Iraqi education minister submits resignation over alleged links to ISIS

Shaima Al Hayali denies that her brother was a member of the terror group in Mosul

Shaima Al Hayali submitted her resignation a week after being appointed Iraq's education minister.
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Iraq’s newly appointed education minister submitted her resignation on Sunday following accusations of links to ISIS.

Shaima Al Hayali, an academic from Mosul whose appointment was approved by parliament last Monday, denied allegations that her brother, Laith Al Hayali, was a senior ISIS member.

“ISIS forced everyone in Mosul to work for them, threatening those who refused to join,” Ms Al Hayali said on Twitter.

Her brother was made to work as a civil servant after the extremists seized control of the city in 2014, she said.

“The threats continued even after Mosul was liberated."

Ms Al Hayali said her brother had “never carried arms nor killed or helped kill any Iraqi”, and that there was no concrete evidence to prove he belonged to ISIS.

“My resignation is now in the hands of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, to make his decision," she said.

The premier has yet to announce his decision. Education ministry officials were not immediately available for comment to The National.

Although Iraq declared victory over ISIS last December, the group continues to carry out ambushes, assassinations and bombings and still poses a threat along the border with Syria.

ISIS sleeper cells remain active across Nineveh, Salahuddin, Diyala and Kirkuk provinces.

Ms Al Hayali was the only woman in Mr Abdul Mahdi's cabinet and was backed by the Bina coalition, which includes the Fatah Alliance led by Hadi Al Amiri and the State of Law Coalition led by former prime minister Nouri Al Maliki.

Videos circulated on social media show Laith Al Hayali in ISIS propaganda clips, condemning attacks on Mosul by the anti-ISIS coalition.

Reports suggest that he was a leading ISIS official who served as the group's water minister. Before ISIS invaded, he was the director of Nineveh's water department in 2012.

If her brother's affiliation is proved to be true, then it is a positive idea for Ms Al Hayali to resign, member of parliament Sarkwat Shams told The National.

“This case will turn the majority of MPs against her and she will fail to do her job,” Mr Shams said.

“I’m concerned about Iraq’s education system and would suggest a liberal individual to run the ministry,” he said.


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The loss of a minister would be another setback for Mr Abdul Mahdi as he struggles to form a government more than two months since he was appointed. The prime minister's attempts to appoint a full cabinet of 22 ministers have been blocked by the rivalry between the Bina coalition led by Mr Al Amiri and the rival Islah bloc led by populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, with the positions of justice, defence and interior minister still vacant.

The interior minister's post has emerged as the main point of dispute between parliament's two biggest groups. Mr Al Amiri's bloc has repeatedly nominated Falih Fayadh, who was the chairman of the umbrella group of militias known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), and Mr Al Sadr’s coalition has consistently rejected the nomination. Legislators loyal to Mr Al Sadr walked out of last week's session when Speaker Mohammed Al Halbousi called for a vote on Mr Fayadh’s nomination, as they have done several times in the last few months.

Mr Al Halbousi said he would ask the premier to propose someone else for interior minister.

The delay in forming a government increases the prospect of further unrest in Iraq as it struggles to recover and rebuild after three years of war with ISIS.