Public anger mounts in Iraq’s Basra over poor utilities | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

13 December, Thursday


Public anger mounts in Iraq’s Basra over poor utilities

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Iraqi protesters stormed the governor’s office in the southern city of Basra on Sunday amid rising public anger over high unemployment and lack of basic services.
 
“Dozens of demonstrators broke into the building despite tight security measures,” Police Lieutenant Jabbar al-Mansoury told Anadolu Agency.
 
He said security forces had fired into the air in an attempt to disperse angry protesters.
 
Tensions have steadily mounted in Basra since last week when a demonstrator was killed by security forces while taking part in protests against high unemployment and chronic power outages.
 
Ever since, protests have spread to several other provinces, including the capital Baghdad.
 
On Friday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi visited Basra, where he promised to address the protesters’ grievances.
 
Prominent Iraqi Shia cleric and politician Muqtada al-Sadr called for security forces not to use force against demonstrators. He also asked protesters to respect public property.
 
Influential Najaf-based Shia cleric Ali al-Sistani, meanwhile, expressed support for the protesters.
 
Roughly 80 percent of Iraq’s overall crude oil exports originate from oilfields in Basra province.
 
For years, Basra residents have complained that foreign nationals, rather than locals, were being employed by the domestic energy sector. They also complain of frequent power outages amid summer temperatures that often reach as high as 50 degrees Celsius.

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