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.


Libya rivals clash south of capital, causing blackouts

Updated 18 September 2018
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Libya rivals clash south of capital, causing blackouts

  • Tuesday morning’s clashes centered on the main road to Tripoli’s long-closed international airport
  • Libya’s National Electricity Company said its network had been damaged, causing a total blackout across the country

TRIPOLI: New clashes flared between rival militias south of Libya’s capital Tripoli on Tuesday, causing widespread power outages, the national electricity firm said.
The fighting underscored the fragility of a United Nations-backed cease-fire reached earlier this month after days of deadly violence between armed groups in the capital, beset by turmoil since the fall of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
Tuesday morning’s clashes centered on the main road to Tripoli’s long-closed international airport, according to witnesses including an AFP journalist.
Libya’s National Electricity Company said its network had been damaged, causing a total blackout across the North African nation’s south and west.
Fighting which broke out late last month killed at least 63 people and wounded 159 others — mostly civilians — before the cease-fire came into effect on September 4.
Last week, the capital’s only working airport came under rocket fire just days after reopening following the truce.
Mitiga International Airport, located in a former military base that includes a prison, is currently controlled by the Special Deterrence Forces, a Salafist militia which serves as Tripoli’s police force and has been involved in clashes around the capital.
Interior Minister Abdessalam Ashour said Monday that a “regular force” would be tasked with securing the airport.
UN envoy Ghassan Salame later reported 14 cease-fire violations around Tripoli, but sought to play them down, saying the deal had been “generally respected.”
Tripoli’s main airport has been out of action since it was severely damaged by similar clashes in 2014.
Since Qaddafi’s fall in 2011, oil-rich Libya has been rocked by violence between dozens of armed groups vying for control of its cities and vast oil resources.
A UN-brokered agreement signed in Morocco in December 2015 established the Government of National Accord (GNA) in a bid to ease the chaos.
But deep divisions remain between the GNA and rivals including military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is based in eastern Libya and backs a competing authority.
The GNA last week announced a series of measures to secure the capital and curb the influence of militias over state institutions and banks.