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Jan 20, 2020
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Spokesman for the Commander-in-Chief of Iraq’s Armed Forces Argues with TV Host over Number of Victims among Protesters; Interview Degenerates into Insults

#7752 | 05:14
Source: Dijlah TV (Iraq)

General Abdul Karim Khalaf, the spokesman for the Commander-in-Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces – PM Abdel Mahdi – was interviewed on Al-Dijlah TV (Iraq) on January 20, 2020. He said that in the recent clashes between protesters and Iraq’s security forces, the forces had been instructed to avoid violence at all costs, that conventional non-violent crowd control measures, such as tear gas and arrests, were used to prevent protesters from crossing barricades, and that no protesters had been killed by live fire from the security forces. General Khalaf also said that the number of people killed during the protests is a “complicated issue” that he cannot briefly clarify, and when the TV host said that according to Iraq’s Interior Minister, 482 Iraqis had been killed in the protests, 165 of whom had not been protesters, the interview degenerated into an argument in which both men accused each other of being uninformed. Jasim accused General Khalaf of being a mouthpiece for the government and for murderers, and General Khalaf called Jasim a cockroach. General Khalaf eventually removed his microphone, ending the interview, and Jasim apologized to the viewers, saying that General Khalaf had “crossed the line” when confronted with official statistics despite having been treated with respect.

Following are excerpts:

 

General Abdul Karim Khalaf: What happened today is that the security forces were deployed in specific places. These places are well-known. There are some barricades there, and the young [protesters] wanted to cross them. The instructions of the Commander-in-Chief were to not use violence under any circumstances. All that happened was that the protesters were prevented from crossing, and some of them, who insisted on blocking traffic, were arrested. The use of some measures… 10-12 tear gas canisters in each place… This is done all over the world. It’s nothing new. It’s not the exaggerated use of force you talked about. This is what happened. There was no violence. None of the things you are talking about took place. Nobody was killed by live fire, for example.

 

[…]

 

Dr. Nabil Jasim: We are not the kind of country in which the security system is separated from the political system, corrent?

General Abdul Karim Khalaf: Incorrect. Saying this is kind of malicious.

Dr. Nabil Jasim: Watch what you are saying, General. I ask you to watch what terms you use. Let’s raise the level of debate here, General.

General Abdul Karim Khalaf: I said this because you were digging deep, so don’t tell me to watch what I’m saying…

Dr. Nabil Jasim: I will dig deep. I’m not trying to simplify things. I don’t want to dumb things down for the people.

General Abdul Karim Khalaf: You criticize people as much as you like, but you don’t want others to criticize you. Do you have immunity from criticism?

 

[…]

 

[The number of victims] is a complicated issue. I cannot clarify it in a matter of minutes.

Dr. Nabil Jasim: Actually, it isn’t so complicated. Allow me to disagree with you. We do not just invent figures. It seems to me that you are not following the news. The Interior Minister was quoted by Ittijah TV as saying that 482 martyrs across the country were killed in the demonstrations, and that 165 of these people had not been part of the demonstrations. If you want, we can send you this information. This is just a comment on what you said. I know you’ll say that there were injuries among the forces…

General Abdul Karim Khalaf: Listen, if you invited me in order to fight with me…

Dr. Nabil Jasim: This is a statement by the Interior Minister…

General Abdul Karim Khalaf: Do you want me to declare you the winner? Fine, I’ll call you the winner, the hero… I give you facts in response to your questions…

Dr. Nabil Jasim: This is a statement by the Interior Minister…

General Abdul Karim Khalaf: You are the one who is not following the news. The figures you are quoting are astronomical.

Dr. Nabil Jasim: General, this is a statement by the Interior Minister. I beg you to maintain your self-control. This is a statement by the Interior Minister. Trust me.

General Abdul Karim Khalaf: My self-control is bigger than you are.

Dr. Nabil Jasim: What?

General Abdul Karim Khalaf: My self-control is bigger than you are.

Dr. Nabil Jasim: Watch your manners, General.

General Abdul Karim Khalaf: You are the one who has no manners.

Dr. Nabil Jasim: Watch your manners!

General Abdul Karim Khalaf: You call yourself a doctor, but you have no manners.

Dr. Nabil Jasim: Watch your manners, you mouthpiece of the government. Watch your manners. You are defending the killers and the killing. Watch your manners. I spoke to you with the utmost respect.

General Abdul Karim Khalaf: It’s enough that you are now working for a [TV channel] we are familiar with. We know how much you get paid when you move from one place to another.

Dr. Nabil Jasim: Do you want me to talk about your record? Shame on you.

General Abdul Karim Khalaf: Let’s talk about my record and about your record.

Dr. Nabil Jasim: Watch your manners, Abdul Karim. People should not hear this kind of dialoge.

General Abdul Karim Khalaf: You are the one who has no manners, you fool! It’s beneath me to talk to an idiot like you. Cockroach!

Dr. Nabil Jasim: Watch your manners, you mouthpiece of the government and of the murderers! I apologize to the viewers. This man has left us no option. He cursed on the air. I apologize to the viewers. I tried as much as I could to ask him questions based on official reports and on the statement by the Interior Minister. This man came ready [to fight]. I treated him with respect throughout the interview, out of respect for the rank he represents, but he crossed the line in an unacceptable way.

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