Pro-Iran protesters torch Kurd party offices in Baghdad

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A member of the Iraqi security forces intervenes as demonstrators, supporters of the Hashed al Shaabi, burn down the Kurdish Democratic Party's headquarters in the capital Baghdad on October 17, 2020. (AFP)
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Iraqi demonstrators, supporters of the Hashed Al-Shaabi, tear up a portrait of Masoud Barzani, former leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, as they burn and ransack the party's headquarters in the capital Baghdad on October 17, 2020. (AFP)
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Iraqi demonstrators, supporters of the Hashed al Shaabi, burn down the Kurdish Democratic Party's headquarters in the capital Baghdad on October 17, 2020. (AFP)
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Iraqi security forces intervene as demonstrators, supporters of the Hashed Al-Shaabi, burn down the Kurdish Democratic Party's headquarters in the capital Baghdad on October 17, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 17 October 2020

Pro-Iran protesters torch Kurd party offices in Baghdad

  • Protesters burned Kurdish flags while others carried posters of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and his Iraqi lieutenant Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis
  • Hoshyar Zebari said the government needed to “clean up the Green Zone from the presence of Hashed militias”

BAGHDAD: Supporters of Hashed Al-Shaabi, an Iraqi paramilitary network dominated by Iran-backed factions, Saturday burned down the main Kurdish party’s headquarters in Baghdad after criticism from a Kurdish ex-minister.
Hundreds of Hashed demonstrators swept past a security detail and stormed into the offices of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which runs the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq, and torched them.
Protesters burned Kurdish flags while others carried posters of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and his Iraqi lieutenant Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, who were killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad last January.
The Hashed paramilitaries were formed in 2014 from mostly-Shiite armed groups and volunteers to fight Daesh.
Hashed has since been formally integrated into Iraq’s armed forces and has representation in parliament, and it has spawned several ideologically affiliated armed groups.
Earlier this month, Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq’s longtime former foreign minister and a key Kurdish power-broker, said the government needed to “clean up the Green Zone (in Baghdad) from the presence of Hashed militias.”
They were operating “outside the law,” Zebari, a KDP member, said in comments to the US-funded Al-Hurra television.
Vian Sabry, head of the KDP bloc in parliament, condemned Saturday’s attack.
“This isn’t a protest because protests are supposed to be peaceful as per the constitution,” she told AFP.
She blamed “unaccountable factions for being behind such acts,” without elaborating.
On October 1, Kurdish authorities accused Hashed militants of firing rockets at the airport in Irbil, the capital city of Iraqi Kurdistan, where US troops are based.
Around 90 rocket attacks have targeted the US presence in Iraq since the January drone strike, with several claimed by pro-Iran factions.


Court orders authorities to reveal Israeli citizenship criteria to Palestinian Jerusalemites

Updated 26 November 2020

Court orders authorities to reveal Israeli citizenship criteria to Palestinian Jerusalemites

  • Without Israeli citizenship, residents of East Jerusalem could not obtain an Israeli passport, vote in national elections, or work in state government jobs
  • Vast majority of Jerusalem’s 330,000 stateless Palestinians have not applied

AMMAN: An Israeli court has forced state authorities to reveal the criteria that need to be met for Palestinian Jerusalem youth to become citizens of Israel.

The judicial order will mean that approximately 20,000 Palestinians aged between 18 and 21 living in East Jerusalem will now know the requirements when petitioning for Israeli citizenship, which is not automatically granted to them as residents of the city.

The vast majority of Jerusalem’s 330,000 stateless Palestinians have not applied, nor have the desire, to become Israelis. But the court decision should in future make the application process easier for those interested in carrying an Israeli passport and having the protection of the Israeli government regarding their legal status.

Jerusalem attorney, Mohammed Dahdal, who has practiced civil and human rights law for more than 30 years, noted that without Israeli citizenship, residents of East Jerusalem could not obtain an Israeli passport, vote in national elections, or work in state government jobs, among other things.

However, they did pay taxes to Israel and received social benefits such as national insurance, unemployment payments, and healthcare coverage.

Dahdal told Arab News that after 1988, when Jordan disengaged from the West Bank, which included East Jerusalem, Jerusalemites became stateless citizens. He said the ruling had come about after a Palestinian from Jerusalem had appealed to the court after revealing a loophole in the law.

He noted that the court decision, published by the Israeli Ministry of the Interior, made four conditions to ensure receipt of an Israeli passport. “That the applicant has no other citizenship, that they were born in Israel (for Israel, East and West Jerusalem are both parts of Israel), that the applicant is between 18 and 21 years old, and has lived continuously in Israel during the five years preceding applying for citizenship.”

The lawyer added that the Israeli government had fought in court to have the criteria for citizenship kept under wraps.

Former Jordanian member of parliament, Audeh Kawwas, who was on Wednesday appointed as a member of the Jordanian Senate, told Arab News: “If the aim is to solve the statelessness issue of Jerusalemites, I am for it and I have spoken about it (as a committee member) in the World Council of Churches.

“However, if this is an attempt to disenfranchise Palestinians and to make the city more Israeli, then I am totally opposed.”

Hazem Kawasmi, a community activist in Jerusalem, told Arab News that many young Palestinian Jerusalemites were in a desperate situation, as no government or institution was taking care of them and their needs.

He said: “They are living under occupation with daily harassment from the police and Israeli intelligence and face all kinds of racism and enmity.

“Israeli citizenship helps them get high-skilled jobs and it is a prerequisite for many jobs. It helps them travel for tourism or work to Europe and the US without the cumbersome, complicated procedures of getting visas, that is if they get it at all.

“Finally, Israeli citizenship makes the youth feel safe not to lose their residency in Jerusalem and movement and work in Israel,” he added.

Khalil Assali, a member of the Jerusalem Waqf and an observer of Jerusalem affairs, told Arab News that he was doubtful that Israel would speed up the process for granting Israeli citizenship. “They have made this move to show their newly established Arab friends that they are acting democratically.”

Hijazi Risheq, head of the Jerusalem Merchants’ committee, told Arab News that the Israelis were looking for ways to turn the city into a Jewish one. By giving citizenship to youth between the ages of 18 and 21, Israel was aiming to deter them from carrying out hostile acts against Israel and keep them away from the Palestinian National Authority and its security forces, he said.

Jerusalem-based human rights activist, Rifaat Kassis, said: “The idea that Jerusalem is Arab has become an empty slogan. Meanwhile, Israeli racism has become the overriding power that forces Jerusalemites trying to have a dignified life with their families to live under difficult conditions.”