Talks to end US-led coalition in Iraq may take till after US elections — source

file photo of Maj Gen. Kenneth P. Ekman, Deputy Commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, signs documents with Brig. Gen. Salah Abdullah during a handover ceremony of Taji military base from US-led coalition troops to Iraqi security forces, in the base north of Baghdad, Iraq August 23, 2020. (REUTERS)
Short Url
Updated 12 March 2024
Follow

Talks to end US-led coalition in Iraq may take till after US elections — source

  • Washington and Baghdad in January initiated talks to reassess the US-led coalition in Iraq, formed in 2014 to help fight Daesh

BAGHDAD: Talks between the United States and Iraq on ending the US-led military coalition in the country may not be concluded until after US presidential elections in November, a senior Iraqi government official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Washington and Baghdad in January initiated talks to reassess the U.S-led coalition in Iraq, formed in 2014 to help fight Daesh after the extremist group overran large parts of the country.
The decision came after US forces and Shiite armed groups had engaged in tit-for-tat attacks amid regional conflict linked to Israel’s war in Gaza.
Those attacks have now ceased for over a month to allow breathing space for the negotiations.
Backed by Shiite Muslim parties and armed groups, the government in Baghdad, a rare ally of both Tehran and Washington, is trying to prevent the country again becoming a battlefield for foreign powers.
The technical talks via a joint military commission are seen by politicians as a way to buy time amid differing views over how the countries’ military relationship should evolve.
Hard-line Iraqi Shiite armed groups have called for an immediate exit of US forces while more moderate Shiite factions and Sunni and Kurdish parties are concerned their departure could lead to a power vacuum.
Washington says the coalition’s mission needs to be reassessed in light of Islamic State’s 2017 defeat in Iraq but does not view the talks as necessarily entailing a withdrawal of US military advisers from the country.
The US invaded Iraq in 2003, toppling President Saddam Hussein before exiting the country in 2011.
The US returned in 2014 at the head of an international coalition to fight Daesh and there are currently around 2,500 American troops in Iraq and 900 in Syria on an advise and assist mission.
“I don’t think the Americans want a full withdrawal. That is clear,” former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, a moderate member of Iraq’s ruling Shiite Coordination Framework, told journalists last week.
“Also, I do not thing there is an Iraqi desire among the political forces to dispense entirely with the Americans — even though there is a feeling today that their presence at this time causes more problems than solutions.”


UAE, GCC welcome ICJ ruling on Israeli settlements in Palestine

Updated 26 sec ago
Follow

UAE, GCC welcome ICJ ruling on Israeli settlements in Palestine

  • ICJ had reinforced the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights under international law, Albudaiwi says

DUBAI: The UAE and the Gulf Cooperation Council have welcomed a ruling by the UN’s top court that Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory break international law.

The International Court of Justice issued the judgment, which is non-binding, on Friday.

The court ruled that “the transfer by Israel of settlers to the West Bank and Jerusalem as well as Israel’s maintenance of their presence, is contrary to article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the country rejected all measures aimed at altering the historical and legal status of occupied Palestine.

The ministry condemned practices that contravene international resolutions, warning that such actions “threaten further escalation and instability in the region, and hinder efforts to achieve peace and stability.” It also emphasized the importance of supporting initiatives to advance the peace process in the Middle East as well as bringing an end to “Israel’s illegal practices that undermine an independent Palestinian state.”

GCC Secretary-General Jassem Mohamed Albudaiwi said that the ICJ had reinforced the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights under international law and UN resolutions to reclaim territories occupied by Israel. He asserted that the settlement activities and geographic changes imposed by Israeli forces are “illegitimate and lack regional or international recognition.”

Albudaiwi reiterated that the Occupied Territories remain “the inherent right of the Palestinian people” and reaffirmed the GCC’s steadfast support for the Palestinian cause, advocating for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state within the borders of June 4, 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The ICJ’s ruling comes against the backdrop of Israel’s devastating bombardment on Gaza, following the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israeli settlements adjacent to the Palestinian enclave.

Israel captured the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem in 1967, but Palestinians consider those areas to be an integral part of any future independent state.

The ruling was also welcomed by Saudi Arabia and the Muslim World League.


 


Moroccan ex-minister hit with five-year jail sentence

Updated 58 min 21 sec ago
Follow

Moroccan ex-minister hit with five-year jail sentence

  • The charges relate to funds the Moroccan Liberal Party (PML) received in a 2015 electoral campaign
  • Ziane, who was human rights minister between 1995 and 1996, has been in detention since November 2022

RABAT: Moroccan opposition figure and former minister Mohamed Ziane has been sentenced to five years in prison while serving a three-year term in another case, his lawyer said on Saturday.
The former Rabat bar association president was convicted on charges of “embezzlement and squandering of public funds,” the lawyer Ali Reda Ziane, who is also his son, told AFP.
The charges relate to funds the Moroccan Liberal Party (PML) — of which Mohamed Ziane was founder and chief — received in a 2015 electoral campaign.
“This is a form of life sentence for an 81-year-old man while legally nothing has been proven,” said the lawyer, who plans to appeal the ruling.
Ziane, who was human rights minister between 1995 and 1996, has been in detention since November 2022, after being sentenced the three years on appeal.
The opposition figure had become known in recent years for statements criticizing the authorities in Morocco, particularly the intelligence services.
He said he was being judged “because of his opinions.”
The proceedings follow an interior ministry complaint on seven counts, among them contempt of public officials and justice, insults against a constituted body, defamation, adultery and sexual harassment.
In the same case, the financial crimes chamber of the Rabat appeals court sentenced the PML treasurer and a party administrative employee to five years in prison and one year in prison plus a one-year suspended sentence, respectively.


Gaza hospital says newborn saved from dead mother’s womb

Updated 20 July 2024
Follow

Gaza hospital says newborn saved from dead mother’s womb

  • Doctors were unable to save the mother, but performed an ultrasound that detected the baby’s heartbeat
  • They quickly staged an emergency cesarean section “and extracted the fetus”

GAZA: A Gaza hospital said Saturday it saved a baby boy from his mother’s womb after she died from wounds sustained in an Israeli strike.
Ola Adnan Harb Al-Kurd, who was nine months pregnant, barely survived a punishing night of missile strikes that rescue services across the Hamas-run territory said killed more than 24 people, including six members of the same family.
But by the time Kurd reached Al-Awda Hospital, she was “almost dead,” according to surgeon Akram Hussein.
Doctors were unable to save the mother, but performed an ultrasound that detected the baby’s heartbeat.
They quickly staged an emergency cesarean section “and extracted the fetus,” the surgeon told AFP.
The newborn was initially in critical condition, but after receiving oxygen and medical attention was stabilized, said Raed Al-Saudi, head of the hospital’s obstetrics and gynaecology department.
He was placed in an incubator and transferred to Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir el-Balah.
Kurd was among three women and a child killed by an Israeli missile fired on the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, according to a medical official at Al-Awda Hospital. Her husband was also wounded in the strike on the family home.
Israel has not confirmed individual strikes, but a military statement said troops were “conducting targeted raids on terrorist infrastructure sites” in central Gaza.
Israel has stepped up its offensive in several parts of the territory in line with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s order to increase pressure on Hamas following the Palestinian militants’ attacks on southern Israel on October 7.
One man was killed in a drone hit while riding a bicycle on a street near the southern city of Khan Yunis, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.
Air strikes on two homes in Gaza City in the north each left six dead, according to the civil defense agency and paramedics.
Israel’s military statement said “troops eliminated a number of terrorists in several different encounters” and had launched an operation on the Tal Al-Sultan refugee camp near the southern city of Rafah.
The war in Gaza has made childbirth increasingly perilous, with pregnant women facing not only near-daily strikes that hamper access to health facilities, but also widespread food insecurity, degrading sanitary conditions and water scarcity.
The few hospitals that are still working have been stretched to breaking point, according to humanitarian groups.
Pre-term deliveries and maternal complications, including eclampsia, haemorrhage and sepsis, have been rising, Doctors Without Borders said this week.


Australia calls for ‘concrete steps’ on Israeli settler violence after ICJ apartheid ruling

Updated 20 July 2024
Follow

Australia calls for ‘concrete steps’ on Israeli settler violence after ICJ apartheid ruling

  • FM Penny Wong says visas will be denied to settlers, reiterates need for two-state solution
  • International Court of Justice calls for end to occupation, reparations for ‘internationally wrongful acts’

 

LONDON: Australia has called on Israel to do more to stop violence by settlers in the Occupied Territories after the International Court of Justice ruled that Israel is responsible for overseeing an apartheid system.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Israel needs to take “concrete steps” to end “extremist settler activity,” adding in a statement published on X that Canberra considers the occupation a “significant obstacle” to peace in the region.

“We respect the independence of the court and its critical role in upholding international law and the rules-based order,” Wong’s statement read.

“We are carefully considering the detail of the ICJ opinion to fully understand the conclusions reached.”

She said Australia will deny travel visas into the country to anyone identified as a settler. “A just and enduring peace will require the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to self-determination to be realised,” she added.

“We want to see concrete steps taken by Israel to cease the expansion of settlements and to respond to extremist settler activity.”

In its non-bonding advisory opinion, the ICJ said Israel should end the occupation “as rapidly as possible” and take steps to fund reparations for “internationally wrongful acts.”

Its publication follows a request in 2022 by the UN General Assembly to assess legal consequences of Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories.

Tirana Hassan, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement: “In a historic ruling the International Court of Justice has found multiple and serious international law violations by Israel towards Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including, for the first time, finding Israel responsible for apartheid. 

“The court has placed responsibility with all states and the United Nations to end these violations of international law.

“The ruling should be yet another wake up call for the United States to end its egregious policy of defending Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and prompt a thorough reassessment in other countries as well.”


13 Palestinians killed in central Gaza strikes as ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas grind on

Updated 20 July 2024
Follow

13 Palestinians killed in central Gaza strikes as ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas grind on

  • Palestinian ambulance teams said the three strikes that hit Nuseirat Refugee Camp and Bureij Refugee Camp

DEIR AL-BALAH: At least 13 people were killed in three Israeli airstrikes that hit refugee camps in central Gaza overnight into Saturday, according to Palestinians health officials, as ceasefire talks in Cairo appear to make progress.
Among the dead in Nuseirat Refugee Camp and Bureij Refugee Camp were three children and one woman, according to Palestinian ambulance teams that transported the bodies to the nearby Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital. The 13 corpses were counted by AP journalists at the hospital.
The latest casualties follow a rare moment of hope in war ravaged Gaza, after a medical teams recovered a live baby from a heavily pregnant Palestinian mother killed in an airstrike that hit her home in Nuseirat late Thursday evening.
Heavily pregnant Ola Al-Kurd, 25, was killed along with six others in the blast, but was quickly rushed by emergency workers to Al-Awda Hospital in northern Gaza in the hope of saving the unborn child. Hours later, doctors told The Associated Press that a baby boy had been delivered.
The still-unnamed newborn is stable but has suffered from a shortage of oxygen and has been placed in an incubator, said Dr. Khalil Dajran. The baby boy’s father was wounded in the same strike, but survived.
Since October, Israel has killed more than 38,900 Palestinian, according to the territory’s Health Ministry. The attack on Gaza has created a humanitarian catastrophe in the coastal Palestinian territory, displaced most of its 2.3 million population and triggered widespread hunger.
In April, a premature Palestinian baby was rescued from her dead mother’s womb but died days later.
In Cairo, international mediators, including the United States, are continuing to push Israel and Hamas toward a phased deal that would halt the fighting and free about 120 hostages in Gaza.
On Friday, the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, said a ceasefire deal between Hamas and Israel that will release Israeli hostages captive by the group in Gaza are “inside the 10-yard line,” but added “we know that anything in the last 10 yards are the hardest.”
Fruitless stop-and-start negotiations between the warring sides have been underway since November’s one-week ceasefire, with both Hamas and Israel repeatedly accusing each other of scuppering the effort as it approaches a deal.