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Iraq: Protesters reclose vital port of Umm Qasr

November 16, 2019 at 12:00 pm

Protestors attend ongoing anti-government demonstrations in Iraq’s capital Baghdad on November 02, 2019 [Murtadha Sudani / Anadolu Agency]

Iraqi protesters blocked the road to the port of Umm Qasr in the oil-rich southern governorate of Basra, an Iraqi security source stated on Friday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for security purposes, the security source revealed that “late on Thursday night, dozens of demonstrators closed the entrances to the port of Umm Qasr, in the southern governorate of Basra.”

“The demonstrators closed all the main roads leading to the port, preventing the entry of trucks to the port,” added the source in an interview with Anadolu Agency.

On 7 November, the Iraqi security authorities reopened the port of Umm Qasr for the movement of goods, nine days after its suspension.

The port of Umm Qasr is one of the vital outlets for the import of foodstuffs and medicines to the country. The Iraqi government has warned of heavy losses due to the closure, impeding the entry of foodstuffs into Iraq.

Read: Iraq’s bias protecting officials who ordered targeting protesters

Since the beginning of October, Iraq has witnessed popular protests in the capital of Baghdad and other governorates, demanding the departure of the government of Adil Abdul-Mahdi, which has been ruling for over a year.

Since then, there have been more than 325 fatalities and some 15,000 injured, according to a census prepared by Anadolu News Agency, based on figures from the parliamentary Human Rights Committee, the Human Rights Commission (official and affiliated with the parliament) and medical sources.

The vast majority of the victims were protesters who were killed during clashes with security forces and militants from pro-Iran Shi’ite factions.

Protesters initially demanded the improvement of services, provision of job opportunities and combating of corruption.

Abdul-Mahdi refuses to resign, stipulating that political forces must first agree on an alternative, and warns that the absence of a “smooth and prompt” alternative will leave the fate of Iraq to the unknown.

Read: US calls on Iraqi government to end violence and hold early elections