Iraqi PM sacks army commander in Basra over mass protests

Iraqi security forces stand guard inside the west Qurna 2 oilfield, during a protest in north Basra, Iraq July 14, 2018. REUTERS/Essam al-Sudani

Baghdad ( The Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, who is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, has dismissed Basra Operations Commander in the wake of mass protests that have been taking place in the province since beginning of the month, the Turkish Anadolu Agency reported on Thursday.

Abadi’s decision comes few hours before the parliament vote on dismissing Maj. Gen. Jamil al-Shemari from his position.

A statement issued by Abadi’s office said “We gave instructions that Basra Operations Command Maj. Gen. Jamil al-Shemari heads the Defense University for Military Studies.”

The MPs, representing Basra, previously urged sacking three ministers of Abadi’s cabinet, as well as dismissing the army commander in Basra, in the aftermath of protests staged against deteriorated services until new cabinet is formed.

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

The Iraqi government claims that some infiltrators are involved in sabotage, however, protests accuse the security personnel of forcibly dispersing them through firing against 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 one that will form the upcoming government.

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