Third person dies as protests continue in Baghdad

Third person dies as protests continue in Baghdad
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Eight more protesters were injured, as police calls for the army to use restraint. (File/AFP)
Third person dies as protests continue in Baghdad
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A police commander said that forces should be patient and protect the demonstrators. (File/AFP)
Third person dies as protests continue in Baghdad
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Protesters clash with Iraqi riot police vehicles during a demonstration against state corruption and poor service in Baghdad. (AFP)
Third person dies as protests continue in Baghdad
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Iraq security forces arrest a protester during a protest in Tahrir Square, in central Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. (AP)
Third person dies as protests continue in Baghdad
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Protesters stand on a concrete arch connected to a burning building amidst clashes with Iraqi riot police during a demonstration against state corruption and poor services. (AFP)
Third person dies as protests continue in Baghdad
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Demonstrators use their mobiles during a protest against government corruption amid dissatisfaction at lack of jobs and services in Baghdad. (Reuters)
Third person dies as protests continue in Baghdad
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Protesters gather next to a burning building amidst clashes with Iraqi riot police during a demonstration against state corruption and poor services. (AFP)
Third person dies as protests continue in Baghdad
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Riot police attempts to disperse crowds during a protest against government corruption amid dissatisfaction at lack of jobs and services at Tahrir square in Baghdad, Iraq October 1, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 04 October 2019

Third person dies as protests continue in Baghdad

Third person dies as protests continue in Baghdad
  • Tuesday’s rally began peacefully with more than 1,000 people marching into central Tahrir Square
  • Police started throwing stun grenades and tear gas to disperse the protesters

BAGHDAD: A third protester has died in the second day of protests in Iraq, from wounds, medics have confirmed.

The 55-year-old man was wounded in Tuesday's demonstration in Baghdad's iconic Tahrir Square, the sources said.

Security forces used live fire and tear gas to disperse demonstrators in renewed protests in Baghdad on Wednesday, a day after at least two Iraqis were killed and 200 wounded in clashes over unemployment, corruption and poor public services.

At least eight protesters were wounded in the Zafaraniya district of southeast Baghdad when police and the army opened fire and launched tear gas canisters to disperse dozens of protesters, police sources said.

Iraqi President Barham Salih said peaceful protesting is a constitutional right, Iraqi state news agency reported on Tuesday.




Security forces have been told civilians have the right to protest. (File/AFP)

Meanwhile, the Commander of Iraqi Federal Police Lieutenant General Raed Shaker Jawdat said police should be patient and protect the demonstrators.

The main demonstration in central Baghdad broke out on Tuesday, with other protests taking place in seven Shiite-dominated southern provinces. Police in the capital fired in the air as about 3,000 protesters tried to cross a bridge leading into the fortified Green Zone, chanting “People want to overthrow the regime.”

Security forces blocked roads and used stun grenades and water cannon to push back crowd, but protesters refused to leave. They set fire to the building used by an Iraqi army detachment, clashed with security forces and threw missiles at riot police and troops.

 

 

“Our youth is lost. There is no work, no services, no clear future, so why we should keep silent?” one protester, Mohammed, told Arab News.

“All the governments and political forces that came after 2003 stole our future, and now they are shooting at us just because we want to protest.”

There were also protests in the southern hub oil of Basra, where 15 people were arrested; friction in Dhi Qar province, where demonstrators tried to storm the provincial council; and unrest in Diwaniya, Najaf, Karbala, Babil and Maysan.

Firing by security forces near Tahrir Square in Baghdad forced the protesters into nearby alleyways. Mobile footage obtained by Arab News showed the demonstrators running along sideroads in central Baghdad, telling each other to take care as gunshots rang out in the background.

“The licensed place to demonstrate is Tahrir Square. Any demonstrator who moves just one meter out of it is violating the law, and will be forced back,” a senior police officer involved in securing the area told Arab News.

“The demonstrators burned a security checkpoint and attacked the security forces, and it is natural that our forces try to regain control of the situation.” 

Calls for protests in Baghdad have intensified since last week, when Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi fired the commander of the military counterterrorism squad, Lt. Gen. Abdulwahab Al-Saadi. Many Iraqis believe the decision was aimed at removing the leaders of the Iraqi army and official military institutions that led the fight against Daesh.




Security forces used water cannons and tear gas to disperse more than 1,000 protesters in central Baghdad on Tuesday. (File/AFP)

Observers and analysts said the dissatisfaction of most Iraqis was clear, but the publication of provocative videos suggesting a military coup had created tension between police and demonstrators. When security forces opened fire it was “the fastest reaction against demonstrators since 2003,” analyst Abdulwahid Tuama told Arab News. “This could have been avoided, but Abdul Mahdi appears to be provocative.”

An adviser to Abdul Mahdi claimed the US was behind the protests, to punish the prime minister for seeking economic ties with China. “Who promoted the demonstrations was the electronic army of the US embassy, through hundreds of web pages and mock accounts,” the adviser said. “Today’s demonstrations were a punishment for Abdul Mahdi, who dared to disobey America by going to China and opening the doors of investment to them.”

The adviser said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “warned Abdul Mahdi of the serious consequences he would face if he went to China. Revolutionizing the street to bring down the government is an attempt to punish him.”

Many Sunni politicians declared support for the protesters while most Shiite leaders remained silent. Howerful, the powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr criticized “the excessive use of force,” and demanded an investigation.

The identity of the protest organizers is not clear, but video footage posted early on Tuesday showed Ahmed Al-Helou, an activist in Najaf, reciting what Iraqis call “Number One” — a reference to the first statement by insurgents after a military coup.

Helou, who described himself as a rebel, said in the video: “The revolution has begun ... enough demonstrations. They will not respond to your demands. Change will not happen at the hands of parties that have overthrown, killed, abandoned and stolen you.

“Previously, we did not have the alternative, but now we have … a government headed by Lt. Gen. Abdulwahab Al-Saadi was formed ... this is our last chance.”

Helou’s first video was followed by another one less than an hour later, in which he appeared next to the Iraqi flag with the national anthem playing in the background. He announces the composition of what he called the “National Salvation Government,” which included former ministers, judges, military leaders, academics and ambassadors, most of whom had lost their positions in the past two decades.

Shortly afterwards, most of those named on the list announced that they knew nothing about it and did not know who was responsible. Nevertheless, posters of Gen. Al-Saadi were distributed among protesters and pasted on minibuses in central Baghdad near Tahrir Square.

(With AFP and Reuters)


HRW urges Iran to probe deadly shooting on Pakistan border

HRW urges Iran to probe deadly shooting on Pakistan border
Updated 23 min ago

HRW urges Iran to probe deadly shooting on Pakistan border

HRW urges Iran to probe deadly shooting on Pakistan border
  • Shooting in the border area near the town of Saravan killed at least 10 people and wounded five
BEIRUT: Human Rights Watch called on Iran Friday to investigate a deadly shooting by Revolutionary Guards against smugglers attempting to transport fuel into neighboring Pakistan for excessive use of force.
Monday’s shooting in the border area near the town of Saravan killed at least 10 people and wounded five, HRW said, citing Baluchi activists.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had blocked a road used to transport fuel before apparently opening fire at people attempting to reopen the route, it added.
The action has prompted attacks by angry protesters on government buildings in both Saravan and the Sistan-Baluchistan provincial capital Zahedan.
“The Iranian authorities should urgently conduct a transparent and impartial investigation into the shootings at the Saravan border,” said HRW Iran researcher Tara Sepehri Far.
“The authorities should hold those responsible for wrongdoing to account, appropriately compensate victims and ensure that border guards are taking the utmost precautions to respect the right to life and other human rights.”
Provincial deputy governor Mohammad-Hadi Marashi said Tuesday that the shooting had started from the Pakistani side of the border and one person had been killed and four wounded.
Sistan-Baluchistan province has long been a security headache for the Iranian government.
Its large ethnic Baluch population, which staddles the frontier, has made it a flashpoint for cross-border attacks on government or Shiite targets by separatists and Sunni extremists.
HRW said the lack of employment opportunities in the province had left its ethnic Baluch population few alternatives to black market trading with their fellow Baluchs across the border.
“Similar to the western provinces of Western Azerbaijan and Kurdistan (on the border with Iraq), its lack of economic opportunities has led many residents to engage in unlawful cross-border commerce with Pakistan,” the New York-based watchdog.

Israel vaccinates 50% of its population against COVID-19

Israel vaccinates 50% of its population against COVID-19
Updated 26 February 2021

Israel vaccinates 50% of its population against COVID-19

Israel vaccinates 50% of its population against COVID-19
  • About 35 percent of Israel’s population had received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine

JERUSALEM: Israel has administered at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose to 50 percent of its 9.3 million population, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Friday.
Israel counts East Jerusalem Palestinians, who have been included in the vaccine campaign that began on Dec 19, as part of its population. Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip are not part of the Israeli campaign.
Edelstein said 35 percent of Israel’s population had received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, putting them on course to receive a so-called “Green Pass” with access to leisure sites that the country has been gradually reopening.


Libya’s new PM delays naming Cabinet as deadline looms

Libya’s new PM delays naming Cabinet as deadline looms
Updated 26 February 2021

Libya’s new PM delays naming Cabinet as deadline looms

Libya’s new PM delays naming Cabinet as deadline looms
  • Appointing the Cabinet is part of a UN-backed transitional roadmap
  • Since 2015, Libyan state institutions have been divided between two administrations

CAIRO: Libya’s newly-elected prime minister failed to name members of a much-anticipated Cabinet ahead of an expected deadline Thursday, raising questions over whether his transitional government can unite Libya’s factions.
Prime Minister designate Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah was set to announce his Cabinet in a news conference from the capital, Tripoli, and send it to Libya’s House of Representatives for approval.
Instead, Dbeibah told reporters he only shared with Libyan lawmakers proposed guidelines for the selection of Cabinet members and an outline of his priorities in the coming period.
Appointing the Cabinet is part of a UN-backed transitional roadmap, which envisages holding general elections in the war-torn North African country by the end of the year.
Since 2015, Libyan state institutions have been divided between two administrations: One in the east and another in the west, each supported by a vast array of militias and foreign governments.
“We are ready to submit the names (of Cabinet ministers) but we should consult among ourselves and examine candidate names meticulously,” Dbeibah told reporters in Tripoli without specifying when he will actually make the submission.
Dbeibah said he envisages a Cabinet of technocrats who would represent Libya’s different geographic areas and social segments.
“These are critical times and we are taking into consideration that the Cabinet must genuinely achieve national unity and seek consensus and reconciliation,” he said.
He added that the country’s sovereign ministerial portfolios should be equally divided between candidates from Libya’s three key geographic areas in the east, the west and the south.
Earlier this month, Dbeibah was elected as prime minister by Libyan delegates at a UN-sponsored conference near Geneva.
The 75-member Libyan Political Dialogue Forum also elected a three-member Presidential Council, which along with Dbeibah should lead the country through general elections on December 24. Mohammad Younes Menfi, a Libyan diplomat from the country’s east, was selected as chairman of the council.


Bahrain introduces fifth vaccine, extends COVID-19 safety measures

Bahrain introduces fifth vaccine, extends COVID-19 safety measures
Updated 26 February 2021

Bahrain introduces fifth vaccine, extends COVID-19 safety measures

Bahrain introduces fifth vaccine, extends COVID-19 safety measures
  • The Janssen Covid-19 Vaccine will be the fifth vaccine authorized in Bahrain in the fight against the spread of COVID-19
  • The announcement comes as the Government Executive Committee extended precautionary measures

DUBAI: Bahrain’s National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA) has authorized the use of Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine for coronavirus the Bahrain News Agency reported on Friday.

The Janssen Covid-19 Vaccine will be the fifth vaccine authorized in Bahrain in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 and will be given to those most at risk, suchas the elderly, people with chronic diseases and other groups identified by the Health Ministry.

The announcement comes as the Government Executive Committee extended precautionary measures, aimed at slowing the spread of the virus, for an additional three months.

The measures involve the continued enforcement of  social distancing and screening of people at commercial and industrial premises for a further three months.


Oman extends COVID-19 safety measures, closes parks, beaches, leisure areas indefinitely

Oman extends COVID-19 safety measures, closes parks, beaches, leisure areas indefinitely
Updated 26 February 2021

Oman extends COVID-19 safety measures, closes parks, beaches, leisure areas indefinitely

Oman extends COVID-19 safety measures, closes parks, beaches, leisure areas indefinitely
  • Three Omani citizens convicted of violating coronavirus safety protocols

DUBAI: Oman’s Supreme Committee supervising the country’s coronavirus response has extended indefinitely the closure of beaches, public parks and leisure spaces to curb the spread of the highly contagious disease.

It reiterated the ban on indoor gatherings in resthouses, farms and winter camps, state news agency ONA reported, citing the high risk of coronavirus transmission in closed spaces.

In the North A’Sharqiyah governorate, the Supreme Committee has extended the shortened business operating hours with commercial activities required to close from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m..

Petrol stations, health establishments and private pharmacies are exempt from the updated regulation.

The latest regulations were issued as the Sultanate’s coronavirus cases reached 140,588 with 29 new patients hospitalized overnight. The total number of COVID-19 related death cases is at 1,562.

Meanwhile, three Omani citizens have been convicted of violating coronavirus safety protocols and separately fined $2,000 and sentenced to a three-month imprisonment.

“Primary Courts in the governorates of North Al Batinah and Dhofar issued penal verdicts convicting three citizens who breached decisions of the Supreme Committee” particularly non-compliance with the institutional quarantine and for not wearing a mask, ONA said in a separate report.