EconSource: Al-Qaeda Captures Major Airport, Oil Terminal in Yemen

Al-Qaeda seized control of a major airport, sea port, and oil terminal in southern Yemen on Thursday, consolidating its hold in Hadramawt, the country’s largest province, amid wider chaos in the country. Military officials and residents said al-Qaeda fighters clashed briefly with members of one of Yemen’s largest brigades outside Mukalla. The militants then seized control of the Riyan airport and moved to secure their hold on the city’s main seaport and oil terminal. Elsewhere in Hadramawt, tribal forces took control of a major oil terminal in al-Shihr after soldiers protecting it withdrew, a military source said. [AP, 4/16/2015]

Iraqi prime minister says committed to reforms to attract business
Iraq is committed to making difficult reforms to attract much needed investment, including reducing hurdles for business and attacking corruption, Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said at a Washington forum. Abadi and other senior Iraqi officials are seeking weapons and aid from the United States and international organizations as they fight militants from the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) while facing a $25 billion budget deficit. According to Abadi, reforms so far include easing visa requirements for investors, reducing registration procedures for new businesses, and granting greater authority to local governments. Meanwhile, ISIS militants clashed with security forces inside Iraq’s Baiji refinery on Thursday and held on to recent gains in the west of the country. [Reuters, 4/16/2015]

Saudi exchange to permit trading by foreign investors
Saudi Arabia will open its $530 billion stock market to foreign investments on June 15, a long-awaited move that will give international investors direct access to the Middle East’s biggest economy.  Last year, Saudi officials revealed plans to allow direct foreign investment in Saudi-listed entities, which would help the kingdom attract hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign cash as it pushes to diversify its economy by boosting the private sector. Previously, foreign investors outside of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have been limited to buying Saudi shares indirectly through swaps or exchange-traded funds. [Al Arabiya, WSJ, 4/16/2015]

Egypt joins China-based infrastructure bank, hopes for funds
Egypt has been approved as a founding member of the Beijing-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), opening the way for it to benefit from the bank’s $50 billion in funds, the foreign ministry said. Britain, Germany, France and Italy are also among the fifty-seven founders of the bank, despite scepticism about it in Washington and Tokyo. The Egyptian foreign ministry said its access to the bank will provide it with funding opportunities to finance development and infrastructure projects. The new multinational lender is seen as a rival to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. [AFP, 4/16/2015]

Also of interest
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Algeria sees leadership vacuum in face of oil challenges (analysis) | AP
Iraq pays doctors to keep its enemies alive in budget bind | Bloomberg
Remittances by Qatari workers fall in 2014 | The Peninsula
Post oil price shock, Moody’s downgrades Bahrain’s rating | Gulf News