Iraq PM heads to oil-rich Basra after violent protests

Iraqi protesters burn tires and block the road at the entrance to the city of Basra, Iraq July 12, 2018. REUTERS/Essam al-Sudani
Updated 13 July 2018
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Iraq PM heads to oil-rich Basra after violent protests

BASRA: Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi went to Basra on Friday hoping to restore calm in the southern city, which has been gripped by protests over unemployment, his office said.
Abadi flew straight into the city from Brussels where he attended a NATO summit to discuss the Daesh group and immediately held talks with officials, a statement said.
Demonstrations have been ongoing over the past several days, with protesters in some cases setting tires ablaze to block roads and trying to storm government installations.
The protests erupted on Sunday and security forces opened fire killing a protester, sparking further anger.
As well as unemployment, protesters are frustrated by rising living costs and a lack of basic services in the city, the capital of Basra province.
There were further protests on Friday morning and calls for a demonstration in the afternoon in front of the local provincial headquarters.
On Thursday Oil Minister Jabbar Al-Luaibi said protesters tried to break into an oil installation in the West Qurna oil field of Basra province.
In a statement released by his office, Luaibi said the demonstrators failed to enter the area but had set fire to a gate and a security post.
Officially, 10.8 percent of Iraqis are jobless, while youth unemployment is twice as high in a country where 60 percent of the population are aged under 24.
Abadi has vowed to rebuild the economy, ravaged by years of conflict, but frustrations have been growing especially in the oil-rich south.
Iraq is the second biggest producer of crude in the OPEC oil cartel, with 153 billion barrels of proven reserves.
 


Germany wants trial for Syria militants but warns of difficulties

Updated 59 min 33 sec ago
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Germany wants trial for Syria militants but warns of difficulties

  • ‘We must be able to ensure that prosecution is possible’
  • The minister noted that there is ‘no government in Syria with which we have a sensible relationship’

BERLIN: Germany vowed Monday to prosecute German Daesh fighters but warned that it would be “extremely difficult” to organize the repatriation of European nationals from Syria, after US President Donald Trump called on allies to take back alleged militants.
Syria’s US-backed Kurdish forces, which are battling Daesh group militants in their last redoubt in eastern Syria, hold hundreds of suspected foreign Daesh fighters and the calls for their reluctant home countries to take them back have grown in urgency.
“We must be able to ensure that prosecution is possible,” Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told Bild daily.
Underlining the difficulties however of putting the ex-fighters on trial, the minister noted that there is “no government in Syria with which we have a sensible relationship.”
President Bashar “Assad cannot be our counterpart, the Syrian-democratic forces are not a unity government,” she added, stressing that proof and witness statements needed to be secured in Syria if the militants are to be put on trial.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said separately that a return could only be possible if “we can guarantee that these people can be immediately sent here to appear in court and that they will be detained.”
For this, “we need judicial information, and this is not yet the case,” Maas told ARD television late Sunday. Under such conditions a repatriation would be “extremely difficult to achieve.”
Berlin wants to “consult with France and Britain ... over how to proceed,” he said.
The subject is to be raised on Monday at a meeting of European foreign ministers called to discuss among other issues “the situation in Syria, in particular the recent developments on the ground,” according to an agenda for the talks.
Trump on Sunday called on his European allies to take back alleged militants captured in Syria.
Daesh imposed a self-declared caliphate across parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq from 2014, but has since lost all of it except a tiny patch of less than half a square kilometer near the Iraqi border.
After years of fighting Daesh, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) hold hundreds of foreigners accused of fighting for the group, as well as their wives and children.
Syria’s Kurds have repeatedly called for their countries of origin to take them back, but these nations have been reluctant.
“The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 Daesh fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial,” Trump said in a tweet.
After initial reluctance, Paris appears ready to consider the return of its nationals.
In Belgium, Justice Minister Koen Geens called for a “European solution” on Sunday, calling for “calm reflection and looking at what would be the least security risks.”