Security forces fired water cannon and tear gas to control crowds of protesters who had gathered in Baghdad on Sunday, October 25, to mark the first anniversary of an anti-government protest movement which began in 2019. Police deployed to prevent protesters from crossing the Jumhuriya Bridge to the International Zone (Green Zone) and they reportedly intervened to prevent the demonstrators from erecting barricades on the bridge. There have been no reports of injuries or fatalities resulting from the clashes at this time. Gatherings were also reported in southern Iraq marking the anniversary including in the governorates of Babil, Basra, Najaf, Maysan, and Wasit.
A heightened security presence is to be expected near protest sites. Clashes between security forces and protesters cannot be ruled out. Disruption to transportation and business is likely in the vicinity of protests.
Protests began in October 2019 with people demanding an end to government corruption and an increase in living standards but quickly grew to demand total government reform. While they have largely ceased due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, organizers in Baghdad expect Sunday's rally to be particularly well attended, with people reportedly travelling from throughout Iraq to take part. Security has been increased in the capital, and concrete barriers have been erected in Tahrir Square. A significant security presence has been reported in the Baghdad International Zone (Green Zone) to prevent protesters from entering. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi issued a warning to participants to remain peaceful on Saturday, vowing to protect demonstrators should that remain the case but stating that security forces would respond to provocation.
Those in Baghdad are advised to monitor the situation, adjust travel itineraries and avoid unnecessary overland movement in the immediate term, avoid the vicinity of any demonstrations, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
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