Third Iraq protester dies of tear gas canister wound this week

Protesters in Basra demanded better public services and jobs. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 29 July 2020

Third Iraq protester dies of tear gas canister wound this week

  • The deaths threaten to reignite an unprecedented protest movement against government graft

BAGHDAD: An Iraqi protester died on Tuesday after being shot with a tear gas canister in overnight skirmishes with police in the capital, medical and security sources said.

The clashes came just hours after Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi instructed security forces not to “fire a single bullet” at demonstrators, following the deaths of two other protesters Monday morning in Baghdad.

But by Monday evening, the confrontations in the capital’s main anti-government protest camp of Tahrir Square had started anew.

“He was shot in the head and chest, and more than a dozen others were wounded. He was in intensive care and died this morning,” a medic said.

The protests began Sunday night in Baghdad and several southern cities, expressing fury at poor public services as temperatures topping 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) have swelled demand for air-conditioning and overwhelmed dilapidated power grids. The protests quickly turned violent in the capital, with two men dying on Monday morning after being hit directly by tear gas canisters that are otherwise fired in arced and less powerful trajectories to disperse protesters.

The deaths threaten to reignite an unprecedented protest movement against government graft and incompetence that erupted across Baghdad and southern Iraq in October.

Violence at those grassroots rallies had left around 550 people dead and more than 30,000 wounded, and prompted the resignation of then-premier Adel Abdul Mahdi.

Abdel Mahdi was widely criticized for failing to hold security forces to account and Kadhimi, who came to power in May, vowed to be different.

He pledged to carry out a probe into protester deaths and promised dialogue with the movement, which had largely died down following a surge in geopolitical tensions and amid the coronavirus pandemic.


Lebanon and Israel to hold talks on disputed borders

Updated 29 min 3 sec ago

Lebanon and Israel to hold talks on disputed borders

  • "UNIFIL stands ready to extend to the parties all the support at its disposal and facilitate efforts towards a resolution of this issue," the force said
  • The US will act as a facilitator during the talks, which are due to be held in the border town of Naqoura

BEIRUT: Lebanon and Israel will hold UN-mediated talks on their disputed maritime and land borders, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri announced Thursday.
The United States will act as a facilitator during the talks, which are due to be held in the southern Lebanon border town of Naqoura, Berri told a news conference without providing a date for the negotiations.
Berri said a framework agreement had been reached to start the negotiations, and read out a September 22 copy of it.

UNIFIL commander Maj.-Gen. Stefano Del Col listens as Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri, announces border talks with Israel. (AP)


"The United States were asked by both sides, Israel and Lebanon, to act as a mediator and facilitator to draw up the maritime borders, and it is ready to do this," he quoted it as saying.
"On the issue of maritime border, continuous talks will be held at the UN headquarters in Naqoura under UN sponsorship," he said.
"The US representatives and the US special coordinator for Lebanon are prepared to provide meeting minutes together that they will sign and present to Israel and Lebanon to sign at the end of each meeting," he added.
The UN peacekeeping force patrolling the shared border welcomed the news.

 


UNIFIL "welcomes today's announcement of a framework agreement to launch negotiations between Lebanon and Israel on maritime border demarcation between the two countries," it said in a statement.
"UNIFIL stands ready to extend to the parties all the support at its disposal and facilitate efforts towards a resolution of this issue."
Lebanon and Israel are still technically at war.
US envoy David Schenker on September 8 said he hoped to come to Lebanon and sign a framework agreement towards starting discussions "in the coming weeks".
The issue of the maritime border is particularly sensitive due to the possible presence of hydrocarbons in the Mediterranean.
In February 2018, Lebanon signed its first contract for offshore drilling in two blocks in the Mediterranean for oil and gas with a consortium comprising energy giants Total, ENI and Novatek.
Lebanon in April said initial drilling in Block 4 had shown traces of gas but no commercially viable reserves.
Exploration of Block 9 has not started and is much more controversial as Israel also claims ownership over part of it.