The deputy commander for the popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and Muqtada al-Sadr have called for a mass mobilization for Friday, January 17, to oppose the US' presence in the country. Protests are likely to take place in Baghdad, as well as in other provinces. If these actions come to fruition it is assessed that large-scale militia presence will be evident in Baghdad and cities in the southern provinces, with the potential for violence extant.
Anti-government protest also remains likely, despite low turnout and a new penalization policy implemented by universities for those participating in the movement.
As distinct parties have called for mobilizations, clashes are especially likely on Friday. Should these protests go ahead, local sources advise that all non-critical missions are delayed until a clearer picture of the formation and conduct of the demonstrations becomes apparent. A heightened security presence is especially expected for these demonstrations.
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. An estimated 460 people have been killed and unconfirmed estimates state that over 25,000 people have been wounded since protests began. December 22 was the deadline set by President Barham Salih for Parliament to decide on a prime minister to replace PM Adel Abdul Mahdi.
Individuals in Iraq are advised to closely monitor the situation, avoid all protests and large public gatherings due to potential violence, prepare for disruptions to transportation and business in areas affected by anti-government demonstrations, 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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