Global audiences have been subject to relentless coverage over the past few months on protests in Hong Kong, with the narrative strongly skewered in favour of alleged brutality by local police forces. One could look at this at face value and believe this is the most brutal and shocking thing going on in the world right now. Yet, it isn’t. Thousands of miles away in the Middle East, protests have also been raging in Iraq for months. They are motivated by a number of reasons, including perceived anger over government corruption, poor social services but also deemed subservience by the authorities to the United States on one hand, and Iran in the other.
The situation is far worse than anything in Hong Kong. As of December over 433 people are dead, mainly because of the Iraqi army utilizing live fire against protesters, 15,000 more are injured. This contrasts to the former British colony where nobody has actually died at the hands of police either directly or indirectly. Yet, nobody is talking about Iraq. Few people know about it and even fewer care. Also different is the sheer level of scrutiny you hear on these issues from all walks of mainstream commentary and governments themselves. Why do you not hear about sanctions or bills from congress? Any International responses? Does anyone care?
The mainstream media effectively control public consciousness by emphasizing issues you “should” care about and de-emphasizing ones you shouldn’t, subsequently slanting your apprehension of reality and the world around you. This paints a lopsided picture: The media want audiences to believe firing tear gas in Hong Kong is unacceptable, but that the massacre of demonstrators in Iraq is not worth your time or attention. The truth is: Middle Eastern and Muslim lives do not tend to matter in the eyes of the western media elite unless there is another agenda behind it.
Iraq is a failed state, one which lacks internal legitimacy and stability does not function coherently. Created artificially as a British client state out of a partition of Ottoman Land in 1917, Iraq has consisted a number of antagonistic ethno-religious groups (Shi’ite Arabs, Sunni Arabs and Kurds) within a fragile state structure. This has produced endless instability and conflict in the region, giving rise to the regime of Saddam Hussein who invaded Iran and Kuwait, which in turn paved the way for several western led wars including the illegal invasion of 2003.
Although inevitably the west celebrated Saddam’s demise for obvious reasons, the invasion proved to yield any merit in what it has achieved for the Iraqi people. The upheaval saw the country struck with an Al-Qaeda insurgency and then later the rise of ISIS, who proceeded to annex swathes of Iraq and pursue genocide. Yet even with these challenges overcome, the new government has not been able to garnish any local legitimacy, competence or satisfaction, opening up the crisis of this summer.
Thus: A successful democracy does not work on pure idealism, which is why western attempts to impose it in Iraq again and again have ended in brutal failure. Yet with the country’s oil reserves now finally under the wing of American interests, suddenly Iraq just isn’t important anymore, and that’s why you aren’t hearing about it, as if all these so called “crusades” into the country beforehand weren’t really about the well-being of its population…