Iraqi PM Abadi to seek re-election in May vote

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi speaks during a ceremony in Najaf, Iraq January 7, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 14 January 2018
0

Iraqi PM Abadi to seek re-election in May vote

BAGHDAD: Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi announced on Sunday his candidacy for the May 12 parliamentary elections to choose a prime minister.
Abadi, a Shiite Muslim who led the country in the four-year war against Daesh, said he will seek to form a cross-sectarian block called “the victory alliance” to contest the parliamentary elections, with candidates from other communities.
Abadi took over the premiership in 2014 from Nuri Al-Maliki, a close ally of Iran widely criticized by Iraqi politicians for the army’s collapse as Daesh militants swept through a third of Iraq.
Maliki, who heads the Shiite Dawa party, announced on Saturday he will be running in the elections.
Abadi is a Dawa member but he didn’t secure Maliki’s endorsement for his candidacy. Al-Maliki said on Saturday Dawa supporters will be free to choose between his alliance, called “state of law,” and Abadi’s “victory alliance.”
Abadi is credited for quickly rebuilding the army and defeating Daesh in its main Iraqi stronghold, Mosul, last July, with strong assistance from a US-led coalition.
Maliki holds the ceremonial title of vice president. He remains a powerful political figure as head of the Dawa and the largest political block in the current parliament.
The prime minister’s office is reserved for Iraq’s majority Shiite Arab community under a power-sharing system set up after the 2003 U.S-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, a Sunni Arab.
The largely ceremonial office of president is reserved for a Kurdish member of parliament. The speaker of parliament is drawn from Sunni Arab MPs.
The parliament is yet to approve the May 12 date for the elections.


Palestine, Egypt offer air support as Israel battles wildfires

A firefighting aircraft flies over a forest near Kibbutz Harel, which was damaged by wildfires during a record heatwave, in Israel May 24, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 May 2019
0

Palestine, Egypt offer air support as Israel battles wildfires

  • Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes on Thursday as fires raged
  • The fires were fueled by high temperatures and dry condition

JERUSALEM: Egypt and four European countries sent aircraft to help Israel battle wildfires that have forced the evacuation of some small towns, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday, as a record heatwave looked set to worsen conditions.
At an emergency briefing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had appealed for international help to combat the fires, and that firefighting planes were coming in from Greece, Croatia, Italy and Cyprus.
Egypt, on the orders of President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, had also sent two helicopters to assist Israel, Netanyahu told reporters.
The Palestinian Authority and Russia had also offered help, Netanyahu said.
Israel braced for wildfires on Friday amid a major heat wave that shows no signs of abating.
Israel “really appreciates” the help, Netanyahu said, singling out El-Sisi for sending aid.
“I am deeply thankful for the readiness of neighbors to help us in a time of crisis, just as we help them,” Netanyahu said.
Israel’s Fire and Rescue Service said blazes in a key corridor between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were mostly under control but difficult weather remained a conflagration risk.
“As of this moment, this (containment) is being done in the best possible way, but the challenge is yet ahead of us given the weather conditions, the winds and the extreme heat,” Netanyahu said.
Some 3,500 residents of small towns in the path of the fires were evacuated on Thursday, officials said. Dozens of homes have burned down.

Evacuations
Thousands of people were evacuated from towns and dozens of homes were burned on Thursday as fires raged, fueled by high temperatures and dry conditions. Over 500 acres of woodland have burned, said Nitai Zecharya, an Israeli official from the Jewish National Fund, known for planting forests in the country.
Zecharya said that while firefighters had brought most of the blaze under control, officials remained “very stressed” about strong winds fanning flames and “spreading fires to other fronts.”
The cause of the fires remains unclear, but they erupted following the Jewish festival of Lag Ba’Omer, which observers mark with bonfires.
A sweltering heat wave is pushing temperatures in parts of the country up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, or 43 Celsius.