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From Baghdad’s Al-Rashid … to Nicephorus in Tehran: Has the message been received?

Ahmed Al-Jarallah Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

THE Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika tried to deceive the people when they demanded he should not vie for the presidential elections for the fifth time but he did not expect the tables to turn on him. The people revolted, and the peaceful revolt continues to this day.

At the same time, former Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir tried to suppress the protests in the beginning by using violence against demonstrators but the spell turned against him and he ended up behind bars. As a result, the people in the two countries have turned out victorious over suppression.

Iraqi officials must bear these two lessons in mind and shouldn’t depend on “patching up” politics and deceiving millions of Iraqis who take to the streets almost on a daily basis demanding the ouster of the current regime.

These demonstrations have resulted in violent confrontations between government forces and demonstrators, and the former will one day find themselves alone with no popular coverage. This reminds us of the 1958 events in Iraq when Iraqis revolted against the monarchy, which then became a phenomenon on the streets of Iraq. This is one scenario that has kept the rulers in Iraq on tenterhooks for the past six decades.

It is well-known that Iraqis do not have much patience with the rulers if they discover that their demands are not met, even if the regimes are most repressive and cruel, because they seek to revolt against the system at the earliest given opportunity. Iraqis have been patient for 16 years in the face of sectarian quotas that rule their country, because they have been trying through their parties to correct the wrong practices and to end an era of systematic looting, but to no avail, until they have become intolerant to a point of no return.

This time around, they have taken to the streets to demand improvement in basic services and jobs but the violent response from security forces has added fuel to the fire to the extent that the demonstrators now seek to overthrow the regime, which has become a tool in the hands of the Iranians, and Tehran does what it wants under the noses of Iraqis. This fact was realized by Iraqis from day one when they saw the wealth of their country being looted by Iranians in broad daylight, which made the Iraq of Haroun Al-Rashid a mere black market for exporting sectarian goods to the Arab world.

Perhaps, the Iranians who still bet on dominating Iraq should remember that the descendants of Haroun al-Rashid will not accept the continuation of their behavior and will undoubtedly repeat the words of Abbasid ruler Haroun Al-Rashid to Nicephorus the Byzantine when the latter refused to pay tribute to the Abbasids.

Nicephorus sent this famous letter to Al-Rashid: “From Nicephorus, emperor of the Romans to Harun king of the Arabs, my predecessor (Irene) treated you like a citadel and herself like a pawn. She carried to you her wealth, which you are not equal to carry, so save yourself and Makkah and return the gold or else the sword is between you and me.”

Harun Al Rashid was angry, so he took the same letter and wrote on its back: “In the name of Allah the most merciful, from Harun the Commander of the Faithful to Nicephorus the Roman dog, son of the Infidels, you will not hear my reply, you will see it.”

Harun Al-Rashid was as good as his word, he marched his army to the territories controlled by Nicephorus and defeated his armies, forcing Nicephorus to pay the tribute like his predecessor.

Everything that is happening in Iraq today can be seen as lessons from history for those who understand the movement of history, which bows to the will of the people and not the treacherous rulers.

Is Tehran’s Nicephorus reading Baghdad’s Al-Rashid letter of the angry people? Will the Iraqi leadership refresh their memory by reading Harun Al-Rashid’s letter?

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah

Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

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