Protesters in Najaf mobilized again on Tuesday, December 3, erecting roadblocks and throwing burning tires at the Iranian consulate, setting it alight for the third time in one week. Earlier that day, protesters and police clashed at the Hakim shrine, which protesters suspect an association with Iranian influence and intelligence in the region.
In Baghdad, peaceful protests continue on Wednesday, December 4, in Tahrir Square and al-Ahrar bridge, though protesters on al-Rasheed Street were moved, likely to reduce the reduce the impact of Molotov cocktails being thrown at security force.
Also on Tuesday, Iraqi security forces announced the capture and arrest of an Islamic State (IS) member in Kirkuk, said to be deputy chief to former leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Spontaneous gatherings and protests are likely to continue in Najaf and Baghdad, as well as other urban centers over the coming several days.
Demonstrations broke out in Iraq on October 1 to protest perceived government corruption, inadequate provision of public services, and a lack of job opportunities. Following weeks of relative calm, demonstrations violently resumed on October 24-25, coinciding with the deadline issued by Grand Ayatollah Sistani to the government to produce a report on who in the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) was responsible for firing at civilians during previous demonstrations. An estimated 400 people have been killed and 15,000 wounded since protests began.
Individuals in Iraq are advised to closely monitor the situation, avoid all protests and large public gatherings due to potential violence, prepare for disruptions to transportation and business in areas affected by anti-government demonstrations, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas with proper security protocols in place, other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.