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$18m Contract to Support Iraqi Navy

By , September 23, 2014 1:20 am

$  18m Contract to Support Iraqi Navy

By John Lee.

Swiftships Shipbuilding of Morgan City, Louisiana, is being awarded an $ 18-million [21 billion Iraqi dinar], not-to-exceed contract for “the accomplishment of continuous lifecycle support for the Iraqi navy.

The contract will provide technical expertise in preventative and planned maintenance, emergent repairs, and platform overhaul support services for Iraqi patrol boats, off-shore vessels, and defender boats.

Work will be performed on Umm Qasr Naval Base, Iraq, and is expected to be completed by October 2015.

According to the announcement from the US Department of Defense:

FMS funding in the amount of $ 9,000,000 will be obligated at time of award and the contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 2304(c)(4).

“Per FAR 6.302-4(a)(2) – full and open competition need not be provided for when precluded by the terms of an international agreement or a treaty between the United States and a foreign government or international organization, or the written directions of a foreign government reimbursing the agency for the cost of the acquisition of the supplies or services for such government.

“The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity (N00024-14-C-4217).”

(Source: US Department of Defense)

Iraq Business News

Rouhani says Tehran to support regional countries in fighting terrorism

By , September 22, 2014 6:06 am

Rouhani says Tehran to support regional countries in fighting terrorism
By: Trend on: 22.09.2014 [08:10 ] (76 reads)

Rouhani says Tehran to support regional countries in fighting terrorism
22 September 2014, 12:14 (GMT+05:00)

Tehran, Iran, Sept. 22

By Milad Fashtami – Trend:

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani vowed that his country’s armed forces will support regional countries in their fight against terrorist groups.

“Our region is awash with insecurity and terror,” Rouhani said, promising that terrorists will be duly dealt with.

Iranian president made the remarks at a ceremony to mark the anniversary of Iraq’s invasion of Iran back in 1980.

Iranian Armed Forces stage nationwide military parades every year to mark the event. The armed forces also put on display the country’s latest defensive achievements.

“Iran is the anchor of stability in the Middle East,” he said. “We are standing united to preserve the magnificence of Islam.”

The Iranian president once again stressed that Iran has never been and will never be after nuclear weapons.

“We are not after initiating any aggression,” Rouhani said.

“We will never surrender to superpowers’ pressure,” Iranian president said, noting that Iran is not scared of enemies’ pressure.

“This nation will never bow to enemies,” he noted.

Referring to the Iran-Iraq war, Rouhani said that, “imperial powers stood by dictatorial regime of Saddam in war with Iran.”

“West aided Saddam with anything from chemical weapons to spying equipment,” he noted, saying that the enemy failed to achieve any of its aims during the war.

“Defense Week is a lesson for us and our enemies,” he said, noting that Iranian people will not allow enemies to bring the nation to its knees.

He further said that the Iranian administration will mobilize all its resources to strengthen armed forces.

“We are proud of our armed forces,” Rouhani said.

http://en.trend.az/iran/politics/2314362.html

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Obama Repeats No US Troops on Ground Against ISIS As Egypt Offers Support

By , September 20, 2014 10:12 pm

Barack Obama, facing questions on the legal justification for and likely “mission creep” of his air campaign against Islamic State (Isis) militants in Iraq and Syria, on Saturday repeated his promise not to use US ground troops but said: “When the world is threatened, when the world needs help, it calls on America. And we call on our troops.”

Later on Saturday the president of Egypt, Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi, told the Associated Press he was prepared to support the fight against Isis, but added that “it’s not an issue of ground troops from abroad”.

This week, French planes joined the American effort, which, since 8 August, has delivered more than 170 air strikes on Isis targets in northern Iraq. On Saturday, Isis militants released 49 hostages — 46 Turkish and three Iraqi — who had been taken in Mosul, while Turkey opened its border to 45,000 Kurdish refugees fleeing Isis attacks.

Isis, which has captured swathes of territory in northern Iraq and Syria, has killed two American hostages and one Briton, releasing videos of the killings which have prompted worldwide revulsion.

Delivering his weekly address after gaining congressional support for his plan to arm some anti-government rebels in Syria, Obama said: “I won’t commit our troops to fighting another ground war in Iraq, or in Syria. It’s more effective to use our capabilities to help partners on the ground secure their own country’s futures.”

However, Robert Gates, Obama’s former defence secretary, voiced widespread skepticism about the policy when he told the Associated Press: “They’re not going to be able to be successful against Isis strictly from the air, or strictly depending on the Iraqi forces or the [Kurdish] Peshmerga.

“So there will be boots on the ground if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy.”

US military personnel were sent to Iraq this summer, and have the authority to fight back if attacked.

Richard Fontaine, president of the Center for New American Security, told the AP that would leave Obama with “something of a rhetorical quandary”.

“From a realistic and even legal standpoint, what’s going to be happening in Iraq is going to look a lot like combat,” said Fontaine, a former State Department official.

In his address, Obama also echoed recent statements about the lack of a credible threat to the US itself from Isis, which have led some observers to question the legality of his effort against the militants. He said intelligence agencies had “not yet detected specific plots from these terrorists against America”, and added: “Right now, they pose a threat to the people of Iraq, Syria, and the broader Middle East.

“But [Isis] leaders have threatened America and our allies. And if left unchecked, they could pose a growing threat to the United States.”

The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have emerged as key members of the coalition sought by the Obama administration, brought together by secretary of state John Kerry and sold to Congress this week by Kerry, defence secretary Chuck Hagel and military chiefs.

On Saturday, Egypt’s al-Sisi promoted a “comprehensive strategy” to confront not just Isis, and said he had warned about the threat of terrorism in the region a year ago but that other leaders had only understood when Isis fighters overran parts of Iraq.

Addressing congressional support for his policy, Obama said: “A majority of Democrats and a majority of Republicans in both the House and the Senate have now approved a first, key part of our strategy by wide margins. They’ve given our troops the authority they need to train Syrian opposition fighters so that they can fight [Isis] in Syria.

“Those votes sent a powerful signal to the world: Americans are united in confronting this danger. And I hope Congress continues to make sure our troops get what they need to get the job done.”

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill approving the plan to arm Syrian rebels on Wednesday, by a vote of 273 to 156. On Thursday the Senate also voted in favour, by 78 to 22 and despite voluble opposition from Rand Paul of Kentucky, a possible Republican candidate for president in 2016.

“It’s not that I’m against all intervention,” Paul said. “I do see Isis as a threat to us — but I see our previous policy as having made it worse.”

On Saturday, saying “more than 40″ countries had committed their support, Obama ended his address by defining the US’s war aims, saying: “We will use our air power. We will train and equip our partners. We will advise and we will assist. And we’ll lead a broad coalition of nations who have a stake in this fight.

“This isn’t America vs [Isis]. This is the people of that region vs [Isis]. It’s the world vs [Isis].”

Assyrian International News Agency

Obama Repeats No US Troops on Ground Against ISIS As Egypt Offers Support

By , September 20, 2014 10:12 pm

Barack Obama, facing questions on the legal justification for and likely “mission creep” of his air campaign against Islamic State (Isis) militants in Iraq and Syria, on Saturday repeated his promise not to use US ground troops but said: “When the world is threatened, when the world needs help, it calls on America. And we call on our troops.”

Later on Saturday the president of Egypt, Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi, told the Associated Press he was prepared to support the fight against Isis, but added that “it’s not an issue of ground troops from abroad”.

This week, French planes joined the American effort, which, since 8 August, has delivered more than 170 air strikes on Isis targets in northern Iraq. On Saturday, Isis militants released 49 hostages — 46 Turkish and three Iraqi — who had been taken in Mosul, while Turkey opened its border to 45,000 Kurdish refugees fleeing Isis attacks.

Isis, which has captured swathes of territory in northern Iraq and Syria, has killed two American hostages and one Briton, releasing videos of the killings which have prompted worldwide revulsion.

Delivering his weekly address after gaining congressional support for his plan to arm some anti-government rebels in Syria, Obama said: “I won’t commit our troops to fighting another ground war in Iraq, or in Syria. It’s more effective to use our capabilities to help partners on the ground secure their own country’s futures.”

However, Robert Gates, Obama’s former defence secretary, voiced widespread skepticism about the policy when he told the Associated Press: “They’re not going to be able to be successful against Isis strictly from the air, or strictly depending on the Iraqi forces or the [Kurdish] Peshmerga.

“So there will be boots on the ground if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy.”

US military personnel were sent to Iraq this summer, and have the authority to fight back if attacked.

Richard Fontaine, president of the Center for New American Security, told the AP that would leave Obama with “something of a rhetorical quandary”.

“From a realistic and even legal standpoint, what’s going to be happening in Iraq is going to look a lot like combat,” said Fontaine, a former State Department official.

In his address, Obama also echoed recent statements about the lack of a credible threat to the US itself from Isis, which have led some observers to question the legality of his effort against the militants. He said intelligence agencies had “not yet detected specific plots from these terrorists against America”, and added: “Right now, they pose a threat to the people of Iraq, Syria, and the broader Middle East.

“But [Isis] leaders have threatened America and our allies. And if left unchecked, they could pose a growing threat to the United States.”

The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have emerged as key members of the coalition sought by the Obama administration, brought together by secretary of state John Kerry and sold to Congress this week by Kerry, defence secretary Chuck Hagel and military chiefs.

On Saturday, Egypt’s al-Sisi promoted a “comprehensive strategy” to confront not just Isis, and said he had warned about the threat of terrorism in the region a year ago but that other leaders had only understood when Isis fighters overran parts of Iraq.

Addressing congressional support for his policy, Obama said: “A majority of Democrats and a majority of Republicans in both the House and the Senate have now approved a first, key part of our strategy by wide margins. They’ve given our troops the authority they need to train Syrian opposition fighters so that they can fight [Isis] in Syria.

“Those votes sent a powerful signal to the world: Americans are united in confronting this danger. And I hope Congress continues to make sure our troops get what they need to get the job done.”

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill approving the plan to arm Syrian rebels on Wednesday, by a vote of 273 to 156. On Thursday the Senate also voted in favour, by 78 to 22 and despite voluble opposition from Rand Paul of Kentucky, a possible Republican candidate for president in 2016.

“It’s not that I’m against all intervention,” Paul said. “I do see Isis as a threat to us — but I see our previous policy as having made it worse.”

On Saturday, saying “more than 40″ countries had committed their support, Obama ended his address by defining the US’s war aims, saying: “We will use our air power. We will train and equip our partners. We will advise and we will assist. And we’ll lead a broad coalition of nations who have a stake in this fight.

“This isn’t America vs [Isis]. This is the people of that region vs [Isis]. It’s the world vs [Isis].”

Assyrian International News Agency

Interest Rate Hike Bets Continue to Support Dollar

By , September 10, 2014 4:39 pm

A sheet of new hundred-dollar billsThe US dollar continued to move upward with help of speculations about an eventual increase of interest rates by the Federal Reserve. The greenback reached the strongest rate in six years versus the Japanese yen. Surprisingly enough, the currency dipped versus the Great Britain pound, which was unexpectedly strong at today’s trading session.

Forex market participants continue to speculate about possible timing of Fed’s interest rate hike. The general consensus is that the US central bank will drop its-asset purchase program in October and start monetary tightening in mid-2015. With relatively uneventful week in terms of economic data from the United States, there is little to change this outlook in one way or the other.

The next Fed policy meeting is scheduled on September 17. It should be an important event as it will be accompanied by press-conference and economic projections.

EUR/USD ticked down from 1.2939 to 1.2922 as of 23:13 GMT today. USD/JPY soared from 106.19 to 106.86, touching the highest level since September 2008. At the same time, GBP/USD advanced from 1.6104 to 1.6203, bouncing from the low of 1.6052 — the weakest rate since November 15.

If you have any questions, comments or opinions regarding the US Dollar, feel free to post them using the commentary form below.

Forex News

Aussie Loses Ground Despite Support from Fundamentals

By , September 8, 2014 12:58 pm

Australian dollar billsThe Australian dollar slumped against its US counterpart and weakened against the euro even as both domestic and overseas economic news were positive for the currency, which was demonstrating remarkable strength last week.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group reported that the number of job advertisements grew 1.5 percent in August from the previous month and 8 percent over a year, suggesting that the labor market is improving. Trade surplus of China, the biggest Australia’s trading partner, widened in August instead of falling as was predicted, expanding to $ 49.8 billion from $ 47.3 billion in the previous month. Yet the Aussie declined despite the supportive fundamentals even though the Australian currency has been the only major that was able to hold its ground against the very strong greenback last week.

AUD/USD tumbled from 0.9363 to 0.9282 as of 17:31 GMT today, while EUR/AUD advanced from 1.3832 to 1.3903.

If you have any questions, comments or opinions regarding the Australian Dollar, feel free to post them using the commentary form below.

Earlier News About the Australian Dollar:

Forex News

Fed Policy Outlook Continues to Support US Dollar

By , September 1, 2014 11:09 pm

Mix of US dollar billsThe US dollar rose against almost all of its major counterparts today, touching the highest level since January versus the Japanese yen and reaching the strongest rate in a year against euro, as the monetary policy outlook continues to support the currency.

The dollar demonstrated remarkable performance in August with help of speculations about eventual monetary tightening from the Federal Reserve. The greenback entered the new trading month with strong upward momentum and for now it looks like the currency is going to maintain its rally.

Trading was subdued and volume was thin on Monday because of the Labor Day holiday in the United States. It did not prevent the dollar from gaining on the yen, and the rise accelerated today. The US currency fell versus the Great Britain pound yesterday but pared losses today.

EUR/USD fell from 1.3128 to 1.3120 as of 3:26 GMT today, trading near the lowest level since September 6, 2013. GBP/USD dropped from 1.6606 to 1.6580. USD/JPY climbed from 104.34 to 104.76, trading close to the strongest rate since January 23.

If you have any questions, comments or opinions regarding the US Dollar, feel free to post them using the commentary form below.

Forex News

Islamic State Requires Saudi Arabia to Rethink Its Support for Extremism

By , August 30, 2014 1:09 pm

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and the country’s grand mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, left, welcome Iran’s former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (photo: AFP/Getty Images).King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and the country’s grand mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, left, welcome Iran’s former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images Islamic State (Isis), now being described in some quarters as “the most capable military power in the Middle East outside Israel”, is at the top of the global agenda. Naturally, there is discussion of its origins and backers.

It is notable that, in particular, the Saudi government has scrambled to deny any links to the group. In the past two weeks, the usually low-profile Saudi ambassador in the UK sent a strongly worded letter to the Guardian. The embassy issued a press release to the same effect, and last week the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia himself made a statement condemning Isis. This follows a $ 100m contribution to a UN anti-terror programme.

Saudi Arabia is increasingly feeling the heat of the Sunni hardline blowback. While the Saudi government technically doesn’t sponsor Isis, it has promoted a fundamentalist Salafi interpretation of Islam that has encroached into the mainstream Sunni space. This has created the conditions, inside and outside the country, for extremism to breed.

The clergy is a powerful force in Saudi Arabia. Its influence derives from the fact that the royal family has entered into a formal pact with the sheikhs, under which the understanding is that the House of Saud can hold on to political power, while the religious establishment gets to dictate the national character of Saudi Arabia, one that has remained doggedly extreme. This vision has also been exported abroad by both state and non-state actors, the former as a clumsy substitute for a coherent foreign policy, by which the Saudi government contributes funds for mosques and charitable organisations in Muslim countries as a way of purchasing influence; the latter via personal wealth and the zeal of private citizens.

Osama bin Laden was a perfect combination of the two, a personally motivated non-state actor, radicalised in the schools and mosques of Jeddah, who managed to also rope in the Saudi establishment by selling a religious mission to them — pushing back the Soviet invasion — in the guise of a political project.

But it seems even Saudis are beginning to see the foolhardiness of this arrangement. In a searing essay in the Saudi newspaper Al Riyadh last week, Hissa bint Ahmed bin Al al-Sheikh, a member of one of the most influential religious families in Saudi Arabia and a relative of the grand mufti, rails against the “farce of fatwas” in the kingdom, and records a litany of extremist measures introduced since the 1980s that have stifled public life and glorified a culture of “hatred and death” that she recognises in Isis. This is a culture disseminated via state media, the national curriculum and public order laws — legislation that many Saudi intellectuals warned against.

The Saudi establishment has sacrificed its people, and the wider Muslim world that lies within its influence, in return for immunity from religious revolt of the type that threatened Mecca in the 1970s. While the immediate focus vis-a-vis Isis needs to be on practical counter-extremism measures, the west can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to Saudi’s internal contradictions. These have spawned a decadent and west-friendly royal family that preside over a society where clerics run amok, where imams rant against infidels, religious minorities are oppressed, education is heavily slanted towards religion and where people are beheaded for sorcery. As far as containing the radical Islamic threat, the status quo is increasingly no longer working — neither for the Saudis, nor the western governments who support them.

Saudi salafism is not the wellspring of hardline Islamic groups worldwide, but it is part of something that might be — a tendency for Arab and Muslim governments to pay lip service to Islam to bolster their religious credentials through politically expedient means. These leaders simultaneously instrumentalise religion while oppressing any form of religious opposition. The combination of serious cash and the religious weight that comes from being the birthplace of Islam renders Saudi Arabia the most dangerous member of this club.

The long-term solution to the constant reincarnation of radical Islamic political movements doesn’t lie in grand public gestures like anti-terrorism funding, strong statements of condemnation, or “rehabilitation clinics” for radicals, but in dismantling state-sponsored religious indoctrination. As the Isis threats march on, the old calculations no longer work in Arab governments’ favour.

Assyrian International News Agency

Canada Pledges Support for “Brave” Iraqis

By , August 20, 2014 7:15 pm

Canada Pledges Support for “Brave” Iraqis

By John Lee.

The Canadian government has confirmed that they have two cargo planes operational to assist in the transfer of arms and supplies to Iraqi Kurdish forces.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird (pictured) went as far as to endorse US air strikes against the “brutal” ISIS:

“Canada supports all efforts, including United States supply drops and air strikes, to protect civilians from ISIS terrorists. We continue to stand with those who support the Iraqi people, including the Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers who are bravely fighting this brutal terrorism.”

Canada has also pledged $ 5 million of humanitarian aid to help those displaced by the crisis.

(Source: Rudaw English)

Iraq Business News

Lebanese Maronite Patriarch in Arbel in Support of Iraqi Christians

By , August 20, 2014 2:19 am

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The delegation is traveling to Baghdad first and will then visit Irbil (photo REUTERS/Saad Shalash).Beirut — A delegation headed by Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai arrived Wednesday in Irbil, the capital of the Kurdish region of Iraq, in a show of support with the thousands of Christians suffering the advance of Islamist militants.
Assyrian International News Agency