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In Basra, an oil city, protesters cut roads by burning tires, November 18, 2019. Reuters

Since October 1, the protest movement in Iraq continues. Protesters demand the departure of their leaders deemed incompetent and corrupt. Baghdad and all the cities of southern Iraq are shaken by these challenges. Near Basra, protesters blocked access to Umm Qasr's strategic port and faced violent repression by riot police.

On Monday morning protesters blocked the large Iraqi port of Umm Qasr in the south of the country, halving its capacity. If the blockage continues the port facilities could be totally shut down.

" The army now controls the port "

The port of Umm Qasr is the main Iraqi port. It is located about sixty kilometers south of Basra . It had already been paralyzed from October 29 to November 7, which had disrupted particularly the imports of cereals and sugar which the Iraqi population largely depends.

The army intervened to put an end to the violence, according to the testimony of an Iraqi non-commissioned officer, deployed in the port of Umm Qasr: " The demonstrators are peaceful but among them there were thugs. Violent clashes opposed them to the anti-riot forces. There were injured people and at least one person was killed. Riot police fired live ammunition. We, the military, had to intervene to put an end to all this violence. The army now controls the port of Umm Qasr. We will protect all the facilities and ensure the safety of the demonstrators . "

Regime change claimed

On Sunday, November 17, protesters joined by hundreds of students demonstrated in Baghdad and also blocked strategic bridges. For several weeks, Iraqi protesters have been demanding a change of regime. The protest movement of violence has so far made 330 dead and 15,000 injured because of police repression.

The demonstrators wanted to block this port for several reasons:
First to protest the malpractices in which the port officials are involved, corruption, fictitious jobs and embezzlement of public money. Then, blocking this port is for them a good way to put the authorities of Baghdad under pressure. It is the main gateway for Iraqi imports.

Anonymous testimony of an Iraqi army non-commissioned officer deployed at the port of Umm Qasr 18/11/2019 - by Sami Boukhelifa