US responds to Iraqi teen's Instagram plea over deteriorating situation

When Ali Adil made a desperate appeal to President Joe Biden, he didn't expect the US State Department would respond

An Iraqi social media influencer has attracted the attention of top officials in Washington with a plea to President Joe Biden to help him seek refuge outside of the country.

High school pupil Ali Adil, 17, has been using social media platforms for the last five years to convey the struggles of young Iraqis as they experience few employment opportunities, electricity cuts, poor public services and deteriorating security.

His effort to publicise his plight was spotted by a top US diplomat in the Middle East, Joey Hood, acting assistant secretary at the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.

In his latest video posted on Instagram, Ali is seen standing on a rooftop on a hot summer's day with the sound of gunshots in the background, telling Mr Biden that he will “commit suicide and jump from the building” if he does not receive help from Washington.

“Biden if you don’t help me I will jump, I’m not joking with you, I’m on the rooftop, if you don’t help me I will die, can you hear the fire in the background? This is normal in Iraq,” the teenager said.

“Please invite me Mr Biden, there’s fires in hospitals, the weather in Iraq is hot, there’s nothing. Biden look for me, if you don’t help me I will jump on the street, please invite me because I’m sad and angry,” he said.

In recent weeks Iraq has experienced almost nationwide electricity outages during scorching temperatures and a fire breaking out in a hospital in Nasiriyah in the south of the country, killing over 90 people.

A bomb exploded on Monday night in Baghdad's Sadr City, killing 35 people and injuring dozens.

Mr Hood responded to Ali in a video by telling him to “not jump from the rooftop”.

“Please Allawi, we in America love you, do not jump, I’m not Joe Biden, but Joey Hood, and life is precious,” Mr Hood said.

“Iraq needs you, your voice is important for Iraq, I cannot bring you to the US but if I ever visit Iraq I’ll make sure to see you.”

Young Iraqis are frustrated with the government's lack of reforming action. Thousands have marched on the streets of Baghdad and southern cities to demand change.

Since October 2019, a national protest movement has met with extreme violence, resulting in the deaths of at least 500 people and over 25,000 wounded.

Speaking to The National after the release of Mr Hood’s video, Ali said he was overwhelmed by the response.

“I did not anticipate that my video would reach such high levels and I hope that my message, the message of the people, has been delivered,” he told The National.

“Our message needs to be delivered to the world so they see our struggles.

“I hope that Iraqis one day can live in luxury. We have endured a lot from wars to conflict.”

The Iraqi teen uses comedy in his videos to convey the reality of what his fellow friends and family have endured over the last decade.

“We deserve to live in peace,” he said.

He said he had met Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi in Baghdad, where they spoke about his videos and the situation that Iraq is going through.

“The prime minister gave me his hat and said, 'please don’t jump or lose hope',” he said.

Mr Al Kadhimi assured him he has all the freedom “to speak his mind”.

Updated: July 22nd 2021, 6:11 AM
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