Iran bid to name new Iraqi PM

Al-Quds commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani, center. (AFP)
Updated 04 December 2019

Iran bid to name new Iraqi PM

  • “Soleimani is in Baghdad to push for a particular candidate to succeed Abdul Mahdi”

Iran wants to name the next prime minister of Iraq.

Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, head of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and Mohammed Kawtharany, a top official with Hezbollah in Lebanon, have flown to Baghdad for talks on a successor to Adel Abdul Mahdi, who resigned last week.

Soleimani personally directed Iraqi security forces’ deadly response to protests that began two months ago against government corruption and the failure of public services. More than 420 have been killed and at least 20,000 injured in the crackdown.

The US said Soleimani’s presence at the Baghdad talks showed that Iran was again “interfering in Iraq.”

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“Soleimani is in Baghdad to push for a particular candidate to succeed Abdul Mahdi,” a top political source told the Agence France-Presse news agency on Tuesday. Kawtharany “is also playing a large role in persuading Shiite and Sunni political forces on this.”

However, Tehran may find it difficult to get its way in Baghdad. The talks to nominate a new prime minister were “difficult,” the source said, because “political blocs want to maintain their positions.”

As well as Iran, any successor to Abdul Mahdi would need the approval of divided Shiite factions, Kurdish authorities in the north, and the US.

Abdul Mahdi’s nomination as prime minister was the product of an uneasy alliance between Parliament’s two main blocs — Sairoon, led by the influential Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, and Fatah, which is linked to Iran-backed armed groups led by Hadi Al-Amiri.

Meanwhile, protests continued in the capital and the south. In Najaf, 35 protesters were injured when armed guards in civilian clothes fired shotguns and tear gas on crowds near a Shiite tomb.


Stranded Egyptians return from Sudan, Kuwait and Qatar

Updated 29 min 9 sec ago

Stranded Egyptians return from Sudan, Kuwait and Qatar

  • More than 1,000 Egyptians returned from Kuwait, 308 from New York, 174 from Qatar, and 217 from Sudan
  • Sharjah-based airline Air Arabia announced it would be providing Egyptians in Jordan with a flight from Amman to Cairo on July 10

CAIRO: Hundreds of Egyptians who had been stranded overseas because of the COVID-19 pandemic returned to Egypt on Wednesday as the country reopened its airports, which have been closed for three months.

More than 1,000 Egyptians returned from Kuwait, 308 from New York, 174 from Qatar, and 217 from Sudan. The latter came through the Qastal border crossing, which reopened last month after Sudan closed its border in March.

Mustafa Abul-Magd, director general of preventive medicine in Aswan, said that COVID-19 tests were conducted at the quarantine location at the crossing, and that none of the returnees had tested positive.

Meanwhile, Sharjah-based airline Air Arabia announced it would be providing Egyptians in Jordan with a flight from Amman to Cairo on July 10. Egypt’s Minister of Civil Aviation Muhammad Manar Enabah had previously announced that national carrier EgyptAir and Air Cairo would be providing 315 flights to return 57,000 Egyptians stranded abroad. The Egyptian Embassy in Germany has also announced the resumption of flights between the two countries, meaning Egyptian expats there can also return home.

Minister of Immigration and Egyptian Expatriate Affairs Nabila Makram thanked all Arab countries for their support of Egyptian workers abroad during the COVID-19 crisis, and stressed that the whole country has worked to repatriate all Egyptians who wanted to return. “The Egyptian citizen is now prioritized in the country. The state has managed to deal with the anxieties of Egyptians abroad,” Makram said.

Journalist Hassan Al-Rashidi told Arab News that Egypt — with the help of several other countries — has “proven that it never forgets its citizens, even in times of crisis.”
Al-Rashidi added that the suspension of flights had had a major impact on tourism, which plays a huge role in Egypt’s economy. He said the resumption of flights would see many tourism jobs reinstated.