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Entries in Iraq (145)


Middle East Today: Turkey --- 1st Kurdish PKK Fighters Move to Iraq

Turkey: 1st Kurdish Fighters Move to Iraq

In the first withdrawal of fighters of the Kurdish insurgency PKK from Turkey under an ongoing peace process, 13 men and women have arrived in Iraq.

The group was carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles, light machineguns, and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

PKK fighters began leaving positions in southeast Turkey on 8 May after a cease-fire declared by their imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is in talks with the Turkish Government.

About 2000 PKK fighters are based in Turkey and will join several thousand comrades in bases in northern Iraq in a process expected to take several months.


Middle East Today: Iraq --- Results from Provincial Elections Inconclusive

See also Bahrain Special: How British Government Helped Regime Denounce Press Freedom...on World Press Freedom Day

Syria Today: Israel Airstrikes "Hit Military Research Centre"
Saturday's Middle East Today: Libya --- Tensions Continue Over Post-Qaddafi Laws

Bahrain: Protestors Sentenced

A court has sentenced 31 protesters to 15 years in prison each for alleged roles in firebomb attacks against security forces during a demonstration last year, according to defence layer Mohamed al-Tajir.

The defendants, aged 16 to 34, all come from Sitra Island, a centre of protests since the rising began in February 2011.

Click to read more ...


Middle East Today: Iraq --- Highest Monthly Death Toll in 5 Years

Car Bomb in Baghdad, 16 April (AFP)Iraq: Highest Death Toll in Five Years

Amid rising protests and instability, the United Nations mission in Iraq says 712 people were killed in April, the highest death toll since June 2008.

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq said 211 people were killed and 486 injured in and near Baghdad alone. Diyala, Salahuddin, Kirkuk, Ninewa, and Anbar Provinces also saw spikes in deaths.

Almost 600 of the dead were civilians.

Iraq's Ministry of Interior said 245 people were slain.

The figures were released as Britain's Royal Institute of International Affairs published a pessimistic report about the state of Iraq, 10 years after the US-led invasion:

Iraq has undergone a transition from a purely authoritarian system to one with an elected government. However, the levers of power used by the previous regime - organized violence, oil-funded state patronage and the use of communal differences for 'divide and rule' strategies - remain crucial factors in the country's politics.

The report sets out three scenarios for the country:

Syria's conflict becomes the main driver of political trends in Iraq as Iraqi factions take increasingly polarized positions on Syria and pursue diametrically opposed policies in supporting the warring sides with money and fighters.

Iraq becomes more resilient, resisting efforts by Al-Qaeda and others to exacerbate sectarian tensions, and hedging its bets on Syria.

Iraqis remain fractious and disunited, avoiding state collapse but continuing to be heavily influenced by the agendas of competing regional powers.


Middle East Today: Palestine --- Assassination of "Bomb-Maker", Killing of Jewish Settler 

Iraqi troops inspect scene of car bomb in Baghdad (Ahemed al-Rubaye/AFP)

See also Syria Today: "US Moving Towards Supply of Weapons to Insurgents"

Bahrain: MPs Denounce US

Denouncing a US State Department report on the Kingdom's human rights record, Bahraini MPS have accused Washington of trying to "destroy" and "colonise" country.

The legislators said the report is based on "lies" and "false" information.

The report, released two weeks ago, criticised "citizens' inability to change their government peacefully", the arrest and detention of protesters on "vague" charges, and the torture of prisoners.

Latifa Al Gaoud, the head of the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee, said, "Countries that produce evil reports have intentions to blackmail our leadership for their own interests, disregarding their bloody history that gave them the power they are using against us now.

Hassan Al Dossary, the chair of the Public Utilities and Environment Affairs Committee declared, "The US policy, represented by US Ambassador Thomas Krajeski, clearly shows what is in store for the future of this country and we are clearly saying he is unwelcome in Bahrain."

MP Sameer Kadhim made a racist slur against President Obama, accusing him of trying to colonise Bahrain through the enforcement of ideologies.

Kadhim's comments were taken off Parliament's record after several MPs protested the racism.

Click to read more ...


Middle East Today: Iraq's Escalation in Violence

Turkey: Erdogan Hails Withdrawal

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has hailed the planned withdrawal of fighters of the insurgent Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) from Turkey as the end of a "dark era" but warned against potential sabotage of the peace process.

The PKK withdrawal is due to begin on 8 May.

"The door is closing on a dark era. Turkey is changing its ill fortune and is entering a new phase," Erdoğan told a business group in comments broadcast live by State television. He added:

No one should try to pull this process in a different direction. We remain vigilant against sabotage, against provocations, but today we are much more hopeful, determined and optimistic.

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Iraq Audio Analysis: The Political Story Behind This Week's Deaths --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24

I spoke with Monocle 24's The Daily last night about Tuesday's fighting --- following a raid by security forces on a protest camp --- which killed at least 27 people in Hawija, near Kirkuk in northern Iraq.

Listen from the 7:42 mark on The Daily homepage or in a pop-out window

The discussion began with the provocative questions, "How deep does the sectarian schism run? Is this a return to civil war?"

To deal with this, I focused on the context for the event to look at what is likely to follow: the months of escalating, mainly-Sunni demonstrations against the al-Maliki Government; the sparks for the protests last December; and the issues that persist.

My take-away line from Monocle 24's final question, "What can we do about tbis?"....

"Nothing. The change will have to come from Iraqis themselves."


Iraq (and Beyond) Live: Scores Killed in Protest Camp and in Attacks Outside Mosques

1841 GMT: Iraq

At least eight people were killed and 23 more wounded when a car bomb exploded in eastern Baghdad, police and medical sources said.

1256 GMT: Bahrain

The visit of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment has been put off until further notice at the request of the regime.

Juan Mendez was due in the Kingdom from 8-15 May.

This is the second time that my visit has been postponed, at very short notice. It is effectively a cancellation as no alternative dates were proposed nor is there a future road map to discuss.

Let me be clear this was a unilateral decision by the authorities. Unfortunately, it is not the first time the government has tried to avoid responsibility for the postponement of my visit, which was originally supposed to take place over a year ago.

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Bahrain (and Beyond) Live: The Protests, the Opposition, and the Grand Prix

See also Yemen 1st-Hand: When the US Drones Attacked My Village
Syria Live: International Support for the Insurgency?
Saturday's Iraq (and Beyond) Live: Provincial Elections Amid Spike in Violence

1540 GMT: Egypt

Minister of Justice Ahmed Mekki has offered his resignation, a day after President Morsi had stated there would be a government reshuffle and two days after thousands of Islamist demonstrators calling for the "purging of the judiciary"

According to judicial sources, Mekki complained about the demonstrations in his resignation statement. He also condemned attempts, led by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party to amend the judicial authority law to decrease the retirement age of judges without taking their view on the issue.

The amendment would mean the forced retirement of more than 3,000 judges.

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Iraq (and Beyond) Live: Provincial Elections Amid Spike in Violence

See also Syria Live: "Terrorists Eliminated by Army Operations"
Friday's Iraq (and Beyond) Live: Dozens Killed in Suicide Bombing in Baghdad Cafe

1712 GMT: Egypt

In a statement pointing to the seriousness of the financial crisis, Central Bank head Hesham Ramez has said that each day that goes by without international support adds more risk.

Ramez pointedly noted that a promised $3 billion investment from Qatar to buy bonds, promised earlier this month, has not arrived.

Egypt failed this week to complete a deal with the International Monetary Fund for a $4.8 billion loan.

The Central Bank head called on political groups to meet for dialogue, and said all attention should be placed on the economy so it can provide employment opportunities and confront poverty.

Click to read more ...


EA Video Analysis: Introducing "The Love Triangle of Profileration" --- Iran, Syria, North Korea

Ten years ago, it was the Axis of Evil --- Iraq, Iran, and North Korea.

Today, it is the "Nexus of Proliferation", with Iran and North Korea still featured and Syria replacing the fallen Saddam Hussein.

This 8-minute analysis explains how members of Congress and an "expert" --- step up, Dr David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security, the man who has declared dangers of the Iranian nuclear programme such as "Magnets of Doom" and "Pink Tarpaulins" --- has given us this new label for the Threat to America.