Iraq’s Kurdistan airports and border crossings will reopen in weeks: Officials

A security guard is seen at the Iran-Iraq border crossing of Haji Omran on Jan. 3, 2018, one day after two border posts were reopened between Iraqi Kurdistan and the Islamic republic. (AFP)
Updated 16 January 2018

Iraq’s Kurdistan airports and border crossings will reopen in weeks: Officials

BAGHDAD: Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have initially agreed to reopen the airports and border crossings under the federal authorities’ supervision in a few weeks, federal and regional officials told Arab News on Tuesday.
Tensions between Baghdad and the KRG have been at a peak since September when the KRG held a controversial referendum on independence. Baghdad responded by imposing a series of punitive measures, including banning international flights to and from the region and shutting down the border crossings between the region and Turkey and Iran.
Handing the airports and border crossings to federal authorities was one of Baghdad’s main demands to ease sanctions on the region. The Kurdish region has suffered a serious economic crisis and the KRG has not been able to pay the monthly salaries of government employees for almost three years due to the administrative and financial corruption rampant in government departments and the control of some figures on the revenues of the region.
Joint technical committees have been formed to discuss problems relating to the border, border crossings, airports, oil and the payments of the government employees.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi told reporters on Tuesday that talks between the two sides were “good and positive.”
Federal and regional officials involved in the talks told Arab News that the “initial” deal made by the two sides on Monday included subjecting airports in the region to the authority of the Iraqi civil aviation power, and jointly running dams and border crossings. However, security, intelligence, residency and visa issues in the region will be the exclusive authority of the federal Interior Ministry as well as all federal laws relating to foreigners.
The agreement includes the KRG handing over all revenues of airports and crossings, in addition to 250,000 bpd of oil exported from the region, to the federal government. In return, Baghdad will pay the monthly salaries of regional employees initially for two months “to be sure that the KRG will meet all the agreed items.”
“We concluded the deal (with the KRG) of the airports and crossings and all the related issues and sent the recommendations to the prime minister and are waiting for his approval,” a senior federal official involved in the talks told Arab News on condition of anonymity.
“The airports and crossings will be opened but the arrangements that we agreed on need weeks to be applied on the ground,” the official said.

Sudan police tear gas protesters ahead of parliament march

Updated 20 January 2019

Sudan police tear gas protesters ahead of parliament march

  • Video clips circulating online show hundreds of security forces in Khartoum and more heading to nearby Omdurman
  • Longtime ruler Omar Al-Bashir insists there will be no change of leadership except through the ballot box

KHARTOUM: Sudanese police fired tear gas on Sunday at protesters ahead of a planned march on parliament in Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum, witnesses said.

Demonstrators chanting “freedom, peace and justice” began gathering in some areas of Omdurman but were quickly confronted by riot police with tear gas, the witnesses said.

Deadly protests which erupted on December 19 after a government decision to raise the price of bread have turned into nationwide rallies against President Omar Al-Bashir’s three decade rule.

Officials say at least 26 people, including two security personnel, have died during a month of protests, while rights group Amnesty International last week put the death toll at more than 40.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella group of trade unions that is leading the ongoing protest movement, called for fresh demonstrations on Sunday and several days over the coming week.

“We are calling for a march to parliament in Omdurman on Sunday,” it said in a statement.

“The protesters will submit to parliament a memorandum calling on President Bashir to step down,” added the association, which represents the unions of doctors, teachers and engineers.

Over the past month, protesters have staged several demonstrations in Omdurman.

The SPA said there will also be rallies in Khartoum on Sunday, to be followed by night-time demonstrations on Tuesday in the capital and in Omdurman.

“And on Thursday there will be rallies across all towns and cities of Sudan,” the statement added.