Death toll rises in attack on Turkish diplomat in Iraq

Security forces gather at the scene of a shooting outside a restaurant in Irbil, Iraq, Wednesday, July 17, 2019. Turkey's state-run news agency says a Turkish diplomat working at Ankara's consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil was killed during a shooting attack inside the restaurant there. (AP)
Updated 18 July 2019

Death toll rises in attack on Turkish diplomat in Iraq

  • It warned against anyone trying to “harm the security and stability” of the autonomous region

IRBIL, IRAQ: The death toll from Wednesday’s attack on Turkish consular employees in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region has risen to three after one victim died of his wounds, his family told AFP.

The Turkish vice consul and one Iraqi citizen were shot dead by at least one attacker on Wednesday in a restaurant in the northern regional capital of Irbil, a police source told AFP.

The shooting also wounded another Iraqi, 26-year-old Bashdar Ramadan, who died overnight, his cousin told AFP on Thursday.

According to Turkish state media, the lone attacker was dressed in plainclothes and carried two guns when he stormed the restaurant in Irbil’s Ainkawa district.

Checkpoints were quickly erected in and around the neighborhood, but the perpetrators are still on the run.

“The relevant authorities have launched a thorough investigation to find and prosecute the perpetrators of this criminal act,” said the Kurdistan Regional Government in an online statement.

It warned against anyone trying to “harm the security and stability” of the autonomous region.

There was no claim of responsibility for the attack, which came as Turkey wages a ground and bombing offensive against bases of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.

The PKK is classified as a “terrorist” group by Turkey, the US and the EU because of the three-decade insurgency it has waged against the Turkish state.

Earlier this month, the PKK announced senior leader Diyar Gharib Mohammed and two other fighters had been killed in a Turkish raid.

A spokesman for the PKK’s armed branch denied the group was involved in Wednesday’s shooting.

Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for the Turkish president, vowed “the necessary response will be given to those who committed this treacherous attack.”

In Baghdad, the UN mission to Iraq called for “maximum restraint” from all sides.

The US Embassy offered its condolences to the Turkish mission after the “heinous” attack, calling for “the defense and safety of foreign diplomats and diplomatic missions in Iraq.”

US sanctions on 4 Iraqis

Meanwhile, the US imposed sanctions on two Iraqi militia leaders and two former Iraqi provincial governors it accused of human rights abuses and corruption, the US Treasury Department said on Thursday.

The sanctions target militia leaders Rayan Al-Kildani and Waad Qado, and former governors Nawfal Hammadi Al-Sultan and Ahmed Al-Jubouri, the Treasury said in a statement.

“We will continue to hold accountable persons associated with serious human rights abuse, including persecution of religious minorities, and corrupt officials who exploit their positions of public trust to line their pockets and hoard power at the expense of their citizens,” Sigal Mandelker, Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said.

The Treasury said many of the actions that prompted the sanctions occurred in “areas where persecuted religious communities are struggling to recover from the horrors inflicted on them” by Daesh, the militant group that controlled parts of Iraq for several years.

The Treasury said Kildani is the leader of the 50th Brigade militia and is shown cutting off the ear of a handcuffed detainee in a video circulating in Iraq last year.

It said Qado is the leader of the 30th Brigade militia which engaged in extortion, illegal arrests, and kidnappings.

Sultan and Jubouri were designated for being engaged in corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, and other misdeeds, the Treasury said.

Iraq in March issued a warrant for the arrest of Sultan, the former governor of Nineveh province, on corruption charges after at least 90 people were killed in a ferry accident in the provincial capital Mosul.

As a result of the designation, any property the four persons hold in the US would be blocked and US persons are barred from business dealings with them.


Grand Egyptian Museum symbol of Japan cooperation

Updated 20 August 2019

Grand Egyptian Museum symbol of Japan cooperation

  • The museum will house thousands of monuments and artifacts including mummies

CAIRO: The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), set to open in 2022, is already a beacon for future Egyptian prosperity.

Built to showcase Egypt’s civilization and heritage, the museum will house thousands of monuments and artifacts including mummies, as well as housing a very important restoration center which will help in preserving Egyptian Pharaonic heritage.

It is hoped the GEM will boost tourism, and act as beacon of a new, forward-facing nation in the aftermath of several years of political upheaval, and centuries of losing its treasures overseas.

Egypt began work on the museum in 2008 at a cost of approximately $550 million, with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities funding $100 million, with the remainder facilitated through a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in addition to local and international donations.

Covering the third phase of the build, Japanese support was not limited to the loan, but extended to the financial and technical support of the museum’s preservation and conservation center. 

Moreover, Japan currently supports the museum’s archaeological database and the team chosen to cultivate and manage it. 

The JICA also organizes a program that holds several restoration training sessions in both Egypt and Japan, in partnership with the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. 

Egypt’s Ambassador to Japan Ayman Kamel talked about the details of Japan’s participation in constructing the GEM.

“This project, which was launched years ago, is a success story in Egyptian-Japanese bilateral relations,” Kamel said.

BACKGROUND

It is hoped the Grand Egyptian Museum will boost tourism, and act as beacon of a new, forward-facing nation in the aftermath of several years of political upheaval, and centuries of losing its treasures overseas.

He added that Japan contributed in supporting one of the Egyptian centers specializing in monument restoration, providing “unmatched” Japanese eco-friendly materials and technology. 

Kamel predicted that following its inauguration, the GEM would be a source of pride not only for Egypt and Japan but also for the whole world.

“The final inauguration will take place in 2022 when all construction operations are completed.”

Japan’s Ambassador to Egypt Masaki Noke said the GEM was a “huge project that transfers heritage to the coming generations” and hailed Egypt for carrying out “this huge archaeological project.” 

Noke added that the Japanese were very happy to participate in this huge achievement which he considered of paramount importance “not only on the economic level but also on the human level in general.”

Around 42,000 Japanese tourists visited Egypt in 2018, adding to an increasingly large community of Japanese residents, and a sizable presence of archaeological missions working in the country.  

Egyptian archaeological expert Ahmed Kadry told Arab News that there are currently 10 Japanese archaeological missions in Egypt with universities and institutions.

Kadry said that the GEM’s inauguration in 2022 will change the perspective of museum tourism the world over, and hailed to work of Japanese and Egyptian archaeologists for their work in the field of diagnostic examination of monuments by using hand-held devices called XRFs, a primary examination machine using X-rays.

He added the results of such examinations provided useful information regarding the preparation of painted layers “which help in not only deepening the understanding of the condition of murals once they are restored but also in conducting more research to gain more knowledge in the field of archaeology.”

In July 2018, Dr. Tadayuki Hara, an associate professor and senior research fellow at the Institute for Tourism Studies, gave a lecture on how to improve the value of touristic assets in Egypt at the Japanese Embassy in Cairo, where he cited the importance of the GEM in Egypt’s future.

“Revenues can be created through great memories,” Dr. Hara said. “That can be achieved through the GEM, the project that Japan is taking part in constructing.”