Iraq says needs US$100 bln for reconstruction, calls for Saudi support

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Baghdad ( Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi has called on Saudi Arabia to support Iraq in reconstruction liberated regions.

In a statement on Thursday, the Iraqi Planning Ministry said, “King Salman bin Abdel Aziz, of Saudi Arabia, received today the Iraqi Minister of Planning Salman al-Jumaili.”

The minister, according to the statement, “handed a letter from Abadi at which he highlighted the deep brotherly ties between the two countries.”

Abadi also “praised the supportive role of the kingdom toward Iraq in its war against terrorism, which threatened the whole region and the world as well.”

The message urged the kingdom to support Iraq in reconstructing the liberated regions and achieve development “as Iraq needs around US$100 billion.”

Abadi expressed hopes that “the Saudi participation in Kuwait’s conference for donor countries, which will be held between 14-16 February, to be as strong as the brotherly ties between the two countries.”

“King Salman expressed the kingdom’s readiness to offer all kinds of support to Iraq to assist in the reconstruction during the coming period,” the statement added.

Kuwait will host an international conference from February 12 to 14 on reconstructing parts of Iraq devastated by the war against Islamic State. Donor countries and organizations are expected to announce financial contributions at the gathering.


Source :  Iraqi News

Seven IS members, hiding among displaced families, arrested in Anbar

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Anbar ( Anbar ( Seven Islamic State members were arrested in Anbar while being on their way to liberated regions, a security source said on Thursday.

“While checking identities of the displaced families who were returning back to Qaim town, security troops managed to arrest seven IS members,” the source told BasNews.

“Troops transferred the arrested militants to detention cells for further investigations,” the source, who asked to remain anonymous, added.

“Security services are checking identities of the displaced families that return back to upper Euphrates towns in Qaim, Rawa and Annah to arrest whoever involved with Islamic State to preserve security of liberated regions,” the source said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced, in December, full liberation of Iraqi lands, declaring end of war against IS members.

Thousands of IS militants as well as Iraqi civilians were killed since the government campaign, backed by paramilitary troops and the coalition was launched in October 2016 to fight the militant group, which declared a self-styled “caliphate” from Mosul in June 2014.
Since then, forces took back the group’s former capital, Mosul, the town of Tal Afar, Kirkuk’s Hawija, and each of Annah, Rawa and Qaim in Anbar.

The war against IS has displaced nearly five million people, with tens of thousands of civilians and militants killed since the launch of the offensives to recapture occupied cities.


Source :  Iraqi News

Cheating wife caught after tip-off from husband in Dubai

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Filed on January 18, 2018 | Last updated on January 18, 2018 at 06.34 pm

They were found in a hotel room under the influence of drugs.

The Dubai Police raided a hotel room after receiving a complaint from a husband that his wife was cheating on him there.

The Court of First Instance heard on Thursday that the raid led to the arrest of both the alleged lover and the cheating wife.

The lover, a Palestinian student, 26, and the wife were referred to public prosecution investigation and later to the Court of Misdemeanors on an illicit sex charge.

The student was charged in the Court of First Instance with taking drugs, providing his partner with crystal meth and having sex out of the wedlock. The incident was reported on September 6, 2017, to Bur Dubai police station.

“The woman’s husband complained that she had gone with another man to a hotel. After verification, we checked the hotel cameras which caught them check-in to a room,” said a police lieutenant.

“We obtained a public prosecution warrant and raided the room. The two were found under the influence of drugs. The woman admitted she had consensual sex and had been in a sexual relation with him. She also confessed that the accused had given her crystal meth for free about five or six times since July 2017.”

The woman said she had taken psychotropic pills and claimed she carried a medical prescription.

The student admitted the charges and claimed he had got the crystal meth from his brother who had bought it from a Pakistani man.

About 18 medically-controlled pills were found in the woman’s purse. More than eight empty shots were found in a small plastic bag left on the table.

A report from the specialised criminal evidence department said the student’s urine sample tested positive for three types of narcotics. The woman’s urine sample test came out positive for drugs too.

The court postponed the trial to January 29.


Source :  The Khaleej Times

New bridge at Airport-Casablanca streets in Dubai tomorrow

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Filed on January 18, 2018 | Last updated on January 18, 2018 at 06.28 pm

It will serve traffic from Airport Street in the direction of Casablanca Street.

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) will open on Friday the new bridge at the intersection of Airport-Casablanca streets, nearby the Cargo Village building. A one-lane bridge has been added to serve the traffic from the Airport Street in the direction of Casablanca Street, thus eliminating the waiting time at the light signal.

Mattar Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of the board of executive directors of RTA, said, “Upgrading the intersection of the Airport-Casablanca streets includes the construction of an additional single-lane bridge for serving the traffic from the Airport Street heading towards Casablanca Street. The project includes constructing an alternative route for motorists coming from Al Garhoud, enabling them direct access to Terminal (1) and Terminal (3) of the Dubai International Airport. It also involved increasing the number of lanes of Casablanca Street in the direction of Al Garhoud from three to four lanes. The Project would significantly reduce the total waiting time at the intersection of Casablanca Street. It would also ease the current congestion resulting from the overlapping traffic between vehicles heading to Casablanca intersection and those coming from Terminal (1) and heading leftward to Casablanca Street.

“The Improvement of the Airport Street Project is part of RTA plan to accommodate the projected growth in the number of passengers using the Dubai International Airport which is expected to shoot to 92 million passengers by 2020. Upon completion, the project would increase the capacity of the Airport St. by an additional 5,000 vehicles per hour, enhance the traffic safety level, and ease the traffic flow. On Jan 5th, 2018, RTA had opened the two bridges at the intersection of Al Rashidiya-Airport Streets, which has massively reduced the waiting time at the junction,” noted Al Tayer.

“Upgrading the Airport St. Project encompasses improving the intersection of Airport-Nad Al Hamar Streets through the construction of an additional two-lane bridge to serve the traffic from Nad Al Hamar St. heading towards the Airport Street. The project will ease the current snarls resulting from the overlapping traffic at Nad Al Hamar Intersection between the first circular slope heading to the left from Nad Al Hamar St. to the Airport Street. It will also ease the traffic movement on the second circular slope heading left from the Airport St. to Nad Al Hamar St. The vehicular traffic on the first circular slope will be restricted to U-turns in the direction of Nad Al Hamar Street.

“The Project also includes improving the intersection of Marrakech-Airport Streets through constructing a flyover of three lanes in each direction on the Airport St. along with a ramp stretching from the bridge directly to Terminal 3 of the Dubai International Airport, thus bypassing the waiting at the light signal. It also includes constructing a tunnel of two lanes in each direction to serve the leftward-bound traffic from the Airport St. in the direction of Marrakech Street,” explained Al Tayer.

RTA called on motorists to be attentive, observe the light signals and cautionary notices at the approaches of the new bridge at the intersection of Casablanca St. (nearby the Cargo Village building), and comply with the speed limits for their safety and the safety of others.


Source :  The Khaleej Times

Another navy ship to be sunk off the Queensland coast

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By Felicity Caldwell

Scuba divers and snorkellers will soon be able to explore a navy ship from the bottom of the ocean, when it is scuttled to create an artificial reef.

Ex-HMAS Tobruk was launched in March 1980, as the Royal Australian Navy’s first purpose-built amphibious heavy lift ship, and was deployed on 26 major operations, including to Bougainville, East Timor and the Solomon Islands, sailing more than 1.7 million kilometres.

Drone aerial views of the decommissioned ex-HMAS Tobruk, in readiness for becoming an artificial reef.

Drone aerial views of the decommissioned ex-HMAS Tobruk, in readiness for becoming an artificial reef. Photo: Supplied

Over a 34-year career, the ship provided heavy-lift capabilities to transport equipment and personnel, and could transport up to 18 tanks and provide accommodation for up to 520 troops.

It was decommissioned in July 2015.

The Tobruk is expected to be scuttled in the waters of Wide Bay, between Bargara/Burnett Heads and Hervey Bay, by mid-2018 and will allow recreational scuba divers and snorkellers to explore it through bookings with selected commercial operators.

The Queensland government has opened expressions of interest for operators to provide recreational diving activities at the site within the Great Sandy Marine Park.

Great Barrier Reef Minister Leeanne Enoch said the dive site would attract tourists from across Australia and the world, with divers able to explore the nooks and crannies of an historic ex-navy ship.

“The Fraser Coast is lucky enough to boast a vast portfolio of nature-based tourist sites, including K’gari (Fraser Island), Mon Repos turtle rookery, the world-renowned Hervey Bay whale watching area, and the wetlands in the Great Sandy Strait,” she said.

Ex-HMAS Tobruk project manager Steven Hoseck said the dive site would be accessible to private divers in their own vessel through a booking system, so they could see the 127 metre-long ship.

“Tobruk served the country for 34 years, and it’s fitting for the ship to serve the rest of her time from beneath the ocean’s surface, providing a unique experience for divers,” Mr Hoseck said.

“She will add to the region’s many existing natural attractions and will support marine ecosystems in the waters of Wide Bay, which will make the dive site even more spectacular to visit.”

Since the late 1990s, six Royal Australian Navy vessels have been scuttled across Australia.

Ex-HMAS Tobruk will be the first “landing ship heavy” to be scuttled in Australian waters, and will provide a unique dive experience, different to the scuttled destroyers and frigates, as it is characterised by a large cargo hold that runs almost the entire length from stern to bow.

The upper rear decks are anticipated to be in water shallower than 18 metres, appealing to open water divers and snorkelers, while the internal tank deck is anticipated to be 25 metres deep, appealing to advanced and technical divers.

A Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service spokeswoman said the amount of artificial reef compared with natural reef in Queensland was minimal.

The Great Barrier Reef is 2300 kilometres long and has an area of 348,700 square kilometres.

“Artificial reefs encompass purpose-built reefs as well as historical shipwrecks,” the spokeswoman said.

The Queensland government has installed the Harry Atkinson, West Peel, East Coochie, Wild Banks, North Moreton, South Stradbroke and Turner artificial reefs in Moreton Bay.

In the Great Sandy Marine Park, the government installed the Simpson and Hardie artificial reefs, while at Mooloolaba, it created the ex-HMAS Brisbane artificial reef.

There are also other artificial reefs in Queensland that were installed by independent organisations.


Source :  The Brisbane Times

Businessman Rohan Arnold raced in Sydney to Hobart weeks before dramatic drug arrest

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JANUARY 19 2018 – 12:15AM

Dan Proudman, Megan Gorrey and Michael Inman

He is the prominent businessman whose roaring success in the steel and livestock industries gifted him opportunities like racing in the Sydney to Hobart.

But just three weeks after a successful finish of the great yacht race, Rohan Arnold has found himself in a Serbian jail cell suspected of having ties to an international drug syndicate that tried to smuggle more than a tonne of cocaine into Sydney.

The 44-year-old, together with Australians Tristan Waters, 34, and David Campbell, 48, and a Lebanese man, were dramatically arrested at gunpoint in a five-star Belgrade hotel on Tuesday.

They stand accused of being connected to the discovery of 1280 kilograms of cocaine that was seized from a Chinese container boat docked in Sydney last year.

Police said the cocaine, hidden inside pre-fabricated steel and which had a street value of $500 million, was the second largest seizure of the drug in Australia.

As the men languished behind bars, Australian Federal Police raided Mr Arnold’s home at Murrumbateman, just outside the ACT, and business premises in Goulburn on Wednesday. Officers also searched properties in Jeir and Canberra.

At least one of the other Australians is also believed to have been a prominent businessman who had moved his base to Dubai.

Mr Arnold’s defence lawyer, Ben Aulich, on Thursday said: “We’re in the process of organising access to see him in Serbia.

“That will be co-ordinated through [the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade].

“If everything is co-ordinated smoothly and he is not facing charges in Serbia, then we expect him back in the country within four to six weeks.”

Mr Aulich declined to comment further.

Serbian police released dramatic footage of the arrests that took place in a Belgrade hotel. The footage shows police running through the hotel’s doors and pointing their guns at several men sitting in the lobby.

Officers pinned the men to the ground before they handcuffed them, the video showed.

The footage also showed a bag filled with foreign currency. Police said the arrests were made during a “money handover”.

Serbian authorities said the arrests had been made in cooperation with Australian police. No one has been arrested in Australia.

Police identified the men by their initials and year of birth as Australian citizens TV (1983), RA (1974), and DK (1969); along with DG (1977), a citizen of Lebanon

The Lebanese citizen was detained and charged with having forged identity documents.

B92 reported the men were arrested with large amounts of various currencies, including euros, Australian, US and Singaporean dollars, Czech korunas, Vietnamese dong, Japanese yen, Chinese yuan, Thai bahts and Serbian dinars.

They also allegedly had one pistol.

Serbian authorities said they would “continue to cooperate with Australia’s authorities in order to implement further action related to this permanent international investigation”.

In a statement, the Australian Federal Police said it launched an investigation into an alleged organised crime syndicate after Border Force officials intercepted the shipping container, which had arrived in Sydney via China.

“AFP forensic chemists conducted a deconstruction and analysis of the cocaine and determined a purity of around 78 per cent, meaning the seizure has an estimated street value of up to $500 million,” the statement said.

The trio is expected to face charges of conspiracy to import commercial quantities of a controlled drug in the NSW Supreme Court. That offence carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Mr Arnold’s business website said he was born and educated in Canberra. He graduated with a commerce degree in 1995.

He had a 20-year career in the steel manufacturing industry and acted as director of ArnoldCo, Arnold Trading and Arnold Contracting, the website said.

He also worked on regional projects including the South Eastern Livestock Exchange in Yass and the Mortlake Saleyards.

Directors of SELX Pty Ltd, which owns the livestock selling centres at Yass and Mortlake, held an emergency meeting after they learned of Mr Arnold’s arrest through media reports.

“The operation and management of [South Eastern Livestock Exchange] and [Western Victoria Livestock Exchange] are not affected by this development,” they said in a statement. “Livestock sales will continue as scheduled.”

SELX Pty Ltd director Brendan Abbey, whose wife is Yass Valley mayor Rowena Abbey, said he heard about Mr Arnold’s arrest on the 6am news and had been in “total shock and disbelief”.

He had last spoken to Mr Arnold in Australia on Sunday, when he told Mr Abbey he would be overseas for a short time..

“He has an interest in some steel factories in China and we thought he was going there,” Mr Abbey said. “It was a regular thing, [he’d go] every month or six weeks.”

He said Mr Arnold was held in “very high esteem” in the community and there had been no signs of any involvement in the alleged drug operation.

“Nothing at all, not a sign of financial stress. Completely out of the blue.”

Australian Federal Police’s co-ordinator of organised crime and cyber, Detective Superintendent Stephen Dametto, said the worldwide span of the police operation showed how international law enforcement networks to target global crime syndicates.

“This investigation has demonstrated the agility and ingenuity of AFP investigators, who took a seizure and ran with it in cooperation with our international partners to identify an organised crime syndicate,” Detective Superintendent Dametto said.

“We know Australia remains one of the most attractive markets for drug imports – in 2017, we made record seizures of cocaine at the Australian border in AFP joint operations.

“We will continue to work cooperatively with our partners to dismantle syndicates behind importations and target their crime networks at their source, wherever in the world that may be.”

Australian Border Force’s Acting Assistant Commissioner, Strategic Border Command, Tim Fitzgerald, said the seizure was a testament to the detection, intelligence and investigative capabilities of the ABF and partner agencies before, at and after the border.

“This was a sophisticated concealment, but thanks to our highly trained officers and world-class screening technology, we were able to locate the cocaine and ultimately disrupt a significant international drug operation.”

with AP


Source :  The Canberra Times