A 'Million Man March' is scheduled to take place in Baghdad on Tuesday, December 10, for which sources state participants have bused into the capital. The protests coincide with Victory Day, which marks the anniversary of the Iraqi army defeating Islamic State (IS) from the territory and follows several days after deadly clashes. While the number of protesters expected is unclear, a large mobilization is expected in the capital.
On Monday, December 9, protesters gathered in Karbala to mourn the death of a prominent activist who was killed in a drive-by shooting during the ongoing anti-government protests. The incident occurred when the man was returning home from a protest on Sunday, December 8. Protests remain possible in Karbala over the coming days.
Roadblocks, other transportation and business disruptions, and a heightened security presence are to be expected throughout Baghdad and other urban centers on Tuesday. Clashes among protesters and between protesters and security forces near all protest sites 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 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.