Iraq hangs 38 in mass execution

Above, Iraqi federal police members during a military parade in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone last week. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi on Saturday declared the end of military operations against Daesh and the liberation of all Iraqi territory formerly held by it. (Reuters)
Updated 14 December 2017
0

Iraq hangs 38 in mass execution

BAGHDAD: Iraq hanged 38 Sunni militants on Thursday after they were sentenced to death on terrorism charges, the Justice Ministry said in a statement.
The mass executions were carried out at a prison in the southern Iraqi city of Nassiriya, the statement said quoting the Justice Minister.
On Sept. 24, Iraq executed 42 militants on terrorism charges ranging from killing members of security forces to detonating car bombs.
The ministry said all the convicted were Daesh members. Officials have said all the appeal options available to the condemned had been exhausted, according to the statement.
Meanwhile, Iraq has begun reconstruction work at what was the country’s biggest oil refinery before it was damaged by intense fighting between government forces and Daesh, the Oil Ministry said Thursday.
The aim is to complete work early next year on one of the units that will produce 70,000 barrels per day at the Baiji complex which is currently shut, said ministry spokesman Assem Jihad.
Constructed in 1975 and located 200 km north of Baghdad, the refinery produced between 250,000 and 300,000 barrels a day before Daesh seized it in June 2014.
Government forces retook the facility and the city of Baiji in October 2015 during fierce clashes with the terrorists but the severe damage meant that the refinery remained closed.
“The rehabilitation will allow the distribution of refined products for the north of the country and reduce our imports,” said Jihad.
Baiji was particularly hard hit by the devastation wreaked by Iraq’s campaign to reclaim its towns and cities from Daesh.
In 2016 it was declared a disaster zone by the national Parliament.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow backs Iraq’s unity in a dispute around the region of Kurdistan.
Self-ruled Kurdish regional government last month accepted a federal court ruling that Iraq must remain unified.
Kurdish lawmakers later returned to Baghdad after boycotting the national Parliament in an apparent concession after a military and political standoff that followed the divisive Kurdish independence vote in September.
Asked about the Kurdish referendum, Putin said at this annual news conference on Thursday that “everything should be done without any abrupt moves and within the framework of the law, with the respect of the territorial integrity of Iraq.”
Russia’s biggest oil company, state-owned Rosneft, earlier this year signed a deal with Kurdish authorities, bypassing the Iraqi government.
Putin also said the US may be sparing some Syrian militants in the hope that they will fight Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Putin pointed to occasions when the Russian military in Syria would warn its US counterparts about militants heading from Syria to Iraq, but the US would not launch an airstrike. Putin alleged that may indicate an intention to “use them in the fight against Assad.”
He said that attempts to use militants for political purposes would raise long-term threats, drawing parallels with the US support for Al-Qaeda during the Soviet war in Afghanistan.


Pay raise not enough for Egypt’s angry civil servants

Updated 22 min 11 sec ago
0

Pay raise not enough for Egypt’s angry civil servants

  • The recent austerity measures are part of an economic reform program designed to meet the terms of a three-year $12 billion loan Egypt secured from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in late 2016
  • Gasoline prices have risen by an average of about 34 percent

CAIRO: Egyptian civil servants have warned the government that increases in their salaries will not help them avoid the devastating impact of tough new austerity measures.
Earlier this month the national Parliament approved a draft law giving state employees a 7 percent raise in their basic earnings and an additional irregular bonus of 10 percent.
But while civil servants welcomed the increases, they told Arab News that huge rises in the prices of essential commodities including fuel, electricity, piped drinking water and public transport will still leave them struggling to make ends meet.
One 45-year-old who works at a government notary office in Cairo and requested anonymity said, “It’s better than nothing but definitely still not enough. It can help alleviate the effects of just one item out of the many items of which the state has decided to increase the cost.
“For example, I can now bear the additional costs of drinking water but what about electricity, what about transportation, what about everything else?”
The recent austerity measures are part of an economic reform program designed to meet the terms of a three-year $12 billion loan Egypt secured from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in late 2016.
In recent weeks, the authorities have increased metro fares by up to 250 percent and the price of cooking gas from 60 Egyptian pounds to 100 Egyptian pounds ($3.3 to $5.6) per cylinder. The cost of piped drinking water has risen by up to 45 percent and electricity by 26 percent. Gasoline prices have risen by an average of about 34 percent.
Abdel-Rahman, a government employee who refused to give his full name, told Arab news: “I earn 1,200 pounds and I have three children. The salary increases they usually announce every year barely make any difference.
“My salary needs to be at least doubled if I’m to survive such dire economic conditions. Life has become too hard and the few pounds they throw at us every year are almost useless.”
Egypt is not the only Middle Eastern country to face a public backlash over a tough austerity program. In January, demonstrations erupted across Tunisia after the IMF told the government there that it needed to take “urgent action” to reduce its deficit.
Earlier this month protesters in Jordan forced the Prime Minister Hani Mulki to resign and King Abdullah to roll back a fuel-price increase in an attempt to quell some of the worst civil unrest the country has seen in years.