Fox News World

For years, Karar Hussein has sold sweets in his shop near the entrance to one of Shiite Islam’s holiest shrines, accepting whatever currency was offered to him by his clients, many of them religious tourists from neighboring Iran. But lately, when Iranian pilgrims ask about prices, he tells them he can only sell if they pay in Iraqi currency. They often walk out, disappointed.

Hussein and many other shop owners in Baghdad’s northern Shiite holy neighborhood of Kadhimiya have seen sales drop sharply over the past year since President Donald Trump began re-imposing sanctions on Iran, home to the largest number of Shiite Muslims around the world.

The value of Iran’s currency, the rial, has decreased almost fourfold, pushing the price of nearly everything beyond the reach of ordinary Iranian consumers in Iran and abroad.

Standing in his shop wearing jeans and a T-shirt, 27-year-old Hussein said his sales have dropped 30% since last year, but he still prefers not to be paid in Iranian rials because the currency’s value keeps depreciating. “Their currency is crashing,” he said.

Millions of Shiites from around the world come to Iraq every year to visit its many Shiite shrines and holy places, including the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala in southern Iraq and the central city of Samarra, home to the revered golden-domed al-Askari shrine. They bring large amounts of money into the country, where tourism is the second biggest source of income for state coffers after oil exports.

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government in 2003, Iranians have made up the majority of religious tourists to Iraq, although tens of thousands come from other countries.

But tensions have been rising recently in the Middle East between the United States and Iran and there have been concerns that Iraq, whose government is allied with both Tehran and Washington, would become caught in the middle, likely increasing pressures on Iraq’s tourism sector.

A favorite tourist destination is the Kadhimiya district in north Baghdad, typically bustling with Iranians shopping for clothes, sweets and trinkets. The area is home to the al-Kadhimayn shrine, known for its two domes and four minarets draped with gold and contains the tombs of Imam Moussa al-Kadhim and his grandson Mohammed al-Jawad, two of Shiite Islam’s most revered figures.

On a recent afternoon in Kadhimiya, hundreds of Iranian pilgrims entered and left the shrine, passing by scores of shops on both sides of a pedestrian street leading to the holy site without buying anything.

“Money is a big problem for us. This is really hurting us,” said Iranian citizen Hussein Fazeli, as he left the shrine. Fazeli, who brings pilgrims from Iran to Iraq, said the number of Iranian visitors has dropped because many cannot afford to travel now.

Speaking in broken Arabic, Fazeli said Iran will end up victorious no matter how long the crisis takes, adding that “Trump will go, and Iran will stay.”

Iran’s currency has been declining steadily for years but the drop has accelerated in recent months after Trump’s decision to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and re-impose sanctions.

Mohammed Saadi Hadi, who inherited his tiny clothes stand outside the al-Kadhimayn shrine from his father, says sales have dropped by 70%. Prayer gowns for women now cost four times what they cost last year in Iranian currency. He used to sell 60 gowns a day but today he sells less than 10.

Thamer Jabbar, owner of a perfume store, said Iranian tourists now not only abstain from buying, but some of them bring with them items such as saffron spice and stone rings to sell in Iraq, hoping to make up for some of their trip’s cost.

Jabbar, 38, said his best days were after Iran and world powers signed the nuclear deal in 2015, which led to the lifting of sanctions on Iran and the release of billions of dollars of frozen assets. On a good day then, Jabbar would sell $700 worth of perfume.

“Today I barely sell anything to an Iranian tourist. Perfumes in Iran have become cheaper,” he said.

Source: Fox News World

For years, Karar Hussein has sold sweets in his shop near the entrance to one of Shiite Islam’s holiest shrines, accepting whatever currency was offered to him by his clients, many of them religious tourists from neighboring Iran. But lately, when Iranian pilgrims ask about prices, he tells them he can only sell if they pay in Iraqi currency. They often walk out, disappointed.

Hussein and many other shop owners in Baghdad’s northern Shiite holy neighborhood of Kadhimiya have seen sales drop sharply over the past year since President Donald Trump began re-imposing sanctions on Iran, home to the largest number of Shiite Muslims around the world.

The value of Iran’s currency, the rial, has decreased almost fourfold, pushing the price of nearly everything beyond the reach of ordinary Iranian consumers in Iran and abroad.

Standing in his shop wearing jeans and a T-shirt, 27-year-old Hussein said his sales have dropped 30% since last year, but he still prefers not to be paid in Iranian rials because the currency’s value keeps depreciating. “Their currency is crashing,” he said.

Millions of Shiites from around the world come to Iraq every year to visit its many Shiite shrines and holy places, including the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala in southern Iraq and the central city of Samarra, home to the revered golden-domed al-Askari shrine. They bring large amounts of money into the country, where tourism is the second biggest source of income for state coffers after oil exports.

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government in 2003, Iranians have made up the majority of religious tourists to Iraq, although tens of thousands come from other countries.

But tensions have been rising recently in the Middle East between the United States and Iran and there have been concerns that Iraq, whose government is allied with both Tehran and Washington, would become caught in the middle, likely increasing pressures on Iraq’s tourism sector.

A favorite tourist destination is the Kadhimiya district in north Baghdad, typically bustling with Iranians shopping for clothes, sweets and trinkets. The area is home to the al-Kadhimayn shrine, known for its two domes and four minarets draped with gold and contains the tombs of Imam Moussa al-Kadhim and his grandson Mohammed al-Jawad, two of Shiite Islam’s most revered figures.

On a recent afternoon in Kadhimiya, hundreds of Iranian pilgrims entered and left the shrine, passing by scores of shops on both sides of a pedestrian street leading to the holy site without buying anything.

“Money is a big problem for us. This is really hurting us,” said Iranian citizen Hussein Fazeli, as he left the shrine. Fazeli, who brings pilgrims from Iran to Iraq, said the number of Iranian visitors has dropped because many cannot afford to travel now.

Speaking in broken Arabic, Fazeli said Iran will end up victorious no matter how long the crisis takes, adding that “Trump will go, and Iran will stay.”

Iran’s currency has been declining steadily for years but the drop has accelerated in recent months after Trump’s decision to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and re-impose sanctions.

Mohammed Saadi Hadi, who inherited his tiny clothes stand outside the al-Kadhimayn shrine from his father, says sales have dropped by 70%. Prayer gowns for women now cost four times what they cost last year in Iranian currency. He used to sell 60 gowns a day but today he sells less than 10.

Thamer Jabbar, owner of a perfume store, said Iranian tourists now not only abstain from buying, but some of them bring with them items such as saffron spice and stone rings to sell in Iraq, hoping to make up for some of their trip’s cost.

Jabbar, 38, said his best days were after Iran and world powers signed the nuclear deal in 2015, which led to the lifting of sanctions on Iran and the release of billions of dollars of frozen assets. On a good day then, Jabbar would sell $700 worth of perfume.

“Today I barely sell anything to an Iranian tourist. Perfumes in Iran have become cheaper,” he said.

Source: Fox News World

As voters in all 28 European Union countries elect a new shared parliament , here are some key races to watch in the battle to fill the 751 seats in the European Parliament:

ITALY

Italy’s anti-migrant, anti-Islam interior minister, Matteo Salvini, has been campaigning hard to boost his right-wing League party to become the No. 1 party in Italy and possibly Europe.

Salvini has been using his hard-line credentials to expand a parliamentary group of European populists that already includes far-right politicians in France, Germany and Austria. Salvini is promising to restore sovereignty over key issues like immigration to national capitals, thwarting the EU’s drive toward closer integration of its members.

In Europe, the populists will find it difficult to deliver on their transformation promises. But Salvini is also looking to capitalize on the outcome of the European elections to boost his power at home in the League’s uneasy populist ruling coalition with the left-wing 5-Star Movement.

Salvini could use European electoral gains to leverage his position in the government and pass policies important to his base of northern Italian entrepreneurs, like a flat tax or the high-speed train connecting Lyon, France, with Turin.

Most analysts believe that Salvini is unlikely to seek an early election in Italy even with a big victory on the European stage. The 5-Star Movement, on the other hand, could decide to pull the plug on the coalition government.

FRANCE

France is looking at an epic battle between pro-EU centrist President Emmanuel Macron and anti-immigration, far-right flagbearer Marine Le Pen in the European Parliament vote, a duel over Europe’s basic values.

A loss for Macron’s Republic on the Move party would cripple the French leader’s grand ambitions for a more united Europe. Macron wants EU countries to share budgets and soldiers and work even more closely together to keep Europe globally relevant and prevent conflict.

For Macron, Le Pen represents the “leprosy” of nationalism that is eating the EU from within. For Le Pen, the race is a battle to preserve European civilization from the threat of “massive immigration” and uncontrolled globalization.

As far-right parties court the youth vote , Le Pen is counting on 23-year-old Jordan Bardella to lead her National Rally party to victory, then revamp the EU from within.

Le Pen’s party, then called the National Front, won France’s European parliamentary elections in 2014, but today she is looking beyond home territory. She has traveled to numerous European capitals recently to lend support to populist candidates, with the goal of enlarging their parliamentary group.

France has 34 lists of candidates in the European election, but Macron crushed France’s traditional right and left parties in 2017 when he won the presidency, and they’re still struggling.

GERMANY

Germany’s governing parties look likely to lose some ground in the European Union’s most populous country, while the environmentalist Greens and the far-right Alternative for Germany parties are eyeing gains.

The vote is shaping up to be a particularly tough test for the center-left Social Democrats , the junior partners in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition. They have been struggling badly in polls and there is widespread speculation that a poor performance could hasten the end of Merkel’s coalition government.

For Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, it is the first test for new leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer since Germany’s longtime chancellor gave up her party’s leadership last year.

The Greens have been soaring in polls , partly at the Social Democrats’ expense, and hope to convert that support into votes. And Alternative for Germany hopes to strengthen its presence in the European Parliament, adding to its strong contingent in Germany’s national legislature.

Many of Germany’s 96 seats in the European Parliament are also likely to go to a variety of fringe parties.

HUNGARY

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban describes the European Parliament vote as “decisive” for Hungary and Europe, an opportunity for populist and anti-migration forces to have a larger say in setting the agenda in Brussels.

While his party’s victory in Hungary is unquestioned, where the allegiances of Orban and his right-wing Fidesz party will lie after the election on the European scene is far less certain.

Fidesz’s membership in the center-right European People’s Party, currently the largest group in the EU legislature, was suspended in March because of concerns about the state of Hungary’s democracy. So Orban has spent the past few weeks hosting far-right, nationalist and populist politicians at his new office in Buda Castle.

Orban says he wants to stay in the center-right bloc while getting the EPP to cooperate more closely with nationalist and populist parties like Salvini’s League. That notion has been emphatically rejected by leading politicians from the EPP, including German Chancelor Angela Merkel.

If Salvini’s populists do well on Sunday, Orban could leave the EPP and try to get some of the party’s more right-wing members to join Salvini in a new, more radical alliance.

While Hungary has largely stemmed migration, Orban’s opposition to migrants still bears fruit, and pollsters expect Fidesz to win as many as 14 of Hungary’s 21 seats in the EU parliament.

BRITAIN

Britain wasn’t supposed to take part in the European Parliament elections at all, but had to organize a last-minute campaign when its planned March exit from the EU was postponed.

The British voting Thursday came amid intense political turmoil sparked by its 2016 referendum to quit the EU. Embattled Prime Minister Theresa May will now step down as Conservative Party leader on June 7 after failing to deliver Brexit.

Both Britain’s Conservatives and the Labour Party are predicted to be heading for an electoral pasting in the European vote due to the chaos over Brexit.

Britain’s Brexit party, led by Nigel Farage, has appeared to gain strength in recent voter surveys. Farage says he hopes to have the shortest possible tenure as a European Parliament lawmaker because he wants Britain to leave the EU as quickly as possible.

The U.K. has 73 seats at the European Parliament, and its lawmakers would lose their jobs when their country leaves the EU.

AUSTRIA

Sunday’s European Parliament vote in Austria has been upended by the sudden collapse of Austria’s governing coalition in a scandal that has tarnished the far-right Freedom Party. It will serve as a first test of support ahead of an early national election expected in September.

Heinz-Christian Strache quit last weekend as vice chancellor and Freedom Party leader after a leaked video showed him appearing to offer favors to a purported Russian investor during a boozy meeting on the Spanish island of Ibiza two years ago. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz then called for a new election and is now running an interim government with experts replacing the Freedom Party’s ministers.

The European Parliament election should offer clues as to whether the popular Kurz’s conservative People’s Party will benefit from the scandal. But regardless of the result, Kurz is expected to face a small opposition party’s no-confidence motion in parliament on Monday, and it’s unclear whether he will keep his job.

___

Colleen Barry in Milan, Italy, Geir Moulson in Berlin, Pablo Gorondi in Budapest, and Elaine Ganley and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed.

Source: Fox News World

As voters in all 28 European Union countries elect a new shared parliament , here are some key races to watch in the battle to fill the 751 seats in the European Parliament:

ITALY

Italy’s anti-migrant, anti-Islam interior minister, Matteo Salvini, has been campaigning hard to boost his right-wing League party to become the No. 1 party in Italy and possibly Europe.

Salvini has been using his hard-line credentials to expand a parliamentary group of European populists that already includes far-right politicians in France, Germany and Austria. Salvini is promising to restore sovereignty over key issues like immigration to national capitals, thwarting the EU’s drive toward closer integration of its members.

In Europe, the populists will find it difficult to deliver on their transformation promises. But Salvini is also looking to capitalize on the outcome of the European elections to boost his power at home in the League’s uneasy populist ruling coalition with the left-wing 5-Star Movement.

Salvini could use European electoral gains to leverage his position in the government and pass policies important to his base of northern Italian entrepreneurs, like a flat tax or the high-speed train connecting Lyon, France, with Turin.

Most analysts believe that Salvini is unlikely to seek an early election in Italy even with a big victory on the European stage. The 5-Star Movement, on the other hand, could decide to pull the plug on the coalition government.

FRANCE

France is looking at an epic battle between pro-EU centrist President Emmanuel Macron and anti-immigration, far-right flagbearer Marine Le Pen in the European Parliament vote, a duel over Europe’s basic values.

A loss for Macron’s Republic on the Move party would cripple the French leader’s grand ambitions for a more united Europe. Macron wants EU countries to share budgets and soldiers and work even more closely together to keep Europe globally relevant and prevent conflict.

For Macron, Le Pen represents the “leprosy” of nationalism that is eating the EU from within. For Le Pen, the race is a battle to preserve European civilization from the threat of “massive immigration” and uncontrolled globalization.

As far-right parties court the youth vote , Le Pen is counting on 23-year-old Jordan Bardella to lead her National Rally party to victory, then revamp the EU from within.

Le Pen’s party, then called the National Front, won France’s European parliamentary elections in 2014, but today she is looking beyond home territory. She has traveled to numerous European capitals recently to lend support to populist candidates, with the goal of enlarging their parliamentary group.

France has 34 lists of candidates in the European election, but Macron crushed France’s traditional right and left parties in 2017 when he won the presidency, and they’re still struggling.

GERMANY

Germany’s governing parties look likely to lose some ground in the European Union’s most populous country, while the environmentalist Greens and the far-right Alternative for Germany parties are eyeing gains.

The vote is shaping up to be a particularly tough test for the center-left Social Democrats , the junior partners in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition. They have been struggling badly in polls and there is widespread speculation that a poor performance could hasten the end of Merkel’s coalition government.

For Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, it is the first test for new leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer since Germany’s longtime chancellor gave up her party’s leadership last year.

The Greens have been soaring in polls , partly at the Social Democrats’ expense, and hope to convert that support into votes. And Alternative for Germany hopes to strengthen its presence in the European Parliament, adding to its strong contingent in Germany’s national legislature.

Many of Germany’s 96 seats in the European Parliament are also likely to go to a variety of fringe parties.

HUNGARY

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban describes the European Parliament vote as “decisive” for Hungary and Europe, an opportunity for populist and anti-migration forces to have a larger say in setting the agenda in Brussels.

While his party’s victory in Hungary is unquestioned, where the allegiances of Orban and his right-wing Fidesz party will lie after the election on the European scene is far less certain.

Fidesz’s membership in the center-right European People’s Party, currently the largest group in the EU legislature, was suspended in March because of concerns about the state of Hungary’s democracy. So Orban has spent the past few weeks hosting far-right, nationalist and populist politicians at his new office in Buda Castle.

Orban says he wants to stay in the center-right bloc while getting the EPP to cooperate more closely with nationalist and populist parties like Salvini’s League. That notion has been emphatically rejected by leading politicians from the EPP, including German Chancelor Angela Merkel.

If Salvini’s populists do well on Sunday, Orban could leave the EPP and try to get some of the party’s more right-wing members to join Salvini in a new, more radical alliance.

While Hungary has largely stemmed migration, Orban’s opposition to migrants still bears fruit, and pollsters expect Fidesz to win as many as 14 of Hungary’s 21 seats in the EU parliament.

BRITAIN

Britain wasn’t supposed to take part in the European Parliament elections at all, but had to organize a last-minute campaign when its planned March exit from the EU was postponed.

The British voting Thursday came amid intense political turmoil sparked by its 2016 referendum to quit the EU. Embattled Prime Minister Theresa May will now step down as Conservative Party leader on June 7 after failing to deliver Brexit.

Both Britain’s Conservatives and the Labour Party are predicted to be heading for an electoral pasting in the European vote due to the chaos over Brexit.

Britain’s Brexit party, led by Nigel Farage, has appeared to gain strength in recent voter surveys. Farage says he hopes to have the shortest possible tenure as a European Parliament lawmaker because he wants Britain to leave the EU as quickly as possible.

The U.K. has 73 seats at the European Parliament, and its lawmakers would lose their jobs when their country leaves the EU.

AUSTRIA

Sunday’s European Parliament vote in Austria has been upended by the sudden collapse of Austria’s governing coalition in a scandal that has tarnished the far-right Freedom Party. It will serve as a first test of support ahead of an early national election expected in September.

Heinz-Christian Strache quit last weekend as vice chancellor and Freedom Party leader after a leaked video showed him appearing to offer favors to a purported Russian investor during a boozy meeting on the Spanish island of Ibiza two years ago. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz then called for a new election and is now running an interim government with experts replacing the Freedom Party’s ministers.

The European Parliament election should offer clues as to whether the popular Kurz’s conservative People’s Party will benefit from the scandal. But regardless of the result, Kurz is expected to face a small opposition party’s no-confidence motion in parliament on Monday, and it’s unclear whether he will keep his job.

___

Colleen Barry in Milan, Italy, Geir Moulson in Berlin, Pablo Gorondi in Budapest, and Elaine Ganley and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed.

Source: Fox News World

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has resigned after seven years on the job.

His announcement follows weeks of high profile defections from his government to the opposition.

O’Neill said in a news conference in the capital of Port Moresby that recent movements in parliament have shown a “need for change.”

He handed over his leadership to a former prime minister and current member of parliament, Sir Julius Chan.

On Friday, one of O Neill’s key coalition allies abandoned him. The opposition bloc has since been saying it has 62 lawmakers in its camp, which would give it a majority in parliament.

The resignation will be formalized when O’Neill visits the governor-general, the official representative of Queen Elizabeth II.

Source: Fox News World

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has resigned after seven years on the job.

His announcement follows weeks of high profile defections from his government to the opposition.

O’Neill said in a news conference in the capital of Port Moresby that recent movements in parliament have shown a “need for change.”

He handed over his leadership to a former prime minister and current member of parliament, Sir Julius Chan.

On Friday, one of O Neill’s key coalition allies abandoned him. The opposition bloc has since been saying it has 62 lawmakers in its camp, which would give it a majority in parliament.

The resignation will be formalized when O’Neill visits the governor-general, the official representative of Queen Elizabeth II.

Source: Fox News World

Iran’s president is suggesting the Islamic Republic could hold a public referendum over the country’s nuclear program amid tensions with the United States.

The state-run IRNA news agency reported Hassan Rouhani made the comment late on Saturday.

Rouhani says he previously suggested a referendum to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 2004, when he was a senior nuclear negotiator.

Such a referendum could provide political cover for the Iranian government if it chooses to increase its enrichment of uranium, prohibited under the 2015 deal with world powers.

President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal last year. In recent weeks, tensions between the U.S. and Iran have risen over America deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region over a still-unexplained threat it perceives from Tehran.

Source: Fox News World

Iran’s president is suggesting the Islamic Republic could hold a public referendum over the country’s nuclear program amid tensions with the United States.

The state-run IRNA news agency reported Hassan Rouhani made the comment late on Saturday.

Rouhani says he previously suggested a referendum to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 2004, when he was a senior nuclear negotiator.

Such a referendum could provide political cover for the Iranian government if it chooses to increase its enrichment of uranium, prohibited under the 2015 deal with world powers.

President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal last year. In recent weeks, tensions between the U.S. and Iran have risen over America deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region over a still-unexplained threat it perceives from Tehran.

Source: Fox News World

Irish voters have overwhelmingly endorsed a plan to liberalize the country’s constitution to make it easier for couples to divorce.

Election officials said Sunday a proposal to remove a constitutional requirement that couples be separated for four years before being allowed to divorce will be removed.

It will fall to Ireland’s Parliament to come up with new legislation to govern divorce.

Officials say more than 82% of voters endorsed the change, which follows liberalization of abortion laws approved in a referendum last year.

Culture Minister Josepha Madigan told RTE News voters had shown compassion by “humanizing the system.”

Voter turnout on the referendum vote was just over 50%.

Local election results are still being tallied.

Source: Fox News World

Irish voters have overwhelmingly endorsed a plan to liberalize the country’s constitution to make it easier for couples to divorce.

Election officials said Sunday a proposal to remove a constitutional requirement that couples be separated for four years before being allowed to divorce will be removed.

It will fall to Ireland’s Parliament to come up with new legislation to govern divorce.

Officials say more than 82% of voters endorsed the change, which follows liberalization of abortion laws approved in a referendum last year.

Culture Minister Josepha Madigan told RTE News voters had shown compassion by “humanizing the system.”

Voter turnout on the referendum vote was just over 50%.

Local election results are still being tallied.

Source: Fox News World


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