UN envoy tweets concern for oil, outrages Iraqi protesters

UN envoy outrages Iraqi protesters after tweeting concern for oil supplies, ignoring their suffering
2 min read
08 November, 2019
The UN envoy to Iraq, Jeanine Hennis has tweeted her concern about “disruption to critical infrastructure” as a result of anti-corruption protests, sparking outrage among Iraqis.
Jeanine Hennis was accused of insensitivity and bias [Getty]

Iraqi protesters have criticized the UN’s envoy to Iraq for bias towards the Iraqi government and insensitivity to protesters who have been killed over the course of a one month anti-corruption movement.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Hennis said that “disruption of critical infrastructure” in Iraq was “of grave concern” and referred specifically to the supply of oil from Iraq.

Protesters in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square on Friday condemned what they called “the UN mission’s standing by while repression by the authorities increases”.

The death toll from protests in Iraq now stands at nearly 300. Nearly 12,000 protesters have also been injured. The authorities have also cut off the Internet across the country for the past three days.

Read more: Tuk-Tuks of Tahrir – The unlikely symbol of a revolution in Iraq

Some activists said that Hennis’s tweet did not merely express her own opinion but represented the position of the UN, while others called on the UN to launch an investigation into the envoy, who is Dutch by nationality.

Zeina Al-Ta’i, a protester in Baghdad told The New Arab, “This woman has accused people who have called for a dignified life of destroying their country’s economy but she ignored the government who has been destroying Iraq’s economy for 16 years and stolen its huge wealth over these years while millions went poor and were unemployed.”

Protests in Iraq began on 1st October and were spurred by endemic corruption, poverty, poor public services, and high rates of unemployment. Iraq is OPEC’s second largest oil producer but it is also one of the most corrupt countries in the world, ranked 12th in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.

The unemployment rate is roughly 25 percent among young Iraqis and oil-rich regions such as Basra suffer high rates of poverty. On the other hand, since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, officials have been accused of stealing billions of dollars of the country’s wealth.

Saad Hamed, a protester who has camped out in Tahrir Square told The New Arab, “We’ve now added a new demand, that the UN holds its envoy to Iraq to account. We accuse her of bias towards the government and selectivity dealing with facts.”

In response to the protesters’ criticism, Hannis later tweeted that that “the UN is a partner for each and every Iraqi seeking change.”

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