Report

Iraqi Parliament Stalemated on New Cabinet, Could Be Dissolved

The Iraqi parliament will convene today to continue discussions on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s proposed cabinet. The talks have ground the government to a halt and prompted demonstrations and even a scuffle in parliament yesterday. On Tuesday, Abadi presented a new list after his initial slate of officials, which emphasized academics and technocrats and would ...

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The Iraqi parliament will convene today to continue discussions on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s proposed cabinet. The talks have ground the government to a halt and prompted demonstrations and even a scuffle in parliament yesterday. On Tuesday, Abadi presented a new list after his initial slate of officials, which emphasized academics and technocrats and would displace more partisan and sectarian figures, was rejected by the parliament’s dominant political bloc. Dozens of members of parliament began a sit-in on Tuesday in support of Abadi’s original proposal. Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has also mobilized supporters in new protests in favor of the reforms, including one that shut down a major boulevard in Basra. A vote on the new slate of candidates is scheduled for today, but Iraqi parliamentary speaker Salim al-Jabouri has floated the idea of dissolving the current assembly — a move that would force new elections. “I’m guessing that it’s just a maneuver to buy time,” one Sunni politician told the Associated Press.

Iraqi forces are consolidating their control of the city of Hit. The capture of the city was supported by U.S.-trained Iraqi tank crews in M1A1 Abrams tanks, one of which was successful enough in the battle to “become a bit of a folk hero” known as the “Beast of Hit,” according to a U.S. military spokesman. Coalition forces in Iraq are also preparing for a more concerted push to retake the city of Mosul. Those preparations include new advanced equipment for Kurdish peshmerga forces. “We have decided to give them about two U.S. Army brigades-worth of equipment — heavier stuff,” Brig. Gen. John E. Novalis II said. The U.S. military stressed that the new equipment will be routed through the government in Baghdad, which has approved of the arrangement. Some of the equipment, including MRAP armored vehicles, began arriving in Irbil earlier this week.

Dozens of Deaths in Yemen Despite Truce

Truce monitors drawn from local tribal groups and military officers from both sides of the Yemeni civil war have deployed to three flashpoint regions of the country to deter violations and ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid under the truce that took effect earlier this week. Yemeni officials have reported at least 40 deaths in the past two days under the ceasefire, including in Saudi airstrikes on the capital of Sanaa. Thirteen pro-government troops were also killed in a rebel attack near the city of Nihm.

Headlines

  • Saudi Arabia issued an order stripping the country’s religious police, the Mutawaa, of their power to arrest individuals deemed to be violating the country’s strict religious codes; under the new rules for the force, they must enforce the laws “by advising kindly and gently.”

 

  • The speaker of Libya’s Tobruk-based parliament condemned recent actions by U.N. Libya envoy Martin Kobler, saying that he was “acting as a ruler and a judge, setting timeline, issuing decisions” to preempt an as-yet unscheduled vote by the parliament on the U.N.-backed unity government.

 

  • Israel approved plans for 200 more settler homes to be built in the West Bank, bringing the total for the year to more than 900 new units, according to a watchdog group; the Israeli government denied that it was building new homes, saying that the new permitting was mostly for “upgrading existing structures.”

 

  • Germany approved new measures to address its crisis of incoming refugees; the plan includes subsidized courses to help new arrivals assimilate to German culture and find employment, as well as provisions that would deny residency permits to people who do not engage in the program.

 

  • Saudi Arabia is expected to release the full details of its economic reform program, called the National Transition Plan, soon; ministers were required to submit proposals by the end of March for review, and Saudi officials are reportedly working with business consultants and looking to countries like Malaysia as a model.

Arguments and Analysis

How to Lose Your Mind to ISIS and Then Fight to Get It Back” (Mike Giglio and Munzer al-Awad, BuzzFeed)

“Now Okab is part of a hidden community of defectors scattered across the globe — inside Iraq and Syria, in neighboring countries like Turkey, and, in the cases of former foreign fighters, back at home. They live in the shadows, fearful of retribution from ISIS on the one hand and, on the other, of arrest, thanks to their history with the terror group. As they reclaim their minds from the grip of fanaticism, they’re left to wonder how they could have taken part in such terrible crimes. ‘Maybe you think they are bad people because they joined ISIS. But for me, they are my brothers,’ Okab said on a recent night near the border in southern Turkey, where he lives today. ‘Because the same thing that happened to them happened to me.’”

 

Rebalancing International Forces to Safely Carry out Their Mission in Sinai” (Zack Gold, MENASource)

“To lower risk to the MFO [Mulitnational Forces and Observers], the organization began moving duties out of North Camp that are not essential to observer operations. As logistical and administrative jobs move to South Camp, the US and international troops carrying out those roles necessarily will too. At the same time, an Obama administration review and discussions with the governments of Israel and Egypt may result in some civilians being relieved of their monitoring duties, which would decrease the troop strength necessary to protect those civilian observers. However, as long as US allies Israel and Egypt view an MFO presence as essential, US troops and civilian observers will likely remain in the Sinai’s volatile north.”

-J. Dana Stuster

SABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images

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