Iraqi security officials have declared a state of emergency in Basra and Baghdad and have reimposed a citywide curfew in Basra beginning at 21:00 (local time) on Friday, September 7, as the security situation in Basra deteriorates amid increasingly violent protests and clashes between protesters and militia groups. According to local reports, demonstrators were moving toward the US consulate as of 23:00 on Friday. Iran has also reportedly closed the Shalamjah border crossing on the Iran-Iraq border, and has called on Iranian citizens to leave the area. Further details, including the number of associated casualties, are still emerging.
Basra Operations Command officials have not disclosed when the curfew will be lifted as of Friday evening but stated that anyone present in the street after the curfew will be arrested. Additional protests and violent clashes are likely in the coming hours and days. A heightened security presence is to be anticipated throughout the city in the near-term.
Protesters set fire to several buildings in Basra on September 7, including the Iranian consulate, the provincial government building, and the Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq group headquarters, among others.
Protests in Basra have left at least a dozen people dead and nearly 100 others wounded since September 1, according to Iraq's Independent High Commission for Human Rights. On September 6, local authorities revoked a city-wide curfew due to the police's inability to enforce it amid the widespread violence. Basra has witnessed a series of protests in recent months as residents denounce the government's perceived inadequate provision of public services.
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.