'Syraq' region unprecedentedly witnesses new election, military service laws

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday made a big change in the military service law, mainly for Syrian expatriates, the state news agency SANA reported.

The new amendment to the law is mainly about setting military service exemption fees for Syrians living abroad and for one category of Syrians inside the country.

Syrian males should serve in the military upon reaching the age of 18 and those who study in the universities can postpone the service until finishing their education.

Previously, Syrian males living abroad for four years and above could pay 8,000 U.S. dollars to get exempted from the two-year mandatory military service.

Now, the law covers those who spend as short as one year abroad as they have to pay 10,000 dollars.

For those who spend two years, three years and four years and above abroad, they should pay 9,000, 8,000 and 7,000 dollars respectively to get exempted.

For Syrians who live inside the country, there was no exemption fee for military service before the new amendment.

Now, Syrians with medical conditions whose service is in fixed places in the army, largely office service, can pay 3,000 dollars to get exempted.

The new amendment to the law is welcomed by Syrians, which will also help in supporting the state coffers as the country is reeling under tough economic pressure

Iraqi president approves new elections law

Iraqi President Barham Salih on Thursday approved the new parliamentary elections law despite his reservations on some of its articles, but stressed the need to fulfill the requirements of holding early elections.

"In compliance with my constitutional duty, I approved the election law, in preparation for holding early, fair, and just elections," Salih said in a televised speech after signing the law.

He said that reforming the Iraqi election law aims to guarantee the right of Iraqis to elect their representatives by securing free and fair elections away from intimidation and fraud.

"Electoral corruption is dangerous because it threatens societal peace and economic integrity, as the electoral corruption and financial corruption are interlinked, inseparable, and destructive," Salih said.

He pointed out that the previous parliamentary elections after 2003 witnessed many challenges regarding fraud and suspicion, which were the main reason for the citizens' reluctance to vote, and undermined their confidence in the legitimacy of the existing regime and the entire electoral process.

Salih stressed the need "to enable a new political generation to realize the desired reform project in response to the blood that has been shed on the road to reform and change."

Salih also acknowledged the reservations that some politicians registered on the latest electoral law which was passed recently by the parliament, saying, "this law does not represent everything we aspire to, but at the same time, it represents a development for the better and a path to reform."

Earlier, the Iraqi parliament decided to set 83 electoral districts in the country, based on the women's 25 percent quota in the 329-seat parliament, so the number of districts is equal to that of women in the Iraqi parliament, while the previous election laws stated each of the country's 18 provinces as a single electoral district.

Late last year, the parliament passed most of the elections draft, but differences remained on the number of electoral districts due to political row among the political blocs.

The new electoral law came in response to the anti-government protests and was designed to make it easier for independent politicians to win a seat in the upcoming parliament.

On July 31, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi set June 6, 2021, as the date for the early elections. Originally the previous parliamentary elections were held on May 12, 2018, and the next elections were supposed to take place in 2022. 

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