Kurdish leader’s killing a ‘war crime,’ says former US envoy

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Kurdish protesters hold a photo of Hevrin Kahlaf during a pro-Kurdish demonstration in Cologne, western Germany on October 19, 2019. (AFP)
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Hevrin Khalaf, a Kurdish leader.
Updated 21 October 2019

Kurdish leader’s killing a ‘war crime,’ says former US envoy

  • The human rights group said Ankara has a responsibility to halt violations carried out by forces under its control

ANKARA: The killing of a female Kurdish party official during a Turkish offensive on Kurdish-held border towns in northeastern Syria has been condemned as a “war crime” by a former US special envoy.
Hevrin Khalaf, secretary general of the Future Syria Party, was one of nine civilians killed by Ankara-backed fighters on Oct. 12 on a highway outside Raqqa.
Khalaf and her driver are believed to have been forced from their car and summarily executed by a rebel group named Ahrar Al-Sharqiya fighting alongside Turkish forces in Syria.
Brett McGurk, the former special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter Daesh, condemned the execution as a “war crime.” The US State Department also issued a statement calling the news of Khalaf’s death “troubling.”
Local and international observers also criticized the killings.
In a statement on Oct 18, Amnesty International cited a medical report listing Khalaf’s injuries, including gunshot wounds to her head, face and back.
“Killing defenseless people in cold blood is utterly reprehensible and a blatant war crime,” the statement said. “The murder of Khalaf and others must be independently investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.”
The human rights group said Ankara has a responsibility to halt violations carried out by forces under its control.
“Unless Turkey reins in its proxy forces and ends impunity for violations, it will encourage further atrocities,” the statement said.

FASTFACT

Hevrin Khalaf, secretary general of the Future Syria Party, was one of nine civilians killed by Ankara-backed fighters on Oct. 12 on a highway outside Raqqa.

Turkish troops and allied fighters launched a military offensive on Oct 9 to push Syrian Kurdish YPG militia and its political wing Democratic Union Party (PYD) away from Turkey’s border with Syria. Ankara accuses the PYD of having links with Kurdish PKK militants who have been waging a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey.
The Future Syria Party is considered by the Turkish government as a branch of the PYD.
Khalaf, a resident of the northeastern Syrian town of Malikiyah, was known for her efforts to unite religious groups in northeastern Syria and replace the Assad regime with a multi-ethnic democracy.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights, a nongovernment group that monitors fighting in the country, told Arab News that its investigations into the incident were hampered by the lack of a strong network in the area.
“The incident seems to have taken place on a road, not in a residential zone. We are unable to verify how she was killed or who killed her,” the group said.


Lebanese lawmakers to defy naming of new PM

Updated 07 December 2019

Lebanese lawmakers to defy naming of new PM

  • Saad Hariri submitted the resignation of his government on Oct. 29 as a result of ongoing mass protests against corruption

BEIRUT: Three lawmakers and members of Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s parliamentary bloc will not abide by its decision to name a new prime minister on Monday. 

Meanwhile, activists in the civil movement are holding meetings to announce a general strike and the blocking of roads on Monday in protest over reports that the new government will not include technocrats.

Samir Al-Khatib is considered the most favored candidate after preliminary consultations conducted by Aoun with his allies prior to setting the date for binding parliamentary consultations to nominate a Sunni prime minister, as required by the Lebanese constitution.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri submitted the resignation of his government on Oct. 29 as a result of ongoing mass protests against corruption. He later said he would not agree to head a new government unless it consisted of technocrats.

Lawmaker Neemat Frem urged citizens to provide him with the name of their favorite candidate to head the new government, “for you are the primary source of authority, and it is my duty to convey your voice in the binding parliamentary consultations.”

Lawmaker Chamel Roukoz said he will not nominate anyone for the position of prime minister.

Lawmaker Michel Daher declared his intention to boycott the parliamentary consultations if Al-Khatib is the only candidate.

Aoun assured a delegation of British financial and investment institutions, and US bank Morgan Stanley, that binding parliamentary consultations will take place on Monday to form a new government, which will help Lebanon’s friends launch agreed-to development projects.

“The new government’s priority will be to address the economic and financial conditions as soon as it is formed,” he said.

HIGHLIGHT

Samir Al-Khatib is considered the most favored candidate after preliminary consultations conducted by Aoun with his allies prior to setting the date for binding parliamentary consultations to nominate a Sunni prime minister, as required by the Lebanese constitution.

On Friday, Hariri sent letters to the leaders of a number of countries with good relations with Lebanon. 

He asked them to help Lebanon secure credit to import goods from these countries, in order to ensure food security and availability of raw materials for production in various sectors.

His media office said the move “is part of his efforts to address the shortage of financial liquidity, and to secure procuring the basic import requirements for citizens.”

Among the leaders Hariri wrote to are Saudi Arabia’s King Salman; the presidents of France, Russia, Egypt and Turkey; the prime ministers of China and Italy; and the US secretary of state.

On Dec. 11, Paris is due to host a meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon. Reuters quoted a European source as saying: “France has already sent invitations to attend the group meeting.”

Protesters continued their sit-ins in front of government institutions in Nabatieh, Zahle and Saida.

In Tripoli, protesters blocked the city’s main roads, which were eventually reopened by the army.

In Akkar, protesters raided public institutions and called for an “independent government that fights corruption, restores looted funds, and rescues the economic situation and living conditions from total collapse.”

Lebanese designer Robert Abi Nader canceled a fashion show that was due to be organized in Downtown Beirut, where protesters are gathering. 

Abi Nader said he intended through his show to express support for the protests by designing a special outfit called “the bride of the revolution,” and revenues were to be dedicated to families in need.