Iraqi education minister resigns over brother’s Daesh links

Iraq's new Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi is seen leaving the Parliament building in Baghdad. (AP)
Updated 30 December 2018

Iraqi education minister resigns over brother’s Daesh links

  • Shaima Khalil Al-Hayali was approved by Parliament last week
  • Websites linked to Daesh published videos showing her brother praising the militants and inciting people to fight the Iraqi military.

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s new education minister has resigned over allegations her brother was a leader with Daesh just days after she was handed the post.

The scandal is the latest blow to Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi who has still not completed his Cabinet amid deep divisions between the Parliament’s main political blocs over the key positions. 

Shaima Khalil Al-Hayali was approved by Parliament last week to head the Education Ministry but had not yet taken the ministerial oath.

She submitted her resignation on Saturday to Abdul Mahdi after intelligence information emerged that her brother was a Daesh leader in Mosul between the summer of 2014, when the extremist group overran the city, and October 2016, when it was liberated by security forces.

Laith Khalil Al-Hayali, was an engineer working for the Nineveh Water Directorate, local security officials in Mosul told Arab News. He was dismissed from his post before 2014 for his association with Daesh, but he was reappointed as a director after 2014 when the militants seized the city. 

Websites linked to Daesh published videos showing Laith praising the militants and inciting people to fight the Iraqi military.

The intelligence also said that two of Laith’s sons were killed fighting for Daesh during the liberation of Mosul in 2016.

The first was killed in clashes between the militants and security forces, while the second one blew himself up in a bid to halt advancing forces.

The minister did not deny her brother’s involvement with Daesh but said he was forced to work with them and that he showed up in the videos under the threat of being shot.

The information is an embarrassment to the leaders of the pro-Iran Al-Binna’a coalition who nominated Al-Hayali. 

It was not clear whether the resignation was Al-Hayali’s decision alone or whether her backers had ordered her to quit.

Abdul Mahdi was sworn in at the end of October but has faced a series of crises during his short time in the position. 

This is not the first time he has presented his preferred candidates for ministerial positions without checking their security and political backgrounds — something that has deepened mistrust between the prime minster and political parties that could bring down his government.

He is still without without three key ministers — defense, interior and justice amid a dispute between the two main blocs in Parliament over the candidates, lawmakers told Arab News on Sunday.

Reform, led by the influential Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, opposes the candidates nominated by Al-Binna’a for interior and defense. Al-Binna’a is led by Hadi Al-Amiri, commander of the Iran-backed Badr Organization, the most powerful armed faction.

Abdul Mahdi has not commented on Al-Hayali’s resignation and not even announced whether he has accepted her letter.

The incident has brought to the forefront allegations against other new ministers. They include Communications Minister Naeim Al-Rubaie, a former senior figure in Saddam Hussein’s Baath party. Anyone linked to the organization is banned from involvement in Iraq’s government.

“It would be better for Abdul Mahdi to accept her (Al-Hayali’s) resignation to save face,” a key negotiator from Reform told Arab News. 

“We asked him at the first session of Parliament to submit the names of the candidates to the security services to be checked. We also demanded that they be presented to the bodies of integrity and accountability and justice, but our requests were ignored.

“The result is that the government now includes a minister representing Daesh, another one representing Al-Qaeda and a third one representing Baath party.”

Iraq has struggled to form a government since an election in May led to two main parliamentary camps, one pro Iran and the other anti. An agreement in September broke the deadlock, with the two coalitions agreeing to try and negotiate a new Cabinet led by Abdul Mahdi.

Key events in Egypt since the 2011 pro-democracy uprising

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. (Supplied)
Updated 21 April 2019

Key events in Egypt since the 2011 pro-democracy uprising

CAIRO: Here are key events in eight years of turmoil and transition in Egypt, leading up to a national referendum on constitutional amendments that could allow President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to remain in power until 2030.

● Feb. 11, 2011: Autocrat Hosni Mubarak steps down after 18 days of nationwide protests against his nearly 30-year rule. The military takes over, dissolving Parliament and suspending the constitution after the uprising leaves hundreds of protesters dead in clashes with security forces.

● Nov. 28, 2011-Feb. 15, 2012: The Muslim Brotherhood wins nearly half the seats in multi-stage elections for the first post-Mubarak Parliament.

● June 30, 2012: The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Muhammad Mursi takes office as Egypt’s first freely elected president.

● Aug. 12, 2012: Mursi removes the defense minister and military chief, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, and replaces him with El-Sisi.

● Nov. 22, 2012: Mursi unilaterally decrees greater powers for himself, a move that sparks days of protests.

● Dec. 15-22, 2012: Egyptians approve a constitution drafted and hastily passed by Parliament amid protests and walkouts by other groups.

● June 30, 2013: On Mursi’s anniversary in office, millions of Egyptians begin days of demonstrations demanding his resignation. The military gives him 48 hours to reach an agreement with his opponents, but he vows to remain in office.

● July 3, 2013: El-Sisi announces Mursi’s removal.

● Aug. 14, 2013: More than 600 people, mostly Mursi supporters, are killed when police clear two pro-Mursi sit-ins in Cairo. Mursi supporters retaliate by torching government buildings, churches and police stations. Hundreds more die in subsequent violence.

● Dec. 25, 2013: The government designates the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

● May 26-28, 2014: Egyptians vote in a presidential election. El-Sisi wins with 96.9 percent of the vote.

● May 16, 2015: Mursi and more than 100 others are sentenced
to death over a mass prison break during the 2011 uprising.

● Oct. 2015: Egypt holds parliamentary elections, leading to an assembly packed with El-Sisi supporters.

● April 2, 2018: El-Sisi wins a second, four-year term in office, with more than 97 percent of the vote.
● Feb. 2019: Lawmakers submit proposed amendments to the constitution that allow El-Sisi to remain in power beyond
his current second four-year term.

● April 10: President Donald Trump welcomes El-Sisi to the White House for a second official visit.

● April 17: The Parliament, packed with El-Sisi’s supporters, overwhelmingly passes the proposed amendments.

● April 18: Egypt’s National Election Authority schedules three days of voting in a nationwide referendum on the amendments. The vote takes place Saturday through Monday.