Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

US terror survey blames Iran for ‘fomenting violence’ in Middle East

September 19, 2018

The US has once again named Iran as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, accusing it of intensifying numerous conflicts and trying to undermine governments throughout the Middle East.

Members of Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah group carry Hezbollah flags in southern Lebanon. (Reuters/File Photo)

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The State Department’s annual survey of global terrorism released on Wednesday said Iran and its proxies are responsible for fomenting violence in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. The report said Iranian fighters and Iran-backed militias, like Lebanon’s Hezbollah, had emerged emboldened from the war in Syria and with valuable battlefield experience they seek to leverage elsewhere.

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In addition, the survey reported a 24 percent decrease in attacks around the world between 2016 and 2017. That was due mainly to a sharp decline in the number of attacks in Iraq, where the Daesh group has been largely displaced.

The Associated Press

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1374726

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The Troubled Legacy of Barack Obama

September 16, 2018

President Barack Obama’s election in 2008 represented a new chapter in history. His meteoric rise to the presidency was swift and shocked not only a nation, but also the political elites, including Democratic favorites such as Sens. Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. But as we look back on the eight years that Obama served as president, we see a much different picture — a picture that’s certainly historic, but for all the wrong reasons.

The legacy of Obama represented one of the most racially divided times in our nation’s history. In a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted in July of Obama’s final year in office, 69 percent of Americans said that race relations were bad and that “six in 10 Americans say that race relations were growing worse, up from 38 percent a year ago.”

By Mark Vargas
Washington Examiner

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The legacy of Barack Obama was certainly historic, but for all the wrong reasons.
Evan Vucci/AP

The legacy of Obama represented a time when race-related riots were on the rise. We can’t forget the scenes on television in Baltimore and Ferguson, or the violence that erupted after the deaths of Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Manuel Diaz, and Kimini Gray. Images taken from each of these events resembled combat zones, with police in riot gear while angry citizens burned cars, smashed windows, and vandalized storefronts.

The legacy of Obama represented a time when our enemies and allies abroad viewed us as weak. Shortly after his inauguration, Obama embarked on a worldwide apology tour throughout the Middle East and criticized America.

The legacy of Obama represented a time when homegrown domestic terrorism was on the rise. We can’t forget the horrific scenes or the carnage in places like Fort Hood, Boston, Chattanooga, San Bernardino, and Orlando.

The legacy of Obama represented a time when Islamic State recruitment was on the rise. By fulfilling campaign promises to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, he didn’t take into account the void that would leave, as well as the opportunity for ISIS and our enemies to fill it.

The legacy of Obama represented a time when embassy officials were attacked in Benghazi that resulted in senseless deaths, including our Amb. Chris Stevens. The Obama administration failed to heed the warning signs in advance, and as a result, innocent Americans were killed. Stevens even warned Obama’s State Department about an escalation in violence and the need for additional help. But those pleas were ignored.

The legacy of Obama represented a time of failed agreements such as the Iran nuclear deal. Not only did the president lie to Congress about the details of the deal, but he also ordered planes to secretly deliver billions of dollars in cash to Iranian officials.

The legacy of Obama represented a time when his landmark Obamacare legislation, which was meant to provide healthcare for all, still left 27 million Americans without insurance. And when he famously said, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” that promise turned out to be a lie as well.

The legacy of Obama represented a time when America made terrible financial deals, like the more than $2.2 billion in defaulted energy loans at taxpayers expense, including the now infamous $500 million loan to Solyndra, where company executives misled Energy Department officials and later went bankrupt. And who can forget when Obama said, “It’s here that companies like Solyndra are leading the way toward a brighter and more prosperous future.”

The legacy of Obama represented a time of personal enrichment. In 2009, when everyday people were recession-weary, Obama arranged, just days before his inauguration, a $500,000 advance for a future book deal. Never before in our history had a president or president-elect negotiated a book deal before or during their time in office.

The legacy of Barack Obama was certainly historic, but for all the wrong reasons. As a candidate, he campaigned on “hope” and “change,” but as president, America was left with no hope and very little change. In 2008, he sold the dream. But for eight years, America was left living the nightmare.

A legacy for sure — but not the kind to be very proud of.

Mark Vargas (@MarkAVargas) is a tech entrepreneur, political adviser, and contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/the-legacy-of-barack-obama-and-its-not-a-good-one

Unease, anger in Tehran as economy worsens

September 13, 2018

Just one shop among the thousands in Tehran’s sprawling Grand Bazaar can offer a tableau of the darkening mood descending across Iran as American sanctions again take hold.

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A salesman who wants to move to Europe for a better life shows off his pots and pans to a mother now struggling to pay for the gifts she wanted before her daughter’s marriage amid the collapse of Iran’s rial currency. Another salesman loudly blames internal politics and corruption for the country’s woes. Muttered curses and even shouts against the government follow the journalists talking to them.

In this Monday, Aug. 13, 2018 photo, people shop for carpets at the Grand Bazaar in Tehran, Iran. (AP)

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While only a small moment in a nation of 80 million people, it shows the dangers ahead for the government of the relatively moderate President Hassan Rouhani. His signature nuclear deal with world powers now has become a noose around his neck that hard-liners gleefully tighten. Meanwhile, the sporadic and leaderless protests the nation has seen over its worsening economy threaten to roar back to life at any time.

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That has many expecting the worst is yet to come.

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“It has become more difficult, but we need to lower our expectations,” said Kiana Ismaili, 26, shopping ahead of her wedding.

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For centuries, Iran’s bazaar has been the beating heart of both its economic and political life. While some now go to the Western-style mega-malls of Tehran’s tony northern suburbs, the Grand Bazaar’s narrow alleys, cramped stalls and wandering musicians still draw crowds of thousands.

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Strikes in Iran’s bazaar also have served as political bellwethers.

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Bazaar families opposed the Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and supported the 1979 Islamic Revolution that saw him replaced by the Shiite theocracy and elected officials. More recently in June, protesters swarmed Tehran’s Grand Bazaar and forced shopkeepers to close their stalls, apparently in anger over the rial dropping to 90,000 to the US dollar on the black market despite government attempts to control the currency rate.

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The rial in the meantime has dropped as much as 150,000 to $1 with many anticipating further drops as the US restores punishing sanctions on Iran’s crucial oil industry in early November. The Trump administration denies it is seeking to overthrow Iran’s government through the economic pressure, though Iranian officials say the link between the two is clear.

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Fear over the economy has brought many to the Grand Bazaar in recent days to buy what they can before their savings further dwindle away.

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“People are buying more because they think they won’t be able to buy stuff with current prices anymore. They are worried about price fluctuations,” said Omid Farhadi, a 25-year-old sales clerk at the kitchenware shop Zomorrod, or “Emerald” in Farsi.

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“You have no price stability in this country. You go to bed and overnight a car that was worth 100 million rials is now worth 140 million.”

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As shoppers looked over his pots and pans, Farhadi said he hoped to immigrate soon to the Netherlands. He said other young Iranians with the financial means want to leave the country as well, while those without, longingly look at life in Europe.

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Farhadi largely blamed Iran’s poor relations with the rest of the world for the faltering economy.

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That’s spearheaded by President Donald Trump’s decision to pull America out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which saw Iran agree to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

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While the United Nations repeatedly has said Iran complies with the accord, Trump said he wanted a stricter deal that also constrained Iran’s ballistic missile program and its foreign policy while permanently limiting its atomic program.

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While Iranians remain angry at Trump over adding them to his travel ban and pulling out of the deal, many feel even angrier at their own government. That’s due to a steady stream of corruption cases and allegations of mismanagement by officials.

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Farhadi’s colleague at the shop made a point to tell visiting Associated Press journalists he believed Iran’s main problem lay with Rouhani’s administration. The government’s management of Iran’s economy, already hobbled by high unemployment, growing inflation and debt-laden banks, also faces widespread criticsm.

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“Ninety percent of our problems are because of the infighting,” said salesman Alireza Alihosseini. “I don’t know why but the government and the supreme leader have differences. Only 10 to 5 percent is because of America.”

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The mother of Ismaili, the young woman shopping ahead of her wedding, then came up and asked to talk as well. She spoke carefully about how Iran has faced sanctions and international pressure in the nearly 40 years since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, calling the recent pressure nothing new.

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Men listening to her speak then started muttering, some cursing her loudly for her comments. A man in the market, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals for his criticism of the government, put his blame squarely on those in charge of the country.

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“For someone like me, a young man, if I’m hungry and I don’t have a job I’ll turn into a thief. I’ll turn into a vampire,” he warned.

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Elsewhere in the market, some even defended Trump, like Mahdirashid Mohammadzadeh, whose small stall in the jewelry section of the bazaar has seen customers eagerly buying gold as a hedge against the falling rial.

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“Once we made peace with Obama, we were never so cheap,” he said.

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Asked what caused the economic woes, Mohammadzadeh blamed Iran’s costly foreign intervention in Syria.

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“This is the people’s money,” he said. “We have done nothing wrong to deserve this, but they are sending all our money to Syria.”

The Associated Press

U.S. Republicans seek sanctions on Iraqi militias with Iran ties

September 13, 2018

Republican U.S. senators plan to introduce legislation on Wednesday seeking to counteract what they see as Iran’s increasing influence in Iraq, amid concern about attacks in Iraq by groups U.S. officials consider Iranian proxies, a Senate aide said on Wednesday.

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senator David Perdue  REUTERS/Mike Segar


Among other things, the bill, whose text was seen by Reuters, would impose terrorism-related sanctions on Iranian-controlled militias and require the U.S. Secretary of State to publish and maintain a list of armed groups receiving assistance from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC.

 

Sponsors of the “Iranian Proxies Terrorist Sanctions Act” include Senators David Perdue, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. A similar bill, backed by Republican Representative Ted Poe, has been introduced in the House of Representatives.

There was no immediate word on when the legislation might be considered by congressional committees, normally the first steps toward becoming law.

Three mortar shells landed inside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone just after midnight local time on Friday, the first such attack in several years in the area, which houses parliament, government buildings and many foreign embassies.

On Tuesday, the United States warned Iran that it would “respond swiftly and decisively” to any attacks by its allies in Iraq that resulted in injury to Americans or damage to U.S. facilities.

Reuters reported last month that Iran had given ballistic missiles to Shi’ite Muslim proxy groups in Iraq and was developing the capacity to build more there, a development likely to exacerbate tensions between Tehran and Washington, already heightened by President Donald Trump.

In May, Trump withdrew the United States from a 2015 international nuclear accord with Iran and ordered the reimposition of U.S. sanctions suspended under the deal aimed at stalling Tehran’s nuclear capabilities.

Iran’s Sunni Muslim Gulf neighbors and its arch-enemy Israel have expressed concerns about Tehran’s regional activities as a threat to their security.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Grant McCool

Reuters

Merkel ‘outraged’ by Nazi chants in far-right rally

September 10, 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced anger Monday against Nazi chants by far-right demonstrators marching over the death of a German man following a fight with two Afghans.

Local police and prosecutors said the 22-year-old deceased had suffered acute heart failure after coming to blows with the suspects on a playground in the eastern town of Koethen late Saturday.

The far-right swiftly mobilised a demonstration on Sunday evening that drew 2,500 participants including 400 to 500 known extremists, authorities from Saxony-Anhalt state said.

The rally was billed as a mourning march, but groups of mostly white men were filmed chanting “national socialism, now, now now” — a reference to the Nazis’ declared ideology — according to footage circulating on social media.

© AFP | The far-right mobilised a demonstration on Sunday in the eastern town of Koethen that drew 2,500 participants, authorities from Saxony-Anhalt state said

“At the end of the day in Koethen, a video shows open Nazi chants — that must affect us and outrage us,” said Steffen Seibert, Merkel’s spokesman.

Saxony-Anhalt state’s interior minister Holger Stahlknecht said several investigations have been launched over incitement to hatred over speeches given during the rally.

Investigators are also examining chants shouted during the demonstration.

The far-right party AfD has announced a new rally for Monday night, although it said in its call for assembly that political speeches would not be made.

In a video posted online by Buzzfeed, a man the website identified as a member of the far-right scene, David Koeckert, was seen telling the crowd to loud applause that “we must defend ourselves in the race war against the German people, which is what happened here.”

“Do you want to continue to be bleating sheep or do you want to become wolves and shred them to pieces?” asked the man to cheers.

Authorities have said the death of the man was “not directly” linked to the injuries he suffered in the fight.

But fears were growing that the latest case could further inflame anti-migrant tensions, as it comes two weeks after the fatal stabbing of a 35-year-old man in the eastern city of Chemnitz that sparked xenophobic protests.

Two suspects — an Iraqi and a Syrian — have been arrested over the stabbing and a third man, also an Iraqi, is sought.

The Chemnitz protests have also led to a clash between Merkel and the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, who raised doubts on a video purportedly showing a “hunt on foreigners” by neo-Nazi mobs.

Merkel’s spokesman and the chancellor herself have repeatedly used the description in condemning the violent protests.

But spy chief Hans-Georg Maassen told the Bild daily that he had “no proof” that the video circulating online, which appeared to show immigrants being accosted and chased, was authentic.

Maassen, under pressure to show proof to back his claim, has submitted to the government a report, which is being “examined”, said both Seibert and the interior ministry.

AFP

43 suspects in deadly Philippine bombings face criminal raps

September 10, 2018

Criminal complaints have been filed against 43 Muslim militants from two armed groups linked to the Daesh group for two bomb attacks in the southern Philippines, including a suspected suicide bombing that killed 11 people, police said Monday.

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Murder complaints were filed against 18 suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf for a powerful blast on July 31 that killed 11 people and wounded several others in Lamitan city on Basilan island, said Director General Oscar Albayalde, the national police chief. A foreign militant who drove the bomb-laden van died in the suspected suicide attack.

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Philippine National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde

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Among those facing charges is an Abu Sayyaf commander, Furuji Indama, who Albayalde said ordered the bombing but remains at large along with nine other suspects.

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Eight suspects, including a militant bomb expert, Julamin Arundoh, who police said rigged the van with plastic gallons containing the explosives, have been captured.

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Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano said the foreign militant who drove the van targeted a public gathering of about 3,000 people in Lamitan city but his vehicle stalled and villagers whom he asked for help became suspicious when they saw unusual wires protruding from plastic gallons in the vehicle.

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As army troops approached, the van blew up, killing the militant and 10 other people outside a paramilitary detachment and wounding several villagers.

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The Daesh group claimed responsibility for the Lamitan bombing and identified the attacker as Moroccan. However, it cited a greatly inflated military death toll.

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Albayalde said criminal complaints were also filed against 25 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, who are blamed for an Aug. 28 bombing that left three people dead as Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat province celebrated its annual founding festival.

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Five days after the blast, another deadly bombing hit Isulan, prompting authorities to remove the town and provincial police chiefs and further strengthen already tight security in the volatile region.

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“It’s not only a presence there, there should be police intervention that should be carried out like … searches and checkpoints,” Albayalde said in a news conference in Manila.

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The southern Philippines, the scene of decades-long Muslim separatist rebellions in the largely Roman Catholic nation, remains under martial law, which President Rodrigo Duterte declared last year to deal with a five-month siege of southern Marawi city by Daesh group-linked militants. The disastrous siege left more than 1,200 people dead, mostly militants, displaced hundreds of thousands of villagers and sparked fears that the Daesh group was gaining a foothold in Southeast Asia amid battle defeats in Syria and Iraq.

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Extremist factions of the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters have aligned themselves with Daesh. Small but violent, the two groups oppose a Muslim autonomy deal Duterte signed with the largest Muslim rebel group in the country, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has dropped secessionism for broader autonomy for minority Muslims in the south.

AP

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1369581/world

Khamenei urges Iran’s military to ‘scare off’ enemy

September 10, 2018

DUBAI (Reuters) – Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged Iran’s armed forces on Sunday to increase their power to “scare off” the enemy, as the country faces increased tension with the United States.

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His statement came just before Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said it fired seven missiles in an attack on Iraq-based Iranian Kurdish dissidents that killed at least 11 people on Saturday.

“Increase your power as much as you can, because your power scares off the enemy and forces it to retreat,” Khamenei’s official website quoted him as saying at a graduation ceremony for cadets of Iran’s regular armed forces.

U.S. President Donald Trump in May withdrew from Iran’s nuclear agreement with world powers — a deal aimed at stalling Tehran’s nuclear capabilities in return for lifting some sanctions — and ordered the reimposition of U.S. sanctions that had been suspended under the deal.

“Iran and the Iranian nation have resisted America and proven that, if a nation is not afraid of threats by bullies and relies on its own capabilities, it can force the superpowers to retreat and defeat them,” Khamenei said during a visit to Iran’s Caspian port city of Nowshahr.

State television also showed Khamenei praising Iranian naval forces in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Yemen, while speaking to their commander via videolink.

Shi’ite power Iran rejects accusations from Saudi Arabia that it is giving financial and military support to Yemen’s Houthis, who are fighting a government backed by a Saudi-led military coalition of Sunni Arab countries.

Meanwhile, a senior military official said Iran had capability to export the know-how to produce solid rocket fuel, the state news agency IRNA reported. Solid fuel rockets can be fired on short notice.

“In the scientific field, today we have reached a stage where we can export the technology to produce solid rocket fuel,” said Brigadier General Majid Bokaei, director-general of Iran’s main defense university, quoted by IRNA.

Iran said earlier this month it planned to boost its ballistic and cruise missile capacity and acquire modern fighter planes and submarines to boost its defense capabilities.

On Saturday Iran dismissed a French call for negotiations on Tehran’s future nuclear plans, its ballistic missile arsenal and its role in wars in Syria and Yemen, following the U.S. pullout from Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement.

Reuters

Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by David Goodman and Raissa Kasolowsky

Iraq’s top two parliament groups urge PM to resign

September 8, 2018

The two leading groups in Iraq’s parliament on Saturday called on Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi to resign, after lawmakers held an emergency meeting on unrest shaking the country’s south.

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“We demand the government apologise to the people and resign immediately,” said Hassan Al-Aqouli, spokesman for the list of populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr that won the most seats in a May election.

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The announcement dealt a severe blow to Abadi’s hopes of holding onto his post through a parliamentary bloc unveiled just days earlier with Sadr, a former militia chief.

raqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi speaks during the first session of the new Iraqi parliament in Baghdad, Iraq September 3, 2018. (Reuters)

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Ahmed Al-Assadi, spokesman for the second-largest list, the Conquest Alliance, condemned “the government’s failure to resolve the crisis in Basra”, a southern city where 12 protesters were killed this week in clashes with security forces.

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The Conquest Alliance was “on the same wavelength” as Sadr’s Marching Towards Reform list and they would work together to form a new government, Assadi said.

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Abadi defended his record in parliament, describing the unrest as “political sabotage” and saying the crisis over public services was being exploited for political ends.

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Anger in Basra flared after the hospitalisation of 30,000 people who had drunk polluted water, in an oil-rich region where residents have for weeks complained of water and electricity shortages, corruption among officials and unemployment.

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Demonstrators have set fire to government buildings, the Iranian consulate and the offices of pro-Tehran militias and political parties.

AFP

Security Forces Deploy in Iraq’s City of Basra — Vow To Put an End To The Violence

September 8, 2018

Iraqi security forces and troops are deploying in the center of Basra and on street intersections, after hundreds of protesters torched government buildings and set fire to the Iranian consulate.

Dozens of gun-mounted black pick-up trucks belonging to the Interior Ministry and carrying masked security forces in combat fatigues were seen deploying Saturday afternoon.

Troops in Humvees also deployed on street intersections in the city center.

The deployment came shortly after an alliance of Shiite militias vowed to respond to the violent protests that have gripped the city for the past week. Health officials say at least 15 people have been killed in the weeklong confrontations.

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Protesters in the southern Iraqi city of Basra

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4:45 p.m.

The local military commander of an alliance of powerful Shiite militias is vowing to respond to weeklong protests that have turned violent in the southern city of Basra.

The commander, known as Abu Yasser al-Jaafari held a news conference in the city Saturday. “We will have a response to those who are carrying out acts of arson and sabotage,” he proclaimed.

Angry protesters have torched government buildings and offices belonging to powerful Iranian-backed militias in weeklong protests demanding improved services and an end to corruption.

Al-Jaafari said that the lack of a response thus far should not be taken as a sign of weakness. He spoke at the city’s presidential palaces compound, where Shiite paramilitary troops are stationed.

The government-sanctioned alliance of Shiite militias is known as the “Popular Mobilization Forces” or “Hashed” in Arabic. Many of the militias are backed by Iran.

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2:15 p.m.

Assailants fired three Katyusha rockets at Iraq’s Basra airport Saturday, an airport official said, after a chaotic and violent night that saw hundreds of protesters setting ablaze the Iranian consulate in the city, attacking offices belonging to Iranian-backed militias and blocking roads.

The city of Basra, home to some of the largest oil fields in Iraq, has been the epicenter of angry protests over decades of government neglect, poor services and corruption. The demonstrations are the most serious to shake the oil-rich southern Shiite area in years, demanding an end to endemic corruption, soaring joblessness and crumbling infrastructure.

This week, they turned their rage on neighboring Iran, blaming its outsized influence in Iraq’s political affairs for their misery and calling for radical change.

The Associated Press

See also:

Shiite militias vow response to violent Basra protests

https://www.thestate.com/news/business/national-business/article218052875.html

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Iraq parliament holds emergency talks as Basra burns

September 8, 2018

30,000 people hospitalized due to contaminated drinking water

Iraqi lawmakers met Saturday in emergency session Saturday to discuss the crisis in public services in main southern city Basra after 12 protesters were killed, the Iranian consulate torched and the airport hit by rockets.

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An Iraqi demonstrator poses outside the torched Iranian consulate on Friday, as protests over poor public services broke out in the city of Basra. HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI / AFP/GETTY IMAGES

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Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi described the unrest as “political sabotage” as he joined the session with several ministers.

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Basra has been rocked by protests since Tuesday, with demonstrators setting ablaze government buildings, the Iranian consulate and the offices of pro-Tehran militias and political parties.

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The anger flared after the hospitalization of 30,000 people who had drunk polluted water, in an oil-rich region where residents have for weeks complained of water and electricity shortages, corruption among officials and unemployment.

Iraqi protesters gathered outside the burned local government headquarters on Friday.

Iraqi protesters gathered outside the burned local government headquarters on Friday.
HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI / AFP/GETTY IMAGES
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At least 12 demonstrators have been killed and 50 wounded in clashes with security forces, according to the interior ministry.

Iraqi officials announced Saturday a citywide curfew for Basra starting at 4pm local time, a military statement said.

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Hours before parliament met, four rockets fired by unidentified assailants struck inside the perimeter of Basra airport, security sources said.

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Staff at the airport, which is located near the US consulate in Basra, said flights were not affected.

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The attack came after a day of rage in the southern city where hundreds of protesters stormed the fortified Iranian consulate, causing no casualties but sparking condemnation.

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Abadi said he had instructed security forces to “act decisively against the acts of vandalism that accompanied the demonstrations”.

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Iraq’s Joint Operations Command, which includes the army and police, vowed a “severe” response with “exceptional security measures”, including a ban on protests and group travel.

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The foreign ministry called the attack on the consulate “an unacceptable act undermining the interests of Iraq and its international relations”.

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Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi denounced the “savage attack”, Iran’s Fars news agency reported.

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A spokesman for the consulate said that all diplomats and staff had been evacuated from the building before the protesters attacked, and that none were hurt.

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Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, Iraj Masjedi, said the consulate was “totally demolished” and charged that “foreign agents close to the US, Zionists and some Arab countries are trying to sabotage Iran-Iraq relations”, Iran’s ILNA news agency reported.

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The wave of protests first broke out in Basra in July before spreading to other parts of the country, with demonstrators condemning corruption among Iraqi officials and demanding jobs.
Since then at least 27 people have been killed.

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“We’re thirsty, we’re hungry, we are sick and abandoned,” protester Ali Hussein told AFP on Friday after another night of violence.

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“Demonstrating is a sacred duty and all honest people ought to join.”

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The anger on Basra’s streets was “in response to the government’s intentional policy of neglect” of the oil-rich region, the head of the region’s human rights council Mehdi Al-Tamimi said.

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Iraq has been struggling to rebuild its infrastructure and economy after decades of bloody conflicts, including an eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s, the US-led invasion of 2003 and the battle against Daesh.

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In August, the oil ministry announced that crude exports for August had hit their highest monthly figure this year, with nearly 112 million barrels of oil bringing $7.7 billion to state coffers.

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Iraq, however, suffers from persistent corruption and many Iraqis complain that the country’s oil wealth is unfairly distributed.

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Parliament said lawmakers will hear speeches by Abadi and key ministers and discuss the water contamination crisis, the latest breakdown in public services to spark public anger.

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The meeting was demanded by populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, whose political bloc won the largest number of seats in May elections although a new government has yet to be formed.

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“If the situation remains unchanged we will be heading toward the formation of an emergency government,” warned Intissar Hassan, an MP elected to represent Basra.

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She was referring to a constitutional provision that would give the prime minister full powers to act.

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Sadr has called on politicians to present “radical and immediate” solutions at Saturday’s session or step down.

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Abadi pledged in July a multi-billion dollar emergency plan to revive infrastructure and services in southern Iraq, one of the country’s most marginalized regions.

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The prime minister is trying to hold onto his post in the next government and has formed an alliance with Sadr, a former militia chief who has called for Iraq to have greater political independence from both neighboring Iran and the United States.

AFP

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1368736/middle-east