Iraq’s Umm Qasr Port shutdown over the weekend by protesters

All operations had been halted since Thursday, when protesters blocked the port’s entrance as part of a massive wave of unrest across Basra.
Umm qasr, Iraq, Protests, Basra

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Iraq’s main container port, Umm Qasr, reopened on Saturday morning and all operations had resumed at the time of writing, according to local officials.

The port was reopened after protesters left the entrance, port employees and government sources in the area said.

All operations had been halted since Thursday, when protesters blocked the port’s entrance as part of a massive wave of unrest across Basra.

Umm Qasr lies 60 km (40 miles) south of Basra, and receives grain, vegetable oil and sugar shipments that feed Iraq, which is largely dependent on imported food.

The port’s closure came during 48 hours of extreme unrest in the area, during which protesters attacked or set fire to nearly every government building — including the headquarters of the ruling Da’wa Party and the offices of the state-run Iraqiya TV station — as well as the Iranian consulate and the headquarters of almost every Iranian-backed militia in the city.

On Friday evening, security forces surrounded the US consulate to prevent protesters from storming the building.

Protesters have expressed anger over the lack of basic services in the city.

Basra has been suffering from a crippling electricity shortage for months — in a place where summer temperatures regularly reach above 48 degrees Celsius during the day.

There is also a water pollution crisis that has sickened thousands of residents of Basra province in the last few weeks — including 7,000 cases that occurred over just two days in late August.

According to the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights, hospitals were so overwhelmed that some patients were left lying on the floor untreated.

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