Protests over perceived corruption, the poor provision of public services, and unemployment have continued in southern Iraq in recent days as related protests subside in Baghdad. In renewed protests on Sunday, August 5, hundreds of protesters blocked the main road to an oil field near Basra. Though security forces were deployed to monitor the August 5 protests, no associated violence or casualties were reported. On Monday, August 6, several tents had reportedly been erected near the oil field by protesters planning to stay indefinitely; a similar sit-in at an oil field near Zubair (Basra province) was dispersed by Iraqi troops on July 31. Protesters have vowed to continue sit-ins and to block main bridges in Basra province until their demands are met. In related protests in Samawah (Muthanna province), protesters have launched a week-long sit-in to protest the alleged misappropriation of government funds. Meanwhile, attendance at related protests in Baghdad's Tahrir Square has decreased significantly since July, with only a few dozen people attending a protest in the square on August 3.
Additional demonstrations are possible in southern Iraq and Baghdad in the coming days. Heightened security measures and localized traffic disruptions are expected near protest sites. Clashes between demonstrators and security forces cannot be ruled out. Further cuts to Internet and social media access - implemented nationwide in recent weeks to quell protest activity - are also possible across Iraq in the near-term.
Protests ongoing in Baghdad and several southern Iraqi provinces, which began on July 8, have left at least 14 demonstrators dead and over 700 wounded as of August 7. During the July protests, Iraqi authorities restricted access to the Internet across the country to suppress protest activity.
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. The protests contributed to Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi's decision to fire Minister of Electricity Qasem Al-Fahdawi on July 29.
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.
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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