Southern Regional Report 13 September

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September 13, 2017  

The below is a summary and discussion of recent developments throughout the region. Information is garnered from a variety of sources and has been vetted whenever possible. Please note: Friday and Saturday reporting is reduced at regional levels.

Note: For above mapping, please scroll over individual spots to see further details. Due to developments outside of Talos control, some map features are temporarily unavailable.

  1. Violence at demonstration in Dhi Qar
  2. Air traffic controllers return to work
  3. Tribal fighting in Basra City

Basra:
On 12 September, Zubayr Mayor, Diaa al-Khafaji, announced a security plan for the Islamic month of Muharram, emphasizing that all security agencies had a role to perform. The aim of the plan is to secure all mosques, Hussainiyahs and the Hussaini Processions in Zubayr and will include some road closures, particularly a number of main roads and routes near mosques and Hussainiyahs. The plan also includes the Emergency Police conducting night patrols until 0600 hours.

Several other provinces in the region will likely follow suit as 10 Muharram is the commemoration of ‘Ashura when millions of Shi’a Muslims make a pilgrimage to Karbala. This pilgrimage is one of the most significant for Shi’a and it has been a target for Sunni terrorist attacks in the past.

On 12 September, a number of air traffic controllers conducted a demonstration at the gate of Basra International Airport, to protest the failed release of their technical allowances, the lack of a career development program and the poor state of repairs for electronic devices of the Air Traffic Control Department.

On 13 September, the Basra International Airport Director, Samir Yunus stated that aircraft were landing and taking off from and to Basra Airport as normal. The director visited the tower during the morning hours in order to monitor the situation, stressing that there were no canceled or delayed flights. He also noted that the demands of the air traffic controllers resulted in negotiations with the Ministry of Transport representative, Kadim Finjan, and these demands were referred to the Prime Minister, Haidar al-‘Abadi. Further developments with regards to this ongoing negotiation will remain important to monitor, with a currently reduced potential remaining for interruption to airport operations as a result.

Late at night on 12 September, a tribal clash was reported in the Ablah area in northern Basra, with one young individual reportedly killed after he was shot in the chest. On the morning of 13 September, potentially related tribal fighting was reported in the Five Mile area of Basra City, close to the Ablah area. Security forces responded but details remain limited. Also on the morning of 13 September, armed men exchanged small arms fire due to a tribal dispute in the Hussain neighborhood in western Basra City. Again, one individual was reported to have been killed as a result.

There is no evidence to suggest anything other than tribal fighting for these events, and such a significant number of incidents in Ablah and 5 Mile over a short period of time may well be connected, with these events reported independently but potentially comprising an ongoing dispute which has impacted a number of areas.

On 13 September, a force from the Counter-Crime Service conducted a raid in the Ma’qil area of central Basra, arresting four individuals accused of forming a gang specializing in home and shop robberies. The men were found in possession of a hand grenade, an unspecified amount of drugs and stolen jewelry, subsequently confessing during the initial investigation to conducting a number of robberies in different areas.

On 13 September, a security source reported National Security Service elements at Umm Qasr’s northern port seized a truck loaded with vehicle engines and engine parts, due to irregularities with the customs documentation. The convoy reportedly registered a cargo of five engines, whereas the truck was found to be carrying more than 45 engines. Another truck was seized due to irregularities with the customs documents that recorded a cargo of cleaning materials, but the truck was found to be loaded with chemical materials. There have been a number of similar fraudulent practices highlighted in Umm Qasr customs department in recent weeks and some arrests have been made.

On 13 September, security forces found the body of a 30-year-old man bearing obvious signs of torture and covered with a blanket inside his vehicle, near Abu al-Khasib Hospital. No motivation for the incident has thus far been discussed, though criminal activity remains the most likely driver rather than terrorism-related events.

Other Southern Provinces:
On 13 September, a heavy security presence was reported in Nasiriya City due to the visit of Prime Minister Haidar al-‘Abadi’s to Dhi Qar. Heightened security procedures were in evidence for the visit, with heavy deployment of security personnel in Nasiriya and near provincial buildings scheduled to be visited by the Prime Minister, including the Cultural Center and Dhi Qar Provincial Council. Abadi was met at Nasiriya Airport by the Dhi Qar governor, Yahia al-Nasiri.

A number of contract workers at the Ghaziyah Electricity Station staged a demonstration to coincide with al-‘Abadi’s visit, taking the opportunity to demand their delayed salaries which are now three months overdue. An anonymous source stated that clashes erupted between Riot Control Police and demonstrators, and a press reporter claimed that a demonstrator was wounded during clashes with Haidar al–‘Abadi’s security detail in front of al-Janub Hotel, when the guards fired their weapons into the air.

North of Nasiriya on 13 September, a fire broke out near al-Sirur Station, near Shatra. Although there was no cause for the fire reported, it is likely to have been an electrical fault.

On 13 September, Checkpoint and Highways elements of Najaf Police Directorate arrested 17 wanted individuals on various charges while Counter-Crime elements arrested four wanted individuals on various criminal charges and in different areas of the city, including one arrested for narcotics trafficking, and three others on theft charges.

On 12 September, Karbala Provincial Council voted to replace the Karbala Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism Director, based on corruption-related files that were presented against the director.

 

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