Mass protests continue as of Tuesday, December 19, in Iraqi Kurdistan to condemn delays in salary payments and the lack of social services in the region. Protests have been reported in Sulaymaniyah, Koya, Halabja, Ranya, Koysinjaq and Kifri; other cities in Kurdistan may be affected by the movement. Clashes between demonstrators and security forces have been reported in the cities of Sulaymaniyah, Koya, Ranya and Kifri. Public buildings and political party offices are reportedly particularly being targeted, as protesters call for the resignation of the entire Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
On December 18, five political party offices were attacked and set fire to in Sulaymaniyah and several protesters were injured.
The KRG is seen by many as suffering from widespread corruption. Former President Massoud Barzani has been accused of using revenue from oil exports for personal gain, as well as placing family members in key government positions. Meanwhile, the KRG is pursuing austerity measures that have resulted in delays of payments for public servants and has had a negative impact on the quality of public services. An investigation into Iraqi Kurdistan’s oil industry was launched by the federal government in October 2017.
Individuals in Iraqi Kurdistan are advised to avoid all public demonstrations as a precaution.
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.