Multiple explosions kill 6, wound several in Baghdad

Violence peaked in Iraq during 2006 and 2007, when sectarian tensions were at their highest. (AP)
Updated 06 November 2018
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Multiple explosions kill 6, wound several in Baghdad

  • Washington and Tehran have competed for influence in Iraq since the 2003 US invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

BAGHDAD: Explosions in several Shiite-majority districts in Iraq’s capital late Sunday killed six people, most of them civilians, and wounded several others, police and medical sources said.
In northern Baghdad’s Aden roundabout area, two civilians were killed and another six wounded by a blast near a bus stop, the sources told AFP.
A bomb in the nearby Tarmiyah neighborhood targeted a military convoy, killing a soldier and wounding two others.
A government employee was killed in the southwestern area of Al-Sahha when explosives attached under his car were detonated, according to a police officer and medical source.
In the eastern district of Sadr City, two people were killed and four wounded in two explosions in the Shiite neighborhood.
And two other blasts went off on buses in other parts of Baghdad’s northeast, wounding seven.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for any of the explosions.
Sadr City is the former bastion of the Mahdi Army. Violence peaked in Iraq during 2006 and 2007, when sectarian tensions were at their highest.
But it has fallen across Iraq and particularly Baghdad since the government declared victory over Daesh in December.
Clandestine militant cells remain across the country and have waged guerrilla-type attacks against government posts.
Separately, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry rejected recently what it called US interference in its affairs after the US Embassy issued a statement telling neighboring Iran to respect Iraq’s sovereignty.
The US Embassy in Baghdad had posted a message on Twitter saying Tehran must “respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi government and permit the disarming, demobilization, and reintegration” of Shiite militias.
It was one of several statements issued on the embassy’s Twitter account outlining US demands before new US sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sector took effect on Nov. 4. The sanctions worry Iraq as it imports crucial supplies from Iran.
Iraq’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement it “rejects interference in Iraq’s internal affairs, especially domestic security reform” and demanded the Twitter post be removed.
Washington and Tehran have competed for influence in Iraq since the 2003 US invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
Iraq’s Shiite militias, which took part in a US-backed campaign to defeat Daesh, were formally included in the security forces this year. Some militias are backed by Iran, a majority Shiite nation. Washington wants them disarmed. The US has said it would grant Baghdad a waiver on Iranian gas and energy imports that feed Iraqi power stations, and vital food items, Iraqi officials said on Friday.


Lebanon bank deposits up 4% on year

Updated 15 November 2018
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Lebanon bank deposits up 4% on year

BEIRUT: Bank deposits in Lebanon have risen by 4 percent on the year, Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh said on Thursday, and he maintained his economic growth outlook for 2018 at 2 percent.

In July Salameh had said he expected bank deposits to grow by more than 5 percent in 2018.

In October the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) halved their growth outlook to one percent for Lebanon, where public debt is about 150 percent of gross domestic product.

“Lebanese banks have succeeded in maintaining foreign exchange inflows into their sector supported by (the central bank),” Salmeh said in a televised speech at a Beirut economic conference.

With growth low and traditional sources of foreign exchange — tourism, real estate and foreign investment — undermined by years of regional tension, Lebanon increasingly relies on dollars expatriate Lebanese deposit in local banks.

The banks buy government debt, which finances the country’s eye-watering public debt and twin deficits.

The central bank also brings in dollars through complex financial operations with local banks to boost foreign currency reserves needed to defend the Lebanese pound’s peg to the dollar.

However, deposits have been growing at a slower rate since war broke out in neighboring Syria in 2011, and deposit growth rates are closely watched.