Tunisians protesting over jobs clash with police after arrest of activist

A protester from Tunisia's Tataouine region throws stones during clashes with security forces, firing tear gas, amidst a demonstration in the southern city on June 21, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 21 June 2020

Tunisians protesting over jobs clash with police after arrest of activist

  • Protesters are demanding authorities to provide jobs in the gas and oil sectors, fluffing a 2017 promise

TATAOUINE: Protesters demanding jobs in Tunisia's energy sector blocked roads with blazing tyres on Sunday after the arrest of an activist, as security forces responded with tear gas.
For weeks, demonstrators have erected a protest camp in the southern Tataouine region demanding authorities make good on a 2017 promise to provide jobs in the gas and oil sectors to thousands of unemployed.
They have blocked roads around the El-Kamour pumping station to prevent tanker trucks from entering the facility but so far the protest had been largely peaceful.
On Sunday, however, it turned violent after the arrest of an activist "wanted" by the authorities, the governor of Tataouine, Adel Werghi, told a local radio.
The activist, arrested the night before, was identified as Tarek Haddad, the spokesman for the protesters.
An AFP correspondent said demonstrators set tyres ablaze in Tataouine and pelted security forces with stones demanding his release.
Security forces responded with tear gas and the situation remained tense in the afternoon, with intermittent clashes taking place.
The governor said it was "illegal" for protesters, who have been demonstrating for more than a month, to block roads with tents "which they have set up in the middle of streets".
In 2017, protesters had blockaded the El-Kamour pumping station for three months demanding jobs.
The sit-in ended after the employment minister signed a deal with representatives of the protesters, brokered by the powerful Tunisian trade union confederation UGTT, pledging to invest 80 million Tunisian dinars a year (almost $28 million) in Tataouine.
The UGTT said the promise was never kept.


Iraq’s foreign minister makes first visit to Iran

Updated 26 September 2020

Iraq’s foreign minister makes first visit to Iran

  • Iran sees neighboring Iraq as a possible route to bypass US sanctions that President Donald Trump re-imposed in 2018

TEHRAN: Iraq’s foreign minister arrived Saturday in Tehran for bilateral talks with senior Iranian officials, according to the state-run news agency.
IRNA reported that Fuad Hussein planned to meet his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani, in what marked his first visit to the Iranian capital.
Zarif visited Baghdad in mid-July, when he met with Hussein and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. It was Zarif’s first visit to Iraq since a US airstrike in January killed a top Iranian general, Qassim Soleimani, outside Baghdad’s international airport. The strike catapulted Iraq to the brink of a US-Iran proxy war that could have destabilized the Middle East.
After Zarif’s trip, the Iraqi premier visited Iran in July.
The report did not elaborate on the main reasons behind the top Iraqi diplomat’s two-day trip to Tehran.
Iran sees neighboring Iraq as a possible route to bypass US sanctions that President Donald Trump re-imposed in 2018 after pulling the US out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
Last year, Iran’s exports to Iraq amounted to nearly $9 billion, the official IRNA news agency reported on Tuesday. It said the two nations will discuss increasing the amount to $20 billion.
Before the current global pandemic, some 5 million Iranian pilgrims annually brought in nearly $5 billion visiting Iraq’s Shiite holy sites.
Iran has seen the worst outbreak in the region, with more than 443,000 thousand confirmed cases and at least 25,300 deaths.
A news website affiliated with Iranian state TV, yjc.ir, reported that Iran canceled all its flights to Iraqi cities until the religious holiday of Arbaeen, due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. The holiday marks the end of the forty days of mourning that follow annually on the death anniversary of the seventh-century Muslim leader Hussein, who was killed at the Battle of Karbala during the tumultuous first century of Islam’s history.
Iran fought an eight-year war with Iraq that killed nearly 1 million people on both sides, after former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded in the early 1980s.