20 January 2018

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10/02/2017 IRAQ

Kerbala, Iraqi Shiites celebrate Ashura in anti-Kurdish key

The celebrations took place yesterday in the holy city, to remember the killing of Mohammed's grandson. Over 25,000 agents assigned to the security of the faithful. Participants chanted slogans and songs against the Kurdish leader Barzani and the "separatist conspiracy in northern Iraq".

Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Hundreds of thousands of Shiite Muslim pilgrims visited the holy city of Kerbala, Iraq, yesterday to ​​celebrate the festival of the Shura, which this year took on anti-Kurdish connotations. The Baghdad authorities allocated more than 25,000 officers to protect the safety of the faithful who took part in the recurrence that remembers the prophet Muhammad's nephew seven centuries ago.

In the recent past Sunni groups and jihadist movements - including the Islamic State (SI) - took advantage of the day to launch bloody attacks.

There were no major accidents this year; however, ceremonies were marked by singing and slogans against Kurdish leader Massud Barzani. Among them, "Barzani the arbiter of the division of the country" and "Do not believe we will give you Kirkuk."

On 25 September, the autonomous region in northern Iraq held a referendum on independence, which ended with an overwhelming victory in favor (over 90%  yes). The vote was also held in the controversial territory of Kirkuk.

Hamed al-Obays, one of the organizers of the procession, says the songs intend to counter the "separatist conspiracy in northern Iraq." Pilgrims marched beating their chests in an expression of mourning for the duration of the ceremony. Some of them also carried swords, dripping blood which also marked their clothes.

The annual celebration of the Shura celebrates the killing of Imam Hussein by the forces of Caliph Yazid in 680 AD, one of the central events of Shiite Islam. His death is part of the controversy over the Prophet Muhammad, which ended with the division between the Sunni and the Shiites.

Among the pilgrims, many were from neighboring Iran and other nations in the region who gathered in the holy city, about 80 km southwest of the capital. Millions throughout the Shi'ite world, from Lebanon to South Asian nations, have organized processions in their respective cities of origin, accompanied by traditional rituals including flagellation. (DS)

See also

25/10/2017 09:38:00 IRAQ
Erbil offers to 'freeze' the results of the independence referendum

Kurdish authorities propose a ceasefire to "prevent further violence and clashes” and  "open dialogue" between the two sides. The Kurdish Parliament postpones the legislative and presidential elections of November 1st. UN offers mediation to "overcome the crisis".

27/09/2017 15:03:00 IRAQ
Kurdish referendum: High Christian turnout for free and fair poll. Fears for Turkish response

High turnout among population, even Christian, and without any force or pressure to vote. AsiaNews source: a vote that calls for a redrawing of regional power balance, after Saddam, extremist violence and Isis. The "courageous dialogue" demanded by the Chaldean patriarch for a political solution. Fears over Erdogan’s “grave” threats.

30/09/2017 11:07:00 IRAQ
Flights suspended in Kurdistan. Possible UN mediation

To punish Kurdistan for daring to hold a referendum on independence, all flights to and from Erbil and Suleymaniyeh were canceled yesterday. Iran, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt adhere to the embargo. To go abroad, there are only overcrowded local flights to Baghdad. Oil trade to Turkey does not stop. Growing Kurdish rage against Iraqi Arabs.

28/09/2017 12:45:00 IRAQ
In encircled Kurdistan, celebrations with Vatican, Japanese and Turkish flags (Video)

After Iran, tomorrow Turkey will also suspend flights to and from Erbil and Suleymaniyeh. The few available places reach dizzying figures. Kurdish borders controlled by the Iraqi army and Iranian and Turkish soldiers. Syria promises autonomy to the Syrian Kurds.

27/09/2017 10:32:00 IRAQ - IRAN - TURKEY
Barzani: overwhelming victory of "yes" to referendum. Ankara and Tehran against Erbil

Turnout of 78% out of a total of 5.3 million registered voters. Polls indicate 90% in favor but the official results are still awaited. Baghdad takes control of Kurdistan airports. Erdogan threatens to starve the Kurds and fuels fears of "ethnic conflict." Iran fears "political chaos" and the Kurdish-Israeli alliance. 

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