Protesters gather at main entrance to Iraq’s southern Zubair oilfield

Iraqis wave national flags and hold up signs during a demonstration against unemployment. (File photo: AFP)
Updated 17 July 2018
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Protesters gather at main entrance to Iraq’s southern Zubair oilfield

  • Protesters have vented their anger at several major oilfields since the demonstrations began nine days ago
  • Abadi promised to allocate funds for water and electricity and create jobs in the oil-exporting city of Basra

BASRA, Iraq: Iraqi police used batons and rubber hoses on Tuesday to disperse about 250 protesters who gathered at the main entrance to the giant Zubair oilfield near Basra, police said, in growing unrest across southern cities over poor basic services.
Officials at the field, run by Italy's Eni, said production operations were running normally.
Protesters have vented their anger at several major oilfields since the demonstrations began nine days ago.
Local officials say production has not been affected at any of the fields.
Iraq, the second-largest crude oil producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries after Saudi Arabia, produced around 4.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in June. Production at the Zubair field was 475,000 bpd, an Iraqi oil official said in May.
"We had orders not to use live fire but we also have orders not to allow anyone to disrupt operations at oilfields and we will take necessary measures to keep the protesters away from the fields," said a policeman at the scene.
Protesters have attacked provincial government buildings, local headquarters of political parties and powerful Shi'ite militias and stormed an airport in the holy city of Najaf.
Demonstrations over the same issues have occurred in the past. The unrest this time is more widespread and is politically-sensitive. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is seeking a second term after a May 12 parliamentary election tainted by allegations of corruption.
In a meeting with government officials carried on state television, Abadi promised to allocate funds for water and electricity and create jobs in the oil-exporting city of Basra.
The Shi'ite heartland south has long been neglected despite its oil wealth, first by Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein and then Shi'ite-led governments after him, including Abadi's.


Israel cuts Gaza fishing limit after fire balloons

Updated 23 May 2019
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Israel cuts Gaza fishing limit after fire balloons

  • Israel reduced the fishing limit to 10 nautical miles
  • The countries agreed to 20 nautical miles in the Oslo accords of 1990s

JERUSALEM: Israel reduced the offshore fishing limits it imposes for vessels operating out of Gaza from Thursday after Palestinians floated balloons fitted with incendiaries over the border, officials said.
The cut came just two days after Israel restored the limits to those set in April ahead of an Israeli general election.
“A decision was taken this Wednesday evening to reduce the fishing zone off the Gaza Strip to 10 nautical miles until further notice,” said COGAT, the defense ministry unit that oversees such regulations.
“The decision was taken after the launch of incendiary balloons from Gaza toward Israel,” it added.
Palestinians in Gaza have frequently floated balloons fitted with firebombs over the border to damage Israeli property and have in the past succeeded in setting fire to large areas of farmland.
Israel banned fishing completely when two days of deadly violence erupted earlier this month, but lifted the ban with a restriction of up to 12 nautical miles following a truce.
The 15-nautical-mile limit that had been restored on Tuesday was the largest allowed in years by Israel, which has fought three wars with Palestinian militants in the enclave and has blockaded it for more than a decade.
But human rights activists note that it still falls short of the 20 nautical miles agreed under the Oslo accords of the 1990s.
Israeli authorities have not said whether the 15-mile limit was one of the understandings reached as part of the May 6 cease-fire in Gaza but Israel media reported on Monday that it was.
The additional nautical miles are important to Gaza fishermen as they bring more valuable, deeper water species within reach.
Four Israeli civilians and 25 Palestinians, including at least nine militants, were killed in this month’s exchanges across the border.