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The world 'owes' Iraq a Marshall Plan, says FM
by Staff Writers
Rome (AFP) Nov 30, 2017

Marathon draws thousands in Iraq's devastated Mosul
Mosul, Iraq (AFP) Nov 30, 2017 - More than 4,000 runners took part Thursday in a "peace marathon" in Mosul to raise funds to rebuild the war-ravaged western district of Iraq's second city.

Government forces declared victory in July in their battle to oust the Islamic State group from Mosul, which the jihadists had seized in a lightning 2014 offensive.

Iraqi forces first recaptured east Mosul and in February launched a months-long battle for the densely-populated western sector of a city which is divided by the Tigris River.

Today much of Mosul, the capital of Nineveh province, lies in ruins with the pace of reconstruction slow.

On Thursday, more than 4,000 Iraqi and foreign runners took part in a first "International Nineveh Marathon for Peace" in east Mosul that kicked off near the destroyed Old Bridge.

"Each participant contributed 5,000 dinars ($4) to take part in the race," Raad al-Taii, a spokesman for the organisers, told AFP.

The aim was to raise funds for displaced residents of west Mosul, and to rebuild homes and shops.

"The marathon is a message of peace for the entire world... and also a local and international call to raise awareness for reconstruction," said one of the organisers, Moataz al-Rawi.

Iraq told the international community on Thursday it was "owed" a Marshall Plan after defeating the Islamic State group and a jihadist army of soldiers from more than 100 different countries.

"We are calling for a Marshall Plan to help us with the reconstruction," Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said at a conference in Rome. "The world owes us that".

The multi-billion dollar Marshall Plan launched by the United States after World War II is widely credited for helping Europe achieve its current prosperity and stability.

"There were 124 different nationalities from all democracies in the world" fighting with IS, Jaafari said. "Iraq was confronting an army from all those countries".

"The state alone cannot reconstruct entire cities. This is a legitimate right of a country that is waging a world war".

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said earlier this month that the IS occupation of northern Iraq and the battle to defeat it has caused more than $100 billion worth of damage to the country.

Jaafari also reminded the international community of the "opportunities for investment" in Iraq, saying "countries can benefit because the economy is linked to security".

On Monday, Iraq invited foreign firms to apply for tenders to explore and develop eight oil and gas fields along its Iranian and Kuwaiti borders, along with an offshore bloc.

The second death -- in Iraq -- of Osama bin Laden
Baghdad (AFP) Nov 30, 2017 - Just four days before he was about to legally change his first name, Iraqi teenager Osama bin Laden Hussein died after being electrocuted, a cousin said Thursday.

The 16-year-old was named by his father after Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, whose group carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, his cousin, Mohannad, told AFP.

"He was born at the end of 2001, just after the September 11 attack on the Twin Towers (in New York)," said Mohannad, who declined to give his surname.

At time Iraqi media under former dictator Saddam Hussein "depicted Ben Laden as a hero, not a terrorist" and Hussein's father chose that first name for his newborn son as a tribute, he said.

But that choice backfired.

After the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, US soldiers raided the Hussein family home after they learned that "Bin Laden" lived there, an episode that scarred the young boy, said the cousin.

Hussein was afraid of venturing out of the family home, staying indoors to avoid encountering a patrol which would ask for his papers.

Eventually he dared to go out and sold tea on the street to earn some pocket money.

His luck changed after he was interviewed by a local television channel two months ago.

Interior Minister Qassem al-Araji saw the show and invited Hussein and his family to a meeting in Baghdad's high-security "Green Zone", said Ahmad al-Hajj, the journalist who conducted the interview.

The family was "terrified" when they received the call from the interior minister asking to meet them but the visit went well, Hajj told AFP.

The minister "joked with Hussein, gave him an Iphone and asked him to choose a new first name", said Hajj.

Hussein could not think of one and the minister opted for Ahmad, and a new identify card bearing his name change was due to be delivered on Sunday.

Buoyed by his good fortune, Hussein went looking for a job and a week ago found one in a shop that sells spare parts.

On Wednesday, he climbed on the roof of the shop to bring down some supplies but slipped and grabbed onto an electricity cable, said Mohannad.

"He was electrocuted and died," the cousin said.

Around 3,000 people were killed in the 9/11 plane attacks on the United States, while bin Laden was killed in a 2011 US raid on a compound in Pakistan.

Iraqis throng to Picasso in Baghdad
Baghdad (AFP) Nov 28, 2017
Picasso, Dali, Miro, Chagall... names that are instantly recognisable in the international art world. Now works by these masters are being exhibited in Baghdad thanks to an anonymous Iraqi collector. The exhibition at the Hiwar gallery - one of the last to remain open in the city - includes 24 Picasso lithographs. For gallery owner Qassem Sabti, "this exhibition is a historic chance" f ... read more

Related Links
Iraq: The first technology war of the 21st century

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