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    Default Archive Latest News - Think Tank - 03/11/07 - 31/12/07

    Time ripe for Parliament to Endorse several Drafts, Maliki tells Rice

    Baghdad, Nov 3, (VOI) – Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Istanbul that the time was ripe for the Iraqi parliament to endorse several draft laws adopted by the government, including those on oil & gas and accountability.

    The U.S. administration was blaming the Iraqi government for failure to pass a number of important draft laws like the drafts on oil & gas and the accountability, which is known as the debaathification law.

    "Maliki and Rice discussed several issues of mutual concern and the importance of an Iraqi-Turkish-U.S. cooperation to deal with the threat posed by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)," according to a statement by the Iraqi cabinet on Saturday.

    "The PKK is a terrorist organization, not just to Turkey but to Iraq as well, particularly as far as security and economic aspects are concerned," the statement quoted Maliki as saying.

    In his speech before the Istanbul conference on Saturday, the Iraqi premier called on his country's neighbors to increase their security measures along their borders with Iraq and respect Iraq's sovereignty.
    Maliki said that his government has taken "a firm decision to close down all offices and headquarters of the terrorist PKK all over Iraqi territories."

    "We announce before you today that we have taken drastic measures to block any facilities reaching this terrorist organization via airports and borders," Maliki said, adding "the constitution of Iraq compels us to respect relations with neighboring countries and not to allow our territories to be used to wage aggression on any country."

    http://www.aswataliraq.info/look/english/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrArticle =59337&NrIssue=2&NrSection=1

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    Kurdistan Solution Party Office in Sulaimani was closed

    Director of Kurdistan region general security, Mamosta Saifadin exclusively told PUKmedia that their forces closed the only office of the Kurdistan Solution Party in Sulaimani today.

    Security forces have closed the office of the above-mentioned party in Erbil today.

    There were some news reports today that the Kurdistan Solution Party offices were also closed in Duhok governorate.
    Kurdistan Solution Party is known as a pro-PKK party.

    PUKmedia :: English - Kurdistan Solution Party Office in Sulaimani was closed

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    PM's Statement on Istanbul Meetings

    The Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq (KRG) welcomes the Istanbul meetings of the Foreign Ministers of the G8, the Permanent 5, the neighbouring countries, the Arab League, and the UN Secretary General. We hope that this distinguished group of diplomats and interested parties will help to find a resolution to the current tensions which exist along the Iraqi-Turkish border.

    The KRG condemns in the strongest terms the recent acts of violence committed by the PKK inside Turkey. There can be no excuse whatsoever for these actions which undermine peace and stability in the entire region and which are not in the interest of anyone involved. There is no place in the modern civilised world for this type of violence.

    The KRG wants peaceful and cooperative relations with Turkey. We have many strong ties to Turkey, both economic and cultural, and we hope to see these ties grow in the future. People on both sides of the border have come to benefit from our trade relations and many Turkish firms are welcome participants in the economic life of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. We want to extend the hand of friendship to the people of Turkey and cooperate toward a more stable and prosperous future for all our peoples.

    We understand Turkey’s frustration with the actions of the PKK and we share the grief and sadness over the loss of life that has taken place. We believe that the only solution to this long-running problem is to be found in negotiations and compromise, not further violence.

    We insist that the PKK cease all violence against the Turkish military and make clear their willingness to lay down their arms and meet at the negotiating table. We are doing all we can to secure the release of all hostages and to defuse tensions in the area.

    The KRG will in no way allow its soil to be used for violence or interference in the affairs of our neighbours and we are taking steps to guarantee that this does not happen.

    Our commitment to peace and good relations with our neighbors is unshakeable – we have already seen too much violence and too much suffering in our history. This problem has existed in various forms for over 20 years – we are fearful that it will gain more life and more energy if violence is allowed to prevail.

    We would like our friends in the region and elsewhere to know that we are ready – at any time, in any place, and with any group – to sit down and find a negotiated solution to the current impasse. For us, there is no alternative to dialogue and discussion. We believe there is an opportunity for a political solution and we urge the distinguished group of Foreign Ministers to work with us to find that solution.

    The people of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq want only peace and stability so that we can continue our progress toward greater economic and political development. We are willingly a part of Iraq, and we intend to remain so. The people of Turkey should not fear our progress along the road toward freedom and prosperity. We want to be a safe and responsible neighbour to Turkey. We threaten no one, not today, or in the future.

    PUKmedia :: English - PM's Statement on Istanbul Meetings

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    Maliki says no civil war in Iraq

    Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Saturday that his conflict-torn country has overcome the threat of civil war and violence is receding.

    "Ethnic violence is decreasing... The civil war that Al-Qaeda wanted to spark has been prevented," Maliki told a conference of Iraq's neighbours and major Western powers in Istanbul.

    "Iraq has overcome the period of danger and is stronger and more experienced today," he said.

    "Our success will help not only us but also you," he said, addressing Iraq's neighbours.

    Maliki asked for more international support for his government's efforts at economic reconstruction and at quashing daily violence.

    He renewed a call on neighbouring countries to act to prevent "the infilitration of terrorists."

    Turkey is hosting the meeting which besides Iraq includes top ministers and officials from the United States and other western powers and Middle East nations including Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain.


    Maliki says no civil war in Iraq - Yahoo! News UK

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    Iraq 'will arrest Kurdish Rebels'

    Iraq says it is ready to track down and arrest Kurdish rebel leaders responsible for cross-border raids into from northern Iraq.

    Government spokesman Ali Dabbagh also said Baghdad was prepared to take joint action with Ankara against the fighters of the PKK.
    The pledge was made at international talks in Turkey on in Iraq.

    Iraq's six neighbours are gathering with diplomats from the UN, G8 and international Arab and Islamic groups.

    Attending the talks in, Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki said his country should not be used a base for attacks against neighbours.
    "We will co-operate with our neighbours in defeating this threat," he said.

    'Clearly unacceptable'

    Ali Dabbagh was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying: "There are security measures being taken, the checking of any suspect officer of the PKK in the Kurdistan region and in all Iraq."
    "They will be arrested," he added.

    Meanwhile, authorities in Iraq closed an office in Irbil on Saturday of the Kurdistan Democratic Solution, a political party which Turkey says is a front for the Kurdish rebels.

    The party secretary, Fayaq Gulpi, said: "The security forces in Irbil entered our office, expelled all our party members and our sympathisers then closed the office."

    Irbil is the seat of government for Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, and lies 350km (217 miles) north of Baghdad.
    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said at the talks in Istanbul that attacks launched on forces from Iraq were "clearly unacceptable".

    "The governments of Iraq and Turkey must work hard to address this challenge and I am confident that a mutually acceptable solution can be found," he said.

    Turkey has massed up to 100,000 troops on its southern border for a possible offensive to eliminate Kurdish rebel bases in Iraq.

    Threats

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the meeting: "Our objective is to have an Iraq that has stability and safety and that does not create threats for its neighbours."

    BBC world affairs correspondent Nick Childs says the Iraqi authorities are anxious that Saturday's one-day conference remains focused on broader questions of security and stability in Iraq, and how the outside world can help.

    They hope hints of a recent downturn of violence in Iraq may encourage greater outside engagement, says our correspondent.
    The first round of talks was held in May, when an agreement in principle was reached to forgive Iraq some $30bn (14.4bn) in debts.

    The trouble is many of the participants in Istanbul have different views of how they want to see Iraq develop politically, says our correspondent.

    The Saudis and the Iranians, for example, regard each other suspiciously but they find common ground in not wanting to see Iraq unstable and broken up.

    A lot of interest will again be focused on the chemistry between US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her counterparts from two significant regional players with which is at odds, Iran and Syria.

    Those attending the conference include representatives of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, the Arab League and the Islamic Conference Organisation.

    Turkey is pressing Washington to do more to stem PKK activity from Iraq, where the organisation is thought to have about 3,000 rebels based.

    Foreign Minister Ali Babacan met Condoleezza Rice in on Friday and the pair are due to hold more talks on Saturday, with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari also attending.

    But analysts expect that any major announcement about the border situation will be kept for a summit between President George W Bush and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan being held in Washington on Monday.

    PUKmedia :: English - Iraq 'will arrest Kurdish Rebels'

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    Crocker calls to face Iran influence in Iraq

    US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker called from Dubai to reopen Arab Embassies in Baghdad in order to face the Iranian influence he described as negative. Crocker who headed to Istanbul to attend the expanded conference on Iraq, resumed his tour to the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. He acknowledged that Iraq is a dangerous place and that diplomats working in Baghdad are subject to risks.

    Alsumaria Iraqi Satellite TV Network | Iraq News | Crocker calls to face Iran influence in Iraq

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    Anbar officials call for continued US support, Private Oil Investment

    Sunni Muslim officials from Iraq's Anbar province are telling the United States what they want in the aftermath of relative success against al-Qaida: money to rebuild their battle-damaged cities, help to expand their police force by one-third and private U.S. investment in the province's oil reserves.

    "We united, and that's why we obtained victory. So we are asking now that we compensate this province for all of the destruction it has faced," Sheik Ahmed Abu Risha, whose older brother was assassinated after leading a revolt against al-Qaida terrorists, said Friday.

    The sheik was part of an eight-member delegation in Washington this week. The officials met separately with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and several members of Congress.
    Until the U.S.-led invasion ended the rule of President Saddam Hussein, the minority Sunnis were the most powerful ethnic group in Iraq. Candidates from the majority Shiite sect won post-Saddam elections and dominate the government.

    Anbar has become Bush administration's much-needed good news story on Iraq for the. Before this year, the western Iraq province was considered the country's hotbed of both the Sunni insurgency and al-Qaida terrorist forces. The province stabilized in recent months, after clans allied against al-Qaida and the U.S. military increased troop levels there.

    Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, who led the revolt, was assassinated in September just 10 days after meeting with President George W. Bush; during the brief visit to al-Asad Air Base, Bush hailed Abu Risha's courage. His movement, also known as the Anbar Awakening, included dozens of tribes or sub-tribes from Anbar, many of whom initially helped al-Qaida target U.S. forces.

    Huddled around a small table at the Washington Plaza on Friday, four members of the delegation — Sheik Abu Risha; Abdulsalam Mohammed, chairman of the Anbar Provincial Council; Maamoun Sami Rashid al-Alwani, governor of Anbar; and Latif Eyada, the mayor of Ramadi — said they came to the United States to seek continued support.

    Speaking to reporters through a translator, the officials said they were grateful for the U.S. help against al-Qaida but still needed help to expand their police force to 30,000 personnel and rebuild its infrastructure.
    They also said al-Qaida was almost defeated, scattered in small pockets throughout the province.

    "The people that embraced al-Qaida at the beginning, these are the people who are rejecting al-Qaida now," said al-Alwani.

    U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. John Allen, who oversees forces in Anbar, told reporters Friday that propping up Anbar's security forces probably will take a couple more years.

    "It's a measure of years, not a measure of months" when U.S. troops will leave, he said.

    The Sunnis also said they feared growing support among U.S. military experts and lawmakers that Iraq be divided into three regions, generally along sectarian lines, with a weakened central government.

    Sunnis have long lobbied for a strong central government that can equally distribute the nation's oil revenues and defend Iraq's borders; Iraq's largest petroleum deposits are found in the Kurdish north and Shiite south.

    Al-Alwani said his primary worry was that a sectarian-divided Iraq would inspire meddling from Shiite Iran and other neighboring countries.

    While Sunni territory is not known for its oil reserves, recent studies have found increased estimates of modest deposits. Al-Alwani said he invites private investors from the United States to help develop Anbar's oil and natural reserves, located in a southern region called Akaz.

    "It's just sitting there, waiting for somebody to make use of it," said al-Alwani.

    Allen said the earlier chaos in Anbar resulted in large part from the U.S. decision to disband the Iraqi army. The closure of state-run businesses also meant a sharp increase in unemployment, he said.

    "Al-Qaida parachutes in on top of all of this" and "left the tribal society in complete disarray as they fought the coalition forces," Allen said. "So, it was really the perfect storm."

    Anbar officials call for continued US support, private oil investment - International Herald Tribune

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    Call for more International Investors

    Opportunities in Iraq have been customised to be more international investor friendly, a top official at the Gulf Iraq Expo (GIX) has said.

    Presentations were held yesterday at GIX to discuss business opportunities currently available in Iraq.

    Although the security situation in the country has become more stable. Iraq is still seeking international investors willing to inject the local economy with the investment needed to rapidly increase development.

    "Kurdistan has introduced an investment law to aid in creating an investment climate and remove legal obstacles," Investment Board of Kurdistan member Taha Zengena told the GDN.

    "We have allowed for foreign investors to have 100 per cent ownership and a 10-year tax holiday as well as a five-year exemption from customs and duties.

    "Our aim is for all nations and nationalities to use Kurdistan to begin to move further into the business world of Iraq."

    Mr Zengena also said that Kurdistan requires investment in a number of fields including manufacturing, electric power, agriculture, tourism, health, communication, banks and transport.

    He also said that Kurdistan is witnessing an economic boom and that there are currently 53 projects underway there from national and foreign investors.

    "We have introduced laws that allow foreign investors a to use a number of public utilities such as stores, pipelines and ports, the ability to lease land from the state for 40 years, to own or lease private lands in Iraq, and to define prices for import and export of oil," Iraqi Oil Ministry public relations department general director Hasseb Al Sadr said.

    "We are expecting to increase the export of Iraqi oil to up to 2.5 million barrels a day after a trade route is opened through Jihan Airport in Turkey."

    Mr Al Sadr said that it would take an investment of $10 billion to bring the Iraqi oil trade up to international export levels.

    "The GIX is paving the way for the Iraqi commerce and industry sector to lay foundations and begin planning for the future," Iraqi ambassador in Bahrain Ghassan Muhsen said.

    "Iraq requires a vast amount of products and goods to be exported from the Gulf and there are no direct links, the only places exporting to Iraq are Jordan and Dubai. "There is currently no direct export links from Bahrain to Iraq via road, air or sea. However, the Iraqi-Bahraini joint committee are to conduct a draft convention in order to develop an air travel trade route between the nations."

    http://www.iraqdirectory.com/DisplayNews.aspx?id=4858

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    Bahrain Companies eye ventures in Iraq

    Visitors were thin on the ground at the Gulf Iraq Expo (GIX) yesterday. But in ****e of a poor turnout for the second day of the first Iraqi industrial exhibition outside that country since the 2003 invasion, Bahraini exhibitors at the event were positive about the prospects of business being generated.

    Hempel Paints customer service manager Mohammed Al Dees said they had received some positive feedback about business in Iraq. "We have been talking with a number of Iraqi businesses and we see the prospects of doing business there in the future. We have had some particularly positive talks with the construction groups," he said.

    Alba's representative on their stand, Nader Amin Al Ansar, was disappointed about the second day turnout at the show though he said the company had received some positive feedback from the event so far.

    "Since the show opened we have made some good contacts that could translate into business in the future. The first day was very busy and we met some people with whom we can develop business," he said.

    Maxwell Oil & Gas Services were also highly positive about the contacts they had made. Sales engineer Mohamed A Aziz said the company had managed to arrange a meeting with the Iraqi oil ministry and had also made some positive contacts from Oman and Saudi Arabia on the first day. He said his company, which spe******es in everything from power plants to oil services, had met several Iraqi business people and were looking for a meeting with the country's oil minister.

    Al Safir Hotel and Tower operations manager Mohamed Al Sayed said they had received a lot of interest both from Iraq and GCC visitors to the exhibition who were keen on using their facility for a return visit to the kingdom with their family. (lol)

    As the operator of the event's cafeteria he said he was also impressed with the number of people who had turned up on the opening day which saw them do a lot of business.

    Awal Gulf Manufacturing spokesman admitted he was a bit disappointed about the turnout yesterday.

    But he said his company, which is both a regional and international supplier of fridges, freezers and AC systems, had made some new contacts both with Iraqi businesses and other potential customers across the region during the vent.

    Ahli United Bank, which is a major player in the reconstruction of Iraq through its 49 per cent stake in a joint venture with the Iraqi government in Commercial Bank of Iraq, was also doing a lot of business during the event with a number of regional businesses enquiring at its stand about the banking facilities it could offer to businesses interested in developing ties with Iraq.


    http://www.iraqdirectory.com/DisplayNews.aspx?id=4862

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    Rice meets Turkish, Iraqi FMs on PKK Crisis

    US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held a three-way meeting with her Turkish and Iraqi counterparts Saturday, seeking to defuse the crisis over Ankara's threats to strike Kurdish rebel bases in northern Iraq.

    Riding a diplomatic whirlwind to avert Turkish military action, Rice met with Turkey's Ali Babacan and Iraq's Hoshyar Zebari on the sidelines of a multi-nation conference on Iraq in Istanbul, attended by Iraq's neighbours and major Western powers.

    She held talks in Ankara Friday ahead of a crucial meeting Monday at the White House between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President George W. Bush.

    Ankara acknowledges that Baghdad is trying to help against the PKK, but the embattled central government has virtually no authority in northern Iraq, where the Iraqi Kurds run an autonomous administration.

    Ankara accuses the Iraqi Kurdish leadership of harbouring and aiding the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community.

    As soon as she arrived in Istanbul Friday evening, Rice met Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who also attended the conference here.

    "They both agreed that the PKK presence in Iraq and the group's terror activities were a threat to Iraq, the Kurds, and Turkey," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

    Maliki "pledged all possible efforts by the Iraqi government and the Kurdish regional government to address the PKK threat," he said.

    Wary of fresh turmoil in conflict-torn Iraq, the United States is stuck in an awkward position between two key allies -- NATO member Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds, who run northern Iraq but are reluctant to confront fellow Kurds from the PKK.

    Addressing the Istanbul conference earlier Saturday, Erdogan called for "urgent and substantial measures" against the rebel organisation, labelled a terrorist organisation by much of the international community.

    PUKmedia :: English - Rice meets Turkish, Iraqi FMs on PKK Crisis

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