Iraqi authorities face new rage over Daesh-linked families

An Iraqi Kurdish woman mourns at the site of a mass grave of victims in Tal Al-Sheikhiya in the southern province of Mutahanna, about 300 km south of Baghdad. (AFP)
Updated 06 September 2019

Iraqi authorities face new rage over Daesh-linked families

  • The number of people still living in the camps were no more than 93,000 in June

BAGHDAD: The decision by Iraqi authorities to close internal displacement camps by 2020 has infuriated families of terrorist victims and threatened thousands of Daesh militants’ family members, local officials and international human rights organizations said on Wednesday.

Some 6 million Iraqis were displaced in northern and western Iraq after Daesh swept the areas and seized most of the cities and towns in 2014 until they were liberated after military operations led by the Iraqi government concluded in October 2017.

Most of those living in displacement camps set up on the outskirts of cities have returned to their homes since the military success, leaving only Daesh-affiliated families, whose communities have refused to allow them to return. According to statistics published by the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration, the number of people still living in the camps were no more than 93,000 in June. Most of them are staying in Nineveh and Dohuk.

Government sources told Arab News that a decision by the Iraqi National Security Council was made in June to take down all displacement camps across the country and return all people to their homes.

Since then, the Ministry of Displacement and Migration has stepped up efforts to speed up the process of returning families. Dozens were sent back to Anbar province, but protests have escalated over the past three days after Iraqi authorities forced hundreds of Daesh-affiliated families to move from the camps of Hamam Al-Alil and Al-Salamiya in Nineveh to camps in Salahudin and Kirkuk governorates.

FASTFACT

6m

Iraqis were displaced in northern and western Iraq after Daesh swept the areas and seized most of the cities and towns in 2014.

On Saturday, around 200 Daesh-linked families mostly from Shirqat town were temporarily transferred from Nineveh’s camps to Al-Basateen camp in northern Salhudin. Before the morning, unknown assailants attacked the camp with three hand grenades. No casualties were reported but the local authorities moved the transferred families to another camp in Tikrit.

The convoy was forced to stop as a number of Daesh victims’ families and local officials set up a human barrier in front of the buses and prevented them from entering the city. The local authorities had to change the destination of the convoy to a nearby camp
outside Tikrit.

“Many of the families of the victims are angry and do not accept the presence of members of the murderers’ families in the same neighborhood or street where their sons or fathers were killed,” Ahmed Al-Kraim, the head of Salahudin provincial council, told Arab News.

“We are trying to find a solution for this situation. There will be a meeting for all the heads of tribes in Salhudin on Monday to tell them that every head of tribe has to take his tribe’s people.

“Who is wanted, will be arrested and the rest will go back to their homes. These are government orders. This issue must be ended.”

Daesh militants committed brutal crimes against the local population in areas they controlled in Iraq and Syria. The failure of the Iraqi government to achieve community reconciliation in a way that ensures justice for the families of the victims and Daesh-linked families has kept the desire for revenge raging between the two parties, especially in
tribal societies such as Salahudin and Anbar.

“Isolating these families in camps outside cities and rejecting them means generating new hatreds and new problems,” Hussein Arab, a member of the displacement and immigration parliamentary committee who works on reconciliation, told Arab News.

“We know that 90 percent of these families are not involved in crimes, but our society is tribal — especially in the liberated areas — and tends to take revenge.

“We have been working to solve the problem radically, and we have tactical plans to return these families to their areas of origin, reintegrate them into society and remove extremist ideas from their brains. The Ministry of Displacement and Migration provides logistical and technical support to the camps, but their resources still limited and we need more government support.”

There are no official statistics showing the number of people who were killed for their links with Daesh. Acts of revenge in tribal societies usually affect men. Most of the men in these families were subjected to strict security measures in case they tried to leave the camps, which kept them away from reprisals, but getting them out of camps means putting them at the mercy of the families of angry victims, observers said.

Several international organizations, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International and the Norwegian Refugee Council have expressed concern over the consequences of forcibly returning these families to their areas of origin.

“Displaced people, like all other Iraqis, have the right to move freely in their country and decide where they feel safe to live,” said Lama Fakih, acting Middle East director at HRW.

“Authorities can’t move people without first consulting them, especially not to places where they and their families face danger.”


Five days of disagreement during Renaissance Dam negotiations

Updated 38 min 4 sec ago

Five days of disagreement during Renaissance Dam negotiations

  • Egypt, which is almost entirely dependent on the River Nile for its fresh water, fears the dam will diminish its water supply, which is already below scarcity level
  • Ethiopia hopes that the massive $4.8 billion megaproject on the Blue Nile will allow it to become Africa’s largest power exporter

CAIRO: Five days of negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over a multi-billion dollar dam megaproject have seen nothing but disagreement, according to one of the parties involved in the talks.

Meetings to resolve the dispute were held under the auspices of the African Union (AU) for technical and legal teams from the three countries to try to bridge some points of disagreements, but the discussions did not result in anything new, a statement from Egypt’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation said.

The ministry added that, other than the disputes over the rules for refilling the dam after periods of prolonged drought, when the dam would be at the lowest levels of operation, Egypt was adhering to the application of certain rules for refilling but that Ethiopia was pushing to apply the same rules for the first filling, which added a burden to the High Dam in Egypt.

Egypt, which is almost entirely dependent on the River Nile for its fresh water, fears the dam will diminish its water supply, which is already below scarcity level.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

Ethiopia hopes that the massive $4.8 billion megaproject on the Blue Nile will allow it to become Africa’s largest power exporter. 

The Egyptian ministry statement also said that Ethiopia refused to include the annual operating curve of the dam by agreement and was determined to change the operating rules in a unilateral manner, a stance rejected by Sudan and Egypt.

On Wednesday evening, the delegation of each country met separately with AU observers and experts in order to reach a compromise.

In light of the negotiations Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed confirmed that his country would not harm Egypt regarding the Renaissance Dam. He added that it would start filling the dam to take advantage of the heavy rain season, saying the disagreement with Egypt over the operation and filling of the dam would be resolved.

“We will not deprive Egypt of water and we will reach an agreement soon,” Ahmed added.

Muhammad Al-Sebaei, a spokesman for Egypt’s Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources, said there remained disagreement on a number of issues between the countries and that no progress had been made.

Al-Sebaei added that, if Ethiopia remained insistent over its demands and the points that it wished to implement, an agreement would not be reached.

“Next Sunday is the deadline for the end of the Renaissance Dam negotiations, in the event that a new variable does not appear.”

Former Egyptian minister of irrigation, Mohamed Nasr Allam, told Arab News that there were aspects that must be taken into account by the Ethiopian side during the negotiations. Among these were, he explained, not to harm Egypt and Sudan’s share of the Nile waters according to historical agreements. Allam said that if Ethiopia objected again to historical agreements, then Egypt must resort to the International Court of Justice.

The previous round of negotiations failed to produce an accord due to Ethiopia's refusal to enter into a legally binding agreement and its announcement that it would begin filling the dam this month with or without the approval of the two downstream countries.

Mustafa Kamel El-Sayed, a professor of political science at Cairo University, said that Egypt should use its good international relations, especially with China and Russia, to pressure the Ethiopian side. 

Chinese companies were involved in building the Renaissance Dam, and China was in charge of building the electricity network that would transfer the generated energy from the dam to other parts of Ethiopia. “So, without cooperation from China, the construction of the dam and the associated electricity projects will suffer,” El-Sayed told Arab News.

According to El-Sayed, Russia had relations of strategic importance in protecting the dam. It had provided Ethiopia with the knowledge and equipment in the nuclear field by building a nuclear power plant and reactor, which was “very significant” for any country looking to be a nuclear power as well as helping in the field of energy and armament.

He advised Egypt to inform China and Russia that their interests in the country were determined by the extent of their assistance in helping with the Ethiopian position.

“Egypt is important to China in implementing its ambitious project known as the Belt and Road Initiative, which crosses Egypt on the way to Europe. It is very beneficial to China. Russia has major investments in Egypt that exceeds its investment in Ethiopia,” El-Sayed added.