Religious unity urged in Anbar as Shiite leader visits

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.Iraq’s Shiites account for about 60 percent of the population, while the Sunni Arabs and the mostly Sunni Kurds make up most of the remainder. Al-Hakim, son and heir apparent of Iraq’s top Shiite politician, struck a note of national unity in Anbar, where a tribal revolt has significantly reduced violence in the vast province and inspired similar uprisings against al-Qaida elsewhere in central Iraq and Baghdad. Al-Maliki’s government has grudgingly supported the uprisings, but has expressed concern that the new Sunni militias must operate under its control. “Iraq does not belong to the Sunnis or the Shiites alone; nor does it belong to the Arabs or the Kurds and Turkomen,” al-Hakim told his hosts in the provincial capital Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad. “Today, we must stand up and declare that Iraq is for all Iraqis.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! BAGHDAD – In a major reconciliatory gesture, a leader from Iraq’s largest Shiite party paid a rare visit Sunday to the Sunni Anbar province, delivering a message of unity to tribal sheiks who have staged a U.S.-backed revolt against al-Qaida militants. Ammar al-Hakim’s visit was the latest sign that key Iraqi politicians may be working toward reconciliation independently of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government, which has faced criticism for doing little to iron out differences among the country’s Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis. Sunni Arab Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi visited Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, last month at the holy city of Najaf south of Baghdad. The visit amounted to an unprecedented Sunni Arab endorsement of al-Sistani’s role as the nation’s guardian. Al-Hashemi’s Iraqi Islamic Party also has been distancing itself from militant Sunni Arab groups and has in recent months forged closer ties with al-Hakim’s Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, the country’s largest Shiite party, and the two major Kurdish parties. last_img read more

Nothing made it Ranch that offered trail rides gutted by Waterton wildfire

first_imgWATERTON, Alta. – A family-run horse ranch that was gutted by a southwestern Alberta wildfire this week was a major fixture in Shelby Barrus’s childhood.Alpine Stables, which offered guided trail rides to visitors in Waterton Lakes National Park, was founded nearly a half-century ago by her great-aunt and great-uncle.Barrus, 22, recalls staying there as a girl and waking up in the morning to see bears ambling through the yard. At night she’d go to sleep to the sound of elk bugling.She has worked at Alpine Stables since she was 14, first helping to lead guided rides, now in the office.“Waterton has been a big part of my life, my family’s life,” she said.“It’s been really hard. It’s a tough loss for us all.”Some of her relatives were allowed in for an hour Friday morning to take stock of the damage. The house and barns were destroyed.“Nothing made it,” she said.Fortunately, all of the ranch’s 50 horses had been removed Sept. 5, when residents of Waterton were warned they might have to leave on short notice as the fire raged in British Columbia just outside the park.A mandatory evacuation order was issued three days later when the fire was about to cross into the park.Parks Canada leases the land for the stables to the Barrus family, so they have yet to sort out any rebuilding plans.The agency detailed the damage from the fire on Friday. It confirmed that homes and businesses within the park’s townsite were spared.But in addition to Alpine Stables, the visitor centre was razed as was the structure at the East Gate warden station, along with its equipment and vehicles.One of the largest campgrounds, Crandell Mountain, was also significantly damaged, and outlying infrastructure around the Parks Canada operations compound and a bison paddock was hit.The main building of the landmark Prince of Wales hotel, standing high on a bluff with a spectacular view of the lake and townsite, was unscathed, but some facilities surrounding the stately wooden 1920s railway hotel were harmed.The popular Red Rock and Cameron Lake day-use areas and facilities, including an Alpine Club of Canada hut, are fine. There was minor damage outside the golf course clubhouse.Parks Canada and utility company Fortis were working to restore power.Parks Canada said it will continue to assess the damage.“Due to the high intensity of the fire, there are a large number of danger trees, rock falls, and other hazards that remain throughout. Moreover, guardrails, signage, and other minor infrastructure were heavily impacted.”Damp, cool weather was helping firefighting efforts in the area and the wildfire had not grown larger than 360 square kilometres.Parks Canada cautioned that the fire was still out of control and risks remained.John Barlow, member of Parliament for the area, said he did a flyover of the park and surrounding area earlier in the week.“I have to say, the damage to Waterton is devastating,” he said in a Facebook video. “It looks like about 30 per cent of the park has been severely damaged by the fire, about 70 per cent of the forested area has been lost.”In addition to the Waterton townsite, a portion of the Municipal District of Pincher Creek just to the park’s north remained under an evacuation order.Residents have been allowed back into a larger area elsewhere in the Pincher Creek municipality and an evacuation order for Castle Mountain Resort has been lifted. Evacuees have also been able to return to parts of Cardston County and the Blood reserve, a First Nations community southwest of Lethbridge.— By Lauren Krugel in CalgaryNote to readers: This is a corrected story. A version Thursday said evacuation orders in all areas of the MD of Pincher Creek had been liftedlast_img read more