Kidnappings, murders, persecution and agitation ... all of this is violence perpetrated by the armed militias and their supporters. And let′s not forget the writers and journalists on their pay lists who assume the tawdry task of monitoring any free and rebellious voices, disparaging them and stirring up feeling against them in the social networks.

Indeed social media has become a hub, both for those seeking to drive a wedge between the religious denominations and for the "online mercenaries", who agitate against any voice that is raised in protest at their destructive agenda in order to silence them. The armed groups, for their part, feel that this agitation is an appeal, entitling them to kidnap or even murder anyone who disagrees with them. Facebook has become a lethal place to be.

A terrifying power

Recent months in Iraq have been marked by excessive agitation campaigns against anyone who came into the crosshairs and had to be silenced. After each of these campaigns, it becomes clear that there has been another kidnapping: the people targeted are activists, writers, journalists, artists, not to mention normal people who have the temerity to express an opinion.

If those kidnapped happen to be well known, there is at least the hope that they will get off lightly and will ultimately be released. Those who are not well known, on the other hand, often end up dead in a rubbish dump, as was the case with the actor Karar Nushi. One of these agitation campaigns cost him his life.

Recapturing Mosul from Islamic State (photo: Reuters)
Al- Maliki is accused of having contributed to the rise of IS. Pursuing a strictly sectarian line, he excluded the Sunni Arabs, favoured by Saddam Hussein, from the process of rebuilding Iraq. All the positions of power were occupied by Shias. This is one reason why many Sunnis initially welcomed the IS jihadists as saviours when they began conquering sections of the country in 2014

With the same zeal, the mob targets young people like Naba al-Jubouri, who was blackmailed with compromising material.

An unknown person, who is assumed to have been in a relationship with the teenager, posted videos and images on the Internet that showed her in private and intimate moments. When the material spread, the "Facebook apparatus" reacted with condemnation. The leaked images and videos were spread with a view to calling the young woman's "virtue" into question. Naba al-Jubouri was murdered a short time later. Thanks to the prevailing patriarchal social system in Iraq, the real criminal remained a free man.

In today's Iraq, there is no force more powerful than the militias and no voice louder than those who seek to drive a wedge between the religious denominations. In this country, it is not considered legitimate to adopt a stance that runs contrary to the views of the armed groups. Murder and kidnapping are the unavoidable result of the disintegration of a state that is trying not to crumble in the face of signs of political and social collapse, intervention from abroad, and militias and groups that are dictating security policy.

The horror caused by the illegal weapons circulated by the militias, which is currently being experienced even in those cities in Iraq not previously plagued by conflict, is not only a serious problem for law enforcement and the principle of the rule of law, it also hampers economic and social progress and prevents an improvement in the appalling services that constitutes Iraq′s public sector.

Safaa Khalaf

© 2018

Safaa Khalaf is an Iraqi publicist and author.

Translated from the German by Aingeal Flanagan

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