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Bahrain opposition urges end to power 'monopoly' MANAMA: Bahrain holds legislative elections Saturday for the first time since a 2011 uprising, despite a boycott by the Shia opposition that led the pro-democracy movement.The polls are being contested without a compromise in sight between authorities in the Sunni-ruled monarchy and the opposition, as highlighted by the two sides in interviews Friday.The Gulf state's electorate of almost 350,000 is being called to choose 40 deputies, with most of the 266 candidates being Sunnis.Al-Wefaq, the main opposition group, warned that failure by the kingdom's rulers to loosen their grip on power could trigger a surge in violence.For her part, Information Minister Samira Rajab stressed that the government would not tolerate "chaos, unrest and foreign meddling" -- a reference to Shia Iran.The opposition's month-long uprising in early 2011 was crushed by the authorities.On the eve of elections, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of the Shia village of Diraz in ...

Suicide car bomb hits Iraqi Kurdish capital ARBIL: A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle near the provincial government headquarters in the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region on Wednesday, a spokesman said.The bomber hit the main checkpoint on the way to the headquarters in the usually quiet city of Arbil just before noon (0900 GMT), provincial council spokesman Hamza Hamed told AFP.Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014 ...
Iraqi security forces enter Baiji refinery BAGHDAD: Iraqi security forces entered the country's largest refinery for the first time on Tuesday after months of battling Islamic State militants who had surrounded it, a police colonel and state television reported. "The first Iraqi force, the anti-terrorism force called Mosul Battalion, entered Baiji refinery for the first time in five months," police colonel Saleh Jaber, of the Baiji refinery protection force, told Reuters. State television flashed news of the advance but did not ...
Palestinian bus driver found hanged in Jerusalem JERUSALEM: A Palestinian bus driver was found hanged in his vehicle in Jerusalem, sparking clashes Monday, after what Israel said was an apparent suicide but a colleague said looked like murder.The incident happened late on Sunday, with a supervisor finding the man's body at a bus depot in Har Hotzvim, an industrial zone in Jewish west Jerusalem, police said in a statement. Family members identified the victim as Yusuf Hasan al-Ramuni, from Al-Tur on the ...
Car bomb wounds 5 on perimeter of Baghdad airport BAGHDAD: A car bomb exploded on the perimeter of Baghdad's heavily guarded international airport complex on Sunday, wounding five people, security sources said.The blast occurred at a security checkpoint close to a parking lot where passengers are searched before boarding airport taxis, three sources said.The checkpoint is several kilometres from the terminal building.It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack. An airport official said authorities tightened security while air traffic was normal.Around ...
Islamic state militants withdraw from area around Iraq refinery BAGHDAD: Islamic State militants withdrew on Saturday from the perimeter of Iraq's biggest oil refinery after months fending off government troops seeking to retake the strategic complex, said an army officer and Al-Hadath television station.The officer, speaking to Reuters from the Baiji refinery, said the Sunni insurgents removed roadside bombs they had planted and fled. Al-Hadath said security forces had entered the compound.It was not immediately possible to confirm either account.Copyright Reuters, 2014 ...
Top US general arrives in Iraq as military campaign expands BAGHDAD: The top US military officer, General Martin Dempsey, arrived on Saturday in Baghdad on an unannounced visit as US commanders prepare to expand American assistance to Iraqi and Kurdish forces battling the Islamic State."I want to get a sense from our side about how our contribution is going," Dempsey, chairman of the US military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Reuters shortly before landing in Baghdad.Copyright Reuters, 2014 ...


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ICT 2014

Foreign Debt $61.805bn
Per Cap Income $1,386
GDP Growth 4.14%
Average CPI 8.6%
Trade Balance $-2.309 bln
Exports $1.957 bln
Imports $4.266 bln
WeeklyDecember 18, 2014
Reserves $14.04 bln