A picture taken late on November 3 shows the name of Khomeini Street in the central Iraqi city of Najaf covered with black paint and replaced with handwriting by the name "Revolution Street" in a symbolic move to change the street's name by anti-government protesters in the holy Shiite shrine city. - The street is named after the late founder the Islamic republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Baghdad has close but complicated ties with its eastern neighbor Iran, with whom it fought a deadly war in the 1980s but which now has significant political and economic sway in Iraq. (AFP via Getty Images)

Can Iraqi Regime Be Changed?

Asharq Al-Awsat, London, November 7

 

A handful of revolutions have shaken the region of late, but none has paved the way to the rise of a new regime. Leaders resigned and governments fell, but the regimes remained strong in Egypt, Tunisia and Sudan. In Libya and Yemen, state institutions have completely collapsed, yet the two countries are still in political limbo, finding themselves without alternative political systems or effective state institutions. The protests in Iraq caught the world by surprise since no one truly expected them to erupt, let alone be sustained at such intensity throughout the entire country. Although Iraqi phone lines had been cut off and Wi-Fi signals suspended, the Iraqi people have not backed down. The sad truth, however, is that despite the protesters’ admirable insistence, they are unlikely to topple the regime. The Iraqi masses who have taken to the streets are certainly able to force the government to resign. But this will change very little on the ground. The biggest achievement of these protestors is the ability to send Iran a message that its influence over Iraqi politics is not wanted. This is what brought hundreds of protestors to demonstrate outside the Iranian consulate and set it on fire. The people of Iraq are well aware of the fact that their government might be Iraqi but its orders come from Tehran. Unfortunately, previous experience teaches us that the alternative to a government that steps down is not always clear. Sometimes, the resignation of the government is the easiest thing to offer because the alternative is not much better. – Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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