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UST Secretary Mnuchin to Lead U.S. Delegation to Israel, Bahrain, UAE Oct. 17-20

By Reuters, Wire Service Content Oct. 16, 2020, at 7:35 p.m.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will lead a U.S. delegation traveling to Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates on Oct. 17-20, the Treasury Department said in a statement on Friday.

The visit comes one month after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed agreements to establish formal ties with Israel, becoming the first Arab states to do so in a quarter-century, in deals that were de  nounced by Palestinian leaders.  Link

Tishwash:  Iraqi youth seek to move the protests outside the traditional squares

The resumption of protests in Iraq has become almost certain at the end of October, while protesters prepare for “surprises” that may be difficult for the authorities and “armed groups” to encircle, or to use violence as happened last year.

On the other hand, Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, whose supporters recently participated in the protests, is trying to control the rhythm of the demonstrations by imposing several conditions, and forcing the clans to control the protesters.

Al-Sadr, according to his circles, is afraid of a “sedition” or a Shiite-Shiite clash, as happened during Hussein’s forty-day visit in Karbala more than a week ago.

Meanwhile, opponents of the latter see that he is trying to restore his image, which was damaged by his “contradictory” positions towards the demonstrations. Hundreds gathered in Tahrir Square in central Baghdad and in other Iraqi cities, two weeks ago, to commemorate the first anniversary of what became known as the “October Uprising”, which are the popular protests that erupted in the capital and the central and southern governorates in early October 2019, and continued for months to demand political and economic reform. According to activists, 700 people were killed and more than 20,000 wounded.

On the other hand, Tanqiyat from Tahrir Square made it clear that it will not deviate from its peace, nor will it give up its demands that it raised a year ago, calling for political and economic reform.

It also demanded in a statement, that those who “killed, kidnapped, tortured and arrested activists” who participated in the protests that took place during the last period in a number of Iraqi cities be brought to trial.

The coordination authorities called on the parliament to approve the new parliamentary election law, especially the multi-constituency clause, and for the state to fulfill the demands of restricting weapons before the elections, and “criminalizing any armed party operating outside the government security establishment.”

The statement clarified that the Iraqi authorities must adhere to the scheduled date of holding the elections, which is the sixth of next June, and that they take place under the supervision of the United Nations.

These coordinators warned “the political class against procrastinating these demands,” indicating that they will give the Iraqi parliament a final deadline to fulfill these demands, which ends on the 25th of this month.

Dialogues to resume the demonstrations

Two weeks ago, intensive negotiations and meetings have been taking place between the coordination coordinators of the demonstrations in Baghdad and a number of southern cities, to arrange for their resumption less than 10 days from now.

According to the protest activist, Ali Irfan, most of the coordinators “have agreed to change the manner of demonstrations, and there are discussions about resuming the protests earlier than the current 25.”

He explained that “there is an intention to launch demonstrations in several areas, not only in the main squares, as happened last year, such as Tahrir Square in Baghdad, the Sadrists in Najaf, or the Ahrar in Karbala.”

The protesters aim by that “tactic” to expand the size of the demonstrations, to involve a larger number of the population in the movement against some policies and the spread of weapons outside the country, and to pressure the government to try the killers of the demonstrators.

Irfan added about this step, “At that time, no authority or armed group will be able to control the popular movement, so we will disperse them and it will be difficult to target us.”

Green concrete!

On the other hand, according to sources in Baghdad, large transport wheels carrying concrete walls were seen heading to the Green Zone, which includes government headquarters and the US embassy.

The sources expected that preparing these walls is part of the preparations for the start of the protests on the current 25th, although there is no among the demonstrators’ plans to storm the Green Zone or approach its four gates.

However, the sources also believe that there are fears of “militias exploiting” the protest movement, to attack the government headquarters or the US embassy, especially since armed forces threatened to do so earlier.

These militias are accused by activists of being responsible for the use of violence in the protests, when they joined the campaign of violence during the second half of last year’s demonstrations, the so-called “blue hats” and followers of the Sadrist movement, before the leader of the movement suspended the work of these teams in February ( Last February.

Al-Sadr turned, in early 2020, on his positions on the demonstrations, which he began supporting about a month after their launch, while those new positions were interpreted at the time as part of “new political arrangements” to support the former commissioner at the time, Ali Allawi, who failed to gain the confidence of Parliament.

Chest positions

On the other hand, Sabah Al-Ukaili, the deputy for “Sairoun” supported by Al-Sadr, says that the latter “is one of the most supportive of the demonstrations, because he considers the protests among the important methods of reforming the government.”

He added, “The protest squares have become full of intruders who have caused the deviation of demands, as happened in Hussein’s forty-years. Therefore, al-Sadr calls for clearing the squares so that the demonstrations return to the true course.”

Finally, Al-Sadr announced a number of provisions that he described as peace covenants aimed at restoring security to the Iraqis, eliminating foreign interference, and preserving Iraq’s prestige.

In a statement published on his Twitter account, he explained that the first charter is a charter for peaceful demonstrations in which legal, social and legal conditions for demonstrations will be set, in cooperation with tribal sheikhs that suit everyone.

After clashes last week between demonstrators and the forces protecting the shrines in Karbala, during the visit of Al-Hussein’s forties, Al-Sadr stipulated that those who want to demonstrate abide by rules, including “not to close public streets or squares,” considering anyone who violates the rules “tucked away or driven by foreign agendas.”

Al-Sadr also called for cooperation with the security forces and the clans to end the strife without bloodshed in case the rules are violated.

In turn, the dissident MP for “Saeron”, Basem Khashan, says that “these calls are calls for bankrupt people,” indicating that “the image of al-Sadr has been damaged by his contradictory positions on the protests.”  link