Connect with us

World

Obama sends military advisers as Iraq refinery battle rages

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published 

 on 

Obama sends military advisers as Iraq refinery battle rages | Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Obama sends U.S. military advisers to Iraq as battle rages over refinery
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: President Barack Obama said on Thursday he was sending up to 300 U.S. military advisers to Iraq but stressed the need for a political solution to the country’s crisis as government forces battled Sunni rebels for control of the country’s biggest refinery.

Speaking at a news conference after a meeting with his top national security advisers, Obama said he was prepared to take “targeted” military action later if deemed necessary, thus delaying but still keeping open the prospect of U.S. air strikes against a militant insurgency. But he insisted that U.S. troops would not return to combat in Iraq.

Obama urged the Shi’ite government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to take urgent steps to heal the sectarian rift, something U.S. officials say the Iraqi leader has failed to do so far and which an al Qaeda splinter group leading the Sunni insurgency has exploited.

“We do not have the ability to simply solve this problem by sending in tens of thousands of troops and committing the kinds of blood and treasure that has already been expended in Iraq,” Obama told reporters. “Ultimately, this is something that is going to have to be solved by the Iraqis.”

Obama, who withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq at the end of 2011, said the United States would significantly increase support for Iraq’s beleaguered security forces, including sending up to 300 military advisers. But Obama stopped short of acceding to Baghdad’s request for the use of U.S. air power.

Senior U.S. lawmakers have called for Maliki to step down, and Obama administration officials have also made clear their frustration with him.

While Obama did not join calls for Maliki to go, saying “it’s not our job to choose Iraq’s leaders,” he avoided any expression of confidence in the embattled Iraqi prime minister when asked by a reporter whether he would do so.

In the meantime, the United States began flying F-18 attack aircraft from the carrier George H.W. Bush on missions over Iraq to conduct surveillance of the insurgents. The carrier was ordered into the Gulf several days ago.

The sprawling Baiji refinery, 200 km (130 miles) north of the capital near Tikrit, was a battlefield as troops loyal to the Shi’ite-led government held off insurgents from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and its allies who had stormed the perimeter a day earlier, threatening national energy supplies.

A government spokesman said around noon (1000 BST) that its forces were in “complete control.”

But a witness in Baiji said fighting was continuing. Two Iraqi helicopters tried to land in the refinery but were unable to because of insurgent gunfire, and most of the refinery remained under rebel control.

A day after the government publicly appealed for U.S. air power, there were indications Washington is sceptical of whether that would be effective, given the risk of civilian deaths that could further enrage Iraq’s once-dominant Sunni minority.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, a NATO ally, said the United States “does not view such attacks positively,” given the risk to civilians. A Saudi source said that Western powers agreed with Riyadh, the main Sunni state in the region, that what was needed was political change, not outside intervention, to heal sectarian division that has widened under Maliki.

Video aired by Al-Arabiya television showed smoke billowing from the Baiji plant and the black flag used by ISIL flying from a building. Workers who had been inside the complex, which spreads for miles close to the Tigris River, said Sunni militants seemed to hold most of the compound in early morning and that security forces were concentrated around the refinery’s control room.

The 250-300 remaining staff were evacuated early on Thursday, one of those workers said by telephone. Military helicopters had attacked militant positions overnight, he added.

CAPTURED TERRITORY

Baiji, 40 km (25 miles) north of Saddam Hussein’s home city of Tikrit, lies squarely in territory captured in the past week by an array of armed Sunni groups, spearheaded by ISIL, which is seeking a new Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria. On Tuesday, staff shut down the plant, which makes much of the fuel Iraqis in the north need for both transport and generating electricity.

ISIL, which considers Iraq’s Shi’ite Muslim majority as heretics in league with neighbouring, Shi’ite Iran, has led a Sunni charge across northern Iraq after capturing the major city of Mosul last week as Maliki’s U.S.-armed forces collapsed.

The group’s advance has only been slowed by a regrouped military, Shi’ite militias and other volunteers. The government announced on Thursday that those who joined up to fight in “hot areas” would be paid about $150 a week.

Sunni fighters took the small town of Mutasim, south of Samarra, giving them the prospect of encircling the city which houses a major Shi’ite shrine. A local police source said security forces withdrew without a fight when dozens of vehicles carrying insurgents converged on Mutasim from three directions.

ISIL, whose leader broke with al Qaeda after accusing the global jihadist movement of being too cautious, has now secured cities and territory in Iraq and Syria, in effect putting it well on the path to establishing its own well-armed enclave that Western countries fear could become a centre for terrorism.

The Iraqi government made public on Wednesday its request for U.S. air strikes, 2-1/2 years after U.S. forces ended the nine-year occupation that began by toppling Saddam in 2003.

Asked whether Washington would accede to that appeal, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told NBC only that “nothing is off the table.”

— Phuket Gazette Editors

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Find more SE Asian News courtesy of Thaiger.

Broke? Find employment in Southeast Asia with JobCute Thailand. Rich? Invest in real estate across Asia with FazWaz Property Group. Even book medical procedures worldwide with MyMediTravel, all powered by DB Ventures.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Tourism

Most travel-friendly passport list 2021 revealed

Avatar

Published

on

Most travel-friendly passport list 2021 revealed | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Japan tops the list of most travel-friendly passports.

The Henley Passport Index, which rates what passports are the most travel-friendly, has just released the list for 2021, with Japan once again topping the list. The Index commented that this international travel freedom comparison is mostly theoretical since Covid-19 has severely limited most travel worldwide. With a Japanese passport, travellers can enter 193 countries without a visa or with a visa-on-arrival. On the other end of the list, Afghanistan can only get into 26 countries. The gap of 167 countries is the widest gap since the Henley Passport Index began tracking this data 15 years ago in 2006.

Singapore kept its second-place standing with just one less destination than Japan, followed by Germany and South Korea tied for 3rd place with 191 destinations. The rest of the top 10 are mainly European countries, with the exception of New Zealand and the US as part of the 5-way tie for 7th place with 187 destinations, and Australia and Canada tied for 9th place with 185 destinations.

The United States and the United Kingdom took a tumble, once tied for the most travel-friendly passport in 2014, now losing ground slipping to 7th. On the other hand, United Arab Emirates strengthened diplomatic ties worldwide and jumped 50 spots this year from 65th all the way to 15th. Over the decade, the climb is even more dramatic, with the Emirates exploding from 67 destinations 10 years ago up 107 destinations to 174 this year. China did well also, climbing 22 places since 2011, up to number 68 on the list.

Thailand’s passport is tied with Saudi Arabia at 66th with 79 destinations available without an advance visa.

The full 2021 top 10 list:
1. Japan (193 destinations)
2. Singapore (192)
3. Germany, South Korea (191)
4. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain (190)
5. Austria, Denmark (189)
6. France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden (188)
7. Belgium, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States (187)
8. Czech Republic, Greece, Malta, Norway (186)
9. Australia, Canada (185)
10. Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia (183)

Henley and Partners predict that the spread in passport access will mirror Covid-19 affected travel. Rich and mobile regions like the US, UK, EU and UAE are getting access to vaccination, hastening their ability to travel, while poorer and developing economies are experiencing a much slower vaccine roll-out. Experts from Syracuse University, the University of Pittsburgh, and the Migration Policy Centre predict this trend will continue with potentially devastating long-term effects.

Countries that can afford and facilitate vaccination for their citizens quickly will be able to welcome travellers in for tourism and business and be able to travel more themselves. Conversely, countries that can’t afford the storage and distribution of vaccines will be less able to travel or welcome tourism income, widening a global wealth gap. Remote working and the digital nomad lifestyle has been booming in recent years and with Covid-19 forcing businesses to adapt to telecommuting, the post-pandemic world will see more remote working, and countries falling behind with vaccinations will suffer the long-term loss in tourism dollars too.

SOURCE: CNN

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates

Continue Reading

World

The Queen sits as a lonely figure as she bids farewell to her husband Prince Philip

Tim Newton

Published

on

The Queen sits as a lonely figure as she bids farewell to her husband Prince Philip | Thaiger
PHOTO: VOA news

Prince Philip was laid to rest Saturday afternoon, UK time, in a simple but soulful funeral ceremony honouring his lifetime of service to the UK, the Commonwealth and his wife of 73 years, Queen Elizabeth II.

Clad in black, her head bowed in prayer, the elderly monarch set an example for the UK community during the Covid pandemic, socially distancing herself from the rest of her family.

Prince Philip died just 2 months short of his 100th birthday – some reflected that he was just 2 months away from receiving a telegram from his wife.

The service at Windsor Castle was light on pageantry but steeped in military and royal traditions. The whole pre-funeral procession and service was held away from the public eye, entirely within the grounds of Windsor Castle, but a full live stream of the proceedings was shown on UK TV and internet services.

Instead of the expected nearly 1,000 mourners, there was a mere 30 allowed inside the grounds of the castle to take part in the procession and service, although there was a larger entourage of socially-distanced musicians, camera-people, guards and organisers on site.

Attending were Prince Charles his wife Camilla, Prince Andrew, Prince William and his wife Kate, and Prince Harry, who had returned from the US without his pregnant wife Meghan. The Queen and Prince Philip’s other children, and grandchildren, were also in attendance.

The most poignant image from the entire ceremony was the lone figure of Queen Elizabeth, entirely in black with a black face mask and hat, a very human and frail figure who spent the entire service buried in deep contemplation, rarely raising her head to watch the proceedings. Whilst the service was all about remembering the service and duty of her consort, Prince Philip, there were few who wouldn’t have been thinking of the 94 year old woman sitting all alone, grieving the loss of her husband.

Britain officially observed 1 minute of silence in honour of Prince Philip just before the funeral started.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin arrived at the chapel in a modified Land Rover conceived by the prince. Known for his sense of humour and off-the-cuff one-liners (that often got him into hot water), the arrival of his own coffin in an army-green pick-up truck was his final poke at the outrageous pageantry he often shied away from.

His coffin was draped in his personal standard with his Royal Navy cap, sword and a wreath of flowers sitting atop.

Prince Philip was placed in the vault along with the remains of 24 other royals, including 3 kings of England. But following the Queen’s death, the pair are expected to be buried in the Royal Burial Ground on the Frogmore Estate close to Windsor Castle.

Along with Philip’s children and grandchildren, the 30 funeral guests included other senior royals and several of his German relatives. Philip was born a prince of Greece and Denmark and, like the queen, is related to mash-up of European royal families.

The two sons of Price Charles and Princess Diana, William and Harry, were seen walking together after the service and chatting as mourners were leaving the chapel.

The Queen sits as a lonely figure as she bids farewell to her husband Prince Philip | News by Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates

Continue Reading

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Grim milestone: 3 million Covid-19 deaths worldwide

Avatar

Published

on

Grim milestone: 3 million Covid-19 deaths worldwide | Thaiger
PHOTO: 3 million Covid-19 deaths recorded around the world.

Today marks a grim milestone as the Covid-19 pandemic officially crosses 3 million deaths around the world, with outbreaks still surging in various parts of the world. Over a year into the pandemic, and we are currently seeing over 700,000 new infections and 12,000 deaths per day, with Brazil, India, and France facing growing crises.

The 3 million figure reflects official numbers, though many suspect that real totals could be much higher, pointing at government conspiracies and early deaths that were not attributed to Covid-19 when little was known about the novel coronavirus in the early days.

Still, the official number is overwhelming enough – equal to the population of Kyiv, Ukraine, or the state of Arkansas in the US, and larger than world cities like Lisbon, Caracas, Dubai, Manchester or Chicago. Imagine nearly one-third of the people in Bangkok wiped out, or the entire nation of Armenia or Jamaica.

Following a steep decline in both new infections and deaths at the start of this year, the graph is again in an upward trajectory, both in terms of new cases and deaths from Covid.

Grim milestone: 3 million Covid-19 deaths worldwide | News by ThaigerThe World Health Organisation laments the dire condition of the world dealing with the pandemic after 16 months and so many opportunities to prevent the spread with basic safety precautions. Brazil has spiralled out of control, racking up 3,000 deaths a day, nearly 25% of all the Covid-19 deaths in the world in the past few weeks. New variants have been spreading like wildfire throughout Brazil as more dangerous strains have wriggled their way into countries around the world.

In India, the distribution of vaccines has been thwarted by swelling Covid-19 outbreaks and deaths. In New Dehli, 13,000 infections were reported in a day amongst the 29 million residents, but the city only has 178 ventilators available as of Wednesday.

Only 1.1% of the Indian populations has been vaccinated, and officials faced criticism of their vaccine exports while so many need jabs domestically. In Thailand, the percentage of people vaccinated is even lower.

700 million vaccines have been distributed worldwide, but they have been shipped disproportionately to the wealthier populations throughout the world. In rich countries, 1 in 4 people have been vaccinated, while in poor countries that number is less than 1 in 500. In fact, 87% of the vaccines distributed worldwide have been to wealthy nations, and the delays in India due to increasing Covid-19 deaths will not help close that gap for many months to come.

SOURCE: Sky

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates

Continue Reading
Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4 | Thaiger
Thailand2 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO | Thaiger
Tourism2 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2 | Thaiger
Phuket2 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO | Thaiger
Tourism2 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23 | Thaiger
Thailand2 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO | Thaiger
Tourism2 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8

Follow Thaiger by email:

Trending