Iraqi courts order arrest of six participants of forum held in Erbil

A picture shows a courtroom at Baghdad’s Karkh main appeals court building in the western sector of the Iraqi capital on May 29, 2019. (AFP photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraqi courts issued arrest warrants for six participants of a conference in Erbil, that called for normalization of ties between Iraq and Israel, the supreme judicial council said on Sunday.

In a statement, the supreme judicial Council said Iraq’s Karkh investigation court had issued an arrest warrant for Wissam al-Hardan following the role he played in calling for the normalization of ties with Israel.

It also ordered the arrest of two other participants, Mithal al-Alusi and Sahar Karim al-Tai, an employee at the ministry of culture, on the same charges.

“Legal measures will be taken against the rest of the participants once their full names are known,” the Iraqi supreme judicial council said.

Meanwhile, Rumadi investigative court ordered the arrest of five participants, including Hardan, following a lawsuit filed by Anbar governor Ali Farhan Dlemi.

The court named the three participants as Ali Wisam Abd Ibrahim Issawi, Risan Zaar Allawi al-Halbousi and Abdulla Atallah Ahmed Salih al-Jighefi.

More than 300 Iraqis attended the conference of peace and reclamation organized by U.S. think-tank Center for Peace Communications (CPC) in Erbil on Friday.

The conference called for Iraq to join the Abraham Accords, referring to the U.S.-sponsored process in which UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan agreed last year to normalize ties with Israel.

The conference’s demand drew a chorus of condemnation from Iraqi and Kurdish governments and political parties.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) ministry of interior said on Saturday that it would take measures against the forum’s organizers and that it would expel them from the Region.

“The Kurdistan Region of Iraq is always committed to the official foreign policy of the Iraqi state, and it will never allow some people to use the freedom and democracy that are exist in the Region for other political purposes,” the ministry said.

“Those who did this act will be expelled and they won’t have a place in the Kurdistan Region,” it added.

Iraq’s federal government also rejected the conference’s call for normalization and dismissed the gathering as an “illegal meeting”.

The conference “was not representative of the population’s [opinion] and that of residents in Iraqi cities, in whose name these individuals purported to speak,” the premier’s office said in a statement.

The office of Iraq’s President Barham Salih, himself a Kurd, joined in the condemnation.

Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr urged the government to “arrest all the participants”, while Ahmed Assadi, an MP with the ex-paramilitary group Hashid al-Shaabi, branded them “traitors in the eyes of the law”.

*This story was updated at 02:14 p.m. EBL time 

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