Iraq’s vice president rejects guilty verdict amid a deadly wave of attacks

Iraq’s Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, tried in absentia while in Turkey, has been found guilty of orchestrating death squads. Although, he rejected the verdict, saying it was "politically motivated." A Baghdad criminal court delivered the verdict on Sunday, and sentenced Hashemi to death. Hashemi has been charged with involvement in over 150 attacks on Iraqi ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

Iraq's Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, tried in absentia while in Turkey, has been found guilty of orchestrating death squads. Although, he rejected the verdict, saying it was "politically motivated." A Baghdad criminal court delivered the verdict on Sunday, and sentenced Hashemi to death. Hashemi has been charged with involvement in over 150 attacks on Iraqi officials and security forces between 2005 and 2011, and is accused of directly ordering several assassinations. A warrant was delivered for his arrest on December 19, 2011, the day after the U.S. troop withdrew their forces. Afterwards, he fled to Iraq's northern autonomous Kurdish region. In Iraq, he was the most senior Sunni Muslim official and accused the government run by Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of "pushing for" increased sectarian strife. Sunni leaders have accused Maliki and the Shiite dominated government of attempting to sideline them from a power-sharing arrangement. The verdict coincided with a wave of over 20 attacks, mainly targeting Shiite neighborhoods across Iraq, during which an estimated 100 people were killed and more than 350 wounded, in one of the deadliest days since the U.S. departure.

Syria

Two simultaneous car bombings late Sunday in Syria's northern city of Aleppo killed up to 27 people and injured dozens. The bombings targeted makeshift army barracks and the military police headquarters in central Aleppo where the military had taken over two adjacent districts from residents to house soldiers. The Noble Aleppo brigade of the opposition Free Syrian Army took responsibility for the attack saying it cooperated with a loyalist sympathizer to plant the bombs inside the buildings. Syrian state television blamed the assault on "terrorists." Meanwhile, air raids by Syrian forces in Aleppo damaged a main water pipeline, cutting off drinking water to several neighborhoods. Additionally, shelling has continued in south Damascus, striking the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk and the adjacent neighborhood of Hajar al-Aswad. As the humanitarian crisis in Syria escalates, Turkey has shifted its policy on refugees, demanding they either enter camps or move deeper into the country away from the tense border region. According to the United Nations and Turkey, about 80,000 Syrian refugees are housed in camps along the Turkish border, and 40,000 others are living within Turkey's cities. Turkish officials say the policy is meant to disperse the Syrians to separate them from possible antagonists. However, it will create added stress for Syrians injured in the conflict or those working from Turkey to aid the opposition. Turkey has criticized the United Nations, United States, and Europe for abandoning the country on the front line of Syria's civil war. The United Nations' Human Rights Council has convened in Geneva on Monday, where U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said both the Syrian government and opposition are responsible for human rights abuses. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for all war criminals in Syria to be "brought to justice."

Iraq’s Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, tried in absentia while in Turkey, has been found guilty of orchestrating death squads. Although, he rejected the verdict, saying it was "politically motivated." A Baghdad criminal court delivered the verdict on Sunday, and sentenced Hashemi to death. Hashemi has been charged with involvement in over 150 attacks on Iraqi officials and security forces between 2005 and 2011, and is accused of directly ordering several assassinations. A warrant was delivered for his arrest on December 19, 2011, the day after the U.S. troop withdrew their forces. Afterwards, he fled to Iraq’s northern autonomous Kurdish region. In Iraq, he was the most senior Sunni Muslim official and accused the government run by Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of "pushing for" increased sectarian strife. Sunni leaders have accused Maliki and the Shiite dominated government of attempting to sideline them from a power-sharing arrangement. The verdict coincided with a wave of over 20 attacks, mainly targeting Shiite neighborhoods across Iraq, during which an estimated 100 people were killed and more than 350 wounded, in one of the deadliest days since the U.S. departure.

Syria

Two simultaneous car bombings late Sunday in Syria’s northern city of Aleppo killed up to 27 people and injured dozens. The bombings targeted makeshift army barracks and the military police headquarters in central Aleppo where the military had taken over two adjacent districts from residents to house soldiers. The Noble Aleppo brigade of the opposition Free Syrian Army took responsibility for the attack saying it cooperated with a loyalist sympathizer to plant the bombs inside the buildings. Syrian state television blamed the assault on "terrorists." Meanwhile, air raids by Syrian forces in Aleppo damaged a main water pipeline, cutting off drinking water to several neighborhoods. Additionally, shelling has continued in south Damascus, striking the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk and the adjacent neighborhood of Hajar al-Aswad. As the humanitarian crisis in Syria escalates, Turkey has shifted its policy on refugees, demanding they either enter camps or move deeper into the country away from the tense border region. According to the United Nations and Turkey, about 80,000 Syrian refugees are housed in camps along the Turkish border, and 40,000 others are living within Turkey’s cities. Turkish officials say the policy is meant to disperse the Syrians to separate them from possible antagonists. However, it will create added stress for Syrians injured in the conflict or those working from Turkey to aid the opposition. Turkey has criticized the United Nations, United States, and Europe for abandoning the country on the front line of Syria’s civil war. The United Nations’ Human Rights Council has convened in Geneva on Monday, where U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said both the Syrian government and opposition are responsible for human rights abuses. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for all war criminals in Syria to be "brought to justice."

Headlines

  • Two Palestinian children were injured from Israeli air strikes in Gaza in a series of attacks after rockets launched by Gazan militants injured at least seven Israelis on Sunday.
  • Bahrain’s government is seeking to sue the opposition Al Wefaq party for holding a "non-sanctioned" anti-government march.
  • The Palestinian Authority asked Israel on Sunday to amend an economic agreement after a week of street protests against high prices have prompted Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to say he is willing to resign.
  • The Egyptian army has announced that 32 suspected militants have been killed in Sinai in an operation launched after an August 5 attack killed 16 Egyptian soldiers near the Israeli border.

Arguments & Analysis 

Nuclear Mullahs‘ (Bill Keller, The New York Times)

"This strikes me as a good time to address an unnerving question that confronts any concerned student of this subject: Can we live with a nuclear Iran? Given a choice of raining bunker-busting munitions on Iran’s underground enrichment facilities, or, alternatively, containing a nuclear-armed Iran with the sobering threat of annihilation, which is the less bad option? As the slogan goes in Israel: "Bomb? Or The Bomb?""

Dissent Among the Alawites: Syria’s Ruling Sect Does Not Speak with One Voice‘ (Steven Sotloff, Time Magazine)

"The Alawites, also known as the Alawis, appeared to coalesce around the new regime, which promoted members of the sect to positions of influence and power in the government and, more importantly, the military. When Hafez Assad died in 2000, his son Bashar Assad succeeded him as President. Since March 2011, Bashar Assad has been trying to suppress an uprising that has become a civil war. For the most part, his fellow Alawites have stuck by him in the increasingly bloody fighting. But not all.

Sect members are increasingly breaking rank, as defections swell along with mounting uneasiness about the government’s crackdown against what started as a peaceful protest movement."

Online trafficking of Syrian women shames all involved‘ (Hassan Hassan, The National)

"Women and girls continue to be the worst affected by Syria’s conflict, but their suffering rarely makes the headlines. Among the men who have died in the conflict, many will be honoured as martyrs. Those who have survived suffering at the hands of the regime will return to their homes as heroes. But women, including victims of sexual assault and refugees, will remain permanently stigmatised in conservative societies that simply do not see their suffering as equal.

In a column in July, I wrote that Syria’s war, like every conflict, would have profound and long-lasting effects for women and girls, even for those who have escaped the battlefield. It is very clear that this is already happening. In recent weeks, Arabic media have reported that women in refugee camps, mostly minors, are being sexually exploited under the pretext of marriage."

–By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey 

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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