Multiple explosions kill 6, wound several in Baghdad

Violence peaked in Iraq during 2006 and 2007, when sectarian tensions were at their highest. (AP)
Updated 06 November 2018
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Multiple explosions kill 6, wound several in Baghdad

  • Washington and Tehran have competed for influence in Iraq since the 2003 US invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

BAGHDAD: Explosions in several Shiite-majority districts in Iraq’s capital late Sunday killed six people, most of them civilians, and wounded several others, police and medical sources said.
In northern Baghdad’s Aden roundabout area, two civilians were killed and another six wounded by a blast near a bus stop, the sources told AFP.
A bomb in the nearby Tarmiyah neighborhood targeted a military convoy, killing a soldier and wounding two others.
A government employee was killed in the southwestern area of Al-Sahha when explosives attached under his car were detonated, according to a police officer and medical source.
In the eastern district of Sadr City, two people were killed and four wounded in two explosions in the Shiite neighborhood.
And two other blasts went off on buses in other parts of Baghdad’s northeast, wounding seven.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for any of the explosions.
Sadr City is the former bastion of the Mahdi Army. Violence peaked in Iraq during 2006 and 2007, when sectarian tensions were at their highest.
But it has fallen across Iraq and particularly Baghdad since the government declared victory over Daesh in December.
Clandestine militant cells remain across the country and have waged guerrilla-type attacks against government posts.
Separately, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry rejected recently what it called US interference in its affairs after the US Embassy issued a statement telling neighboring Iran to respect Iraq’s sovereignty.
The US Embassy in Baghdad had posted a message on Twitter saying Tehran must “respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi government and permit the disarming, demobilization, and reintegration” of Shiite militias.
It was one of several statements issued on the embassy’s Twitter account outlining US demands before new US sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sector took effect on Nov. 4. The sanctions worry Iraq as it imports crucial supplies from Iran.
Iraq’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement it “rejects interference in Iraq’s internal affairs, especially domestic security reform” and demanded the Twitter post be removed.
Washington and Tehran have competed for influence in Iraq since the 2003 US invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
Iraq’s Shiite militias, which took part in a US-backed campaign to defeat Daesh, were formally included in the security forces this year. Some militias are backed by Iran, a majority Shiite nation. Washington wants them disarmed. The US has said it would grant Baghdad a waiver on Iranian gas and energy imports that feed Iraqi power stations, and vital food items, Iraqi officials said on Friday.


Erdogan’s ‘vile’ comments on Christchurch mosques shootings dismissed as not representative of Muslims

Updated 21 March 2019
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Erdogan’s ‘vile’ comments on Christchurch mosques shootings dismissed as not representative of Muslims

  • Turkish president has threatened to "send home in coffins" visitors from Australia, New Zealand
  • Aussie and NZ leaders want Turkey to explain the "vile" and "offensive" remarks

JEDDAH: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was condemned on Wednesday for “vile, offensive and reckless” comments after last week’s Christchurch mosque terrorist attacks.

Australia summoned the Turkish ambassador in Canberra to explain the remarks, and New Zealand dispatched its foreign minister to Ankara to “set the record straight, face to face.”

Brenton Tarrant, 28, an Australian white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday after he shot dead 50 people during Friday prayers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Erdogan, in election campaign rallies for his AK Party, urged New Zealand to restore the death penalty and said Turkey would make the killer pay if New Zealand did not.

He said anti-Muslim Australians who came to Turkey would be “sent back in coffins, like their grandfathers at Gallipoli,” and he accused Australian and New Zealand forces of invading Turkey during the First World War “because it is Muslim land.”

But an international affairs scholar in Riyadh said Erdogan’s comments should not be taken as representative of Muslims. 

"He is a propagandist and an unpredictable politician,” Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News. “He keeps saying these things and then he issues an apology. Right now, he is making these incendiary comments to win elections.”

It was inappropriate behavior for a head of state, Al-Shehri said. “Which president would use such language and issue these kind of comments?”

In his speech, Erdogan said that the Gallipoli peninsula campaign in 1915 was in fact an attempt by British colonial forces to relieve their Russian allies. The attack was a military disaster, and more than 11,000 Australian and New Zealand forces were killed. Thousands of people from both countries travel each year to Turkey for war memorial services, and the anniversary is marked on Anzac Day every April 25.

“Remarks have been made by the Turkish President Erdogan that I consider highly offensive to Australians and highly reckless in this very sensitive environment,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said after summoning the Turkish ambassador and dismissing the “excuses” offered.

“I am expecting, and I have asked, for these comments to be clarified, to be withdrawn.” Morrison described claims about Australia and New Zealand’s response to the white supremacist attack as “vile.” He accused Erdogan of betraying the promise of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk to forge peace between the two countries.

A memorial at Gallipoli carries Ataturk’s words: “There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets ... after having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”

“Ataturk sought to transform his country into a modern nation and an embracing nation, and I think these comments are at odds with that spirit,” Morrison said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her deputy, Foreign Minister Winston Peters, would travel to Turkey to seek clarification of Erdogan’s comments. “He is going there to set the record straight, face-to-face,” she said.