Sistani Breaks Silence on Jadriya Land Seizures

The highest Shiite authority in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani (Twitter)
The highest Shiite authority in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani (Twitter)
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Sistani Breaks Silence on Jadriya Land Seizures

The highest Shiite authority in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani (Twitter)
The highest Shiite authority in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani (Twitter)

The highest Shiite authority in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has publicly denounced the seizure of lands belonging to Iraqi citizens in the upscale Jadriya neighborhood of Baghdad by influential entities that operate outside the bounds of the law.

Sistani’s denunciation follows the formation of a probe committee by Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani last week. The committee was formed in response to public outcries from citizens who appeared on television programs and video clips.

They claimed that armed groups, whose identities remained concealed, coerced them into selling their lands at unjustly low prices, threatening forceful appropriation if they resisted.

A widely-shared video clip on news agencies and social media platforms showed the First Deputy Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament and prominent leader of the Sadrist movement, Hakim al-Zamili, siding with the affected citizens.

He promised legal action against the entities responsible for these transgressions. This development prompted the authorities to delve deeper into the matter, which has now become a public concern.

While the results of an investigation conducted by Iraqi Interior Minister Abdul Amir al-Shammari are still pending, the stance of Sistani against such practices has reignited the issue.

Given the top Shiite cleric’s influence, his positions are seen as binding for his followers and carry significant weight.

This adds pressure on the official authorities conducting the investigation, especially when influential factions, including armed groups, are involved, bolstering the push for more stringent punitive measures.

Although the statement issued by Sistani’s office was concise, it has sparked both official and public reactions to various practices that have surfaced over the past years.

During a meeting with residents of the Jadriya region who had previously appeared in the media complaining about pressures and threats to relinquish their lands to certain entities, Sistani, according to a statement from his office, condemned “these practices that violate both religious and legal standards.”

He emphasized that “one of the primary duties of those in positions of authority, holding the reins of the country, is to protect the properties and rights of its citizens, and to stand against those aiming to infringe upon them through terror and intimidation, especially those bearing official capacities.”



Sudan's RSF Agrees with UN on Steps to Ease Aid Delivery

Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
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Sudan's RSF Agrees with UN on Steps to Ease Aid Delivery

Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

Sudan's Rapid Support Forces agreed with the United Nations on some steps to ease aid delivery in areas under its control, a member of the RSF told Reuters on Thursday.

The Sudanese army has not reached any understandings on aid delivers with the RSF, he added. It is unclear if these steps could be implemented without the army's participation.

Meanwhile, a key supply route into Sudan's Darfur region, deemed at risk of famine by a global monitor, has been cut off due to heavy rains, a World Food Program official told Reuters on Thursday.
The UN agency has described Sudan as the world's biggest hunger crisis, with the western Darfur region most at risk as Sudan's 15-month civil war that has displaced millions and sparked ethnic violence grinds on.
WFP's Country Director Eddie Rowe said thousands of tons of aid are stranded at the Tina crossing on the Chad border, prompting the body to reopen talks with the army-aligned government to open an alternative, all-weather crossing further south called Adre.
"You have these huge rivers. As I speak now, our convoy, which is supposed to move over 2000 metric tons is stranded," he told Reuters from Port Sudan. Asked on the status of the talks that resumed this week, he said: "It's 50/50.”
WFP is now seeking clearances to move a large 70-truck convoy via a little-used, over 1000 kilometer route from Port Sudan to Darfur which Rowe said will involve crossing the battle lines of both the Sudan Armed Forces, the Rapid Support Forces and various militias.
He added that this mostly desert route has worked in the past but outside of the rainy season and that the last journey took weeks and was "fraught with a lot of challenges.”
In a separate interview, Mona Rishmawi, a member of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Sudan, told Reuters that she had met Darfur refugees in Chad who told her stories of escaping with virtually no water and eating grass along the route. "There's no doubt that people are starving," she said.