Iraqi court sentences to death German woman who joined Daesh

An Iraqi soldier frisks a civilian at a checkpoint near Basra. (File photo/AFP)
Updated 21 January 2018
0

Iraqi court sentences to death German woman who joined Daesh

BAGHDAD: An Iraqi court on Sunday sentenced to death a German woman of Moroccan origin for joining Daesh, a spokesman said.
The German national was captured by Iraqi forces during the battle for Mosul last year, the spokesman said, declining to identify her.
She can appeal the sentence, said Abdul-Sattar Al-Birqdar, spokesman for Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council in Baghdad.
“She confessed that she traveled with her two daughters from Germany to Syria and then joined Daesh in Iraq,” Birqdar said. The woman was convicted of participating in attacks on Iraqi security forces and offering the militant group logistical support, said Birqdar.
Thousands of foreigners have been fighting for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Iraq declared victory last month over Daesh, which had seized control of nearly a third of the country in 2014. However, the group continues to carry out bombings and other attacks in the country.
Separately, Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court on Sunday ruled against calls by Sunni and Kurdish lawmakers to delay a parliamentary election, expected to be called for May, to allow hundreds of thousands of people displaced by war to return home.
Shiite politicians, including Prime Minister Haider Abadi, argued delaying the election would be unconstitutional.
The election must be held “within the timeframe provided by the constitution,” the court said in a statement.
Parliament is expected to meet on Monday to validate May 12 as the date for the ballot, as suggested by the government, or agree another date in May.
Abadi is seeking re-election, building on a surge in his popularity among Iraq’s majority Shiite Arab community after leading the three-year fight against Daesh militants, supported by a US-led coalition.
“Postponing the elections would set a dangerous precedent, undermining the constitution and damaging Iraq’s long-term democratic development,” the US Embassy in Baghdad said in a statement on Thursday.
The US had shown understanding for Abadi’s move in October to dislodge Kurdish fighters from the oil rich northern region of Kirkuk, even though the Kurds are traditional allies of Washington and played a key part in the war against Daesh.
Tens of thousands of Kurds were displaced as a result of the takeover of the ethnically mixed areas of Kirkuk and its surroundings by Iraqi forces supported by Iranian-backed paramilitary groups.
Rouhani aims for better ties with Iraqi Kurds
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday called for boosting relations with the Iraqi Kurdish region as part of a united Iraq, Iranian media reported, after ties were strained over an independence referendum in the area last year.
The call came during a visit by the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region’s Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, the first such high-level trip to Iran since last year’s Kurdish independence referendum which Iran strongly opposed.
The Kurdish referendum on Sept. 25, which produced an overwhelming “yes” for independence, angered Iraq’s central government and neighbors Iran and Turkey, which have their own restive Kurdish minorities.
“President Rouhani stressed the historical and deep-rooted ties between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Kurds of Iraq, and said all efforts should be made to strengthen the close relations between the two nations of Iran and Iraq,” the state news agency IRNA reported.


UN chief urges Lebanon’s Hezbollah to halt military wing and operations

Updated 14 min 59 sec ago
0

UN chief urges Lebanon’s Hezbollah to halt military wing and operations

UNITED NATIONS: Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly criticized Hezbollah for operating as the most heavily armed militia and a political party in Lebanon and urged the militant group to halt military activities inside and outside the country, including in Syria.
In a report to the Security Council obtained Monday by The Associated Press, Guterres also called on Lebanon’s government and armed forces “to take all measures necessary to prohibit Hezbollah and other armed groups from acquiring weapons and building paramilitary capacity” outside the authority of the state.
He said Hezbollah’s military activity violates a 2004 Security Council resolution ordering all Lebanese militias to disarm and the Taif Accords that ended the country’s 1975-90 civil war. In the semi-annual report on implementation of the 2004 resolution, the secretary-general said Hezbollah’s engagement in the Syrian conflict also violates Lebanon’s official policy of “disassociation,” or neutrality in regional affairs.
Guterres said the report demonstrates Hezbollah’s failure to disarm and “its refusal to be accountable” to state institutions that the UN resolution sought to strengthen.
“In a democratic state, it remains a fundamental anomaly that a political party maintains a militia that has no accountability to the democratic, governmental institutions of the state but has the power to take that state to war,” he said.
Israel and Lebanon have been in a state of war for decades and do not have diplomatic relations. In the summer of 2006, Israel and Hezbollah militants fought a monthlong war.
The border with Israel has remained mostly quiet since then, but Guterres said an alleged increase in Hezbollah’s arsenal poses “a serious challenge” to the Lebanese government’s ability to exercise authority and sovereignty over the entire country.
“I call upon countries in the region that maintain close ties with Hezbollah to encourage the transformation of the armed group into a solely civilian political party, and its disarmament,” Guterres said.
He did not name Iran, a strong supporter of Hezbollah in Syria and elsewhere. Both are strong supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.
Guterres said Hezbollah’s military arsenal and involvement in Syria continue “to be denounced by a number of voices in Lebanon, who consider those issues to be destabilizing factors in the country and ones that undermine democracy.”
In addition, he said, “many Lebanese see the continued presence of such arms as an implicit threat that those could be used within Lebanon for political reasons.”
Hezbollah is considered a terrorist group by the United States, but its political wing has long held seats in Lebanon’s parliament and was part of Lebanon’s outgoing coalition government.
Parliamentary elections earlier this month were the first in Lebanon since war broke out in Syria in 2011 and Hezbollah made major gains. Its leader, Hassan Nasrallah declared “mission accomplished.”
Nonetheless, Lebanese analysts say the next Cabinet, like the outgoing one, will likely be a unity government that includes Hezbollah.