Iraq frees 888 prisoners in fortnight amid demos: official

Updated 23 January 2013
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Iraq frees 888 prisoners in fortnight amid demos: official

BAGHDAD: Iraqi authorities claimed on Tuesday to have freed 888 prisoners in two weeks to placate month-long rallies in the country’s Sunni areas that have hardened opposition against the Shiite prime minister.
The demonstrations come amid a political crisis that has pitted Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki against several of his erstwhile government partners just months ahead of provincial elections.
The protesters have railed against the alleged exploitation of anti-terror laws by the Shiite-led authorities to target their minority community and demanded the release of prisoners they say were wrongfully detained.
Deputy Prime Minister Hussein Al-Shahristani told a news conference in Baghdad on Tuesday that 888 prisoners had been freed since January 7, with a further 1,041 prisoners released on bail. He promised the releases would continue on a daily basis.
Shahristani said priority would be given to female detainees when it came to being discharged on bail.
The move has formed the centerpiece of the government’s response to rallies in western and northern Iraq, with Shahristani also apologizing this month for authorities holding detainees without charge for prolonged periods.
Officials have not provided any breakdown of the prisoners freed, and have not given details on how many had finished jail terms and how many had been held without charge.
Anti-government rallies have been ongoing since December 23 in mostly Sunni areas of Iraq, with the longest-running of the protests blocking off a key highway linking Baghdad to Jordan and Syria.


UAE, Bahrain support Pompeo’s list of demands for Iran

Updated 4 min 22 sec ago
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UAE, Bahrain support Pompeo’s list of demands for Iran

  • A senior UAE official says United States is taking the right approach on Iran
  • Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry also affirms full support for Washington's strategy toward Iran.

JEDDAH: The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, Anwar Gargash, said on Monday US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was taking the right approach on Iran.
Gargash wrote on his official Twitter account, several hours after a policy speech on Iran by Pompeo, that united efforts were the right way to show Iran the “futility of its incursions and expansionism.”
Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry also affirmed full support for the United States’ strategy toward Iran.
“Pompeo’s [strategy] which reflects the determination to confront the danger of Iranian policies that undermine security and stability in the region and to overcome the shortcomings of the nuclear agreement. And praised the continued efforts of the United States to strengthen regional and international peace and security and its relentless efforts to take all possible measures to prevent the spread of chaos, tension and crisis resolution in the region,” a statement from Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry read.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirms that the Kingdom of Bahrain considers itself in a single position with the United States of America in the face of the Iranian threat, addressing Iran’s attempts to export violence and terrorism and stressing the need for Iran to respond to all efforts to achieve peace and resolve conflicts in the region and to remove them from nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction. The immediate cessation of support for terrorist militias and adherence to international laws and norms and non-interference at all in the internal affairs of the States of the region,” the statement added.
The statement comes after Pompeo laid out 12 demands for Iran and said relief from economic sanctions would only come when Washington had seen tangible shifts in Iran’s policies.