Iraq Closes Jordan Border After Protests

Iraq has decided to close its border with Jordan following anti-government protests that blocked the highway linking Baghdad to the kingdom, an Iraqi military official announced. The closure took place early Wednesday.

The protests were held in Iraq’s predominantly Sunni province of Al-Anbar (West), where protesters halted traffic on the main highway leading to Jordan and neighboring Syria. These protesters have been demanding the release of Sunni prisoners.

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In Amman, the official Petra news agency announced that Iraqi authorities had informed the kingdom of their intention to close the border post of Treibil from Wednesday 6:00 local time (0300 GMT) for “reasons of their own.”

Petra added that Jordan called on travelers and truckers not to go to the border as the Iraqi authorities have not officially announced when it will reopen.

The border post of Treibil is the only crossing between Iraq and Jordan, through which most of the Iraqi oil to the kingdom passes. On a daily basis, some 10,000 barrels of oil per day are being shipped from Iraq to its neighbor at a lower price than what is sold at market level.

Iraq is facing a growing political crisis. The government of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been accused of acting as a dictatorship by its critics for over a year. In recent weeks, the government faced a major challenge in Sunni provinces of the country. The protest movement was revived by the December 20 arrest of nine guards of Rifaa al-Issawi, a Sunni member of the secular opposition Iraqiya bloc. The protest movement has received strong support from radical Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr and Kurdish ministers.

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