Iraq closes its borders to Jordan after highway protests
Iraqi Sunni protestors pray on the main highway to Syria and Jordan near Ramadi. (AFP PHOTO / AZHER SHALLAL)
Iraq closed its border with Jordan on Wednesday after anti-government protestors blocked the main highway linking the two countries.
According to Reuters, local officials said Baghdad ordered troops to shut the Traibil border post in the Sunni heartland province of Anbar, where protests erupted in late December after authorities arrested the bodyguards of Sunni finance minister Rafa al-Essawi.
Opposition demonstrators have accused Shia prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, of abusing counter-terror legislation to persecute the minority Sunni community.
Jordan's official news agency, Petra, reported that the Iraqi authorities informed the Kingdom that the border would be closed from Wednesday at 6:00 am (0300 GMT) for "their own private reasons."
The Traibil crossing is the only checkpoint linking Iraq and Jordan. The highway blocked by the anti-government sit-in in the western province of Anbar that started on December 23, also links Iraq to Syria.
According to Reuters, local Sunni officials in Anbar say the central government has closed the crossing to choke the local economy in an attempt to put pressure on protesters to move.
Deputy chief of border police at the Traibil crossing told Reuters on Wednesday: "Our work has halted completely.
"There are no trucks, no passenger cars, and officials at the gate are not working."