The situation in Iraq is heating up yet again, protesters and Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) clashed in Basra, Iraq over the weekend due to serious power outages in the region paired with a rising rate of unemployment. There have been several protests like this over the month but this was the first one to turn violent as several fires were started while one protester was shot and killed. The fires were set on a major highway that the protesters chose to blockade.

Basra provincial council member Zahra Hamza told local media that, “Basra is facing a real electricity crisis which has compelled its citizens to go out and protest against constant electricity outages.” The Ministry of Oil for Iraq claims that they have been distributing oil and fuel to essential institutions, those who absolutely depend on it to function, and the various other ministries apart of the central Iraqi government. The Iraqi Ministry of Oil stated that, “The company distributes petroleum products to provide fuel in all types of oil derivatives to citizens in the provinces and families, IDPs in areas liberated from terrorism, the Ministry of Electricity and private generators.” While the Iraq’s Department of Energy is federally controlled, the government administration is placing the blame on consumers, saying that Iraqi citizens are being too wasteful.

An operation was carried out last week by the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity that shut off power to the people who they claim “violated” guidelines put forth for conservation efforts, citizens who were using more electricity than the state deemed they required. The operation was an effort that targeted the al-Rusafa, Karkh, and al-Sadr territories. Presently Iraq is seeing a heat wave that is bringing temperatures near 120 degrees Fahrenheit in Basra. Iraq‘s citizens are no doubt going all out with cooling methods such as air conditioning, portable fans, and other appliances which are using a great deal of electricity.

Featured image: Shatt al-Arab near Basra city in Iraq. | I, Aziz1005 [CC BY-SA 2.5], from Wikimedia Commons