Hundreds of protesters gathered in Diwaniyah (southern Iraq) on Wednesday, December 25, to mourn a local activist, who joined the revolutionary movement in October and died on Tuesday, December 24, following an Under Vehicle Improvised Explosive Device (UVIED) attack on December 15. On Tuesday, supporters of the activist set fire to headquarters of two pro-Iran militias in the area. Protesters also blocked roads with burning car tires in the southern city of Basra. Related protests are possible in the coming hours and days.
Further anti-government protests are likely to continue in the coming days and weeks across Iraq, notably to demand the appointment of a new prime minister, which was expected on Sunday, December 22. Transportation and business disruptions, and a heightened security presence are to be expected throughout Iraq in the coming days. Clashes between demonstrators and security forces cannot be ruled out.
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 460 people have been killed and unconfirmed estimates state that over 25,000 people have been wounded since protests began. December 22 was the deadline set by President Barham Salih for Parliament to decide on a prime minister to replace PM Adel Abdul Mahdi.
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.