Thursday, July 16, 2020

Protests Return To Southern Iraq Over Electricity Shortages And Delayed Salaries

Protest in Dhi Qar (Al Nasiriya)


The beginning of July saw the return of protests to southern Iraq motivated by two main factors. One is increasing blackouts as demand for electricity rises during the summer heat and the power grid begins breaking down. The second is delayed payments to government workers due to the economic crisis.

So far demonstrations have occurred in seven southern provinces. Things began on July 9 with protests in Nasiriya, Fahud and Souq al-Shuyukh all in Dhi Qar, as well as Kut in Wasit. The next day things spread to Diwaniya. Since then there have been protests nearly every day in those three governorates with the most sustained in the cities of Nasiriya and Diwaniya. There have also been occasional actions in Maysan, Basra, and Babil. The most common tactic has been burning tires to block highways. These were mostly caused electricity shortages as the power grid is unable to meet demand as temperatures rise.

There have also been smaller demonstrations by government workers, especially those on contracts against not being paid their salaries in Dhi Qar, Basra, and Muthanna. Iraq is currently in the midst of an economic crisis caused by the collapse of the oil market and the shut down due to COVID-19. It is unable to pay its bills and is running a major deficit. That has led to delays in public workers getting their wages.

This is an annual occurrence for the last nine years. It can pose a daunting challenge to the government when they grow in size like the last few years because Baghdad is incapable of meeting their demands. The power grid for instance, is so inefficient that it only provides 25% of its capacity. It if operated at its capabilities it could meet needs even during the summer months. If the demonstrations grow in strength this could be especially damaging to Prime Minister Mustafa Kazemi who is running a caretaker administration and has no political party behind him.

SOURCES

AIN, “Demonstrators set fire to tires to protest against the deterioration of electricity in Basra,” 7/12/20

Bas News, “Protesters Take to Streets in Iraq’s Dhi Qar Province,” 7/14/20

Buratha News, “Demonstrators block several roads in Diwaniya and demand the dismissal of the director of electricity,” 7/10/20
- “Demonstrations in Diwaniya against the reality of electricity,” 7/11/20
- “Demonstrators in the Al-Jabayesh and Al-Shuyukh market demanding improvement in electricity and services,” 7/11/20
- “An escalation of Diwaniya protest due to the decline in electricity,” 7/13/20

Al Mirbad, “Another demonstration in Wasit calls for improved electricity supply,” 7/12/20
- “Burning tires in Al Kut city center to protest against the deterioration of electricity services,” 7/10/20
- “Burning of tires in Mansuriya, Nasiriya city to protest against the deterioration of electricity,” 7/13/20
- “Central Nasiriya protests over the decline in electricity and health services,” 7/10/20
- “Central Nasiriya protests over the decline in electricity and health services,” 7/11/20
- “The contractors at Al-Muthanna Electricity Distribution Center are demanding to install and pay their salaries,” 7/12/20
- “Demonstration and cutting off the middle of Kut to demand the provision of electricity,” 7/9/20
- “Demonstrators block the Kut-Baghdad road to demand better electricity supply,” 7/12/20
- “New evening protest in Diwaniya against the decline in electricity,” 7/14/20
- “The people of Essouira will give the central government until tomorrow to provide a substantial share of electricity,” 7/11/20
- “Protesters storm the Diwaniya Electricity Distribution Company branch and demand the dismissal of its manager,” 7/12/20
- “Protests and cut two streets in Basra because of the deteriorating electricity,” 7/13/20
- “The residents of Al-Jamia neighborhood in Diwaniya block the road to protest against the deterioration of electricity,” 7/10/20
- “The salaried employees and contractors in Nasiriya Electricity Directorate cut the road towards Muthanna,” 7/12/20
- “The wage earners are among the 30,000 job opportunities in Al-Zubayr demanding their salaries be paid,” 7/12/20

Al Nasiriya, “Demonstrators block a major road in Nasiriya to protest against the deterioration of electricity,” 7/9/20
- “Demonstrators block the road between Nasiriya, Souq al-Shuyukh, to protest against the water shortage,” 7/9/20
- “Eyewitnesses: Dozens are demonstrating in Al-Shuyuk market to protest against the deterioration of electricity,” 7/14/20
- “In pictures: A demonstration in Ur district to protest against poor services,” 7/13/20
- “Pictures: Dozens of Dhi Qar electricity contract workers protest against late wages,” 7/13/20
- “Pictures: For the second day in a row, the highway in Nasiriya was partially cut to protest against poor services,” 7/14/20
- “Protesters in Al-Fahud outside the Al-Khidr power station to protest against poor equipment,” 7/9/20

Rudaw, “Protesters burn tires in front of the electricity distribution department in #Babil in Hilla, and gives its manager 48 hours to improve the electricity supply,” Twitter, 7/12/20

Sotaliraq, “Maysan .. the anger and resentment of the street from the deteriorating of electricity translated by a deputy who saw the issues of the crisis,” 7/11/20


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