On Wednesday, October 16, Iraq's Ministry of Communications has announced the restoration of 3G services to the country's mobile networks. However, local sources have reported that access to services continue to be disrupted as of Thursday, October 17.
The announcement came as activists have called for fresh nationwide protests on Friday, October 25, to follow the Shi'a Arba'een observance from Saturday, October 19, through Sunday, October 20. The protests also coincide with the deadline issued by Grand Ayatollah Sistani to the government to produce a report on who in the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) was responsible for firing at civilians during previous demonstrations. Further disruptions to internet services are likely ahead of the planned protests.
Coordinating committees for the protests reportedly announced several demands to the government while announcing the new demonstrations, including more control over government and concerns over funding and salaries given to MPs, allocation of stipends to the unemployed, and a particular focus on the agricultural sector.
A heightened security presence is expected in Baghdad and other urban centers over the near term. Clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out.
Demonstrations first broke out on October 1 to protest perceived government corruption, inadequate public services provision, and a lack of job opportunities. According to the government, over 150 people have been killed in protest violence. Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi announced three days of mourning beginning on October 10 for protest victims.
Individuals in Baghdad and across Iraq are advised to closely monitor the situation, avoid all protests and large public gatherings as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
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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