Hundreds of people protested in Basra (Basra province) on Friday, August 31, demanding improved public services (especially improvements to polluted drinking water) and denouncing perceived widespread corruption. The demonstrators reportedly threw rocks at and attempted to storm the provincial government headquarters building; some protesters also burned tires in the area and skirmished with security forces, who fired teargas to attempt to disperse the demonstrators. No resultant casualties were immediately reported.
Additional protests are possible in Basra over the coming weeks. A heightened security presence and localized traffic disruptions are to be anticipated near demonstration sites. Further clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out.
Related protests have been organized in Basra in recent days as hundreds of people have reportedly sought medical treatment after drinking polluted water.
The ongoing protests, focused in southern Iraq, began on July 8 to denounce corruption, unemployment, and the perceived inadequate provision of public services, such as water and electricity. The protests also spread to Baghdad and have left over a dozen demonstrators dead and hundreds of others wounded. During the July protests, Iraqi authorities restricted access to the Internet across the country to suppress protest activity.
Individuals in Iraq, and particularly those in Basra, are advised to closely monitor the situation, avoid all protests and large public gatherings as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas with proper security protocols in place, other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.
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