Drone attacks Iraq base hosting US troops: coalition

U.S. soldiers wearing protective masks are seen during a handover ceremony of Taji military base from US-led coalition troops to Iraqi security forces, in the base north of Baghdad, Iraq August 23, 2020. (Reuters)
Updated 24 July 2021

Drone attacks Iraq base hosting US troops: coalition

BAGHDAD: A drone attack has been carried out on a military base in Iraqi Kurdistan that hosts American troops, without causing any casualties, the US-led coalition said Saturday.
The attack comes with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhemi expected to meet US President Joe Biden in Washington on Monday to discuss a possible full US troop withdrawal from his country.
“An unmanned aerial system impacted a coalition base in Kurdistan” in the early hours of Friday, coalition spokesman US Col. Wayne Marotto said in a statement.
“There were no casualties and no damage as a result of the attack,” he said, adding “the United States and coalition forces will stay vigilant and maintain the inherent right to self-defense.”
Iraqi Kurdish media outlets said the attack targeted a base at Al-Harir, 70 kilometers (45 miles) northeast of Irbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan region.
It was the latest in a spate of attacks on US military and diplomatic facilities in Iraq, blamed on pro-Iranian armed groups within a state-sponsored paramilitary force.
The United States still has around 2,500 troops deployed in Iraq, out of 3,500 men in the international coalition set up in 2014 to fight the Daesh group.
Their departure is demanded by the pro-Iranian factions, which have been blamed for some 50 attacks against US interests in Iraq since the beginning of the year.
The Iraqi Resistance Coordination Committee on Friday threatened to continue the attacks unless the US withdraws all its forces and ends the “occupation.”
Most of the American troops deployed in the coalition, which helped defeat Daesh in Iraq in 2017, were withdrawn under former US president Donald Trump.
Those that remain are officially classed as advisers and trainers for Iraq’s army and counter-terrorism units.


Delhi Capitals back on top of IPL with 33-run win against Rajasthan Royals

Updated 30 min 14 sec ago

Delhi Capitals back on top of IPL with 33-run win against Rajasthan Royals

  • Delhi has 16 points from 10 games, two points more than second-placed Chennai Super Kings

ABU DHABI: Delhi Capitals returned to the top of the Indian Premier League with a 33-run victory over Rajasthan Royals on Saturday.
Delhi scored 154-6 after being asked to bat, its innings propelled by Shreyas Iyer’s 32-ball 43, captain Rishabh Pant’s run-a-ball 24 and Shimron Hetmyer’s 28 runs off 16 deliveries.
Rajasthan could only reach 121-6 in reply after collapsing to 6-2 in the second over and 48-4 in the 11th. Rajasthan captain Sanju Samson restored stability to the innings with a 53-ball 70 not out.
“I thought the total was chasable but we lost too many wickets and weren’t able to get any momentum,” Samson said.
Anrich Nortje returned figures of 2-18 from four overs.
Delhi has 16 points from 10 games, two points more than second-placed Chennai Super Kings which has played a game less. Rajasthan has eight points from nine games.
In the second game on Saturday, Punjab Kings beat last-placed Sunrisers Hyderabad by five runs at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Punjab moved to fifth place in the eight-team IPL after being put into bat and scoring 125-7, before containing Hyderabad to 120-7 in 20 overs.
Jason Holder was the biggest threat to Punjab, taking 3-19 with the ball and scoring 47 not out off 29 deliveries with the bat, including five sixes. But it wasn’t enough.
Hyderabad is out of playoff contention following its eighth defeat in nine games.


Overmatched All European ‘need a couple miracles’ to keep Ryder Cup

Updated 29 min 48 sec ago

Overmatched All European ‘need a couple miracles’ to keep Ryder Cup

  • The Europeans trail captain Steve Stricker’s young and hungry US squad 11-5

He can’t clone Jon Rahm. He can’t make any last-minute substitutions. He can’t sneak up and cut the laces on the Americans’ golf shoes or super-glue the head covers to their drivers.
All European captain Padraig Harrington can do at this point is post the lineup card, recite a few lines from Winston Churchill’s “We Shall Fight on the Beaches” speech, wave his guys on their way Sunday morning and then pray. A lot.
Harrington knocked that first task off his to-do list late Saturday, predictably front-loading his lineup in a desperate bid to gain momentum and then somehow sustain it through the dozen singles matches. The Europeans trail captain Steve Stricker’s young and hungry US squad 11-5, and no team has ever come back from a deficit of more than four points.
Worse, after losing seven of the last nine cups, the Americans are out for revenge.
“They have run the score up on us before,” said Tony Finau. “And if we have the opportunity, we are going to run it up on them tomorrow.”
Avoiding embarrassment is a reasonable goal. Englishman Ian Poulter, hardly exaggerating Europe’s chances for a comeback, put it this way: “We need a couple of miracles.”
What the Europeans really need is a dozen players like Rahm, the steely eyed Spaniard who currently sits atop the world rankings. He has won all three of his team matches alongside countryman Sergio Garcia and tied the fourth, practically carrying England’s Tyrrell Hatton on his back.
“The team is playing good,” said Rahm, being more gracious than candid. Half of Europe’s squad has failed to contribute so much as a half-point. “Just putts not dropping in and a couple things here and there that just could happen that haven’t happened. I’d like to believe that things even out.
“Golf is a very complicated and ironic and sarcastic game sometimes,” Rahm added a moment later, “and teams can be capable of some great things, like the US has done so far the last two days. It could be our chance.”
Momentum is everything on the final day of the Ryder Cup. Anyone who has watched the scoreboard change colors like the temperature gauge in an overheating car knows how quickly a cushion can become a hot seat. Think of how fast the Europeans, holding a 10-6 lead, slid down the drain just ahead of American Justin Leonard’s putt at Brookline in 1999. Or the way the Europeans similarly turned the tables in 2012, erasing that same deficit for an improbable win at Medinah.
“I think we learned a lot of lessons from 2012,” said Stricker, who played on that team and lost his singles match to Martin Kaymer. “Probably the thing I can say is that we didn’t do a good job then putting our lineup out on Sunday. ... That was definitely one of the things that we were talking about up there tonight.
“So you know,” he said finally. “it’s hard to say if you got it right or not.”
With eight players ranked among the top 10 in the world and only one outside the top 20 — Scottie Scheffler, at No. 21 — Stricker’s job was picking through an embarrassment of riches.
Xander Schauffle, who went 3-0, leads off against also-winless Rory McIlroy. World No. 2-ranked Dustin Johnson, the squad’s oldest player and the only golfer on either side to go 4-0 through the team matches, will get to sleep in and plays in the sixth match against winless Paul Casey. Daniel Berger, one of six American rookies, wound up in the 12th spot against Matt Fitzpatrick, yet another European without a point.
Except for McIlroy, Harrington lined up all of his winless players in slots 6-12. Rahm plays the third match against Scottie Scheffler, and Garcia goes off fourth against long-hitting Bryson DeChambeau.
“These things can be done,” said Harrington, who played in the 1999 match at Brookline. “It is more of an individual game tomorrow and our job is getting them to focus on winning their point. That’s the biggest thing they can do to help the team.”


Behave normally, UK transport minister tells Britons queuing for fuel

Updated 26 September 2021

Behave normally, UK transport minister tells Britons queuing for fuel

  • Long lines of vehicles formed at petrol stations in recent days as motorists waited in line to fill up with fuel

BRIGHTON, England: Transport Minister Grant Shapps on Sunday called on Britons to behave normally when buying petrol, saying there was no shortage of fuel and the government was stepping in to ease a shortage of drivers bringing it to petrol stations.
In recent days long lines of vehicles formed at petrol stations as motorists waited in line, some for hours, to fill up with fuel after oil firms reported a lack of drivers was causing transport problems from refineries to forecourts, leading some operators to ration supplies and others to close gas stations.
“There’s plenty of fuel, there’s no shortage of the fuel within the country,” he told Sky News.
“So the most important thing is actually that people carry on as they normally would and fill up their cars when they normally would, then you won’t have queues and you won’t have shortages at the pump either.”
The government on Sunday announced a plan to issue temporary visas for 5,000 foreign truck drivers.
But business leaders have warned it is a short-term fix that will not solve an acute labor shortage that risks major disruption beyond fuel deliveries, including for retailers in the run-up to Christmas.
Shapps called the panic over fuel a ‘manufactured situation’ and blamed it on a hauliers’ association.
“They’re desperate to have more European drivers undercutting British salaries,” he said.


Pakistan, China to add Karachi coastal development plan to CPEC project

Updated 26 September 2021

Pakistan, China to add Karachi coastal development plan to CPEC project

  • Move a ‘game changer’ for the country, Pakistan’s maritime ministry says
  • Planning Minister Asad Umar reiterates Pakistan’s commitment to multibillion-dollar CPEC initiative

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad and Beijing have agreed to include a $3.5 billion coastal development project, in Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi, under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) plan, Pakistan’s maritime ministry said in a statement.

An agreement for the Karachi Coastal Comprehensive Development Zone’s (KCCDZ) inclusion, termed a “game-changer” for Pakistan, was discussed during a meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC), CPEC’s apex decision-making body, earlier this week.

The 10th JCC meeting, held after a hiatus of almost two years, was co-chaired by Pakistan’s Planning Minister Asad Umar and Chinese National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) deputy chief, Ning Jizhe. 

“A monumental decision was taken... on 23rd September 2021 at Islamabad and Beijing. The two countries agreed to include Karachi Coastal Comprehensive Development Zone (KCCDZ) under the CPEC framework,” the statement said.

“KCCDZ will unlock Pakistan’s unexplored Blue Economy and significantly enhance development and industrial cooperation between the two brotherly countries. KCCDZ is a game-changer for Pakistan,” it added.

The KCCDZ initiative, the “first of its kind even for CPEC,” is expected to be built with Chinese investment in partnership with the Karachi Port Trust (KPT).

Once ready, it will house a state-of-the-art fishing port with a world-class fisheries export processing zone to boost Pakistan’s trade potential, according to the statement.

“It would drastically improve the marine ecosystem and reduce pollution by establishing a water treatment plant at the mouth of the Lyari River,” it added.

The ambitious CPEC plan has seen Beijing pledge over $60 billion for infrastructure projects in Pakistan, central to China’s broader Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to develop land and sea trade routes in Asia and beyond.

Earlier this week, Umar said Pakistan’s government was “fully committed” to CPEC and considered it critical for its growth and development.


Turkey could buy more Russian S-400 missiles despite US warnings

Updated 26 September 2021

Turkey could buy more Russian S-400 missiles despite US warnings

  • President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey would have to decide its defense systems on its own
  • The US strongly objects to the use of Russian systems within NATO and says it poses a threat to the F-35s

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s president has said he would consider buying a second Russian missile system in defiance of strong objections by the United States.
In an interview with American broadcaster CBS News, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would have to decide its defense systems on its own.
Speaking to correspondent Margaret Brennan in New York this past week, Erdogan explained that Turkey wasn’t given the option to buy American-made Patriot missiles and the US hadn’t delivered F-35 stealth jets despite a payment of $1.4 billion. Erdogan’s comments came in excerpts released in advance of the full interview being broadcast Sunday.
NATO member Turkey was kicked out of the F-35 program and defense officials were sanctioned after it bought the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system. The US strongly objects to the use of Russian systems within NATO and says it poses a threat to the F-35s. Turkey maintains the S-400s could be used independently without being integrated into NATO systems and therefore pose no risk.
The US also sanctioned Turkey in 2020 for its purchase under a 2017 law aimed at pushing back Russian influence. The move was the first time that the law, known as CAATSA, was used to penalize a US ally.
But Erdogan has remained defiant. “Of course, of course, yes,” Erdogan said after stating Turkey would make its own defense choices, in response to Brennan’s question on whether Turkey would buy more S-400s.
The issue is one of several sticking points in Turkish-American relations that also include US support for Syrian Kurdish fighters who Turkey considers terrorists, and the continued US residency of a Muslim cleric accused of plotting the failed coup attempt against Erdogan’s government in 2016.
Erdogan is scheduled to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sept. 29.