Two Iraq ministers risk sack over Saddam-era posts

Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdel-Mahdi speaks to Parliament in Baghdad. (Reuters)
Updated 08 November 2018
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Two Iraq ministers risk sack over Saddam-era posts

  • Two Iraqi ministers may lose their jobs after found that they were members of Saddam Hussein’s regime
  • The endangered officials were Minister of Youth and Sports and Minister of Communications

BAGHDAD: Two ministers approved by Iraq’s parliament may lose their jobs before the rest of cabinet is agreed, officials said Thursday, after a commission found they were members of Saddam Hussein’s regime.
The Accountability and Justice Commission is responsible for the policy of “de-Baathification,” or ensuring no Saddam-era officials or senior members of his Baath party play a role in Iraq’s government.
Commission spokesman Fares Abdul Sattar said that the body had sent a letter to parliament over two nominees to the 22-minister government — a third of which has yet to be confirmed by parliament.
“Two names will be subject to procedures by the Accountability and Justice Commission,” Abdul Sattar said, without specifying who.
A parliamentary source said that the endangered officials were Minister of Youth and Sports Ahmad Al-Obeidi and Minister of Communications Naim Al-Rubaye, who were only approved by lawmakers last month.
If sacked, it would be the first time the policy of “de-Baathification” unseats a minister confirmed by parliament since the 2003 ouster of Saddam by a US-led invasion.
Rubaye was reportedly a member of the intelligence services and a mid-level Baath party official, said a security source, but it was unclear what role Obeidi had.
Both received parliament’s vote of confidence on October 25 along with 12 other ministers, including those in charge of finance, foreign affairs, and oil.
Due to deep divisions, the remaining eight portfolios, including the interior and defense ministers, have not been put to a vote.
Parliament has met twice since then, but a confirmation vote did not feature on either session’s agenda and it has not set a new date to approve the remaining ministers.
Government formation has dragged on since Adel Abdel Mahdi, 76, was appointed prime minister in early October.
He had launched a website to allow Iraqis to apply for a ministerial position online and more than 15,000 sent in bids, but most of the names that were approved on October 25 were well-known political figures.


Lebanon urges return of refugees to Syria

Updated 21 January 2019
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Lebanon urges return of refugees to Syria

  • President Michel Aoun tells Arab economic summit that Lebanon was overwhelmed by Syrian and Palestinian refugees
  • Aoun proposes creation of an Arab bank for reconstruction and development

BEIRUT: Lebanon used an Arab economic summit on Sunday to urge the return of refugees to safe areas of Syria after eight years of war.

President Michel Aoun told the meeting Lebanon was overwhelmed by Syrian and Palestinian refugees, who make up about half the population of a country struggling with an economic crisis.

He proposed the creation of an Arab bank for reconstruction and development “to help all affected Arab states overcome adversity and contribute to their sustainable economic growth.”

The meeting is the first economic and development summit since 2013, and comes as Syria, Yemen and Libya remain gripped by violence and Iraq confronts a massive reconstruction challenge after its costly victory over Daesh.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit said nearly half of all refugees “come from our Arab world.”

The emir of Qatar, and the president of Mauritania were the only heads of state from the 22-member Arab League who attended the summit. Other countries sent lower-level delegations.

The other leaders’ absence was a snub to Lebanon, where groups led by Hezbollah had insisted that Bashar Assad of Syria should be invited.

Several hundred people protested in the streets of Beirut on Sunday, blaming politicians for growing economic troubles.