Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki told Rudaw during an interview in Baghdad on Thursday that the federal government has to help the Kurdistan Region to solve the problems it is facing including the ongoing financial crisis before “it is too late.” He called the events in Khurmatu since October 16 “ethnic cleansing” and one that they are following with great concern. Maliki served as Prime Minister of Iraq for two terms from 2006-2014. Under his tenure the central government cut the Kurdish share of budget in early-2014 over the KRG’s plans to export oil independent of Baghdad. He deployed the Iraqi security forces to the borders of the Kurdistan Region at least twice when he was the PM, and became the first senior Iraqi politician to threaten Kurdistan with the use of force against the Iraqi-opposed Kurdish vote on independence. In a wide-ranging interview, he told Rudaw presenter Ranj Sangawi that he wants both Iraq and the Kurdistan Region to get over what happened in the past, including the disagreement over the Kurdish vote.
Analysts have blamed Egypt’s autocracy for a recent attack that killed hundreds. But that’s not what’s motivating the violence. A few weeks ago, terrorists laid siege to a mosque in the small town of Bir al-Abd that lies just off the east-west road spanning the northern Sinai Peninsula. They killed 305 people and wounded many others. The photos from the scene were macabre—the stuff of Baghdad or Karachi, not Egypt. Until the attack on the al-Rawdah Mosque on November 24, the deadliest terror incident in Egypt occurred in 1997, when a group called al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya killed 57 people—most of them Japanese and British tourists—at the Temple of Hatshepsut near Luxor. The recent bloodletting in the Sinai is believed to be the work of Wilayat Sina, the Sinai branch of the self-styled Islamic State, though no one has claimed responsibility.
Images from those six moments and more stand out in a year of environmental disasters and polarizing elections, humanitarian crises and annual parades, mass shootings and awards shows. They couldn’t feel further from one another, yet a close look at these 100 pictures reveals a comforting web of similarity.
Capital failure. Blame poor leaders, distracted neighbours and a stalled peace process. Even by the standards of the peace process, this may be a new low. President Donald Trump’s advisers have spent the past year shuttling between Israelis and Palestinians. The administration is close to unveiling a peace plan, but its work has already lapsed into what the White House calls a “cooling-off period”. When Mike Pence, America’s vice-president, visits the Middle East in January, he is unlikely to be received by a Palestinian leader. The latest round of talks may be over before it begins.
A fter the announcement of a complete victory over terrorism in Iraq, many countries have already indicated their interest in bolstering economic cooperation with Baghdad, Fallah al-Lami, the UN adviser on the Iraqi economy, told Sputnik. Al-Lami recalled that in the past few months, “many delegations from government and private companies in Europe and the US have visited Iraq.” In particular, he referred to a recent meeting between Iraqi Central Bank officials and representatives of Airbus and Total as well as a visit by UK Prime Minister Theresa May and a spate of American companies. “All this points to the revival of Iraq. After announcing a final victory over terrorism, many have indicated that they want to invest in different areas of the Iraqi economy. Iraq is becoming a lucrative and attractive place for economic cooperation,” al-Lami pointed out.
After the liberation of Mosul, ISIS is unlikely to govern Iraq anytime soon; however, the ascendancy of Shiite militia groups leaves the country in a volatile state. These militia groups have multiple identities and complexities with differing degrees of integration into the Iraqi state, engagement with the international community, and cooperation with Iran. The plethora of groups has resulted in multiple clashes and rivalries among the militias, which further destabilizes Iraq.
The Arab Spring fostered hope for democratic reforms across the Middle East and North Africa region. Few of these hopes have come to fruition, with political violence, suppression of dissenting voices, and economic turmoil marking the region, rather than the political and economic reforms that had once seemed possible. In the realm of women’s rights, however, we are seeing slow progress.
Averting famine will require Saudi Arabia to permit the resumption of commercial shipping of food and fuel to the besieged country. Yemen is on course for a famine whose death toll could reach the millions, says Oxfam America’s Scott Paul, an expert on humanitarian policy. The country relies on imports for its fuel, food, and medicine, but shipments slowed to a trickle after Saudi Arabia began policing Yemeni ports in 2015 as part of a campaign to push Houthi rebels and their allies loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh out of Sana’a. After intercepting a missile fired at Riyadh from Yemen in early November, Saudi Arabia ratcheted up its blockade, sealing off rebel-held ports. Though it has since permitted some humanitarian aid, only a resumption of commercial shipments can avert famine, Paul says.
The Saudi elites have realized, perhaps for the first time, that they too can be subject to the same unjust, lawless prosecutions previously reserved mostly for political dissidents and terrorism. Saudi elites had long been immune to the worst failures of this brutal system. Their wealth and freedom to travel — sometimes by virtue of a handy second passport from a Western country — allowed them to flee the social, political and religious confines of their Riyadh homes. Now they know that no one is really safe when there are no laws or institutions to protect you.
Because until Saudi women can work, travel, file legal claims, and otherwise engage in public life without permission from their male guardians — their father or husband, sometimes even their son —the country won’t realize the economic potential of half its population.