Iran’s Soleimani in Baghdad for talks to shape next Iraqi government

A file photo showing Iran’s IRGC leader General Qasem Soleimani.(AFP)
Updated 16 May 2018
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Iran’s Soleimani in Baghdad for talks to shape next Iraqi government

LONDON: Iran and its allies were launching a bid on Wednesday to limit the role of fiery Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr in Iraq’s next government after his shock election win reshaped the country’s political landscape.
AFP reported that Iran’s “strong man” General Qassem Soleimani held talks in Baghdad with two prominent Shiite parties.
AFP, quoting a source who attended both meetings, added that Soleimani will push for a broader coalition to re-unite former Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki and the current PM Haidar Al-Abadi, both from the Shiite Daawa party.
The source confirmed that the Iranians hope to build the largest Iraqi Shiite coalition to lead the next government, and Soleimani is working to mend fences between Abadi and Al-Maliki in addition to Bader militia leader Hadi Ameri, and Ammar Al-Hakim as well as Iraqi Kurds loyal to Iran.
Preliminary numbers from last weekend’s vote put the ‘Conquest Alliance’ of pro-Iranian former militia leader Hadi Al-Ameri, whose forces helped battle Daesh, in second place, followed by incumbent Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi’s bloc.
Abadi, a consensus figure favored by the US had been seen as a likely frontrunner after declaring victory over Daesh five months ago.
The vote, which saw record high abstention, was considered a slap in the face to the widely reviled elite that has dominated Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.
According to the officials, Soleimani ruled out any alliance with Sadr, who surprised many last year by visiting Iran’s regional foe Saudi Arabia as Riyadh sought increased involvement in Iraq.


One dead as Tunisia security forces arrest migrants

Updated 13 min 37 sec ago
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One dead as Tunisia security forces arrest migrants

TUNIS: A migrant died early Friday as Tunisian security forces clashed with a group of Tunisians and Africans embarking on a clandestine sea crossing to Italy, a security official said.
The police intervened to stop a boat that had been launched off the coast of the central city of Sfax at around 2:30 am (0130 GMT), said Tunisia’s National Guard spokesman Houssemeddine Jebabli.
He said passengers on the vessel had thrown Molotov cocktails at security forces before setting fire to the boat and attempting to flee.
Four Tunisians were arrested along with eight migrants from the Ivory Coast and two from Congo, he said, adding that one of them was hospitalized for burns without specifying which one.
A 15th passenger was found dead, and operations were underway to find any other bodies from the boat.
A growing number of Tunisians are embarking on risky journeys across the Mediterranean Sea to seek work and a better life in Europe.
In the first half of 2018, nearly 2,660 people were arrested in Tunisia during attempts to make the crossing, Jebabli said, compared with just 564 over the same period the previous year.
Several deadly shipwrecks have taken place in recent months, including one on June 3 that killed 87 people.