Re-opened Iraqi railway a sign of progress



By AFP 2 hours ago

Re-opened Iraqi railway a sign of progress
Iraqi passengers sit in a cabin on a train from the capital Baghdad to the city of Fallujah in Anbar province, about 70 kilometres west, August 19, 2018. Photo: Sabah Arar
FALLUJAH, Iraq – The newly revived railway between Baghdad and Fallujah snakes across the western Iraqi desert, through a landscape of burned-out tanks, abandoned cars and collapsed buildings.

For the last month, Captain Imed Hassun has taken pride in once again driving the route between the capital and the former Islamic State group stronghold.

“I didn’t think that a train would come back here again,” says Hassun, who has been a driver for 30 years but had until recently been redeployed elsewhere.

While government forces expelled IS from Fallujah in 2016, the line still bears the scars of the group’s two-year occupation of the city and its environs, including mines it planted along the tracks.

Before the jihadists’ rise, Hassun and his co-driver steered the Baghdad-Fallujah route during some of the most turbulent times in Iraq’s history.

They had even kept trains running during much of the combat between American forces and Sunni militia in the mid-2000s, and the sectarian clashes that preceded the rise of IS.

But while happy to be back on this line, Hassun – clad in the marine blue and white uniform of Iraq’s railways – proceeds with caution.

So far, he has successfully pushed his new Chinese-built diesel train to 100 kilometres (60 miles) per hour.

But he dare not go faster, as the rails have only just been brought back into basic working service by a team of dedicated employees.

‘People laughed’ 

“When we started the work, people mocked us,” says Yussef Thabet, the chief railroad engineer in Fallujah.

“But as soon as the first convoy entered the station, people were forced to believe it – and now they demand more trains,” he adds.

There remains much work to do.

Fallujah’s old station is still in ruins, replaced for now by a pre-fabricated structure and plastic chairs.

Iraqi passengers walk on the platform next to a train in the city of Fallujah, August 19, 2018. Photo: Sabah Arar / AFP

But for passengers, the revitalised line is a vital link to the capital and the only alternative to polluted and gridlocked roads.

Road travel is frequently made even less appealing by security personnel forcing traffic into unexplained detours.

For years, medical student Ali Ahmad took the minibus every week to a university campus in Baghdad.

Now in his final year, he finds taking the train aids his study.

“I revise in an air-conditioned carriage for an hour and a half, without being plagued by cigarette smoke,” he says.

In the cafe car, a screen displays the outside temperature at 43 degrees Celsius (109 degrees Fahrenheit), and the train’s speed at 91 kilometres per hour.

On the journey back from Baghdad, 28-year-old Sinan Majid has his hands full of boxes.

He has bought clothes to stock his shop in Fallujah.

“With the train, we know the time of travel. And there is no delay,” Majid tells AFP, sitting at a table with friends.

For Lamia Ahmed too, the train is a godsend. The 39-year-old primary school teacher can rely on it to get her to Baghdad for administrative tasks, without worrying that offices will close before she arrives.

And above all, enthuses Omar Khalil, a 38-year-old hairdresser who has come to Baghdad to buy parts for his car, a ticket costs 2,000 dinars (less than two dollars, or 1.5 euros).

“A minibus ticket costs 3,500 dinars and a (shared) taxi up to 10,000,” he adds, lounging in one of the train’s red seats.

‘90 percent damaged’ 

The train leaves Fallujah every day at 6:45 am to travel the 65 kilometres to the capital, before returning at 3:00 pm, a time judged to best suit civil servants and students.

“An average of 250 travellers make the return journey each day,” says Abdel Mutalleb Saleh, transport manager for Anbar province.

Iraq has 2,000 kilometres of railways and its network was connected to Istanbul in 1940.

The country plans a major revival of its network.

Iraqi passengers walk through the hallway of a cabin on the train from the capital Baghdad to the city of Fallujah. Photo: Sabah Arar / AFP

For now, the line between Baghdad and Akashat on the Syrian border only works as far as Fallujah, says Taleb Jawad Kazem, deputy director general of Iraq’s railways.

But the lines to Basra at the southern tip of the country, and to the Shiite holy city of Karbala in central Iraq, never stopped operating.

And work is under way to reopen the links to Baiji, Tikrit and Samarra to the north of Baghdad, adds Kazem.

In 2016, Iraq spent $137 million (118 million euros) on 12 new trains from China.

But there is a long way to go before the network can host the 72 daily train journeys that were made in the heyday of Iraq’s railways, before the UN slapped sanctions on the country in the 1990s.

Enormous work will be required to ensure trains once again reach Syria – or even Mosul, Iraq’s second city and another former IS stronghold.

“The rails, stations, equipment, bridges and tunnels have sustained damage of more than 90 percent” in areas where the jihadists operated, Kazem tells AFP.

And on the rehabilitated routes, another danger lurks – demoralised children from slums built close to the tracks.

As each train passes, small groups of boys throw stones, chipping the windows.


URGENT Khaled al-Obeidi announces nomination for speaker of parliament


Release date: 2018/9/10 23:54 
The head of the list of the victory coalition in Nineveh Khalid al-Obeidi, nomination for the post of Speaker of the House of Representatives as a candidate for settlement to resolve differences.

“Al-Obeidi’s decision to run for parliament was the result of political pressure that he signed for his candidacy,” the office said in a statement. 
He added that “Khalid al-Obeidi, a person with the potential to qualify for the leadership of parliament in the next stage, not to mention integrity and professionalism, and the acceptance enjoyed in the political and popular circles in various Iraqi factions.” 
“He may be considered a suitable person for a new political stage and a candidate for a settlement that will resolve the differences and the ongoing races in the political arena now.”

Barzani and Bens discuss the Kurdish position by telephone from the formation of the government


Release date: 2018/9/11 0:08 
(Baghdad: Al-Furat News) The head of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Nechirvan Barzani, and Vice President Mike Bens, in a telephone conversation on Monday evening developments of the formation of the new Iraqi government.
“Vice President Mike Bens, discussed with the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq, Nechirvan Barzani, the Kurdish position of forming the government, and stressed the strategic partnership between the Kurds and the United States.” 
He pointed out that “cooperation between the two parties was necessary to take advantage of joint successes against terrorism in Iraq.” 
“The vice president congratulated the prime minister on several initiatives to promote religious freedom in the Kurdistan region, and the two leaders agreed to work closely to help the oppressed religious communities in Iraq to return to the homes of their ancestors,” the statement said.

Tomorrow .. A license on the Stock Exchange on the occasion of the Hijri New Year


stock market

Economy News Baghdad

The stock market, whose business is closed Tuesday, will be closed on the occasion of the New Year.

The stock exchange said in a statement on Monday, seen by “Economy News”, that “will resume work next Wednesday.”

The Iraqi Stock Exchange suspended its work for six days last August on the occasion of Eid al-Adha.

Reform and reconstruction begins with the formulation of internal regulations and confirms: wait for the federal decision on the largest bloc


08:43 – 10/09/2018

Special – balance News 
confirmed an alliance of reform and reconstruction, on Monday, he appeared to formulate an internal system of government and the program fits with the aspirations of the Iraqi people, while noting that he was awaiting the decision of the Federal Court on the interpretation of the largest bloc to determine. 
“The coalition held its periodic meeting today and formed negotiating committees and began to formulate its internal system and the government program that will follow it to form the next government in a solid and capable of achieving the aspirations of the Iraqi people with services and provide opportunities for decent living,” MP Riad al-Tamimi said in an interview with Mawazin News. . 
He added that “the next two days may see the completion of the development of the program and the rules of procedure,” noting that “meetings between the bloc continues.”
Tamimi said that “his coalition is awaiting the interpretation of the Federal Court on the largest bloc and whether it is the owner of the largest bloc or a coalition of construction,” pointing out that “dialogues on the formation of the next government and the election of the presidency of the parliament continues.” 
It is noteworthy that the alliance of reform and reconstruction, which includes others and victory, wisdom and patriotism announced that the largest bloc, in conjunction with the declaration of the coalition of building, which is made up of the rule of law and opening it is the largest bloc that will form the next government.

Kurdistan Union: Kurdish parties will decide to form the largest bloc during the next two days

Information / special … 
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan ( PUK ) , confirmed on Monday that the Kurdish parties in the Kurdistan region will be resolved is to join the largest bloc over the next two days, between the Kurdish parties will be the touchstone in the formation of the largest bloc and the government. 
“The ruling parties in the region (the Union and the Democratic) held a broad meeting this morning to reach a final agreement to join one of the axes to form the largest bloc,” said the member of the Union, Ghayath al-Surji said in a statement to the “Information”, pointing out that “the ruling parties will resolve their position from The formation of the largest bloc during the next two days after completion of the consultation of other Kurdish parties, including opposition parties to the lack of exclusivity of the decision.
He added that “the axis of construction or reform did not oppose until now the project put forward by the Kurdish delegation to form a government, as well as not to agree to all the demands put forward,” noting that “the Kurdish parties will be egg blocks in the formation of the largest bloc and the government.” 
The two parties, the Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, on Monday, during their meeting with some on the unity of their work and their position in Baghdad and Kurdistan.

competing the presidency of the parliament is limited to three meetings may turn the table on Nujaifi

Twilight News

12 minutes ago

A political source revealed within the Sunni axis alliance that the competition is raging exclusively among three names to fill the post of Speaker of the House of Representatives in its new session.

The Presidency of Parliament on Monday, the receipt of the nomination of eight names for the presidency of the Council scheduled to be put to the vote in a scheduled meeting scheduled in the 15 of this month.

The names included Mohammed Tamim, Osama Al-Nujaifi, Rashid Al-Azzawi, Ahmad Abdullah Al-Jubouri, Ahmed Khalaf Al-Jubouri, Talal Al-Zobaie, Mohammed Al Khalidi and Mohammed Al Halbusi.

The source told the twilight news that the competition is limited to the first among candidates Mohammed Halbusi, Osama Najafi and Mohammad Tamim.

“There are parties within the axis that are pushing its allies from the Shiite forces to put forward candidate Mohamed Tamim in order to limit the competition between him and Mohamed Halbusi, and thus support the latter for the post, which was already during a meeting held yesterday night, gathering Karbala and Halbusi and Shiite parties.”

The Iraqi constitution provides for the dissolution of the positions of the presidential body of parliament during the first session. In the event that the parliament fails to name its governing body, the parliament session is open for fear of entering into a constitutional violation.

After the session, deputies will have 30 days to elect a president (Kurdi) who will receive two-thirds of the votes.

When elected, the president of the country has 15 days to commission the largest parliamentary bloc to form a new government.

The next government faces a major social and health crisis that began nearly two months ago, during which protesters in southern and central Iraq called for improved public services and infrastructure in areas that have suffered severe shortages for many years, especially in the areas of water and electricity.