0835 GMT December 09, 2019
Praising the Iraqi government and nation for their generous hospitality during last week’s Arbaeen rituals, the Iranian Foreign Ministry cited reports of unrest in Iraq for its decision to issue the travel warning.
Thousands of Iraqis took to the streets this week in a second wave of protests against the government and a political elite they say are corrupt and out of touch. The total death toll since the unrest started on Oct. 1 is now at least 250 people.
At least 14 people were killed in the holy city of Kerbala in Monday night clashes with security forces, according to medical and security sources, Reuters reported.
At least 865 people were wounded, the sources said.
Kerbala’s police chief denied in a statement that any protesters had been killed and said only one person had died in an unrelated criminal incident.
The unrest in Iraq, driven by discontent over economic hardships and deep-seated corruption, has broken nearly two years of relative stability in Iraq, which from 2003 to 2017 endured a US-led invasion and a Daesh terror campaign.
OPEC member Iraq boasts vast oil wealth, but many Iraqis live in poverty or have limited access to clean water, electricity, basic healthcare and education. The country is still struggling to recover from years of conflict since 2003.
Despite promising reforms and ordering a broad reshuffle of the cabinet, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, whose position is increasingly precarious in the face of the stiffest challenge since he took office a year ago, has so far struggled to address the demonstrators’ complaints.
An Iraqi government committee investigating the first wave of unrest, which took place during the first week of October, found that 149 civilians were killed because security forces used excessive force and live fire to quell protests.