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.


Washington says observation posts in place on Syria-Turkey border

Updated 9 min 20 sec ago
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Washington says observation posts in place on Syria-Turkey border

WASHINGTON: The Pentagon announced Tuesday that American observation posts in northern Syria, meant to prevent altercations between the Turkish army and US-supported Kurdish militia, have been erected, despite Ankara's request to scrap the move.
US support for the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) has strained relations with Turkey, which fears the emergence of an autonomous Kurdish region on its southern border.
"At the direction of Secretary (James) Mattis, the US established observation posts in the northeast Syria border region to address the security concerns of our NATO ally Turkey," Department of Defense spokesman Rob Manning said.
Mattis announced in November that the US military was in the process of installing the observation posts.
The measure aimed to reassure the YPG, which Turkey considers a "terrorist" group but which is the spearhead of the international fight against the Daesh group.
"We take Turkish security concerns seriously and we are committed to coordinating our efforts with Turkey to bring stability to northeastern Syria," Manning added.
The Turkish army since 2016 has already launched two military operations against Kurdish forces in Syria, the last of which saw Ankara-backed Syrian rebels take the border city of Afrin in March.
After Turkey shelled Kurdish militia posts in northern Syria in late October the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), of which the YPG is the backbone, announced the suspension of their operations against Daesh for several days, to the embarrassment of Washington.
During a meeting with US Special Envoy to Syria, James Jeffrey, in Ankara on Friday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar had asked that Washington scrap the observation posts.
Akar also called for the US to end its cooperation with the YPG.
Syria's long-oppressed Kurdish minority has established a semi-autonomous region in the north of the war-torn country.