29 dead in deadly Iraq attacks

Updated 17 January 2013
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29 dead in deadly Iraq attacks

KIRKUK, Iraq: A wave of attacks in Baghdad and north Iraq killed 29 people yesterday, officials said, as hundreds attended the funeral of a Sunni MP who died in a suicide attack a day earlier.
The violence, which struck mostly in disputed territory in north Iraq and left at least 235 people injured, was the deadliest this year.
It comes as Iraq is engulfed in a political crisis with Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki facing several protests hardening opposition against his rule and calls for his ouster from many of his former government partners.
Yesterday’s deadliest attacks struck the ethnically-mixed city of Kirkuk, 240 kilometers (150 miles) north of Baghdad, where two car bombs in the same neighborhood killed at least 16 people and wounded 190 others, according to provincial health chief Sadiq Omar Rasul.
“Both explosions inflicted massive destruction,” said police Brigadier General Sarhad Qader. “Our forces are still trying to remove corpses from the rubble (of the first attack).”
The first blast was detonated by a suicide attacker during the morning rush hour and appeared to target a compound housing local offices of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of Kurdish regional president Massud Barzani.
A second car bomb parked on the side of a road nearby detonated shortly thereafter, apparently targeting a KDP official.
Qader said six members of Iraq’s security forces were killed and 10 others wounded in the two blasts.
Another suicide car bombing in the town of Tuz Khurmatu, also north of Baghdad, killed four people and wounded 30 others. The attack struck near the offices of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
Both Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu lie in a tract of disputed territory in north Iraq that Kurdistan wants to incorporate into its autonomous three-province region against the wishes of the central government in Baghdad.
The row is regarded as the biggest long-term threat to Iraq’s future stability.
In Baghdad five separate attacks left six people dead, officials said, while bombings in Baiji, Hawija and Tikrit, all north of Baghdad, killed three people and wounded seven others.
yesterday’s overall death toll was the highest since Dec. 17, according to an AFP tally.
Meanwhile, a top minister said that government has freed around 400 prisoners since Sunni Arabs began anti-government demonstrations last month, and will press on with more releases on a daily basis.
Deputy Prime Minister Hussein Al-Shahristani said that a committee formed in the wake of the protests would accelerate the process of reviewing prisoners’ cases and would look to immediately release those who had been proven innocent.


Arab women are on the march … straight into the heart of government

The appointment of the women ministers may help to assuage disappointment about the make-up of the rest of the — all male — Cabinet.
Updated 24 min 23 sec ago
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Arab women are on the march … straight into the heart of government

  • Recent appointments in Egypt are the latest example of the rise of women to high political office in the region
  • “The men’s monopoly has been broken,” the Jordanian National Commission for Women declared in a celebratory statement which also praised the prime minister’s “clear position”

CAIRO, LONDON: The appointment of two more female ministers this month to the new Egyptian Cabinet means women now fill eight out of 34 positions, the highest number in the modern history of Egypt.

Hala Zayed is the new health minister while Yasmine Fouad takes over as environment minister. Both women replaced men and join culture minister Inas Abdel-Dayem, tourism minister Rania Al-Mashat, Nabila Makram (immigration minister) Ghada Wali (social solidarity minister), Hala El-Saeed (planning minister) and Sahar Nasr (minister of investment and international cooperation).
The appointments by Egypt’s new Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly have been welcomed as forward thinking by social and political commentators.
Dr. Magda Bagnied, a writer and professor of communication, told Arab News: “I believe whoever planned for those eight effective ministries was looking forward for the future of Egypt since they are all interconnected in some way, and having females leading them is a leap forward.
“A country’s rank and status is measured by the role of women. The higher the number of leadership roles for women, the further the country is considered to be on the road to development.”
Four out of 15 new deputy ministers are also women and women now hold 15 percent of the seats in Parliament.
The rise of women to high political office in the Arab world is by no means restricted to Egypt.
Jordan also has a record number of women ministers after Prime Minister-designate Omar Razzaz appointed seven women to the 29-member Cabinet sworn in last week.
“The men’s monopoly has been broken,” the Jordanian National Commission for Women declared in a celebratory statement which also praised the prime minister’s “clear position.”
The appointment of the women ministers may help to assuage disappointment about the make-up of the rest of the — all male — Cabinet.
Twenty-three members of the new Jordanian Cabinet have been ministers before and 13 were members of the outgoing government that was brought down by popular protest.
Rawan Joyoussi, whose posters became one of the defining images of the protests, said: “I was hoping that women would be empowered and I am happy with that. But as far as the composition of the rest of the government is concerned, I think we have to play our part to create the mechanisms that will hold the government accountable.”
In the UAE, women hold nine out of 31 ministerial positions, and one of them, Minister for Youth Shamma Al-Mazrui, is also the world’s youngest minister, appointed in 2016 when she was only 22.
This makes the UAE Cabinet nearly 30 percent female, which is higher than India, almost equal to the UK and far ahead of the US, where Donald Trump has just four women in his Cabinet.
The general election in Morocco in October 2016 produced 81 women members of Parliament, accounting for 21 percent of the total 395 seats. The Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), which won the most votes, also ended up with the highest number of women MPs, 18.
Though elections in Saudi Arabia were open to women only in 2015, it ranks 100th out of 193rd in the world league table of women in national governing bodies, slightly above the US at 102nd place.
A policy briefing from the Brookings Institution think-tank in Washington says that one of the best ways for a country to ease economic pressure and boost productivity is to increase female participation in the workplace and in political life.
“Introducing diversity through gender parity will benefit economic growth and can help Arab countries to generate prosperity as well as the normative and social imperative of change,” wrote analyst Bessma Momani.
Yet in some parts of the Middle East, female representation seems to be going backward.
In 2009, four of Kuwait’s 65 MPs were women. In 2012 there were three and in 2013 only one. In 2016, 15 women stood for election to the 50 open parliamentary seats (the other 15 are appointed). Only one, Safa Al-Hashem, who was already an MP, was successful.
Qatar has no women MPs or ministers at all.
Egypt’s appointment of two more women ministers does not have the appearance of tokenism. The new Health Minister, Hala Zayed, 51, has a solid background in the field as a former president of the Academy of Health Sciences, a hospital specializing in cancer treatment for children.
She was also government adviser on health, chairwoman of a committee for combating corruption at the ministry she now heads and also has a Ph.d. in project management.
Similarly, Yasmeen Fouad, 43, the new environment minister, has four years’ experience as a former assistant minister in the same department, where she was known as “the lady for difficult missions,” and liaised with the UN. She is also an assistant professor of economics and political science at Cairo University.
Egypt’s first female minister was Hikmat Abu Zaid, appointed minister of social affairs in 1962 by President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who dubbed her “the merciful heart of revolution.”
Now there are eight like her, demonstrating that in the Middle East, “girl power” is on the rise.