Basra protests turn violent

Alex Roos, Staffer

Basra is the third largest city in Iraq, located southeast of Baghdad. It is an oil rich city 280 miles away from the country’s capital.

Protests in Basra have been occurring for many years now and are becoming more and more violent. Anger has been swelling over the past few months. The protesters in Iraq are frustrated due to the lack of basic services, high unemployment, dirty water and prolonged power cuts. The water problem in Basra has sent hundreds of people to the hospital.

At least five people were killed in clashes and 68 others injured, including 41 civilians and 27 military personnel during violent protests in Iraq. One  civilian was killed on Sept. 3 during a clash with Iraqi authorities.

Protesters focused their dissatisfaction over the poor government on the Basra governorate building their demonstrations. Groups of protestors assembled together around the building, which can be seen in a videos posted to Facebook. The authorities sprayed the demonstrators with tear gas and the protesters reacted by throwing a molotov at the governorate building. The authorities responded by firing live ammunition into the crowd of demonstrators.

A video of the event shows protesters throwing tear gas canisters into a government compound and facing off with armored personnel vehicles. Other footage shows the governorate building aflame while heavy gunfire is heard in the background.

Political forces in Baghdad continue to struggle with forming a new government following the inconclusive parliamentary election more than four months ago, which promised to help with Barsa’s problems.

“In terms of the protests I think we should be in a position to be an ally with Iraq and it should be one of mutual effort,” World Geography and AP Government teacher Hunt Caraway said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said at his weekly news conference that he had ordered an immediate investigation into the first protester death before blaming the unrest on unknown demonstrators.

“I ordered a quick investigation to know what has happened, and who is behind it,” Abadi told reporters.  “There are parties that are pouring oil on fire, who are setting people against the security forces to jeopardize Basra security.Our orders are clear in banning the firing of live ammunition directly on people and, frankly, I not have heard yet that the security forces had opened fire on people.

However, the security forces have to protect themselves.”