Polls have opened in Iraq for an early election that is being held in response to 2019 street protests. This is the fifth parliamentary vote since the ouster of former dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003. Nearly 25 million Iraqis are eligible to cast their ballots. Around 3,500 candidates, including some one-thousand women, are vying for 329 seats in parliament. Preliminary results are expected on Monday. Iraq’s top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has called for a large voter turnout. Security is tight, with all airports closed until Monday morning nationwide. More than 250,000 security personnel have been deployed to secure polling stations across Iraq.
Iran criticism of IAEA
Iran has criticized the International Atomic Energy Agency for failing to condemn an act of sabotage against its Karaj nuclear site on June the 23rd. Head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Mohammad Eslami said the IAEA, with its silence, effectively encouraged this type of terror attack. He added, the agency was not allowed to replace damaged cameras as required under the Iran nuclear deal because of the non-compliance with relevant obligations by the US and the Europeans. Eslami noted that Iran will not tolerate the IAEA’s double standards. He also stressed that Iran is pushing ahead with its civilian nuclear program, adding that the country has now more than 120 kilograms of 20-percent enriched uranium. He said Iran will maintain its self-reliance on supplying Tehran’s research reactor with fuel.
France-UK migration row
The French interior minister has called for the start of talks for a migration treaty between the European Union and Britain. Gerald Darmanin said it is necessary to negotiate migration issues since Michel Barnier, the bloc’s former chief negotiator, did not do so when he negotiated Brexit. Darmanin underlined that France will steer the project when it takes over the EU's rotating presidency in January. He also urged the British government to uphold its promise to finance the fight against illegal immigrants who gather on the northern French coast in order to cross into England. The issue of the trafficking of migrants across the English Channel has been a constant source of friction between Paris and London. France says it currently bears the costs of maintaining border security amid illegal migration.