First Published: 2017-10-23

Kurds to arrest 11 Iraqis in response to similar Baghdad move
Tensions continue to brew as Iraqi Kurdish authorities issue arrest warrants for eleven Iraqis including leader of powerful Iran-backed paramilitary group.
Middle East Online

Among those targeted is Qais al-Khazali, leader of branch of powerful Hashed group

ARBIL - Iraqi Kurdish authorities said Monday they had issued arrest warrants for 11 Iraqis including leaders in a powerful paramilitary group, in an apparent tit-for-tat move after Baghdad took similar measures.

The moves come amid brewing tensions between Baghdad and the Kurds, who last month held an independence vote in defiance of the federal government.

The prosecution in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan said in a statement it had issued the warrants for 11 people and asked a court in regional capital Arbil to take legal steps to pursue the matter.

Among those targeted is Qais al-Khazali, founder and leader of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, an Iran-backed Shiite militia that is one of the main components of the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary group.

The powerful Hashed, also called Popular Mobilisation Forces, has been a key player in the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq alongside federal forces.

Last week, they also took part in an operation by government forces that retook Kurdish-held areas outside the autonomous region in northern Iraq.

Also facing an arrest warrant issued by the Kurds are Rayan al-Kaldani, the head of a Christian militia that fights in the ranks of the Hashed, and Shiite lawmaker Hanan al-Fatlawi.

It was not immediately clear why they were wanted.

Tensions have been high between Arbil and Baghdad since the Kurds organised an independence vote on September 25, which Iraq's supreme court deemed unconstitutional.

Since then, Baghdad courts have issued several arrest warrants for Kurdish leaders on several charges.

On Sunday, an Iraqi anti-corruption task force said it had issued a warrant for the arrest of Babaker Zebari, a Kurd and former Iraqi army chief of staff, over misappropriation of public funds.

A statement from the anti-corruption body said Zebari is accused of having gifted "civilians seven vehicles that belonged to the defence ministry".

On Thursday, a warrant was issued for the vice president of Iraqi Kurdistan, Kosrat Rasul, on charges of "provocation" against Iraq's armed forces.

Earlier this month, another court ordered the arrest of the three senior Kurdish officials responsible for organising the independence referendum.


Israel confirms it hit suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007

Syrian rebels reach evacuation deal in Eastern Ghouta town

Abbas calls US ambassador to Israel 'son of a dog'

UN says Turkey security measures 'curtail human rights'

'Saudization' taking its toll on salesmen

UN launching final push to salvage Libya political agreement

Conditions for displaced from Syria's Ghouta 'tragic': UN

Sisi urges Egyptians to vote, denies excluding rivals

Rights Watch says Libya not ready for elections

Saudis revamp school curriculum to combat Muslim Brotherhood

American mother trapped in Syria’s Ghouta calls out Trump

Syria workers say French firm abandoned them to jihadists

Grim Nowruz for Kurds fleeing Afrin

Sarkozy back in custody for second day of questioning

Netanyahu says African migrants threaten Jewish majority

US Senate votes on involvement in Yemen war as Saudi prince visits

What a ‘limited strike’ against Syria’s Assad might mean

Natural gas in eastern Mediterranean fuels increasing tensions

Erdogan tells US to stop ‘deceiving’, start helping on Syria

IS controls Damascus district in surprise attack

French ex-president held over Libya financing allegations

NGO says Israeli army violating Palestinian minors’ rights

Human rights chief slams Security Council for inaction on Syria

US warns Turkey over civilians caught in Syria assault

Saudi crown prince keen to cement ties with US

Erdogan vows to expand Syria op to other Kurdish-held areas

Kurdish envoy accuses foreign powers of ignoring Turkish war crimes

Morocco authorities vow to close Jerada's abandoned mines

Israeli soldier sees manslaughter sentence slashed

Turkey insists no plans to remain in Afrin

Cairo voters show unwavering support for native son Sisi

Forum in Jordan explores new teaching techniques

Gaza Strip woes receive renewed attention but no fix is expected

Kurds, Syrian opposition condemn Afrin looting

36 jihadists killed in Egypt’s Sinai

Israel arrests French consulate worker for gun smuggling

Pro-Turkish forces loot Afrin

Israel prepares to demolish Jerusalem attacker's home

Saudi crown prince says his country to seek nuclear bomb if Iran does

Arab women artists in diaspora focus on identity and loss

Tunisia’s Central Bank targets inflation but may hurt growth prospects

Libya’s health system reflects a larger humanitarian crisis

Israel blasts Gaza underground tunnel

Abu Dhabi awards France's Total stakes in oil concessions

Erdogan says Afrin city centre under ‘total’ control