Security a ‘red line’ issue: UAE president

Updated 03 December 2012
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Security a ‘red line’ issue: UAE president

ABU DHABI : President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahayan warned yesterday against undermining UAE’s security as he promised to widen the decision-making process in the nation where some 60 Islamists have been detained this year.
“This country’s security is sacred and any attempt to undermine its foundations is a red line,” warned Sheikh Khalifa in statements marking the 41st anniversary of the union of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates.
“We are gradually moving toward expanding popular participation in decision-making, to reach a political system that would reflect reality and suit the nature of the society,” said Khalifa in remarks published by local media.
Last year, Emirati activists signed a petition calling for political reforms, including direct elections and broadening the powers of the toothless UAE legislature, the Federal National Council.
Some of the activists were arrested but later released.
The UAE, a federation of seven emirates led by Abu Dhabi, has not seen any of the widespread protests calling for reform that have swept other Arab countries, including fellow Gulf states Bahrain and Oman.
But authorities have stepped up a crackdown on voices of dissent and calls for democratic reforms.
Khalifa affirmed his country’s “support to the choices of the people” in Arab Spring countries, while “rejecting any intervention in their internal affairs.”
On July 15, the UAE announced it had dismantled a group it said was plotting against state security and challenging the constitution of the Gulf state.
Dubai police chief General Dahi Khalfan had repeatedly accused the Muslim Brotherhood — which came to power after the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia — of plotting against Gulf monarchies, claiming the 61 Islamists detained were linked to the group.
The detainees had condemned “false accusations” of challenging the political system and renewed allegiance to the leadership of the federation of seven hereditary sheikhdoms.
Last month, the Gulf country issued a new law toughening penalties for cyber crimes to include jail terms for anyone who calls for regime change or mocks its rulers.
Separately, Khalifa renewed his country’s calls for Iran to settle a territorial dispute over three strategic Gulf islands by ‘dialogue and accept international arbitration to resolve this issue.” Iran and the UAE are at loggerheads over the islands of Abu Musa, Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb, which lie in the strategic Strait of Hormuz entrance to the Gulf.
Iran took control of them in 1971 when colonial-era Britain withdrew from that part of the Gulf.


The Islamic republic says the islands are a historic part of its territory, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in April visited them to reassert that position.
However, the UAE claims ownership in line with an agreement signed with Britain, and it has won support from other Arab states in the Gulf and its ally the United States.


Daesh threatens Iraq polling stations ahead of parliamentary vote

Updated 24 April 2018
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Daesh threatens Iraq polling stations ahead of parliamentary vote

BAGHDAD: Daesh has threatened to attack Iraqi polling stations and voters during parliamentary elections next month.

In a message posted to the Telegram messaging app on Sunday, Daesh spokesman Abu Hassan Al-MuHajjir called on Sunni Iraqis to boycott the May 12 polls, the first since Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi declared victory over Daesh in December.

Extremist groups in Iraq have targeted every election since the 2003 US-led invasion that deposed Saddam Hussein and paved the way for Shiites to dominate every government since.

Under a system of checks and balances designed to avoid a return to dictatorship, the winner of the May 12 elections will have to form alliances with other Shiite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish lists to secure a majority.

An incumbent prime minister, his ousted predecessor and a paramilitary chief instrumental in defeating Daesh are the three favorites vying for Iraq’s premiership.

Two of the favorites topping the lists were among the architects of victory against Daesh, which in 2014 seized a third of Iraq’s territory in a lightning offensive.

The incumbent prime minister, 66 year-old Abadi, took over the reins from Nuri Al-Maliki in September 2014 at the high watermark of the security crisis.

The fightback which allowed Abadi to declare Iraq’s victory over Daesh in December, has silenced critics of his lack of military experience.

An engineering graduate and holder of a doctorate from the University of Manchester in Britain, Abadi is from the same Dawa party as his predecessor Maliki.

As the official head of Iraq’s military, Abadi has bolstered morale by drafting in foreign trainers, who have helped professionalize tens of thousands of soldiers.

Under his watch and backed by a US-led international coalition, the army has banished Daesh from all its urban strongholds in Iraq. 

The Iraqi military has also pushed back the Kurds in the north’s oil-rich Kirkuk province, bolstering Abadi’s status as frontrunner going into the election.

“He has a popular base which transcends confessional and ethnic lines. He offers a narrative as a statesman and he is not tarnished by corruption,” said Iraqi political scientist Essam Al-Fili.

Haddad said: “Abadi remains the single strongest contender but not strong enough to win anything close to a majority.”

His main contender is Hadi Al-Ameri — a leader of Hashed Al-Shaabi, a paramilitary network that played a pivotal role in defeating Daesh.

During Maliki’s 2010-2014 term as premier, Ameri was a lawmaker and then transport minister, but he was blocked in a bid to head the Interior Ministry by an American veto.