Protests are continuing in and near Basra as of Friday, July 20, as public frustrations mount in Iraq's southern provinces over perceived widespread corruption, unemployment, and the poor provision of public services. Demonstrations, that initially started in Basra province on July 8, have also subsequently spread to the provinces of Dhi Qar, Najaf, Maysan, Muthanna, Karbala, and Babil, albeit to a lesser extent. Protests were also held in the capital Baghdad, but remained limited in scale, compared to Basra. Some demonstrations are expected in the capital's Tahrir Square on Friday, July 20. There is little indication that the protest is likely to turn violent, as the authorities stepped up security measures, however, clashes cannot be ruled out.
At least 12 people have been killed in the protests and accompanying clashes with security forces, and some 199 others have been wounded. Several regional airlines have also diverted or canceled flights to Najaf International Airport (NJF) due to concerns over continuing unrest. Internet access has reportedly been restricted in the southern provinces of the country in recent days. Additional protests are expected in southern Iraq in the coming days.
The ongoing protests, focused in southern Iraq, have been organized to denounce corruption, unemployment, and the perceived inadequate provision of public services, such as water and electricity.
Individuals in Iraq are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and large public gatherings as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments. Travelers flying to or from NJF should contact their airline for additional information.
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.