Traffic Snarls, Violence Accompany Motorcades

By Wassim Bassem for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

On Feb. 18, the bodyguards of national security adviser Faleh al-Fayad beat up a group of journalists and media workers in the Al-Nahrain Center for Strategic Studies when they refused to leave the conference Fayad was attending. The incident triggered a major political and public controversy.

On Jan. 29, in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, the security detail of Iraqi Human Rights Minister Mohammed Mahdi al-Bayati attacked a traffic officer and police officers who stopped the minister’s convoy in the course of regulating traffic. On Jan. 31, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered an investigation into the incident.

This was not the first time that people have complained about altercations cause by the convoys and security details of state officials, and such incidents are widely discussed by the public in the traditional and social media.

Trouble with the convoys of state officials in Iraq is not new. Before 2003, the convoy of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was a common sight in cities. Saddam’s convoy was attacked by oppositionists in Dujail, Salahuddin province, in 1982. As punishment, 143 residents were executed and several properties were destroyed by the security services of Saddam’s regime.

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Abbas al-Musawi, the media adviser to former prime minister and current Vice President Nouri al-Maliki, admitted that it is “difficult to control large convoys of state officials. [The convoys] are part of the power and privileges that those officials refuse to waive. Some [officials] say that the bad security situation makes these convoys necessary.”

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