Taiwan is increasing oil imports from Iraqi Kurdistan as local refiners take advantage of an open arbitrage to buy high-sulphur crude that can replace supplies cut by OPEC. State-owned CPC Corp bought 1 million barrels of Kurdish KBT crude for the first time in the second quarter, and Formosa Petrochemical Corp has resumed purchases of this grade after a near nine-month break, company officials said.
More than 500 Syrian and Iraqi refugees have been refused entry to Australia during more than a year of vetting, with 12,000 other Syrians being found eligible for resettlement, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said; the screening process had been based on intelligence provided by several countries, including the USA, Britain and Canada. The minister also justified the mesures taken in this year, taking the attack near Britain’s Parliament on Wednesday, in which an assailant with suspected links to Islamist terrorism killed three people and wounded dozens more using a car and a knife before being shot dead, as an alarm of the need of more security.
Abadi’s remarks followed his first face-to-face meeting at the White House with Trump, who took office on Jan. 20 pledging a new strategy to defeat the hardline militant group that seized large swaths of Iraq and Syria in 2014. Even before Trump took office, Iraqi forces recaptured a string of major cities from Islamic State, shrank the militant group’s finances and significantly stemmed the flow of foreign fighters, all with the support of U.S.-led coalition air strikes and military advisers. A White House statement about the meeting said both Trump and Abadi agreed that “terrorism cannot be defeated by military might alone”, and the two leaders called for deepening commercial ties, including in the energy sector. At the forum, Abadi called for more financial contributions from the international community. Abadi is in Washington this week ahead of a gathering of world leaders of a coalition fighting Islamic State. In many ways, his visit comes at a high point for him after successfully appealing to Trump to remove Iraq from a list of countries included in a revamped travel ban. Trump decided this month’s revised order temporarily banning the entry of travelers from several Muslim-majority nations would not include Iraq because of its cooperation with the United States. Both the initial Jan. 27 travel ban and the revised version have been blocked by federal courts. Detractors argue the ban discriminated against Muslims in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom. Trump says the measure is necessary for national security to protect the country from terrorist attacks.
The jets received aim to support Iraqi forces in dislodging Islamic State (IS) militants from the city of Mosul. The T-50 fighter jets will soon participate in the military operations against IS terrorists, the statement said. The arrival of the new fighter jets comes as Iraqi security force backed by the anti-IS international coalition are carrying out a major offensive to drive out IS militants from its last major stronghold in and around Mosul.
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman said the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Iraqi government need to work on corruption and to reduce bureaucracy. The Iraqi government, for him, cannot provide jobs for everyone but Baghdad must provide an economic base for the creation of jobs: “If you can cut out the middleman, use e-payments, then do it”, the ambassador congratulated Peshmerga and Iraqi forces for their victories in the fight against the Islamic State, adding a military victory was not enough.
Iraq’s acting finance minister, Abdul Razzaq al-Essa, announced on Sunday that the British government has agreed to give 10 billion pounds ($12 billion) in loans to the Iraqi government to finance infrastructure projects in the country over a 10 year period. “The interest rate on the loans should be determined by the British companies”, the minister said. “This loan is exclusively allocated to British companies” British ambassador to Iraq, Frank Baker, told reporters Britain will continue to help Iraq: “For the government of the United Kingdom this is further evidence of the bilateral support that we are giving and will continue to ensure that Iraq is able to grow and become a powerful country and nation once again”, he said. The Iraqi finance ministry said earlier in a statement that Iraq and Britain had agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding which will serve as a framework to provide funds to specific projects during the period.
Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul International Airport from Islamic State militants on Thursday (February 23), an Iraqi commander said while adding fighting continues outside the airport. The Iraqi forces aim to turn the airport into a close support base for the offensive into the west of the city itself.U.S. – backed Iraqi forces closing in on the ISIS – held western half of Mosul stormed on Thursday the airport and a nearby military base on its southern outskirts to create a foothold for a thrust into the city.
Iraqi forces, having gained control of the eastern half of Mosul in January, are now ready to launch the next phase of the offensive to liberate western Mosul from Islamic State militants.
The commander Abdulghani Asadi said during a press conference on Sunday that logistic and military preparations have been finished in order to start the liberation.
“We are waiting for zero hour by commander in chief of Iraqi Armed Forces,” the counter-terrorism service’s commander added. “The control of western Mosul will be in a way which cannot be expected”.