Sudan’s Bashir says border with Eritrea, shut for a year, reopens

Sudan closed the border in early January, 2018, after Bashir announced a six-month state of emergency in the regions of Kassala and North Kurdufan. (File/AFP)
Updated 31 January 2019
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Sudan’s Bashir says border with Eritrea, shut for a year, reopens

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said on Thursday that his country was reopening its border with Eritrea, which has been shut for about a year.
Sudan closed the border in early January, 2018, after Bashir announced a six-month state of emergency in the regions of Kassala and North Kurdufan to help combat the trafficking of weapons and foodstuffs.
"I announce here, from Kassala, that we are opening the border with Eritrea because they are our brothers and our people. Politics will not divide us," Bashir said in televised remarks before scores of supporters in the town of Kassala, which is near the border in eastern Sudan.
As Bashir was speaking in the remote town, the Sudanese Professionals' Association, a union that has led calls for demonstrations against his rule, called for fresh protests across several Sudanese cities on Thursday afternoon.
Sudan has been rocked by near-daily anti-government protests since Dec. 19, in which rights groups say at least 45 people have been killed. The government puts the death toll at 30.
Bashir struck a defiant tone in Kassala on Thursday about the protests.
"Changing the government and changing the president will not be through WhatsApp nor Facebook, but will be through the ballot box," he said. "This is our pledge and commitment before the Sudanese people...The decision is your right, the masses of the Sudanese people."


Iraq offers to mediate in crisis between US and Iran

Updated 5 min 26 sec ago
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Iraq offers to mediate in crisis between US and Iran

  • ‘We are trying to help and to be mediators’
  • The crisis takes root in President Donald Trump’s withdrawal last year of the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers

BAGHDAD: Iraq offered to mediate in the crisis between its two key allies, the United States and Iran, amid escalating Middle East tensions and as Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers steadily unravels.
Iraqi foreign minister, Mohammed Al-Hakim, made the offer Sunday during a joint news conference in Baghdad with visiting Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.
“We are trying to help and to be mediators,” said Al-Hakim, adding that Baghdad “will work to reach a satisfactory solution” while stressing that Iraq stands against unilateral steps taken by Washington.
In recent weeks, tensions between Washington and Tehran soared over America deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Arabian Gulf over a still-unexplained threat it perceives from Tehran.
The crisis takes root in President Donald Trump’s withdrawal last year of the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that capped Iran’s uranium enrichment activities in return to lifting sanctions. Washington subsequently re-imposed sanctions on Iran, sending its economy into freefall.
Trump has argued that the deal failed to sufficiently curb Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons or halt its support for militias throughout the Middle East that the US says destabilize the region, as well as address the issue of Tehran’s missiles, which can reach both US regional bases and Israel.
Zarif, who was been on a whirlwind diplomatic offensive to preserve the rest of the accord, insisted that Iran “did not violate the nuclear deal” and urged European nations to exert efforts to preserve the deal following the US pullout.
Speaking about the rising tensions with the US, Zarif said Iran will be able to “face the war, whether it is economic or military through steadfastness and its forces.” He also urged for a non-aggression agreement between Iran and Arab countries in the Gulf.
The mediation offer by Al-Hakim, Iraq’s foreign minister, echoed one made Saturday by Mohamad Al-Halbousi, the Iraqi parliament speaker. Al-Hakim also expressed concern for Iran’s spiraling economy.
“The sanctions against sisterly Iran are ineffective and we stand by its side,” Al-Hakim said.