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Iraq closes its biggest port due to protests

September 8, 2018 at 2:22 pm

The Basra Gateway Terminal, at the Umm Qasr port in Iraq [ICTSI]

The Iraqi authorities kept the country’s main port closed on Friday due to demonstrations calling for the improvement of basic infrastructure in the city, news agencies have reported. The main gates of Umm Qasr port remained closed all day on Thursday and Friday, said Anadolu, which pointed out that re-opening the port is subject to improved security conditions.

Umm Qasr is 60 km south of Basra. It is the main port for Iraqi imports of grain, vegetable oil and sugar shipments that feed the country. Iraq is more or less dependent on imported food.

Basra has been witnessing widespread protests since 9 July. They escalated this week after the death of 11 protesters, according to the High Commission for Human Rights, an organisation affiliated to the Iraqi parliament.

Iraqis have been protesting against corruption and the dilapidation of basic infrastructure due to which they suffer from serious water contamination and severe electricity shortages.

The latest news from Reuters is that the authorities have reopened the Umm Qasr port. No details were provided about the security situation.