By Ali Jawad
An Iraqi soldier was injured when security forces dismantled a protest camp in the southern city of Basra amid demonstrations against high unemployment and poor public utilities, according to an army officer on Saturday.
“Security forces intervened to dismantled dozen of tents set up by protesters in northern Basra,” Lieutenant Mohamed Khalaf told Anadolu Agency.
He said the process of evacuating and arresting the protesters has caused to trigger an exchange of fire between security forces and angry tribesmen, in which an army soldier was injured.
On Friday, hundreds of Iraqis demonstrated in Basra to call for the sacking of local officials and provision of basic services.
For the second week in a row, Iraq’s southern provinces have witnessed angry protests which in some cases have included acts of violence that have left at least eight dead.
The protests first erupted in Basra, where demonstrators decried poor public services, high unemployment and chronic power shortages.
The main reasons for Iraq’s ongoing financial crisis, which appear to have triggered the protests, are the high costs of perpetual conflict and falling oil revenues.
While Baghdad has been largely unable to fulfill its development plans, it is also struggling to provide basic public utilities, including electricity and water.
Recent days have seen the protests spread from southern Iraq to a number of other cities and provinces, including the nation’s capital, where the government has cut internet access and banned several social media platforms in hopes of preventing the protests from escalating further.