Iran hails Iraq parliament selections

Iraqi lawmakers are seen during the first session of the new Iraqi parliament in Baghdad, Iraq September 3, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 16 September 2018
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Iran hails Iraq parliament selections

  • Iran is a key power broker in neighboring Iraq and many of the militias that played a central role in ousting Daesh are known to be close to Tehran
  • Iraq’s national politics has been in paralysis since the May 12 national elections

TEHRAN: Iran on Sunday hailed the selections made by Iraq’s parliament a day after the body elected candidates backed by a pro-Tehran bloc as speaker and first deputy.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran supports decisions made by the (Iraqi) people’s elected representatives,” foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has always supported Iraq’s democracy, territorial integrity and national sovereignty,” he added.
Iran is a key power broker in neighboring Iraq and many of the militias that played a central role in ousting Daesh are known to be close to Tehran.
Iraq’s national politics has been in paralysis since the May 12 national elections, but Saturday’s appointments were expected to solidify new alliances and pave the way toward forming a government.
“We hope we soon witness the election of the president and prime minister to form a new Iraqi government,” said Ghasemi.
Lawmakers appointed as speaker former Anbar governor Mohammed Al-Halbusi, a Sunni politician backed by a pro-Iran bloc led by Hadi Al-Ameri’s Conquest Alliance — a coalition of anti-jihadist veterans close to Tehran.
The post of first deputy speaker was given to Hassan Karim, put forward by populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr whose list won the largest share of seats in the election.
Baghdad and Tehran, which fought a brutal war from 1980 to 1988, came closer after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and the rise of Iraq’s Shiite majority on the political landscape.


Lebanon denies forcing Syrians home from Beirut airport

Updated 43 min 58 sec ago
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Lebanon denies forcing Syrians home from Beirut airport

  • Lebanon’s General Security agency “categorically denies it forced any Syrian to sign any form,” it said in a statement
  • General Security estimates that over 170,000 Syrians returned home from Lebanon between December 2017 and March 2019

BEIRUT: Lebanese security forces on Saturday denied accusations by rights groups that they had coerced Syrians who had landed at Beirut airport into signing forms to return to their war-torn country.
Human Rights Watch and four other groups Friday accused Lebanon of “summarily deporting” at least 16 Syrians on April 26, after forcing them to sign “voluntary repatriation forms.”
Most of them had been sent back to Lebanon after they were barred from entering northern Cyprus via Turkey, quashing their plans to seek asylum, HRW said.
But Lebanon’s General Security agency “categorically denies it forced any Syrian to sign any form,” it said in a statement carried by state-run news agency NNA on Saturday.
“Any Syrian who arrives in Lebanon and does not meet entry requirements, and... wants to go to Syria because they do not wish to remain in their country of residence for a number of reasons, signs a declaration of responsibility for choosing to return voluntarily,” it said.
Lebanon hosts almost one million Syrian refugees, a significant burden for a country that had 4.5 million inhabitants before the Syrian civil war erupted in 2011.
The latest deportees said they were “pressured” by General Security officers at the airport, the rights group said.
Around 30 Syrians have been deported from Beirut airport this year by the General Security agency, the rights group said, citing local refugee organizations.
General Security estimates that over 170,000 Syrians returned home from Lebanon between December 2017 and March 2019.
The conflict has wound down in Syria, after a string of victories by the regime and its Russian ally since 2015, but the United Nations has stressed all returns should be voluntary.
The rights groups say some 74 percent of Syrians in Lebanon lack legal residency and are at risk of detention.
Local media in Lebanon have reported that the Supreme Defense Council, whose decisions are not made public, recently instructed General Security to deport all Syrians who have entered the country illegally.
The official NNA news agency, quoting a “security report,” said Friday that Lebanese authorities had deported 301 Syrians between May 7 and May 20.
Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions inside the country and abroad.
The war was triggered in March 2011 by a violent crackdown on anti-government demonstrations.