ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Friday arrived in the oil-rich province of Basra amid ongoing protests, now turned violent, against high-unemployment rates and the low quality of public services.
The Prime Minister’s visit came on the heels of a NATO Summit meeting with members of the International Coalition against the Islamic State (IS), where he gave a speech on Iraq’s efforts to achieve stability after going through a three-year-long war to defeat the jihadist group which emerged in the country in mid-2014.
According to a statement by the PM’s media office, upon his arrival in Basra, Abadi held a meeting with security and military leaders in the Basra Operations Command and received a detailed report on the situation in the province.
رئيس مجلس الوزراء الدكتور حيدر العبادي يصل الى محافظة البصرة و يعقد اجتماعا مع القيادات الامنية والعسكرية في قيادة عمليات البصرة ويستمع لتقرير مفصل عن الاوضاع في المحافظة— Haider Al-Abadi (@HaiderAlAbadi) July 13, 2018
PM Al-Abadi arrives in Basra province, meets with security commanders to review the current situation there pic.twitter.com/eBQsDh8I6a
On Thursday, people from various cities in southern Iraq, particularly in Basra, took to the streets to protest the lack of basic services and job opportunities in the region.
Iraqi security forces fired into the air to disperse the protesters at one of three demonstrations outside major oilfields in the southern oil hub of Basra, police sources told Reuters, wounding at least two, hospital sources later confirmed.
Expressing his thoughts on the protests to state television, Abadi warned that there were "seditious elements" that wish to harm the peaceful demonstrations and security forces.
Kurdistan 24 correspondent Shivan Jabary was live at the scene of the protests on Thursday where he conducted interviews with demonstrators, with one affirming they would continue until the government meets all their demands.
People are jobless, and there is a lack of electricity, water, and other basic services with no proper government response to resolve those issues, the protestor had added.
Confrontations between protesters and security forces in the al-Huwair subdistrict in northern Basra Province injured seven people, including a police officer, Shafaaq news reported, quoting a security source in the region.
Editing by Nadia Riva