Hundreds of people protested in the city of Basra (Basra province) into the night (local time) on Friday, December 21, demanding the resignation of the provincial governor and calling for a change in provincial council membership. Some demonstrators burned tires near the provincial government building; security forces reportedly fired tear gas and live ammunition to disperse the protesters and implemented a heightened security presence near the demonstration site.
Further anti-government protests and clashes between demonstrators and security forces are possible in Basra over the coming days. Local police officials claimed on Thursday, December 20, that security forces would conduct operations in Basra to augment security; increased security measures are to be expected over the near term.
Basra was the stage of violent protests in summer 2018, which climaxed 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.
Individuals 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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