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Iraq News & Discussions

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Salahuddin Provincial Council Votes to Deport Families to Southern Iraq
Tuesday, 28 May, 2019



Baghdad- Fadhel al-Nashmi

Salahuddin Provincial Council voted Monday on four decisions concerning buffalo breeders in four regions of the province.

“A unanimous vote was taken to deport livestock owners from Samarra, Tel Zahab, Sayyid Ghareeb, and Dujail and confiscate cattle roaming in cities or on their external roads,” read a statement by the Council.

The Council imposed a fine worth 25 million Iraqi dinars (about $20,000) against traffic drivers of livestock owners.

It requested “the leadership of operations in Samarra and all the security services to execute the decision as of the date of voting.”

The statement did not mention to which destination the breeders will be deported nor did it mention the provinces and areas where the breeders come from.

Many say they came from the southern governorates of Iraq and are protected by some factions of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).

Dr. Ibrahim Abdul Ghaffar, a resident of Samarra Hospital, died about 10 days ago when his car crashed a buffalo near the ruins of al-Maashouk Palace on the public road between Samarra and Tikrit.

Many residents in these areas complain of problems caused by the buffalo herds during their wandering, both on the level of accidents that cut off the external roads or damage caused to agricultural fields.

Although rumors say buffalo breeders arrived in Salahuddin after 2014, when ISIS took control over vast areas of the province and PMF’s influence was expanded after their victory over the terrorist organization, yet Chief of Samarra district Mahmoud Khalaf said that “the majority of buffalo breeders have been residing in Salahuddin for decades.”

Khalaf told Asharq Al-Awsat that most of them came from the southern provinces since decades.

He stressed that they were born there and held the identity of civil status issued by Samarra district, adding that only few of them came after 2014.


 

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Former Baghdad Mayor Arrested on Lebanon-Syria Border
Thursday, 30 May, 2019


File photo of Naeem Abaob

Baghdad - Fadhel al-Nashmi

The Interpol arrested on Tuesday former Baghdad mayor Naeem Abaob on the Syrian-Lebanese border on charges of corruption and embezzlement while in office between 2013 and 2015.

Interpol acted after an arrest warrant was issued by the Iraqi authorities to apprehend Abaob similar to the arrest of Kirkuk's former governor, Najm Eddine Karim, on similar charges.

Abdel Falah al-Sudani, a former trade minister, has also been arrested and sentenced to 21 years in prison after being found guilty of corruption weeks after Interpol handed him over to Iraqi authorities.

Reports said Abaob was arrested on the border while traveling from Lebanon to Syria to visit religious sites.

In 2015, then Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi sacked Abaob and named Dr. Zekra Alwach as Baghdad mayor.

Abaob was regularly accused on social media and by Baghdad residents of being incompetent. He made headlines in March 2014 when he described his city, beset by brutal sectarian violence and rife with corruption, as "more beautiful than New York and Dubai.”

On Wednesday, the repatriation department at the Iraqi Commission of Integrity said it was working on repatriating the accused fugitive from Syria.

“We are working on completing Abaob’s file and to hand it to the Iraqi embassy in Damascus,” it said in a statement.

Iraqi activists hinted on social media that Lebanon has turned into a “trap” for Iraqis accused of corruption and of squandering public funds.

In January 2019, an Iraqi court sentenced Abaob in absentia to seven years in prison for squandering $12 million when inking a contract with two companies, one local and another Egyptian, to develop a park in the capital.

 

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Exxon's foreign staff to return to Iraqi oilfield with extra security
May 31, 2019
Aref Mohammed

BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil employees will start returning to Iraq’s West Qurna 1 oilfield on Sunday after the government agreed to provide extra security, two senior Iraqi oil officials told Reuters on Friday.

Senior company management and essential engineers would be among the first employees to return, the Iraqi officials said, two weeks after Exxon pulled its 60 or so foreign staff from the oilfield and flew them to Dubai.

Exxon Mobil declined to comment on the plan to return staff.

“As a matter of practice, we don’t share specifics related to operational staffing at our facilities,” Exxon spokeswoman Julie King said.

The evacuation came just days after the United States withdrew non-essential staff from its embassy in Baghdad, citing a threat from neighboring Iran, which has close ties to Iraqi Shi’ite militia.

Exxon asked for extra security from the police and army at work sites and residences and Iraq agreed, the officials said. The company has received letters of assurance from the Iraqi oil ministry and Basra Oil Company.

Iraqi Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban at the time called the evacuation “unacceptable and unjustified”, saying it was a political move, rather than borne out of genuine security concerns. He said he had sent a letter to Exxon Mobil after the staff left asking for the company to immediately return to work at the southern oilfield.

Exxon Mobil is the lead contractor in a long-term deal with Iraq’s South Oil Company to develop and rehabilitate the oil field and increase production.

Production was not affected by the evacuation and work continued normally, overseen by Iraqi engineers, Iraqi officials said at the time. Production remained at 440,000 barrels per day (bpd) and Iraqi officials later said they would increase it to 490,000 bpd shortly.

Reporting by Aref Mohammed; Additional reporting by Gary McWilliams in Houston; Writing by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Edmund Blair/Kirsten Donovan/Jane Merriman

 

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Iraq rejects Arab summit conclusion statement lol. I think the US needs to re-invade Iraq and install a civilized government.
 

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Iraq rejects Arab summit conclusion statement lol. I think the US needs to re-invade Iraq and install a civilized government.
How can you call for another illegal foreign intervention in the ME because Iraq doesn't agree that Iran interferes with other countries in the region - you don't see the irony?
 

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How can you call for another illegal foreign intervention in the ME because Iraq doesn't agree that Iran interferes with other countries in the region - you don't see the irony?
IT's a joke |0|
 

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Salih Calls for Keeping Iraq Away from Regional Conflicts
Monday, 3 June, 2019

Iraqi President Barham Salih. (Reuters)

Baghdad - Asharq Al-Awsat

Iraqi President Barham Salih called on Sunday for keeping his country away from regional conflicts.

He called for establishing a stable regional system based on joint security, respecting sovereignty and refraining from meddling in the affairs of other countries.

“The Iraqi stance from regional crisis stems from its commitment to its national policies,” he said during a meeting with US Charge d’Affaires Joey Hood.

Salih underscored the need to build balanced relations with all countries based on the respect of sovereignty and mutual interests.

Iraq has been keen on following constructive dialogue in tackling regional crises and steering clear of policies of war, he stressed.

 

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Salih Calls for Keeping Iraq Away from Regional Conflicts
Monday, 3 June, 2019

Iraqi President Barham Salih. (Reuters)

Baghdad - Asharq Al-Awsat

Iraqi President Barham Salih called on Sunday for keeping his country away from regional conflicts.

He called for establishing a stable regional system based on joint security, respecting sovereignty and refraining from meddling in the affairs of other countries.

“The Iraqi stance from regional crisis stems from its commitment to its national policies,” he said during a meeting with US Charge d’Affaires Joey Hood.

Salih underscored the need to build balanced relations with all countries based on the respect of sovereignty and mutual interests.

Iraq has been keen on following constructive dialogue in tackling regional crises and steering clear of policies of war, he stressed.

 

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Iraqi parliament votes in defense, interior, justice ministers: lawmakers
June 24, 2019

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The speaker of Iraq's parliament Mohammed al-Halbousi stands with the newly pointed ministers: Defence Minister Najah al-Shammari, Interior Minister Yaseen al-Yasiri, and Minister of Justice Faruq Ameen during a swearing-in ceremony at the parliament headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq June 24, 2019. Iraqi parliament media office/Handout via REUTERS

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The education portfolio is the only one yet to be filled in Iraq’s government after lawmakers on Monday voted in Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s nominees as defense, interior and justice ministers.
Najah al-Shammari, Yaseen al-Yasiri and Faruq Ameen were respectively confirmed in those posts, lawmakers said.

But Safana al-Hamdani, the nominee for minister of education and the only women to be put forward so far for a ministerial post, was rejected.
“Most lawmakers were not satisfied that (she)... is fit for the job,” said legislator Abbas al-Zamili of the Iranian-backed Badr Organization.

Months of deadlock over forming a cabinet have raised the prospect of further unrest as the country struggles to rebuild and recover after three years of conflict with Islamic State.

Abdul-Mahdi also faces the daunting task of solving acute economic problems and power and water shortages.

Lawmakers said he would put forward another nominee as education minister for parliament to vote on Thursday.

Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; editing by John Stonestreet

 

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Fire put out at Iraqi pipeline linking Kirkuk to Turkey: security source
July 3, 2019

View attachment 9022
MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) - Firefighters have successfully put out a fire at a strategic oil pipeline in northern Iraq that links oil-rich Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, a security source told Reuters on Wednesday.

The pipeline is currently not operational, the source said.

The fire started after six improvised explosive devices went off in succession in the Ain al-Jahsh village of Nineveh province’s Shura sub-district, 70 km (43.5 miles) south of Mosul, he added.

Reporting by Jamal Badrani; Writing by Ahmed Aboulenein. Editing by Jane Merriman

 

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Iraq Sets Up ‘Loophole’ in US Sanctions to Buy Iranian Power
Wednesday, 3 July, 2019

View attachment 9024
An Iranian oil worker rides his bicycle near an oil refinery south of the capital, Tehran, December 22, 2014. (AP/Vahid Salemi)

Baghdad- Asharq Al-Awsat

Iraq is establishing a financial “loophole” to continue buying vital gas and electricity from Iran despite US sanctions, AFP has learned, mirroring a European mechanism that came into effect Friday. The “special purpose vehicle” would allow Iraq to pay for imported Iranian energy in Iraqi dinars, which Iran could use to exclusively buy humanitarian goods, three senior Iraqi officials said.

The workaround would allow Baghdad to keep the lights on and avoid shortage-driven protests without triggering U.S. sanctions, as it treads an increasingly precarious tightrope between its two main allies Tehran and Washington.

One senior government official told AFP it was the product of months of talks between Iraqi, Iranian and U.S. officials.

“The Iraqi government will continue to pay Iran for gas by depositing money into a special bank account inside Iraq, in Iraqi dinars,” the official said.

“Iran will not be able to withdraw the money, but will be able to use it to purchase goods from outside Iraq.”

Iraq has an outstanding bill of around $2 billion for previous gas and electricity purchases, according to Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh. A US official told AFP that Washington was aware of the mechanism’s creation. The US Embassy in Baghdad declined to comment, while Iran’s Embassy did not respond to an AFP request.

Two additional high-level Iraqi officials confirmed Baghdad was establishing such an account with U.S. knowledge, but could not say whether payments into the account had begun.

“How else is Iraq supposed to pay what it owes Iran? We have no other choice,” the second official said.

‘IRAN’S ATM’To offset its notorious power shortages, Iraq imports around 1,400 MW of electricity and 28 million cubic meters of gas for power stations from neighboring Iran, which together make up about a third of Iraq’s power supply.

That reliance has angered the US, which slapped tough sanctions on Iran last year but has granted Iraq several temporary waivers to keep purchasing Iranian power until October.

The US insists Iraq wean itself off Iranian energy, but Baghdad has said that could take up to four years, during which it would need to keep purchasing at least Iranian gas.

To do so, the central banks of Iran and Iraq agreed in February to create a payment method that steers clear of US sanctions, Iran’s state news agency IRNA said, without providing additional details.

That would mean not dealing in U.S. dollars and purchasing only “humanitarian goods” allowed by the US - like food and medicine.

“We would become Iran’s ATM,” another Iraqi official told AFP.

According to two of the senior Iraqi officials, Baghdad’s SPV would likely be set up at the Trade Bank of Iraq.

The TBI has handled most of the Iraqi government’s international transactions since its establishment in the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

A senior TBI source told AFP the bank had been involved in the negotiations but the account had not yet been created.

“The US Treasury has confidence in the TBI’s processes. We are in discussions to reach an agreement, which would be fully within US exemptions,” the source said.

It would effectively be a “loophole” around the US sanctions, said Ahmed Tabaqchali, senior fellow at the Sulaymaniyah-based Institute of Regional and International Studies. “It’s like a ledger. You record the money paid, and Iran has that much credit in Iraq,” Tabaqchali told AFP.

The system would work much like INSTEX, a mechanism recently activated by Britain, Germany and France to trade legitimately with Iran without falling foul of US sanctions.

Still, the system is fraught with several political, financial and practical complexities.

Iraq’s economy relies almost exclusively on oil revenues, paid in dollars, which leaves Baghdad extremely vulnerable to any punitive measures the US could take in response to a violation.

It also remains unclear what exactly Iran could purchase from Iraq as trade is heavily tilted in the other direction.

“Credit would develop in Iran’s favor but how would it actually cash it?” Tabaqchali said.

Importing goods from outside Iraq would require a third party willing to take the political and financial risk of such a transaction, he told AFP.

And, ultimately, much of Iraq’s transactions with Iran are cash purchases of commercial goods - something US authorities implementing sanctions are unable to monitor.

“Cash is untraceable,” Tabaqchali said.

 

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Three ex-Blackwater guards get new sentences in Iraq War massacre: New York Times
September 6, 2019

(Reuters) - Three former private security guards for the former security firm Blackwater were given new sentences on Thursday by a federal court for convictions in the 2007 massacre of 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians at a traffic stop, a case that outraged Iraqis, the New York Times reported.

The ex-guards, Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty and Paul Slough, were convicted in 2014 of multiple counts of manslaughter for their roles in the massacre and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

But in 2017, a federal appeals court ordered that the three Blackwater guards to be resentenced, saying their 30-year terms were too long.
The federal district court for the District of Columbia resentenced the men on Thursday, ordering Slough to serve 15 years, Liberty to serve 14 years and Heard to serve 12 years, the Times reported on Thursday

The former guards, along with a fourth security contractor, Nicholas Slatten, who was given a second-trial separately, all maintained their innocence.
Slatten was convicted of first-degree murder in December 2018 in the case, where prosecutors argued he fired first. Last month he was sentenced to life in prison.

Neither lawyers for the defendants nor prosecutors were immediately available for comment early on Friday.

The shooting stood out for its brutality even in the city in the grips of a bitter sectarian war, and sparked debate over the role of private security contractors working for the U.S. government in war zones.

The guards were traveling in a heavily armed, four-truck Blackwater Worldwide convoy and had been trying to clear a path for U.S. diplomats after a nearby car bomb.

At Nisur Square, they opened fire on Iraqis, including women and children, with machine guns and grenade launchers.

The U.S. Justice Department has long pursued accountability for the Nisur Square shooting.

Blackwater, which was founded by a former Navy SEAL, was later sold and now operates as Virginia-based Academi.

Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

 

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How to Bring Iraq Back from the Brink of Self-Destruction
October 1, 2019
An unstable Iraqi political system won’t reduce Iranian influence and it won’t benefit stability in the Middle East or international energy markets.
by Robert S. Ford Randa Slim

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As the traffic jam and organized chaos at Kamal Jumblatt Square in Baghdad made clear during our visit last month, life in Iraq is steadily getting better. Gone are the concrete walls and checkpoints that snarled traffic. Fifteen years ago, there were few cars as the civil war raged. Three years ago, there were plenty of cars, but traffic kept moving. Now traffic surges—and sometimes halts briefly—during the midafternoon rush hour. Streets and restaurants bustle until the late hours. Electricity is still a problem—there are regular power cuts and some days homes get only eight hours of electricity from the grid. It’s a good time to be in the generator business. The capital’s water supply, which was so problematic during the war fifteen years ago, has vastly improved. Even in the second-largest city, Basra, senior government officials are congratulating themselves for improving infrastructure services enough that there was no repeat of the Basra riots of summer 2018.

The political process is hardly ideal, but Iraq in the past year has changed its president and its prime minister without major violence or arrest campaigns. There were peaceful protest marches against government inefficiency and corruption in many provinces earlier this summer and while security forces watched, they did not intervene. Recently, university graduates protesting in Baghdad outside government offices demanding jobs were hosed with water cannons. Iraqis active in political affairs who are outside the government have all told us there have been no arrests of government critics.

Iraqis are learning new political habits. It is slow; it takes years and probably generations. But when we think of what it looked like ten years ago, progress is undeniable. For example, the relationship between the government in Baghdad and the often-restive Kurdish region in the north are
smoother due to efforts by Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi and Kurdish political operative Fuad Hussein, who is now the finance minister.

President Barham Salih, who is also from the Kurdish region, has assisted with those efforts. During the U.S. occupation of Iraq, U.S. officials used to plead with the Kurdish authorities in the north to send delegations and representatives down to Baghdad to sit and work out deals. It was a hard slog. Now delegations go back and forth without American prodding. There is talk of a major political deal between Iraqi Kurdistan and the Baghdad government. The deal would involve Kurdish debts to foreign creditors and Baghdad control of oil export earnings. In Erbil we heard lingering bitterness at the Iraqi government’s response to the 2017 Kurdish referendum on independence, and there are still outstanding issues between the two parties that need to be worked out—most notably regarding oil and gas revenue sharing and the disputed territories. We also heard our Kurdish interlocutors emphasize that the failed referendum taught them that their independence must go through Baghdad.

When we attended a big political salon in Baghdad, we saw another hopeful sign of political evolution. During the civil war and its immediate aftermath, Shia Arabs, Sunni Arabs, and Kurds rarely mixed socially. There was a similar division between Islamists and more secular politicians. By contrast, the salon drew over a hundred men and women from a variety of backgrounds; we were surprised to see in attendance a prominent Sunni-Arab politician who was absolute anathema to the Shia in 2007. They were all there to listen to former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi lead a broad discussion about the role of the opposition in Iraqi politics. The discussion that followed was polite, energetic and sophisticated.

It’s not at all perfect—far from it—and the progress that has been made is fragile, which is something we heard constantly. There were two big issues in particular that everybody spoke about openly. The first was corruption, which is where Iraq can compete with the world’s worst. After the 2003 invasion, the Americans set up a somewhat clean government affairs agency that was now moribund at best. The health minister, a program manager who worked for the World Health Organization, has just resigned and returned back to Geneva; on his Facebook page he said he had to quit because he could not get political backing to tamp down on corrupt procurement practices in his ministry. Abdul-Mahdi was unable to defend him because he was indebted to the political parties that feed at the corruption troughs in the various ministries they control. None of the many Iraqi officials we met could come up with a plan that would begin to address the gangrene of corruption.

Iran and its various militia allies are deeply enmeshed amid the corruption, especially Iran’s Shia Popular Mobilization Forces, which have formed political parties that now dominate parts of the government. The prime minister’s leverage on Iran is limited. We heard that his top advisors were closely tied to Tehran. We heard repeatedly that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander, General Qassem Soleimani, maintains an office in Baghdad that he visits regularly. The prime minister’s writ doesn’t go far. Several times we heard the story of his failed July 2018 effort to dislodge a militia’s checkpoints outside Mosul. The prime minister eventually had to accept the militia remaining in place. All he could secure was that Iraqi federal forces would set up a checkpoint near the militia’s checkpoint. The Americans have imposed sanctions on the militia but its checkpoints are still there today—and the militia is still collecting fees. As Iran’s financial resources have diminished under American sanctions, the pro-Iranian militias have established their own businesses and smuggling rings to assure their financial viability. And they get substantial Iraqi government revenues for being part of the Iraqi security establishment. Meanwhile, government moves to contain the militias are halting at best. Interestingly, at the political salon, Abadi highlighted the need for the Iraqi state to monopolize its armed forces. He stated this in front of the Iranian ambassador, who was also in attendance. The implication of the pro-Iranian militias was obvious.

We heard two requests from all the Iraqis we met. Of course, they hoped the United States would not go to war with Iran. They did not think their country could long manage being in the middle of such a conflict. On September 25, the Iraqi prime minister traveled to Saudi Arabia to discuss with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud the role Iraq can play in easing tensions in the Gulf region. They also asked that we sustain our engagement, our dialogue, our military assistance, and our low-cost, soft-power efforts. Iraqis highlighted that there are areas where Iran cannot help Iraq at all—such as education, reform, development of the banking sector, and absorption of technology in the economy. Everyone we met in Baghdad and Erbil, including Iraqis with deep connections to Iran, understands that Iraq benefits from relatively balanced relations with both the United States and Iran. They don’t want to be put in a position where they have to choose between the two countries. We probably won’t like the result if we compel them to do so.

Going forward, the U.S. relationship with Iraq cannot be solely about competing with Iran and setting benchmarks for so-called Iraqi independence from Iranian influence. (We have yet to see an American benchmark that ever helped anything in Iraq.) Nor should U.S. relations with Iraq be about fleeing from the 2003 decision to invade Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. What’s done is done. Instead, the United States should be thinking about working on the margins with like-minded Iraqis to help the wobbly political system gradually extend its roots and its stability. An unstable Iraqi political system won’t reduce Iranian influence and it won’t benefit stability in the Middle East or international energy markets. Iraqi instability won’t diminish extremism in the region either. There are some positive indications and some negative ones in the evolution of Iraq’s politics. Iraq’s success is not assured even with our attention and help going forward. But Iraqis tell us that without that attention and help, however, their fledgling efforts at good governance, reconstruction, and peaceful relations with all the neighbors would fare far worse.

Robert S. Ford is senior fellow at the Middle East Institute and Kissinger Senior Fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. He worked at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad from 2004 to 2006 and 2008 to 2010. From 2011 to 2014, he served as U.S. Ambassador to Syria.

Randa Slim is director of the Conflict Resolution and Track II Dialogues Program at the Middle East Institute and nonresident fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced and International Studies Foreign Policy Institute.

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Gunfights break out and death toll rises as violent protests rage across southern Iraq
by SUADAD AL-SALHY
October 02, 2019

1570055646100.png

  • The protests started on Tuesday over unemployment, corruption, and poor public services
  • Police and the army opened fire and launched tear gas canisters to disperse hundreds of protesters all over Baghdad
BAGHDAD: At least five people died, including a police officer, and dozens were injured on Wednesday in a second day of protests in Iraq.
Thousands demonstrated in Baghdad and Shiite-dominated southern provinces against corruption, unemployment and the failure of public services such as water and electricity.

Protesters torched government and political party headquarters, and cut off main roads linking Baghdad with the north and south. Riot squads and rapid-intervention forces responded with water cannon, tear gas and live bullets.

#WATCH: Protests in Iraq escalated on Monday with at least more people killed and clashes spreading to other cities in the south. Here in Najaf, Iraqi security forces confront protesters. (Video: AFP)
More details here: Gunfights break out and death toll rises as violent protests rage across southern Iraq pic.twitter.com/s3Yqo8V7F8
— Arab News (@arabnews) October 2, 2019
“We want jobs and better public services. We’ve been demanding them for years and the government has never responded,” said protester Abdallah Walid, 27. Unemployed graduate Mohammad Jubury said: “No state would attack its own people like this. We’re being peaceful, but they fired.”

Among the victims of the violence was a child burned to death in his mother’s car as it passed over a tire set on fire by protesters to block the road in Al-Zaafaraniya in southeast Baghdad.

In Nassiriya, the capital of Dhi Qar province 400km south of Baghdad, protesters broke into the provincial council building and set fire to part of it. Three protesters were killed and dozens of people were injured, including security forces. Authorities imposed a curfew from 8pm.

In Babil and Missan governorates, demonstrators stormed the provincial council buildings and set fire to them. In Najaf, Samawah and Basra, they were halted by security cordons.

In Baghdad, thousands took to the streets from early morning, and cut off the main road to Baghdad airport. They tried several times to cross Al-Jumhuriya Bridge toward the government buildings and embassies in the heavily fortified Green Zone, but were repelled by tear gas and gunfire.
Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi held an emergency session of the National Security Council, and called for calm. After the meeting he contacted prominent tribal sheikhs to ask for their help in halting the protests, but they refused, a senior official in the National Security Agency told Arab News.

In an attempt to thwart the protests, internet access across much of Iraq was blocked and Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp were disabled. Security sources said there was no evidence that the protests were spontaneous. “Whoever says the demonstrations are unorganized, and not backed by some sides, is naive,” a senior federal police officer in Baghdad told Arab News.

“They have paralyzed traffic in all areas of Baghdad by burning tires, and moving toward the airport seems deliberate. These do not seem random or spontaneous actions. We do not believe these demonstrations will end soon, and they may end with the overthrow of the government.”

The US embassy in Baghdad said it was closely monitoring the situation, and called on all parties to exercise restraint and not to use excessive force.
The powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr said he did not want to politicize the protests, but he nevertheless called on his followers to support the demonstrators.

This was seen by many observers as a message to Abdul Mahdi that he must understand the limits of his authority. “Abdul Mahdi came to the post with the support of Sadr and his political bloc, but recently he has moved away from all that Sadr wanted,” Saad Ahmad, an activist, told Arab News. “So I think Sadr will leave Abdul Mahdi to fall now.”
 

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