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Dec 10, 2014

Egypt needs legal reforms for Suez Canal hub to succeed -consultant

CAIRO, Dec 10 (Reuters) – The consultant on a project to
develop the Suez Canal says cumbersome Egyptian government
bureaucracy could hamper its chances of success.

Yehia Zaki, director of Egypt operations at global
engineering firm Dar Al-Handasah, said he had urged the
government to introduce bureaucratic and legal reforms.

Nov 27, 2014

Iraq finance minister urges battle against graft in military

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq’s finance minister called for deep-rooted reforms to stamp out corruption in a military that collapsed in the face of an Islamic State advance, as he prepares to spend nearly a quarter of the 2015 budget on defense.

Hoshiyar Zebari will push for about 23 percent of a proposed 2015 budget of $100 billion to be poured into defense and security when it is presented to Iraq’s cabinet “very soon”.

Nov 13, 2014

Kurdistan region, Baghdad reach deal on oil exports and payments

BAGHDAD/ARBIL, Nov 13 (Reuters) – The government of Iraq and
the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan have reached a deal to
ease tensions over Kurdish oil exports and civil service
payments from Baghdad, Iraq’s finance minister told Reuters on
Thursday.

Hoshiyar Zebari said the central government had agreed to
resume payments from the federal budget for Kurdish civil
servants’ salaries.

Nov 8, 2014

U.S. air strikes target Islamic State convoy in Iraq

BAGHDAD/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. air strikes destroyed an Islamic State convoy near the Iraqi city of Mosul but U.S. officials said on Saturday it was unclear whether the group’s top commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been in any of the 10 targeted vehicles.

Colonel Patrick Ryder, a Central Command spokesman, said the U.S. military had reason to believe that the convoy was carrying leaders of Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot which controls large chunks of Iraq and Syria.

Nov 8, 2014

Air strikes target Islamic State leaders in Iraq: TV report

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – U.S.-led air strikes have targeted a gathering of Islamic State leaders in Iraq in a town near the Syrian border, possibly including the group’s top commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Al-Hadath television channel said on Saturday.

Iraqi security officials were not immediately available for comment on the report from the station, part of Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television, but two witnesses told Reuters an air strike targeted a house where senior Islamic State officers were meeting, near the western Iraqi border town of al-Qaim.

Nov 5, 2014

Britain says will send more army trainers to Iraq to help fight Islamic State

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Britain will boost the number of its army trainers in Iraq in the coming weeks to support the Iraqi armed forces’ battle against Islamic State militants, the British defense secretary said on a visit to Baghdad on Wednesday.

Britain said last month it had deployed a team of trainers to Iraq to help Kurdish peshmerga fighters maintain and use heavy machineguns against the ultra radical militants which have taken over large parts of Iraq and Syria.

Nov 4, 2014

Careless spending on Islamic State campaign harms Iraq: finance minister

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq’s reckless spending on its battle against Islamic State, including over $1 billion on Shi’ite militias accused of human rights abuses, is undermining efforts to keep the country functioning, the finance minister said.

In an interview with Reuters, Hoshiyar Zebari, a Kurd who is mostly seen as a moderate, accused past and present Iraqi leaders of mismanagement, poor planning and failing to reach out to the only people he says can defeat Islamic State — Sunni tribesmen.

Nov 3, 2014

Life under Islamic State in Iraq’s Falluja: danger, rage and profit

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – After Islamic State seized Falluja in January it persuaded a man making covers for cars to sell suicide vests instead, one of many changes in the Iraqi city as it adapts to life under the ultra-hardline Sunni militants.

Islamic State is notorious for beheading or executing anyone who stands in its way when seizing cities and towns in Iraq and Syria that form its self-proclaimed caliphate, often using suicide bombers to make advances.

Nov 2, 2014

Iraq says 322 tribe members killed, many bodies dumped in well

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Islamic State militants have killed 322 members of an Iraqi tribe in western Anbar province, including dozens of women and children whose bodies were dumped in a well, the government said in the first official confirmation of the scale of the massacre.

The systematic killings, which one tribal leader said were continuing on Sunday, marked some of the worst bloodshed in Iraq since the Sunni militants swept through the north in June with the aim of establishing medieval caliphate there and in Syria.

Nov 1, 2014

Iraqi Kurds reinforce Kobani; U.S. planes pound Islamic State targets

BEIRUT/ BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Syrian Kurds welcomed the arrival in Kobani of Iraqi Kurdish fighters with their heavy weapons, hoping they might tip the balance in the battle to defend the town against Islamic State, as U.S.-led air strikes continued to bomb the ultra-hardline group in Iraq and Syria.

Air strikes have helped to foil several attempts by the al Qaeda offshoot, notorious for its beheading of hostages, to take over Kobani. But they have done little to stop its advances, in particular in Sunni areas of western Iraq, where it has executed hundreds of tribesmen.