Iraq officials: Protesters surge toward Baghdad’s Green Zone

Security forces are still deployed on part of the bridge in order to block the protesters from pushing into the Green Zone. (File/AFP)
Updated 16 November 2019

Iraq officials: Protesters surge toward Baghdad’s Green Zone

  • Protesters took over the Khilani square and part of Sinak bridge
  • Iran requested Iraq to close down Shalamcheh border crossing

BAGHDAD: Iraqi security and medical officials say protesters have pushed closer to the Green Zone, Baghdad’s fortified seat of government, after security forces pulled back following a night of violent altercations.
The officials said Saturday that protesters took control of the strategic Khilani Square and part of Sinak bridge leading to the Green Zone, which houses Parliament and several foreign embassies.
Security forces are still deployed on part of the bridge in order to block the protesters from pushing into the Green Zone.

Meanwhile, Iraq closed its southern Shalamcheh border crossing with Iran to travellers from both countries on Saturday, an Iraqi security source and an Iranian diplomat said.
The security source said Tehran had demanded the closure because of ongoing public protests in both Iran and Iraq. The border would remain shut until further notice but would not affect goods or trade, the security source and the diplomat said.
Officials say a roadside bomb killed three people and wounded 18 late Friday near Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the protest movement. Another roadside blast in the southern city of Nassiriya wounded 18 that same evening.
The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.


Lebanese block roads as protests enter fourth month

Updated 5 min 50 sec ago

Lebanese block roads as protests enter fourth month

BEIRUT: Protesters blocked several main roads across Lebanon on Friday as unprecedented demonstrations against a political elite accused of corruption and incompetence entered their fourth month.
The protest movement rocking Lebanon since October 17 has resurged this week, over delays in forming a new cabinet to address the country’s growing economic crisis.
No progress seemed to have been made on a final lineup, which protesters demand be made up solely of independent experts and empty of traditional political parties.
In central Beirut, dozens of protesters Friday stood between parked cars blocking a key thoroughfare linking the city’s east and west.
“We blocked the road with cars because it’s something they can’t move,” Marwan Karam said.
The protester condemned what he regarded as efforts to form yet another government representing the usual carve-up of power between the traditional parties.
“We don’t want a government of masked political figures,” the 30-year-old told AFP. “Any such government will fall. We won’t give it any chance in the street.”
Forming a new cabinet is often a drawn-out process in Lebanon, where a complex system seeks to maintain balance between the various political parties and a multitude of religious confessions.
Nearby, Carlos Yammine, 32, said he did not want yet another “cake-sharing government.”
“What we have asked for from the start of the movement is a reduced, transitional, emergency government of independents,” he said, leaning against his car.


Elsewhere, demonstrators closed roads including in Lebanon’s second city of Tripoli, though some were later reopened, the National News Agency said.
The protest movement is in part fueled by the worst economic crisis that Lebanon has witnessed since its 1975-1990 civil war.
The protests this week saw angry demonstrators attack banks following the imposition of sharp curbs on cash withdrawals to stem a liquidity crisis.
On Thursday night, protesters vandalized three more banks in the capital’s Hamra district, smashing their glass fronts and graffitiing ATMs, an AFP photographer said.
Earlier, Lebanon’s security services released most of the 100-plus protesters detained over the previous 48 hours, lawyers said.
Human Rights Watch on Friday condemned the arrests and the response of security forces to protests outside a police station on Wednesday night demanding detainees be released.
“The unacceptable level of violence against overwhelmingly peaceful protesters on January 15 calls for a swift independent and transparent investigation,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at the rights watchdog.
Over the past few months, the Lebanese pound — long pegged to the US dollar at 1,507 — has fallen in value on the unofficial market to around 2,500.
The World Bank has warned that the poverty rate in Lebanon could rise from a third to a half if the political crisis is not remedied fast.