Arab states stand united against ‘unacceptable Iranian aggression’

Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir leads Saudi Arabia’s delegation at the Arab League’s extraordinary general meeting in Cairo on Sunday. (SPA)
Updated 20 November 2017

Arab states stand united against ‘unacceptable Iranian aggression’

CAIRO: Arab states stood united on Sunday against Iranian aggression in the region, and Saudi Arabia warned that it would not stand idly by in the face of threats to its national security.

“We are obliged today to take a serious and honest stand … to counter these belligerent policies so that we can protect our security,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir told an emergency meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo.

The ministers expressed their full solidarity with Saudi Arabia and support for any measures it may take to counter Iranian threats, warned Iran to stop interfering in the internal affairs of their countries and end its support for Hezbollah and Houthi militias, and called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss Iranian aggression.

Saudi Arabia asked for Tuesday’s meeting, with the support of the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait, after the launch on Nov. 4 of an Iranian-supplied missile aimed at Riyadh from Houthi militia-held territory in Yemen. Al-Jubeir said Iran continued to threaten the security of Arab states, violating all international principles.

Iranian missiles did not respect sacred Muslim sites in Makkah, he said, and the missile that targeted Riyadh reflected Iranian aggression against the Kingdom and illustrated the “grave dangers in the region due to Iranian interference.”

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the missile that targeted Riyadh was “an Iranian message of aggression which is unacceptable in form and substance.”

He said: “The Iranian missile program poses a dangerous threat to the region and its security. Iranian threats have crossed a line, and they are pushing the region to the brink. Iran is adopting a sectarian strategy to fuel regional conflicts and is seeking to make Yemen a thorn in the side of Saudi Arabia and the Arab world.”

The secretary-general urged Tehran to “review its policies toward the region and stop its interference.”

Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa said Lebanon was under the “total control” of the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement. “Iran’s biggest arm in the region at the moment is the terrorist Hezbollah arm,” Sheikh Khalid said, and there was dangerous Iranian escalation in the region.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil did not attend Sunday’s meeting. He was replaced by Lebanon’s delegate to the Arab League, Antoine Azzam. Lebanese sources said there was intense pressure on the League to avoid explicit references to Hezbollah in statements after the meeting, but the efforts failed. Bassil is the son-in-law of Lebanese President Michele Aoun, who is an ally of Hezbollah.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, who is known for his support of Iranian-backed militias such as Hezbollah, was also absent from the meeting; the Undersecretary at Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nizar Khair Allah, attended instead.

Diplomatic sources said the General Secretariat of the Arab League has prepared a dossier of violations, interference and provocative statements by Iran and its officials, along with memorandums from member states, mainly Saudi Arabia, detailing Iranian interference targeting regional stability.

Arab affairs expert Dr. Moutaz Salama, of Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said Sunday’s meeting was part of a long-term Saudi strategy which will develop gradually to contain Iran’s destructive role in the region. Rallying Arab diplomatic efforts against Iranian interference was an essential step to move the issue on to the international stage, he said.

Arab diplomatic sources said that there was an agreement between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and Bahrain to confront Iranian regional aggression decisively.

Iraq’s Mosul logs civil records lost to years of Daesh rule

Iraqis wait at the Nineveh governorate building in Iraq's second city of Mosul to resolve issues related to their identity documents. (AFP)
Updated 26 min 15 sec ago

Iraq’s Mosul logs civil records lost to years of Daesh rule

  • During the Daesh’s reign, thousands of Iraqis who lived in areas controlled by Daesh virtually disappeared from state registers
  • When Iraqi forces retook the city and courts reopened, he and his wife rushed to sign a new marriage contract

MOSUL: When Shahed was born in 2015 her father tried to notify Iraq’s civil registry. The problem was, their city of Mosul was held by Daesh group and the office had been shut.

Three years later, 39-year-old Ahmed Aziz has yet to officially register his daughter’s birth, the certificate for which bears the seal of the so-called caliphate.
Under the late summer sun, the taxi driver braves a long queue outside Mosul’s reopened civil registry, hoping that by the end of the day Shahed’s name will finally appear in state records.
The little girl was born just a year after Daesh swept across the country, seizing swathes of territory including Iraq’s second city Mosul.
“The civil registry was closed,” said Aziz, holding the IS-stamped document issued by a hospital in Mosul.
But since Iraqi forces ultimately regained control of the city in July 2017 after a bloody months-long campaign, residents have flooded the city’s reopened offices.
Thousands of children like Shahed had been born under Daesh rule, and the extremists had systematically blown up civil offices and archives.
“I saw this massive rush to get to the public offices, so I preferred to wait a bit before going there too,” said Aziz.
As a result, his daughter does not yet officially exist.
During the Daesh’s reign, thousands of Iraqis who lived in areas controlled by Daesh virtually disappeared from state registers.
Some lost their identity documents as neighborhoods turned into battle zones, others as they fled the violence.
Many of those who remained were given documents from Daesh’s proto-state — ministries and courts created by the jihadists to register births, marriages, deaths and trade agreements alike.
None of that paperwork has been recognized by Iraqi authorities.
When Zein Mohammed got married in 2014, he and his soon-to-be wife had to present themselves at an IS court to seal the deal.
What should have been the best day of the now 29-year-old civil servant’s life was instead a test.
“I appeared in front of the judge with my fiancee — she was covered head-to-toe in black,” he told AFP.
Under Daesh rule, Mosul’s residents were forced to bow to the jihadists ultra-conservative demands.
Women were compelled to fully cover themselves in black veils and long robes, and civil cases were heard by courts that dealt out death sentences and corporal punishment for “sins..”
“The judge issued us a marriage certificate bearing the IS seal,” said Mohammed.
When Iraqi forces retook the city and courts reopened, he and his wife rushed to sign a new marriage contract.
Now, packed in among the crowd outside Mosul’s civil registry, Mohammed is hoping to finally regularize their marital status.
Iraqi civil servants are working around the clock to meet the massive demand, compiling files, verifying identities and registering official documents and certificates.
It is a titanic job, often slowed due to additional safeguards imposed by Iraqi security services in the former IS stronghold.
To weed out fake IDs and spot jihadists seeking to slip through the cracks, “intelligence services check each document,” head of Mosul’s registry office General Hussein Mohammed Ali told AFP.
But the added security measures have not hampered progress.
“More than a million certified documents and more than 2,000 passports have already been issued,” he said.
Mustafa Thamer, a 23-year-old student, is applying for his first passport even though he has no plans to travel soon.
“We say we must have a passport so that we can leave whenever we want,” he told AFP.
“We lived under IS occupation and we no longer trust the future of the city,” he said.
“Anything can happen in Mosul.”