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.


Lebanon not expecting new aid pledges at Paris meeting

Updated 10 December 2019

Lebanon not expecting new aid pledges at Paris meeting

  • The political impasse returned to square one on Sunday when a tentative agreement on a new PM unraveled
  • Lebanon has also been in a political impasse since Saad Al-Hariri quit as prime minister on Oct. 29

BEIRUT/PARIS: Lebanon does not expect new aid pledges at conference which France is hosting on Wednesday to press for the quick formation of a new government that can tackle an acute financial crisis.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian urged Lebanon to create a new government swiftly or risk the crisis worsening and threatening the country’s stability.
The economic crisis is the worst since the 1975-90 civil war: a liquidity crunch has led banks to enforce capital controls and the Lebanese pound to slump by one third.
Lebanon has also been in a political impasse since Saad Al-Hariri quit as prime minister on Oct. 29, prompted by protests against the ruling elite, with no agreement on a new government.
Nadim Munla, senior adviser to Hariri, who is running the government as caretaker, told Reuters the Paris meeting would probably signal a readiness to offer support once a government is formed that commits to reforms.
“They will recognize that there is a short-term problem and that if and when a government (is formed) that basically responds to the aspirations of people, most probably the international community will be ready to step in and provide support to Lebanon, or additional support,” he said.
“It is not a pledging conference.”
Lebanon won pledges of over $11 billion at a conference last year conditional on reforms that it has failed to implement. The economic crisis is rooted in years of corruption and waste that have generated one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens.
The political impasse returned to square one on Sunday when a tentative agreement on a new prime minister unraveled.
Hariri is now seen as the only candidate for the post.
He has said he would only lead a cabinet of specialist ministers, believing this is the way to address the economic crisis, attract aid, and satisfy protesters who have been in the streets since Oct. 17 seeking the removal of a political class blamed for corruption and misrule.
But Hezbollah and its allies including President Michel Aoun say the government must include politicians.
“Let’s see the coming few days and if there will be an agreement among the political parties on a formation ... otherwise we might take longer,” Munla said. Hariri would be willing to have politicians in cabinet but they should not be “the regular known faces of previous governments.”