As of Tuesday evening (local time), November 19, protesters have blocked access to Khor al-Zubair port in Basra, Iraq's second largest commercial port. The main roads leading to the port have reportedly been obstructed with burning tires and roadblocks. The blockade of Khor al-Zubair comes one day after demonstrators once again shut down operations at the Umm Qasr port near Basra.
Heightened security measures and disruptions to transportation and businesses are to be expected in Baghdad and other major urban centers over the coming days as protests continue. Disruptions to Internet and telecommunications services are also expected to continue amid the unrest. Clashes between protesters and security forces are likely near all protest sites.
Demonstrations broke out in Iraq on October 1 to protest perceived government corruption, inadequate provision of public services, and a lack of job opportunities. Following weeks of relative calm, demonstrations violently resumed on October 24-25, coinciding 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. More than 300 people have been killed and 10,000 wounded since protests began. On October 31, President Barham Saleh announced that Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi agreed to resign if the Iraqi parliament's party blocs can agree on a replacement.
Individuals in Iraq are advised to monitor the situation and refrain from nonessential travel to the border regions with Iran.
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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