Sunday, July 12, 2020

Iraq: Another high profile death from coronavirus, corruption, 2 protesters shot and more

Another high profile death in Iraq from the coronavirus. Near the end of June, Ahmed Radhi, an Iraqi football legend, passed away.  Now?   Ibrahim Saleh (ANADOLU AGENCY) reports, "A senior Iraqi military officer has succumbed to coronavirus, the army said on Sunday. A military statement said Maj.-Gen Murad al-Rabi'e, commander of the infantry corps of the Iraqi army, died from COVID-19."  The coronavirus pandemic is global but Iraq has been especially hard hit.  Halgurd Sherwani (KURDISTAN 24) notes:

Iraq's Ministry of Health and Environment on Sunday reported over 2,300 new coronavirus infections, as well as more than 1,600 recoveries and 95 deaths due to complications related to the disease in the past 24 hours.

In its daily statement, the ministry mentioned that health workers had conducted 11,154 tests across the country in the same period, raising the total to 682,632 since the disease first entered the country. Out of the total examinations, 2,312 came back positive.

According to official data, the total number of infections in Iraq has crossed 77,506, which includes 44,724 recoveries, 3,150 deaths, 29,632 active cases.

For Iraq, the pandemic takes place as the healthcare industry in Iraq has been decimated.  The industry has suffered one brain drain after another -- healthcare professionals leaving Iraq.  It has suffered through doctors being targeted for assassination.  It has suffered a system that is both overwhelmed and underfunded.  Today, as the cases continue to increase, the hospitals in Iraq just do not have room for more patients. UNHCR explains, "Following the significant increase in the number of positive cases throughout the country, and given the capacity of public health facilities in certain governorates, some Directorates of Health (DoH) have stated that only moderate, severe, and critical cases will be accepted to their facilities. Asymptomatic cases and those with mild symptoms will be advised to self-isolate at home and will receive instructions on how to proceed. UNHCR in Iraq is already supporting the DoH in some governorates to conduct trainings on home care of COVID-19 cases."

The pandemic is only one of the many problems facing Iraq.  Another problem is the ongoing corruption.  AP reports, "Iraq’s Prime Minister took a first step on Saturday to combat cross-border corruption that has long plagued the country’s frontiers as part of a reform plan to grapple with unprecedented financial shortfalls."  Since May 7th, Mustafa al-Kadhimihas been the prime minister and, again, the corruption predates him becoming prime minister -- by nearly two decades.  ARAB WEEKLY points out, "Every Iraqi premier has pledged new measures to fight corruption but few have been able to make a dent in the deep-rooted practices across the public and private sector."  His talk about ending corruption comes after his promise to hold the military members who have killed protesters accountable.  How's that going by the way?

Thus far, no one's been held accountable.  Worse?  Fazel Hawramy (RUDAW) reports:

Security forces fired upon a group of demonstrators in southern Baghdad on Sunday lunchtime, killing two and wounding over a dozen, according to a protest spokesperson.

Thousands of people travelled from several southern Iraqi provinces to Baghdad in the early hours of Sunday morning, protesting an end to monthly, government-allocated compensation as part of an economic reform package announced by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

“They fired on us upon direct orders from Kadhimi and killed two of us,” protester spokesperson Sheikh Amer Shalan Rafawi told Rudaw.

Doesn't sound like anyone's been held accountable by the prime minister, does it?  No, not really.  Not really at all.  In fact, the protesters are still being targeted.  Different prime minister, same targeting. 

The following sites updated: