EU to support stabilization of Iraq with €60.4 million

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( The European Commission has indicated adopting the stabilization package, estimated at 60.4 million Euros, to support Iraq following liberation of some regions from Islamic State.

A press release issued by the commission on Monday said the funding is an addition to humanitarian aid offered by the European Union to Iraq as well as other forms of fundings that reached 608.4 million Euros since the beginning of the crisis.

“At this important juncture in Iraq history, we stand at the side of the Iraqi people and authorities who have shown courage and resilience in their fight against Da’esh,” High Representative and Vice-President Federica Mogherini said. “ Today more than ever, the EU is present to assist them in building their post-Da’esh future. We are and will continue to be active on the political, humanitarian, security and development sides to help stabilising the liberated areas. This is a pre-condition for reconciliation, for the return of the many internally displaced who are eager to come back and for the longer term stability in Iraq.”

Meanwhile, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said, “The liberation of Mosul and other areas previously occupied by Da’esh is a first step towards peace. The EU has been supporting the needs of millions of Iraqis and will not stop there.”

Part of the stabilization package, according to the press release, estimated at 50.4 million Euros, is allocated to assist in the restoration of the basic services as well as the infrastructure and refreshing the economic activity through offering grants to the small-sized projects. This will be carried out through the UN Funding Facility for Stabilization, which works in the recently-freed regions in Anbar, Salahuddin, Kirkuk, Nineveh and Diyala.

The other 10 million Euros will go to the ongoing clearance of lands contaminated by explosives through the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), which will create safe atmosphere for the repatriation of more than three million displaced persons, the press release added.


Source  :  Iraqi News

Paramilitary troops kill IS militant attempting suicide attack, north of Salahuddin

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Salahuddin ( The pro-government paramilitary troops have killed an Islamic State militant who was attempting to target the troops in north of Salahuddin, a security source said.

Speaking to Baghdad Today, the source said “al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) killed an IS suicide attacker in north of Salahuddin. Troops are still looking for others.”

The intelligence of PMFs, according to the source, indicated “several IS suicide attackers beseiged in a tunnel at Makhoul mountains.”

Federal Police announced, late September, liberation of eastern Shirqat, the group’s holdout in north of the province. 225 militants had been killed since the launch of operations in Shirqat.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and the Joint Operations Command announced on September 21, the launch of first phase of operations to liberate Hawija and western Shirqat. Federal Police, Rapid Response and the pro-government Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) took part in the attack, according to the command.

The Iraqi army said in September 2016 its forces recaptured the western coast of Shirqat, located south of Mosul, on the west bank of the Tigris river, after being surrounded for months by Iraqi troops and the pro-government Shi’ite militias.

Iraqi troops still have only western Anbar’s towns of Rawa and Qaim remain under the militant’s control. Iraqi troops recaptured the town of Annah, a third IS holdout neighboring those two towns, late September.


Source  :  Iraqi News

Emirates dropping Brisbane and Melbourne to Auckland services

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Emirates says it is further reducing trans-Tasman services in favour of more Qantas-operated flights as part of the pair’s global alliance.

The airline will cease daily Melbourne-Auckland and Brisbane-Auckland flights by March 2018, leaving Sydney-Christchurch as its only trans-Tasman service, having dropped Sydney-Aucklandin June.

Further, Emirates has also flagged more nonstop services between Dubai and New Zealand as part of its network changes. It currently operates an Airbus A380 Auckland-Dubai nonstop service, the second-longest scheduled airline flight in the world by distance.

In their place will be seven more Qantas flights a week on the Melbourne route, and two additional services on the Brisbane route, the two carriers said in a joint-statement on Wednesday.

The move represents a capacity reduction on the Tasman given Qantas operates a mix of Boeing 737-800s and Airbus A330s on its Australia-New Zealand services, which have fewer seats than Emirates’ A380 flights.

Emirates said the end of its own flights between Auckland and Australia would allow for schedule changes for a “better spread of departure times” on services to and from its Dubai hub.

Further, the airline said it was “evaluating potential new direct services between New Zealand and Dubai”.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the changes reflected “customer demand, new aircraft technology and our respective network strengths”.

“The premise of the partnership has always been that we could serve our customers better together. That’s certainly been true for the past five years and now we’re evolving our joint network so we can serve them even better for the next five,” Joyce said in a statement

The changes are part of the the pair’s application to authorities in Australia and New Zealand to extend the alliance that was first struck in 2013 for a further five years, and which also cover previously announced return to Sydney-Singapore-London Heathrow flights and the start of Melbourne-Perth-London Heathrow Boeing 787-9 services.

“Reauthorisation of the partnership will allow us to leverage our combined network strengths to offer customers even more flight choices and reciprocal benefits for our millions of frequent flyer members,” Emirates president Sir Tim Clark said.

That pullback in seats should be welcomed by Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia, who have a joint-venture on trans-Tasman routes.

Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon noted recently the airline’s trans-Tasman network had been “very challenged for about a year” and suffered a weak 2016/17 first half due to increased competitive capacity and a decline in connecting passengers because of new direct services to New Zealand. However, Luxon there have been some improvements since then, albeit off a low base.

In addition to the cuts from Emirates, some fifth-freedom operators have also decided to pull out of the trans-Tasman market. China Airlines is due to end its Sydney to Christchurch service at the end of October, with Sydney-Auckland to wind up at the start of December.

And Philippine Airlines is switching its Manila-Cairns-Auckland rotation in favour of a nonstop Manila-Auckland offering from December 6.


Source  :  Australian Aviation

Socceroos: Tim Cahill disappointed with timing of Ange Postecoglou speculation

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OCTOBER 12 2017 – 12:39P

Melissa Woods

Socceroos superstar Tim Cahill has said he’s disappointed that talk of Ange Postecoglou’s coaching future has overshadowed Australia’s win over Syria.

Postecoglou will reportedly walk away from his position next month, even if Australia make it through to next year’s World Cup by beating Honduras in an intercontinental playoff.

Cahill, who scored both goals in Tuesday night’s 201 win in Sydney, didn’t confirm whether he had spoken to Postecoglou since the report surfaced but said it’s “only speculation”.

He said the focus should be on celebrating Australia’s achievement in advancing to the final stage of World Cup qualification.

“It is just speculation,” Cahill said on Thursday in Melbourne.

“I feel that this angle, the day after the biggest game in Australian soccer to qualify for a fourth consecutive World Cup, is not needed.

“I think we concentrate on celebrating a 2-1 victory, firstly, and looking forward to a full house at home in Sydney of 80,000-plus.

“Speculation is always going to come with our game and it is just disappointing it has come out the day after.”

Cahill, who was promoting Melbourne City’s A-League round two derby with Victory on Saturday night, insisted the players were not affected by Postecoglou’s possible departure.

“It is called professionalism,” he said.



Source  :  The Canberra Times

180 minutes left to decide Australia’s World Cup fate

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 Michael Lynch

It was the closest of close-run things.

But in the end the scoreline is all that mattered as Australia progressed to the final World Cup play-off against Honduras after a heart-stopping extra-time win against a Syrian side reduced to 10 men for the final 26 minutes.

Once more Australia had the indefatigable Tim Cahill to thank, his two headed goals making all the difference. If he didn’t exist it would be impossible to make him up, and if the squad makes it to Russia he will surely be included despite his advancing years.

We can talk endlessly about playing styles, character, the entertainment factor, and players being role models to the kids, but on a journey like this, where the World Cup is the holy grail, then it is just about getting there.

That remains the challenge now, with an equally determined rival to come. No one will care over much how that destination is reached: the end will justify the means. So kudos at the very least to the team for getting this far, even if it has been far harder than anyone expected.

But that doesn’t mean that questions cannot and should not be asked, and judgements made.

Coach Ange Postecoglou, who is set to walk away after the Honduras tie, has come under increasing fire for his tactics, his selections and the way he sets his team up as the Socceroos have limped to where they are now.

His commitment to a three-man rearguard with an aggressive push on the flanks, multiple attacking midfielders, and a fast and fluid forward trio is adventurous, reflecting his belief that Australia should back itself and take games to the opposition.

It’s fine in theory. But it’s not really been working in recent times, has it? Certainly not well enough to get the results required in convincing fashion or inspire much confidence.

Australia too often looks vulnerable on the counter, less than steady under pressure at the back and is exploited on the flanks, where players whose inclination to go forward often leaves the team exposed and lacking cover when attacks come in.

Postecoglou’s decision to drop Aaron Mooy was baffling, as he is widely regarded as the Socceroos’ best player, who controls the tempo and direction of the team.

Leaving out your fulcrum for the sake of balance – now there’s an irony – to select an even more attacking line-up than usual was something no one expected, especially when one of the beneficiaries was the rarely seen Brad Smith.

It will pass into Socceroo folklore that Smith’s early injury (Smith went off after 11 minutes with a hip injury, perhaps a consequence of his lack of regular game time) allowed Mooy to get into the game so soon after the start.

It was inevitable that he become a central figure in a victory which preserved Postecoglou’s position, at least for a couple more games.

In the shock of Wednesday morning’s revelations of his desire to go, it is perhaps time to take some stock. Postecoglou built up a large bank of credits, largely through winning the Asian Cup on home soil in 2015. But he has been making plenty of withdrawals in the past couple of years.

His mission was not just on the field. He was also looking to change the culture of the Australian game, the way the team – and the public – regard the Socceroos, and effect a shift in thinking within the administration of Football Federation Australia, particularly the way they view Australian coaches and local input at the highest levels.

It could be argued that he should stick to his knitting and only worry about coaching the team and getting results, but that was not the Postecoglou way, It would be understandable if his decision to quit and seek a club job has been influenced by exasperation of the way the game is being managed at the moment, with an intransigent FFA chairman in Steven Lowy and the prospect of a FIFA intervention to revamp its governance structures.

Egotistical? Blessed – or cursed – with enormous amounts of self-belief? A conviction that it is his way or no way?

Yes, Postecoglou is all of those things and while his plan to go now will be seen in some quarters as hypocritical given his desire to promote the Australian game, he is not likely to lose too much sleep over it. As one confidant said on Wednesday, “Ange has got too thick a skin to be worried about media criticism.”

Expect more of the same in the final play-off for the World Cup, assuming he remains in charge for it.

But whether it is him or someone else in temporary charge for the Honduras games, and someone completely different if the Socceroos do make it in Russia, we should not be under any illusions.

Australia are not the team of the golden generation – very few of the current squad would even get into the party that went to the 2006 World Cup, and it’s hard to see any, save perhaps Mooy, getting into the starting line-up, so a measure of realistic expectation is needed.

Competition in Asia is getting harder. The game all over the world is improving – witness the struggles to reach this World Cup being experienced by powers like the Netherlands and Argentina.

Now, 180 minutes (perhaps 210 should extra-time be needed) will determine Australia’s fate next month.

At least they still have their destiny in their own hands. Strap yourself in for what will be a white-knuckle ride …

Hadaf to meet 35% of GOSI premium of private firms

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Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — The Human Resources Development Fund (Hadaf) announced that it will bear the 35 percent of insurance premium to be paid by private firms hiring Saudi staff.

The insurance premium has to be paid to the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI).

This is part of a program to boost Saudization in the private sector.

The Hadaf initiative is part of the five new job support programs launched by Minister of Labor and Social Development Dr. Ali Al-Ghafis on Tuesday to help Saudis take up jobs in the private sector.

Khaled Aba Al-Khail, spokesman of the ministry and Hadaf, said that the Fund will pay monthly insurance contributions for all private firms which hire Saudi staff.

“Saudi men and women hired after July 31, 2017, will be counted for the support program for a period of two years effective from October,” he said.

According to Aba Al-Khail, the support program aims at encouraging private firms to hire more Saudis by meeting a part of their salaries and bearing the expenses for hiring and job training. “Hadaf will contribute 15 percent of the salary of Saudi male staff and 20 percent of the salary of female staff,” he added.

Al-Ghafis also presented the documents of the ministry’s Freelance Program to a group of young Saudi men and women at a function held at the ministry headquarters in Riyadh on Tuesday.

The minister congratulated the Saudi youth for being involved in freelance jobs as part of the ministry’s new initiatives.


Source  :  Saudi Gazette

Saudi Arabia in the midst of unprecedented economic transformation

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Saudi Gazette report

NEW YORK – Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan said that the Kingdom is in the midst of an unprecedented economic transformation thanks to the Vision 2030.

He made the remarks in a speech at the Saudi Investment Forum hosted by J.P. Morgan in New York on Tuesday.

Addressing the gathering of senior executives of Saudi and international financial companies, Al-Jadaan said the Vision represents a very clear roadmap for the Kingdom’s destination.

“We are currently seeing largescale reforms, including correcting energy prices, focusing on supporting small and medium enterprises, preparing government-owned companies for privatization, public-private partnerships and transforming the Public Investment Fund (PIF) into one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world,” he said, highlighting the salient features of the economic reforms being witnessed in the Kingdom.

The minister lauded the Kingdom’s macroeconomic policy and its pivotal role in achieving the Vision in the light of the remarkable transformation witnessed by the Kingdom. He drew attention to the comprehensive reforms in various sectors in the Kingdom, including modernization and diversification of the economy in order to reduce dependence on oil.

Al-Jadaan stated that the business community in the Kingdom has begun to reap the fruits of these reforms through a more stable working environment and greater confidence for investors.

This is evidenced by the successful issuance of international and local debt securities in the Kingdom, he said, adding that the initial offering of international sukuk (Islamic bond) attracted great attention from international investors with an oversubscription reaching more than $ 33 billion against the actual issuance of $ 9 billion, which is the largest offering for sukuk in the world.

He said that there has been significant progress achieved by the Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program of 2020 towards the Kingdom’s stated goal – a balanced budget through financial reform.

“The steps being taken by the Kingdom are not merely an austerity, but rather a focus on raising the efficiency of expenditure and supporting the purchasing power of low and middle income segment of the Saudi society through the ‘Citizen’s Account’ in order to assist them in addressing correction initiatives of energy price, in addition to supporting the private sector,” he said.

Al-Jadaan unveiled plans to further deepen and expand Saudi capital markets. “We will move ahead with the privatization program and will continue to encourage the growth of private businesses so as to achieve ambitious goals.

These businesses would create good investment opportunities and partnership with us to build a modern, diversified and flexible Saudi economy,” he added.


Source  :  Saudi Gazette