Baghdad – Hamza Mustafa
Saturday, 7 September, 2019 – 05:45
Sadrist movement leader, Moqtada al-Sadr, warned Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on Friday that Iraq was on the verge of becoming a “lawless state”.
His remarks were in reference to the Popular Mobilization Forces’ announcement that it was establishing an air force directorate.
In a series of tweets, Sadr said the move was the beginning of the end of the government and the transformation of Iraq into a lawless state, adding that he was distancing himself from these developments.
Head of the security and defense parliamentary committee and a member of Sadr’s Sairoun parliamentary bloc, Mohammed Rida urged Abdul Mahdi to preserve the authority of the state and its military.
He warned that the PMF’s establishment of an air force undermines and weakens the state, “which is why we must put an end to the chaos of weapons.”
Meanwhile, a PMF source denied reports the Iran-backed forces were forming an air force.
PMF deputy chief Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes had announced Thursday the formation of the air force directorate, weeks after mounting air strikes against PMF locations in Baghdad and other provinces that its officials have blamed on Israel.
An official letter said that Salah Mahdi Hantoush was appointed acting head of the directorate.
Sairoun MP Burhan al-Maamouri told Asharq Al-Awsat that Sadr’s tweets do not mean that he was quitting the government or withdrawing confidence from it.
On the contrary, his statements favor the government because they grant it the power to act to protect the country and its state institutions, he explained.
The PM must be the sole authority that controls fateful decisions and he must confront moves that undermine his power, he stressed.
Saturday, 7 September, 2019 – 05:45 –
Hundreds Demonstrate Against Syrian Regime, Russia in Idlib
An amputee propels his wheelchair as a girl behind him raises the flag of the Syrian opposition during a demonstration against the Syrian regime and its ally Russia and calling for protection from the Turkish government, by the Bab al-Hawa crossing between Turkey and Syria’s northwestern Idlib province on September 6, 2019. Aaref WATAD / AFP
Ankara – London – Saeed Abdelrazek – Asharq Al-Awsat
Hundreds of Syrians held protests against the Syrian regime and its backer Russia Friday in opposition-held Idlib province where a fragile ceasefire has paused a deadly months-old offensive.
Some demonstrators gathered near the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, where Turkish border guards last week fired warning shots and tear gas to disperse Syrian protesters, Agence France Presse reported.
They waved the three-star flag of the eight-year-old uprising and chanted against Bashar al-Assad’s regime, while some called on Turkey to open its borders.
“We only want the Turkish government to open its borders for our brothers who live under the olive trees,” protester Abu Haytham told AFP, referring to displaced Syrians living in the open air.
The demonstrations came after Damascus’s ally Russia announced a ceasefire for the northwestern Idlib region last Friday.
Air strikes have stopped since the agreement went into effect last Saturday morning, but sporadic artillery fire has continued.
Regime forces have been pressing an offensive against Idlib since the end of April.
More than 960 civilians have been killed in four months of heavy bombardment, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The United Nations says more than 400,000 people have been displaced.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that joint military land patrols by Turkish and US forces in northeast Syria are planned to start on Sept. 8.
The two countries are working to establish what Turkey says will be a “safe zone” along the border in northeast Syria – a region mainly controlled by Kurdish YPG forces – and have conducted multiple joint helicopter patrols over the area.