Protests through southern Iraq over poor public services

World Today

Thousands have been protesting on the streets of Southern Iraq over poor public services such as electricity and jobs.

Protests have also begun to spread throughout the country.

“We want a change of the politicians – we no longer want water and electricity, because it is a shame that we do not have simple rights. People of the world have gone to the moon and have the most advanced technology and we are still calling for water and electricity. So, they (politicians) are corrupt,” said Sami Rasheed, a protestor from Baghdad.

Particularly because crude oil production in Basra accounts for more than 95 percent of Iraq’s state revenues, people in the southern province are angry over their lack of basic services.

The protests, in part over stable electricity, come as daytime temperatures are hitting around 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius).

The protests follow a May 12 parliamentary election that was plagued by allegations of fraud.

In an effort to stop protests from spreading, authorities have blocked the internet, which has led businesses to take a hit.

“The cutting off of the internet has affected our business 100 percent because we cannot communicate with our customers. We cannot make reservations and buy tickets for them. We cannot bring them back to Iraq. We cannot confirm the reservations that they have made already. All the summer vacations and holidays have been cancelled in addition to the loss that we have suffered as a tourism company,” said Yousef Abdul Rida of the Al Marjan tourism company.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi hoped to serve a second term following the election in May.

His government said the protestors’ demands are legitimate and that he would fund water, electricity and health services in Basra.

However, they feel that infiltrators were involved in violence at the protests that left at least nine people dead, according to the Health Ministry.