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  1. The Central Bank denies the movement of funds and transfers to the center and south of the country Date of release: 2018/7/20 16:52 • 6 times read [Ayna-Baghdad] The Central Bank of Iraq denied the news of the prevention of movement of funds and transfers to the center and south of the country. "Some social networking sites have circulated a fake publication attributed to the Central Bank of Iraq, which includes preventing the movement of funds and transfers to the central and southern regions of Iraq," he said in a press release. "While the bank denies issuing such instructions in full, it calls on the media to be careful and adopt the data published on the official website of the Central Bank issued by the information office of this bank and asserting its right to take all legal action against the promoters of such leafy publications" . http://www.alliraqnews.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=76009
  2. 2018/07/20 16:41 Central: No validity to prevent the movement of funds to the regions of the center and the south BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The Central Bank of Iraq issued a statement on Friday, July 20, 2018, in which it denied the transfer of money and remittances in the central and southern regions. The bank said in a statement that "some of the social networking sites circulated a fake publication attributed to the Central Bank of Iraq, including the prevention of movement of funds and transfers to the central and southern regions of Iraq." The central bank said that "at a time when the bank denies the issuance of such instructions in whole and in detail," stressing the "right to take all legal action against the promoters of such leaflets malicious." Follow the obelisk http://almasalah.com/ar/news/144557/المركزي-لا-صحة-لمنع-حركة-الاموال-لمنطقتي-الوسط-والجنوب
  3. the Central Bank issued a clarification on the suspension of funds and transfers to central and southern Iraq Twilight News 28 minutes ago The Central Bank of Iraq denied on Friday what has been circulated about the prevention of movement of funds and transfers to the central and southern provinces of Iraq. The bank said in a statement today that some social networking sites circulated a fake publication attributed to the Central Bank of Iraq, "to prevent the movement of funds and transfers to the central and southern regions of Iraq." The bank denied the issuance of such instructions in full, calling on "the media to be careful and to adopt the data published on the official website of the Central Bank issued by the information office of this bank with the assertion of the right to take all legal action against the promoters of such leaflets. Keywords: http://www.shafaaq.com/ar/Ar_NewsReader/cc4cac19-4fb5-421e-a2d7-b201c9be0421
  4. 2018/07/20 11:52 Number of readings 36 Section: Iraq Electricity: Kuwait will supply us with kerosene fuel to operate the suspended generation units The Ministry of Electricity announced on Friday, July 20, 2018, that Kuwait will supply the ministry with kerosene fuel to operate the obstruction units, noting that on Saturday will see the arrival of a barge loaded with 30 thousand cubic meters of fuel as a down payment. "Under the direction of the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Oil will start processing the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity with kazaweel fuel to operate the suspended generating units and support the working units," Musab al-Mudarab said in a statement. The teacher added, "will arrive on Saturday, 21/7/2018 to the ports of Basra, a Kuwaiti barge loaded with the amount of 30 thousand cubic meters of kerosene fuel, as a down payment, and the quantities will continue periodically over the coming days." Some cities and provinces in Iraq have been witnessing several protests for several days, including the improvement of the electricity situation in most of these cities, especially the southern provinces. Follow the obelisk http://almasalah.com/ar/news/144531/الكهرباء-الكويت-ستجهزنا-بوقود-الكازاويل-لتشغيل-الوحدات-التوليدية-المتوقفة
  5. A former deputy warns of Iraqi decisions in favor of Kuwait .. Oil wells in return for a financial loan 35 views 20/07/2018 Baghdad A member of the coalition of state law high Nassif, on Friday, to pressure the government to back down on the decisions and actions taken within the file of Kuwait, warning of the consequences of waiving three oil wells in favor of Kuwait in exchange for lending funds at the donor conference. "It is regrettable that the blind implementation of international resolutions on Kuwait has caused great damage to Iraq and caused billions of dollars in losses to Kuwait, including the Khawr Abdullah Canal and the acquisition of Iraqi land by Kuwait and its acquisition," Nasif said in a statement. On large arbitrary compensation, "warning that" the government to give Kuwait three oil wells in return for a loan from donor countries at the donor conference. " Nassif added that "Kuwait's positions towards Iraq are known to all. It has not made any concessions regarding the international sanctions that fall within the compensations of its invasion in the time of the previous regime, even though the Iraqi people were defeated and had no hand in invading it." She stressed the need for "civil society organizations, jurists, activists, intellectuals, elders and dignitaries to raise their voices to put pressure on the government and demand the opening of this file and review it fully if we want to carry out comprehensive reforms, with the need to reverse many of the decisions taken in this regard." mt http://aletejahtv.com/archives/241272
  6. The state of law warns against waiving three oil wells in favor of Kuwait 12:40 - 20/07/2018 0 Information / Baghdad ... The former deputy of the coalition of the rule of law, high Nassif, warned on Friday of the waiver of three oil wells in favor of Kuwait in return for lending money at the donor conference. "It is regrettable that the blind implementation of the international resolutions on Kuwait has caused great damage to Iraq and caused billions of dollars in losses to Kuwait, including the Khawr Abdullah Canal, Kuwait's acquisition of Iraqi land and large arbitrary compensation," Nassif said in a statement. Warning that "the government will give Kuwait three oil wells in exchange for a loan from donor countries at the donor conference." "Kuwait's position on Iraq is well known to all. It has made no concessions regarding the international sanctions that fall within the compensations of its invasion in the time of the previous regime, even though the Iraqi people were defeated and had no hand in invading it." Naseef stressed the need for civil society organizations, jurists, activists, intellectuals, elders and dignitaries to raise their voices to put pressure on the government and demand the opening of this file and review it fully if we want to carry out comprehensive reforms, with the need to reverse many of the decisions taken in this regard. http://www.almaalomah.com/2018/07/20/327692/
  7. Al-Sadr is an idiot: the political blocs should suspend dialogues to form a government until the demands of the demonstrators are met Najaf - The leader of the Sadrist movement Moqtada al-Sadr, support for the demands of protesters in the south of the country by calling on all politicians to postpone the formation of the new government until the response to it. Sadr wrote on Twitter in his first public comment on the demonstrations, "All the political blocs winning in the current election to suspend all political dialogues for alliances and others until the completion of meeting the demands of the true protesters." Sadr's bloc won the Iraqi elections on May 12, after the man promised to fight poverty, create jobs and provide better services to Iraqis, many of whom were fed up with the political elite they saw as corrupt. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is seeking a second term, said his government would provide water and electricity for the oil city of Basra and other areas in the south. https://www.iraqpressagency.com/?p=279803
  8. South protesters waving "open sit-in" if their demands are not met Maysan protestors cut road to border port with Iran arabic 20/07/2018 - 12:32 Iraq On Friday morning, protests were renewed in several cities in southern Iraq, despite the massive security and military deployment imposed by the government since last night, following calls by activists, dignitaries and dignitaries of the southern Iraqi community to demonstrate and reject government promises. A local source in the province of Maysan (southern Iraq) that hundreds of demonstrators gathered in the town of morgue south of the province, noting that the protesters cut the main road leading to the port of Shaib, which links Iraq with Iran. The source pointed out that the protesters chanted slogans condemning "corruption" in the local government in Maysan, the federal government in Baghdad, which caused the collapse of economic and service conditions in the province, demanding the provision of electricity, and improve the standard of living and eliminate unemployment rampant in the cities of Maysan. The source pointed out that the demonstrators confirmed that they will continue their demonstrations until the fulfillment of the demands, waving the shift to open sit-in if the Iraqi authorities ignored their demands. In Basra, the areas of Tuwaisah, Medina, Zubayr, Umm Qasr and Abu al-Khasayb witnessed similar demonstrations, while Karbala is witnessing large gatherings of citizens in preparation for the demonstration. Meanwhile, a member of the Office of the Human Rights in Iraq, Fadhil al-Gharawi, said that the Iraqi forces released 180 protesters in the province of Maysan were arrested earlier, noting that "the latest statistic obtained by the Commission indicated the release of 86 detainees from the demonstrators in Najaf , And the release of 70 demonstrators in Muthanna province. Activists of the protests in southern Iraq said that the release of the demonstrators coincided with preparations for the start of mass demonstrations on Friday. Said Haider Saadi, one of the organizers of the demonstrations in Maysan, said that Iraqi forces violated the Constitution when they arrested demonstrators, noting that "their release is a duty and not a gift." "Saadi said that" the talk of the Iraqi authorities on the release of protesters held by it, which began since Thursday, is an attempt to absorb the anger of the Iraqi street, which is preparing to organize large-scale demonstrations on Friday. " In the meantime, the Iraqi government sent large security reinforcements to Basra, the birthplace of the protest movement, and to other provinces including Muthanna, amid rising concerns about the authorities' tendency to tighten the grip and stifle security mobility. There is a state of alert today to monitor the response to calls for unified demonstrations, especially after the demands of civil currents to postpone the demonstration, as well as the speech of the Supreme Shiite reference, led by Ali Sistani, a week after its support of the demonstrators and call the government to meet their demands. The deputy for the province of Diwaniya Ali al-Badiri, yesterday, a sudden interruption of water from the province completely without knowing the reasons, warning of a "big" sedition is being prepared for it from external and internal. On the other hand, activists in the province of Anbar (western Iraq), they are preparing to launch demonstrations in the province similar to the protests in the neighboring provinces. http://www.basnews.com/index.php/ar/news/iraq/453190
  9. Baghdad policy rally for a protest in support of the south amid the release of dozens of activists Twilight News 3 hours ago The Coordination Committees of the demonstrations called for a protest in Tahrir Square in Baghdad on Friday evening, to support the demands of the southern provinces, which is also preparing for mass demonstrations, to demand to accelerate the improvement of the living and service conditions of citizens. According to sources familiar with the Twilight News, the committees called for the gathering in Tahrir Square in Baghdad at the sixth hour of the Friday afternoon. The Human Rights Commission in Iraq announced on Friday that 336 detainees have been released following recent demonstrations in Najaf, Muthana and Maysan provinces, according to the latest statistics from the UNHCR monitoring teams. The director of the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights Branch Basra, Mehdi Tamimi, has called on the Iraqi government and security forces to expedite the release of demonstrators who have not been proven to have committed any crime during the demonstrations in Basra. Tamimi said in a statement that the Iraqi judiciary is cooperating on the subject of "the release of detainees from innocent demonstrators, demanding the legitimate rights as citizens," appealing at the same time security forces to stop the arrest of activists. Earlier, cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called on all politicians to stop efforts to form a new Iraqi government until all the protesters' demands were met by improving services in the south. Sadr said on Twitter in his first public comment on the protests sweeping the south: "All the political blocs winning in the current election to suspend all political dialogues for alliances and others until the completion of meeting the demands of the true protesters." Washington: We support the right of protesters In the same context, the United States confirmed its support of the right of Iraqis to protest peacefully, she said State Department spokeswoman Heather maneuvered, at a news conference: "We support the right of people to demonstrate peacefully, of course we understand that power outages and fuel shortages are troublesome things" . "The Iraqi government has said it is keen on the right of citizens to demonstrate, and stressed its determination to do more to address the problems of protesters, including lack of services and electricity and economic opportunities as well." More than a week ago, protests erupted in Basra to protest the rise in unemployment and poor services in the province, one of the richest provinces, for containing about 70 percent of Iraq's oil reserves. Similar to the demonstrations in Basra, protests in other southern provinces, such as Najaf and Dhi Qar, have escalated, due to poor public services and rampant corruption. Keywords: http://www.shafaaq.com/ar/Ar_NewsReader/6de3b715-c515-43f8-a547-80cd8b6b0f39
  10. Angry protesters close border access between Iraq and Iran Twilight News 3 hours ago Thousands of Iraqi protesters angry over "poor services and lack of jobs" have closed a major route in Maysan province leading to the border port of Shib with Iran. The protesters gathered in the area of "Mashreh" south of the city of Amara, the capital of Maysan, and stopped traffic for a few hours towards the port of "gray". The demonstrators held banners demanding the authorities to provide services to the region, which suffers from repeated water and electricity shortages, and high unemployment. As the protests continued in southern Iraq, the federal government decided to provide more jobs and support the economic side in Dhi Qar province, south of the country. The decision came after a meeting of the Prime Minister, Haider Abadi, with representatives of the province of Dhi Qar in the capital Baghdad, according to a statement by the Office of Abadi. In terms of security, the Iraqi army reported that its forces are taking control of all cities, including the south, which is witnessing protests. "The security situation is well controlled by the security forces in Baghdad and the provinces," Brigadier Yahya Rasul, spokesman for the security center, said in a statement. He addressed the "Messenger" protesters by saying: "You have the right to demonstrate; because the Constitution ensured, and there are places dedicated and coordination and approvals are required before the start of demonstrations." This comes in conjunction with the expected protests in the provinces of the south, as well as the capital Baghdad, in continuation of the massive demonstrations that began on the ninth of July, and was punctuated by violence that killed and wounded. Last week, the government took decisions to contain the protests, including the allocation of government jobs and funds for the province of Basra, and plans to implement service projects in the short and medium term, but protesters say the measures "do not match the size of the demands." Last Tuesday, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he had directed the security forces in his country to protect the safety of citizens and to prevent any attack on public property. The government says that "saboteurs" exploit the protests to target public property, and is intent on addressing them. For many years, Iraqis have been protesting against poor public services and rampant corruption in a country that annually receives tens of billions of dollars in revenue from selling oil. AA http://www.shafaaq.com/ar/Ar_NewsReader/26f9df05-d189-43ef-8d64-9cd01ce4e2db
  11. In the document .. Activists are circulating a statement of reference on the demands of the demonstrators 3 hours ago + - NRT Activists on social networking sites circulated a previous statement issued by the religious authority regarding the demands of the demonstrators, in line with the protests expected today and their approval on Friday . The document issued by the office of the supreme religious authority Ali al-Sistani, in February 2011, during the protests that took place in Iraq after the events of the "Arab Spring" in 2011, and included most of the current demands put forward and demanded by the protesters in the demonstrations that took place in the provinces of the south and center during the days Past. The statement issued by the authority stressed the abolition of the unacceptable privileges granted to former and current members of the House of Representatives, provincial councils and senior officials in the government, and stressed the need to work to achieve the legitimate demands of the people, while warned against the consequences of continuing the current approach to the State Administration. The presidential decree issued a decree two days ago, requiring the transfer of 328 deputies from the previous parliamentary session to retirement, and ratified the Law of the House of Representatives and its Formations No. (13) of 2018, where the presidential decree raised a wide controversy because he except the policeman of age and service of the inclusion of deputies to retire. It is worth mentioning that activists called earlier to go out in uniform demonstrations on Friday in all provinces, where the religious authority receives its vision of the latest situation during the Friday sermon, which can also address the demands of protesters, is expected to see the liberation square in central Baghdad, Strict security measures. http://www.nrttv.com/AR/News.aspx?id=2517&MapID=2
  12. Qatar: ransom of kidnapped fishermen deposited with the Central Bank of Iraq Twilight News Qatar has not paid money to terrorist groups to release the kidnappers, the Qatari daily Al-Sharq reported. The official added that his country "dealt with the Iraqi government, which was a party to the process, was deposited in the Central Bank of Iraq by the Iraqi prime minister Haider Abadi," according to the newspaper "East". "Qatar has previously taken care to bring funds to Iraq in a formal, clear and public manner to support the efforts of the Iraqi authorities to release the Qatari abductees. These funds were not smuggled in. The Qatari kidnappers were officially issued visas and were under the protection of the Iraqi security authorities when they were Kidnapping them, and this is confirmed by Abbadi that the Qatari funds are located in the Central Bank in Baghdad and deal with the subject legally. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) published a report entitled "Has Qatar paid the largest ransom in history to free the kidnapped princes in Iraq," in which the issue of Qatari citizens who were kidnapped in Iraq in 2015, based on documents that indicate the involvement of Qatar in support of groups Terrorist attacks. The story concludes that 100 armed men aboard dozens of SUVs abducted 28 members of the ruling family who were participating in a fishing trip in southern Iraq on 16 December 2015. According to the report, Qatar paid a ransom of $ 1 billion to release the hostages, This amount is groups and people the United States calls "terrorists". The BBC said that the party that provided it with the documents it used in this report was "an anti-Qatar government." Keywords: http://www.shafaaq.com/ar/Ar_NewsReader/a82057e0-5127-4aaa-beb8-91b0f6041d45
  13. Qatari royal reveals terrifying moment his hunting party was taken hostage – sparking $1bn ransom deal that reshaped Middle East relations March 16, 2018 A Qatari royal has described the terrifying moment his falcon hunting group was kidnapped by militants – sparking a complex ransom deal that reshaped Middle East relations. The 37-year-old, part of Qatar’s ruling Al Thani family, was in a 26-strong party held hostage while hunting in southern Iraq in December 2015. It sparked panic in Doha and set in motion a wide-reaching deal with the hostages becoming pawns in tense geopolitical negotiations across the region. It is thought as much as $1billion may have been paid to eventually secure their release. The Qatari royal has revealed how he was woken at 3am in his tent by a frightened servant who said soldiers in machine gun-mounted trucks had surrounded their hunting camp. A short time later a masked militant with an AK-47 had entered his tent and a man started reading out names of family members. Members of the party are pictured after their release and return to Doha The Qatari, who the New York Times called Abu Mohammed to protect his identity, said he saw relatives lying face down and handcuffed with guns at their backs. He told the newspaper, which has printed a lengthy investigation into the episode, that he was certain the kidnappers were ISIS fanatics who would kill them. It was later claimed the militants were from Kata’ib Hezbollah, a Shiite faction formed in Iraq more than a decade ago. The group officially denies it was behind the kidnapping and no other group has publicly claimed responsibility for the abduction. They were bundled into trucks and transferred to an unknown location. From the sound of aircraft, they guessed they were near Tallil air base in southern Iraq. From there, they were taken to a house and locked in basement cells. Although Abu Mohammed attempted to bribe the captors with cash amounting to $33,000 – and several hundred thousand more when combined with other members of the party – the gang’s leader is said to have told him: ‘You think we want your money?’, the New York Times reports. In April 2017, it emerged that Qatar had secured the release of the 26 hostages after nearly a year and a half in captivity, including members of its ruling family, in what became possibly the region’s most complex and sensitive hostage negotiation deal in recent years. Several people with knowledge of the talks and a person involved in the negotiations said the hostage deal was linked to one of the largest population transfers in Syria’s civil war, and was delayed for several days due to an explosion that killed at least 130 people, most of them children and government supporters, waiting to be transferred. The transfer of thousands of Syrian civilians was also tied to another deal involving 750 political prisoners to be released by the Syrian government. The 37-year-old, part of Qatar’s ruling Al Thani family, was in a 26-strong party held hostage while hunting in southern Iraq in December 2015 The complexity of the talks highlighted Qatar’s role as an experienced and shrewd facilitator in hostage negotiations – this time involving members of the Gulf Arab state’s ruling family. It also raised allegations, that remain unproven, that the tiny energy rich nation paid millions of dollars to an al-Qaeda-linked group to facilitate the population transfer in Syria that led to the hostages’ release in Iraq. The incident was sparked when the group was kidnapped December 16, 2015 from a desert camp for falcon hunters in southern Iraq. They had legally entered Iraq to hunt inside Muthanna province, some 230 miles southeast of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. Shiite militias are active in that area and work closely with the neighboring Shiite power Iran. A person involved in the negotiations told Associated Press Qatar paid tens of millions of dollars to Shiite groups, and to the al-Qaeda-linked Levant Liberation Committee and Ahrar al-Sham, involved in population transfers in Syria. Both groups were part of an armed opposition alliance that swept through Syria’s Idlib province, seizing it from government control in 2015 and laying siege to two pro-government villages. Speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation, he said Qatari officials were given assurances about the well-being of the hostages during negotiations. Two Iraqi officials- a government and a security official – also confirmed details of the release to the AP. The abduction of the Qatari group drew Iran, Qatar and the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah into negotiations, resulting in millions of dollars in payments to Sunni and Shiite factions, according to Iraqi officials and a person involved in the negotiations. They say the talks took place in Beirut. The negotiator said the evacuation and transfer of thousands of Syrians from four besieged areas was central to the release of the Qataris. The kidnapping sparked panic in Doha and sparked a complex ransom deal deal with the hostages becoming pawns in tense geopolitical negotiations across the region. Pictured above, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani (pictured in 2014) attends a Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Doha The two pro-government villages, Foua and Kfarya, had been besieged by rebel fighters and under a steady barrage of rockets and mortars for years. The two opposition-held towns, Zabadani and Madaya, were under government siege for joining the 2011 uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad. The opposition-run Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the Syrian conflict through a network of on-the-ground activists, says the transfer included 800 armed men from both sides. Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the group, told the AP that the population swap in Syria was directly tied to the issue of the kidnapped Qataris. Abdurrahman, citing information from negotiators he’d spoken with, said the Qataris first proposed bringing the fate of the hunting group into the talks about the besieged four areas in Syria. The population exchange was criticized by rights groups, which said it rewarded siege tactics and amounted to forcible displacement along sectarian lines. The hunting group eventually departed on a private Qatari jet from Baghdad. Their release was a priority of Qatar’s foreign policy for more than a year, said David Weinberg, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. The AP reported at the time that a Qatari ruling family member paid $2 million, in an effort involving hackers, to secure the release of the hostages. Qatar says it does not support extremist groups in Syria or elsewhere, despite aggressive efforts to back Sunni rebel groups fighting to oust the Syrian government, which is backed by Iran and Russia. http://www.gulf-insider.com/qatari-royal-reveals-terrifying-moment-hunting-party-taken-hostage-sparking-1bn-ransom-deal-reshaped-middle-east-relations/
  14. 'Billion dollar ransom': Did Qatar pay record sum? By Paul WoodBBC News, Doha 17 July 2018 Share this with Facebook Share this with Messenger Share this with Twitter Share this with Email Share Related Topics Qatar crisis Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES On the morning of 16 December 2015 Qatar's ruling family got bad news: 28 members of a royal hunting party had been kidnapped in Iraq. A list of the hostages was given to Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, who was about to become Qatar's foreign minister. He realised that it included two of his own relatives. "Jassim is my cousin and Khaled is my aunt's husband," he texted Qatar's ambassador to Iraq, Zayed al-Khayareen. "May God protect you: once you receive any news, update me immediately." The two men would spend the next 16 months consumed by the hostage crisis. In one version of events, they would pay more than a billion dollars to free the men. The money would go to groups and individuals labelled "terrorists" by the US: Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq, which killed American troops with roadside bombs; General Qasem Soleimani, leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force and personally subject to US and EU sanctions; and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, once known as al-Nusra Front, when it was an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria. In another version of events - Qatar's own - no money was paid to "terrorists", only to the Iraqi state. In this version, the money still sits in the Central Bank of Iraq's vault in Baghdad, though all the hostages are home. The tortuous story of the negotiations emerges, line by line, in texts and voicemails sent between the foreign minister and the ambassador. These were obtained by a government hostile to Qatar and passed to the BBC. So, did Qatar pay the biggest ransom in history? Sheikh Mohammed is a former economist and a distant relative of the emir. He was not well known before he was promoted to foreign minister at the relatively young age of 35. Image copyrightEPA Image captionRelatives of Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman were among those kidnapped At the time of the kidnapping, the ambassador Zayed al-Khayareen was in his 50s, and was said to have held the rank of colonel in Qatari intelligence. He was Qatar's first envoy to Iraq in 27 years, but this was not an important post. The crisis was his chance to improve his position. The hostages had gone to Iraq to hunt with falcons. They were warned - implored - not to go. But falconry is the sport of kings in the Gulf and there were flocks of the falcons' prey, the Houbara bustard, in the empty expanse of southern Iraq. The hunters' camp was overrun by pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns in the early hours of the morning. A former hostage told the New York Times they thought it was "Isis", the Sunni jihadist group Islamic State. But then one of the kidnappers used a Shia insult to Sunnis. Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES Image captionThe Asian Houbara bustard, found in Iraq, is highly prized in the Arab Gulf states For many agonising weeks, the Qatari government heard nothing. But in March 2016, things started to move. Officials learned that the kidnappers were from Kataib Hezbollah (the Party of God Brigades), an Iraqi Shia militia supported by Iran. The group wanted money. Ambassador Khayareen texted Sheikh Mohammed: "I told them, 'Give us back 14 of our people... and we will give you half of the amount.'" The "amount" is not clear in the phone records at this stage. Five days later, the group offered to release three hostages. "They want a gesture of goodwill from us as well," the ambassador wrote. "This is a good sign... that they are in a hurry and want to end everything soon." Two days later the ambassador was in the Green Zone in Baghdad, a walled off and heavily guarded part of the city where the Iraqi government and foreign embassies are located. Iraq in March is already hot. The atmosphere in the Green Zone would have seemed especially stifling: supporters of the Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr were at the gates, protesting about corruption. The staff of some embassies had fled, the ambassador reported. This provided a tense backdrop to the negotiations. Mr Khayareen waited. But there was no sign of the promised release. He wrote: "This is the third time that I come to Baghdad for the hostages' case and I have never felt frustrated like this time. I've never felt this stressed. I don't want to leave without the hostages. :(" The kidnappers turned up, not with hostages but with a USB memory stick containing a video of a solitary captive. "What guarantee do we have that the rest are with them?" Sheikh Mohammed asked the ambassador. "Delete the video from your phone... Make sure it doesn't leak, to anyone." Mr Khayareen agreed, saying: "We don't want their families to watch the video and get emotionally affected." The hostages had been split up - the royals were put in a windowless basement; their friends, the other non-royals, and the non-Qataris in the party, were taken elsewhere and given better treatment and food. A Qatari official told me that the royals were moved around, sometimes every two to three days, but always kept somewhere underground. They had only a single Koran to read between them. For almost the entire 16 months they spent in captivity, they had no idea what was happening in the outside world. If money was the answer to this problem, at least the Qataris had it. But the texts and voicemails show that the kidnappers added to their demands, changing them, going backwards and forwards: Qatar should leave the Saudi-led coalition battling Shia rebels in Yemen. Qatar should secure the release of Iranian soldiers held prisoner by rebels in Syria. Then it was money again. And as well as the main ransom, the militia commanders wanted side payments for themselves. As one session of talks ended, a Kataib Hezbollah negotiator, Abu Mohammed, apparently took the ambassador aside and asked for $10m (£7.6m) for himself. "Abu Mohammed asked, 'What's in it for me? Frankly I want 10'," the ambassador said in a voicemail. "I told him, 'Ten? I am not giving you 10. Only if you get my guys done 100%...' "To motivate him, I also told him that I am willing to buy him an apartment in Lebanon." The ambassador used two Iraqi mediators, both Sunnis. They visited the Qatari foreign minister, asking in advance for "gifts": $150,000 in cash and five Rolex watches, "two of the most expensive kind, three of regular quality". It's not clear if these gifts were for the mediators themselves or were to grease the kidnappers' palms as the talks continued. In April 2016, the phone records were peppered with a new name: Qasem Soleimani, Kataib Hezbollah's Iranian patron. Image copyrightAFP/GETTY Image captionIranian General Qasem Soleimani, centre, heads the Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force By now, the ransom demand appears to have reached the astonishing sum of $1bn. Even so, the kidnappers held out for more. The ambassador texted the foreign minister: "Soleimani met with the kidnappers yesterday and pressured them to take the $1b. They didn't respond because of their financial condition... Soleimani will go back." The ambassador texted again that the Iranian general was "very upset" with the kidnappers. "They want to exhaust us and force us to accept their demands immediately. We need to stay calm and not to rush." But, he told Sheikh Mohammed, "You need to be ready with $$$$." The minister replied: "God helps!" Months passed. Then in November 2016, a new element entered the negotiations. Gen Soleimani wanted Qatar to help implement the so-called "four towns agreement" in Syria. At the time, two Sunni towns held by the rebels were surrounded by the Syrian government, which is supported by Iran. Meanwhile, two Shia towns loyal to the government were also under siege by Salafist rebels, who were apparently supported by Qatar. (The rebels were said to include members of the former al-Nusra Front.) Under the agreement, the sieges of the four towns would be lifted and their populations evacuated. According to the ambassador, Gen Soleimani told Kataib Hezbollah that if Shia were saved because of the four towns agreement, it would be "shameful" to demand personal bribes. "Hezbollah Lebanon, and Kataib Hezbollah Iraq, all want money and this is their chance," the ambassador texted the foreign minister. "They are using this situation to benefit... especially that they know that it's nearly the end... All of them are thieves." The last mention in the exchanges of a $1bn ransom is in January 2017, along with another figure - $150m. The government that gave us this material - which is hostile to Qatar - believes the discussions between Sheikh Mohammed and Mr Khayareen were about $1bn in ransom plus $150m in side payments, or "kickbacks". But the texts are ambiguous. It could be that the four towns deal was what was required to free the hostages, plus $150m in personal payments to the kidnappers. Qatari officials accept that the texts and voicemails are genuine, though they believe they have been edited "very selectively" to give a misleading impression. The transcripts were leaked, to the Washington Post, in April 2018. Our sources waited until officials in Doha issued denials. Then they sought to embarrass Qatar by releasing the original audio recordings. Qatar is under economic blockade by some of its neighbours - Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt. This regional dispute has produced an intensive, and expensive, campaign of hacking, leaking and briefings in Washington and London. The hostage crisis was brought to an end in April 2017. A Qatar Airways plane flew to Baghdad to deliver money and bring the hostages back. This was confirmed by Qatari officials, though Qatar Airways itself declined to comment. Image copyrightEPA Image captionQatar Airways has declined to comment Qatar is in a legal dispute with its neighbours about overflight rights. The question of whether the emirate's national carrier was used to make payments to "terrorists" will have a bearing on the case - one reason, presumably, why we were leaked this material. Who would get the cash flown into Baghdad - and how much was there? Our original source - the government opposed to Qatar - maintains that it was more than $1bn, plus $150m in kickbacks, much of it destined for Kataib Hezbollah. Qatari officials confirm that a large sum in cash was sent - but they say it was for the Iraqi government, not terrorists. The payments were for "economic development" and "security co-operation". "We wanted to make the Iraqi government fully responsible for the hostages' safety," the officials say. The Qataris thought they had made a deal with the Iraqi interior minister. He was waiting at the airport when the plane landed with its cargo of cash in black duffel bags. Then armed men swept in, wearing military uniforms without insignia. "We still don't know who they were," a Qatari official told me. "The interior minister was pushed out." This could only be a move by the Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, they reasoned. The Qatari prime minister frantically called Mr Abadi. He did not pick up. Image copyrightREUTERS Image captionIraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi Mr Abadi later held a news conference, saying that he had taken control of the cash. Although the money had been seized, the hostage release went ahead anyway, tied to implementation of the "four towns agreement". In the texts, a Qatari intelligence officer, Jassim Bin Fahad Al Thani - presumably a member of the royal family - was present on the ground. First, "46 buses" took people from the two Sunni towns in Syria. "We took out 5,000 people over two days," Jassim Bin Fahad texted. "Now we are taking 3,000... We don't want any bombings." A few days later, the Shia towns were evacuated. Sheikh Mohammed sent a text that "3,000 [Shia] are being held in exchange location... when we have seen our people, I will let the buses move." The ambassador replied that the other side was worried. "They are panicking. They said that if the sun rises [without the Shia leaving] they will take our people back." On 21 April 2017, the Qatari hostages were released. All were "fine", the ambassador reported, but "they lost almost half of their weight". The ambassador arranged for the plane taking them home to have "biryani and kabsa, white rice and sauté... Not for me. The guys are missing this food." Sixteen months after they were taken, television pictures showed the hostages, gaunt but smiling, on the tarmac at Doha airport. The sources for the texts and voicemails - officials from a government hostile to Qatar - say the material shows that "Qatar sent money to terrorists". Shortly after the money was flown to Baghdad, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt began their economic blockade of Qatar. They still accuse Qatar of having a "long history" of financing "terrorism". Image copyrightREUTERS Image captionThe US has urged Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to act against terrorism The anti-Qatar sources point to one voicemail from Ambassador Khayareen. In it, he describes telling a Kataib Hezbollah leader: "You should trust Qatar, you know what Qatar did, what His Highness the Emir's father did... He did many things, this and that, and paid 50 million, and provided infrastructure for the south, and he was the first one who visited." Our sources maintain that this shows an historic payment, under the old emir, of $50m to Kataib Hezbollah. Qatari officials say it shows support for Shia in general. Whether the blockade of Qatar continues will depend on who wins the argument over "terrorist financing". Partly, this is a fight over whom to believe about how a kidnapping in the Iraqi desert was ended. Qatari officials say the money they flew to Baghdad remains in a vault in the Iraqi central bank "on deposit". Their opponents say that the Iraqi government inserted itself into the hostage deal and distributed the money. For the time being, the mystery over whether Qatar did make the biggest ransom payment in history remains unsolved. Update 17 July 2018: Since the article was published, a Qatari official told the BBC the payment of $50m by the Qatari emir's father was for humanitarian aid. The official said: "Qatar has a history of providing humanitarian aid for people in need regardless of religion or race. Whether they were Sunni or Shia did not factor into the decisions." https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-44660369
  15. Iraq: Qatari 'ransom' money with us, not armed groups PM Abadi refutes UAE and Saudi media claims that Qatar paid ransom money to Shia groups to free kidnapped hunters. 11 Jun 2017 Iraq's prime minister has rejected Saudi and UAE media claims that a $500m ransom was paid by Qatar to Shia Muslim armed groups in Iraq to secure the release of 26 kidnapped Qatari hunters, saying that the money was received by the government of Iraq and that the sum was still in the Iraqi central bank. "Yes we received [ransom] money and we got hold of the funds and right now we still have it deposited in the Iraqi central bank," Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Sunday in an address to the Popular Mobilisation Forces, an umbrella group of mainly Shia Muslim armed groups that have some state backing. "It was never cashed out. I heard in various media outlets that the money was dispersed to one group or another but let me make it clear. This [ransom] money is still kept in our central bank," Abadi added in his remarks, which were broadcast on Iraqi state TV. The revelation comes on the seventh day of a blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates on Qatar, and after more countries, including Egypt, cut diplomatic ties with Doha for allegedly supporting "terrorism" - with the alleged ransom considered a "last straw". The Qatari government has repeatedly denied all allegations by its fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations, including the accusation that the money it paid to free the kidnapped Qataris in Iraq went directly to armed groups. In April, the Iraqi government took what has been estimated to be $500m in ransom payments brought into the country by a Qatari delegation. At the time, leaked comments attributed to al-Abadi suggested that the Iraqi government did not know about the intended payment and that the seizure of the money by Iraqi authorities had not been what Qatar intended. However, on April 26, Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani disputed the Iraqi prime minister's comments, saying that Qatar was "quite surprised" by al-Abadi's statements. "In the last 15 months, while [the Qatari hunters] were kidnapped, the Qatari authorities were always in touch with the Iraqi government and there were no positive developments except in the last few weeks - right before they were released," the foreign minister said at the time. "The Qatari government was coordinating every single detail with its Iraqi counterpart. We received numerous requests from the Iraqi government for funds during their mission to secure the release of the hostages," Al Thani added. "Let me make it clear: The ransom money was brought into Iraq with the approval of the Iraqi government and in the open. If the Iraqi government doesn't need these funds, the money will be returned to Qatar." In spite of this disagreement over the intended recipient of the ransom money, the fact that the Iraqi government has held the money since April remained undisputed by both parties. But a campaign by Saudi and UAE media to connect Qatar to "terrorism" in the wake of the GCC crisis has continued to repeat the claim that the ransom money in Iraq went directly to armed groups with ties to both al-Qaeda and Iran. The Qatari hunters were abducted on December 16, 2015, and held for almost one year and a half. It remains unclear who abducted them. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/06/iraq-qatari-ransom-money-armed-groups-170611161949859.html
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