Saddam Hussein’s daughter refuses to rule out role in Iraqi politics

Saddam Hussein’s daughter refuses to rule out role in Iraqi politics
Raghad Saddam Hussein, who helped arrange her father's defense in his trial, slammed Iranian interference in the region. (Al Arabiya screengrab)
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Updated 16 February 2021

Saddam Hussein’s daughter refuses to rule out role in Iraqi politics

Saddam Hussein’s daughter refuses to rule out role in Iraqi politics
  • Hussein was born in 1967 and is the late leader’s eldest daughter
  • She helped organize her father’s legal defense during the trial that led to his execution

DUBAI: The eldest daughter of late Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has said it is possible for her to play a role in Iraqi politics.

In a special program on Al Arabiya on Monday, Raghad Saddam Hussein spoke about her relationship with her father and her views on recent politics in Iraq.  

She was asked by journalist Sohaib Charair if she intended to play a more direct role in Iraqi politics soon. 

“Everything is possible,” she replied.

Hussein slammed Iranian interference in the region, noting that “the Iranians have violated Iraq after the absence of a real power.”

Hussein was born in 1967 and is the late leader’s eldest daughter. She left Iraq for Jordan in 2003 following the US invasion.  

She helped organize her father’s legal defense during the trial that led to his execution.


Iran nuclear talks pause as diplomats confer with capitals

Iran nuclear talks pause as diplomats confer with capitals
Updated 5 sec ago

Iran nuclear talks pause as diplomats confer with capitals

Iran nuclear talks pause as diplomats confer with capitals
VIENNA: Talks to salvage the tattered 2015 nuclear deal with Iran have paused while diplomats return to capitals for political consultations, European officials said Friday.
“January has been the most intensive period of these talks to date,” British, German and French negotiators said in a joint statement. “Everyone knows we are reaching the final stage, which requires political decisions.”
Russia’s representative at the talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, said the meeting was expected to resume next week.
The United States pulled out of the Vienna accord in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump and reimpose heavy sanctions on Iran. Tehran has responded by increasing the purity and amounts of uranium it enriches and stockpiles, in breach of the accord.
US President Joe Biden has signaled that he wants to rejoin the deal, which is still supported by Russia, the three European powers and China.

Syrian fighters search for Daesh sleeper cells near prison

Syrian fighters search for Daesh sleeper cells near prison
Updated 28 January 2022

Syrian fighters search for Daesh sleeper cells near prison

Syrian fighters search for Daesh sleeper cells near prison
  • About a half-dozen Daesh fighters surrendered Friday morning, among scores of militants hiding in a basement in the northern section of the prison
  • Daesh group's Jan. 20 attack on the prison was the biggest military operation by the extremist group since the fall of their self-declared caliphate in 2019

BEIRUT: US-backed Kurdish-led fighters searched Friday near a Syrian prison for Daesh group militants as dozens of armed extremists holed up in a small part of the jail, a Kurdish official said.
About a half-dozen Daesh fighters surrendered Friday morning, among scores of militants hiding in a basement in the northern section of the prison, according to Siamand Ali, a spokesman for the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
He would not confirm or deny a report by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, that SDF fighters discovered the bodies of 18 of their comrades inside Gweiran prison, also known as Al-Sinaa prison, in northeast Syria on Friday.
Daesh group’s Jan. 20 attack on the prison was the biggest military operation by the extremist group since the fall of their self-declared caliphate in 2019. It came as the militants staged deadly attacks in both Syria and Iraq that stoked fears that Daesh may be staging a comeback.
The weeklong assault on one of the largest detention facilities in Syria has turned the city of Hassakeh into a conflict zone. The Kurdish-led administration declared a curfew and sealed off the city, barring movement in and out.
Thousands of people in Hassakeh were displaced in recent days because of the fighting.
The SDF claimed Wednesday it had regained full control of the prison — a week after scores of militants overran the facility. The attackers allowed some to escape but also took hostages, including child detainees, and clashed with SDF fighters in violence that killed dozens.
The SDF had said that between 60 and 90 militants were hiding out in the northern section of the prison.
Ali said the militants are in the basement of a two-story building and that those who remain inside are refusing to surrender. “Our units are surrounding the building and are trying to convince them to surrender,” he said.
The Observatory said SDF fighters are betting that more time will force Daesh militants to surrender as their food dwindles.
The Hawar News Agency, ANHA, an online Kurdish news service, reported that several automatic rifles, a rocket-propelled grenade and hand grenades were confiscated from the Daesh gunmen who surrendered Friday. It added that SDF fighters are conducting search operations in the prison as well as several Hassakeh neighborhoods in search for Daesh sleeper cells.
The SDF said about 3,000 inmates have surrendered since its operation to retake the prison’s northern wing began three days ago.
At least 300 foreign child detainees are believed to be held in the Gweiran facility. Thousands more, mostly under the age of 12, are held with their mothers in locked camps in other parts of northeastern Syria on suspicion of being families of Daesh members. Most countries have refused to repatriate them, with only 25 out of 60 countries taking back their children, some without their mothers.
The Britain-based Observatory put the death toll from the struggle at over 260, including over 180 militants and more than 73 fighters from the Kurdish-led force. At least seven civilians were killed in the fighting, the Observatory said.
The SDF said preliminary information put the force’s death toll at 35.


HRW: New sentence for rights campaigner spotlights Tehran’s assault on civil society

HRW: New sentence for rights campaigner spotlights Tehran’s assault on civil society
Updated 28 January 2022

HRW: New sentence for rights campaigner spotlights Tehran’s assault on civil society

HRW: New sentence for rights campaigner spotlights Tehran’s assault on civil society
  • Narges Mohammadi was sentenced to 6 years behind bars and 74 lashes after a 5-minute court hearing
  • Rights organization says ‘unaccountable and deeply repressive state’ responsible for struggles of Iranian residents

LONDON: Human Rights Watch has slammed Tehran for leveling a new charge against a human rights defender just a year after she was released from jail, arguing that it “demonstrates Iranian authorities’ commitment to crush any grassroots human rights efforts.”

Narges Mohammadi, a rights defender, was sentenced to six years behind bars earlier this month for “assembly and collusion to act against national security,” and to two years in prison and 74 lashes for “acting against national security and disrupting public order,” her husband told HRW.

The trial, he said, was held behind closed doors — and lasted no more than five minutes.

Tara Sepehri Far, senior Iran researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: “Iranian authorities’ cruel detention and prosecution of Narges Mohammadi only one year after she was released from an earlier prison term and then piling on more unfair prison sentences are clearly intended to crush her into silence at all costs.”

She continued: “People like Narges Mohammadi are the ones who work to bring Iranian civil society together. Governments that are engaging diplomatically with Iran should make sure to press the government to stop its relentless crackdown against human rights defenders.”

Iran has long been criticized for its treatment of Iranians who are perceived to have voiced discontent with the regime or who advocate for any change, big or small.

In early January, Iranian poet and filmmaker Baktash Abdin died of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while serving a six-year sentence in Iran’s notorious Evin prison.

At the time, Paris-based media rights group Reporters Without Borders placed the blame for his death squarely at the feet of the Iranian government.

He “had been unjustly sentenced to six years in prison and was in detention in hospital, ill with COVID-19 and deprived of the necessary care,” said the group, adding: “RSF blames the regime’s authorities for his death.” 

HRW said sentences for people like Mohammadi and the death of those like Abdin are part of a pattern of repression that penetrates to the core of the Iranian model of governance.

The group said: “At the center of Iranian residents’ struggles is an unaccountable and deeply repressive state. Iranian authorities ignore or punish peaceful dissent and have launched a sustained crackdown on civil society, from labor activists, lawyers and human rights defenders to journalists and even former senior political leaders.”


6 dead, 30 missing after migrant boat sinks off Tunisia

6 dead, 30 missing after migrant boat sinks off Tunisia
Updated 28 January 2022

6 dead, 30 missing after migrant boat sinks off Tunisia

6 dead, 30 missing after migrant boat sinks off Tunisia
TUNIS: At least six Africans trying to migrate to Europe died and an estimated 30 were missing in the Mediterranean Sea after their boat sank off the coast of Tunisia on Thursday, according to Tunisia’s Defense Ministry.
Tunisian naval and coast guard forces retrieved the bodies, rescued 34 survivors and are searching for the people listed as missing, the ministry said in a statement. The survivors told rescuers that the boat had 70 people on it and they were headed for Italy, the ministry said.
The boat had left from neighboring Libya and sank about 40 kilometers (24 miles) off the Tunisian town of Zarzis, near the Libyan border, it said.
The survivors included people from Egypt, Sudan and Ivory Coast, according to Mongi Slim, head of the Tunisian Red Crescent.
It’s the latest of several migrant boat sinkings in the region. The central Mediterranean route, which runs from North Africa to southern Italy, is the busiest and deadliest migration route to Europe. People travel from Libya and Tunisia in crowded boats and at the mercy of the smugglers they pay to get them across the sea.
About 60,000 people arrived in Italy by sea last year, and some 1,200 died or disappeared on the journey, according to the United Nations refugee agency.
The Tunisian Defense Ministry said authorities thwarted eight boat migration trips in the last 48 hours off the coast of the city of Sfax, and 130 people from Tunisia and sub-Saharan Africa were detained.

Rockets hit Baghdad airport compound

Rockets hit Baghdad airport compound
Updated 28 January 2022

Rockets hit Baghdad airport compound

Rockets hit Baghdad airport compound
  • US air base, known as Camp Victory, is located around the perimeter of Baghdad’s civilian airport

BAGHDAD: At least three rockets landed in the Baghdad International Airport compound and near an adjacent US air base, damaging one disused civilian aeroplane, Iraqi police sources said.
The police sources did not report any other damage or any injuries. The damaged aircraft was an out of use Iraqi Airways plane, they said.
The US air base, known as Camp Victory, is located around the perimeter of Baghdad’s civilian airport.
Rocket attacks which US and some Iraqi officials blame on Iran-aligned Shiite militia groups who oppose the US military presence in the region have regularly hit the complex in recent years.