As popular unrest across several southern cities of Iraq, videos being shared on social media showed several demonstrators burning the offices of political parties with links to Iran, most notably those belonging to the Badr militia, Dawa party and the National Wisdom Movement.
Pictures from Sunday showed the burning of a poster bearing the image of former Iran Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini on a main street in the province of Basra.
“The streets of Basra continue to protest against the Iranian practices, which have been going on for years now, especially the after our water became saline after drainage thrown by Iran in the Shatt al-Arab River,” Abu Ahmad al-Mansoori, one of the protesters in Basra, told Al Arabiya English.
The crumbling oil hub of Basra and others parts of the Iraqi southern heartland have long been neglected, especially by the Shiite-led governments who came after former president Saddam Hussein. Similar protests have occurred in the past.
In a rare move, protesters stormed the international airport in Najaf, a holy Shiite city, over the weekend temporarily halting air traffic.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, in response, announced that his caretaker government would release funds for water, electricity and health services in Basra, once dubbed the “Venice of the Middle East” for its network of canals.