Iraqi government officials have reopened the Shalamcheh border crossing with Iran on Saturday, November 23. The decision comes one week after its closure, which was an Iranian government decision due to recent unrest in both countries. Passage via the border should resume as normal, though potentially with residual delays.
Another round of protests was reported in Baghdad on Friday, November 22, during which at least ten people have been killed and another 45 injured following clashes with security forces. Clashes occurred on the Ahrar bridge, where security forces and protesters fought for its control. Further protests were reported on Al-Rasheed Street for a second consecutive day. Sources indicate that protesters are also present on three bridges, Al-Jumhuriyah, Al-Sinak, and Al-Ahrar.
Also on Friday, clashes were reported in southern Iraq. Security forces reopened the entrance to Umm Qasr port, which protesters had blocked since Monday, November 18, forcing the port to suspend operations. Normal operations have yet to resume as of Friday.
Heightened security measures and disruptions to transportation and businesses are to be expected in Baghdad, Umm Qasr, 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 near all protest sites.
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. An estimated 340 people have been killed and 15,000 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.
Individuals in Baghdad and across Iraq are advised to closely monitor the situation, avoid all protests and large public gatherings due to potential violence, prepare for disruptions to transportation and business in areas affected by anti-government demonstrations, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
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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