Protesters clashed with security forces in Basra on Friday, August 21, amid demands for the resignation of the provincial governor after the deaths of two activists and the wounding of several others in three attacks over the past week. Protesters threw petrol bombs and set fire to the outer gate of the entrance to the parliament's local office. Police responded by firing live rounds into the air in an effort to disperse the crowds. At least eight members of the security forces were injured during the unrest.
Further demonstrations and subsequent clashes are possible in Basra over the near term.
Unidentified gunmen attacked a vehicle carrying civil activist Reham Yacoub in Basra on Wednesday, August 19, killing her and another person and wounding two other passengers. Yacoub campaigned for women's rights and political reform in Iraq and had been accused of working on behalf of the US and influencing the protest movement prior to her assassination.
The assassination of Yacoub was the second fatal attack on a civil activist within seven days in Basra. On August 14, unidentified gunmen killed Tahseen Oussama in an alleged targeted attack. Four other civil society activists are also reported to have been wounded. The previous fatal incident prompted Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to remove the Basra Police Chief and the Head of Basra National Security Service branch.
On Thursday, August 20, new security measures were announced in Basra following the attacks. Security forces have been instructed to seize any vehicle in the city without license plates, and Joint Operations Command is to develop a plan to overcome tribal disputes. A committee tasked with pursuing outstanding arrest warrants across Basra province is to be approved by the Ministry of Interior by August 27.
Individuals in Basra 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 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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