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  1. Be great to hear there going televise to this event live .... the've kicked the date down the road about three time i think now, so room for more delays - going by there form!
  2. Middle East Rockets land near US embassy, base housing coalition troops in Baghdad Kurdistan 24 | 4 hours ago The site of an earlier attack on a facility housing US forces. (Photo: Archive) Iraq Baghdad US Iran PMF ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – In yet another attack on facilities in Iraq housing American personnel, a number of rockets landed early Sunday near the US embassy and an Iraqi military base where members of the US-led anti-Islamic State coalition are stationed. “The Coalition confirms small rockets impacted the Iraqi base hosting @CJTFOIR troops in the International Zone, February 16 at 3:24 a.m. (Iraq Time),” Coalition Spokesman Col. Myles B. Caggins III said in a social media post, using the term the US military uses to refer to the fortified Green Zone. He also reported that no casualties had been sustained and that an investigation into the incident was ongoing. Witnesses reported to Kurdistan 24 that they had seen multiple aircraft flying above the city afterward, as is common with such security incidents. A statement from the Iraqi military communications center, known as the Security Media Cell, said that, out of four Katyusha rockets that had been fired, three had landed inside the Green Zone. The fourth one, the statement explained, had fallen near a facility belonging to Iranian-backed militias of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) on Palestine Street in the northern part of the capital, severely damaging a vehicle. The statement affirmed that there had been no human casualties. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, as is usually the case after such incidents. However, Washington has, on multiple occasions, accused PMF militias of being behind them. The strike comes just three days after a previous one hit another Iraqi base hosting US forces located outside the disputed city of Kirkuk. ***-for-tat escalations soon resulted in PMF members and supporters storming the US embassy in the Baghdad, torching parts of it. Washington responded to this move by assassinating a top Iranian general, Qasim Soleimani, as well as a senior Iraqi PMF commander. This culminated in the Jan. 8 Iranian missile strike on the Ayn al-Asad airbase that resulted in over 100 American servicemen suffering traumatic brain injuries. US President Donald Trump has repeatedly minimized the impact of the injuries without an explanation satisfactory to multiple US veteran groups. Since then, there have been other attacks on bases hosting US forces as well as others on or near the US embassy in Baghdad. On Saturday, a powerful Tehran-backed militia group, the Harakat Hizbollah al-Nujaba, circulated a montaged video that showed edited photos of coffins covered with US flags and placed on the road next to the Baghdad airport where the two top generals were killed. Editing by John J. Catherine
  3. Middle East Protester killed with silenced gun in Baghdad: report Kurdistan 24 | 13 hours ago Official data from January 2020 noted that unidentified gunmen have assassinated up to 30 activists, most of whom participated in the anti-government protests that erupted late last year to call for the ouster of Iraq’s ruling elite. (Photo: Archive) Iraq Baghdad ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Unknown assailants attacked a tent at an anti-government protest camp in Baghdad, killing one demonstrator with a silenced pistol, security and medical sources said on Friday. AFP reported that the incident occurred in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square on Friday evening. A medical source confirmed the death to the agency, saying it had been carried out using a silenced pistol. The report cited a witness at the site as having said he had seen many people enter the dead demonstrator’s tent before dragging a body out and taking it to a nearby hospital. It was unclear why the person was targeted. According to a security source, on Friday and Saturday, three activists were kidnapped in separate areas of Baghdad. Official data from last month noted that unidentified gunmen have assassinated up to 30 activists, most of whom participated in the anti-government protests that erupted late last year to call for the ouster of Iraq’s ruling elite. Since they began in early October, Iraqi security forces and Iranian-backed Shia militias have killed over 600 protesters in different parts of the country, according to official statistics. The vast majority of the dead are young protesters who have been disillusioned by a ruling class they see as unashamedly corrupt and dismissive of the everyday concerns of the public. The movement has maintained momentum, although it has slightly diminished. In recent days, women spearheaded one such protest, marching by the hundreds in the capital to call for, among others, equality and end to corruption Demonstrators also continue to stay at their tents in sit-in areas of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, as unidentified gunmen continue to wage a violent crackdown. Recently, followers and militias of the influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have joined attacking demonstration camps. Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
  4. Iraq Pulse Iraqi protests blush pink as feminists flood streets Lujain Elbaldawi February 14, 2020 As hardline clerics rail against women attending the nationwide protests in Iraq, feminists held rallies in Baghdad, Nasiriyah and other cities in support of women's participation as well as the ongoing protest movement. Iraqi women take to the streets dressed in pink and purple in defiance of claims that their participation in protests is immoral in Baghdad, Iraq, seen in a still from a video taken Feb. 13, 2020. BAGHDAD — Feminists in pink and purple marched on Feb. 13 in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, Nasiriyah and other cities in the south. Women have had a central role in the protest movement since it started last October, participating in the protests alongside men and supported the movement by preparing food and providing first aid. Now they and their supporters have marched to challenge the distortions being circulated about their cause as part of the rising feminist movement in Iraq and the region in general. The feminist march faced accusations from opposers who consider the participation of women in protests to be immoral and unethical. Pro-Iran Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, for example, has criticized women’s presence at protests and called for separation of the genders. In an 18-point statement providing instructions for protests, Sadr said, “Protesters must respect the rules of Sharia and the social context of the country as much as possible. The two genders must not mix in protest tents.” Protesters responded on social media with messages of support for women’s political action. Many people crossdressed to express equality between men and women and calls for a specifically feminist march rose. Women's rights activist and former diplomat Ahlam al-Kilani told Al-Monitor that women have played an important role in the protest movement since it started, standing against oppression and terrorism and making great sacrifices. Some have even lost their lives in the protests. Kilani believes that the presence of women at the protests reflects social changes in Iraq and protesters' ambition to include all segments of society, to fulfill their national duty without falling victim to sectarianism and social inequality. In response to the feminist pushback, Sadr intensified his discourse against women’s participation in marches, describing it as immoral and sinful. “Today, there is a rise in voices demanding liberation, nudity, mixing genders, drunkenness and debauchery. This is blasphemous and an attack on God and the pillars of Sharia. … It is an attack on prophets and holy messengers.” Sadr’s Blue Hats were allegedly instructed to spread rumors on social media about illicit and blasphemous practices like drinking alcohol in the Turkish restaurant near Tahrir Square, a business they later occupied. Sadr warned against what he called the “immoral perverse terrorists of urbanization and liberation.” He called on the people to avoid “getting carried away with their animalistic instincts” and threatened, “We will not sit idle while others insult our religion and country. We will not allow them to erase us just like we won’t allow the occupier to stifle Iraq.” Sadr added, “They do not want Kandahar; they want Chicago. Today, we cannot allow Iraq to become Kandahar, a realm for religious extremism, and we cannot allow Iraq to become a place like Chicago, where immorality, sexual perversion, homosexuality and debauchery are pervasive.” Secretary of the Iraqi Hope Association Hana Edward stated in an interview with Al-Monitor that the feminist protest has spread to religious cities such as Najaf and Karbala. Sadr called his followers to participate in his own feminist march on Feb 14 in an attempt to distract the public from the ongoing protests, which he tried to take advantage of and claim as his own. After failing to do so, he has opposed the movement. In January, Sadr organized a massive march against what he called “the American occupation” to sideline the protests while his Blue Hats attacked the protesters. Around 10 protesters were killed in Najaf, allegedly by the Blue Hats. The Sadiqoun bloc of militant grouop Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq issued a statement in line with Sadr’s position expressing disapproval of what it called the debauchery and moral looseness observed in feminist marches. It blamed the United States for “encouraging perverse behavior that is not in line with the values of our society. Such perverse behavior includes drinking, using drugs and the intermingling of men and women. This does not respect Sharia, morality or community.” Kilani said, “The accusations against women in protests are unfair. The purpose is to cripple their role in the process of collective determination and national and social debates.” "The wide participation of young women in the feminist march on Feb. 13 was a thundering blow to the discrediting of women's participation in the revolution, especially Muqtada al-Sadr's position," said Edward, adding, "The women in the protest, like their brothers, faced beatings, kidnappings, assassinations and threats of all kinds." Feminist activist Oum Khaled believes that women have attended the protests “to assert women’s role in society and prove their role in the Iraqi social fabric, which has isolated them. Women are rejecting this isolation through peaceful protest and civil action.” Found in: Women’s rights Read more: https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/02/iraq-protests-feminism-women.html#ixzz6E14eSifk
  5. Kurdistan Heavy snowfall in Kurdistan Region blocks border crossing, main roads Hiwa Shilani | February 13-2020 10:53 PM Snow covers the Kurdistan Region's border town of Haji Omaran, Feb. 13, 2020. (Photo: Kurdistan 24) Kurdistan Snowfall ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The main road at the Fishkhabour international border crossing in the province of Duhok has been blocked due to unusually heavy snowfall that has covered most cities in the Kurdistan Region, as well as several others southward in Iraq where snow is rarely seen. Local sources reported that transportation has been closed due to snow accumulation, stopping travelers and transport of goods between the Kurdistan Region and Syria. The Fishkhabour border crossing is located on the Tigris River in Zakho district, 85 km west of Duhok city. It was established in 1991 and remains a key gateway connecting the Kurdistan Region to Syria, though the volume of goods passing through is limited. For the past week, the Kurdistan Region has experienced heavy bouts of snowfall and storms blocking the movements of cars between the cities, most of the districts in Duhok, Sulaimani and Erbil announced a two day holiday as snow paralyzed routine life of students and employees. Residents of multiple Iraqi cities as well, including the capital of Baghdad, have seen snow in their hometowns for the first time in over a decade. In the Kurdistan Region, heavy snowfall has blocked the roads connecting main cities with several outlying districts, with local authorities from several areas advising the public to avoid driving on certain roads until they are cleared. Two structures designed for displaying vehicles in Erbil's Soran district after collapsing as a result of heavy snow , Feb. 13, 2020. (Photo: Kurdistan 24) Officials in Erbil province’s Soran district instructed citizens on Thursday not to drive on the Erbil-Soran and Soran-Haji Omaran main roads until the municipal workers have cleared them. Mountains areas within the Kurdistan Region receive snow yearly during the winter months that can last until summertime before melting away. This year’s winter snowfall in January reached city centers, blocking main roads, and increasing traffic accidents across the autonomous federal region.. Editing by John J. Catherine
  6. Iraq Pulse Iraqi protests swell despite clash with Sadrist supporters Gilgamesh Nabeel February 3, 2020 Article Summary When their tents were burned, Iraqi protesters replaced them with concrete structures. And when influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr withdrew his support, even more protesters turned out despite fears of a crackdown by security forces. After withdrawing his support for the protests, controversial populist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ordered his followers back to Tahrir Square Feb. 1, where his supporters clashed with demonstrators and forcibly took over the main part of Tahrir Square as well as the Turkish Restaurant that has been under control of the protesters. The nomination of Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi as the new Iraqi prime minister was simultaneously received negatively by the protesters, who see his appointment as a plot by Sadr and his Iran-backed allies in the government to end the protests in Baghdad. Allawi is a candidate of Sadr's Sairoon Alliance and Hadi al-Amiri's Fatah Alliance. The parliament needs to hold a session to vote on the new prime minister. The Sadrist group is now cooperating with the security forces to end the sit-in at Tahrir Square. The breakup between Sadr and the protesters began Jan. 26, when Sadr ordered his followers to leave the protests. Sadrists were packing their belongings in accordance with their leader's command and preparing to leave. However, thousands of Iraqis — especially students — facing live gunfire and defying the powerful cleric’s call to stay home flocked to the capital and to the streets of other cities. While Sadr’s devoted followers packed up their tents in Tahrir Square — Baghdad’s main protest point — protesters denied rumors that the four-month-long anti-government uprising would immediately collapse without his backing. “After his decision to withdraw from the protests, Sadr’s popularity seems to be partially declining,” Karrar Ahmed, a protester from Najaf, told Al-Monitor. Ahmed added, “Protesters in the squares rejected him, crossing all red lines. Before, it was impossible to hear chants against him.” He said protesters who left were soon replaced by others. “Their withdrawal did not affect us. The momentum has actually increased. We installed new tents after the Sadrists removed theirs,” said Ahmed. Late Jan. 24, Sadr said he would stand neutral amid ongoing anti-government protests. In his statement, Sadr expressed regret for those among the demonstrators who questioned him in Baghdad and other provinces. He tweeted, “I was their supporter … and I thought of them as supporters for me and Iraq. However, from now on I will try not to interfere with them, negatively or positively, until they take into account the fate of Iraq and its imminent danger.” In Baghdad, journalist and protester Saher al-Barbouti sees positive results of the Sadrists' withdrawal. "[In December], independent protesters began to gradually withdraw from the square because Sadr's followers tried to control the protests … tried to silence other voices and impose their opinion. The recent withdrawal led independent people to return back strongly,” he said. However, observers say the withdrawal resulted in a rapid crackdown as riot police raided the sit-ins in Baghdad and set tents on fire in southern cities Jan. 25, killing at least 10. “Sadr's decision to pull his support had an immediate effect on the peaceful protests,” said Minatullah al-Obaidi, a graduate of The American University of Iraq in Sulaimaniyah with a master's degree in contemporary Arab studies from Georgetown University's Walsh School of Foreign Service. “Soon after, there were news reports of tents being set on fire in Basra and Nasiriyah.” Determined protesters began replacing burned tents with concrete accommodations in Nasiriyah, said Obaidi. “The protesters persist despite Sadr's withdrawal,” she told Al-Monitor. “Some say the Sadrists are no longer a homogenous group and are mostly influenced by the polarization of Iraq's Shia society,” Obaidi said. Others see this as a new hope for the protests, whose momentum initially declined after a US drone strike killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani Jan. 3 at Baghdad's airport. “All those who reject the Sadrist movement and Islamic parties feel satisfied now, as the sit-ins are now purely Iraqi with no foreign loyalties,” said Salam Abdul-Hussein, a petroleum engineer from Diwaniyah. He added, “We reject the Iranian hegemony and call on the international community to protect us from the militias' oppression. All Iraqis, especially the younger generation, have become aware of Iran and Sadr's mutual goals to end these protests by any means.” Sadr's decision came a day after tens of thousands of his supporters crowded Baghdad's Jadriya neighborhood Jan. 24, calling for the expulsion of US forces from Iraq. The march lasted a few hours and came in response to the killing of Soleimani and Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. “Sadr frequently tested his supporters, asking them to go out protesting against the government and corruption — though he led the largest bloc in parliament. People are tired of this,” said Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, a Washington-based Iraqi-American analyst and graduate of Georgetown University's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. He added, “He will lose a fair minority of his base supporters. He also called for the removal of US forces from Iraq, though we all know that all the bases are Iraqi.” Ali Bashar, a political science instructor at Bayan University in Erbil, thinks Sadr’s withdrawal from the protests might be temporary. “He might change his mind and call his followers to rejoin the protests at any moment,” Bashar told Al-Monitor, adding, “He moves from the far right to the far left suddenly. There is no method to predict his decisions.” Sadr’s supporters reportedly helped protect protesters from attacks by security forces, and their withdrawal left many concerned about the fate of the protests. “His followers, namely the Peace Brigades, were protecting Tahrir Square's entrances and exits,” said Barbouti, who began attending the protests Oct. 1. He added, “Their withdrawal left the square vulnerable and the militias began raiding us daily, in addition to the riot forces' attacks. However, our courageous young men helped repel the attacks.” Obaidi is suspicious of Sadr’s motivation. “If he was really [trying to protect protesters], then he certainly wasn't doing a great job at that. Over 600 people have been killed so far, and the numbers keep going up,” she said. Ahmed agrees with Obaidi. “Everyone says he was protecting us. He was protecting his interests and popularity," as he has done before. Ahmed added, "He wanted to be the [protest] leader in spite of our rejection. Then he ordered his followers to withdraw." Ahmed also accused Sadrists of threatening some protesters. He said, “There were countless threats against anyone who might utter a word against [Sadr]. Once, I chanted against him in a march until a Sadrist quarreled with me and silenced me." Obaidi also thinks some Sadrists no longer support him. “Many of them joined the protests early on and have been influenced by the nationalist sentiment and progressive ideas of liberal protesters,” she said. “Sadr also uses double standards to [appear] neutral, yet his actions prove he sides with Iran — labeling influencers, like comedian [Ahmed] Albasheer, jokers" and saying they support the US agenda, Obaidi stated. Bashar fears that some corrupt factions of the government might draw protesters into violent clashes with security forces. “If the corrupt groups see the protests as a major threat to their interests, they might do their best to turn them violent. The government is embarrassed because of the protesters' peacefulness. Three parties prevent the use of brutality against the [protesters]: the Shiite religious authorities in Najaf, tribes and Sadr,” he said. Abdul-Hussein seems determined to continue the protests for long-term gains. He said, "A strong escalation is coming, accompanied by repression by government authorities and militias. We will fulfill many of our demands that will change the reality of Iraqi citizens for the better.”
  7. Middle East Sadr militia, supporters kill 8 Iraqi protesters and wound dozens in Najaf: reports Kurdistan 24 | 5 hours ago Iraqi demonstrators sit on the street near burning tires blocking a road during ongoing anti-government protests in Najaf, Iraq, Feb. 5, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Alaa al-Marjani) Iraq Baghdad Najaf Iraq Protests ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Followers and militiamen of the Sadrist Movement led by firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr allegedly killed at least eight protesters and wounded dozens more as they stormed areas where demonstrations took place in the Iraqi city of Najaf late Wednesday. Members of the “blue hats” supporters of Sadr and his militia group Saraya al-Salam raided a protest camp in Najaf, burning tents and shooting demonstrators to disperse them as a confrontation grew more violent. Reuters cited medical and security sources in a report saying at least eight people had been killed while 20 others had been wounded. Local al-Dijla TV cited sources that said close to 140 protesters had been wounded, including six members of the security forces who were attempting to break up the two sides. Dijla TV also wrote that similar clashes occurred in other parts of Iraq, including Baghdad, Diwaniya, Karbala, and Dhi Qar, among others, with Sadr supporters cracking down to quell the demonstrations. One protester had been killed in the capital’s Wathba Square. This marks one of the deadliest nights of a crackdown against anti-government protesters since they took to the streets in October, during which members of the Iraqi security have killed at least 550 demonstrators and wounded tens of thousands more, according to official data by the parliamentary human rights commission. Protesters demand a better standard of living and an end to institutional corruption. Iranian-backed militias have been accused of carrying out part of the violence, targeting demonstrators and activists with sniper rifles and carrying out targeted assassinations. As demonstrations kicked off in October 2019, Sadr announced his support for them. But, in recent days, he has switched positions multiple times, leading to many questioning his initial motive for backing the protests. Last week, Iraqi President Barham Salih officially designated Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi to form a cabinet to await a vote of confidence by the national legislature. This is after outgoing Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi resigned in early December after days of violence that have been the bloodiest since protests began. Sadr expressed his support for Allawi and decided to turn on demonstrators, calling on his supporters to withdraw from protests and, instead, attack those still voicing their opposition to Allawi, whom they consider to be part of a ruling elite that would continue to ignore the public’s demand. Amid the developing violence in Najaf, Allawi called on the security forces to protect protesters. Editing by Karzan Sulaivanya
  8. Kurdistan Duhok to establish first solar energy park for clean energy Wladimir van Wilgenburg | 4 hours ago Smoke billows from a public generator in a residential neighborhood of Duhok. (Photo: Kurdistan 24) Kurdistan Region KRG Duhok UNDP United Nations ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Region’s Duhok governorate has made a significant step toward becoming a low-carbon province after news it will soon have its first solar energy park, setting an example of sustainable renewable energy for the rest of the autonomous Kurdish region and Iraq, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said in a statement on Tuesday. The UNDP and the Duhok governorate signed a letter of agreement “to establish a pilot solar park that will provide a minimum of two megawatts of electricity within two years,” the UN statement read. Other donors to the program included the European Union, which provided USD 2 million worth of funding for the project, the statement added. Duhok Governor Farhad Atrushi expressed the governorate’s strong “commitment to take climate action, deliver affordable, clean energy to the citizens” as well as address electricity deficiencies. “Under the Duhok Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP), we pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030,” Atrushi was quoted as saying in the UN statement. “Establishing the first solar park in Duhok will contribute to achieving this goal and meet the needs of the market.” According to the UNDP, Duhok experiences severe shortfalls regarding electricity and has over 1,000 electricity generators that cause lasting air and noise pollution. Electric power supply often lacks in meeting growing demands, especially in the summer months, when consumers operate high power utilities amid low prices. As demand rises, the number of private, local generators has grown rapidly as they are seen as the favored solution to power shortages, rather than exploring more modern and eco-friendly substitutes that are available but with a higher initial cost. Last year, officials in Duhok warned that electric generators, industrial facilities, and the increasing number of vehicles pose a serious threat to both the environment and residents’ health. There is now hope that the solar park will help reduce air pollution and create green energy. Duhok expects the solar parks “to provide up to 40 megawatts of clean electricity by 2030,” the UNDP said. EU Ambassador to Iraq Martin Huth praised the project and highlighted the improved access to green energy for people in Duhok. “In Europe, we are strongly determined to tackle climate change and succeed in our recently launched green deal, becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050,” Ambassador Huth was quoted as saying in the UN statement. “I am delighted that we are able to support [the Kurdistan Region] in its own sustainable energy deal.” The UNDP’s Resident Representative in Iraq, Zena Ali Ahmad, said the organization is “encouraged” by the Duhok’s “commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and providing green energy to its citizens.” “Establishing a solar park will stimulate the economy through private sector investments, create more jobs in green economy, and above all reduce pollution,” she stated. “The project will represent the first introduction of solar energy supply on such a scale in Iraq.” Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
  9. Middle East Iraq's Sadr welcomes PM-designate, calls on supporters to cool protests Kosar Nawzad | 15 hours ago Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr speaks during a sit-in at the gates of Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, March 27, 2016. (Photo: Reuters) Iraq Baghdad ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) ­– After welcoming the designation of a successor to outgoing Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi as a candidate of “the people,” influential Iraqi politician and cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on his supporters to aid security forces in efforts to cool anti-government protests. Iraqi President Barham Salih commissioned former communication minister Muhammad Tawfiq Allawi to form the new government close to two months after Abdul Mahdi turned in his resignation amid a security forces-led deadly crackdown of widespread anti-government demonstrations. “It will be recorded in the history of Iraq that it is the people who chose their prime minister, not [parliamentary] blocs,” Sadr said in a statement on Saturday, adding that “this is a good step.” Protesters were quick to take to the streets and reject Allawi’s nomination, whom they perceive to be part of the country’s wealthy and corrupt ruling elite unperturbed by the woes of an electorate living in harsh economic conditions. Violence, though its severity has fluctuated, has plagued the anti-government protests since they began. The brutal treatment of the mostly peaceful protesters by riot police, elite military units, and Iranian-backed militias in the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) have led to the deaths of over 600 demonstrators and the wounding of over 20,000 others, according to unofficial estimates. Protesters have also condemned foreign interference in Iraqi affairs. Since crowds first took to the streets, young Iraqis, both male and female, have played a dominant role in the protests, with many boycotting secondary school or university classes to join the tens of thousands gathering to demand change for a better future. Sadr has been an unpredictable character, and as demonstrations continued, he switched his position in his support for the movement multiple times, with some protesters considering him a cynical politician who attempted to steer the crowds to his benefit. Sadr's latest move has enraged protesters who are calling for, among others, an end to institutional corruption. (Photo: Ali Dab Dab) Now, with Allawi working to take the mantle of leading the government, Sadr seems to have changed his position again. He called on his so-called Blue Hats – a group of mostly unarmed militant supporters active in different cities in the south – to support efforts to restore order by force and deter further protests. “I find it necessary that the Blue Hats coordinate with the heroic national security forces, provincial education directorates, and tribes to form committees to bring back official working hours in government schools and others,” Sadr said in a statement on Sunday. He continued: “They must open the closed roads, so that everyone can enjoy their daily life, and restore the good reputation of the revolution.” Sadr himself has threatened escalation on multiple occasions amid political gridlocks with his political opponents. “I advise the security forces to prevent everyone from cutting off roads, and the ministry of education should punish those who obstruct regular working hours, be they students, teachers, or others.” eReports have so far indicated that Blue Hats members had attacked a gathering location for demonstrators in the capital armed with batons. Protesters also posted pictures on social media appearing to show armed militia fighters allied with Sadr, Saraya al-Salam or the Peace Brigades, allegedly attempting to disperse protesters in different cities in the south. Allawi has one month to form his cabinet, at which point the national parliament would hold a vote to approve him and his picks to lead a new government. He would act as interim prime minister and plan early legislative elections, a popular demand of the protesters, among others. Allawi would also be burdened with balancing Iraq’s ties with divided interests, internally and internationally. “We hope from Brother Muhammad Allawi that he will not give in to external and internal pressures, announce his program, and speed up the start of the early elections,” Sadr continued. “If he wants support to strengthen him independently, then I and the people are ready for that.” Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
  10. Iraq president appoints Mohammed Allawi as new prime minister Former communications minister named as Iraq prime minister, amid continuing protests. Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi would run the country until early elections can be held. He must form a new government within a month [File: Erin Trieb/Getty Images] Iraqi President Barham Salih has appointed Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi as the country's new prime minister, ending more than two months of political deadlock. Saturday's announcement comes as Iraqis continue anti-government protests for a fourth consecutive month, and two months after former Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi resigned under pressure from the streets. Allawi must form a new government within a month and would run the country until new elections could be held. President Salih had told Iraq's divided parliament that he would name his own candidate unless it nominated someone by February 1. In a video posted on Twitter on Saturday, 65-year-old Allawi said Salih had named him and that he would form a new government in line with protesters' demands. "I decided the first to do was to speak to you [Iraqi people] directly, before I address anyone else because my authority comes from you," he said. "This is your country, this is your right ... all we have to do is execute your demands. We have to protect you instead of repressing you," he added. In his address, Allawi also pledged to restore the country's battered economy and fight corruption. Allawi's selection was the product of months of private talks between rival parties. Three Iraqi officials told The Associated Press news agency Allawi's selection had been agreed by rival Iraqi factions earlier on Saturday. 'Continue with the protests' In the pre-recorded video, Allawi called on protesters to continue with their uprising against corruption and said he would quit if the blocs insisted on imposing names of ministers in his government. "If it wasn't for your sacrifices and courage there wouldn't have been any change in the country," he said addressing anti-government protesters. "I have faith in you and ask you to continue with the protests." Allawi was born in Baghdad and served as communications minister first in 2006 and again between 2010-2012. He resigned from the post the second time after a dispute with former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Parliament is expected to put his candidacy to a vote in its next session, at which point he would have 30 days to formulate a government programme and select a cabinet of ministers. Al Jazeera's Imran Khan, reporting from Baghdad, said there is a long way to go before Allawi is approved on the streets by the protesters. "He needs to win over the parliament," Khan said. "It's likely that ... they [parties] couldn't agree on anybody else so they've had to circle back to Mohammed Tawfik Allawi and say … we're going to have to take this seriously and talk about this," he said. Demonstrators in Iraq have been calling for new faces and new names to lead the country. Allawi's nomination has divided protestors, with some rallying in support, and others rejecting him as prime minister. "Mohammed Allawi, rejected!" some protestors chanted from Baghdad's Tahrir Square, the epicentre of protests. Yousef Abd, a 25-year-old protestor, said there is "no doubt we reject Allawi in the position of prime minister". "If the government insists on forcing him on us we will definitely escalate things," he told Al Jazeera from Tahrir Square. Test of 'independence' Sajad Jiyad, managing director of Bayan Centre, a think tank, told Al Jazeera there has been an agreement between the largest parties in Parliament to nominate Allawi. "Now that has happened we can expect a lot of negotiation around cabinet formation and this will be a test to see how much independence Allawi has and how much support for his nominees to the cabinet he can get from the parties in Parliament," he said. Jiyad added that protestors who have rejected Allawi's nomination believe he will be "beholden to the same political system they accuse of corruption and are protesting against". Political analyst Sarmad al-Bayati, said it is still too early to see what affect the appointment of Allawi will have on the Iraqi scene. "Allawi was not a new name to be suggested as a candidate … But I don't think he represents the aspirations of the Iraqi people," al-Bayati told Al Jazeera. "He will probably face the same limitations that Adel Abdul Mahdi experienced," he noted. According to the constitution, a replacement for Abdul Mahdi should have been identified fifteen days after his resignation in early December. Instead, it has taken rival blocs nearly two months of jockeying to select Allawi as their consensus candidate. Abdul Mahdi's rise to power was the product of a provisional alliance between parliament's two main blocs - Sairoon, led by Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr, and Fatah, which includes leaders associated with the paramilitary Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF, or Hasdh al-Shaabi) headed by Hadi al-Amiri. Additional reporting by Linah Alsaafin from Baghdad. SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies
  11. Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi (Arabic: محمد توفيق علاوي‎) is an Iraqi politician who is serving as the current Iraqi Prime Minister since February 2020[1]. He was the Minister of Communications in the Iraqi Government and was also Minister of Communications in the Al Maliki government from May 2006 until August 2007, and from 2010 to 2012. Both times he resigned from his position in protest against al-Maliki's sectarian agenda and political interference. Allawi studied Architectural Engineering at Baghdad University, when he left mid-way through his studies as he was wanted by the government of Saddam Hussein. He went into exile and moved to Lebanon, where he completed his education and obtained a degree in Architecture from the American University of Beirut. He then moved to the United Kingdom and gained British citizenship. Business While in higher education he co-founded the Tawfiq Allawi Cable & Electric Wire Factory which manufactured various raw materials including marble, concrete and PVC. His factories were confiscated by the Iraqi government in 1997. Allawi went on to found a cereal bar factory and a software company in England and to work in property development in Lebanon, Morocco and the real estate market in the UK.[2] Interfaith International Allawi joined Interfaith International, a Swiss based NGO that supported the human rights of Muslim minorities during the Yugoslav Wars.[2] Politics Allawi participated in the Salah Al-Din Conference of opposition parties in 1992 and the London Conference in 2002. He was elected to the Council of Representatives of Iraq in the Iraqi parliamentary election of January 2005.[2] He is the cousin of Ayad Allawi who founded the opposition Iraqi National Accord and went on to be the interim Prime Minister of Iraq from 2004 to 2005. In May 2006 Allawi was appointed Minister of Communications in the Al Maliki government. After fifteen months he withdrew from the government, citing the Prime Minister's practice of making appointments on a sectarian basis.[3] He rejoined parliament and remained in opposition for the remainder of the government's term.[2] He returned as Minister of Communications in the newly formed government in 2010, but also resigning after citing interference of Al Maliki in his ministry. He has since remained as a public commentator on Iraqi political affairs, with a series of articles published in Iraqi media outlets and on his blog. Minister of Communications Allawi was twice minister of communications, from May 2006 until August 2007, and from 2010 to 2012. Both times he resigned from his position in protest against al-Maliki's sectarian agenda and political interference. One of Allawi's key policies was rooting out corruption. As communications minister, he implemented a policy that imposed strict anti-bribery terms on every company contracting with the ministry. These terms included that if the company was discovered to have paid a bribe to anyone in the ministry, a fine worth 30% of the contract would be imposed on the contracting company and the company would be blacklisted (preventing it from contracting with any government entity for three years). [4]
  12. He's been bleating on about this for months, and no notice is being taken, so much for being the supreme authority there all supposed to listen to and be guided by, Same ol' waffle.
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