Two dead as clashes flare again in Lebanon’s Tripoli

Updated 27 August 2012
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Two dead as clashes flare again in Lebanon’s Tripoli

TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Two people were killed yesterday in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli, a security source said, where sporadic fighting between pro- and anti-Syrian regime gunmen over six days has mirrored sectarian faultlines in the raging conflict in neighboring Syria.
Sunnis in Syria have been the driving force of a 17-month uprising against President Bashar Assad, whose minority Alawite sect has dominated the country’s political and military elite for more than four decades.
At least 18 people have been killed and more than 100 wounded in nearly a week of clashes in Tripoli.
Lebanon’s army deployed tanks and troops to clamp down on violence on Thursday, but fighting flared up again, residents said. They said the army raided parts of the city on Sunday and arrested several gunmen.
The fighting is the latest in a series of clashes that have hit the port city since the revolt in Syria began in 2011.
Violence has been concentrated in an area where Alawite districts abut Sunni neighborhoods, and have generally not spread across the city or through the rest of the country.
But tensions remain high in Lebanon, particularly its northern region that is home to both sects.
Syria has had far-reaching influence in Lebanon for decades. Assad withdrew Syrian troops from Lebanon in 2005 after a 29-year presence in the country.
Tensions between Alawites and Sunnis in Tripoli date from the 1975-90 Lebanese civil war when Lebanese Alawites fought with troops sent in by Bashar’s late father, Hafez, against Sunnis’ opposed to Syria’s military presence in Lebanon.


Daesh threatens Iraq polling stations ahead of parliamentary vote

Updated 24 April 2018
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Daesh threatens Iraq polling stations ahead of parliamentary vote

BAGHDAD: Daesh has threatened to attack Iraqi polling stations and voters during parliamentary elections next month.

In a message posted to the Telegram messaging app on Sunday, Daesh spokesman Abu Hassan Al-MuHajjir called on Sunni Iraqis to boycott the May 12 polls, the first since Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi declared victory over Daesh in December.

Extremist groups in Iraq have targeted every election since the 2003 US-led invasion that deposed Saddam Hussein and paved the way for Shiites to dominate every government since.

Under a system of checks and balances designed to avoid a return to dictatorship, the winner of the May 12 elections will have to form alliances with other Shiite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish lists to secure a majority.

An incumbent prime minister, his ousted predecessor and a paramilitary chief instrumental in defeating Daesh are the three favorites vying for Iraq’s premiership.

Two of the favorites topping the lists were among the architects of victory against Daesh, which in 2014 seized a third of Iraq’s territory in a lightning offensive.

The incumbent prime minister, 66 year-old Abadi, took over the reins from Nuri Al-Maliki in September 2014 at the high watermark of the security crisis.

The fightback which allowed Abadi to declare Iraq’s victory over Daesh in December, has silenced critics of his lack of military experience.

An engineering graduate and holder of a doctorate from the University of Manchester in Britain, Abadi is from the same Dawa party as his predecessor Maliki.

As the official head of Iraq’s military, Abadi has bolstered morale by drafting in foreign trainers, who have helped professionalize tens of thousands of soldiers.

Under his watch and backed by a US-led international coalition, the army has banished Daesh from all its urban strongholds in Iraq. 

The Iraqi military has also pushed back the Kurds in the north’s oil-rich Kirkuk province, bolstering Abadi’s status as frontrunner going into the election.

“He has a popular base which transcends confessional and ethnic lines. He offers a narrative as a statesman and he is not tarnished by corruption,” said Iraqi political scientist Essam Al-Fili.

Haddad said: “Abadi remains the single strongest contender but not strong enough to win anything close to a majority.”

His main contender is Hadi Al-Ameri — a leader of Hashed Al-Shaabi, a paramilitary network that played a pivotal role in defeating Daesh.

During Maliki’s 2010-2014 term as premier, Ameri was a lawmaker and then transport minister, but he was blocked in a bid to head the Interior Ministry by an American veto.