Iraq to re-issue entry visas for tourists to bolster coronavirus-hit economy

Iraqi Shiite Muslim pilgrims walk at Baghdad's Al-Dora area. (File/AFP)
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Updated 22 November 2020

Iraq to re-issue entry visas for tourists to bolster coronavirus-hit economy

  • Iraq is looking at ways of bringing foreign investment into the country

DUBAI: Iraq will begin facilitating entry visas for foreigners in a push to bolster its economy weakened after months of a border lockdown due to the coronavirus global pandemic.

Authorities will begin procedures to grant foreigners entry visas so they can visit touristic, religious and heritage sites, the state news agency INA reported on Saturday.

“After the coronavirus crisis has cleared up, Iraq needs to build new bridges to communicate with various countries of the world,” a statement from the presidential office said.

Along with revitalizing the tourism and cultural sectors in the country, the presidential office looked at ways of bringing foreign investment into the country in a meeting with the Director General of Civil Status, Passports and Residence.

“Iraqi cities, social life and multiple activities” provide opportunities for economic, commercial and investment cooperation, the statement read.

Israeli missions on alert after Iranian threats of retaliation

Updated 29 November 2020

Israeli missions on alert after Iranian threats of retaliation

  • UN urges restraint as Tehran vows revenge for slain nuclear scientist

TEHRAN/JERUSALEM: Israel put its embassies around the world on high alert on Saturday after Iranian threats of retaliation following the killing of a nuclear scientist near Tehran, Israeli N12 news reported on Saturday.

Iran has blamed Israel for the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who died on Friday after gunmen ambushed him in his car.

Iran’s supreme leader demanded the “definitive punishment” of those behind the killing that has raised fears of reignited tensions across the Middle East.

After years of being in the shadows, the image of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh suddenly was to be seen everywhere in Iranian media, as his widow spoke on state television. “He wanted to get martyred and his wish came true,” she said.

In Tehran, a small group of hard-line protesters burned images of President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden, who has said his administration will consider reentering Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers. And while burning an American and Israeli flag, the hard-liners criticized Iran’s foreign minister who helped negotiate the nuclear deal, showing the challenge ahead of Tehran if officials chose to come back the accord.

The UN called for keeping restraint and avoiding the escalation of tensions in the Middle East, the deputy spokesman for the UN secretary-general said. “We urge restraint and the need to avoid any actions that could lead to an escalation of tensions in the region,” Farhan Haq said.

Germany called on all parties “to avoid taking any action which could lead to a new escalation of the situation” which “we absolutely do not need at this moment.”

Hours after the attack, the Pentagon announced it had brought the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier back into the Middle East, an unusual move as the carrier already spent months in the region.

Analysts have compared Fakhrizadeh to being on par with Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist who led America’s Manhattan Project in World War II that created the atom bomb.

Fakhrizadeh headed Iran’s so-called AMAD program that Israel and the West have alleged was a military operation looking at the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says that the “structured program” ended in 2003. Iran long has maintained its nuclear program is peaceful.