Baghdad regains Habur border gate from the KRG, with Turkey’s help

Turkish and Iraqi troops some holding their national flags participate in a ceremony at the Habur/Ibrahim Khalil border crossing with Iraq, near Silopi, southeastern Turkey, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, in a speech, said that the border crossing was handed over to authorities of the Iraqi central government this morning. (DAP)
Updated 31 October 2017
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Baghdad regains Habur border gate from the KRG, with Turkey’s help

ANKARA: Iraq and Turkish army forces gained control of the Habur border gate, also known as the Ibrahim Al-Khalil border gate on the Iraqi side, from the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and raised the Iraqi national flag.
State-run Anadolu Agency reported that Iraqi military forces were deployed at the Ibrahim Al-Khalil crossing in Iraqi territories, alongside Turkish forces, after making a joint drill in Turkey’s southeastern town of Silopi.
Iraqi Chief of General Staff Osman Ganimi thanked Turkish military officers and said: “We will be stronger as long as we stand together,” according to Anadolu Agency.
Turkey has a trade volume of $8 billion with Iraq that passes through the Habur border gate, currently the main passage between the two countries.
Speaking to the ruling AK Party politicians at the parliament, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim confirmed that Habur border gate had been handed over to the Iraqi central government by the KRG without any problem.
Yildirim also said that from now on the border crossing will be under the control of officials from Turkey and the Iraqi central government, while the transportation will be still carried out on the current route, but he added that Ankara would prevent KRG officials from taking racketeering from the trucks and imposing illegitimate taxes across the border.
After completing the necessary security reinforcements and feasibility studies, Turkey and Iraq are expected to open a second border gate in the near future, as an alternative border crossing that will pass through the Iraqi town of Tal Afar.
Mete Sohtaoglu, an Istanbul-based researcher on the Middle East, said the handover on Tuesday was initially aimed at gaining control of the border region.
“But, at the later phase, the Turkish army may be deployed across the border or on the Iraqi part of the border,” he told Arab News.
Sohtaoglu also expects a new joint operation between Tehran, Baghdad and Ankara in the region.
“A joint operation against those under the umbrella of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party and its military wing the People’s Defense Forces is looming on the horizon, particularly in Sinjar in northern Iraq. The unfolding military mobility in the region can be read as the gradual implementation of a bigger plan toward the region,” he added.
“The Iraqi national army is also deployed in a way to ensure the security of the second border gate between Turkey and Iraq. But what is interesting is that Iranian militia under the Iraqi national army are kept out of Turkish borders,” Sohtaoglu underlined.


War fears mount despite cease-fire between Gaza and Israel

Updated 22 July 2018
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War fears mount despite cease-fire between Gaza and Israel

  • Any further escalation will deepen humanitarian catastrophe in the Strip: UN chief
  • Before the truce, Israel unleashed an offensive it says destroyed more than 60 Hamas targets, including three battalion headquarters

GAZA CITY: After seven chaotic and violent hours, quiet returned to the Gaza Strip Friday night. Yet on Saturday, civilians in the Palestinian enclave and Israel remained fearful of the potential for a new war.
The fatal shooting by a Palestinian sniper of an Israeli soldier during protests along the border on Friday sparked a widespread wave of Israeli bombing, with three fighters from Hamas killed and dozens of targets struck.
After intensive indirect mediation by the UN and Egypt, a truce came into force at midnight, yet both populations remained on high alert of another all-out conflict between Israel and Hamas.
“War is coming. I know that the (Israeli) occupation is carrying out raids to pave the way with their home base,” Somaya Rabaya, 21, from Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza, said.
While the cease-fire deal included an end to rockets and mortars, it didn’t include a commitment by Hamas to stop what Israeli media have dubbed “terror kites,” a senior Hamas source said.
In a brief statement on Saturday, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the movement accepted the cease-fire brokered by Egyptian and UN officials and that calm had been restored. Later, the Israeli military announced a return to civilian routine along the volatile border.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “gravely concerned” about the escalation and called on both sides to step back from the prospect of another devastating conflict. “Any further escalation will endanger the lives of Palestinians and Israelis alike, deepen the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and undermine current efforts to improve livelihoods,” he said.
On Saturday morning in Gaza, 17-year-old Wissam was with a number of other youths fitting kites with small bottles full of diesel, while sheltering behind a sandbank for fear of Israeli strikes. “This morning, they bombed a Hamas observation post near here. I was afraid they would hit us with a missile,” he said.
Israel says it has no interest is engaging in another war with Hamas, but says it will no longer tolerate the Gaza militant campaign of flying the incendiary devices into Israel.
On Friday, Israel unleashed an offensive it says destroyed more than 60 Hamas targets, including three battalion headquarters.
“The attack delivered a severe blow to the Hamas’ training array, command and control abilities, weaponry, aerial defense and logistic capabilities along with additional military infrastructure,” the Israeli military said in a statement, adding that the strikes “will intensify as necessary.”