Anbar conflict may spread, warns Iraqi VP Al-Hashemi

Updated 15 May 2014

Anbar conflict may spread, warns Iraqi VP Al-Hashemi

DOHA: Iraq’s fugitive vice president warned that an armed standoff in Anbar province could spread to other parts of the country as Sunni opposition to Shiite Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki grows.
Stirred by a bloody raid to arrest a Sunni politician in the Anbar city of Ramadi, fighters of the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and tribal allies took over Fallujah and parts of nearby Ramadi three weeks ago at a time of rising Sunni anger with the Shiite-led government.
Tarek Al-Hashemi, a Sunni sentenced to death in 2012 after an Iraqi court convicted him of running death squads while vice president, something he denies, has accused Al-Maliki of pursuing a political witch-hunt against his Sunni opponents.
“I’m not optimistic about the future ... I think this spark in Anbar will spread to other provinces,” Hashemi told Reuters in an interview this week in his Doha office guarded by Qatari security men.
“Al-Maliki is targeting Arab Sunnis (in Iraq) in different provinces, with the use of army forces, or handing them death sentences in a way that has never been seen before in Iraq’s modern history, and therefore it’s the right of these individuals to defend themselves in every way possible.”
On Sunday, Iraqi government forces battling ISIL militants intensified air strikes and artillery fire on Fallujah. The confrontation has displaced tens of thousands of residents.
Hashemi, who divides his time between Qatar and Turkey, appealed to outside countries for humanitarian aid to “support the victims.”
He said it would be “disastrous” if Al-Maliki, in power since 2006, could win a third term if voters choose him in a parliamentary elections set for April 30.
“Today, we are objecting to Al-Maliki not because he’s Shiite. It’s because of his flawed policy,” said Hashemi.
“Al-Maliki ... controls political decisions and the power to implement them and he also controls the judiciary system, stripping it of independence.”
In the latest high-profile raid, security forces detained prominent Sunni lawmaker Ahmed Al-Alwani, a supporter of anti-government protests, at his Anbar home last month, sparking the latest violence.
Hashemi said he longed to return to his homeland but did not feel safe to go back at this point. “There isn’t a single square meter in any (Sunni) governorate that’s safe for me to return to,” he said.


US lawmakers set measure opposing Trump on Syria troop withdrawal

In this file photo taken on September 8, 2019 US troops walk past a Turkish military vehicle during a joint patrol with Turkish troops in the Syrian village of al-Hashisha on the outskirts of Tal Abyad town along the border with Turkish troops. (AFP)
Updated 1 min 34 sec ago

US lawmakers set measure opposing Trump on Syria troop withdrawal

  • Senate and House aides said lawmakers were working on legislation to impose stiffer sanctions on Turkey, hoping to force Turkish President Erdogan to halt his military campaign in northeastern Syria

WASHINGTON: US Democratic lawmakers, joined by some of President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans, introduced a resolution on Tuesday opposing Trump’s decision to withdraw US forces from Syria, the latest sign of deep disapproval in Congress of his action.
“We have always maintained that, while certainly needed, a sanctions package alone is insufficient for reversing this humanitarian disaster,” House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement introducing the resolution.
In addition to Pelosi and Schumer, the resolution was led by Representatives Eliot Engel, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Mike McCaul, the committee’s top Republican.
It also is backed by Senators Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Todd Young, a Republican member of that panel.
Senate and House aides said lawmakers were working on legislation to impose stiffer sanctions on Turkey, hoping to force Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to halt his military campaign in northeastern Syria.
Several sanctions bills were introduced in the Senate and House, supported by Democrats and some of Trump’s fellow Republicans, before Trump said he would impose sanctions.
Trump announced a set of sanctions on Monday to punish Ankara, and a senior Trump administration official said on Tuesday that Washington would threaten more sanctions to persuade Turkey to reach a cease-fire and halt its offensive. The measures — mainly a hike in steel tariffs and a pause in trade talks — were less robust than financial markets had anticipated. Trump’s critics derided them as too feeble to have an impact, and the Turkish currency recovered.