Saturday, August 30, 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Sunday, August 24, 2014
Saturday, August 23, 2014
"Qatar does not support extremist groups, including ISIS, in any way. We are repelled by their views, their violent methods and their ambitions," he said in a statement released in London. "The vision of extremist groups for the region is one that we have not, nor will ever, support in any way."Qatar has previously denied supporting Islamist insurgents who have seized wide areas of northern Iraq, northern and eastern Syria. But diplomats and opposition sources say while Qatar supports relatively moderate rebels also backed by Saudi Arabia and the West, it also has backed more hardline factions seeking to set up a strict Islamic state. Attiyah said Qatar's goal was to do all it could to see peace and justice across the region and called for collective action to end the violence in Iraq and Syria. He urged the Iraqi government to provide safety and security for its citizens and vowed that Qatar, a tiny but wealthy Gulf Arab state, would continue to provide humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people. "The killing of innocent civilians and the forced flight of hundreds of thousands of people threatens the very existence of Iraq and the peace and security of the entire region," he said. "So while, along with many other countries from the Middle East and wider international community, we have supported the Syrian opposition to the Assad regime, we do not fund ISIS or other extremist factions." (Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Rosalind Russell) So #Iraq media is (once more) reporting #ISIS fleeing Yet another Sunni bloc (from Anbar) suspends #Iraq govt formation negotiations protesting #Diyala mosque attack. Amid violence, Shia alliance and Kurds meet. "Agree to present negotiation demands shortly". Sounds very 2010. Maliki orders investigatory committee after Sunni Diyala mosque attack; seems to acknowledge Shia involvement. The US govt seems less interested in rescuing the Shia Turkmen of #Amerli than the Yazidis of Sinjar. To #ISIS, they're the same. Calls for greater consistency in US humanitarian intervention in #Iraq: Why Jabal Sinjar but not #Amerli? #Iraq PM designate @HaiderAlAbadi met with Turkish ambassador in Baghdad (@frkkymkc) today. This is good news. In forming next #Iraq govt, @HaiderAlAbadi is assisted by committee of 7 Shia alliance leaders, 4 from Maliki bloc. Sunni politicians sounding upbeat about ongoing negotiations to form new government by @HaiderAlAbadi. #Iraq army today reportedly sending military forces to break #ISIS siege of mainly Turkmen town of Amerli (Salahadin). Asymmetry in #ISIS victim protection - James Foley vs thousands of Iraqis and Syrians - is sadly becoming a worrisome subject in itself. Imams in #Haditha urge citizens to revolt against #ISIS and to confront secterianism — Iraq. http://bit.ly/1AIWz23 #Maliki requested Peshmerga deployment to #Kirkuk: #KRG spokesman Erbil, Asharq Al-Awsat—Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) spokesman Fouad Hussein informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Peshmerga forces had deployed to the Iraqi city of Kirkuk to combat the encroaching presence of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters on the basis of a request from outgoing Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) had faced criticism from some sections of Iraqi following the troops deployment, with some saying that the Kurdish forces were exploiting ISIS’s presence to take control of the disputed city. Peshmerga forces were deployed to Kirkuk—which many Kurds view as the historic capital of Kurdistan—to repel ISIS’s northwards advance following the terrorist group’s capture of Mosul last month. However KRG spokesman has now said that the Peshmerga’s deployment was based on a request from the office of the prime minister. He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “On July 10, Hamid Al-Mousawi, the executive director of Maliki’s office, telephoned me. He said that he was speaking on behalf of the prime minister and requested that Peshmerga forces enter Kirkuk because there were fears that ISIS was going to take control of the city. I said, ‘Very well, we will enter to protect Kirkuk.’ Therefore, this means that the Peshmerga forces entered the city at Maliki’s request.” “If ISIS had been able to gain control of Kirkuk, this would have been a massive calamity for the Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen, They would have been able to gain control of the oil wells and pipeline,” he added. Hussein outlined the current situation on the ground in northern Iraq, stressing that Kurdish Peshmerga forces are on the advance. “The threat from ISIS towards the [Kurdistan] region remains present, but at the same time we are resisting. Although there have been some setbacks due to operational flaws, [but] the Peshmerga forces have been restructured and now the operation is taking place at the hands or regional forces while the terrorist ISIS forces are in retreat,” Hussein told Asharq Al-Awsat. “The front-lines of our confrontation with ISIS extends approximately 1,500 km from the outskirts of Mosul to south of [the city of] Khanaqin. The confrontation today is taking place on the outskirts of Mosul after we liberated and took control of Mosul dam, while there are also confrontations taking place on the outskirts of Kirkuk and Jalula,” he added. =========== Sunnis do not believe Abadi is solution to Iraq's crises Sheikh Mohammed al-Bajari, a member of the local council in Fallujah — the city west of Baghdad in Anbar province that has been under heavy shelling and military operations for over 18 months now — said he does not believe “Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stepping down and Haider al-Abadi designated to form the new government will solve the Sunnis’ problem with the federal government in Baghdad.” Summary⎙ Print Members of the local council in Anbar province say that replacing Nouri al-Maliki with Haider al-Abadi will not solve the problems Sunnis have endured under Maliki’s rule. Author Omar al-Jaffal Posted August 21, 2014 Translator(s)Cynthia Milan Bajari described Maliki’s stepping down and Abadi’s designation as “a simple change of faces.” Both Sunni and Shiite political blocs believe Maliki’s methods of exclusion against Sunnis in Iraq, besides limiting the political decision-making to himself, aggravated the security situation.” Since last December, Anbar province has been witnessing large-scale military operations, conducted by the army against the Islamic State (IS), after the army had scattered the tents of the protesters who raised their demands to the central government for being subjected to several injustices such as random arrests. However, Bajari, who does not blame Maliki alone, told Al-Monitor over the phone, “Sunni officials and deputies were the main reason behind the Sunnis’ tragedy and the ongoing war that resulted in hundreds of victims. The complete political process started off wrong.” He said, “The constitution was written in a chaotic manner, making Iraq and its people suffer several crises.” Bajari said, “The demands of the citizens of Anbar included the annulment of the constitution, writing a new one and restructuring the armed forces on a professional and patriotic basis. We also demanded the annulment of the de-Baathification law and the release of the innocent people who were arrested, as well as the annulment of Article 4 of the Anti-Terrorism Law. These demands require a firm decision; Abadi will not be able to achieve this.” “Replacing Maliki with Abadi, or anyone else, is not going to solve the tragedy suffered by Iraqis in general, and Sunnis in particular,” said Bajari, stressing, “There should be a trial against Maliki and his entire political system for all the crimes he committed against the Iraqis.” Another member of Fallujah's local council, Muthni al-Aani, seems rather more flexible than Bajari. Aani thinks there should be negotiations with the government, but limits these negotiations to whom he called “rebels.” He told Al-Monitor over the phone, “Only the rebels have the right to negotiate with the government. They are the ones leading the revolution, and they will decide whether or not to negotiate with the government.” He said, “Generally speaking, as local officials, we have witnessed the bloodshed and crimes committed by Maliki against Sunnis. Yet, neither Abadi nor any other politician, whether Sunni or Shiite, objected to Maliki’s unspeakable crimes against humanity.” A member of the general military council for the tribal rebels in Anbar, who wished to remain anonymous, told Al-Monitor, “The military council for tribal rebels in Anbar is waiting for an initiative showing the new prime minister’s goodwill. This initiative should include withdrawing all army divisions, militias and SWAT forces from Anbar completely. It should also grant all displaced families and families of the martyrs and wounded compensation for all the psychological, material and moral sufferings they have endured for the past months.” He added, “One of the main conditions for dialogue with Abadi is the trial of Maliki along with his complete political system, as well as its security, military and political leaders in all of Anbar, in addition to every individual who had anything to do with Maliki’s war against Anbar. Sunnis must be granted all the rights they were demanding during the protests that took place before the military operations. … If Abadi makes the initiative showing his goodwill, the military council will also show its goodwill through its own initiative.” Political analyst Ali Ismail Dalimi who lives in Anbar province told Al-Monitor, “Sunnis do not see a solution to their crises in replacing Maliki with a new prime minister. … The Sunnis are a group of tribal sheikhs, rebels and citizens who are determined to start restructuring the political process. If the constitution is not rewritten from scratch, the Sunnis will never stop their revolution.” He said, “This is the actual reality. Thousands of orphans and widows and thousands of displaced citizens will not accept that the situation goes back to the way it was before the revolution. They will not accept a political system similar to Maliki’s system and that of wrongful methods.” Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/08/sunnis-solution-abadi-maliki-problems.html#ixzz3BH8MxhNH ===== =========================== Sat, Aug 23 18:03 PM EDT image 1 of 4 By Ahmed Rasheed and Isabel Coles BAGHDAD/ARBIL Iraq (Reuters) - Bombings across Iraq killed at least 35 people in attacks that appeared to be revenge for an assault on a Sunni mosque that has deepened sectarian conflict. A bomb also exploded in the northern city of Arbil on Saturday, a rare attack unsettling the relative stability the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region has enjoyed. Local television footage showed firefighters dousing the charred remains of a car in Arbil. A Reuters journalist earlier saw a cloud of smoke, but the source was not clear. In Baghdad, a bomber rammed a vehicle into an intelligence headquarters, killing at least eight people, police and medical sources said. Near Tikrit, a suicide bomber driving a military Humvee packed with explosives attacked a gathering of soldiers and Shi'ite militias overnight, killing nine. Shi'ite militiamen machinegunned 68 worshipers at a village mosque in Diyala Province on Friday as politicians try to form a power-sharing government capable of countering Islamic State militants. An advance by Islamic State through northern Iraq has alarmed the Baghdad government and its Western allies and drawn U.S. airstrikes in Iraq for the first time since the withdrawal of American troops in 2011. Although the air campaign has caused a few setbacks for Islamic State, they do not address the far broader problem of sectarian warfare which the group has fueled with attacks on Shi'ites. Bombings, kidnappings and execution-style shootings occur almost daily, echoing the dark days of 2006-2007, the peak of a sectarian civil war. In addition to the Arbil attack, three bombings that appeared to target Kurdish forces killed 18 people in the city of Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, security sources said. Islamic State routed Kurdish forces in its latest advance through the north. Two of Iraq's most influential Sunni politicians suspended participation in talks on forming a new government after the militiamen carried out the mosque attack. Deputy Prime Minister Saleh Mutlaq and Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jibouri have pulled out of talks with the main Shi'ite alliance until the results of an investigation into the killings are announced. Jibouri, a moderate Sunni, condemned both Islamic State as well as the Iranian-trained Shi'ite militias who Sunnis say kidnap and kill members of their sect with impunity. "We will not allow them to exploit disturbed security in the country to undermine the political process. We believe the political process should move on," he told a news conference on Saturday. Iraq's new Shi'ite prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, faces the task of trying to draw Sunnis into politics after they were sidelined by his predecessor Nuri al-Maliki. Maliki stepped aside after pressure from Sunnis, Kurds, some fellow Shi'ites, Iran and the United States. Iran, a regional power broker with deep influence in Iraq, is sending its foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to Baghdad on Sunday for talks with Iraqi officials. (Additional reporting by Alexander Dziadosz; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Rosalind Russell) =========================== Suicide bomber attacks Baghdad intelligence headquarters, eight dead Sat, Aug 23 06:24 AM EDT BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A suicide bomber rammed a vehicle into an intelligence headquarters in Baghdad on Saturday, killing at least eight people, police and medical sources said. The attack came a day after Shi'ite militiamen machinegunned 68 Sunni worshipers at a village mosque in Diyala Province, raising the prospect of revenge attacks as politicians try to form a government capable of countering Islamic State militants. An advance by Islamic State through northern Iraq has alarmed the Baghdad government and its Western allies and drawn airstrikes in Iraq for the first time since the withdrawal of American troops in 2011. Although the air campaign has caused a few setbacks for Islamic State, they do not address the wider problem of sectarian warfare which the group has fueled with attacks on Shi'ites. Bombings, kidnappings and execution-style shootings occur almost daily, echoing the dark days of 2006-2007, the peak of a sectarian civil war. (Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Toby Chopra) ==================== Islamic State executes soldiers, takes hostages at Syria base: social media Wed, Aug 27 03:51 AM EDT image 1 of 2 BEIRUT (Reuters) - Islamic State militants have executed Syrian army soldiers and are holding a group of them hostage after capturing an air base in northeast Syria at the weekend, pictures posted on the Internet and on Twitter by supporters showed on Wednesday. Islamic State, an offshoot of al Qaeda, stormed Tabqa air base near Raqqa city on Sunday after days of fighting with the army that cost more than 500 lives, according to monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Tabqa was the army's last foothold in an area otherwise controlled by the militants, who have seized large areas of Syria and Iraq. The United States has carried out air strikes on the group in Iraq and is studying its options in Syria. In one picture posted online, a group of militants in balaclavas are seen gunning down at least seven kneeling men identified as army personnel. Reuters was not able to immediately confirm the authenticity of the images or when exactly they were taken. Other photos showed groups of eight to 10 soldiers in fatigues taken hostage, some with facial wounds. Three are identified as officers. The photos appeared to show at least two dozen hostages. One picture reportedly shows the body of a pilot who had appeared on Syrian state television before the attack on the base explaining how the army could easily defend it. Others show militants holding up knives next to groups of captured men. Syrian state television aired a report last week interviewing army personnel at the base and showing its defenses, just before Islamic State overran it. On Sunday, Syrian state television said that after fierce battles, the military was "regrouping" and that there was a "successful evacuation of the airport" as the army continued strikes on Islamic State in areas close to the base. Raqqa is a stronghold of Islamic State, and some people celebrated in the city after the capture of the air base. The Observatory said at least 346 Islamic State fighters were killed and more than 170 members of the security forces had died in five days of fighting over the base, making it one of the deadliest clashes between the two groups since the start of Syria's war. The photos posted online also showed the attack on the base, which used at least one tank. Later pictures showed bodies on the ground and abandoned military hardware, such as a jet, warplane munitions and missiles, although it was not clear if any were operational. Syria said on Monday it would cooperate in any international effort to fight Islamic State militants, but a White House spokesman said on Tuesday there was no plan to coordinate with Damascus on how to counter the threat. President Barack Obama approved U.S. surveillance flights to gather intelligence on the extremist group after the release of a graphic video last week showing the beheading of a U.S. journalist by an Islamic State fighter. (Reporting by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
A range of businesses have been short-listed to bid for part of a 30 percent stake in China Petroleum's Chemical Corporation’s (Sinopec’s) petrol station operating subsidiary Sinopec Sales valued at $16 billion, Reuters reported on Aug. 19.
Canadian retailer Alimentation Couche-Tard, Chinese tech group Tencent, China Life Insurance, Chinese energy distributor ENN Energy, and private equity firms Fosun Group, Hopu Investment Management, and Affinity Equity Partners have all made it to the final round of bidding. Final bids are due by the end of August.
Sinopec said on Jan. 19 that it would restructure the company’s marketing division and allow up to a 30 percent private investment. Sinopec Sales’ assets include over 30,000 petrol stations and 23,000 “Easy Joy” convenience stores.
The group said it wants outside capital to help modernise its petrol station and convenience store business and sales management system. It also wants to expand from supplying fuel to providing services.
Sinopec Sales said on July 29 it signed a co-operation framework agreement with Taiwanese conglomerate Ruentex. The groups will pool procurement, which should reduce buying costs for Sinopec’s convenience stores, according to a Sinopec statement. Ruentex will also pilot joint management of Shanghai-based convenience stores, as well as explore e-commerce cooperation. Ruentex is part owner of Chinese hypermarket operator Sun Art Retail.
Sinopec petrol sale attracts a motley bunch
Sinopec’s petrol station stake sale could drum up a mixed bunch. The Chinese oil giant is seeking investors to help develop Sinopec Sales, which operates its vast network of filling stations. Prospective buyers from food retail, energy, technology and private equity have been shortlisted, according to Reuters. But the price tag of around $16 billion for a 30 percent stake could force them to club together.
Sinopec Sales operates 30,000 petrol stations. Energy distributors like ENN may see some logic in owning more of China’s fuel delivery network. Yet buyers from a range of other industries see greater potential in developing additional sources of income.
Take retail. Though Sinopec Sales has 23,000 Easy Joy convenience stores, these currently bring in just 1 percent of the group’s revenue. Boosting that figure could be lucrative: for established retailers, profit margins on non-fuel sales are three times higher than the 1.7 percent Sinopec Sales squeezes out at the moment. That explains why Alimentation Couche-Tard, the Canadian owner of Circle K convenience stores, is on the shortlist.
Logistics and technology groups have other reasons for getting involved. Petrol stations could act as collection points for online parcels handled by delivery groups like S.F. Express. Internet giant Tencent, meanwhile, might be interested in Sinopec’s fuel payments network.
A big investment will require a large consortium. At the mooted valuation, a $1 billion cheque would buy no more than 2 percent of Sinopec Sales. Not many companies can justify tying up that much capital in what could prove a passive stake in the unlisted subsidiary of a Chinese state-owned enterprise. Besides, not all investors will get a voice: Sinopec Sales is offering just three seats on an 11-member board to outside investors, according to Bernstein analysts.
Prospective investors will also have to grapple with factors beyond their control. Boosting non-fuel revenue and margins could lift the unit’s valuation in an initial public offering. But Beijing, which regulates fuel prices, has the power to wipe out any revenue gains with the stroke of a pen. Whatever the final roster, outside investors will need to stick together to make the deal work.