Iraq Closes Jordanian Border, Kuwaiti Unrest Continues
Iraq closed the only checkpoint linking it with Jordan on Wednesday as Sunnis in Anbar province continued to protest against Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his government. The protests, which claim that the government is treating Sunnis unfairly, have blocked the main highway and trade route linking Iraq to Jordan and Syria for days. Imad Mishaal, the mayor of a town located on the route, said the government is pressuring protesters to stop demonstrating by waging economic war. Sadoon al-Shaalan, deputy chief of Anbar’s provincial council, said, ”This targets Anbar’s population. This step will impact the economy of the province in general. It targets the livelihood of the people.”
Meanwhile, al-Maliki’s opponents in Bagdad took steps to call him before parliament for questioning, with the intention of ultimately holding a vote of no confidence. Writing for the Institute for the Study of War, Stephen Wicken and Marisa Sullivan find that these measures are unlikely to succeed, and that al-Maliki’s principal opponent, Parliamentary Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, a Sunni, may be more likely to lose his seat. Additionally, in The Guardian, David Hirst writes that Iraq’s Kurds, perhaps with help from Turkey, could be on the verge of an independent state. In Turkey, Kurdish leaders reasserted demands for greater autonomy, as peace negotiations continued between the Turkish government and the PKK.
Finally, on Tuesday, Kuwait’s parliament ratified the electoral amendment that caused the opposition to boycott December’s general elections. The change reduces the number of candidates voters can choose from four to one, which the opposition says allows the government to manipulate elections. Then, on Wednesday, Kuwait’s lower court denied an appeal from Al-Youm, a private, pro-opposition television channel, against its closure by the government last month.