Iran’s Sunni leader endorses Rouhani for re-election

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani. (President.ir/Handout/File Photo via Reuters)
Updated 13 May 2017
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Iran’s Sunni leader endorses Rouhani for re-election

TEHRAN: A leading figure of Iran’s minority Sunnis endorsed moderate President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday ahead of this week’s election, despite the government’s “shortcomings.”
Sunnis make up around five to 10 percent of Iran’s 80 million population, which is overwhelmingly Shiite.
Religious leader Molavi Abdol Hamid said “the atmosphere for Sunnis has been a little more relaxed” since Rouhani took power in 2013, and that most would support him in Friday’s election.
Abdol Hamid repeated calls for greater Sunni representation in local and national government, and more action on discrimination.
“The Sunni community believes that this government, despite its problems and weaknesses, has had more strong points, and we hope if the current government takes office again, it will do more to resolve those problems and shortcomings,” he said in comments carried by his website.
He was speaking in Sistan Baluchistan province, a Sunni-majority region in southeastern Iran bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Rouhani is leading in official polls, but faces a tough fight for re-election against conservative rivals who accuse him of failing to boost the struggling economy.


Libya rivals clash south of capital, causing blackouts

Updated 18 September 2018
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Libya rivals clash south of capital, causing blackouts

  • Tuesday morning’s clashes centered on the main road to Tripoli’s long-closed international airport
  • Libya’s National Electricity Company said its network had been damaged, causing a total blackout across the country

TRIPOLI: New clashes flared between rival militias south of Libya’s capital Tripoli on Tuesday, causing widespread power outages, the national electricity firm said.
The fighting underscored the fragility of a United Nations-backed cease-fire reached earlier this month after days of deadly violence between armed groups in the capital, beset by turmoil since the fall of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
Tuesday morning’s clashes centered on the main road to Tripoli’s long-closed international airport, according to witnesses including an AFP journalist.
Libya’s National Electricity Company said its network had been damaged, causing a total blackout across the North African nation’s south and west.
Fighting which broke out late last month killed at least 63 people and wounded 159 others — mostly civilians — before the cease-fire came into effect on September 4.
Last week, the capital’s only working airport came under rocket fire just days after reopening following the truce.
Mitiga International Airport, located in a former military base that includes a prison, is currently controlled by the Special Deterrence Forces, a Salafist militia which serves as Tripoli’s police force and has been involved in clashes around the capital.
Interior Minister Abdessalam Ashour said Monday that a “regular force” would be tasked with securing the airport.
UN envoy Ghassan Salame later reported 14 cease-fire violations around Tripoli, but sought to play them down, saying the deal had been “generally respected.”
Tripoli’s main airport has been out of action since it was severely damaged by similar clashes in 2014.
Since Qaddafi’s fall in 2011, oil-rich Libya has been rocked by violence between dozens of armed groups vying for control of its cities and vast oil resources.
A UN-brokered agreement signed in Morocco in December 2015 established the Government of National Accord (GNA) in a bid to ease the chaos.
But deep divisions remain between the GNA and rivals including military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is based in eastern Libya and backs a competing authority.
The GNA last week announced a series of measures to secure the capital and curb the influence of militias over state institutions and banks.