ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Internet service has been cut in the province of Basra since early Saturday morning amid growing protest in the region demanding increased public services and employment.
“This could be one of the ways that the Iraqi government tries to deprive protesters of the social media networks which are used to communicate and publish footage of demonstrations from the province,” one of the organizers of the Basra protests told Kurdistan 24.
Protests erupted a week ago in Basra, the oil-rich province in southern Iraq, and later spread to other cities across Iraq.
Angry crowds have faced off with security forces on multiple occasions. So far, one protester has been killed and about a hundred more wounded in Basra.
Foremost among the concerns of those on the street are chronic shortages of electricity and water. Through its oil production and exports, Basra generates over 90 percent of Iraq’s revenue, but 15 years since the liberation of the country from authoritarian rule, it's services are no better than other provinces, one of the protesters told Kurdistan 24 on Saturday.
After closing Umm Qasr Port and interrupting flights at Najaf Airport on Friday, protestors on Saturday morning also blocked Iraq's Safwan Border Crossing with Kuwait as demonstrations continue to grow.
One of the demands of Basra protesters is to promote the province into an autonomous region, able to administrate its own resources. Sajid Kaa’bi, an activist in Basra, told Kurdistan 24 that over 58,000 signatures had been collected for a petition in support of such a move.
People in the province of Babil also attacked the office of ruling political parties in the city of al-Qassim on Saturday morning. According to witnesses, offices included those of the Dawa Party, led by former Iraqi Prime Minister and current vice-President Nouri al-Maliki.
Iraq remains high on Transparency International’s list of national levels of corruption as widespread fraud and mismanagement in state institutions are some of the most significant challenges facing the country since the fall of the former regime.
According to the group's 2017 Corruption Index, Iraq ranks 166, the tenth most corrupt country out of a total of 176.
Editing by John J. Catherine