Tuesday, November 5, 2019

New Confrontations Between Protesters And Iraqi Security Forces

Iranian Consulate in Karbala (AFP)

Iraq’s protests continue to try new tactics. On November 3 they called for a general strike which led to streets, highways, and bridges in several cities to be blocked off. November 4 they entered new areas of Baghdad, continued the assault on the Iranian consulate in Karbala, stopped workers going to two oil fields, and carried on with other acts of civil disobedience.

Activists expanded into new parts of Baghdad. They blocked another bridge, Al-Ahrar, which led to clashes with the security forces. People also entered the Allawi neighborhood and surrounded the prime minister’s office there. At night, they went to the Justice Ministry and tried to burn it. Another 7 people were killed by the security forces as a result of these new actions bringing the total to 267 deaths since October 1. That likely includes 3 security force members, so 264 civilians have been killed.

Sit-ins were ongoing across the south, but there were new protests there was well. Several government departments were shut down in Babil. People blocked the entrances to the Education Directorate, and the West Qurna 1 and 2 oil fields, and oil workers at British Petroleum held a solidarity march in Basra province. For several days now the port of Um Qasr has almost been completely shut down due to protesters. The Basra Operations Command announced they received approval to carry out raids and arrests to stop this action. There was another clash with the security forces in Dhi Qar’s Shatrah district that led to 1 person passing away. The crowds returned to the Iranian consulate in Karbala and tried to set it on fire for a second time. Iraqi security forces or security guards fired at the crowd killing three. A demonstration in front of the government building in Karbala was also broken up. People called for government offices to close in Diwaniya. Finally, the road to Baghdad in Diyala was cut. The protest movement is attempting to ratcheted up pressure upon the regime. Um Qasr is said to be having an immediate economic impact. If oil workers were to join in that could put a strangle hold upon the country. So far there are sympathy protests at some petroleum fields, but no work stoppages. The closing of the roads to the two West Qurna fields could be a next step to push the issue.

Finally, Human Rights Watch (HRW) confirmed what some Iraqi media outlets have already reported that an intimidation campaign is underway in Anbar to stop people from supporting the demonstrations. HRW looked into 2 cases where people were arrested for posting on Facebook about the protests, one person was brought in for question, and a fourth went into hiding. The Iraqi forces are said to be doing the same in other provinces of the north to stop them from joining the unrest. The government is weary of any demonstrations in liberated areas fearing this might allow an opening for the Islamic State. It is also afraid of Sunni activism believing it to be a sectarian threat to the status quo.

SOURCES

Agence France Presse, “Iraq forces fire on Baghdad protesters after 4 killed in Karbala,” 11/4/19

Al Ghad Press, “Civil disobedience continues in Wasit for the second day,” 11/4/19
- “News of the burning of the bottom of the Ministry of Justice building,” 11/4/19
- “The old Baquba road between Diyala and Baghdad was closed,” 11/4/19

Al Hurra, “Iraqi government departments “closed in the name of the people,”” 11/4/19

Iraq Newspaper, “Battles between demonstrators and security forces in Shathrah, Dhi Qar province, killing and wounding 11 citizens,” 11/4/19

Al Mada, “Expanding banditry in Baghdad .. Basra threatens protesters with terrorism,” 11/4/19

Al Masalah, “Basra protesters demand the dissolution of the government and parliament within a month,” 11/4/19

Al Mirbad, “Demonstrators in Basra rally: sit in front of the Directorate of Education the first step to close the departments of the province,” 11/4/19
- “Employees of West Qurna 1 and 2 oil fields return home after being blocked by demonstrators,” 11/4/19
- “From inside the camp of BP .. Solidarity march by oil employees,” 11/4/19
- “Hundreds of citizens participate in the sit-in in Zubayr,” 11/4/19b
- “A march by employees of one of the licensing companies in Southern Rumaila in solidarity with the demonstrators,” 11/4/19
- “A new student demonstration in the middle of Qurna,” 11/4/19
- “Our correspondent in Muthanna: 3 sit-ins are ongoing in addition to university protests,” 11/4/19

Nasiriya TV, “In pictures: renewed student demonstrations in Haboubi in Nasiriya,” 11/4/19

NINA, “Demonstrators shut down a number of government departments in Babylon,” 11/4/19
- “Demonstrators try to enter the Green Zone from the Allawi area,” 11/4/19
- “Despite the crowds of demonstrators .. Basra is relatively calm,” 11/4/19
- “Universities And Institutes Students In Karbala Demonstrate In Support Of Popular Protests,” 11/4/19

Shafaaq News, “The government reveals what happened near the Ministry of Justice,” 11/4/19
- “In a new tactic .. Protesters block roads in Baghdad and besieging the headquarters of Abdul Mahdi,” 11/4/19

Al Sumaria, “Four demonstrators injured in Shatrah, north of Dhi Qar,” 11/4/19
- “Security forces try to disperse a demonstration near Karbala governorate building,” 11/4/19

Xinhua, “10 killed in ongoing anti-gov’t protests in Iraq,” 11/4/19

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