Protesters clash with police near Iraq oil site

Oil workers in Iraq (File Photo: AP)

Hundreds of Iraqis from the southern district of Zubair clashed with security forces Sunday when they attempted to block a road leading to oil fields during a protest.

Police held dozens of demonstrators following the incident, which did not lead to any injuries among the protesters nor the security forces, an AFP correspondent reported.

Zubair lies near the country’s main port city of Basra, 450 kilometers (280 miles) southeast of Baghdad.

The protesters tried to block access to some oil fields in the area to press their demand for jobs in the sector, which is the backbone of the nation’s economy.

Exports from Iraq’s southern oil fields topped 3.2 million barrels last month. The country is the world’s fourth producer and holds the world’s fifth-largest reserves.

“Zubair’s oil is being stolen by thieves” the protesters chanted. “It’s our oil, we have a right to it,” was another of their slogans.

“I graduated in computer engineering five years ago and I still haven’t found a job,” said one of the demonstrators, Ahmed Hassan al-Tamimi.

“Most of the youth in Zubair is unemployed. Even when the oil companies are hiring, they bring people from other provinces and nobody cares about our area because we don’t belong to any party and have no connections,” he said.

Despite its oil wealth, the Basra region suffers from poor services and was at the heart of the protest movement sparked last summer by exasperation over the lack of electricity and water.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:52 - GMT 06:52