Oct 13, 2019
Iraq, which has just recently purged foreign-backed militants from most of its territories, is now grappling with violent unrest that also has foreign roots and, as evidence shows, is being fueled by Saudi Arabia.
The protests, which began Tuesday as peaceful rallies calling for better life conditions in a country that has the 4th largest oil and gas resources, soon took a violent turn due to targeted media campaigns and social media posts that encouraged people to take over government offices and confront security forces.
So far dozens of people have been killed after attempting to enter the Green Zone in Baghdad, where government offices and foreign diplomatic missions are located.
At iuvmpress, we have decided to run an in-depth analysis of the coverage that the unrest has received over the past four days and found clear links to Saudi Arabia and its propaganda network.
While there have been reports of large internet outages in parts of Iraq over the past few days, the unrest has been consistently among the top trending topics on Twitter, one of the most popular social networking websites among Arab users.
A closer analysis of the most tweets with the main Arabic hashtags of the unrest shows that most of the 33,000 tweets over the past two weeks originate from Saudi Arabia.
The tweets were mostly posted from Saudi cities like Riyadh (26%), Jeddah (14%) and even the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
Most retweeted tweets with this specific hashtag also belonged to well-known Saudi accounts, as seen in the image below:
The top “influencers” of the protests also included some interesting names such as Rima Maktabi, the UK Bureau Chief at Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya network, and Mohammed al-Bukairy, a Jeddah-based online activist.
Joining the Saudi tide, unsurprisingly, are Israeli media and online activist who are pushing the envelope even further by calling for attacks against Iran’s diplomatic missions as well as spreading lies about Shia Muslims.
One of the accounts that sticks out the most is Edy Cohen, who has a large following and introduces himself as an academic and researcher specialized in Middle East affairs.
Cohen’s tweets mostly target Arab citizens in the region and since the beginning of the protests he has been tweeting in both Arabic and Farsi, trying to divide Iraqi people while inciting violence against Iranians in the Arab country.
The targeted campaign and the sudden wave of attacks against Shia Muslims and Iranians in particular comes only days before the Arabeen, when millions of Iranians and Muslims from other countries are expected to travel to Iraq to mark the 40th day after the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein, the third Shia Imam.
The pilgrims will be walking the distance between Najaf and Karbala, the two holy cities that have been witnessing unrest over the past few days.
The anti-Shia posts have even prompted terrorists to hatch a plot to assassinate Iraq’s top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Iraqi security forces foiled the attack on Friday.
It is also worth noting that while some protesters have been filmed chanting slogans against Iran, it is undeniable that most of the demonstrators have refused to joint that bandwagon because it was Iran that helped Iraq overcome the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.
It is no longer a secret that Daesh and many other Wahhabi-inspired extremist groups around the region enjoy unconditional support from Saudi Arabia in terms of weapons, funding and diplomacy.
The people of Iraq have far more reasons to be chanting slogans against Saudi Arabia, which over the past years has sided with the American military invasion of Iraq and even