Iraq summons US charge d’affaires over military base attacks

The Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim summoned the US charge d’affaires Brian McFeeters on Friday evening. (Twitter: @Iraqimofa)
Updated 23 August 2019
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Iraq summons US charge d’affaires over military base attacks

  • Alhakim stressed that Iraq is committed to maintaining good relations with its neighbors
  • Added that Iraq was not an “arena for conflict and disagreement”

BAGHDAD: Iraq's Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim summoned the US charge d’affaires Brian McFeeters on Friday evening.
The two discussed the latest developments in Iraq and across the wider region, as well as cooperation on intelligence and military matters and the fight against terrorism.
According to a statement from the foreign ministry, Alhakim stressed that Iraq is committed to maintaining good relations with its neighbors and preserving security within its borders.
The charge d’affaires at the US embassy in Baghdad had been summoned hours after US officials disclosed to the New York Times intelligence that Israel had attacked a military base belonging to an Iraqi armed faction in July and bombed three makeshift warehouses inside the base in northern Baghdad.
Alhakim urged the US to commit to “implementing the terms of the strategic partnership agreement with Iraq in the security and economic spheres and to enhance joint cooperation between the two countries in various sectors,” the statement read.
He added that Iraq was not an “arena for conflict and disagreement,” but rather for “building and growth.”
Alhakim made it clear that Iraq places the “utmost importance on diplomatic and legal options to prevent any external interference in its internal affairs and to safeguard the security and sovereignty of the country,” according to the statement.

Leaders of armed factions in the country accuse Israel and the US of carrying out attacks using armed drones, but the Iraqi government denies that there is currently any evidence of the involvement of external parties.
US officials earlier this week uncovered intelligence indicating that Israel was involved in at least one of the attacks, which Iraqi officials told Arab News had embarrassed the Iraqi government and increased local and regional pressure on officials to take a clear position on the American forces and their control of Iraqi airspace.


Migrant workers still exploited in World Cup host Qatar: Amnesty

Updated 19 September 2019

Migrant workers still exploited in World Cup host Qatar: Amnesty

PARIS: Qatar is not fulfilling all its promises to improve the conditions of migrant workers in the country in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup, Amnesty International said Thursday.
In a report entitled "All Work, No Pay", the rights group said: "Despite the significant promises of reform which Qatar has made ahead of the 2022 World Cup, it remains a playground for unscrupulous employers."
The report came as French President Emmanuel Macron and Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani were due to meet in Paris on Thursday.
Sheikh Tamim also attended Wednesday's high-profile clash between Paris Saint-Germain -- owned by Qatar's state-owned investment fund -- and Real Madrid.
Doha has made efforts since being named World Cup hosts to improve the conditions of the migrant workers who make up a majority of the Gulf emirate's population.
In November 2017, a temporary $200 monthly minimum wage was introduced for most categories of workers with a permanent level expected to be set before the end of the year.
Exit visas granted at the discretion of employers, required by some workers to leave the country, should be entirely scrapped by the end of 2019 according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).
But Amnesty reported challenges faced by hundreds of workers at three construction and cleaning companies in Qatar who went unpaid for months.
"Migrant workers often go to Qatar in the hope of giving their families a better life; instead many people return home penniless after spending months chasing their wages, with too little help from the systems that are supposed to protect them," said Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty's deputy director of global issues.
After coming under fire over the treatment of migrant workers, Qatar agreed with the ILO in 2017 to undertake labour reforms, including establishing new dispute resolution committees.
"We are urging the Qatari authorities to fully deliver what has been promised and end the shameful reality of labour exploitation," Cockburn said.
Amnesty cited the case of a Kenyan employee of United Cleaning who said he had to rummage for food in garbage bins after receiving no salary for five months.
The man said he had worked for two years and five months for the company without taking any holidays and was owed "a lot of money".
The companies all cited financial difficulties for the non-payment of wages, according to the report.
A Qatar government spokesman said the country had "made substantial progress on labour reforms".
"We continue to work with NGOs, including the ILO, to ensure that these reforms are far-reaching and effective," he said in a statement.
"Any issues or delays with our systems will be addressed comprehensively. We have said, from the outset that this would take time, resources and commitment."