Sources of the civil current organizing popular demonstrations in Iraq these days said unknown men have assassinated four protest organizers in the provinces of Ziqar and Basra in the south. Amongst those murdered is Sheikh Sabah al-Karmush, one of the most renowned sit-in organizers in Basra Province who died of his wounds after an IED placed into his vehicle detonated.
Who killed Khaled al-Agili?
Al-Agili was a civil movement activist and renowned amongst those who are demonstrating and protesting these days in Baghdad against corruption, sectarian rationing and Iran’s influence in Iraq. Unknown men came to his home, knocked on the door and when he opened the door they riddled him with bullets using a silencer-equipped weapon. This good man lost his life outside his own house and remained at the site for about an hour without his family realizing at all. The murderers who came knocking on the door had no intention but to murder him. All the locals know these unknown men; of course not by name, but by their political and sectarian identity.
In the meantime, Moslem al-Rekabi and Walid al-Taie, two activists behind the demonstrations of Nasiriya were also gunned down and assassinated through similar methods with silencer-equipped weapons. These activists were all murdered in one day and while going to work or at their residence. Although they were killed in different places, according to activists their murder carries one single message: do not go so far as to organize protests and chant slogans against Iran and its affiliated groups. Aziz al-Halafi, Secretary-General of the National Tribal Association in Basra referred to this very subject very specifically on that day, after he survived an assassination attempt, and again the murderers were using silencer-equipped weapons.
“We were demanding our three requests. I was the most important official of my party and I hold the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq responsible for this,” he said.
Those who attempted to assassinate al-Halafi were of the same group who intended to murder Ali Zab’hawi, a demonstration activist in Najaf Province through similar methods.
Prior to these assassinations the protest organizers in Basra had received death threats specifically saying they will be murdered if they do not end their presence on the streets. These threats also called on individuals – described in the texts as ‘turbaned’ – to return to their mosques and religious centers, and stop poisoning the country’s political and social atmosphere. Prior to this, Badr Corps commander Hadi al-Ameri, a known element of Iran’s Quds Force in Iraq, very publicly threatened civil movements and described all demonstrators as being affiliated to foreign countries. Al-Ameri can very well live up to his threats as he is known to have death squads roaming Iraq since 2003, assassinating and carrying out countless crimes across the country. The real threat now is the status quo to go chaotic and become completely out of control as demonstrations have even reached the cities of Najaf and Karbala where the militants consider sacred grounds. These rallies are protesting corruption across Iraq and opening various dossiers in this regard. The demonstrators who launched their rallies with the objective of uprooting corruption in their country are now targeting religious parties and militants. Therefore, all militants and religious parties linked to the Quds Force have no time to choose: either kill to prevent their annihilation, or face prosecution in court.
In this phase the orders issued by the Quds Force to its associated militants is to assassinate demonstration activists in various provinces, hoping these murderers will force the people to back down from their protests and demands. This is the same policy they resorted to back in 2011 at the beginning of the Arab Spring in Baghdad. Back then it worked out and they were able to quell the demonstrations. In this phase, however, Iran has seriously miscalculated its measures because back then Maliki was the Prime Minister of Iraq and he fully implemented the Quds Force’s policy in this country. Maliki is gone now, and Dr. Haider al-Abadi is the Prime Minister of Iraq. This method adopted by the Quds Force, meaning assassinated demonstration activists, will actually backlash and radicalize demonstration against the interests of Iran and its associated militants.