Hacked Iraqi Counter-Ter­ror­ism Ser­vice ‘an­nounces coup’

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The Twit­ter ac­count of the Iraqi mil­i­tary’s anti-ter­ror­ism unit was hacked yes­ter­day to an­nounce that el­e­ments of the army were mov­ing to de­pose the gov­ern­ment in a coup af­ter weeks of mass protests met by vi­o­lence by the au­thor­i­ties.

The claim came a day af­ter the au­thor­i­ties killed at least 13 demon­stra­tors and wounded dozens, mostly in south­ern Iraq, push­ing the death toll in the al­most two-month upris­ing to more than 350.

The an­nounce­ment on the Iraqi elite Counter-Ter­ror­ism Ser­vice of­fi­cial Twit­ter ac­count said that the force’s com­man­der, Lt Gen Taleb Al Kanani, had launched a coup against what it called the il­le­git­i­mate gov­ern­ment to “halt the shed­ding of blood in re­sponse to the de­mands of the sons of the Iraqi peo­ple and the demon­stra­tors”.

“The cor­rupt of­fi­cials are cur­rently be­ing rounded up inside the Green Zone,” the an­nounce­ment said, claim­ing that Prime Min­is­ter Adel Ab­dul Mahdi would be ar­rested.

Yet on the ground, no such oper­a­tion ap­peared to have been launched.

“We would like to state that the CTS’s of­fi­cial page was hacked by weak-spir­ited peo­ple,” the Joint Oper­a­tions Com­mand said yes­ter­day.

“What was pub­lished on this page about dis­obe­di­ence was base­less and had no cred­i­bil­ity at all.”

Lt Gen Al Kanani also re­port­edly de­nied that he was in­volved in any at­tempted coup.

Sev­eral gov­ern­ment web­sites and so­cial me­dia streams have been hacked since the start of the mass upris­ing at the be­gin­ning of Oc­to­ber.

One of the blood­i­est days was Sun­day, with gov­ern­ment forces and Iran-backed mili­tias fo­cus­ing on paci­fy­ing im­pov­er­ished re­gions in the south. Demon­stra­tions con­tin­ued across the coun­try yes­ter­day.

Most of Iraq’s oil is pro­duced in the south and the area of­fers

Iraq’s only ac­cess to the sea. Demon­stra­tors have burnt tyres and blocked main roads.

Se­cu­rity and hos­pi­tal of­fi­cials said seven pro­test­ers were killed on Sun­day near the city of Umm Qasr, Iraq’s commoditie­s port.

Se­cu­rity forces fired live bul­lets at demon­stra­tors and used tear gas. In Basra city cen­tre, pro­test­ers used burn­ing tyres to cut off main roads.

Of­fi­cials said four pro­test­ers were killed in Nasiriyah prov­ince, the home town of Mr Ab­dul Mahdi, and one each in Na­jaf and Di­waniyah.

Pro­test­ers are de­mand­ing the re­moval of the po­lit­i­cal class, re­garded as cor­rupt and un­der the con­trol of Iran.

Tribal al­le­giances in the south are strong, but pupils and teach­ers have been lead­ing ral­lies out­side schools and pub­lic of­fices in a grow­ing civil coali­tion, un­der­min­ing tra­di­tional meth­ods used by the state to pla­cate the tribes. The Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry directed schools to open on Sun­day but pro­test­ers in Nasiriyah de­fied the or­der.

Min­is­ter of State for For­eign Af­fairs Dr An­war Gar­gash on Sat­ur­day called for a re­gion-wide re­sponse to the protests in Iraq and in Le­banon by de­vel­op­ing “a pos­i­tive vi­sion” to pre­serve sta­bil­ity.

Ad­dress­ing the Manama Di­a­logue in Bahrain, Dr Gar­gash said the up­heaval should spur Mid­dle East pol­i­cy­mak­ers to act.

“Along with diplo­macy we need a pos­i­tive vi­sion of sta­bil­ity in the wider re­gion as we see many young peo­ple take to the streets in Iran, Iraq and Le­banon,” Dr Gar­gash said.

“As we watch the demon­stra­tions we recog­nise very clearly it is fore­most about the ef­fi­cacy of the po­lit­i­cal-eco­nomic sys­tem. It is se­condly about cor­rup­tion.

“It is really about de­liv­ery and about gov­er­nance.”

AFP

An Iraqi pro­tester in the south­ern city of Basra yes­ter­day

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