Exoneration, Electricity, and the Movement on TV

“Friday after Friday, until we kick Maliki out!” was a popular chant in Iraq two weeks ago and has held for today as well, for what groups have called “The Friday of Iraqi Exoneration.” Despite reports of extreme, almost absurd, security restrictions in parts of Iraq (like in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square where protesters were not allowed to bring: water bottles, posters, or even pens and markers that they had planned to use to create posters on the spot) there was enough of a turn out in Baghdad for Mailiki’s security forces to break them up by firing live rounds in the air. [See this video of Iraqis chanting, empty-handed, on al-Mutanabbe St. after having been pushed out of the square.] There were also reports of sizable rallies in ar-Ramadi and al-Anabar.

Many Iraq organizers though, such as Asma al-Haidari and Yanar Mohammed, have noted that over the last month numbers have fluctuated dramatically from week to week. Aside from the now expected severe repression, there is also the very real issue of scorching summer-time temperatures (which have reached highs of 50 to 60 degrees Celsius [122 to 140 Fahrenheit.]) This is coupled with the fact that for the past several months, there have been serious lobbying efforts by many Iraqi sectors to address chronic electricity shortages before the summer heat began. This is addressed directly by this Friday’s statement from the media office of “The Great Iraqi Revolution” when they write “and those that negotiated with the government in the past, are now coming back to the square, after they were used by the government who lured them with false promises. Let those who negotiated say ‘The government laughed at us!’ [ . . .] This government that could not meet the demands of a handful of individuals, will be unable to meet the demands of the people in general, whether those demands concern services, or the legitimate desire that the occupation leave . . .” (statement in original Arabic here.)

Indeed, rather than meeting demands by Iraqis for power to run A/C and fans, the Iraqi Electricity Ministry seems focused on closing a “Mega Deal” with the Australian energy giant Alstom Grid through the Turkish company Calik Energy, and planning an energy and electricity conference in Istanbul for late September.

Finally, there is word from the privately-owned and sometimes pro-protest Iraqi TV station al-sharqiya, that they are in the process of shooting a TV drama series in Cairo, featuring the Iraqi youth movement, and the struggles of its now almost 5 months of protest (still from shoot pictured left.) It is set to be released during this coming Ramadan, which this year begins on August 1st and ends on the 30th.

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