Iraq's Umm Qasr Port reopens as protesters disperse
Road access to Iraq's southern Umm Qasr commodities port was restored on Sunday after port authorities promised to create new jobs.
The re-opening of the port to freight traffic comes after two days during which protesters camped in front of the gate, barring traffic from entering or leaving the port, which mainly handles grain shipments and supplies for the oil and gas sector.
Thousands of Iraqis have protested in recent weeks in Baghdad and other southern Iraqi cities, calling for jobs, government services and reforms of the judiciary, parliament and local governing bodies amid a widespread feeling that the Iraqi government is failing to put the needs of citizens before political concerns.
At Umm Qasr, negotiations with security officials and the director of the state-run General Company for Ports of Iraq resulted in a pledge to create up to 75 new jobs, according to company spokesman Anmar al-Safi.
Dozens of demonstrators, who had set up tents in front of the port's two main gates, agreed to let trucks pass and employees enter the facility, Safi said on Sunday.
The demonstrations across the south of the country come at a difficult time for the Iraqi state. Nearly a third of Iraq's territory has fallen to ISIS militants over the past year and the central government faces a financial crisis from the collapsing price of its oil exports.
Demonstrations began last month in response to power cuts amid a sweltering heat wave, prompting Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi launch a campaign of major reforms.