Foreign Policy Blogs

In Iraq, a Slow and Subtle Response to Arab Unrest

When it comes to civil unrest, Iraqis must be delighted to share the proverbial wealth.

Today, Iraqi Airlines will announce its official determination regarding their decision to halt flights to and from Egypt due to the ongoing crisis in Cairo. Iraq’s Civil Aviation Authority and Iraqi Airlines will meet today to make the decision. One would expect that the if the protests in Egypt continue, flights will be halted.

Interestingly enough, this is the first and only official Iraqi response to the Egyptian protests. The silence is deafening. 

However, the people have clearly taken notice. After the suicide attack on a funeral Thursday that left 48 people dead and 121 injured, a crowd of angry Iraqis turned on the security forces that have been unable to protect them. Of couse, news of the uprising in Suez and Cairo was slow to make the rounds because Egyptian television was not reporting the events as they unfolded. Rather, incidents in Tunisia, Algeria and especially Lebanon have catalyzed Iraqi indignation.

The new and fragile Iraqi government is currently reeling from criticism of last week’s court decision to place formerly independent agencies like the central bank and the election commission under the government’s executive branch. This move alarmed many who fear that Prime Minister Maliki has deliberately circumvented checks on his premiership.

However, if Iraqis take to the street to censure their government, they won’t have driven to protest by executive power-plays and questionable judicial rulings. The Iraqi people demand electricity, security and job opportunities. At this point, the crisis in Iraq remains considerably more hazardous than Egypt. I admire the patience and perseverance of the Iraqi people, but I must wonder how long until they join their comrades in Egypt to say “Kifaya!” 



Reid Smith

Reid Smith has worked as a research associate specializing on U.S. policy in the Middle East and as a political speechwriter. He is currently a doctoral student and graduate associate with the University of Delaware's Department of Political Science and International Relations. He blogs and writes for The American Spectator.