Bloody violence sparked by football verdicts jolts Egypt

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Updated 27 January 2013
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Bloody violence sparked by football verdicts jolts Egypt

PORT SAID: Street clashes killed at least 30 people in Egypt’s Port Said yesterday after 21 supporters of a local football club were sentenced to death over a bloody stadium riot in the canal city.
The violence comes a day after nine were killed in protests against President Muhammad Mursi on the second anniversary of Egypt’s uprising against predecessor Hosni Mubarak.
Minutes after a Cairo court handed down the sentences against fans of Port Said side Al-Masry over the deaths of 74 people during post-match violence last February, protesters rampaged through the city, attacking police stations and setting tires alight.
Relatives of those condemned tried to storm the prison in Port Said where they are being held, leading to fierce clashes with security forces.
Unidentified assailants used automatic weapons against police who responded with tear gas, witnesses said.
At least 30 people died and 312 were wounded, the Health Ministry said, with the Interior Ministry saying two policemen were among those killed. Medics told AFP all the fatalities were from gunfire.
Crowds stormed two police stations as heavy gunfire crackled through the city, where shops and businesses had closed.
Ambulances ferried the injured to hospitals and mosques urged worshippers to donate blood.
The army, which earlier deployed troops to restore calm, managed to control vital public buildings, including the prison, banks and courts, witnesses said. Clashes also erupted in the nearby canal city of Suez, where at least eight people were killed in fighting on Friday.
Amid the spreading unrest, the opposition threatened to boycott upcoming parliamentary polls if Mursi does not find a “comprehensive solution” to the unrest.
In Cairo yesterday, both inside and outside the court, there were explosions of joy at the verdict. Women ululated, relatives hugged each other and shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest).
The court handed its verdict to Egypt’s top cleric for his final opinion, as is customary, and set March 9 for verdicts on another 52 defendants, including police officers.


Abadi faces US wrath at U-turn on Iran sanctions

An intended visit to Tehran was canceled and Abadi’s office denied that the visit had even been planned. (REUTERS)
Updated 15 August 2018
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Abadi faces US wrath at U-turn on Iran sanctions

  • Iran has maintained close ties to Iraq's government since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein, Tehran's archenemy
  • The administration says the renewed sanctions are meant to pressure Tehran to halt its alleged support for international terrorism

BAGHDAD: Failure by Iraq to comply fully with tough new US economic sanctions against Iran would be insane, analysts told Arab News on Tuesday.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi risked incurring US wrath after contradicting himself in the space of a few hours over whether his country would comply.
Amid diplomatic maneuvers, as he negotiates for a second term in office after divisive and contested elections, Abadi offended both Tehran and Washington with conflicting statements on the US sanctions, which were reimposed last week.
First, the prime minister said that while Iraq disapproved of the new sanctions, it would reluctantly comply. “We don’t support the sanctions because they are a strategic error, but we will comply with them,” he said.
“Our economic situation is also difficult and we sympathize with Iran. But. at the same time, I will not make grand slogans that destroy my people and my country just to make certain people happy.”
His position provoked anger in Iran. An intended visit to Tehran on Tuesday to discuss the issue was canceled, and Abadi’s office denied that the visit had even been planned.
There was also criticism inside Iraq, especially from groups close to Tehran, such as the Asaib Ahl Al-Haq and Badr paramilitary movements.
Within hours, however, Abadi had reversed his position. “I did not say we abide by the sanctions, I said we abide by not using dollars in transactions. We have no other choice,” Abadi told a news conference in Baghdad.
Asked if Baghdad would stop imports of commodities, appliances and equipment by government companies from Iran, he said the matter was still being reviewed. “We honestly have not made any decision regarding this issue until now,” he said.
Michael Knights, the Lafer Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Arab News: “Iraq can’t afford to be cut off from the dollar-based global financial system, so it makes sense to avoid sanctioned Iranian financial entities. Iraq should also protect its dollar reserves.
“These are the only sane options for a country that desperately needs international investment.”
Iraq is the second-largest purchaser of Iranian non-oil exports, and bought about $6 billion worth of goods in 2017. It also buys Iranian-generated electricity to deal with chronic power cuts that have been a key factor sparking mass protests in recent weeks.
On Tuesday, the British renewable energy investor Quercus became the latest major company to pull out of Iran as a result of the new sanctions.
It halted construction of $570 million solar power plant in Iran, which would have been the sixth-largest in the world.