Iraq top court declares Kurd referendum unconstitutional

In this file photo, Kurds celebrate to show their support for the September 25th independence referendum in Irbil, Iraq on September 22, 2017. (File photo by Reuters)
Updated 20 November 2017
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Iraq top court declares Kurd referendum unconstitutional

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s supreme court on Monday declared that September’s referendum on independence in the autonomous Kurdish areas in the north of the country was unconstitutional.
A statement said the court “rendered a decision declaring unconstitutional the referendum held on September 25, 2017 in Iraqi Kurdistan ... and canceling all the consequences and results that resulted.”
Monday’s legal move was the latest stage in a crisis sparked by the referendum, which resulted in a resounding “yes” vote for independence in the Kurdish area.
Last month, the UN Security Council urged the Iraqi government and regional leaders in Kurdistan to set a timetable for talks to end the crisis.
The world body’s appeal came after Baghdad dismissed an offer from Iraqi Kurdish leaders to freeze the outcome of the referendum and hold talks.
Rejecting the freeze offer, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi instead demanded the annulment of the independence vote.
Last week, as the deadline announced by the Supreme Court for its decision on the constitutionality of the referendum approached, the Kurdistan government said it “respected” the decisions taken by Iraq’s highest court.
It also said it respected a previous decision insisting on Iraqi unity, which could be a basis for dialogue.
Parliament in Baghdad is currently reviewing the federal budget for the coming year, including the allocation for the autonomous Kurdish region.
September’s referendum was initiated by then Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani, for whom the repercussions were severe.
Barzani at the beginning of November announced he was stepping aside, having lost almost all of the territory disputed between Kurdish capital Irbil and Baghdad.
The Kurds also lost all of the oil resources in Kirkuk province that could have ensured the viability of a hypothetical Kurdish state.


Saudi Arabia pledges $100m to rebuild Syria’s northeast

Updated 5 min 28 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia pledges $100m to rebuild Syria’s northeast

  • United States, which leads the anti-Daesh coalition, expressed its  thanks for the funds
  • The money will help ensure the militants cannot re-emerge as a threat

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has contributed $100 million to help reconstruct areas of north-eastern Syria formerly held by Daesh.

The Kingdom said the contribution would go toward a campaign by the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS to “stabilize” the former Daesh bastion and help ensure the militants cannot re-emerge as a threat.

The United States, which leads the coalition, expressed its  thanks and appreciation to Riyadh.

“This significant contribution is critical to stabilization and early recovery efforts,” a State Department spokeswoman said. “Saudi Arabia has been a leading partner in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS from the outset.”

The funds are the biggest single financial  contribution yet for reconstruction efforts in areas formerly controlled by the extremists.

The money would “save lives, help facilitate the return of displaced Syrians, and help ensure that Daesh cannot reemerge to threaten Syria, its neighbors, or plan attacks against the international community,” the Saudi Embassy in Washington said.

The contribution aims to support “stabilization projects” and “will play a critical role in the coalition’s efforts to revitalize communities, such as Raqqa, that have been devastated by Daesh terrorists.”

The statement said the money showed Saudi Arabia’s continued commitment to serve as a stabilizing force in the region.

The funds, part of a pledge made by Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir last month, will go towards projects to restore essential services in the areas of health, agriculture, electricity, water, education, and transportation.

The United Nations has said reconstruction in Syria would cost at least $250 billion. The Daesh takeover of large areas of territory in Syria and Iraq in 2014 led to huge levels of destruction. 

A conference on the reconstruction of Iraq held in Kuwait in February raised $30 billion in funding commitment. Saudi Arabia said at the event it would $1.5 billion in financial and reconstruction support. 

Saudi Arabia also hosted the founding conference for the coalition in Jeddah in September 2014, and soon after flew the first air missions to bomb Daesh targets in Syria.