Report

Iraq Announces New Cabinet, Protests Called Off

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced a slate of new cabinet ministers yesterday. The new appointees are technocrats of diverse backgrounds. “They were chosen on the basis of professionalism, competence, integrity, and leadership ability,” Abadi said in remarks to the Iraqi parliament. “Most of [the nominees] have academic credentials, but they all have experience of ...

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Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced a slate of new cabinet ministers yesterday. The new appointees are technocrats of diverse backgrounds. “They were chosen on the basis of professionalism, competence, integrity, and leadership ability,” Abadi said in remarks to the Iraqi parliament. “Most of [the nominees] have academic credentials, but they all have experience of working in a senior executive position, managing, or administrating,” Sajad Jiyad, an Iraqi political analyst, told Reuters.

Abadi has promised anti-corruption reforms since entering office, but had his agenda derailed by parliamentary opposition late last year. The efforts gained new momentum with pressure from prominent Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who in February began organizing large protests in support of appointees who do not have political affiliations. In announcing the slate of appointees to parliament on Thursday, Abadi thanked Sadr for his support, and afterwards Sadr called the proposed cabinet “courageous” and ended a sit-in by his supporters in Baghdad’s Green Zone. “Our efforts have been rewarded,” he told the crowd, who chanted back, “We will never be humiliated!” The parliament has 10 days to review and vote on Abadi’s nominees and has postponed their next session until tomorrow to review the list of appointments.

U.N. Could Give Control of Libyan Assets to New Government

With members of Libya’s new unity government now in Tripoli, the United Nations says it will consider lifting controls on the country’s $67-billion sovereign wealth fund if it can take control of the country. Currently, the members of the unity government are located in the port area of the city, and factions that reject their government maintain control much of the capital. In response to the lack of support for the power-sharing arrangement, the European Union imposed sanctions today against three prominent politicians who have rejected the unity government: Nouri Abusahmain, president of Libya’s General National Congress in Tripoli; Khalifa al-Ghwell, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Tripoli government; and Aguila Saleh, the president of Libya’s internationally-recognized parliament.

Headlines

  • Hisham Geneina, who was removed this week by the Egyptian government as the country’s top auditing official after stating that large-scale corruption cost the country billions of dollars, has been placed under house arrest and had his phone confiscated.

 

  • Six people were killed and another 23 were wounded in a bombing targeting a bus carrying police special forces in Diyarbakir, in Turkey’s Kurdish southeastern region.

 

  • At least 33 people, including 12 children, were killed in a Syrian regime airstrike on Deir al-Asafir, southeast of Damascus, which is controlled by some rebel groups participating in the partial ceasefire as well as Jabhat al-Nusrah, which is not; the U.S. State Department condemned the attack.

 

  • Turkish security guards harassed journalists and protesters at a speech given by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC.

 

  • Facing growing budgetary constraints due to the low price of oil, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says the kingdom will use the public sale of shares in ARAMCO, the state oil company, to seed funds to $2 trillion Public Investment Fund to diversify the Saudi economy away from oil dependency.

 

  • Zaha Hadid, the groundbreaking Pritzker Prize-winning Iraqi-born architect who designed art museums and sports venues around the world, has died of a heart attack; she was 65.

Arguments and Analysis

The Ugly Side of the Beautiful Game: Exploitation of Migrant Workers on a Qatar 2022 World Cup Site” (Amnesty International)

“Ultimately, it is the Qatari authorities who are responsible for the failure to protect migrant workers from the human rights abuses documented in this report. However, when confronted with the evidence of human rights abuses, the government’s response was apathetic at best. The government did not address the fact that the companies clearly have not obeyed Qatari laws, and made no reference to any plans to follow-up on the cases or the evidence of unlawful activity. The government’s response raises serious questions about Qatar’s willingness to protect the rights of the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers living the country. If abuse on a flagship World Cup project does not merit investigation and action, it is unlikely abuses that do not attract the international spotlight will be dealt with in an effective manner. The government has pointed to legal reforms, which are either too new to assess or not yet in force. Promised changes to the sponsorship system have failed to deliver meaningful reform for many migrant workers and still leave them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse by unscrupulous employers.”

 

Jordan: How Close to Danger?” (Joost Hiltermann, New York Review of Books)

“On paper, the size of the Syrian influx should have turned Jordan into a basket case. The Hashemite Kingdom has a per capita GDP of just over $5,000, and its official youth unemployment rate is around 30 percent. Though it is about half the size of Oklahoma, it has received perhaps three quarters of a million refugees since the war began — there are some 630,000 registered with the UN, but many more according to the authorities — meaning that Syrians now constitute about a tenth of Jordan’s population of 6.4 million. This is on top of a very large wave of Iraqis who came during the Iraq War a decade ago. How to feed this many, and provide them with potable water? How to school them, and how to employ them, especially when Jordanians themselves have trouble finding work? And yet the kingdom has weathered the refugee crisis surprisingly well.”

-J. Dana Stuster

AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

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