Iraqis use Social Media to Pressure Govt

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.

Social networking sites in Iraq are turning into a real pressure tool on government decision-making centers. This became obvious April 28 when activists and bloggers started a media campaign on Facebook against the Iraqi government for failing to save the soldiers stationed at the Nazim al-Tharthar dam located 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Baghdad.

The Iraqi soldiers were attacked by the Islamic State (IS). Media reports said that about 150 were killed in the attack and that soldiers had been besieged for 16 days.

The Iraqi government, represented by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, denied the news circulating on social media that the dam fell into the hands of IS, and that the soldiers were trapped there.

Social networking sites have a significant impact on the politics in Iraq, which is proven by two important events: the Iraqi government’s decision in early June 2014 to censure social media in all parts of the country, including Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, following the escalating security tension, and when Khaled al-Mafraji, the member of parliament for the Coalition of National Forces, a Sunni bloc, accused the State of Law Coalition April 30 on social networking sites and in the media of a systematic campaign against Defense Minister Khaled al-Obaidi.

On April 26, activists and citizens used Facebook to call for demonstrations to oust Obaidi and try him for the Nazim al-Tharthar massacre. Iraqi member of parliament Aliya Nassif said in an April 25 press statement that 50 soldiers were killed during the Nazim al-Tharthar incident after IS members trapped them on the site.

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