Daesh revival in Iraq must be prevented, says UN envoy

The UN fears Daesh militancy, which was wiped out in 2017, may take a foot hold again in Iraq. (Reuters)
Updated 22 May 2019
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Daesh revival in Iraq must be prevented, says UN envoy

  • ‘Armed actors’ operating outside the government are engaged in illegal or criminal activities which undermine state authority
  • Daesh’s sleeper cells continue to launch attacks in different parts of Iraq

NEW YORK: The UN envoy for Iraq called on Tuesday for “wide-based international support” to prevent Daesh militants from regaining a foothold in the country.

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert also told the Security Council that if the issue of thousands of returning Daesh militants and their families from Syria to Iraq is not managed properly “we risk creating a new breeding ground for the next generation of terrorists.”

She stressed that this “is not just an Iraqi problem” because there are non-Iraqi fighters as well, and she implicitly criticized some unnamed countries that are maintaining a “strategic distance” from their own nationals.

Daesh, which seized Iraqi cities and declared a proto-state in a large swathe of territory it took control of in Syria and Iraq in 2014, was formally declared defeated in Iraq in 2017 following a three-year bloody battle that left tens of thousands dead and Iraqi cities in ruins. But the group’s sleeper cells continue to launch attacks in different parts of Iraq.

Hennis-Plasschaert said that on an encouraging note the capital Baghdad “is opening up” and “very soon” the high-security Green Zone where many government offices and embassies are located “will no longer exist.” But she said the security situation in the capital and throughout the country will require close monitoring because the threat from Daesh “is still out there.”

The UN envoy quoted an unnamed representative of the US-led coalition in the country as saying recently that Daesh “is resurging. They rested, moved and are active.”

Hennis-Plasschaert said “another dominant security concern” is “armed actors” operating outside the government who are engaged in illegal or criminal activities which undermine state authority, weaken the economy and prevent the return of thousands of displaced people.

She briefed the Security Council after it unanimously adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the UN political mission in Iraq that she leads until May 31, 2020.

More broadly, Hennis-Plasschaert also criticized political infighting in Iraq that has blocked key ministerial appointments a year after national elections, and corruption which is “pervasive at all levels in Iraq.”

She alluded to escalating tensions between the US and Iran which have raised concerns that Iraq could once again get caught in the middle, just as it is on the path to recovery. 

The country hosts more than 5,000 US troops, and is home to powerful Iranian-backed militias, some of whom want those US forces to leave.

Hennis-Plasschaert said she was pleased to report that Iraq’s leaders continue to reach out to their regional and international counterparts, positioning the country “as a reliable partner.”

“Iraq could well be a stabilizing factor in a turbulent region and instead of an arena for conflict, Iraq could well offer a space for regional reconciliation, preparing the ground for a regional security dialogue,” she said.

“At the same time, we cannot ignore that Iraq faces serious challenges in preventing its territory from becoming the theater for different competitions,” Hennis-Plasschaert said. “So, to all those feeling challenged: Placing a further burden on Iraq is truly, the last thing it needs.”


Former Egyptian president Morsi buried in Cairo: lawyer

Updated 18 June 2019
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Former Egyptian president Morsi buried in Cairo: lawyer

  • Morsi, was suffering from a benign tumor, had continuous medical attention, says state TV
  • The former president died aged 67

CAIRO: Egypt’s first democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi was buried on Tuesday in eastern Cairo, one of his lawyers said, a day after he collapsed in court and died.

“He was buried in Medinat Nasr, in eastern Cairo, with his family present. The funeral prayer was said in Tora prison hospital” where he was declared dead on Monday, his lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maksoud said.

Egyptian state television announced that Morsi, 67, who was ousted by the military on July 3, 2013, had been attending a court session at his trial on charges of espionage and links with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

It was reported that he collapsed in the courtroom inside a glass cage he and others had been sharing, before his body was transferred to a local hospital.

Morsi died from a sudden heart attack, state television reported early on Tuesday, citing a medical source. The source said the former president, who was suffering from a benign tumor, had continuous medical attention.

Attorney-General Nabil Sadiq issued a statement saying: “The accused, Mohammed Morsi, in the presence of the other defendants inside the cage, fell unconscious, where he was immediately transferred to the hospital.

“The preliminary medical report stated that by external medical examination they found no pulse, no breathing, and his eyes were unresponsive to light. He died at 4:50 p.m. and no apparent injuries to the body were found.”

Sadiq added he had ordered the transfer of teams from the Supreme State Security Prosecution Office and the Southern Cairo Prosecution Office to conduct an investigation into Morsi’s death, and to examine surveillance footage from the courtroom and collect witness testimonies.

He also ordered that a senior forensic committee headed by the chief medical officer and the director of forensic medicine to prepare a forensic report on the cause of death.

Various outlets say that a state of high alert has been issued by the military and the Ministry of the Interior throughout the country following the news, for fear of riots or activity by the Muslim Brotherhood, in which Morsi was a prominent figure.

Morsi became president in June 2012 after the first democratic elections in the country following the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak on Jan. 25, 2011. He was Egypt’s fifth president.

He was born to a family of farmers on Aug. 20, 1951, in the village of Al-Adwa in Sharkia province. He married in 1978 and leaves behind his wife, five children and three grandchildren.

Following his deposition and arrest, Morsi was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment on Oct. 22, 2016, over bloody clashes that took place on Dec. 5, 2012 in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and opponents of Morsi rejecting a constitutional declaration issued in November of that year.

Other sentences meant his total incarceration could have been up to 48 years, with the ongoing espionage case potentially carrying a further maximum sentence of 25 years.

In Istanbul on Tuesday, hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters took to the streets, mourning former Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi and some chanting slogans blaming Cairo authorities for his death.

* With AFP