Basra restores calm after week-long bloody protests

Iraq’s southern oil hub Basra has restored a state of calm after a week of bloody protests over unemployment and poor public services.

According to Al Ekhbariya news website, municipality workers, aided by staffers from the Ministry of Oil and the civil defense department, were seen removing debris from the streets of the oil-rich region.

Basra has been hit by the most serious protests in years, with residents complaining of power outages, filthy tap water and soaring unemployment.

Protests have recently caused the province’s government office and the Iranian consulate to catch fire, prompting Iraqi authorities to impose a curfew in the province at 4 pm yesterday but they later lifted it after the improvement of the security situation there.

Health authorities were quoted saying that violence left on Friday seven people dead and 50 others injured, including security men.

Demonstrators have voiced anger over water contamination and poor public services in the province, renewing earlier protests in July that followed the parliament polls held in May.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi vowed yesterday to address protesters’ demands but warned against sabotage.

Current demonstrations represent a major challenge to Abadi who seeks to secure a renewed term in office through forming the largest bloc in the parliament that is legally entitled to form the next government.

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