Intel: Biden administration receives top Saudi official

Biden administration officials meet with brother of Saudi Crown Prince, reaffirm US-Saudi partnership. 

Prince Khalid at Pentagon in 2019

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesJared Szuba@JM_Szuba

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Defense/Security cooperationKhashoggiMBSJuly 7, 2021

Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense chief made an unannounced trip to Washington on Tuesday in the first official Saudi visit under the Biden administration.

Prince Khalid bin Salman, brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, sat down with top Pentagon officials Tuesday after meeting with national security adviser Jake Sullivan. He is set to meet with State Department officials on Wednesday, spokesperson Ned Price said today.

Colin Kahl, the Pentagon’s top policy chief, led the Defense Department’s meeting with bin Salman “to reaffirm the US-Saudi relationship,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said after the meeting.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley also attended the discussion, Kirby said.

Kahl “thanked the vice minister for working closely and constructively with US special envoy Tim Lenderking to end the war in Yemen and condemned the Houthi cross-border attacks,” Kirby told reporters Tuesday.

US officials discussed ways to work with Prince Khalid’s government to defend against armed drones, which “are increasingly becoming weapons of choice” in the Middle East, Kirby said. Such weapons have increasingly been used by suspected Iran-linked groups to attack both US and Saudi targets in the region.

Earlier Tuesday, the State Department said a US air defense system shot down an armed drone over Washington’s Embassy in Baghdad. No one was reported hurt. The Pentagon has so far avoided assigning blame for Tuesday’s attack. US and Iraqi officials are investigating the incident, the State Department said.

Despite freezing major arms sales to Riyadh over its government’s conduct in Yemen’s civil war, the Biden administration has continued to assist Saudi Arabia in defending against missile and drone attacks by Houthi rebels across the kingdom’s southern border.

The rebels have sought to pressure Riyadh for better terms to end the conflict while demanding an end to the Saudi-led blockade of Yemen.

Why it matters: Despite President Joe Biden’s campaign promises, his administration appears to be turning the page on the Saudi government’s role in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Prince Khalid’s trip ­— first reported by The Wall Street Journal last week — is the highest-level visit by a member of the Saudi royal family since Khashoggi was brutally murdered by Saudi agents in Istanbul in 2018.

As presidential candidate, Biden vowed to hold Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accountable for the murder.

US intelligence report released by the Biden administration in February concluded the crown prince — Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader and Prince Khalid’s older brother — authorized the assassination. Warm ties with the former Donald Trump administration did not stop Mohammed bin Salman from canceling a planned trip to Washington last year amid concerns over negative press.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said earlier Tuesday that the subject of Khashoggi’s murder would likely be discussed during the meetings. A White House press release Tuesday evening said the national security adviser “emphasized the importance of progress in advancing human rights in the kingdom.”

Prince Khalid’s visit Tuesday was met with no fanfare and was not publicly announced by the United States in advance. A US official speaking not for attribution denied the lack of prior notice was out of the ordinary.

Strategic concerns over China’s increasing military assertiveness appear to be eclipsing the Biden’s administration’s public emphasis on human rights. Despite calling Saudi Arabia a “pariah” state during his campaign, Biden’s administration continues to look to Riyadh’s economic power as a pillar of stability in the Middle East as American officials focus their attention elsewhere.

Saudi Arabia is also working with the United States to end the war in Yemen. The Biden Administration has also welcomed Saudi efforts to reduce tensions in the region with Iran, and in reconciling with Qatar, after a more than three year dispute which divided the GCC,

US officials are hoping to reduce tensions between Saudi Arabia and its main rival, Iran, and their proxies in the region. Prince Khalid has played a central role in his government’s recent talks with Iranian officials in Baghdad, as the United States does the same via indirect negotiations in Vienna over Iran’s nuclear program.

The administration stopped short of sanctioning bin Salman directly earlier this year, despite significant criticisms. 

What’s next: US officials have yet to reveal what, if any, new developments came from Prince Khalid’s visit.

Kirby on Tuesday declined to address whether Saudi officials had requested additional support amid continued Houthi attacks.

Prince Khalid’s visit comes as the Pentagon has moved to withdraw several air defense systems and at least one ballistic missile defense unit from Saudi Arabia in recent months. The commander of US forces in the Middle East, Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, touted progress in February on helping Riyadh bolster its own air defenses.

Meanwhile, new revelations that Khashoggi’s killers received paramilitary training in the United States and obtained the poison used to drug the journalist from Egyptian officials in Cairo signal that that file is yet to be closed.

Read more: https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2021/07/intel-biden-administration-receives-top-saudi-official#ixzz6ztYbnnQn

Erbil Airport Director to Shafak News: Air navigation was not affected as a result of the bombing

KurdistanbreakingErbil AirportErbil airport bombing 2021-07-06 19:57A-AA+

Shafaq News/ The director of Erbil International Airport, Ahmed Hoshyar, revealed that air traffic was not affected as a result of the bombing of the airport.

Hoshyar told Shafaq News Agency, that the navigation movement is normal at Erbil Airport, and flights have not stopped as a result.

On Tuesday, the Kurdistan Region Counter-Terrorism Service announced that Erbil International Airport was bombed by a booby-trapped drone.

The agency said in a statement, that the attack took place at 11:30 pm – local time – without causing any human casualties or material damage.

But the device indicated that a fire had occurred in the grass as a result of the bombing, and the firefighting teams were working to put it out.

https://shafaq.com/ar/%D9%83%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%AF%D8%B3%D9%80%D9%80%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%AA/%D9%85%D8%AF%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D9%85%D8%B7%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A%D9%84-%D9%84%D8%B4%D9%81%D9%82-%D9%86%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%B2-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AD%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%88%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%84%D9%85-%D8%AA%D8%AA-%D8%AB%D8%B1-%D9%86%D8%AA%D9%8A%D8%AC%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%82%D8%B5%D9%81

Missile attack targeting Erbil International Airport

securityErbilbreakingmissile attack 2021-07-06 16:02A-AA+

Shafaq News/ The Anti-Terrorism Foundation in Kurdistan Region reported, on Tuesday evening, that a missile attack had taken place on Erbil International Airport.

The foundation said in a brief statement, received by Shafaq News Agency, that Erbil airport was subjected to a missile attack, without giving more details.

Meanwhile, the sirens were activated at the US consulate in Erbil, coinciding with the bombing.

No further details were immediately available.

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Iraq decides to contract with an international company to support the management and implementation of projects

Iraq decides to contract with an international company to support the management and implementation of projects

During the regular session of the Council of Ministers Jul 06, 2021 09:35 PMnull

Mubasher: The Iraqi Council of Ministers decided to contract with one of the major international companies specialized in management in the capacity of a consultant to the government from the Ministries of Planning and Finance, to participate in the field of project management and implementation.

This came during the regular session of the Council, today, Tuesday, headed by Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi, according to a statement by the media office of the President of the Council.

With regard to the government’s efforts to reform, combat corruption and waste, and properly plan for economic development in the country, the Ministerial Council for Social Services Resolution No. 1 of 2021 was approved during the session, which included contracting with one of the major international companies specialized in management in the capacity of a consultant to the government from the Ministries of Planning and Finance. Each according to his duties established in his law, or jointly and in a manner that guarantees the provision of optimal advice to the Council of Ministers and the creation of economic and financial indicators.

The Council agreed that the Ministry of Planning would contract with international and local companies and consulting offices specialized in project management and implementation, and prepare feasibility studies to ensure the best consistency and speed of project management and implementation.

He also agreed that the implementing agencies (sectoral ministries, governorates, and agencies) would seek the assistance and contract with global and local companies and consulting offices specialized in project management and implementation, and prepare feasibility studies to ensure better performance, consistency and speed for project management and implementation.

https://www.mubasher.info/news/3827631/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%82-%D9%8A%D9%82%D8%B1%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%82%D8%AF-%D9%85%D8%B9-%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%83%D8%A9-%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%84%D8%AF%D8%B9%D9%85-%D8%A5%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D9%88%D8%AA%D9%86%D9%81%D9%8A%D8%B0-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%AA/

Shafak News publishes the text of the decisions of Al-Kazemi’s government session

politicsIraqi Council of Ministers 2021-07-06 13:36A-AA+

Shafaq News/ During its session held today, Tuesday, the Iraqi Council of Ministers took a number of decisions, including allocating two billion dinars to revive a religious visit.

Al-Kazemi’s office said in a statement received by Shafaq News Agency, “The latter presided over the twenty-sixth regular session of the Council of Ministers, in which the developments of events in the country were discussed, and topics on the agenda were discussed, foremost of which is the files of electricity and residential lands for citizens.” 

The session witnessed extensive and lengthy discussions on the electricity file, and a detailed report from the Ministry of Electricity was reviewed on the challenges and obstacles and the most important proposed solutions to address the problem. 

In this regard, Al-Kazemi referred to the sabotage attempts that targeted electric power towers last week, which were aimed at impeding the highest production ceiling that we have reached, and stressed that the investigation will soon reveal the full reasons behind the decline in electric power in the country, and the repeated targeting of transmission towers. 

He stressed the need to raise the state of alert on the part of the security forces in order to protect the generation plants and power transmission towers, pointing to the ability to thwart a number of sabotage and terrorist attempts, and the arrest of a number of saboteurs and the killing of others. 

The Prime Minister stressed that this government has worked to increase the production of electric power, and the opening of several stations, and it is continuing to increase production and overcome obstacles to opening stations and contracting, indicating that poor planning, corruption and chaos in decision-making represent a heavy legacy in the electricity file, and the current government is working to overcome it and put This file is on the right track.

After the Council of Ministers discussed what is on its agenda with regard to the electricity file, it took decisions related to the electricity sector represented in overcoming obstacles to many projects and protecting towers, and the profitable Ministry of Oil companies lending the Ministry of Electricity companies an amount of (50) billion dinars to cover emergency expenses, and the Pay the amount within one year. The Cabinet also discussed the file of allocating residential plots to citizens, and the right of every family to own decent housing that preserves its dignity.

Al-Kazemi confirmed his personal follow-up to the technical team of the website for its launch soon, as they were met today to review the developments regarding the project and the launch of the website, which will ensure a fair and transparent distribution, free of favoritism, and according to the total points that each citizen will obtain. 

He explained that the government’s plan for granting land will include distributing 550,000 residential plots from the start. 

During the past months, the government was able to complete the secretion of lands for 17 new cities in all governorates except for the region, and the lands of 8 of them became technically complete and ready for distribution, amounting to more than 338 thousand housing units. 

Al-Kazemi directed the concerned government agencies to make every effort to provide the largest possible number of plots of land for all segments of Iraqi society. He stressed that all groups that do not have housing, and have never benefited from a plot of land granted by the state, will be included in obtaining a plot of land, stressing that priority in the plots of land will be for the families of martyrs, the poor classes, and families with lower incomes.

Al-Kazemi indicated that there is another initiative parallel to the residential land distribution initiative, which is to grant loans to citizens to help build their housing units on their lands; Which will revitalize the urban movement and provide more job opportunities.

The session witnessed a review of the work of the Committee to Strengthen Governmental Measures to limit the spread of the Corona pandemic, especially in light of the noticeable increase in the number of reported injuries recently, as it was agreed to hold a session of the Supreme Committee for Health and Safety soon.

With regard to the preparations for the visit to Arafa, it was approved that the Ministry of Finance allocate an amount of (2000,000,000) dinars, only two billion dinars, to the holy governorate of Karbala from the emergency reserve, for the purpose of securing the expenses of visiting Arafa and providing services to visitors, based on the provisions of Article (5) of the General Federal Budget Law for the year Finance/ 2021.

With regard to the government’s efforts to reform, fight corruption and waste, and properly plan for economic development in the country, the Ministerial Council for Social Services Resolution No. (1 of 2021), which includes contracting with one of the major international companies specialized in management in the capacity of a consultant to the government, was approved by the Ministries of Planning and Finance, both according to Its tasks that are established in its law, or jointly and in a manner that ensures the provision of optimal advice to the Council of Ministers and the preparation of economic and financial indicators to guide the development path at the macro, sectoral and spatial levels.

The Council agreed that the Ministry of Planning would contract with international and local companies and consulting offices specialized in the field of project management and implementation, and prepare feasibility studies to ensure the best consistency and speed of project management and implementation.

He also agreed that the implementing agencies (sectoral ministries, governorates, and agencies) would seek the assistance and contract with global and local companies and consulting offices specialized in project management and implementation, and prepare feasibility studies to ensure better performance, consistency and speed for project management and implementation.

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Bahrain Banks” signs a memorandum of understanding with their Iraqi counterparts

economyIraqi banksBahraini banks 2021-07-06 07:15A-AA+

Shafaq News/ The Bahrain Association of Banks signed with the Association of Iraqi Private Banks a memorandum of understanding aimed at achieving fruitful cooperation between the two associations in the field of exchanging experiences and knowledge and strengthening banking cooperation in all fields.

This came during a recent remote meeting, according to a statement issued by the Iraqi Association and received by Shafak News Agency. 

Al-Bayan added that the memorandum was signed on behalf of the Bahraini side by Adnan Ahmed Yousef, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Bahraini Society, and on the Iraqi side, Wadih Nuri Al-Handal, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Association of Iraqi Private Banks.

According to the statement, this memorandum comes from the message of the Bahrain Association of Banks and the Association of Iraqi Private Banks, and their tasks in defending the interests of banks and financial institutions and highlighting their role in sustainable development programs through close cooperation with regulatory authorities and all partners and stakeholders, as well as effective promotion of their effective contribution. in promoting and attracting investments.

The two parties also agreed, according to the statement, to form a joint committee to consult and agree on implementing and following-up joint plans and programs and setting implementation mechanisms.

The statement quoted Adnan Ahmed Yousef, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Bahrain Association of Banks, as saying, “Bahrain has had a rich and diversified banking experience over the past five decades, which has greatly enhanced it in the model of its response to the repercussions of the Corona pandemic. We are working in the association to employ this rich experience in supporting and strengthening cooperation with Arab banks, at the forefront of which is the Association of Iraqi Banks, and Iraqi banks, with which we have strong brotherly relations and have broad prospects for diversifying and developing them during the next stage.”

On the other hand, the head of the Association of Iraqi Private Banks, Mr. Wadih Al-Handal, said, “The Association of Iraqi Private Banks has a long history in developing the banking sector, at various technical, administrative, advisory, human resources and other levels, and this memorandum will contribute to opening horizons with the Bahraini banking sector.”

He added, “This memorandum will enhance joint work between Iraqi and Bahraini banks, transfer experiences between the two parties, in addition to holding training courses at a high level.”

Al-Handal valued the role played by the Bahrain Association of Banks, and we affirm that the Association of Iraqi Private Banks is working with the Central Bank of Iraq and other parties to create a solid banking sector.

According to the statement, the two parties will work through the memorandum of understanding to exchange experiences, studies and related research, depending on the resources available to them. In addition to cooperation in organizing training programs related to the rehabilitation of banking cadres, according to the common interests and needs between the two parties, and in line with the current and future needs of the banking sector in Bahrain and Iraq, exchanging information, its sources and databases between the two parties, and coordinating at the level of executive departments and their committees in order to Exchange of experiences, information and joint research.

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US Ambassador: Iraq needs effective tools and policies to investigate financial crimes

politicsIraqbreakingUS Ambassadorfinancial crimes 2021-07-06 06:29A-AA+

Shafaq News/ The United Nations Development Program in Iraq launched a project to enhance capabilities to complete investigations into complex organized and financial crimes, funded by the Office of International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement Affairs of the US State Department.

The ceremony was attended by the President of the Supreme Judicial Council, Judge Faiq Zeidan, the US ambassador to Iraq, Matthew Tueller, and other officials.

The head of the council stressed that “this project is the result of many discussions that took place with specialists in the United Nations Development Program, where we have previously stressed in more than one meeting the importance of developing investigative procedures for investigators in the Supreme Judicial Council, the Integrity Commission and police investigators in the Ministry of Interior in the field of investigations. Combating Organized Crime and Financial Crimes in Iraq.

He added, “Anti-corruption efforts depend mainly on developing the capabilities of the competent investigative bodies to collect evidence and present it to the judiciary in an integrated manner in order to apply the law correctly and punish the perpetrators of corruption crimes based on that evidence in order to strengthen the rule of law and rebuild trust between citizens and state institutions, and from this standpoint. The Supreme Judicial Council supports this project and at the same time thanks all the implementing, funding and supporting agencies for the success of this project.

For his part, US Ambassador Matthew Tueller said that Iraq needs “effective tools and policies to help investigate and prosecute financial crimes because the majority of these crimes are motivated by personal enrichment that harms the Iraqi state and the Iraqi people.” 

He added, “The US Department of State was pleased to fund the UNDP assessment of financial crime investigation capabilities in Iraq, as this assessment helped lay the groundwork for training and was instrumental in formulating guidelines for financial investigation techniques to be used by judges and investigators.

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