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
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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.


Jordan weighs up Russian offer for voluntary return of Syrian refugees

Destroyed buildings following an explosion on Aug. 12 at an arms depot in a residential area in Syria’s Idlib province city of Sarmada. (AFP)
Updated 16 August 2018
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Jordan weighs up Russian offer for voluntary return of Syrian refugees

  • Russia has offered to repatriate the Syrians by the end of 2018 but Jordan does not want to force displaced Syrians to return to their homeland
  • Jordan would benefit from reopening its border with Syria, but also carried risks of terrorists enter the country with fake IDs

AMMAN: Russia will help Jordan repatriate more than 150,000 Syrian refugees who fled fighting with the Assad regime in the country’s south, a Jordanian official said.

The official said Russia will repatriate the Syrians by the end of 2018 following the establishment of a center near the border with Syria to process their paperwork.

Jordan’s Minister for Media Affairs Jumana Ghneimat said the Russian proposal has been under discussion.

The Jordanian government refused to force displaced Syrians to return to their homeland, she said.

“It is up to the refugee to decide whether he wants to return, although the presence of large numbers of Syrians has become a burden for Jordan.”

The refugees are mainly from the war-ravaged provinces of Daraa, Quneitra and Sweida, the scene of fierce clashes between rebels and Assad government forces. 

Ghneimat said the establishment of a processing center nine kilometers from the border with Syria was part of Russia’s larger proposal for the return of the refugees.

Asked about the reopening of the Nassib border crossing, the minister said it was up to Syria to decide if the crossing would be operational.

The Assad regime had not asked Jordan to reopen the border, she said.

The Jordanian border crossing of Jaber is ready to operate and roads leading to the site are secure, Ghneimat said.

A technical team, including several ministry representatives, visited the crossing last week on a tour of inspection.

Jordan would benefit from reopening the border, which is an important avenue for trade with Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and several European countries, a transport ministry official said.

But reopening the border carried risks, including a fear that terrorists would enter the country with fake IDs, the official said.

The closure of the Jordan-Syrian border had severely affected Jordan’s transport sector, the head of the Syndicate of Jordanian Truck Owners said.

But he said that Jordanian trucks are ready to carry goods to Syria as soon as the border crossing is reopened. Before the Syrian crisis erupted in 2011, about 7,000 trucks drove through the crossing each day.