US diplomat briefs Iraqi cardinal on aid after critique

Iraqi soldiers inspect the debris at St. George's Monastery, a historical Chaldean Catholic church on the outskirts of Mosul, which was destroyed by the Daesh. (AFP file photo)
Updated 19 October 2018
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US diplomat briefs Iraqi cardinal on aid after critique

  • Mark Green was in Rome to tell Vatican officials about on-the-ground results from US development assistance to Iraq’s religious minorities
  • Cardinal Sako had accused the US of failing to help rebuild Christian villages devastated by Daesh in Iraq

ROME: A senior American diplomat briefed the leader of Iraq’s Chaldean Catholics on US development aid after the cardinal accused the US of failing to help rebuild Christian villages devastated by Daesh.

Mark Green, administrator of the State Department’s USAID development agency, said he disagreed with Cardinal Luis Sako’s claims at a Vatican news conference on Tuesday that promised US aid for Iraq’s religious minorities had not materialized.

But Green said Sako’s complaints were “a reminder that it is not only important to execute and deliver results, it is (important) to be able to constantly stay in touch and make people aware of what we’re doing and involve them in guiding it.”

Green was in Rome to tell Vatican officials about on-the-ground results from US development assistance to Iraq’s religious minorities and about the near-doubling of aid to about $300 million since last year.

The funds are being used to help rebuild water and electricity systems, provide security for schools and other projects meant to help Christians and other religious minorities who fled during the conflict with Daesh’s return to Iraq and build a viable future.

Green declined to speculate why Sako seemed unaware of how the US aid was used. 

He said he viewed their meeting, scheduled before the cardinal’s comments, as “an opportunity to show him some of the work that we’re doing, both directly in his constituency (and) throughout the region in northern Iraq.”

Sako had strongly criticized US policy in the region, suggesting the US invasion of Iraq, which gave way to years of instability that facilitated the birth of Daesh, was responsible for the exodus of Christians from communities that have existed since the time of Jesus.

Asked about US aid aimed at encouraging them to return, Sako said it had not materialized.

“There are promises, but the reality is that there’s been nothing up to now,” Sako said after a Vatican briefing Tuesday.


Egyptian court adds radical group to terrorism list

Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya was added to a list of terrorist groups. (File/AFP)
Updated 13 November 2018
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Egyptian court adds radical group to terrorism list

CAIRO: A Cairo criminal court has added radical group Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya as well as 164 of its leaders and members to a list of terrorist entities, Egypt’s official gazette said on Sunday.

The group waged a bloody campaign against Egypt’s security forces in the 1990s but later gave up violence and entered mainstream politics.

Previous rulings adding individuals to the terrorism list have focused on the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been subject to a far-reaching crackdown since the Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi was ousted as president in 2013.

In an Oct. 28 ruling, the Cairo court said that following the 2011 uprising that toppled former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, “many leaders and members of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya renounced their previous initiatives to stop violence,” according to the official gazette. Travel bans and asset freezes are automatically imposed on those included on the terrorist list. Criminal court rulings can be appealed against at the court of cassation, Egypt’s highest court.