Iraqi lawmakers vote in new premier's remaining ministers

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is pictured at the prime minister's office in Baghdad, Iraq June 4, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 06 June 2020

Iraqi lawmakers vote in new premier's remaining ministers

  • Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismail was made oil minister
  • Nominees for the foreign, trade, culture, agriculture, justice and migration ministries were also approved on Saturday

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s parliament on Saturday approved the remainder of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s cabinet, making Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismail oil minister and passing the candidates for six other government posts, lawmakers said.
Kadhimi became prime minister last month after five months of political deadlock after his predecessor Adel Abdul Mahdi resigned under pressure from mass anti-government protests.
Parliament had approved all but seven members of a cabinet of 22 portfolios. They passed the nominees for the oil, foreign, trade, culture, agriculture, justice and migration ministries on Saturday.
Ismail is the chief of Iraq’s Basra Oil Company, the state-run body that oversees oil production and exports operations in the OPEC member’s southern oilfields.
His appointment comes as Iraq participates in OPEC+ talks to decide on an extension to oil production cuts amid the COVID-19 pandemic and low global oil prices.
Kadhimi, Iraq’s former intelligence chief, is not backed by any particular party and seen as acceptable to both Iran and the United States, Iraq’s two main allies.
His cabinet nominations were approved after backroom deals among Iraqi political parties and leaders.
Kadhimi’s government faces a health crisis as coronavirus cases rise, an oil-dependent economy in dire straits, the attempted resurgence of Daesh militants and US-Iranian tension that brought the region to the brink of war earlier this year.


UN official: 700 people died in Syrian camps for Daesh families

Updated 28 min 5 sec ago

UN official: 700 people died in Syrian camps for Daesh families

  • Vorontsov told a news conference Thursday that the people, including children, died of “lack of medicine, lack of food” at the Al-Hol and Roj camps
  • The overcrowded camps have a high child mortality rate

UNITED NATIONS: The UN counterterrorism chief said his office received information that 700 people died recently in two camps in northeast Syria, where more than 70,000 mainly women and children connected to Daesh fighters are detained in “very dire conditions.”
Vladimir Vorontsov told a news conference Thursday that the people, including children, died of “lack of medicine, lack of food” at the Al-Hol and Roj camps, which are overseen by Kurdish-led forces allied with the United States who spearheaded the fight against Daesh.
He said the deaths in the camps created “feelings of anger.”
Vorontsov did not clarify when the 700 reportedly died or what the source of the information was. The Kurdish Red Crescent said in January that 511 people died in the largest camp, Al-Hol, in 2019. The overcrowded camps have a high child mortality rate. So far, there has been no known outbreak of coronavirus in the camps. A UN team visited the largest one earlier this month.
Vorontsov urged the international community to tackle “the huge problem” of what to do with these people, saying keeping them in camps “is very dangerous.” He warned that “they could create very explosive materials that could be very helpful for terrorists to restart their activities” in Syria and Iraq.
Daesh, which once controlled large swathes of Iraq and Syria, lost its last Syrian strongholds in early 2019. But despite the loss of its self-styled caliphate, UN experts said earlier this year that the extremist group is mounting increasingly bold attacks in Syria and Iraq and is planning for the breakout of its fighters in detention facilities.
In addition to the Al-Hol and Roj camps, the Kurdish fighters are guarding thousands of Daesh fighters and boys in prisons.
After Daesh militants lost control of the oil-rich northeast, Turkey invaded areas along its borders last October and now controls slivers of land in the very complex region. There are tensions between the Turkish-allied fighters and Kurdish groups, which Ankara considers terrorists. In addition, hundreds of US troops remain in northeast Syria.
The International Crisis Group reported on April 7 that there are 66,000 women and children in Al-Hol and 4,000 in Roj, most of them relatives of Daesh extremists, “but some former affiliates of the group themselves.” The Brussels-based think tank said that the majority are either Syrians or Iraqis, with the numbers roughly split, and around 13,500 are from other countries.
The group said humanitarian workers described the detention sites “as ridden with tuberculosis and perilously overcrowded, with one speaking of `dramatic mortality rates’.”
Vorontsov said “no country would like to have these people back, with this very negative and very dangerous terrorist background.”
But he said there are about 9,000 children and the first priority should be to save those under 6 years old, “because in this period of time children are absolutely not in the position to be indoctrinated.”
Vorontsov said the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, which he heads, is pushing the issue very strongly with countries whose citizens are detained. Only a small number are repatriating their citizens, including Central Asian countries, the United States and Russia, he said.
Women are “a more difficult story,” Vorontsov said.
There are “victims of terrorism” who didn’t understand what they were doing when they accompanied the men in their families to Syria and Iraq, he said, “but there are a lot of radicalized women among detained people in camps.”
Vorontsov said he believes the way forward is to prosecute the women and then rehabilitate and reintegrate them into society, but he conceded that it’s “a very challenging issue.”