BAGHDAD - Iraq closed a border crossing with Jordan on Wednesday after Sunni Muslim demonstrators blocked a highway to Syria and Jordan as part of mass protests challenging Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's delicate power-sharing government.
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 a Sunni finance minister, local officials said.
"Our work has halted completely," Colonel Mahmoud Mohammed Ali, deputy chief of border police at the crossing told Reuters by telephone. "There are no trucks, no passenger cars, and officials at the gate are not working."
The protests have become a major test for Maliki, a Shi'ite nationalist whom many Sunni leaders accuse of marginalizing their minority sect, shoring up his own authority and pushing the OPEC country closer to Shi'ite non-Arab power Iran.