With 1,000 put to death in 2015, Iran one of top executioners

Updated 08 January 2016
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With 1,000 put to death in 2015, Iran one of top executioners

RIYADH: Iran may have executed over 1,000 people in 2015, according to the London-based human rights watchdog Amnesty International.
“Iran executed about 700 people in the first six months of 2015, an average of three people every day and the final execution count might top 1,000 by the end of the just concluded year,” according to the report.
People were executed for drug trafficking but there were also some from ethnic and religious minorities killed for “fighting against religion” and “corruption on the earth.” There were 743 people executed in 2014, amnesty said.
Said Boumedouha, deputy director of Amnesty International for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), said: “Iran’s staggering execution toll for the first half of 2015 paints a sinister picture of the machinery of the state carrying out premeditated, judicially sanctioned killings on a mass scale.”
“If the Iranian authorities maintain the horrifying execution rate we are likely to see the figure crossing the 1,000 mark by the year’s end,” Boumedouha had added late last year. “It raises additional concerns in a country like Iran where trials are blatantly unfair.”
Among those sent to the gallows include clerics and activists from the Sunni minority including Shahram Ahadi. His younger brother, Bahram Ahmadi, was executed in 2012 along with five other Sunni clerics.
Moreover, Tehran executed Rehana Jabbari in October 2014 despite an international campaign urging for a reprieve, which was described as a “travesty” by Amnesty International.
Jabbari, 26, was hanged for killing a former intelligence ministry officer who, she said, tried to sexually abuse her.
Tehran has rejected the figures, saying it executed 247 people in 2015 and 289 in 2014. The differences, according to Amnesty is that the Iranian authorities refuse to acknowledge all the executions they carried out.
“Each year the Iranian authorities acknowledge a certain number of judicial executions, however, many more executions are carried out but not acknowledged and the real number of those sent to the gallows far exceeds the official count,” said the Amnesty website.
Amnesty further believes that “several thousand” people are currently on death row in Iran. China carries out more executions a year than Iran, according to Amnesty. However, in terms of executions per capita, Iran, with a population of around 77 million, has the highest rate of executions in the world, according to the human rights watchdog.


Iraq’s Shiite rivals agree on prime minister

Updated 18 September 2018
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Iraq’s Shiite rivals agree on prime minister

  • Veteran Shiite politician Adel Abdul Mahdi informally nominated to replace Haider Al-Abadi
  • Decision reached after extensive negotiations between pro and anti-Iran factions

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s rival Shiite blocs in parliament have agreed on who they want as the next prime minister after making progress in negotiations towards forming a government, negotiators told Arab News.

The two factions, one pro Iran and the other anti, have agreed to work together as a coalition, negotiators told Arab News on Tuesday.

The veteran Shiite politician and former vice president Adel Abdul Mahdi was informally nominated to replace Haider Al-Abadi, negotiators said. 

He will be assigned on Sept. 25 to form a government if his nomination is approved by the Kurdish blocs. 

Before the appointment of prime minister, the president has to be selected. There is no indication that the Kurds, who get the post according to the Iraq’s power sharing agreement, have decided on who to nominate. 

Iraq’s parliament has been split between the Reform alliance and Al-Binna’a alliance after elections in May.

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READ MORE: Iraq parliament elects Sunni lawmaker Al-Halbousi as speaker, breaking deadlock

Rival Iraqi factions make coalition deal and end Al-Abadi’s prime minister hopes

Rival Shiite factions trade blame for who drove the burning of buildings in Basra

Iran accused of hijacking Basra protests after a week of violence that shook Iraq

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Reform is controlled by Muqtada Al-Sadr, one of the country’s most influential Shiite clerics who opposes Iranian influence in the country.

Iran-backed Al-Binna’a is led by Hadi Al-Amiri, the head of Badr organization, the most prominent Shiite armed faction.

At the first parliamentary session earlier this month, both coalitions claimed they have the most number of seats which would give them the right to form a government.

Within hours, violent demonstrations erupted in Basra, Iraq’s main oil hub, killing 15 demonstrators and injuring scores of people. The Iranian consulate was set on fire along with dozens of government and party buildings.

The violence on the street reflected the stand-off in parliament and threatened to erupt into fighting between the armed wings associated with the different Shiite groups.

The agreement between the two blocs was the only way to end the violence and prevent a slide into intra-Shiite  fighting, senior leaders involved in the talks said.

Several meetings between Al-Sadr and Al-Amiri were held in Al-Sadr’s residency in the holy city of Najaf last week to defuse the crisis.

Both parties’ desire for a truce seemed clear on Saturday at a parliament session to elect the speaker and his deputies. The two blocks showed their influence without colliding with each other. Al-Binna’a presented its candidate for the speaker post and stepped down after winning to make way for the Reform bloc to present its candidate for the post of first deputy of the speaker without competition.

The negotiations teams continued their meetings over the following days to agree on the details of the government program and select the nominee for the prime minister among the dozens of candidates presented by the forces belonging to the two alliances.

The first results of talks between the two blocs came out on Tuesday when Al-Amiri withdrew from the race “to open doors for more talks,” and avoid  conflict between the alliances.

“We will not talk on behalf of Al-Binna’a or the Reform. We both will agree on a candidate. Compatibility is our only choice,” Al-Amiri, said at a press conference in Baghdad.

“Today, Iraq needs to be saved, as we saved it from Daesh, so we have only two options, either we choose to impose the wills and twist each others arms or choose the understanding between us.”

 Iraq has been a battleground for regional and international powers, especially Iran and the United States, since 2003 US-led invasion. 

Brett McGurk, the US envoy to Iraq and Syria, and General Qassim Soleimani, commander of Iran's Al Quds Force, are deeply involved in the negotiations. 

The candidate for prime minister should also enjoy the blessing of the religious powers in Najaf, represented by Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, the Shiite spiritual leader and most revered figure in Iraq, negotiators said.

“The situation is complicated as there are three different sides that enjoy the right to use veto. They are Iran, US and Najaf,” a key negotiator of Al-Sadr’s negotiation team told Arab News.

“One ‘no’ is enough to exclude any candidate. Not only that, Sadr and Amiri also have their conditions and we still have difficulty reconciling all of them.”

The marathon negotiations, which run every day until late at night, finally reached a shortlist for prime minister.

The three names reached were Adel Abdul Mahdi, a former leader of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, Falih Al-Fayadh, the former national security adviser, and Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, the head of the intelligence service.

Adel Abdul Mahdi was the chosen one, three negotiators from different sides told Arab News.

“We have agreed to nominate Adel Abdul Mahdi as he is the only one who was approved by the three sides (Iran, the US and Najaf),” an Al-Sadr negotiator told Arab News.