Sunday, April 1, 2012
Iraq: Qatar receives fleeing Iraqi vice-president on official visit!
Vice-president Tareq al-Hashimi is charged by the Maliki government with operating death squads that killed Shia pilgrims. Al-Hashemi denies the charges. Some think the charges are politically motivated and intended to give Maliki more power.
Qatar said that al-Hashemi was on an official visit. Now there is a new spin! Al-Hashemi fled to the autonomous Kurdistan area of Iraq after being charged. The government issued an arrest warrant in December. This is April Fool's Day so I guess it is appropriate for Qatar to say that a fugitive from the law is on an official visit! But the Qatari government seems serious.
The Minister of State for Qatar said:"Vice President of the Republic of Iraq Tariq al-Hashimi arrived here on Sunday on a several-day official visit to Qatar. He was welcomed upon arrival at Doha International Airport by HE Minister of State Sheikh Hamad bin Nasser bin Jassim Al Thani." Al-Hashimi is to meet with the emir of Qatar and also the prime minister while visiting. Perhaps they will try to negotiate an end to the situation and re-instate the vice president. Al-Hashemi was invited to visit Qatar. Apparently he plans to visit other countries as well.
Maliki told reporters that any member of the Arab League should not receive al-Hashimi. However he also said it was up to international authorities to request that he be returned to Iraq. So far nothing seems to have happened. For more see this article.