Iraqi MP’s ‘celebratory gunfire’ video sparks anger

Updated 02 January 2019
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Iraqi MP’s ‘celebratory gunfire’ video sparks anger

  • Wihdah Al-Jumaili, a Sunni MP, she she was celebrating a friend's son's wedding
  • Hajer Abbas, 14, suffered a head injury from a stray bullet in the Iraqi capital on New Year’s Eve

BAGHDAD: A video of an Iraqi member of parliament firing into the air has sparked anger after stray bullets from celebratory New Year gunfire killed a teenage girl.

A further 170 people were either injured by guns or suffered burns from fireworks on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day in the Iraqi capital, medical and police sources told Arab News.

Public anger over the number of people hurt was already high when a video circulated on social media late on Tuesday evening, showing Wihdah Al-Jumaili, a Sunni MP sitting in her car next to the driver and firing several shots into the air from a Beretta handgun.

Jumaili said she was celebrating the marriage of a friend’s son when the shots were fired. She wrote on Facebook that she shot in the air as “part of tribal practices adopted by tribes in Ramadi,” the capital of the Sunni-dominated Anbar province. But the video shows her car by the side of a highway in Baghdad’s Dorra district.

Shooting in the air is considered an offense under Iraqi law, and punishments range from between one and three years in prison, lawyers told Arab News.

Thousands of Iraqi Facebook and Twitter users expressed their anger at Jumaili, and demanded she be stripped of her MP’s immunity to face prosecution. 

Many said her actions encouraged others to break the law and use personal weapons irresponsibly.

Several lawyers filed a written request on Wednesday to Iraq’s attorney general, urging him to launch a prosecution.

Every year, dozens of people are injured or even killed by celebratory gunfire on New Year or during other festivities, or events like weddings.  

Hajer Abbas, 14, suffered a head injury from a stray bullet in the Iraqi capital on New Year’s Eve and died from the wound on Wednesday.

Jumaili’s video is the latest in a series of scandals affecting politicians who Iraqis see as behaving as if they were above the law.

Leaked intelligence information this week revealed the brother of the new education minister, Shaimaa Al-Hayali had acted as a leader within Daesh during the extremist’s occupation of Mosul.

Jumaili is a member of the Iranian backed Al-Binna’a parliamentary coalition, which is led by Hadi Al-Amiri, commander of the powerful armed Badr Organization.

Political opponents were quick to link her political loyalties to the video.

“This (Jumaili) lawmaker has proved that she belongs to Al-Binna’a bloc, which means the core of action and weapons,” Muqith Dagher, an Iraqi researcher tweeted late on Tuesday.

“Of course, no one will hold them accountable.”


Truckloads of civilians leave Daesh enclave in Syria

Updated 22 February 2019
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Truckloads of civilians leave Daesh enclave in Syria

  • The village is all that remains for Daesh in the Euphrates valley region that became its final populated stronghold in Iraq and Syria
  • The SDF has steadily driven the militants down the Euphrates after capturing their Syrian capital

NEAR BAGHOU: Trucks loaded with civilians left the last Daesh enclave in eastern Syria on Friday, as US-backed forces waited to inflict final defeat on the surrounded militants.
Reporters near the front line at Baghouz saw dozens of trucks driving out with civilians inside them, but it was not clear if more remained in the tiny pocket.
The village is all that remains for Daesh in the Euphrates valley region that became its final populated stronghold in Iraq and Syria after it lost the major cities of Mosul and Raqqa in 2017.
The SDF has steadily driven the militants down the Euphrates after capturing their Syrian capital, Raqqa, in 2017, but does not want to mount a final attack until all civilians are out.
The US-led coalition which supports the SDF has said Islamic State’s “most hardened fighters” remain holed up in Baghouz, close to the Iraqi frontier.
Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF’s media office, earlier told Reuters that more than 3,000 civilians were estimated to still be inside Baghouz and there would be an attempt to evacuate them on Friday.
“If we succeed in evacuating all the civilians, at any moment we will take the decision to storm Baghouz or force the terrorists to surrender,” he said.
Though the fall of Baghouz marks a milestone in the campaign against Islamic State and the wider conflict in Syria, the militant group is still seen as a major security threat.
It has steadily turned to guerrilla warfare and still holds territory in a remote, sparsely populated area west of the Euphrates River — a part of Syria otherwise controlled by the Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian allies.
The United States will leave “a small peacekeeping group” of 200 American troops in Syria for a period of time after a US pullout, the White House said on Thursday, as President Donald Trump pulled back from a complete withdrawal.
Trump in December ordered a withdrawal of the 2,000 troops, saying they had defeated Daesh militants in Syria.

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