Basra (Al Mirbad)
There have been several reports that Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi has chosen to shut down the protest movement using force. There was evidence that might have started with attacks upon the demonstrators in Basra, Karbala, and Dhi Qar.
On November 8 people gathered in Basra city and Um Qasr port for another day of protests when they were set upon by the security forces. November 5 the security forces (ISF) broke up the sit-in that had largely shut down the Um Qasr port. The crowds quickly returned however. They were attacked once more during the night of November 7 that continued into the next day. The same thing happened in central Basra city. That started with the riot police firing tear gas and live bullets at the protesters. Then there were reports of unknown masked men shooting as well. In total, 12 people died from the night before into the following day. An additional one more died in Basra city at night, and one more unconfirmed death was also reported. Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi’s spokesman General Abdul Karim Khalaf tried to excuse this use of force by stating that a group of armed men fired on both the protesters and the security forces. The Basra Operations Command was little better telling the media that unknown forces in cars shot up the crowd, and the Basra police chief denied that his forces had used live ammunition. When the protests started in October the security forces’ modus operandi in Basra was to stop people from gathering right from the start by carrying out large arrests. The use of force in recent days is a decided change in tactics, and probably points to orders from Baghdad. The unknown masked men could simply be the police, but they could also be pro-Iran Hashd returning to the field.
There were clashes with the security forces in Dhi Qar and Karbala provinces as well. In the Rifai district of Dhi Qar the ISF tried to break up the sit-in site there by burning tents. The police ended up shooting into the crowd while during that. The night before the protest site in Karbala city was broken up where again the police tried to destroy the camp that was created. People came back, and were again attacked by police. People have set up tents in all the major cities of southern Iraq for several days now. These have all been relatively peaceful. Again, the government going after them might be the start of a larger effort to put an end to the demonstrations over all.
Agence France Presse, “Iraq protesters, politicians dig in for third week” 11/8/19
Baghdad Post, “The number of martyrs of the sit-ins in Basra and Umm Qasr to 12 people,” 11/8/19
CBS, “As Iraq protesters mock security forces, the death toll keeps climbing,” 11/8/19
Cevad, Ali, Yousef, Arif, “Death toll from Iraq’s Basra protests rises to 8,” Anadolu Agency, 11/8/19
Al Hurra, “An angry response after the burning of tents in Karbala .. And the fall of victims in southern Iraq,” 11/8/19
- “Officials: masked gunmen kill demonstrators in southern Iraq,” 11/8/19
Al Mirbad, “Basra police chief denies using live ammunition to disperse demonstrators,” 11/8/19
- “Source to al-Mirbad: Basra recorded the second case of martyrdom of a demonstrator and another unconfirmed,” 11/8/19
Shafaaq News, “Basra Operations Commander: unknown cars opened fire on the demonstrators and killed 7 of them,” 11/8/19