Iraqi VP Sentenced to Death, Remains in Turkey
Tariq al-Hashimi, the vice president of Iraq and leading Sunni politician currently residing in Ankara, Turkey, was sentenced to death in absentia on Sunday. Al-Hashimi, who has denied the charges of overseeing the killings of a female lawyer and an Iraqi army general, claimed the verdict was “unjust, political and illegitimate”. The verdict, which has a 30 day appeal period, has incited Sunni Muslim and Kurdish resentment against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his government. The day of al-Hashimi’s verdict saw bombings across Iraq that killed 94 people and left more than 300 wounded. Responsibility for the attacks was claimed by al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has focused on rallying the Sunni base across the country.
Additionally, U.S. officials have expressed concern that Iranian weapons are being delivered to Syria through Iraqi airspace. Although the Iraqi government said Iran assured them the flights were delivering only humanitarian aid, skeptical U.S. officials have noted the increase in flights from Iran to Syria as Assad’s regime has weakened as evidence. Iraq denied some overflights after U.S. officials confirmed they sent evidence of Iranian arms transfers, although Ali al-Moussawi, media advisor to Prime Minister al-Maliki, denied ever receiving proof.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Kuwait, possible changes to an electoral law have sparked calls for rallies in al-Erada square. Opposition figures see the possible changes as an attempt to gerrymander victory in upcoming elections by altering current boundaries. The Interior Ministry warned that any such protests would “undermine security and threaten public order,” adding that the Ministry “would act firmly against such unlicensed gatherings”. Kuwait’s top court has been asked by the government to overturn a 2006 law that divides the country into five constituencies.