Internet service disruptions continue throughout Iraq as of the early morning hours (local time) of Friday, October 4, following a third consecutive day of violent protests. Access to Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, and other social media apps has been limited or completely blocked. According to media reports, thousands of people took to the streets in Baghdad on Thursday, October 3, despite a curfew imposed by Prime Minister Abdel Abdul Mahdi. Demonstrators rallied in Tayaran Square before attempting to march to Tahrir Square before being stopped by security forces. Live ammunition and tear gas was reportedly used to disperse the protesters. Anti-government protests also took place in other cities across the country. According to the Independent High Commission for Human Rights of Iraq, at least 34 people have been killed and another 1518 wounded since the start of the protests on Tuesday, October 1.
Early on Friday morning Prime Minister Mahdi issued a televised address, calling for calm and stating that the government will soon present a new project to increase wages for the poor. However, it is possible that further demonstrations will be held, despite Mahdi’s address and the ongoing curfews. As of Thursday night, curfews reportedly remain in effect for Baghdad, Nasiriya, Amara, Najaf, and Hilla. A heightened security presence, along with commercial and transportation disruptions, is to be expected over the coming days and week. Clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out in the event of demonstrations.
Recent protests in Iraq have been motivated by a lack of employment opportunities and allegations of government corruption.
Individuals in Iraq are advised to closely monitor the situation, avoid all protests and large public gatherings as a precaution, anticipate internet service disruptions, 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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