Iraq removes blast walls around Green Zone for partial reopening

File photo showing Iraqi security forces standing guard following protests in the Green Zone. (AFP)
Updated 22 November 2018
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Iraq removes blast walls around Green Zone for partial reopening

  • The Green Zone became home to Iraq’s parliament and other government offices
  • On Thursday, reporters saw some walls had been removed

Baghdad: Iraqi authorities began removing cement walls surrounding Baghdad’s Green Zone on Thursday in preparation for a partial reopening of the high-security enclave, an Iraqi official and correspondents said.
The Green Zone became home to Iraq’s parliament and other government offices, United Nations agencies and western embassies after the US-led invasion of 2003.
The area on the west bank of the Tigris River is ringed by blast walls topped with barbed wire and guarded by Iraqi security forces, but inaccessible for most Iraqi citizens.
On Thursday, reporters saw some walls had been removed.
“Work is ongoing to lift the cement blocks, and a main road will be opened provisionally on Saturday and officially on Sunday,” an Iraqi official said.
The official said three entrances into the 10-square kilometer (3.8-square mile) zone would be opened to allow access to a key thoroughfare and therefore relieve traffic clogging other parts of Baghdad.
“The reopening of the road that cuts through the center of the Green Zone came after directions from the prime minister,” the official added.
When Adel Abdel Mahdi was appointed premier last month, he called on parliament to open up the area to all as a way to break down barriers between Iraq’s citizens.
Abdel Mahdi also moved his government’s headquarters outside the Green Zone, in a first since 2003.
Previous prime minister Haidar Al-Abadi had also ordered the zone reopened during his reign, but it was sealed off again after only a few days.
It was rumored at the time that objections by the US embassy — which has the tightest security regulations of all bodies present in the Green Zone — were the reason.


Senior Omani official to visit Iran on Saturday

Updated 42 min 7 sec ago
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Senior Omani official to visit Iran on Saturday

  • Oman called on Iran and UK to resolve differences diplomatically

DUBAI: Oman’s minister responsible for foreign affairs, Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, will visit Iran on Saturday to discuss regional developments, Oman’s state news agency said on Monday.

It did not give further details. The sultanate on Sunday urged Tehran to release the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero, which Iran seized on Friday, and called on all parties to exercise restraint and resolve differences diplomatically.