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Last update: Thu, 11 Feb 2016 11am

Middle East

World - Middle East

Iraq Kurd leader: 'Time has come' for statehood referendum BAGHDAD: Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani has declared that the "time has come" for the country's Kurds to hold a referendum on statehood, a move likely to raise tensions with Baghdad.But even if the various political challenges to independence are resolved, the major economic problems the region faces due to low oil prices are another bar to Kurdish independence."The time has come and the conditions are now suitable for the people to make a decision through a referendum on their future," Barzani said in a statement released Wednesday."This referendum would not necessarily lead to (an) immediate declaration of statehood, but rather to know the will and opinion of the people of Kurdistan about their future," said Barzani, who has remained in power despite the expiration of his term as president.Barzani, who has made similar calls in the past, did not specify when the vote would take place.Asked about the timing ...

World - Middle East

Syria condemns Turkey 'cross-border shelling' DAMASCUS: Syria's government has condemned alleged cross-border shelling by Turkish forces on Monday as a "blatant breach of international law", state media reported.Late Monday, state news agency SANA quoted a source in the Syrian foreign ministry as condemning the reported artillery fire into northern Latakia province.The source said Damascus considered the shelling "a blatant breach of international law and a crime against Syrian civilians".The report added that the government "reserves the right to respond to ...

World - Middle East

Iraq oil exports up but revenue plunges on low prices BAGHDAD: Iraqi oil exports rose in January compared to the previous month but revenue fell by more than $650 million due to plunging crude prices, the oil ministry said on Monday.Baghdad is facing a financial crisis due to the fall in oil prices, which the ministry said averaged $22.21 in January -- less than half the amount projected in the 2016 budget.Iraq exported an average of 3.28 million barrels per day in January, up from ...

World - Middle East

Dubai cop jailed for posting Messi's passport on social media DUBAI: A Dubai court sentenced a policeman to one month in prison on Monday for posting a video showing Argentine football superstar Lionel Messi's passport on social media, local media reported.The Gulf News daily reported on its website that the policeman, identified only by his initials J.J., was criticised in particular for having "abused the telecommunications system".The policeman pleaded guilty and admitted he was wrong to have uploaded the post of Messi's passport to Snapchat ...

World - Middle East

Saudi-led Yemen coalition announces probe into possible abuses RIYADH: The Saudi-led Arab coalition battling Shiite rebels in Yemen announced Sunday the creation of an independent commission of inquiry to examine charges of possible abuses against civilians in the conflict.The coalition command, in a brief statement published by the official Saudi SPA news agency, said it had formed "an independent team of experts in international humanitarian law and weapons to assess the incidents and investigate the rules of engagement".The coalition said the objective was ...

World - Middle East

US, allies conduct 23 strikes against Islamic State: US military WASHINGTON: The United States and its allied targeted Islamic State militants in Iraq with 18 strikes on Friday and five strikes in Syria, the U.S. military said on Sunday.Four of the strikes in Iraq were near Mosul, destroying two Islamic State heavy machine guns, two fighting positions, five assembly areas, and a checkpoint, the U.S. Defense Department said in a statement.Near Ramadi, also in Iraq, seven strikes struck three separate Islamic State tactical units, it ...

World - Middle East

Kuwait Finance House considering capital: boosting sukuk DUBAI: Kuwait Finance House (KFH), the country's biggest Islamic lender, is studying the issuance of Islamic bonds that would boost its capital reserves, its top official told Arabiya TV on Sunday.The offering still requires necessary approvals, its chief executive Mazen al-Nahedh told the channel.The firm could issue capital bonds that either enhance its core Tier 1 capital or its supplementary Tier 2 capital.Besides sukuk plans for the parent company, KFH is also planning to issue ...