Andrei Savenkov – Tensions between Iran and the United States in the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway in the Persian Gulf area, may not only negatively impact Iraq but the Middle East region as a whole, the special representative of the UN secretary-general for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, said.

“What is happening now in the Strait of Hormuz, if things spin out of control, not only will it be an issue between the United States and Iran, it would impact the entire region and, in particular, Iraq”, Hennis-Plasschaert said when asked how the tensions between Iran and the United States could affect Iraq.

UN Special Envoy, Russian Foreign Minister Discussed Return of Daesh Fighters From Syria to Iraq
In 2017, Moscow embarked on a mission to return home the Russian children who were smuggled to Iraq and Syria by parents with links to terrorist groups. Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights Anna Kuznetsova, whose office is running the return efforts, said this mission will be completed in August.

The UN representative noted that they also discussed how the returning Daesh fighters should be prosecuted, specifically whether they should be tried in their own countries, in Iraq or by an international tribunal. She pointed out that Lavrov said Russia “would not be in favor” of the latter option.

“Russia has shown itself as a very reliable partner to Iraq. For a long time, Russia has been keen on creating stability, or on contributing to stability in Iraq, which to me, in my current capacity, is of crucial importance”, Hennis-Plasschaert said.

“Clearly, for a long time, the relationship between Erbil and Baghdad was super sensitive, but I have to say, if I see what happened over the past months, I really feel that on both sides there is a sincere will to make things progress in the right direction. For now it might be a bit early to talk about progress being made, but things are moving”, Hennis-Plasschaert said.

The UN representative stressed that if she had been asked about this matter seven months ago, she would have been “much more pessimistic”.

Erbil and Baghdad are now in the process of negotiating the terms pertaining to Iraqi Kurdistan’s participation in Iraq’s new government. These developments come after their relations significantly deteriorated in 2017 after Iraqi Kurdistan held a referendum on seceding from Iraq. Baghdad declared the referendum illegitimate and launched a military operation in the region, notably capturing the capital of the oil-rich northern province of Kirkuk.

DNA testing is currently being done in Kuwait in order to determine whether the remains recently found in a mass grave in Iraq belong to Kuwaitis who went missing during the 1990-1991 Gulf War, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said.

A meeting of the Tripartite Committee, which includes Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, will reportedly be held in Jordan on Wednesday. The participants are set to discuss matters pertaining to people who went missing in Iraq between 1990 and 1991.

“Iraq is a country that unfortunately, because of its violent past, has been filled with mass graves. It is truly painful. Whenever you discover one, you don’t know what you will find further. And most recently a mass grave was discovered that very possibly contained the remains of Kuwaiti missing persons. DNA checks are still ongoing. I hope that we will be able to inform the families of the Kuwaiti missing persons on further details soon”, Hennis-Plasschaert said.

Last week, Iraqi officials met with representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Baghdad to discuss the issue of missing people after the human remains were discovered in Muthanna Governorate in southern Iraq.

According to the Red Cross, genetic analyses are being conducted by the Medico-Legal Directorate in Baghdad.

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