Iraq appoints new Basra commander to quell violent protests

People gather during a protest near the building of government office in Basra, Iraq September 6, 2018. REUTERS/Essam al-Sudani

Basra ( – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi issued on Monday a decision, appointing Maj. Gen. Qassem Nazzal as new commander of Basra Operations.

The replacement decision came amid violent and popular protests in the province over poor services and high unemployment rates.

Under Abadi’s decision, former Basra operations commander Jamil al-Shamri will be transferred to the Defense University for Military Studies, while Maj. Gen. Rashid Falih will retain his post as Basra police chief.

A number of Iraqi parliamentarians, representing Basra, had urged sacking three ministers of Abadi’s cabinet, as well as dismissing the army commander in Basra over poor services.

Mass protests have been staged since July in central and southern provinces with protesters calling for better services like electricity, water, jobs and fighting corruption.

The Iraqi government claims that some infiltrators are involved in sabotage acts, however, protesters accuse security personnel of forcibly dispersing them and opening fire at them.

The developments come within a political crisis in the country as wide disputes occur among blocs that won in parliamentary elections, held in May, on the figure that will form the upcoming government.

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