US Proposes Settling Afghan Refugees in Iraq: Reports
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US Proposes Settling Afghan Refugees in Iraq: Reports

ERBIL — Multiple media reports in Iraq have speculated about the US intention to settle Afghan refugees in Iraq while proposing Baghdad financial support in return for its hospitality.

Several Iraqi news agencies said the idea was put forward by the UAE and Qatar, with the support of the US, during the recent Bagdad Conference for Development and Partnership, where leaders from neighboring countries of Iraq, France, and Egypt took part.

Washington announced that it has evacuated 123,000 Afghans, many of whom are temporarily taken to Qatar, UAE, and other countries. Turkey, however, rejected taking in the refugees, saying that it is already hosting a largest population of refugees who have fled the war in Syria.

According to unofficial reports, Iraq has been promised $1 billion immediately in return for hosting 10,000 Afghan refugees as part of the first stage of the plan.

The position of Iran on the issue is however controversial. The reports said Iraq has initially agreed with the plan provided that the Shia Afghan refugees would be settled in Anbar province of Iraq, a province that is almost completely Sunni Muslim bordering Syria and Saudi Arabia.

MP Muthanna Amin, member of the Iraqi Parliament’s Committee for Foreign Relations, said the legislative has not yet received any official reports on the issue.

“We absolutely reject this matter, and it is considered a kind of sedition in Iraq. The country is struggling with the problems it already has, and any move of this kind could harm peace and security in Iraq,” MP Amin said, noting that the government of Iraq cannot make such a deal with other countries without the consent of the parliament.

According to the laws, Iraq can offer two types of asylum: humanitarian and emergency situation, Ali al-Tamimi, a judge and law expert said.

“Individual asylum cases sometimes require that the prime minister decide on the matter, but if it comes to collective cases amounting to thousands, then a law is legislated for it and requires Parliament's approval at the request of the Council of Ministers,” he explained.

However, Tamimi believes the current Iraqi government cannot — and not likely to — make the decision on any possible resettling of the Afghan refugees due to the fact that the country is preparing for a parliamentary election scheduled for October 10. The Iraqi law expert believes the topic, at its best chance, can be discussed after the next parliament is elected and the new government is formed.

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