New rockets hit near Baghdad's Green Zone: security source

Iraqi counter-terrorism forces stand guard in front of the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. (File/AFP)
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Updated 17 March 2020

New rockets hit near Baghdad's Green Zone: security source

  • The projectiles hit an apartment building and wounded three people there
  • No diplomatic missions in the Green Zone were affected

BAGHDAD: At least three rockets struck Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone near the American Embassy late Tuesday, a day after an attack on a training base south of Baghdad where US-led coalition troops and NATO trainers were present, Iraqi security officials said. It was the fourth such attack in the span of a week.
At least three rockets struck the Green Zone, the seat of Iraq’s government and home to several foreign embassies, two Iraqi security officials said. Myles Caggins, spokesman for the coalition, said the rockets fell at least 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the embassy.
There were no immediate reports of casualties.
The previous evening, rockets hit the Basmaya base near the Iraqi capital, an Iraqi army statement said. The projectiles landed in an area that includes agricultural land and a factory, according to the statement. No more details were provided.
A Spanish contingent of the coalition and NATO trainers are present at the Basmaya site. There was no immediate confirmation of the attack from the coalition and no militant group claimed responsibility for the assault.
Last Wednesday, a barrage of over two dozen rockets struck Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, killing three coalition servicemen, including two Americans. A British serviceman was also killed. It was the deadliest to target US troops in Iraq since a late December rocket attack on an Iraqi base, which killed a US contractor and set in motion a series of attacks that brought Iraq to the brink of war.
Wednesday’s barrage was followed by another attack, on Saturday at the same site, which wounded five soldiers — three coalition members and two Iraqi soldiers.
The first attack prompted American airstrikes Friday against what US officials said were mainly weapons facilities belonging to Kataib Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militia group believed to be responsible for the attack.
However, Iraq’s military said those airstrikes killed five security force members and a civilian, while wounding five fighters from the Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella organization including an array of militias, including some Iran-backed groups.
Iran-backed militia groups vowed to exact revenge, signalling another cycle of tit-for-tat violence between Washington and Tehran that could play out in Iraq.


Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia return to talks over disputed dam

Updated 03 August 2020

Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia return to talks over disputed dam

  • Khartoum and Cairo have repeatedly rejected the filling of the massive reservoir
  • Ethiopia says the dam will provide electricity to millions

CAIRO: Three key Nile basin countries on Monday resumed their negotiations to resolve a years-long dispute over the operation and filling of a giant hydroelectric dam that Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile, officials said.
The talks came a day after tens of thousands of Ethiopians flooded the streets of their capital, Addis Ababa, in a government-backed rally to celebrate the first stage of the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s 74 billion-cubic-meter reservoir.
Ethiopia’s announcement sparked fear and confusion downstream in Sudan and Egypt. Both Khartoum and Cairo have repeatedly rejected the filling of the massive reservoir without reaching a deal among the Nile basin countries.
Ethiopia says the dam will provide electricity to millions of its nearly 110 million citizens, help bring them out of poverty and also make the country a major power exporter.
Egypt, which depends on the Nile River to supply its booming population of 100 million people with fresh water, asserts the dam poses an existential threat.
Sudan, between the two countries, says the project could endanger its own dams — though it stands to benefit from the Ethiopian dam, including having access to cheap electricity and reduced flooding. The confluence of the Blue Nile and the White Nile near Khartoum forms the Nile River that then flows the length of Egypt and into the Mediterranean Sea.
Irrigation ministers of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia took part in Monday’s talks, which were held online amid the coronavirus pandemic. The virtual meeting was also attended by officials from the African Union and South Africa, the current chairman of the regional block, said Sudan’s Irrigation Minister Yasir Abbas. Officials from the US and the European Union were also in attendance, said Egypt’s irrigation ministry.
Technical and legal experts from the three countries would resume their negotiations based on reports presented by the AU and the three capitals following their talks in July, Abbas said. The three ministers would meet online again on Thursday, he added.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attributed the reservoir’s filling to the torrential rains flooding the Blue Nile — something that occurred naturally, “without bothering or hurting anyone else.”
However, Egypt’s Irrigation Minister Mohammed Abdel-Atty said the filling, without “consultations and coordination” with downstream countries, sent “negative indications that show Ethiopian unwillingness to reach a fair deal.”
Ethiopia’s irrigation ministry posted on its Facebook page that it would work to achieve a “fair and reasonable” use of the Blue Nile water.
Key sticking points remain, including how much water Ethiopia will release downstream if a multi-year drought occurs and how the countries will resolve any future disputes. Egypt and Sudan have pushed for a binding agreement, which Ethiopia rejects and insists on non-binding guidelines.