Hundreds of anti-government protesters gathered in the capital Baghdad and other cities on Sunday, November 1, in a continuation of the commemoration of the 2019 anti-government protests in Iraq. Several hundred reportedly convened in Baghdad's Tahrir Square, clashing briefly with security personnel during a flash protest. On Saturday, October 31, security personnel had reportedly entered Tahrir Square to clear protest tents and reopen the site that was occupied by anti-government protesters. In Basra, security forces reportedly fired warning shots into the air to disperse around 500 protesters who had gathered.
There have been no immediate reports of injuries in Sunday's protests; however, further clashes between security forces and protesters and subsequent casualties cannot be ruled out. A heightened security presence is to be expected near protest sites. Disruptions to transportation and business operations are likely in the vicinity of protests.
Protests began in October 2019 with people demanding an end to government corruption and an increase in living standards but quickly grew to demand total government reform. While they have largely ceased due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, mass rallies were held on Sunday, October 25, with people reportedly traveling from throughout Iraq to take part. Security has been increased in the capital, and concrete barriers have been erected in Tahrir Square. A significant security presence has been reported in the Baghdad International Zone (Green Zone) to prevent protesters from entering.
Those in Iraq are advised to closely monitor the situation, avoid all protests and large public gatherings, anticipate disruptions to transportation and services 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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