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GMC GROUP FOR INDUSTRIAL COMME   1.29        Telecom Egypt   11.48        Modern Company For Water Proof   1.03        Ismailia Misr Poultry   2.45        El Arabia for Investment & Dev   0.34        Ezz Steel   7.86        Egyptian Real Estate Group   6.85        Pioneers Holding   2.84        Rakta Paper Manufacturing   4.39        Orascom Telecom Holding (OT)   3.92        Egyptian Iron & Steel   6.87        Naeem Holding   0.19        Canal Shipping Agencies   7.39        Misr Chemical Industries   5.65        United Arab Shipping   0.43        Egyptians Housing Development    1.94        Universal For Paper and Packag   4.94        Northern Upper Egypt Developme   4.93        Egyptian for Tourism Resorts   0.69        Egyptian Financial Group-Herme   7.42        Orascom Construction Industrie   240.82        Modern Shorouk Printing & Pack   7        Upper Egypt Contracting   0.8        Heliopolis Housing   21.65        Raya Holding For Technology An   4.57        United Housing & Development   8.93        International Agricultural Pro   2.1        Gulf Canadian Real Estate Inve   18.08        Alexandria Pharmaceuticals   45.71        Arab Cotton Ginning   2.46        Egyptian Chemical Industries (   7.26        National Real Estate Bank for    11.84        Six of October Development & I   15.03        National Development Bank   6.72        Oriental Weavers   20.66        Arab Gathering Investment   16.29        Egyptians Abroad for Investmen   2.75        Palm Hills Development Company   1.61        Credit Agricole Egypt   9.04        Remco for Touristic Villages C   2.13        Commercial International Bank    29.87        El Ezz Porcelain (Gemma)   1.9        Egyptian Starch & Glucose   5.4        Arab Real Estate Investment (A   0.41        South Valley Cement   3.12        Citadel Capital - Common Share   2.5        Rowad Tourism (Al Rowad)   5.05        Union National Bank - Egypt "    3.25        Ceramic & Porcelain   2.88        El Nasr Transformers (El Maco)   4.78        Egyptian Media Production City   2.31        GB AUTO   27        Sharkia National Food   3.78        Egyptian Transport (EGYTRANS)   7.85        El Kahera Housing   4.97        El Shams Housing & Urbanizatio   2.45        Egyptian Kuwaiti Holding   0.7        ARAB POLVARA SPINNING & WEAVIN   2.11        Cairo Poultry   8.32        Egyptian Financial & Industria   8        T M G Holding   4.03        Asek Company for Mining - Asco   10.66        Misr Hotels   27        Egyptian Electrical Cables   0.56        Medinet Nasr Housing   22.51        Mena Touristic & Real Estate I   1.21        ELSWEDY CABLES   18        Al Arafa Investment And Consul   0.17        Prime Holding   0.91        Alexandria Spinning & Weaving    0.74        General Company For Land Recla   16.6        Gharbia Islamic Housing Develo   8.41        Alexandria Cement   8.9        Arab Valves Company   0.94        Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals   12.4        TransOceans Tours   0.09        Egyptian for Developing Buildi   6.43        Egyptian Gulf Bank   1.24        Kafr El Zayat Pesticides   18.19        Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt -   35.1        National company for maize pro   11.86        Delta Construction & Rebuildin   4.03        Zahraa Maadi Investment & Deve   48.25        Samad Misr -EGYFERT   3.52        Egypt for Poultry   1.41        Cairo Development and Investme   11.7        Cairo Pharmaceuticals   20.1        Maridive & oil services   0.9        Suez Canal Bank   3.75        Nile Pharmaceuticals   15.81        The Arab Dairy Products Co. AR   73.85        National Housing for Professio   14.39        El Ahli Investment and Develop   4.87        Egyptian Saudi Finance Bank   10.79        Ismailia National Food Industr   5.16        National Societe Generale Bank   25.52        Acrow Misr   19.16        Alexandria Mineral Oils Compan   63.63        Paper Middle East (Simo)   5.59        Egypt Aluminum   12.31        Giza General Contracting   13.12        Middle Egypt Flour Mills   5.82        Extracted Oils   0.6        Assiut Islamic Trading   4.56        Engineering Industries (ICON)   3.95        North Cairo Mills   15.3        Arab Pharmaceuticals   11.88        Grand Capital   5.38        El Ahram Co. For Printing And    10.68        Minapharm Pharmaceuticals   25.49        El Arabia Engineering Industri   13.52        El Nasr For Manufacturing Agri   9.71        Naeem portfolio and fund Manag   1.7        Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt -   6.76        Natural Gas & Mining Project (   68.26        Housing & Development Bank   13.95        East Delta Flour Mills   31.5        Orascom Development Holding (A   3.22        Memphis Pharmaceuticals   11.12        Abou Kir Fertilizers   134.23        Delta Insurance   5        Cairo Investment & Real Estate   12.18        Cairo Oils & Soap   12.98        Egyptian Arabian (cmar) Securi   0.36        Egyptian Real Estate Group Bea   15.56        Alexandria Containers and good   85.51        Upper Egypt Flour Mills   45.78        Development & Engineering Cons   9.94        Sinai Cement   15.18        Medical Union Pharmaceuticals   28.01        Torah Cement   24.2        Alexandria New Medical Center   46.55        Export Development Bank of Egy   5.04        Egyptian Company for Mobile Se   92.02        Middle & West Delta Flour Mill   32.7        El Kahera El Watania Investmen   4.18        Mansourah Poultry   12.41        Delta Sugar   11.04        Misr Beni Suef Cement   41.21        Egyptian Satellites (NileSat)   6.14        Cairo Educational Services   17.75        Lecico Egypt   7.55        Sharm Dreams Co. for Tourism I   5.3        General Silos & Storage   10.77        Al Moasher for Programming and   0.66        UTOPIA   5.28        Arab Ceramics (Aracemco)   25.4        Barbary Investment Group ( BIG   0.98        

News - MENA News

Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-01-07 08:31:15
A car bomb exploded outside a police college in Yemen's capital Sanaa early on Wednesday, killing around 30 and wounding more than 50 others, police sources said, underscoring the country's deteriorating security and growing al Qaeda threat. Turmoil in Yemen, already high since a 2011 popular uprising that led to a change of government and splits in the army, has accelerated since September when the Shi'ite Muslim Houthi militia seized Sanaa, prompting fears of sectarian conflict. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the Sunni militant movement's most active wings, had staged a growing number of bombings and shootings across the country and further stepped up its campaign after the Houthi advance. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Wednesday's bombing. Al Qaeda has in the past claimed they were behind such attacks. The victims from the latest blast included students at the college and people waiting in line to enroll with the police, the police sources said, as well as passers by. Ambulances were transporting casualties away from the scene of the blast, and bodies were seen lying in the street, witnesses said. The explosion was heard across the city and a large plume of smoke was visible in the area of the college. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-01-06 08:10:06
For someone nearing 80, President Mahmoud Abbas still knows how to shake things up. But his decision last week to join the International Criminal Court is a high-risk move that may set back the ultimate goal: an independent Palestinian state. Frustrated by the lack of progress in negotiations with Israel - the last, fruitless talks broke down in April - and the failure of his New Year's Eve statehood bid at the United Nations, Abbas followed through on a long-promised threat to join the ICC, filing the relevant documents on Jan. 2. The decision, to be formalized in the next 2-3 months, opens the way for war crimes charges to be brought against Israel, whether relating to last summer's conflict in Gaza or the impact of Israel's 47-year-long occupation of Palestinian territory. Equally, it opens the Palestinians up to war crimes charges, and Israeli officials have said they plan to make such moves via courts in the United States or elsewhere. But the biggest immediate hurdle for Abbas is getting the ICC, set up in The Hague 12 years ago, to take on any case it brings. Joining the court is one thing, but convincing the chief prosecutor that you have a winnable set of evidence is another. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-01-05 07:51:24
A large blast damaged a building belonging to Yemen's Shi'ite Muslim Houthi militia in a western district of the capital Sanaa early on Monday, but there were no fatalities, a police source and witnesses said. The Houthis, who control large swathes of Yemen and are regarded as enemies by Sunni militants including those in al Qaeda's Yemeni wing, sealed off the area soon afterwards to prevent access to it, said local residents. The explosion left a hole in the wall of the building, which was used as a base by the Houthis, witnesses told Reuters. Photographs posted on Yemeni social media accounts, which could not be immediately verified, showed the front of a building in which the windows had been blown out and bricks were missing from around the door. Turmoil in Yemen accelerated in September after the Houthis seized control of Sanaa and expanded into central and western parts of the country, leading to direct fighting between them and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in some areas. A series of bomb attacks by AQAP in recent weeks have struck Houthi targets, including a guesthouse in which four people were killed on Sunday and a street celebration in which 26 were killed on Wednesday. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-01-04 08:11:51
Supporters of Islamic State, the militant group that has overrun parts of Iraq and Syria, have killed 14 Libyan soldiers in the south of the country, the official government said on Saturday. In separate violence, forces loyal to the internationally recognized government staged air strikes on the port of Misrata, a western city allied to a group that holds the capital Tripoli. Both sides also fought with ground troops near the country's biggest oil port, part of a struggle between forces loyal to two rival governments allied to former rebel groups that helped oust Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 but now vie for power. Western powers and Libya's neighbors fear Islamic State and other radical Islamists are seeking to exploit a power vacuum in the oil-producing nation. The recognized government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni, which has been forced to work from the east since a group known as Libya Dawn linked to Misrata seized Tripoli last August, said Islamic State had executed 14 soldiers on a road north of Sabha, the main city in the south. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-12-31 10:30:46
Tunisian President-elect Beji Caid Essebsi has taken his oath of office after winning the country's first free presidential poll. The 88-year-old secured victory last week over incumbent Moncef Marzouki. His triumph means Tunisia - where the Arab Spring began - remains the only Arab country to move from authoritarian rule to democracy in that period. On Monday, electoral authorities confirmed that Mr Essebsi had won a run-off vote against Mr Marzouki. The new president took his oath of office at a ceremony in the newly elected parliament - where his party Nidaa Tounes also holds the largest number of seats. Economic changes The swearing in comes four years after protests that eventually toppled President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. Journalist Naveena Kottoor in Tunis says that while this is the latest democratic milestone for Tunisia, many in the country are arguing that political transition will only succeed if newly-elected politicians usher in social and economic changes. Mr Essebsi has urged all Tunisians to "work together" for stability but critics say his win marks the return of a discredited establishment, pointing out that he served under President Ben Ali. This month's vote was the first time Tunisians have been able to vote freely for their president since independence from France in 1956. Beji Caid Essebsi 88-year-old lawyer and politician Studied law in Paris Interior minister under Habib Bourguiba, Tunisia's first president after independence Speaker of parliament under ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali Interim prime minister in 2011 after the uprising Founder of secular-leaning Nidaa Tounes party in 2014 Supported by both trade unions and some business groups The new president will have restricted powers under a constitution passed earlier this year. He will be commander-in-chief of the armed forces but can appoint or sack senior officers only in consultation with the prime minister. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-12-31 08:10:51
The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday rejected a Palestinian resolution calling for an Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem and the establishment of a Palestinian state by late 2017. The resolution called for negotiations to be based on territorial lines that existed before Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war. It also called for a peace deal within 12 months. Even if the draft had received the minimum nine votes in favor, it would have been defeated by Washington's vote against it. The United States is one of the five veto-wielding permanent members. There were eight votes in favor, including France, Russia and China, two against and five abstentions, among them Britain. Australia joined the United States in voting against the measure. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power defended Washington's position against the draft in a speech to the 15-nation council by saying it was not a vote against peace between Israel and the Palestinians. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-12-27 10:37:42
Saudi Arabia will lift state spending to a record in its 2015 budget while covering a deficit with its huge fiscal reserves, the government said, providing the first detailed look at how the world's top oil exporter aims to handle an era of cheap oil. Financial markets had feared the kingdom might slash spending. But the budget, released by the Finance Ministry on Thursday, suggests authorities are confident of their ability to ride out low oil prices and see no need for major austerity. Some analysts believe Riyadh is content to see oil prices fall as a way to squeeze out competing producers in non-OPEC nations. The budget figures imply it could pursue this strategy for years if it felt that was necessary. "We have the ability to endure low oil prices over the medium term," Finance Minister Ibrahim Alassaf told Saudi television after the announcement. He defined the medium term as three to five years but also said oil was expected to rebound late next year or in 2016. John Sfakianakis, regional director of asset manager Ashmore in Riyadh, said: "The message of the budget is, 'it's business as usual'. They have the will and fiscal capacity to power the economy." Spending in the 2015 budget is projected at a record 860 billion riyals ($230 billion), up 0.6 percent from 855 billion in the 2014 budget plan - the smallest rise in over a decade. Revenues are projected to drop to 715 billion riyals in 2015 from 855 billion seen in 2014, leaving a deficit of 145 billion riyals. That would be about 5.1 percent of the ministry's estimate of 2014 gross domestic product. In six months, Brent crude has tumbled from around $115 a barrel - a level at which the kingdom was raking in giant budget surpluses - to $60. But government reserves at the central bank, built up over four years of ultra-high oil prices, totalled 905 billion riyals in October, enough to cover deficits of the size projected in 2015 for about six years. That excludes the government's other assets and its ability to borrow. Saudi Arabia will continue spending on development projects, social welfare and security despite the oil price slide and challenging global conditions, the ministry said. That would be positive not only for Saudi Arabia but also for the rest of the Gulf, as Saudi money helps drive the entire region, from the Dubai property market to Bahrain's tourism industry and Kuwaiti construction firms. Stocks rose after the announcement, with the Riyadh index closing 0.6 percent higher and Dubai rising 1.4 percent. Table of 2014, 2015 budget figures: PROJECTS As usual, Saudi Arabia did not reveal the oil price assumed in its budget. Monica Malik, chief economist at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, said it seemed to be assuming oil at $55 and Saudi output broadly unchanged at 9.5 million barrels per day. "Saudi Arabia is in a strong position to fund its deficits...It could afford the new oil price for a year or even two," she said. The budget plan showed heavy spending on education, health and social welfare and state loans supporting job creation. Riyadh increased its focus on these areas after the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings. The statement did not detail defence spending or aid to allies such as Egypt, but these are geopolitical priorities so expenditure is expected to stay strong. Many large infrastructure projects, such as a $22.5 billion plan to build a Riyadh metro rail system, are funded off-budget from a separate account. Saudi Arabia's inflation-adjusted GDP grew an estimated 3.6 percent this year, up from 2.7 percent in 2013, the Finance Ministry said. Growth may slow next year but Saudi Arabia will not come close to recession regardless of oil prices, Sfakianakis said, adding that private sector activity would help offset any oil sector slowdown. Actual state revenues and spending often differ greatly from Saudi budget plans because of oil price fluctuations and policy adjustments. The ministry said actual revenues this year were now estimated at 1.046 trillion riyals and actual expenditure at 1.100 trillion, leaving a 54 billion riyal deficit, the first since 2009. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-12-25 15:07:32
Saudi authorities pledged to curb wages and push ahead with investments next year as the world’s largest oil exporter seeks to counter the effect of tumbling crude prices on the economy. The government said it expects the budget deficit in 2015 to widen to 145 billion riyals ($39 billion), from 54 billion riyals this year, the Finance Ministry said today. That amounts to about 5 percent of gross domestic product, according to Arqaam Capital, a Dubai-based investment bank. The Finance Ministry said the government will continue to invest in areas such as education and health care, while exerting “more efforts” to curb spending on wages and allowances, which make up about 50 percent of spending. Projected revenue will drop more than 30 percent next year to 715 billion riyals, while expenditure was set at 860 billion riyals, budget data show. Spending in 2014 is estimated to have been 1.1 trillion riyals, 29 percent higher than target. During his nine-year reign, King Abdullah, 90, has allocated a record amount of money to raise wages, build roads, industrial centers and airports as he sought to bolster growth and keep political unrest at bay. Government spending has been driven by crude prices averaging above $107 a barrel since the end of 2011. Oil is now trading at nearly half that level, having slumped to its lowest since 2009. Youth Unemployment The spending spree hasn’t resolved problems such as high youth unemployment, especially in Saudi Arabia, where the rate was almost 30 percent in 2012, according to the International Monetary Fund. Despite total employment growth averaging near 8.5 percent, employment growth for Saudis was 4.6 percent in the years between 2010 and 2012, the IMF said in July last year. Brent crude slipped 2.4 percent yesterday to $60.24 a barrel, bringing its drop in the past six months to 47 percent. “The budget will continue to focus on priority investment programs that enhance sustainable and strong economic development and employment opportunities for Saudis,” the Finance Ministry said. The kingdom’s benchmark Tadawul All Share Index of stocks rose 0.6 percent at the close in Riyadh, trimming its decline over the last six months to about 8 percent. “We see the aim of the budget to progress with key strategic projects, whilst reining in excessive government spending,” Monica Malik, chief economist of Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC, said today. “We did not expect to see a sharp retrenchment in government spending.” ‘Significant Buffers’ Although Saudi Arabia and other Gulf oil producers “are robust and have significant buffers to survive price differences, they could also face difficulties,” Lucio Vinhas de Souza, the New York-based managing director and sovereign chief economist at Moody’s Investors Service, said in a phone interview before the release. “They’re going to have a reduction of their fiscal revenue, which is significantly dependent on the energy sector, and they’re going to be affected via export revenues,” he said. The economy is estimated to have grown 3.6 percent in 2014, missing the 4.3 percent median estimate of 13 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Gross domestic product expanded 2.7 percent in 2013, the Finance Ministry said. The surge in oil prices over the past decade helped Saudi Arabia boost its net foreign assets to a record 2.9 trillion riyals in October, according to central bank data.Source : bloomberg More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-12-25 09:45:05
Islamic State fighters took a Jordanian pilot prisoner after his warplane came down in northeast Syria on Wednesday, the first captive taken from the U.S.-led coalition battling the jihadi group. Jordan's armed forces said one of its pilots had been captured after a coalition air raid over the province of Raqqa. There were contradictory accounts as to whether his aircraft had been shot down or not. "Jordan holds the group (IS) and its supporters responsible for the safety of the pilot and his life," said a statement read out on state television. It said the F-16 warplane had crashed during a Jordanian air force "military mission against the hideouts of the terrorist group". Jordan's government spokesman Mohammad Al-Momani told satellite TV station Al Hadath the jet fighter "was shot at from the ground by rocket missiles and was brought down" and that an attempt to rescue the pilot before he was captured failed. He did not elaborate. But Momani later told Reuters that new assessments showed there was no indication the plane had been shot at by the militants. "We initially thought the plane might have been shot at, but we cannot confirm this now," he added. An official source said King Abdullah met top commanders in Jordanian military headquarters, where a round-the-clock operations room had been set up after the pilot's capture. The U.S. military's Central Command said evidence showed Islamic State did not shoot down the aircraft. It did not disclose the nature of that evidence. The head of Central Command, General Lloyd Austin, said the United States would "support efforts to ensure his safe recovery and will not tolerate ISIL's attempts to misrepresent or exploit this unfortunate aircraft crash for their own purposes". One U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said U.S. aircraft took to the air once the Jordanian jet crashed but the pilot was picked up before any rescue attempt could be launched. PICTURES OF PILOT The Jordanian statement described Islamic State as a "group that does not conceal its terrorist plots, committing many criminal acts from wanton destruction to killing innocent Muslims and non-Muslims in Syria and Iraq". Islamic State social media published pictures appearing to show the pilot being held by the group's fighters and images of what they said was his Jordanian military ID card. The images were later verified by relatives contacted by Reuters who said they had been notified by the head of the Jordanian air force the pilot was First Lieutenant Muath al-Kasaesbeh, aged 27. The army separately confirmed his name. His father, Safi Yousef, appealed to the captors to show mercy and release his son, whom relatives say is a pious Muslim. A friend said Kasaesbeh, who is from a prominent Jordanian family, was fervent in his commitment to his mission and felt it was a religious duty to fight extremist groups such as Islamic State that were "distorting the true spirit of Islam". One of the published images showed the pilot, wearing a white shirt, being led out of water by armed fighters. Another showed him on land surrounded by at least a dozen fighters in military fatigues and equipped with assault rifles. Jordan is one of the countries participating in the U.S.-led coalition which has been bombing Islamic State targets in Syria since September. The staunch U.S. ally has provided a logistics base for the U.S.-led air campaign and is a hub for intelligence-gathering operations against the jihadists, a western diplomatic source said. A U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman said the administration was in close touch with the Jordanian government and "our thoughts and prayers are with the pilot, his family, and our partners in the Jordanian Armed Forces". King Abdullah has been in the forefront of regional U.S. allies supportive of the campaign but has said radical Sunni extremists cannot defeated by military means alone and their ideology must be confronted with reason. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have also joined or supported the strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria, according to U.S. Central Command. Raqqa province, which borders Turkey, is almost entirely under the control of Islamic State fighters. Boosted by arms seized in Iraq, the group evicted most rival rebels from the province earlier this year and took control of a string of government military bases over the summer, including an air base. The United States is also bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq, where the group has seized swathes of territory. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-12-24 10:24:00
The U.S. government is preparing to boost the number of private contractors in Iraq as part of President Barack Obama's growing effort to beat back Islamic State militants threatening the Baghdad government, a senior U.S. official said. How many contractors will deploy to Iraq - beyond the roughly 1,800 now working there for the U.S. State Department - will depend in part, the official said, on how widely dispersed U.S. troops advising Iraqi security forces are, and how far they are from U.S. diplomatic facilities. Still, the preparations to increase the number of contractors - who can be responsible for everything from security to vehicle repair and food service - underscores Obama's growing commitment in Iraq. When U.S. troops and diplomats venture into war zones, contractors tend to follow, doing jobs once handled by the military itself. "It is certain that there will have to be some number of contractors brought in for additional support," said the senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity. After Islamic State seized large swaths of Iraqi territory and the major city of Mosul in June, Obama ordered U.S. troops back to Iraq. Last month, he authorized roughly doubling the number of troops, who will be in non-combat roles, to 3,100, but is keen not to let the troop commitment grow too much. There are now about 1,750 U.S. troops in Iraq, and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week ordered deployment of an additional 1,300. The U.S. military’s reliance on civilians was on display during Hagel's trip to Baghdad this month, when he and his delegation were flown over the Iraqi capital in helicopters operated by State Department contractors. The problem, the senior U.S. official said, is that as U.S. troops continue flowing into Iraq, the State Department's contractor ranks will no longer be able to support the needs of both diplomats and troops. After declining since late 2011, State Department contractor numbers in Iraq have risen slightly, by less than 5 percent, since June, a State Department spokesman said. CONTROVERSIAL PRESENCE For example, in July, the State Department boosted from 39 to 57 the number of personnel protecting the U.S. consulate in Erbil that came under threat from Islamic State forces during its June offensive. That team is provided by Triple Canopy, part of the Constellis Group conglomerate, which is the State Department's largest security contractor. Constellis did not respond to a phone call seeking comment. The presence of contractors in Iraq, particularly private security firms, has been controversial since a series of violent incidents during the U.S. occupation, culminating in the September 2007 killing of 14 unarmed Iraqis by guards from Blackwater security firm. Three former guards were convicted in October of voluntary manslaughter charges and a fourth of murder in the case, which prompted reforms in U.S. government oversight of contractors. U.S. troops in Iraq are not using private contractors to provide them additional security, a second U.S. official said. Virtually all the U.S. government contractors now in Iraq work for the State Department. The withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq in 2011 left it little choice but to hire a small army of contractors to help protect diplomatic facilities, and provide other services like food and logistics. The number of Pentagon contractors, which in late 2008 reached over 163,000 - rivaling the number of U.S. troops on the ground at the time - has fallen sharply with reduced U.S. military presence. Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright said there is only a handful left now and they report to the State Department. In late 2013, the Pentagon still had 6,000 contractors in Iraq, mostly supporting U.S. weapon sales to the Baghdad government, Wright said. But there are signs that trend will be reversed. The Pentagon in August issued a public notice that it was seeking help from private firms to advise Iraq's Ministry of Defense and its Counter Terrorism Service. The notice appeared intended as preparation, in case military commanders need to surge contractors into Iraq. The announcement did not specify the size or cost of the proposed effort. The Pentagon also said in a quarterly census in October that it would resume reporting on contractors supporting it operations in Iraq in its next update due in January. More»