Shatha Khalil *
The province of Basra witnessed mass demonstrations, followed by a martyr and a number of citizens were injured, in protest against the lack of services, drinking water and electricity, and the cessation of agriculture and industry, and financial and administrative corruption that has wasted billions of “Japanese and British” loans for water desalination and the spread of diseases as a result of environmental pollution, the prevalence of unemployment among young people reached 35% – 40%, and Basra is the richest province of Iraq with oil and gas.
And the pace of events increased in the province against the backdrop of the killing of a demonstrator during the protests, where the demonstrators cut a number of roads, between Basra and Maysan completely, and Karma Ali, and burned tires, and set the pavilion, and thousands of vehicles crowded on both sides of the road.
The protesters in the province raised demands for the federal and local governments, which included five points, namely: “improve electricity, employ the unemployed, lay off foreign workers, hand over the security detachment that opened fire on demonstrators to the judiciary, improve the basic services file and deliver Basra allocations of petrodollars and others.”
Members of the local government called on the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi to interfere urgently to resolve the crisis.
In the same context, Basra Provincial Council called on to leave the differences and hold an emergency session to take the necessary decisions on the conditions of the province after those differences led to the failure to hold meetings of the Council for lack of quorum and the occurrence of paralysis in the work of the departments of the province because of the lack of a vote of the council on the budget.
And it added that “the province needs to develop a long-term and short-term plan to address the deterioration of the situation in the province, which is witnessing every year to resume demonstrations demanding legitimate rights because of the lack of radical solutions to end the suffering of citizens.
A member of Basra provincial council Basma al-Salami called on Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to intervene urgently and take several measures to address the tense situation in the province. The first is to exempt the operations commander and the commander of the strike force in Basra who attacked the demonstrators and assign two alternatives to them to be exclusively from the people of Basra, and the trial of shooters on unarmed demonstrators, and the dismissal of foreign workers in Iraqi oil fields.
And she called for the return of the plundered rights of the people of Basra, who have been exhausted by poor services, lack of employment opportunities, failure to fulfill promises and work to rectify the path to ensure the decent living of their people, calling for the assignment of a number of ministers and officials to move projects in Basra, and the establishment of stations to generate electricity and desalination, And disbursement of Basra’s dues from oil revenues since 2014 to today.
The Basra tribes demanded the handover of the security forces officer, who opened fire on the demonstrators and killed one of the citizens which increased the tension in Basra between the clan of the dead and the security forces.
Sheikh bani Malik, Dhirgham Sabah al-Maliki said “Iraq is no longer a state in the real sense, it has become a group of mafias and parties that control its wealth and sell its sovereignty at the lowest prices, so we have to organize our affairs in order to preserve our existence, otherwise we have become a prey for mafia and local and international gangs “, criticizing in a statement, Iraqi forces to open fire on unarmed demonstrators who went out to demand the provision of services.
Maliki added that the incident of shooting of a young man from Bani Mansour and his brothers was “a clear message from the rulers of this country, warning anyone who raises his voice to demand his right.” Adding ” the country is living a new phase of repression and tyranny, which can not be tolerated “.
He wondered: Where is the role of the law and judiciary and where is the separation between the offender and the victim? Is it the tribe or the law, where is the law in Iraq?
The demonstrations spread to a number of provinces including Dhi Qar, which witnessed a massive demonstration in the city of Nasiriyah, the center of the province, to protest the lack of services and high unemployment, and power outages, the road leading to the center of Haboubi city was cur off, and a number of protesters set fire to the tires in the streets.
The city of Wasit witnessed large demonstrations in several areas: Damok, Zahra, Al Azza, Zuwairjat and Anwar Al Sadr. All of these were launched from its areas to the governorate council, while many citizens demonstrated in front of the governor’s house, and in front of the electricity directorate in Tamuz square and the city center saw almost complete paralysis and heavy security measures.
The Ministry of Electricity considered the decision of the Wasit Governorate Council to separate the thermal station from the electrical system “out of the law,” asserting that this action will expose the national system to the full power outage .
The city of Najaf (southern Iraq) has also seen angry popular protests demanding better services and electricity.
Protests spread to Maysan province, where hundreds gathered in night demonstrations demanding better basic services.
In Diyala, the head of the council of the Bani Saad (20 km southwest of Baquba) Rasul al-Husseini, said that “spontaneous popular demonstration went out in the center of Bani Saad and went to the municipal council and stormed it, causing material damage in the building of the district administration.” “The demonstration was an expression of popular anger over the water and electricity crisis,” al-Husseini said, adding that “the administration and council of the Bani Saad area does not bear any responsibility for the imbalance in electricity and water because it is outside its authority ” , indicating that several appeals have been sent for weeks without result “.
Al-Husseini called for “quick measures to contain the anger revolution in Bani Saad, and the local government in Diyala should issue a statement on the situation and put urgent solutions before the situation worsens.”
Economic Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies