Hundreds of locals blocked a main entrance of Iraq’s giant southern West Qurna-2 oilfield on Tuesday.
According to Iraq Oil Report, local residents have long complained that oil development has caused them to lose agricultural land for which they have not been adequately compensated, while many expected to receive jobs at oil projects, but have not.
Reuters reports that around 500 angry protesters gathered at the main entrance, demanding that LUKoil supply jobs and compensation for land where it operates. Police said the situation was under control and demonstrators did not try to break into the field.
“We are protesting to get our rights. We have decided to block the entrance until field officials address our demands,” said Mizhir al-Rwemi, a spokesman for protesters.
An official at the state-run South Oil Company said it was not the first such protest. “We are trying to deal discretely with them,” the official said.
Hundreds of protesters broke into West Qurna-2 oilfield early last month, smashing offices of an Iraqi company hired by Samsung Engineering before trying to break into the South Korean builder’s headquarters.
From Jewish News One. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Thousands have gathered in the Iraqi capital Baghdad to join the powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in protest against sectarianism and to demand the resignation of the country’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki:
A Middle East expert says similar to the situation in Syria, there are a number of countries that are fueling the tension in Iraq which is very dangerous for the country.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has warned anti-government protesters that security forces could intervene to end illegal demonstrations across the country.
Iraq has been rocked by protests over the past weeks, with protesters in the western Anbar Province continuing to block off a highway linking Iraq to Syria and Jordan for the second week.
Maliki accused the protesters who blocked off the major trade route of trying to abuse their freedoms and cause chaos in the country. Maliki also stated that a committee had been formed in order to consider some of the protesters’ demands.
Iraq has been the scene of anti-government demonstrations since December 23, 2012, when bodyguards of Finance Minister Rafie al-Issawi were arrested on terrorism-related charges.
In an interview with Iran’s PressTV, Jafar Hadi Hassan, a Middle East expert in London, shares his thoughts regarding the issue:
Iraqi troops have closed the only major border crossing with Jordan on Wednesday, after Sunni Muslim demonstrators blocked a highway to Syria and Jordan as part of mass protests against Shi’ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The crossing at Traibil [Turaybeel, Tirbil, Tarbiel] (pictured) is in the Sunni province of Anbar, where protests erupted in late December after authorities arrested the bodyguards of Sunni finance minister Rafie al-Issawi [Rafie al-Esawi, Rafi Hiyad al-Issawi, Rafia al-Issawi] on terrorism charges.
According to a report from Reuters, several thousand demonstrators are camped out on the highway near the Sunni stronghold of Ramadi, about 100 km (60 miles) west of Baghdad, before the point at which it splits, with one road leading to Syria and another to Jordan.
One of the protest organizers, Saeed Humaim, told The Associated Press:
“The closure [of the Jordanian border] … serves only one purpose, and that is to damage the image of the protesters and depict them as troublemakers who want to make the lives of Iraqis more difficult … We will stand firm on our demands, and we will not be shaken by this irresponsible act.“
There was a slight rise in the number of attacks recorded in Iraq last week but the overall number of casualties fell from the previous week. At least 26 people were killed and 62 injured in nationwide incidents. A total of 31 bomb attacks left 11 people dead and 57 injured while small arms fire left 10 people dead and five injured. One person was kidnapped in Kirkuk, while a captive woman was freed in a police operation in Umm Qasr. The bodies of several more people were found abandoned in various other parts of the country.
North Mosul remained one of the most violent parts of the country last week. Ta’mim province saw far fewer incidents, although a mechanic was kidnapped in the province and security was heightened in Kirkuk ahead of a visit by Prime Minister Maliki. In the normally secure region of Kurdistan there were two points of note. A personal dispute between two civilians escalated into a gunfight in Arbil, which left one person dead and the other injured. The region sees very little violence, but there is a high distribution of firearms and related incidents are still relatively common. A protest also took place in Arbil on 8 May following the publication of an article by a local paper deemed offensive to Islam by many local residents. Protesters clashed with the security forces, although there were no significant casualties reported.
Weekly Attacks in Iraq - the last 6 months
Central Apart from Mosul, last week’s violence in Iraq was concentrated in and around Baghdad, Fallujah, Ba’qubah and Tuz Khurmatu. Salah ad-Din province is currently seeing the majority of attacks, although conditions slightly worsened in the capital last week as well. Anbar and Diyala province remain relatively equal in terms of violence, although tensions appear to be on the rise in Diyala in particular, with local residents concerned at gradually rising militancy and localised tensions.
South There was a spate of small bomb attacks in southern cities last week. They have not caused any casualties but appear to have been aimed at intimidating political figures rather than killing members of the security forces or civilians indiscriminately. While the region is far quieter than central and northern parts of the country it evidently still hosts violent militant organisations with the intent and means to use violence for political purposes. While casualties remain highly infrequent this recent trend does not bode well for the longer term outlook for the oil-rich region.
John Drake is a senior risk consultant with AKE, a British risk mitigation company working in Iraq since 2003. You can access AKE’s intelligence website Global Intake here, and you can obtain a free trial of AKE’s Iraq intelligence reports here.