BAGHDAD: The UN mission in Iraq called on leaders on Wednesday to put their country first and end a long-running political power struggle, as tensions soar in the war-scarred nation.
Nearly 10 months on from elections, the oil-rich country still has no government and no new prime minister or president.
“We appeal to all actors to commit, actively engage and agree on solutions without delay,” the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq said in a statement.
“Leaders must prioritize (the) national interest,” it said.
On Wednesday, followers of powerful Shiite preacher and political kingmaker Muqtada Al-Sadr continued a mass sit-in at parliament for a fifth day.
The Sadr bloc opposes a nomination for prime minister by the Coordination Framework, a rival, Iran-backed Shiite faction.
Outgoing Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has called for a “national dialogue” in a bid to bring all sides together to talk, and on Wednesday spoke with President Barham Saleh.
Both men stressed the importance of “guaranteeing security and stability” in the country, according to the Iraqi News Agency.
“Meaningful dialogue among all Iraqi parties is now more urgent than ever, as recent events have demonstrated the rapid risk of escalation in this tense political climate,” the UN mission warned.
On Tuesday, a top Sadrist official gave followers 72 hours to shift their protests from the main meeting halls of parliament to the entrance of the building and a surrounding encampment.
“Iraq is facing an extensive list of outstanding domestic issues: It is in desperate need of economic reform, effective public service delivery as well as a federal budget — to name a few,” the UN added.
“Hence, it is past time for political stakeholders to assume their responsibilities and act in the national interest.”
Iraq is the second largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and derives 90 percent of federal revenue from oil.
But it has still not adopted its budget for 2022.
In June, parliament passed an emergency finance bill, to ensure gas supplies and buy grain for “food security.”
‘Buildings folded like paper towels’: Turkish survivors recount harrowing quake experiences
“It was the strongest earthquake I’ve ever experienced,” Iskenderun resident tells Arab News
Death toll exceeds 1,500 as Turkiye activates level 4 alert state
Updated 6 min 34 sec ago
ANKARA:Turkish survivors of one of the Middle East’s most devastating earthquakes in decades have relayed their harrowing experiences of surviving the disaster, which left buildings “folding like paper towels.”
Berjin and her cousin Rojhat, who were holidaying in Turkiye’s southeastern province of Diyarbakir, were about to return to their hometown, Van, in the country’s east, before the quake struck.
But early on Monday, the shockwave destroyed the building where Rojhat, a local football player, was sleeping. After emergency services arrived to rescue people from the rubble, Berjin waited for hours in front of the collapsed building in a distraught state.
After Rojhat was rescued, the two returned to Van, where an aftershock struck later in the day. “Please stop, it is such a strong quake, please stop,” Berjin cried in a video capturing lights and furniture shaking in her home.
Berjin, interviewed by Arab News, was was left waiting outside her destroyed home in minus 15 degrees Celsius temperatures after the second quake. The building was one of many in the city that had yet to be renovated following a 2011 earthquake, which killed hundreds of people.
Turkiye began the new week with a devastating and deadly 7.8-magnitude earthquake — one of the most powerful to hit the region in decades — killing more than 1,500 people in the country and in neighhboring Syria. About 3,000 buildings were destroyed.
The quake struck just after 4 a.m. Monday morning local time, 23 km east of Nurdagi, Gaziantep province, at a depth of 24.1 km, according to data from the US Geological Survey.
The earthquake also devastated parts of Syria, claiming hundreds of lives in the country. Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Egypt were also affected.
There was another 7.5-magnitude earthquake at noon on Monday, with the epicenter recorded near Turkiye’s southeastern Kahramanmaras province.
A hospital in southeastern Sanliurfa province was completely destroyed by the earthquake, with many patients left trapped under rubble.
Turkiye stopped oil flow to the southern Ceyhan export terminal as a precaution.
Ozcan Karakoc, a teacher at a state-run school in Diyarbakir, immediately ran to his school building once he felt the quake.
He was involved in assisting survivors next to the school, providing blankets and food to those rescued from nearby buildings.
The school is in Baglar district, one of the most-affected areas in Diyarbakir and also one of the poorest.
“I live in Seyrantepe district of Diyarbakir where buildings were relatively new and we didn’t have so much damage inside the houses. But the building next to our school was about an eight-story old building where more than 200 people were living. It folded like a paper tower in seconds,” Karakoc told Arab News.
He now anxiously awaits news from his students, with many living in run-down housing in Baglar.
After the quakes, the streets of Diyarbakir filled with people, including children, dressed in pajamas in the freezing weather.
Berrak Demirel, another resident in Diyarbakir, was sleeping when the earthquake struck the city.
She ran out of her home with her husband and children when the second quake ended.
“We stayed long hours outside, but had to come back home due to the freezing weather conditions in the city,” she told Arab News.
Turkish armed forces set up an air aid corridor in the earthquake zone.
Misel Uyar, a resident of Iskenderun, a town in southern Hatay provice, said that a hospital in the area was destroyed in the quake, with health workers and patients inside.
Several new buildings collapsed despite having supposedly been built to modern standards, he added.
Iskenderun port was also damaged during the quake.
“It was the strongest earthquake I’ve ever experienced,” Uyar told Arab News, adding that many of the town’s older buildings were destroyed in the quake.
“Another old building, just some meters away from my house, also collapsed, with several people dying inside.
“All our churches in the region were completely destroyed. The policeman guarding the Orthodox Church died as well because of a stone hitting his body. People took shelter in cars due to the fear of the aftershocks,” said Uyar.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party deputy Ali Oztunc, from Kahramanmaras province, was present in the quake zone during an interview with Arab News.
“All our local municipalities and AFAD, the disaster agency, are currently collaborating to rescue people and provide them with urgent needs,” he said.
“The 500-year-old unbreakable East Anatolian Fault passes beneath this city. We had urged the authorities several times in the past to take necessary precautions regarding the buildings.”
The need to build quake-resilient cities has been a top agenda in Turkiye for years, with prominent scientists warning authorities to take urgent measures.
About 18,000 people in Turkiye were killed in 1999 in a 7.4 magnitude earthquake that rocked the Marmara region.
Another earthquake that hit the country in 1939 killed about 33,000 people.
Renate Cavdar, a music teacher in southeastern Gaziantep province, was surprised at the severity of the quake.
“It was felt so strongly. Several roads are blocked because they were damaged by the earthquake, and bulldozers have to clear the debris to open the passage,” she told Arab News.
“In Islahiye district, a building where an old relative was living collapsed. We are now trying to reach the area to get information from her,” Cavdar said.
According to the latest reports, several local politicians were killed in the region, which is also home to millions of Syrian refugees.
In the southeastern province of Adiyaman, a municipality building collapsed.
The campuses of some local universities were opened to host survivors.
Niyazi Buluter, a civil society activist for the Roma community in Gaziantep, lost six relatives in the quake, including children.
“I have been informed that some family died as the old building they were residing collapsed in seconds during the quake. Low-income people were residing in this district,” said Buluter.
“Several buildings also collapsed in our area. There were some cracks in our one-story house. But we couldn’t stand during the quake. It was so strong. I have a disabled child; I took him in my arms and ran out of the house quickly. May God protect poor people.”
Volkan Demirel, technical director of Hatayspor football team, appealed for humanitarian assistance in an emotional video posted on social media.
Several countries expressed solidarity with Turkiye after Monday’s earthquake.
“I have been in touch with Turkish officials to relay that we stand ready to provide any and all needed assistance,” White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Twitter.
“We will continue to closely monitor the situation in coordination with Turkiye,” he added.
Having declared a level four alert state, Turkiye also requested international help through the Emergency Response Coordination Center, the EU’s civil protection program. In response, 45 countries offered to help in search and rescue efforts.
“We express our solidarity and sympathy to our brothers in Syria and Turkiye following the earthquake,” said Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry.
Japan to send rescue teams to Turkiye following big quake
The rescue team advance party was scheduled to leave for the site on Monday evening
Updated 51 min 13 sec ago
Arab News Japan
TOKYO: The Japanese government on Monday decided to dispatch the Japan Disaster Relief Team/ Rescue Team to conduct search-and-rescue operations for missing persons in response to a request from the Turkish government following the devastating earthquakes there.
The rescue team advance party was scheduled to leave for the site on Monday evening.
Based on the request of the Turkish government, and in consideration of the humanitarian perspective and friendly relations with Turkiye, Japan decided to provide emergency humanitarian assistance.
At around 4:17 a.m. local time on Monday, an earthquake of magnitude 7.8 occurred in the southeastern part of Turkiye. Other large quakes followed soon after.
Turkiye’s Disaster and Emergency Management Agency has said that the earthquakes in the south of the country have killed 912 people and injured about 5,385 so far. The figures are expected to rise significantly.
The Japanese statement didn’t mention Syria and who was also hit hard and suffered considerable damage by this earthquake.
World powers rush to offer Turkiye, Syria aid over quake
Britain was sending 76 search-and-rescue specialists to Turkiye, a minister said
The European Union has mobilized search and rescue teams for Turkiye after the stricken country requested EU assistance
Updated 06 February 2023
PARIS: International offers to help Turkiye and Syria with rescue efforts poured in on Monday after a massive earthquake killed around 1,800 people and wreaked devastation.
The European Union has mobilized search and rescue teams for Turkiye after the stricken country requested EU assistance.
Ten urban search and rescue teams from various member states will support first responders on the ground, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and EU crisis management commissioner Janez Lenarcic said.
The EU’s Copernicus satellite system has also been activated to provide emergency mapping services, it added.
The EU is also ready to support those affected in Syria, it said.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi voiced “solidarity” with those affected in both countries, saying the UN agency was “ready to help provide urgent relief to the survivors through our field teams wherever possible.”
India said it would immediately send rescue and medical teams as well as relief equipment to Turkiye.
Two National Disaster Response Force teams comprising 100 personnel with dog squads and equipment were ready to be flown to the affected area, the foreign ministry said. Teams of trained doctors and paramedics with medicines were also being readied.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “anguished” and “deeply pained” by the deaths in Turkiye — with whom India has frosty relations — and Syria.
Germany — home to about three million people of Turkish origin — will “mobilize all the assistance we can activate,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said, after speaking with the Turkish ambassador to Berlin.
Germany’s Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) “can set up camps to provide shelter as well as water treatment units,” she said.
The THW agency is also preparing generators, tents and blankets.
A foreign ministry spokeswoman said the German government would hold a crisis meeting later Monday with the relevant ministries to organize an aid package.
Berlin will also increase its assistance to charities such as Malteser International providing humanitarian aid in northwest Syria by one million euros ($1.1 million), she said.
President Vladimir Putin sent messages to Syrian President Bashar Assad and Turkiye’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, conveying Russia’s condolences and offering aid.
“We hope for a speedy recovery for all the injured and are ready to provide the assistance needed to overcome the impact of this natural disaster,” Putin told Assad.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that his war-torn country was “ready to provide the necessary assistance to overcome the consequences of the disaster.”
The message was reiterated by Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who said Ukraine was “deeply saddened by the loss of life and damage” wreaked by the earthquake.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis, prime minister of Turkiye’s historic rival Greece, whose relations with Ankara have suffered from a spate of border and cultural disputes, pledged to make “every force available” to aid its neighbor.
Mitsotakis said Ankara had already approved the dispatch of a Greek emergency rescue unit, and Athens was ready to send “additional equipment, medical supplies, blankets, tents” depending on further Turkish requests.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg voiced “full solidarity” with ally Turkiye, saying he was in touch with Turkiye’s top leadership and “NATO allies are mobilizing support now.”
Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson of Sweden, whose bid to join NATO is meeting Turkish resistance, tweeted: “Saddened about the loss of lives in Türkiye and Syria following the major earthquake. Our thoughts go to the victims and their loved ones.”
He sent his “deepest condolences” to President Erdogan. “We stand ready to offer our support.”
President Emmanuel Macron said France stood ready to provide emergency aid to Turkiye and Syria. “Our thoughts are with the bereaved families,” he tweeted.
“The UK stands ready to help in whatever way we can,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted saying his thoughts were with the people of Turkiye and Syria.
Britain was sending 76 search-and-rescue specialists to Turkiye, a minister added.
Iran is ready to provide “immediate relief aid to these two friendly nations,” President Ebrahim Raisi said, offering condolences on the “heartbreaking incident.”
Arab countries send condolences to Turkiye, Syria over deadly earthquake
More than 1,000 people are already known to have been killed in Turkiye and at least 762 in Syria
Updated 06 February 2023
DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign ministry expressed its solidarity and sympathy to Syria and Turkiye after an earthquake rocked both countries along their border, early on Monday morning.
The first earthquake – at 7.8 magnitude - struck at about 4 a.m. local time on Monday, the second – at 7.7 magnitude – struck shortly before 2 p.m. as the search and rescue work continued.
More than 1,000 people are already known to have been killed in Turkiye and at least 762 in Syria, but the death toll continues to rise.
In a statement the ministry said Saudi Arabia was closely monitoring the situation in the disaster-hit area.
UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan also made two phone calls to President Bashar Al Assad of Syria and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkiye.
He offered his condolences to the two presidents and the citizens of both nations, and offered to provide assistance.
The Emir of Kuwait, Nawaf Al-Sabah in a letter to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan extended his condolences to the President and the families of the victims, wishing speedy recovery to the injured.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry conveyed its condolences and solidarity with Turkiye and Syria in a statement, affirmed its readiness to provide help.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry also extended its condolences to Turkiye and Syria.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has also extended condolences to Turkiye and Syria over the deadly earthquake that left hundreds dead in both countries. OIC Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha called the OlC Member States and relevant institutions to contribute to the rescue efforts.