What happened on Aug. 2 in Iraq was not just a paradox. On that day, forces in the government sponsored an event in Firdous Square in central Baghdad, in which pictures of Iranian leaders were raised including Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Another demonstration — demanding that the government provides services, security and a civil state — was organized by a group of young Facebook activists and held in Liberation Square. But government forces attacked the second demonstration and arrested a number of participants.
Although the distance between the two squares where the demonstrations were held is no more than 1 kilometer [0.6 miles], eyewitnesses told Al-Monitor that they saw private cars transporting demonstrators to Firdous Square — while preventing the other demonstrators from reaching Liberation Square, whose access roads were cut.