New York City, N.Y., Dec 4, 2019 / 16:01 pm
The largest protests in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein signal the rejection by most Iraqis of the country's post-2003 structure and government, the Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil told the UN Security Council Wednesday.
Since the beginning of October, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis has been protesting government corruption. They have also objected to Iran's influence over their country's internal affairs. More than 420 have been killed by security forces.
The protests are “a rejection of a sectarian-based Constitution, which has divided Iraq and prevented it from becoming a unified and functioning country. Instead of bringing hope and prosperity, the current government structure has brought continued corruption and despair, especially to the youth of Iraq,” Archbishop Bashar Warda said at a Security Council meeting on Iraq held in New York City Dec. 3.
He added that Iraqi youth “have made it clear that they want Iraq to be independent of foreign interference, and to be a place where all can live together as equal citizens in a country of legitimate pluralism and respect for all.”
Archbishop Warda noted that Christians and other minorities “have been welcomed into the protest movement by the Iraqi Muslims,” which “demonstrates real hope for positive changes in which a new government in Iraq … will be much more positive towards a genuinely multi-religious Iraq with full citizenship for all and an end to this sectarian disease which has so violently harmed and degraded us all.”
He also highlighted the non-violent nature of the protests, especially in the face of the crackdown by security forces.
“At stake is whether Iraq will finally emerge from the trauma of Saddam and the past 16 years to become a legitimate, independent and functioning country, or whether it will become a permanently lawless region, open to proxy wars between other countries and movements, and a servant to the sectarian demands of those outside Iraq,” the archbishop stated.
He said that if the protests lead to a new government with a new constitution “not based in Sharia but instead based upon the fundamental concepts of freedom for all … then a time of hope can still exist for the long suffering Iraqi people.”