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Iraq closes border with Jordan amid Anbar province unrest

Published: Updated:
The Iraqi ministry of defense has closed the country’s border crossing near Jordan on Wednesday at 6 a.m. (local time) without stated official reasons, an Al Arabiya correspondent reported.

The Teraibeel border crossing near Jordan, an important commercial thoroughfare, is located in the Sunni stronghold Anbar province. Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets on a daily basis in the area against Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his government, accused of marginalizing Sunnis.

Recent anti-government protests blocked the main highway linking the two countries, a military official said.

Sunni leaders and tribal sheikhs’ demands range from Maliki’s removal to the release of detainees and the suspension of an anti-terrorism law that Sunnis believe has been abused by authorities to target their sect unfairly.

Meanwhile, Hikmat Suleiman, member of the Anbar’s council, told Al Arabiya that the government’s attempt to block Teraibeel crossing tomorrow is to pressure protesters. Due to the heightening of the Syrian conflict, traders have rechanneled their cargo’s routes from Tartous port in Syria to Jordan’s Aqaba, thereby making Teraibeel crossing to Jordan far more important.

Imad Mishaal, mayor of the strategic Rutbah, a town located on the Amman-Baghdad road, asked why the Iraqi government decided to close Teraibeel crossing and not al-Waleed crossing to Syria?

According to Mishaal, the government is waging an economic war to pressure the protesters to stop demonstrating.

While the protesters have blocked the international road leading to Jordan and Syria, trucks and vehicles carrying cargos were still able to pass through by using agricultural routes.

Jordan's official news agency Petra did not say when the border would reopen.

The Teraibeel crossing is the only checkpoint linking Iraq and Jordan, and lies on a key trade route.

Protests by Sunni Muslims against Shiite President Nuri al-Maliki in Anbar province in western Iraq have blocked the road, which leads to Amman and to neighboring Syria.

Iraq's protesters call for the release of prisoners they say are detained because of their Sunni background, and an end to the alleged misuse of anti-terror legislation by the Shiite-led authorities against their community.

Protests by Sunni Muslims against Shiite President Nuri al-Maliki in Anbar province in western Iraq have blocked the road, which leads to Amman and to neighboring Syria.

Iraq's protesters call for the release of prisoners they say are detained because of their Sunni background, and an end to the alleged misuse of anti-terror legislation by the Shiite-led authorities against their community.