Ammaar W. Al-Jallad

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Iran pres. nominates 4 new ministers

Wed Jul 27, 2011

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has nominated four candidates to receive the Majlis (parliament) vote of confidence before running four ministries.

In a letter to the Majlis on Wednesday, President Ahmadinejad named Mohammad Abbasi, Abdolreza Sheikholeslami, Mehdi Ghazanfari and Rostam Qasemi respectively for the posts of ministers at the Ministry of Sports and Youth, Ministry of Cooperative, Labor and Social Welfare, Ministry of Industries, Mines and Trade as well as Ministry of Oil, IRIB reported.

Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani said that the parliamentarians will discuss the subject of candidates during a session on Tuesday.

On June 29, Iranian lawmakers approved the merger of the three ministries of Welfare and Social Security, Labor and Social Affairs as well as Cooperative into the new Ministry of Cooperative, Labor and Social Welfare.

The legislators also passed a bill to merge the ministries of Industries and Mines and Commerce to institute the new Ministry of Industries, Mines and Trade.

The announcement came after the Iranian chief executive declared the establishment of the new Ministry of Roads and Urban Development, following the Majlis’ vote of confidence to Ali Nikzad, the candidate to run the ministry.

The Majlis has also rejected Hamid Sajjadi as the proposed candidate for the new Ministry of Sports and Youth.

Under Iran’s Fifth Five-Year Development Plan from 2010 to 2015, the government had to reduce its ministries from 21 to 17 to improve the efficiency of the country’s administration.

Source: PressTV.

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Iran president proposes Guards commander as oil minister

Jul 27, 2011

TEHRAN: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proposed to parliament on Wednesday a Revolutionary Guards commander as his choice for oil minister, state radio reported.

“I introduce Rostam Qasemi as the oil minister nominee to the parliament,” Ahmadinejad said in a letter to lawmakers.

Qasemi is head of the Khatam Al-Anbia construction base, an engineering and construction company controlled by the elite Guards. Parliament will debate a vote of confidence for Qasemi on August 3.

The Guards has played a growing economic role in the Islamic Republic since Ahmadinejad first took office in 2005.

The UN Security Council in June blacklisted 15 firms belonging to the Guards Corps. for their alleged role in Iran’s nuclear activities, which the United States and its allies say is a cover to build bombs.

Iran denies this, saying it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity.

Ahmadinejad took control of the ministry in May as he sought to merge it with the Energy Ministry in an effort to slim down the government. The merger plan has since been put on hold.

By law the president has three months after removing a minister — in this case Oil Minister Massoud Mirkazemi — to introduce a new candidate to parliament. During that period he can act as caretaker himself or appoint someone to the post.

Ahmadinejad came under fire by critics in parliament after he relinquished the role of caretaker oil minister himself — a role both parliament and Iran’s constitutional watchdog said was illegal — and appointed Mohammad Aliabadi, one of his close allies, to the post in June.

Lawmakers said Aliabadi, former head of Iran’s Olympic Committee, lacked experience and knowledge.

Source: Arab News.

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Villagers flee Iranian clashes with Iraq Kurd rebels

Jul 26, 2011

SWUNE, Iraq: Iranian shelling in clashes with Kurdish rebels on the border with Iraq’s northern region has killed two civilians and forced hundreds to flee their homes, local officials and aid agencies said on Monday.

Iranian troops have in the past fought along the frontier with Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region with rebels from the PJAK, an Iranian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Kurdish group which fights for an ethnic homeland in Turkey.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Monday it was providing assistance to more than 800 displaced people in northern Iraq, all driven from their homes by the recent shelling in the mountains of Qandil.

Local Iraqi Kurdish officials have blamed Iranian bombardments for the displacements.

Ali Muhammad Ibrahim, general manager of local Sidakan Hospital, said two civilians had been killed by shelling.

Fleeing residents had settled in makeshift tents along the roadway near their abandoned villages near the Iranian border, leaving behind farmland, livestock and homes.

“There were bombs inside the village. It could happen any time. Sometimes the bombardments were at 3 a.m., sometimes in the dawn and sometimes in the evening,” said Muhammad Abdullah, 26, who escaped the village of Swune near the Iranian border.

The Geneva-based International Organization for Migration said it had also supplied a temporary clinic and relief supplies to the displaced on the border region.

Iran said on Friday a commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards was killed in an explosion during clashes with Kurdish rebels in northwestern Iran. In April, Iran reported four Iranian border guards were killed by a grenade attack.

PJAK, which stands for the Free Life Party of Kurdistan, is branded a terrorist organization by both Tehran and Washington.

Iran has pledged to step up military action against the group, which is seeking greater autonomy for Kurdish areas in the country. PJAK has bases in the mountains where the borders of Iran, Iraq and Turkey meet.

Source: Arab News.

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US forces to stop joint operations in Iraq’s north

Tikrit, Iraq (AFP)
July 23, 2011

In one week US troops will cease joint operations with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, begun in early 2010 to dampen tensions between Kurds and Sunni Arabs in disputed northern zones, a US military official said on Saturday.

Colonel Michael Bowers said that from August 1, American forces will no longer be part of the trilateral operation.

“By August 1, they (operations) will be bilateral” between Iraqi Kurd and Arab forces, Bowers told AFP at the US Contingency Operation Base Speicher outside the city of Tikrit north of Baghdad.

He indicated that US troops would no longer be on the streets in the northern zones.

“Once they’re all bilateral supervised, the only place we are is in the command and control centers,” said Bowers, the strategist for Major General David Perkins, the Commanding General for the army’s US Division North.

He said that out of 22 checkpoints across the disputed zones, 15 already had no US participation. He said seven checkpoints remained with an active US presence, which would stop at the end of this month.

“If something were to go wrong, obviously we could go help mediate,” he added.

US forces began the tripartite operations with Kurdish and Iraqi army forces, that are dominated by Sunni Arabs, in the northern areas early last year. That marked a new chapter in the US military’s role since the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

The US military, which currently has 47,000 troops in Iraq, began jointly manning checkpoints and carrying out security patrols in the provinces of Kirkuk, Nineveh and Diyala.

Apart from the oil-rich province of Kirkuk that is claimed by both Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdish government in the north, there are 11 other disputed territories in northern Iraq.

All US forces are scheduled to pull out of Iraq at the end of this year in accordance with a 2008 security pact.

American forces suffered their worst month in three years in June, when 14 soldiers were killed, mostly in rocket attacks that Washington says were launched by Iranian-backed Shiite insurgents.

Four US soldiers have been killed in attacks this month.

The spike in attacks against US troops comes as Iraqi leaders approach decision time on whether they want to maintain a contingent of soldiers after the end of 2011.

Source: Space War.

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Iraq aims for 200,000 bpd at al-Ahdab

BAGHDAD, July 25 (UPI) — Oil production from the al-Ahdab field in southern Iraq could reach 200,000 barrels per day next year, the country’s oil minister said.

Iraqi officials announced production started at the al-Ahdab field in Wasit province along the border with Iran. Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul Kareem al-Luaibi said oil production would increase from the current rate of 60,000 bpd to around 200,000 bpd next year, Bloomberg News reports.

China National Petroleum Corp. won production rights for al-Ahdab during November 2008 auctions. Field totals are estimated at around 1 billion barrels.

The Iraqi finance minister in May confirmed the first oil export payment to contractors in the Kurdish region. Kurdish Prime Minister Barham Salih said the federal government in Baghdad confirmed payment to the Kurdistan Regional Government for revenues derived from the export of 5 million barrels of oil early this year.

Baghdad doled out dozens of oil and gas contracts since 2003. The country is trying to ramp up oil exports to help stimulate an economy ravaged by pre-war economic sanctions.

Source: United Press International (UPI).

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Drought-hit – Kuwait relief mission first to arrive in Somalia

– Asif Khalifa
Sunday, 24 July 2011

Global Arab Network – Kuwait Red Crescent Society’s mission was the first to arrive in Somalia to offer humanitarian relief aid to the drought-hit Somali people, Head of KRCS mission to Somalia Musaed Rashid Al-Enezi told KUNA.

KRCS has started its work in Somalia with sending two planes loaded with 20 tons of aid immediately following the UN appeal upon instruction from His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

HH the Amir has pledged USD 10 million in aid for the Somali people, who are suffering from malnutrition and famine as a result of the worst drought to hit the nation in 10 years.

The mission was warmly welcomed by the Somali people and government, Al-Enezi said, noting that Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmad has received KRCS mission and hailed HH the Amir’s initiative.

“The charitable work of the state of Kuwait is not strange to a country that used to offer all help to Somalia and all Arab nations,” he said.

Last week, the UN declared that two regions in the south of the war-torn country were suffering from famine. Hundreds were dying every day across the Horn of Africa region, the FAO said.

The United Nations issued an appeal of aid to address what it is calling the worst food crisis in Africa in 20 years.

Nearly half of Somalia’s estimated 10 million people face a food crisis and malnutrition rates there are the highest in the world.

Source: Global Arab Network.

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Kuwait loans Morocco to fund High Speed Train project

– Mohamed Tamer
Sunday, 24 July 2011

Global Arab Network – The Kuwait Fund for Arab and Economic Development (KFAED) loaned Morocco 712 million dirhams (89.2 million dollars) as part of the first phase of its participation in funding the project of the High Speed Train (HST) linking Tangier to Casablanca.

Two loan and guarantee agreements related to the project were signed, Tuesday in Rabat, by the Fund and Morocco with the attendance notably of Kuwati Ambassador in Rabat Shamlan Abdulaziz Al-Roomi.

This project is part of the ambitious development program meant to reduce the distance between the Kingdom’s cities. It also aims to promote high speed rail services to meet the growing demand for this environment-friendly transportation means and support Morocco’s development dynamic.

The two agreements were signed, on the Moroccan side, by secretary general of the Economy Ministry Khalid Safir, and director at the railway office (ONCF) Mohamed Smouni, and on the Kuwaiti side, by director general of the KFAED Abdelwahab Ahmed Al Badr.

Source: Global Arab Network.

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