Iraqi PM Abadi and cleric Sadr announce political alliance

Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, who’s bloc came first, speaks during a news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, who’s political bloc came third in a May parliamentary election, in Najaf, Iraq June 23, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 23 June 2018
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Iraqi PM Abadi and cleric Sadr announce political alliance

  • Al-Abadi and Al-Sadr said their political blocs would enter into an alliance
  • It will “cross sectarian and ethnic divisions,” the leaders said

NAJAF: Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr said on Saturday their political blocs, which came in third and first place in a May parliamentary election respectively, would enter into an alliance.
The alliance between Abadi’s Victory Alliance and Sadr’s Saeroon will “cross sectarian and ethnic divisions,” the leaders said at a news conference in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, where Sadr lives.
Earlier in June, Sadr and Hadi Al-Amiri, a Shiite militia commander with close ties to Iran whose Fatih coalition came second in the election, had announced an alliance between their blocs.
It was not immediately clear if Saturday’s announcement meant the top three blocs would now work together. Abadi and Sadr said their alliance “doesn’t not mean the door is closed for the remaining blocs” to join them.
Political leaders in Iraq traditionally hold such meetings after elections as part of the lengthy and often complicated process of forming a coalition government, as no one party ever wins enough seats to form a government on its own.
The process is further complicated this time round because the next parliament is born of an election marred by historically low turnout and allegations of fraud. The outgoing parliament has mandated a nationwide manual recount of votes and Iraq’s top court upheld that move, which faced legal challenges.


Turkey unafraid of US sanctions over S-400 deal: Foreign minister

Updated 3 min 55 sec ago
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Turkey unafraid of US sanctions over S-400 deal: Foreign minister

ANKARA: Turkey said Monday it does not fear US sanctions over its decision to buy a Russian missile defense system that has frayed ties between the NATO allies.
The United States has given Turkey a deadline of July 31 to drop the purchase of the S-400 system, or face sanctions and removal from its F-35 fighter jet program.
“Regardless of whatever sanctions there may be, whatever the messages from America, we’ve bought the S-400,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara.
He said Turkey was working on the date for the system’s delivery, which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said would be in the first half of July.
“If there’s an attack on Turkey tomorrow, we cannot expect NATO to protect us because NATO’s capacity would only protect 30 percent of Turkey’s airspace,” Cavusoglu said.
Turkey will no longer allow other countries to dictate its defense purchases, he said.
Relations between Washington and Ankara have deteriorated over multiple issues, including the S-400 deal and US support for a Syrian Kurdish militia viewed as terrorists by Turkey.
Sanctions could cause damage at a time when Turkey’s economy is already struggling.
Its currency lost a third of its value last year, in part due to temporary US sanctions over the detention of an American pastor.
Turkey has plans to buy 100 F-35s, and has lucrative contracts to build parts of the jet.
Erdogan said last week he would use his “good” relationship with US counterpart Donald Trump to defuse the crisis when they meet at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan this week.