This comes amid a mass wave of protests that hit Baghdad and southern Iraq, which has killed at least 315 people since early October, according to data provided by Reuters. These are considered as the largest demonstrations since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The Monday blockage follows another blockage of the port from 29 October to 9 November, with a brief resumption of operations between 7-9 November.

If the blockage goes on, operations will come to a complete halt, sources say.

Umm Qasr is Iraq’s main Gulf port, receiving imports of grain, vegetable oils and sugar shipments that feed a country largely dependent on imported food.

The blockage cost the country more than $6 billion during just the first week of the closure, Reuters reported citing a government source.