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Turkey may launch ground operation in Iraq, Syria

The Turkish air operation came after last Sunday’s terror attack that rocked Istanbul’s crowded Istiklal Avenue and killed at least six people and left 81 injured.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday indicated that he could go beyond air strikes and launch a ground operation in northern Iraq and northern Syria to eliminate the terror threat, according to Anadolu Agency.

While talking to the reporters after returning from Qatar to Turkey, Erdogan said, “This is not limited to just an air operation.”

“As we’ve said before, if someone disturbs our country and lands, we will make them pay the price. So, there are terrorist organizations in our south that are planning many attacks or that carry out such attacks and pose a threat (to Turkiye),” he added.

These remarks came after Turkey launched Operation Claw-Sword, a cross-border aerial campaign against the terror group Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)/YPP which has an illegal hideout across Iraq and Syrian borders, reported Anadolu Agency.

The Turkish air operation came after last Sunday’s terror attack that rocked Istanbul’s crowded Istiklal Avenue and killed at least six people and left 81 injured.

After the attack, Turkish police arrested the suspect who planted the bomb on Istanbul’s Istiklal street.

“We consider it to be a terrorist act as a result of an attacker, whom we consider to be a woman, detonating the bomb,” CNN quoted Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktayas saying on Sunday.

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said that CCTV footage shows a woman sitting on a bench for more than 40 minutes and then getting up one or two minutes before the explosion, leaving a bag or plastic bag behind. He further informed that earlier, a woman, who was suspected of being involved in the attack, was kept in custody.

Bozdag, who made the comments in an interview with privately-owned A Haber news channel, said Turkish security forces believe the woman is the suspect, and officials are investigating her, according to CNN.

Members of the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army launch a long-range grad rocket targeting Syrian regime sites. (Photo: Anas Alkharboutli/dpa/IANS)

The Turkish National Defense Ministry said the operation was carried out in line with the right of self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter, as per the Anadolu Agency report.

Erdogan said nearly 70 aircraft, including armed drones, took part in the operation and added that a total of 89 terror targets, including shelters, bunkers, caves, tunnels, and ammunition depots were destroyed.

“At this point, 45 terrorist targets at a depth of approximately 140 km (87 mi) in northern Iraq, and 44 targets at a depth of about 20 km (12 miles) in Syria were hit,” he added.

Asked if Turkey talked about this operation with Russia and the US, Erdogan recalled the Sochi deal between Ankara and Moscow to remove the terrorists from north-eastern Syria bordering the country, reported Anadolu Agency.

“They had the responsibility to clear the terrorists from the area. Unfortunately, even though we reminded them many times over and over, they did not do this… We said that we would not remain silent against this and that we would take steps against the terrorists there if they could not do it,” Anadolu Agency quoted him saying. (ANI)

ALSO READ: US may approve F-16 sale in 2 months: Turkey

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Iraq Parliament to elect new President

According to the power-sharing system in Iraq after 2003, the presidency should be reserved for the Kurds, the Speaker’s post for the Sunnis, and the Prime Minister’s post for the Shias….reports Asian Lite News

Iraq’s Parliament has decided to hold a session on Thursday dedicated to electing the next President of the country.

On Tuesday, Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi announced the decision in a press release after a regular session, noting that the agenda for Thursday’s session would only include the election of the President, reports Xinhua news agency.

According to the power-sharing system in Iraq after 2003, the presidency should be reserved for the Kurds, the Speaker’s post for the Sunnis, and the Prime Minister’s post for the Shias.

So far, disagreement persists between the two major Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, over the position of the President.

On Monday, Muhsen al-Mandalawi, first deputy of Parliament Speaker, said in a statement that some 170 lawmakers submitted a request to hold a session on Wednesday dedicated to electing the next president of the country, in an attempt to end the political deadlock a year after the October 10 elections last year.

Political tensions in Iraq have escalated in the past months between the Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and Sadrist Movement, the biggest winner in the October parliamentary elections in 2021, and his rivals in the Shia parliamentary parties in the Coordination Framework (CF).

Al-Sadr demanded in the past weeks to dissolve Parliament and hold early elections, but his demands were rejected by the CF parties which became the largest bloc after al-Sadr ordered his followers to withdraw from Parliament in June.

Over the past months, persistent disputes between the Shia parties have hampered the formation of a new government, which requires a two-thirds majority of the 329-seat Parliament under the Iraqi constitution.

ALSO READ: Iraq keen on developing ties with GCC nations

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Iraq keen on developing ties with GCC nations

Iraqi FM made the remarks when meeting with GCC Secretary-General Nayef bin Falah Al-Hajraf on the sidelines of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, reports Asian Lite News

Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said ohis government is interested in developing relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries at all levels.

Hussein made the remarks when meeting with GCC Secretary-General Nayef bin Falah Al-Hajraf on the sidelines of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, where “the two sides discussed ways to enhance cooperation”, the Foreign Ministry in Baghdad said in a statement.

The Minister said the Iraqi government is interested in developing relations with the GCC countries at all levels and called on foreign companies to invest in Iraqi infrastructure.

For his part, Al-Hajraf affirmed “GCC’s support for the security and stability of Iraq”, stressing the keenness of GCC countries to advance their relations with Iraq in the service of common interests, reports Xinhua news agency.

The two sides also discussed some regional and international issues of common concern, especially the impact of the Russian-Ukrainian war on food security and the need to work collectively to confront the possible repercussions of the crisis.

ALSO READ: UAE-Saudi non-oil foreign trade sees sharp growth

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Protest in Iraq intensifies

The protests began after competing political factions failed to agree on the formation of a new government.

Supporters of Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr reached the Iraqi Prime Minister’s building on Saturday, following the protest against the nomination for Prime Minister by rival Iran-backed parties.

Meanwhile, Iraqi security closed the roads to the building of the Supreme Judicial Council, Al Arabia reported adding that a leader in the Sadrist movement urged peaceful demonstrations in front of the Judicial Council.

 Demonstrators waved Iraqi flags and portraits of al-Sadr, chanted, and sat down in the legislative chamber, with no lawmakers present.

Thousands of protesters also gathered outside the parliament building, with security forces using tear gas, water cannons and sound grenades to disperse them.

Protesters also disassembled large concrete barriers surrounding the heavily-fortified area.

The unrest comes just days after hundreds of protesters on Wednesday burst into the heavily fortified Green Zone in the centre of the Iraqi capital, dancing, singing, posing for selfies and eventually peacefully dispersing, reported Sputnik.

The Wednesday protests began after competing political factions failed to agree on the formation of a new government.

Hundreds of protesters had descended on Iraq’s parliament building on Saturday, putting on a repeat performance of Wednesday’s unrest.

The protesters were opposing the candidacy of Mohammed Shia al-Sudani for the post of Prime Minister, as they believe him to be too close to Iran. al-Sudani is a former minister and ex-provincial governor and is nominated for the Prime Minister’s post on behalf of the Coordination Framework.

Visuals from the site showed protestors singing and dancing and one person was seen lying on the desk of the speaker of the Iraqi parliament.

No lawmakers were present and only security forces were inside the building as protestors barged in, reported Al Jazeera.

However, after a few hours of Wednesday protest, al-Sadr had issued a statement on Twitter telling them their message had been received, and “to return safely” to their homes, signalling there would be no further escalation of the sit-in, Al Jazeera reported.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi also called on the protesters to “immediately withdraw” from the closely-guarded Green Zone, which is home to government buildings and diplomatic missions. In a statement, he warned that security forces would see to “the protection of state institutions and foreign missions, and prevent any harm to security and order”.

Shortly after, protesters began making their way out of the parliament building with security forces supervising.

(Credit Twitter via ANI)

Earlier, the police used water cannons to disperse the demonstrators, but still, many breached the gates to the area, according to Al Jazeera.

The demonstrators walked down the Green Zone’s main thoroughfare, with dozens gathering outside the doors to the parliament building.

The demonstrators, outside the two entrances to the Green Zone, started chanting “Al-Sudani, out!”

This incident and al-Sadr’s subsequent show of control over his followers, carried an implicit warning to the Framework Party of a potential escalation if the government is formed with al-Sudani at the helm.

Al-Sudani was selected by State of Law leader and former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Before al-Sudani can face parliament to be seated officially as prime minister-designate, parties must first select a president.

Notably, Al-Sadr’s bloc won 73 seats in Iraq’s October 2021 election, making it the largest faction in the 329-seat parliament but, ever since the vote, talks to form a new government have stalled, and Al-Sadr stepped down from the political process. A deadlock persists over the establishment of a new government.

In 2016 too al-Sadr’s supporters stormed the parliament in a similar fashion. They staged a sit-in and issued demands for political reform after then-Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi sought to replace party-affiliated ministers with technocrats in an anti-corruption drive.

Mass protests erupted in 2019 amid public anger over corruption and unemployment and this current protest pose a challenge for the oil-rich country. (ANI)

ALS READ: IS attack kills 4 in Iraq

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2 killed, 4 wounded in IS bomb attacks in Iraq

A soldier and a civilian were killed and four people wounded in two attacks by militants of the Islamic State (IS) terror group in northern and central Iraq, security sources said…reports Asian Lite News

In the northern province of Nineveh, a soldier was killed and two others wounded when a roadside bomb, believed to be planted by IS militants, exploded near an Iranian security unit outside a village near the town of Tal Afar, nearly 70-km west of the provincial capital Mosul, an army officer told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The source said the attack took place on Saturday when the troops were hunting down IS militants in the area, Xinhua news agency reported.

In a separate incident, a civilian was killed and two others wounded when a roadside bomb, reportedly planted by IS militants, exploded in a village in the Tarmiyah area, nearly 30 km north of the capital Baghdad, Ihsan al-Rubaie from the Baghdad police told Xinhua.

ALSO READ:5 killed, 84 wounded in Iran earthquakes

Iraqi security forces have been fighting IS militants over the past months to crack down on their intensified activities.

The security situation in Iraq has been improving since the defeat of the IS in 2017. However, its remnants have since spread into urban centres, deserts, and rugged areas, carrying out frequent guerilla attacks against the security forces and civilians.

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Iraqi PM seeks to revive Iran-Saudi talks

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said his country welcomes the reopening of the Iranian and Saudi Arabian Embassies in Riyadh and Tehran, reports Asian Lite Newsdes

Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi has met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Tehran in an aim to push for resumption of the peace talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

“We discussed the challenges that the region is facing,” Al-Kadhimi said during a joint press conference with Raisi, adding, “We agreed to work together to bring stability and peace to the region”.

Earlier, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said his country welcomes the reopening of the Iranian and Saudi Arabian Embassies in Riyadh and Tehran.

Iran only seeks to promote the region’s interests, Amir-Abdollahian said here in a meeting with visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

He praised the Iraqi government for its efforts to encourage dialogue among regional countries and play a constructive role in the normalization talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia as well as other Middle Eastern nations, reports Xinhua news agency.

Iran maintains that the solution to regional problems lies within the region, Amir-Abdollahian said, adding that Iran backs the continuation of the ceasefire in Yemen, highlighting the necessity of lifting the siege on the Arab state.

The Foreign Minister noted that given the commonalities between Iran and Egypt, improving relations between Tehran and Cairo will be in the interest of the region and the Muslim world.

The Iraqi Prime Minister underlined Iran’s important position and role in regional developments, saying his country is serious about developing ties with Iran.

He assured his host that Iraq will continue its efforts to encourage dialogue and cooperation among regional states.

The Iraqi Prime Minister described his country’s relations with the Iran as very important and added, “Today we agreed to strengthen trade relations between the two nations and countries within the framework of common interests”.

Al-Kadhimi arrived in Tehran early Sunday for high-level talks with senior Iranian officials, following his trip to Saudi Arabia, where he was welcomed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud.

Both crown prince and Iraqi PM held a session of official talks, during which they reviewed the bilateral relations between the two fraternal countries and areas of joint cooperation, in addition to exchanging views on a number of issues, which contribute to supporting and strengthening security and stability in the region, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

ALSO READ:Iraq FM ready to host new round of Iranian-Saudi talks

On June 16, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said in a phone conversation with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian that “Iraq is ready to continue facilitating direct talks between the Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers in Baghdad to restore relations to normal”, according to a statement by the Iraqi Foreign Ministry.

To improve bilateral relations and ease regional tension, Baghdad hosted four rounds of direct talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia last year, and the fifth round was held in April this year.

Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran in early 2016 in response to attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Tehran after the kingdom executed a Shia cleric.

The two rivals’ strained relations showed signs of improvement after they resumed direct talks on normalizing diplomatic relations in April 2021.

Recently, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani arrived in Cairo for his first visit to Egypt since the two countries restored diplomatic ties last year.

The two-day official visit included talks with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi on bilateral relations and ways to enhance them in all fields.

Tamim’s visit also saw the signing of a number of economic agreements, and ensured Qatari investment in Egypt, especially in the energy field.

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Iraq FM ready to host new round of Iranian-Saudi talks

Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein has expressed Iraq’s readiness to host a new round of direct talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia in Baghdad…reports Asian Lite News

Hussein made the remarks in a phone conversation with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Xinhua news agency reported, citing a statement by the Iraqi Foreign Ministry.

During the phone call, the Iraqi top diplomat confirmed “the Iraqi government’s intention to continue facilitating direct talks between the Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers in Baghdad to restore relations to normal,” said the statement.

Calling the latest round of talks with Saudi Arabia in Baghdad as “positive”, Amir-Abdollahian welcomed the implementation of the outcomes of the negotiations and praised the Iraqi Foreign Ministry’s role in this regard, according to the statement.

ALSO READ:Lebanon, Iraq to boost legal, judicial cooperation

To improve bilateral relations and ease regional tension, Baghdad hosted four rounds of direct talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia last year, and the fifth round was held in April this year.

In response to the attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran after the kingdom executed a Shiite cleric, Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran in early 2016.

The two rivals’ strained relations showed signs of improvement after they resumed direct talks on normalising diplomatic relations in April 2021.

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Lebanon, Iraq to boost legal, judicial cooperation

 Lebanon and Iraq have agreed to bolster legal and judicial cooperation between their Justice ministries, the National News Agency (NNA) reported.



The cooperation, agreed upon during a meeting between Lebanese Justice Minister Henri Khoury and his visiting Iraqi counterpart Salar Abdul Sattar Muhammad on Wednesday, includes judicial notifications, penal fields and extradition issues between the two countries, according to NNA.

“The Iraqi and Lebanese Justice ministries have authentic and deep-rooted relations … We must collaborate, cooperate and support each other in international and regional forums and in the League of Arab States,” said Muhammad.

For his part, Khoury said his Ministry’s relation with the Iraqi Justice Ministry and the Supreme Judicial Council in Iraq is very special, highlighting Lebanon’s aspiration to “further consolidate these ties in the near future,” Xinhua news agency reported.

Last week, the World Bank warned that Lebanon will face significant challenges in running its state institutions and maintaining social peace if the country fails to undertake a comprehensive reform.

“Despite early warnings, Lebanon has lost precious time and numerous opportunities to adopt a path to reform its economic and financial system,” Xinhua news agency quoted World Bank Mashreq Regional Director Saroj Kumar Jha quoted as saying in a statement.

“The cost of inaction is colossal not only on the daily lives of citizens, but also on the future of the Lebanese people,” Jha added.

Failing basic public services, rising unemployment and severely dented human resources have become the “long-lasting scars” on the Lebanese economy and society because of the country’s enduring crisis, the statement said.

The World Bank statement came less than a week after the Lebanese pound sank to a new historic low on the parallel market amid the country’s unprecedented financial crisis.

Meanwhile recently, the Iraqi Parliament had passed a bill to criminalise institutions, officials and ordinary people for normalising relations with Israel.

A statement issued by Parliament said that 275 lawmakers voted unanimously to pass the bill.

The bill is supposed to preserve the principles of the Iraqi people in defending Palestine and its people as well as the Arab peoples, whose lands are occupied by the Jewish state, the statement added.

It aims to deter all those working on normalising or establishing relations with Israel.

ALSO READ: MBZ lauds health officials for anti-Covid efforts

The bill also prohibits Iraqis from travelling to Israel and having any kind of communications with the country, or they will face harsh penalties of up to life imprisonment and death penalty on violations, according to some articles of the new law revealed by local media.

The approval comes weeks after Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called on the members of the Sadrist Movement, which won the largest number of seats in last year’s elections, to formulate such a bill.

In September 2021, the Iraqi government announced its opposition to normalising its relations with Israel.

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Three IS militants killed in western Iraq

Three militants of the Islamic State (IS) group were killed in a clash with paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces in Iraq’s western province of Anbar, a Hashd Shaabi statement said…reports Asian Lite News

The clash occurred on Friday during an operation by the Hashd Shaabi forces to hunt down IS militants in the desert area of Wadi Huran west of the provincial capital Ramadi, some 110 km west of Baghdad, Xinhua news agency reported, citing the statement.

The IS militants are still active in the vast Anbar desert that stretches to the Iraqi borders with neighboring countries of Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. They are infiltrating Iraq from Syria across the nearly 600-km border in an attempt to regroup again.

ALSO READ: Three rockets land near Iraq’s capital Erbil

Over the past few months, Iraqi security forces have conducted operations across the country against the IS militants to crack down on their intensified activities.

The security situation in Iraq has been improving since 2017. However, the IS remnants have since melted into urban centers, deserts, and rugged areas, carrying out frequent guerilla attacks against the security forces and civilians.

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Arab League Turns Heat On Erdogan

Arab league condemns Turkish military operation in N. Iraq

 The Arab League on Tuesday condemned the Turkish military operation in northern Iraq, saying it constitutes “unacceptable and deplorable” violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and international law.

The military operations on Iraqi soil increased tension between Turkey and Iraq, said a statement by the pan-Arab body, calling on Ankara to stop such practices and respect the Iraqi sovereignty.

At least 26 members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have been killed during Turkey’s new ground and air cross-border offensive into northern Iraq launched on Monday, according to Turkey’s Defense Ministry.

Turkey regularly conducts cross-border operations on PKK bases in northern Iraq, despite Iraq’s repeated condemnation of Turkey’s violation of its sovereignty.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, has been rebelling against the Turkish government for more than 30 years.

Iraq said the Turkish military operation in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region is a threat to Iraq’s national security and a violation of its sovereignty.

The latest Turkish military operation into the Iraqi frontier without coordinating with the Iraqi federal government is unacceptable, said a statement by the Presidency.

ALSO READ: Al Aqsa raid puts Israel in trouble

The pending security issues in the border areas could be resolved through further coordination between the two countries and the Iraqi sovereignty must be respected, it added.

On Monday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said in a statement that the Turkish forces launched a new ground and air cross-border operation against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.

Turkish forces regularly carry out ground operations, airstrikes, and artillery bombardments against the positions of PKK militants in northern Iraq, especially the Qandil mountain range, where the main PKK bases are stationed.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Al Aqsa raid puts Israel in trouble

Al-Aqsa Issue

Meanehile, Erdogan on Tuesday urged his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog not to allow “provocations and threats” against the status and spirituality of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

In a Twitter post, Erdogan said he held a phone talk with Herzog to discuss regional issues and bilateral relations, especially the events caused by “some Israeli radical groups and security forces in Palestine.”

Erdogan said he told Herzog that he had been “very upset” about the Palestinians being injured or killed in the incidents in the West Bank and the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem since the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in early April.

These incidents caused by radicals every year “hurt consciences and cause justifiable reactions” in the entire Islamic world, he said.

The tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have been rising in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the past weeks, especially on Friday when the Jewish festival of Passover began.

Some 200 Palestinians have been injured in a recent wave of clashes in East Jerusalem, mainly at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which is holy to both Muslims and Jews. Scores of Israeli have also died in a spate of deadly attacks in Israel.

The phone talk came amid the reconciliation efforts made by Israel and Turkey, whose ties were strained in 2010 when a Turkish-led flotilla attempting to break Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip clashed with Israeli forces, leaving 10 Turks on board dead.

In 2018, Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador to Turkey after the United States moved its embassy to the disputed holy city of Jerusalem.

On March 9, Herzog paid a visit to Ankara, during which Erdogan said he “clearly expressed Turkey’s sensitivity on the issue of Palestine.”