Hundreds of Iraqi protesters march in Baghdad ahead of vote

Hundreds of Iraqi protesters march in Baghdad ahead of vote
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Protesters gather for anti-Government a protest in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. (AP)
Hundreds of Iraqi protesters march in Baghdad ahead of vote
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Protesters gather for anti-Government a protest in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. (AP)
Hundreds of Iraqi protesters march in Baghdad ahead of vote
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Protesters gather for anti-Government a protest in Firdous Square, Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. (AP)
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Updated 02 October 2021

Hundreds of Iraqi protesters march in Baghdad ahead of vote

Hundreds of Iraqi protesters march in Baghdad ahead of vote
  • Around 1,000 protesters took part in the event, including a significant number of women
  • The commemoration comes a week before Iraq plans to hold early elections

BAGHDAD: Hundreds of Iraqis marched in the center of Baghdad on Friday to mark two years since mass anti-government protests erupted in the Iraqi capital and southern provinces calling for reforms.
Around 1,000 protesters took part in the event, including a significant number of women, many carrying photos of loved ones who were killed by security forces during the protests. 
“When will we see the killers behind bars?” and “No to corrupt parties, no to corrupt politicians,” said placards carried by the demonstrators, who included women dressed in black.
The commemoration comes a week before Iraq plans to hold early elections, which had been a key demand of tens of thousands of protesters who thronged the streets and public squares from October 2019 until early 2020.
Demonstrators, mostly young people, had camped out in the capital’s Tahrir Square for months, decrying endemic corruption, poor services and unemployment.
The movement petered out owing to the government’s heavy-handed response and the coronavirus pandemic. Over 600 people died as security forces used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse crowds.
One of those taking part, Ibrahim, said he was doing so “in memory of the martyrs” and “the massacres committed by the government against young pacifists.”
The 20-year-old, who like many Iraqis prefers not to give his full name when discussing politics, said he would not vote.
“The election will reproduce the same corrupt system, and the same corrupt parties. Only the names and faces change,” he said.
In the southern city of Nasiriyah, a hotbed of the 2019 protests where 128 people were killed in related violence, hundreds attended a commemorative rally.
“It’s a historic moment to remember the demonstrations and the confrontation with the forces of corruption, to remember the deaths and the criminal behavior, and the silence of the government about all of it,” said demonstrator Ali Al-Shamkhawi.
Now, many among the protest movement are calling for a boycott of the elections scheduled for Oct. 10, convinced that nothing will change. They are protesting, in particular, a string of targeted killings against civil society groups and outspoken activists for which no one has been held accountable. 
“I am against participating in these elections because they are meaningless. It’s the same parties in power and nothing will change,” said Walid Al-Madani, a 39-year-old civil servant taking part in Friday’s protest.
Hundreds of riot police and federal policemen fanned out in Baghdad ahead of the planned march.
“We don’t want a paradise, we want a nation,” read one of the banners carried by protesters who gathered at Fardous Square and marched toward Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the October 2019 protests.
Another banner read: “You will not silence the voice of Tishreen,” Arabic for October, as Iraqis refer to the protests after the month they broke out.
Observers are predicting a record low turnout among the 25 million voters.
A new electoral law increased the number of constituencies and opted for a single-member constituency system supposed to favor independents and community-based candidates.
But experts say the same major political blocs are likely to dominate the next parliament.


Algerian president in Egypt on official visit

Algerian president in Egypt on official visit
Updated 13 sec ago

Algerian president in Egypt on official visit

Algerian president in Egypt on official visit
  • Abdelmadjid Tebboune is on a two-day state visit, and is expected to discuss with Abdel Fattah El-Sisi Arab and African security issues
  • Egypt is the third Arab country that Tebboune has visited since he took office in December 2019, after Saudi Arabia and Tunisia

CAIRO: Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi received on Monday evening his Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune at Cairo International Airport.

Tebboune is on a two-day state visit, and is expected to discuss with El-Sisi Arab and African security issues, including the crisis in neighboring Libya.

The two presidents previously met in January 2020 on the sidelines of the Berlin conference on the Libyan crisis.

Egypt is the third Arab country that Tebboune has visited since he took office in December 2019, after Saudi Arabia and Tunisia.

El-Sisi received a written message from Tebboune last week after receiving Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra in Cairo.

El-Sisi and Lamamra discussed bilateral relations and Arab issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Libyan crisis.


Egypt not to blame for failure of Renaissance Dam talks: FM

Egypt not to blame for failure of Renaissance Dam talks: FM
Updated 24 min 39 sec ago

Egypt not to blame for failure of Renaissance Dam talks: FM

Egypt not to blame for failure of Renaissance Dam talks: FM
  • Sameh Shoukry: Egypt is always ready to resume negotiations with Ethiopia if there is a political will to reach an agreement
  • Egypt and Sudan reject Ethiopia’s insistence on filling the dam before reaching a binding agreement

CAIRO: Cairo is not to blame for the failure of negotiations over the filling and operation of Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has said.

“Egypt is always ready to resume negotiations with Ethiopia if there is a political will to reach an agreement,” he added.

“Egypt is always keen to reach consensus between the three countries — Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia — and to reach a binding legal agreement in accordance with the rules of international law and international practices, in a manner that meets the needs of all parties, which is Ethiopia’s right to development, and the right of Egypt and Sudan to their share of the Nile waters.”

Negotiations between the three countries failed in April 2021 and have not resumed since. Egypt and Sudan reject Ethiopia’s insistence on filling the dam before reaching a binding agreement.


Egypt approves Merck COVID-19 pill, says to be produced locally

Egypt approves Merck COVID-19 pill, says to be produced locally
Updated 24 January 2022

Egypt approves Merck COVID-19 pill, says to be produced locally

Egypt approves Merck COVID-19 pill, says to be produced locally

CAIRO: Egypt approved Merck & Co’s COVID-19 pill Molnupiravir for emergency use, the country’s drug authority said on Monday, adding that the pill would be locally produced.
The drug will initially be manufactured by five local companies, to be joined later by several other firms, the Egyptian Drug Authority said in a statement.


Arab League calls for Houthis to be classified terror group

Arab League calls for Houthis to be classified terror group
Updated 24 January 2022

Arab League calls for Houthis to be classified terror group

Arab League calls for Houthis to be classified terror group
  • The league affirmed its support for “the UAE’s right to self-defense and to respond to aggression under international law”
  • The league also welcomed the UN Security Council’s “unified position” in condemning the Houthi attacks

CAIRO: The Arab League has urged the international community to classify Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia as a terrorist organization after last week’s missile and drone attacks on the UAE.

The call followed an emergency meeting of the Arab League on Sunday to discuss the “brutal and vicious terrorist attack on civilians and civilian targets.”

It said the attacks “constitute a violation of international law and international humanitarian law, and a real threat to vital civilian facilities, energy supplies and the stability of the global economy.

“They also constitute a threat to regional peace and security, undermine Arab national security, harm international peace and security, and pose a threat to international commercial shipping lines.”

The meeting welcomed the solidarity of countries, as well as regional and international organizations, with the UAE.

The Arab League also welcomed the UN Security Council’s “unified position” in condemning the Houthi attacks.

The meeting affirmed the league’s support for “the UAE’s right to self-defense and to respond to aggression under international law.”

It stressed “the need for the international community to stand united in the face of this terrorist act that threatens regional and international peace and stability, and to take immediate and decisive measures to deter the Houthi militias, in order to stop their repeated criminal acts in Yemen and the region.”


Lebanon’s Hariri suspends role in politics, won't run in vote

Lebanon’s Hariri suspends role in politics, won't run in vote
Updated 24 January 2022

Lebanon’s Hariri suspends role in politics, won't run in vote

Lebanon’s Hariri suspends role in politics, won't run in vote
  • Hariri, 51, inherited the political mantle of his father, Rafik, after his assassination in 2005
  • Three times Lebanon's prime minister, Hariri called on his Future Movement not to run any candidates in the election

BEIRUT: Leading Lebanese Sunni Muslim politician Saad Al-Hariri said on Monday he would not run in a forthcoming parliamentary election and was suspending his role in political life, calling on his political party to do the same.
“We will continue to serve our people, but our decision is to suspend any role in power, politics and parliament,” Hariri said in a live televised address.
Three times Lebanon's prime minister, Hariri called on his Future Movement not to run any candidates in the election.

Hariri, 51, inherited the political mantle of his father, Rafik, after his assassination in 2005, becoming the leading Sunni Muslim in Lebanon's sectarian politics.

In 2020, a UN-backed tribunal convicted a member of the heavily armed, Iran-backed Shiite group Hezbollah of conspiring to kill Rafik Al-Hariri. Hezbollah denies any involvement.

Lebanon's leading Druze politician said Hariri's decision “means a free hand for Hezbollah and the Iranians.”
Walid Jumblatt told Reuters that he was very saddened by the decision of Hariri, Lebanon's leading Sunni Muslim politician: “We're losing a pillar of independence and moderation.”