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Iraq (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Protests Close Border with Jordan

See also Syria Live Coverage: A Mass Killing in Idlib Province?
Tuesday's Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Regime Shuts Away Its Political Prisoners

Protest in Anbar Province Last Week1925 GMT: Libya. Four people have been killed, in clashes between Toubou tribesmen and a brigade linked to the Libyan army, in the southern town of Kufra.

A military spokesman claimed the Shield Libya brigade intervened "to prevent student casualties" after a skirmish between Toubou and Zwai tribesmen escalated inside Kufra University.

Local authorities ordered that the university, which is in a Toubou area, shut for two days until order is restored.

A tribal chief called on "the army to secure Kufra, and not a group of civilian revolutionaries who have no military principles".

Kufra, a town of about 40,000 people, is located in a triangle where the borders of Egypt, Chad. and Sudan meet. Fighting last February claimed more than 130 lives and displaced half the population. Last June, 47 people were killed and more than 100 wounded.

1425 GMT: Iraq. A defence contractor whose subsidiary was accused of conspiring to torture Abu Ghraib prisoners has settled with former inmates for $5 million.

US firm Engility Holdings paid 71 people held at the Baghdad detention centre and other US-run prisons on behalf of L-3 Services, which provided translators to the US military.

Another contractor which provided interrogators to the US military, CACI, is expected to go to trial over similar allegations.

The Engility settlement marks the first successful effort by lawyers for former Iraqi prisoners against defence contractors in lawsuits alleging torture. The US government is immune from lawsuits stemming from combat actions by the military in time of war, but courts are still establishing whether independent firms operating in war zones should have the same legal immunity.

1415 GMT: Egypt. Parliamentary elections will be held in April, officials said on Wednesday.

Under Egypt's new Constitution, approved by a referendum last month, President Mohamed Mursi must set an election date within 60 days of his signature of the document into law on 26 December.

"The vote for parliament will take place in April," said an official at the Presidency. "The exact date for the vote has not been fixed yet and the president will announce it no later than Feb. 25."

1235 GMT: Bahrain. Said Yousif AlMuhafdha, Vice-President of the Bahrain Center for Human RIghts, was in court for the first time after his detention on 17 December.

Yousif faces charges of tweeting false information. The hearing was adjourned until 17 January.

The activis was observing a protest in Manama and tweeting about police violations when he was seized.

1215 GMT: Iraq. The autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government has agreed to reopen a crossing along the Syrian border, closed after the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria was accused of imposing taxes and bribes on food supplies.

KRG officials said the agreement to reopen the Fishkhapur crossing was signed with the Syrian Kurdish National Council and the PYD,

PYD co-leader Salih Muslim dismissed claims that his party had been profiting from the route: “Paying a dollar or two per person should not be called a payoff. It is the source of income for the guards who protect the borders."

Saturday’s agreement stipulates that the crossing is to be controlled by a Kurdish committee on the Syrian side, rather than by armed PYD guards.

0855 GMT: Kuwait. Parliament has approved the controversial decree of the Emir changing the electoral laws.

The decree, issued before the Parliamentary elections of 1 December, has sparked widespread protests.

Opposition lawmakers boycotted the session.

0830 GMT: Egypt. Ahram Online reports that the currency crisis is hindering supplies of oil.State-owned Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation has only purchased 3 million barrels of crude oil for the first quarter of this year.

The amount was half of what it spught in a tender, which in itself was insufficient to supply Egypt's refineries, traders said.

"Of course it's not enough, they need more --- but no money," a trader said.

Egypt has not bought any crude for January and its December deliveries are arriving late. J.P. Morgan sold 2 million barrels to EGPC via its fourth quarter tender but the company has yet to complete the delivery, a trader said: "J.P. Morgan's vessel has been waiting for more than two weeks. No letter of credit."

0820 GMT: Palestine. With the Palestinian Authority unable to pay the salaries of public sector workers because of a fiscal crisis, Maan News Agency reports on the "despair" of teachers:

Teacher Issam Nasar told Ma'an he is worried about the health of his children, as a partial payment for November fell far short of their needs.

"In fact, I am embarrassed amongst my children, who keep asking me for things which I can’t buy for them. My younger son was sick last week and I couldn't take him to the doctor, I treated him just with herbs," he said.

"I borrowed money from all friends and relatives till my debts reached 7,000 shekels so far.

"I don’t have a social life, I don’t leave my house, I only go to school and come back to bed to think how I am going to provide my family with food."

0800 GMT: Iraq. The Iraqi border with Jordan is closed today because of continuing protests against the Baghdad Government that have blocked a main highway.

"We received orders from the defence ministry to close the border because of demonstrations that continue to block the motorway," a military official said.

Iraqi authorities informed Jordanian counterparts that they closed the Trebil border post from Wednesday at 6 a.m. (0300 GMT) for "their own private reasons". They did not say when the border would reopen.

Thousands of mostly-Sunni demonstrators in Anbar Province in western Iraq have blocked the highway, which also leads to Syria, claiming Government discrimination and repression. 

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