By John Lee.
Iraqi troops have closed the only major border crossing with Jordan on Wednesday, after Sunni Muslim demonstrators blocked a highway to Syria and Jordan as part of mass protests against Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The crossing at Traibil [Turaybeel, Tirbil, Tarbiel] (pictured) is in the Sunni province of Anbar, where protests erupted in late December after authorities arrested the bodyguards of Sunni finance minister Rafie al-Issawi [Rafie al-Esawi, Rafi Hiyad al-Issawi, Rafia al-Issawi] on terrorism charges.
According to a report from Reuters, several thousand demonstrators are camped out on the highway near the Sunni stronghold of Ramadi, about 100 km (60 miles) west of Baghdad, before the point at which it splits, with one road leading to Syria and another to Jordan.
One of the protest organizers, Saeed Humaim, told The Associated Press:
"The closure [of the Jordanian border] ... serves only one purpose, and that is to damage the image of the protesters and depict them as troublemakers who want to make the lives of Iraqis more difficult ... We will stand firm on our demands, and we will not be shaken by this irresponsible act."
(Sources: Reuters, Associated Press)