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Iraqi Killed During Power Outage Protests

Iraqi Killed During Power Outage Protests

Monday, 9 July, 2018 - 09:00
Iraqi protest against government corruption, in the streets outside Baghdad. (File Photo: Reuters)
Baghdad – Asharq Al-Awsat
Several protests erupted in Iraqi cities from the southern province of Basra to a number of central and southern provinces such as Maysan and Wasit, as well as several neighborhoods in Baghdad, over the deterioration of services, primarily electricity outage.

The protests came two days after Iran cut off power lines for each of Diyala and Basra.

Demonstrations in Basra protested electricity outage and unemployment followed by clashes between protesters and police which resulted in the death of one person and the injury of others.

The death of the protester is expected to open the door to wider demonstrations in the rest of the province or in other provinces, such as in Maysan and Wasit.

Later, Basra Operations Command announced that the person killed during the demonstration and the others injured were among the armed group that cut off the road leading to the oil companies operating in the north of the province.

Head of operations General Jamil al-Shammari said in a statement that a group of gunmen blocked the road leading to the oil companies' sites and prevented the employees from reaching their headquarters. A joint security force arrived at the scene to deal with the matter, and the group began shooting at the security forces which fired back in defense.

Shammari added that “the person who died and others injured were among the armed group and were not among the demonstrators”, adding several oil police members were injured as well.

The incident prompted the Interior Minister Qasim al-Araji to launch an investigation into the incident.

Ministry Spokesman, Maj. Gen. Saad Maan, said in a statement which Asharq Al-Awsat received a copy of, that the minister issued an order to form an investigation committee headed by Engineer Mohammed Badr Nasser, Deputy Minister for Federal Security Affairs, to inquire about the protests in Basra.

Maan added that the committee will present the results of the investigation to the Minister to work on holding those responsible for the incident accountable.

Spokesman for the Electricity Ministry Mohammed Fathi told Asharq Al-Awsat that pump lines from Iran were completely halted because of non-payment of dues and this is not the first time this issue had occurred, which “prompts us to look for national alternatives to avoid repeating such incidents in the future.”

The fact that Iran decided to cut off electricity during the peak time of the summer will negatively affecting public life and will be reflected on the political aspects because it often leads to demonstrations which had already started in Basra, said an Iraqi source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"Electricity is a dangerous weapon that can be exploited for political purposes, which requires Iraqi politicians to address this problem, which is no longer merely a service issue, but has become a dangerous weapon of extortion, just like water that Turkey and Iran cut off from Iraq during the summer,” added the source.

Citizens in Wasit and Maysan took it to the streets due to electricity cut offs, especially that Iran suspended the two main lines, which led to the reduction of hours of processing and increased cutting hours at a time when temperatures increased to 50 degrees Celsius, mainly in the southern provinces.

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