Iraq tries hard to save Ramadi

Updated 16 May 2015
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Iraq tries hard to save Ramadi

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s military has dispatched reinforcements to help its battered forces in Ramadi, a city now largely held by the Islamic State group after its militants swept across it the day before, an Iraqi military spokesman said Saturday.
The spokesman of the Joint Operations Command, Brig. Gen. Saad Maan Ibrahim, told Iraqi state television that the US-led coalition was supporting Iraqi troops with “painful” airstrikes since late Friday.
Ibrahim didn’t give details on the ongoing battles, but described the situation on the ground as “positive” and vowed that the Islamic State group would be pushed out of the city “in the coming hours.”
Local officials said dozens of security forces and civilians were killed, mainly the families of the troops, including 10 police officers and some 30 tribal fighters allied with Iraqi forces.
In a sign of how the latest advance is worrying Washington, US Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi on Friday, promising the delivery of heavy weapons, including AT-4 shoulder-held rockets to counter suicide car bombs, according to a US Embassy statement.
The statement said both leaders agreed on the “importance and urgency of mobilizing tribal fighters working in coordination with Iraqi security forces to counter IS and to ensure unity of effort among all of Iraq’s communities,” using a different acronym for the group.
Meanwhile, the terror group massacred dozens of civilians as they closed in on Syria’s ancient metropolis of Palmyra.
Women and children were among 23 people executed in cold blood outside Palmyra, monitoring groups said, as fears grew that advancing IS troops would destroy the ancient city renowned as a world heritage site.
Palmyra, a 2,000-year-old desert oasis site known in Arabic as Tadmor, is one of Syria’s most prized historical gems and experts fear IS plans to destroy the city after it sacked the Iraqi archaeological sites of Nimrud and Hatra.
“It is our responsibility to alert the (UN) Security Council so that it will take strong decisions,” UNESCO chief Irina Bokova said, adding that the world body was “very worried.”
US President Barack Obama said Friday Syria would not likely see peace before he leaves office in early 2017 and reaffirmed his belief that there is no “military solution” to the conflict.
“The situation in Syria is heartbreaking but it’s extremely complex” Obama told the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television network, adding that “too often in the Middle East region, people attribute everything to the United States.”


Moody’s sees risk of Lebanon debt rescheduling despite budget

Updated 18 min ago
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Moody’s sees risk of Lebanon debt rescheduling despite budget

  • The draft budget aims to cut the deficit to 7.6 percent of gross domestic product from 11.5 percent last year
  • Lebanon has long depended on financial transfers from its diaspora to meet the economy’s financing needs
BEIRUT: Slowing capital inflows to Lebanon and weaker deposit growth increase the risk of a government response that will include a debt rescheduling or another liability management exercise that may constitute a default, Moody’s Investors Service said.
This was despite fiscal consolidation measures included in the draft 2019 budget that is being debated in parliament, Moody’s said in a June 25 credit analysis.
Asked about the report, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said on Thursday “matters are under control.”
The draft budget aims to cut the deficit to 7.6 percent of gross domestic product from 11.5 percent last year, with Lebanese leaders warning the country faces financial crisis without reform.
Lebanon’s public debt is 150 percent of GDP, among the largest in the world. State finances are strained by a bloated public sector, high debt-servicing costs and subsidies for power.
The Moody’s report said: “Despite the inclusion of fiscal consolidation measures in the draft 2019 budget, slowing capital inflows and weaker deposit growth increase the risk that the government’s response will include a debt rescheduling or another liability management exercise that may constitute a default under our definition.”
Lebanon has long depended on financial transfers from its diaspora to meet the economy’s financing needs, chiefly the state budget deficit and the current account deficit of an economy that imports heavily and exports little by comparison.