BASRA (Dispatches) – Operations have resumed at Iraq’s Umm Qasr commodities port near Basra, a port official says.
All the port’s terminals were operating on Saturday, and ships began to unload cargo at terminals, the source said.
Umm Qasr receives imports of grain, vegetable oils and sugar shipments that feed a country largely dependent on imported food. Operations there had been halted for nearly 10 days as protesters blocked the port’s entrance.
Meanwhile, Iraqi security forces regained control over three bridges in the central parts Baghdad, ending days-long partial blockades of the key passageways into the capital city's heavily-fortified Green Zone by anti-government protesters.
Iraqi forces were able to disperse protesters from the al-Sinek, al-Shuhada and al-Ahrar bridges and expand the safety buffer around the Green Zone, which is home to the offices of Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi and other government officials as well as foreign diplomatic missions, the AFP reported Saturday.
Over the past two weeks, demonstrators spilling over from Tahrir Square had managed to first take over the al-Jumhuriyah Bridge before occupying the other three.
Security forces have in recent days tried to keep protesters from crossing the main bridges to the Green Zone, amid attempts by certain elements to infiltrate the area.
On Friday, Iraq’s most prominent Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called on security forces to avoid using excessive force.
The Iraqi army had warned that its forces will move in to break up any gathering outside Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, emphasizing its determination to put an end to chaos in the streets.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erd?g?n has speculated that he knows who is behind the recent anti-government protests in Iraq.
"We can guess who is behind the unrest in Iraq,” he said on Saturday, concluding that the unnamed conspirators behind the deadly protests in Iraq were after "dividing the Islamic World."
Protesters in Iraq have directed their rage at a class of elite leaders, whom they accuse of pillaging the oil-rich country's wealth while the population grows poorer.
The protests, which began more than a month ago, have often turned violent, with security forces opening fire and protesters torching government buildings.
A view of Umm Qasr Port is seen after protesters blocked its entrance, south of Basra, Iraq November 3, 2019.