Iraqi police arresting protesters in the south

Iraqi police arresting protesters in the south

Iraqi police arresting protesters in the south

"Hundreds of people tried to storm a courthouse".

The unrest first erupted last Sunday when security forces opened fire, killing one person, as youths demonstrated in Basra demanding jobs and accusing the government of failing to provide basic services including electricity.

"Some of the protesters tried to storm the building". Forty protesters were wounded, three by live fire, according to police sources.

Protesters have a host of grievances against the government, including high unemployment, water and electricity shortages and poor governance in Iraq's oil-rich region.

The oil sector accounts for 89% of the state budget and 99% of Iraq's export revenues, but only 1% of jobs, as the majority of posts are filled by foreigners.

The protests come at a sensitive time as Iraq awaits the final results of a partial recount of the ballots from May's national elections before a new government can be formed.

Growing anger has put a spotlight on the performance of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is seeking a second term after a May 12 parliamentary election, which reflected widespread discontent over hardships and corruption.

In Baghdad hundreds of protesters closed a highway at the entrance to the city s northwestern Shula neighbourhood, chanting "Iran, out out!"

Basra oil officials have said the protests, which have also taken place near major oilfields, have not impacted crude production.

The arrests started on Sunday night, with police chasing protesters down main roads and alleys following demonstrations in the city of Basra, and also in the countryside and around oil fields, two activists told The Associated Press.

Protesters in Muthana also set fire to the offices of the Iranian-backed Badr organisation in the province s largest city of Samawa.

The Iraqi PM has issued a nationwide order placing security forces on high alert in the southern provinces
The Iraqi PM has issued a nationwide order placing security forces on high alert in the southern provinces

Iraqi policemen are seen during a protest in Baghdad, Iraq July 16, 2018.

In neighboring Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, airlines have suspended flights to Najaf.

A coalition of Communists and a bloc led by Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr won the most votes on an anti-corruption platform. He said 18 local and global flights were to land on Monday.

Abadi, who also serves as commander-in-chief of Iraq's armed forces, issued a nationwide order on Sunday placing security forces on high alert in the southern provinces, aiming to stem the burgeoning protests.

The committee promised jobs for those living in the areas around the oil fields and announced allocations for urgent projects, mainly for water.

In response, Abadi traveled from a summit in Brussels to Basra, where he asked the Basra Oil Company to hire more locals.

Mr Abadi on Saturday evening announced investment worth $3 billion (Dh11bn) for Basra province, as well as pledges to spend on housing, schools and services.

Like others, Hussein demanded Baghdad give more powers to a new, local Basra government.

The demonstrations were given a boost after a representative of the Shiite community's spiritual leader, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, offered his solidarity with the protesters during Friday's prayer sermon, but called for peaceful demonstrations.

Earlier in the day, the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry said the situation in the northern borders of Kuwait is totally under control with no incident occurring because of the protests in Iraq.

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