A human rights activist was shot dead by masked gunmen in the Abbasiya district of Basra on Wednesday, September 25. The activist, Soad al-Ali, had been involved in organizing demonstrations across the city to demand improved government services. Protests sparked by this incident can be expected in the coming days.
Basra was the stage of violent protests earlier in the month, which culminated on September 7 when protesters set fire to several government buildings, including the Iranian Consulate, the provincial government building, and the Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq group headquarters. While the scale of protests has decreased in recent weeks, demonstrations continue to be held. According to Iraq's Independent High Commission for Human Rights, protests in Basra have left at least a dozen people dead and nearly 100 others wounded since September 1.
Along with requests for improved services, protesters have also criticized the power of the local political and armed groups controlling Basra, who have allegedly been conducting a campaign of intimidation and arbitrary detentions.
Individuals in Iraq, particularly in Basra, are advised to closely monitor the situation, avoid all protests and large public gatherings as a precautiondue to the risk of violence, 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.