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31 Jan 2020 | 07:21 AM UTC

Iraq: Protests expected in Baghdad January 31 /update 109

Iraqis expected to protest in Baghdad on January 31; heightened security presence expected

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Event

Local sources have reported that Iraqis from southern provinces are expected to protest in Baghdad on Friday, January 31. The protest is intended to apply more pressure on the government as the Saturday, February 1, deadline to select a prime minister approaches. President Barham Salih has instructed political parties to reach an agreement on a candidate by that date.

Protests are to take place amid a heightened security presence. Clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out. Related protests are possible in other urban centers throughout Iraq on Friday. Further demonstrations are possible over the coming days. 

Context

Demonstrations broke out in Iraq on October 1, 2019, to protest alleged government corruption, inadequate provision of public services, and a lack of job opportunities. Following weeks of relatively calm demonstrations, violence resumed on October 24-25, coinciding with the deadline issued by Grand Ayatollah Sistani to the government issuing them to produce a report on the members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) that were responsible for firing at civilians during previous demonstrations. An estimated 669 people have been killed and some 24,488 people have been wounded since the protests began.

Advice

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.