News Alerts

17 Nov 2019 | 06:57 AM UTC

Iraq: Protesters occupy central areas in Baghdad amid general strike November 17 /update 52

Iraq News Alert

Protesters are occupying Al-Sinak bridge and Khalani Square in Baghdad amid a general strike on November 17; heightened security presence and associated disruptions expected

TIMEFRAME expected from 11/17/2019, 12:00 AM until 11/19/2019, 11:59 PM (Asia/Baghdad). COUNTRY/REGION Iraq, Baghdad

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Event

Protesters in Baghdad are occupying Al-Sinak bridge, including at the first and second checkpoints on the bridge, as of 09:00 (local time) on Sunday, November 17, despite security forces previously clearing the area. They are also maintaining a presence in the adjacent Khalani Square and in buildings overlooking the bridge. One person was reportedly killed during clashes with security forces in the capital on Saturday, November 16, and several others were injured.

Activists called for a one-day general strike to take place on Sunday in support of those holding a sit-in at Tahrir Square. The Iraqi General Union of Workers are among the participants in the strike. In Basra, protesters are blocking the main roads in and out of the city, as well as placing burning tires on several other roads. Local sources have said that Basra International Airport (BSR) may close later on Sunday if protest turnout increases. Members of the Beit Wafi tribe are also protesting at the entrance to the Majnoon oil concession, blocking access to the concession and causing traffic delays, according to local sources. There is a heightened security presence in the area, however, no incidents of violence have been reported. Local sources have also reported that strike action is affecting Babel, Wasit, Diwaniya, Dhi Qar and Maysan. However, the extent of the disruption caused by the work stoppage is unclear.

Heightened security measures and disruptions to transportation and businesses are to be expected in Baghdad and other major urban centers over the coming days as protests continue. Disruptions to internet and telecommunications services are also expected to continue amid the unrest. Clashes between protesters and security forces are likely around all protest sites.

Context

Demonstrations broke out in Iraq on October 1 to protest perceived government corruption, inadequate provision of public services, and a lack of job opportunities. Following weeks of relative calm, demonstrations violently resumed on October 24-25, coinciding with the deadline issued by Grand Ayatollah Sistani to the government to produce a report on who in the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) was responsible for firing at civilians during previous demonstrations. More than 300 people have been killed and 10,000 wounded since protests began. On October 31, President Barham Saleh announced that Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi agreed to resign if the Iraqi parliament's party blocs can agree on a replacement.

Advice

Individuals in Iraq are advised to monitor the situation and refrain from nonessential travel to the border regions with Iran.

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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