by public criticism at home and abroad of excessive government violence against peaceful demonstrators, whose constitution guarantees them the right to express and demonstrate.
Soleimani saves the position
Later, media owned by armed factions loyal to Iran, denied the news of al-Hashemi's resignation, but informed sources said that "General Qasim Soleimani intervened urgently to contain the matter."
Suleimani, according to sources, asked Hashemi to withdraw his resignation, which may have been made at the request of the prime minister himself, in an attempt to give a big scapegoat to the Iraqi street angry over the killing of protesters and widespread internal and external criticism of excessive violence.
The sources stressed that stopping the resignation procedures, does not mean the end of disputes in the office of Abdul-Mahdi. The search for a scapegoat continues, amid expectations that the killing of protesters will be blamed on the security establishment.
Mix ending protest
Iraqi authorities believe they have reached an ideal mix that will help end the protest movement that began early last month, punctuated by major government violence, which killed more than 300 demonstrators and wounded 15,000 others.
The new mix consists of a package of political measures aimed at venting the anger of protesters, convincing them of the seriousness of the political class in meeting their demands, and another security attempting to confine the demonstrators in Tahrir Square, central Baghdad, to ensure the normal functioning of life in the heart of the capital.
The package of political measures begins with a cabinet reshuffle that will reach 11 ministers in the Mahdi government, who may be announced within days. The new ministers will be young and not from the current political class, although the second condition is not safe, as it is unusual to give up. Political parties express their interests in the executive easily.
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