Iraqi pilgrims protest corruption during Arbaeen march

More than 2 million Iranians and other Shiites joined the commemoration. (AFP)
Updated 20 October 2019

Iraqi pilgrims protest corruption during Arbaeen march

  • More than 2 million Iranians and other Shiites joined the commemoration
  • Arbaeen is considered the largest annual public gathering in the world

KARBALA: Thousands of Iraqis chanted anti-corruption slogans during the Arbaeen pilgrimage to the city of Karbala on Saturday, responding to firebrand cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr’s call to keep up anti-government protests.
Amid the throngs of black-clad pilgrims mourning the 7th-century death of Imam Hussein, Sadr supporters dressed in white demanded “No, to corruption!” and “Yes, to reform!.”
Waving Iraqi flags, they chanted “Baghdad free, corrupt ones out!”
Sadr, whose list emerged as the largest bloc in parliamentary elections last year, helped Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi to form his government. But on Tuesday he called on Twitter for his supporters to march in shrouds.
Iraq — the second-largest OPEC oil producer — is “a rich country where the people are poor,” Khedheir Naim told AFP. The grey-bearded man came from the southern oil city of Basra to join the world’s largest Shiite pilgrimage, which culminated on Saturday. He denounced corrupt leaders, who according to official figures pocketed €410 billion over the past 16 years.
“Unfortunately, tyrants and criminals live handsomely at the expense of the people,” Naim said.

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3.5m - people — mostly Iranians — officially entered Iraq by land borders by Friday, despite warnings from Iranian authorities for pilgrims to delay traveling.

Denouncing corruption has been a primary theme of the protest movement shaking Iraq, alongside demands for jobs and functional services. In a single week of protests at the start of the month, 110 people were killed and 6,000 injured, according to official figures.
Calls have been made for fresh marches on October 25, to mark the anniversary of the government that is the focus of public anger.
The annual Arbaeen pilgrimage sees millions of worshippers, mostly Iraqis and Iranians, converge by foot on Karbala, 100 km south of Baghdad.
Arbaeen marks the end of the 40-day mourning period for the killing of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, by the forces of the Caliph Yazid in 680 AD.
Placards with anti-US and anti-Israel messages are often seen in the crowd, though anti-corruption slogans are rare.
Despite warnings from Iranian authorities for pilgrims to delay traveling, 3.5 million people — mostly Iranians — officially entered Iraq by land borders by Friday.


UN agency: Iran violating all restrictions of nuclear deal

Updated 1 min 11 sec ago

UN agency: Iran violating all restrictions of nuclear deal

  • Iran signed the nuclear deal in 2015 with the United States, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia
  • Known as the JCPOA, it allows Iran only to keep a stockpile of 202.8 kilograms

VIENNA: Iran has continued to increase its stockpiles of enriched uranium and remains in violation of its deal with world powers, the United Nations' atomic watchdog said Friday.
The International Atomic Energy Agency reported the finding in a confidential document distributed to member countries and seen by The Associated Press.
The agency said that as of May 20, Iran’s total stockpile of low-enriched uranium amounted to 1,571.6 kilograms (1.73 tons), up from 1,020.9 kilograms (1.1 tons) on Feb. 19.
Iran signed the nuclear deal in 2015 with the United States, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia. Known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, it allows Iran only to keep a stockpile of 202.8 kilograms (447 pounds).
The US pulled out of the deal unilaterally in 2018.
The IAEA reported that Iran has also been continuing to enrich uranium to a purity of 4.5%, higher than the 3.67% allowed under the JCPOA. It is also above the pact's limitations on heavy water.
The nuclear deal promised Iran economic incentives in return for the curbs on its nuclear program. Since President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal, Iran has been slowly violating the restrictions.
The ultimate goal of the JCPOA is to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb — something that Tehran says it does not want to do. It has been open about the violations and continues to allow IAEA inspectors access to its facilities to monitor their operations.
It is now in violation of all restrictions outlined by the JCPOA, which Tehran says it hopes will pressure the other nations involved to increase economic incentives to make up for hard-hitting sanctions imposed by Washington after the US withdrawal.
Though Iran has been hard hit by the new coronavirus pandemic, the IAEA said it has maintained its verification and monitoring activities in the country, primarily by chartering aircraft to fly inspectors to and from Iran.
It cited “exceptional cooperation” from authorities in Austria, where it is based, and Iran in facilitating the operation.