Mueller Now Investigating Democratic Lobbyist Tony Podesta

WASHINGTON — Tony Podesta and the Podesta Group are now the subjects of a federal investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, three sources with knowledge of the matter told NBC News.

The probe of Podesta and his Democratic-leaning lobbying firm grew out of Mueller’s inquiry into the finances of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to the sources. As special counsel, Mueller has been tasked with investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Manafort had organized a public relations campaign for a non-profit called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU). Podesta’s company was one of many firms that worked on the campaign, which promoted Ukraine’s image in the West.

The sources said the investigation into Podesta and his company began as more of a fact-finding mission about the ECMU and Manafort’s role in the campaign, but has now morphed into a criminal inquiry into whether the firm violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, known as FARA.

Related: What Did Paul Manafort Really Do in Ukraine?

Under FARA, people who lobby on behalf of foreign governments, leaders or political parties must file detailed disclosures about their spending and activities with the Justice Department. Willful failure to file the forms is a felony and can result in up to five years in prison, though such prosecutions are rare.

Image: Tony Podesta
Tony Podesta and then wife Heather Podesta (L) at a Washington party on August 2, 2011. Rebecca D’Angelo / The Washington Post/Getty Images

The Podesta Group filed a FARA registration for its work with ECMU only after the payments were reported by the media. Manafort’s firm also filed a FARA registration after media reports in June disclosed its work in Ukraine from 2012 through 2014.

The ECMU was reportedly backed by the Party of Regions, the pro-Russian and oligarch-funded Ukrainian political party for which Manafort worked as a consultant, and which paid his firm millions. Viktor Yanukovych of the Party of Regions, a Manafort client, was president of Ukraine during the ECMU campaign, which ran from 2012 to 2014. He fled the country in 2014.

Tony Podesta is the chairman of the Podesta Group and the brother of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign chairman. John Podesta is not currently affiliated with the Podesta Group and is not part of Mueller’s investigation.

In a statement, a spokesman for the Podesta Group said the firm “is cooperating fully with the Special Counsel’s office and has taken every possible step to provide documentation that confirms timely compliance. In all of our client engagements, the Podesta Group conducts due diligence and consults with appropriate legal experts to ensure compliance with disclosure regulations at all times — and we did so in this case.”

Image: Paul Manafort, campaign manager to Republican Presidential Candidate Trump, leaves as reporters ask about the Republican National Convention Committee on Rules in Cleveland
Paul Manafort at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on July 14, 2016. Rick Wilking / Reuters file

A spokesperson for Mueller’s office declined to comment.

In late August, NBC News reported that Special Counsel Mueller’s team sent subpoenas to six firms who were involved in public relations lobbying for ECMU.

The subpoenas sought testimony from public relations executives who worked on the campaign organized by Manafort, people directly familiar with the matter told NBC News.

One source with knowledge of the investigation said that federal investigators have now met with several former staffers of the various firms involved in the ECMU campaign.

Mueller’s team is closely examining the lobbying campaign, which ran between 2012 and 2014. Six firms participated in the public relations effort that Manafort coordinated, paid for by the Brussels-based ECMU. The stated goal was to build support for Ukraine’s entry into the European Union, the same source said.

Related: Mueller Seeks Testimony From PR Firms That Worked With Manafort

Two of the firms, Podesta Group and Mercury LLC, worked in Washington with Manafort partner Rick Gates, according to lobbying disclosure records. Three other firms worked in Europe, the executive said. NBC News could not confirm the identity of those three.

Image: Viktor Yanukovych
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (R) looks on as German Foreign Affairs Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier walks behind him before signing an agreement in Kiev on February 21, 2014. Sergei Supinsky / AFP/Getty Images file

Manafort, whose Alexandria, Virginia, apartment was raided by FBI agents in July, has emerged as a key figure in the Mueller probe. The inquiry into the lobbying campaign appears to be part of a larger investigation into his work for the Party of Regions, his offshore banking transactions, his tax compliance and his real estate dealings, people familiar with the probe have told NBC News.

The Associated Press first revealed the pro-Ukraine lobbying campaign in August 2016, while Manafort was still running the Trump campaign. Manafort left the campaign within days.

The report said the ECMU campaign was designed to sway public opinion and included attempts to solicit favorable press coverage in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

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Receding Waters in Houston Reveal Families’ Divergent Paths to Recovery

https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/hurricane-harvey/hurricane-deepens-divide-between-houston-s-haves-have-nots-n811896?cid=eml_mrd_20171023

 

HOUSTON — The water burbled from the floors of Vickie Carson’s cottage in the semirural northern edge of Houston, saturating everything she owned.

It seeped through the ceiling of Ebony Harrison’s apartment in the impoverished Sunnyside neighborhood, dousing her newborn daughter as she slept.

It swept so swiftly into Lidia Peña’s rental home in the city’s north side that she and her young son fled without taking any spare clothes.

It drove Rick Christie out of his midcentury ranch house in the southwest Houston neighborhood of Meyerland, leaving him to sleep on a couch above his garage.

Each of their homes was left uninhabitable by Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm that plowed through southeast Texas in late August. Its floodwaters capsized lives of the comfortable and the struggling, black and white, Latino and Asian. Tens of thousands of people across spectrums of race and income were left without permanent places to live, inspiring a newfound saying: Harvey was the storm that didn’t discriminate.

That may change now that the water is gone.

The poorer victims of the storm are now in danger of falling deeper into poverty or homelessness, while the wealthier are expected to rebound more quickly. Those in the middle will now struggle harder to stay afloat.

The result could be a deepening of Houston’s economic divides.

After surviving for nearly two months on temporary assistance checks from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, many Houstonians are facing dire choices.

Displaced renters have found themselves reliant on the whims of landlords or the generosity of friends. Homeowners without flood insurance are in a similar bind, while those who have it are waiting for their claims to go through. Some are maxing out their credit cards, or moving back into damaged houses.

The most fortunate, meanwhile — those with good insurance, a long-term place to stay and enough cash — are moving ahead with rebuilding plans. In some prosperous neighborhoods, certain homeowners aren’t bothering to wait for their insurance checks ─ if they had flood insurance at all ─ and are paying their contractors up front.

“Yeah, money has a lot to do with it,” Carson said. “It takes money to build things.”

An uncertain future

Carson, 55, a school bus driver, bought the single-level cottage in Houston Gardens with her disabled sister 10 years ago, drawn to the neighborhood’s mix of country and city. It was a few hundred feet from Halls Bayou, normally a pleasant meandering stream.

Image: Vickie Carson has just moved back to her home that was badly damaged by Hurricane Harvey
Vickie Carson, who fled her flooded home with nine family members, returned alone after the property was burglarized.David Butow / for NBC News

The bayou spilled its banks a few hours into the storm, along with the crude roadside ditches that comprised her neighborhood’s drainage system, flooding Carson’s home. At the time, 10 members of her family across three generations were living there, including four children. Most ended up in a water-damaged hotel near George Bush Intercontinental Airport, unsure what would happen after the Nov. 7 expiration of their emergency housing vouchers from FEMA, which covered their rooms.

Every day, twice a day, Carson returned to the house to pick through her possessions and decide what she could salvage. There wasn’t much. Her nephews, with help from volunteers from a West Texas church, had stripped the walls to their studs, and the front yard was a jumble of debris: clothing, appliances, chairs, lamps, children’s toys, books, DVDs.

She moved through the piles silently, limping on an aching knee while industrial fans roared inside. She had flood insurance, but was still waiting for word on her claim. She was seeking a contractor willing to start the work, one room at a time, one small payment at a time.

“I’m not rich,” she said. “I’m not going to have a big swimming pool outside. None of that’s going to happen. Just get the walls back up and the floors back down, I’ll be very glad for that.”

City of extremes

The speed of recovery for people like Carson has a lasting impact on a city’s ability to mend, researchers say. An uneven recovery — where some homes go unrepaired, neighborhoods are neglected, workers can’t get to work and businesses struggle to reopen — can weaken a city’s overall health and make it less resilient to future disasters.

Houston is particularly susceptible to this.

Before the storm, Houston was a study in contrasts. It is the fourth-largest city in America and also one of the most diverse ─ a place of open arms and unbridled growth.

But that progress has not unfolded equitably. A hub for the engineering, energy and medical industries, Houston has attracted two disparate streams of workers: high-skill/high-wage, and low-skill/low-wage. The result is a yawning gap between the well-off and the impoverished, an imbalance made worse by an affordable-housing crisis that includes federal charges of discrimination against minorities.

The number of high-poverty neighborhoods in the region has doubled since 1980, according to a study by PolicyLink and the University of Southern California’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity. Another, by the Pew Research Center, ranked Houston the highest in the nation for “residential segregation by income.” A third, from the Corporation for Enterprise Development, found that more than half of Houston households, including a third of homeowners, did not have enough savings to live above the poverty line for three months if they lost their income.

The Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University has warned that Harris County, which Houston dominates, is becoming “increasingly economically polarized,” with a shrinking number of middle-class neighborhoods, a decline in income diversity and a “stark division between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots.’”

Harvey made things worse.

The storm affected about 117,000 homes in Harris County, including 25,000 that suffered major damage. It inundated many areas that weren’t designated as being in a 100-year floodplain, which meant that homeowners weren’t required to have federally backed flood insurance. An estimated 45 percent of Houston households that flooded during Harvey earned less than $50,000, according to a Kinder Institute analysis. About 15 percent earned more than $150,000.

Thousands of Harvey’s victims are now scrambling for a piece of a $15 billion federal relief package, a pot that must be shared with survivors of other disasters this year. More than 411,418 Harvey victims have applied for assistance from FEMA, which has given out $591 million to cover their short-term needs, from hotel rooms to personal property replacement to home repairs — about $1,400 per applicant.

Long-term assistance, administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and distributed by local governments, is aimed at the rebuilding of homes, apartment buildings and small businesses. It’s likely that aid won’t trickle down for months. Or years.

Dr. Tony Martin – Jewish Tactics In The Controversy Over Jewish Involvement in The Slave Trade

Small Victories in the Battle Against ‘Modern Art’ Degeneracy

http://www.renegadetribune.com/small-victories-battle-modern-art-degeneracy/
By Torchy Blane

Every day, folks here at The New Nationalist search for tiny of glimmers of hope in the battle against cultural degeneracy. Today, we found some.

It seems that one major museum is finally taking into consideration the concept of human decency in determining what’s acceptable for large “modern art” installations in public spaces. It happening at the world’s largest art museum in Paris, of all places. Imagine that.

Joep van Lieshout’s ‘Domestikator’

Musée du Louvre President Jean-Luc Martinez announced the last-minute cancellation of an exhibition that features a three-story architectural sculpture of a man sexually penetrating a four-legged animal. The massive structure, called “Domestikator,” was supposed to open Oct. 16 in the museum’s Jardin des Tuileries, as part of the International Contemporary Art Fair (FIAC). Martinez said the planned location for the piece was unsuitable because it could be seen from a nearby school, it would have been adjacent to a playground, it depicts “sexual content,” and bestiality as modern art is simply “too brutal” and “too rude.”

The so-called “Dutch artist” responsible for the monstrosity, Joep van Lieshout, claims that the museum was influenced by a backlash of Internet commentary and political pressure from conservatives.

Since 2015, Germany was home “Domestikator,” which is just one part of a larger installation titled “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” featured in the Ruhrtriennale arts festival. The following images show the full scope of van Lieshout’s display.

Unfortunately, another Paris museum offered to display the “Domestikator,” which is now in front of The Centre Georges Pompidou. Shameful.

“Domestikator”in front of The Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. PHOTO: AFP

The Louvre’s decision isn’t the only small victory. In September, the Guggenheim “decided to pull three major works from a highly anticipated exhibition after pressure from animal-rights supporters and others over the show ‘Art and China After 1989: Theater of the World,’” NYT reports. The following brief video explains what this piece of “modern art” involved.

Are these signs that the modern art world has finally gone too far? Is the tide finally turning? Have you seen signs of fresh hope in the battle against degeneracy? If so, we’d love to hear about it.

Eye-Opening Survey Shows No.1 Fear of US Citizens is Government, NOT Terrorism

http://www.renegadetribune.com/eye-opening-survey-shows-no-1-fear-us-citizens-government-not-terrorism/
By Matt Agorist

An extensive survey of hundreds of adults across the United States has just revealed that the thing most Americans fear—more than anything else—is their own government. In fact, according to the survey, no other fear even comes close to the percentage of Americans who worry about their corrupt government officials.

The survey was conducted by Chapman University and it serves to back up the point that while Americans claim to live in the Land of the Free, deep down, they realize they are living in a corrupt oligarchy.

The Chapman University Survey of American Fears Wave 4 (2017) provides an in-depth examination into the fears of average Americans. In May of 2017, a random sample of 1,207 adults from across the United States were asked their level of fear about eighty different fears across a huge variety of topics ranging from crime, the government, the environment, disasters, personal anxieties, technology and many others.

As Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes, like last year, corruption of government officials came top in 2017, with 74.5 percent of U.S. adults saying it makes them “afraid” or “very afraid.”

Despite the constant fear mongering from the mainstream media and government on boogeymen terrorists plotting to steal our freedom, the public, according to this survey, is not buying it. In fact, the threat of terrorism isn’t even in the top 20 fears. Terrorism comes in at twenty-two—below credit card fraud and identity theft.

While this survey is certainly promising, in the idea that people are waking up to government corruption, it is also a telling sign of America’s ability to hold two entirely contradictory ideas as self-evident.

This ability, or perhaps better defined as “disability,” to hold two opposing ideas, such as the spreading of freedom through war, as being logically sound, is called cognitive dissonance. When one is in a state of dissonance, they may sometimes feel “disequilibrium”: frustration, hunger, dread, guilt, anger, embarrassment, anxiety, etc.

In order for cognitive dissonance to work, society must remain just ignorant enough to support and to believe the lies fed to them from the establishment as reality; even though this reality is a complete contradiction.

Once we step back and observe society with this in mind, the reason for this contradictory mental state becomes quite obvious. It is much easier to remain delusional and in a state of suspended disbelief than it is to deal with the opposing ideas held inside one’s head. How can one chant “USA is number 1!” while at the same time fearing the rulers of that USA?

Coming to terms with the fact that you can actually be killed by the very entity who claims to protect you from those who wish to do you harm, is a difficult realization.

Fortunately, there are those of us who have ‘woken up’ to our contradictory existence. This is not to say that we are smarter than others, only that we can recognize our own ignorance and through this self-reflection, seek to lessen that ignorance through entertaining ideas that may make us uncomfortable.

If this survey shows us anything, it is that Americans would do well to entertain the uncomfortable idea that this country they hold so high up on a pedestal has actually long been on a path to become the dystopian nightmare written about in books like 1984.

Americans would do well to remember the words by John Basil Barnhill in 1914 when he said,

“Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty.”

Sweden is Becoming More and More Segregated as a Result of Mass Non-White Immigration

A study from Linneuniversitet confirms that Sweden is becoming more and more segregated along ethnic lines as a direct result of mass immigration from the Middle East and North Africa.

(Swedish Survivor)

Those who move first are highly educated and/or have a high-income giving credence to my post from last year. “Yes, we’ve found a so-called tipping point at around 3-4%”, says Emma Neuman, research economist at Linneuniversitet. When the non-whites are that many in a residential area then the native Swedes start moving out.

Emma claims the effects were stronger in the 1990’s. Back then the tipping point was somewhat lower. According to Forsking & Framsteg this could be interpreted as people becoming more tolerant. Perhaps, or the odd million immigrants since then has limited the supply of white neighborhoods.

-The effect doesn’t revolve around immigrants generally. Immigrants from European countries give a no-move effect, instead it revolves around non-European immigrants. It is reminiscent of the phenomenon white flight in the USA where whites move away from neighbourhoods where many blacks move in.

Acceptance of diversity is in direct proportion to your distance from it

-Many people talk about ethnic diversity as an enriching factor, but when you choose a school for your kids or are going to move the question becomes very concrete, and then you often choose some form of Swedishness, according to Maja Lilja, sociologist at Örebro University.

She has interviewed 19 mothers of small children about diversity and Swedishness for her doctorate, and focuses on questions regarding segregation. Mixed neighbourhoods are considered interesting in interviews, but they don’t end up picking them in the end. (surprise-surprise)

-People pick whats best for their child, she says. They don’t want their kids to be in a minority, (curiously an overwhelming majority of the population vote for political parties that are working full-time to make their children and grand-children minorities in their own country – my note) or they place a lot of weight on the Swedish language.

In other words it’s about giving of the perception that you embrace diversity but when push comes to shove you aren’t willing to risk your own childrens well-being by raising them in Tensta and sending them to the Al-Azhar school in Stockholm.

I thought diversity was our greatest strength? I guess Sweden has not yet learned to be multicultural.

Oxford University: Students Who Avoid Making Eye Contact Could Be Guilty of Racism (LOL….)

Students who avoid making eye contact with their peers could be guilty of racism, according to Oxford University’s latest guidance.

From The Telegraph

The university’s Equality and Diversity Unit has advised students that “not speaking directly to people” could be deemed a “racial microaggression” which can lead to “mental ill-health”.

Other examples of “everyday racism” include asking someone where they are “originally” from, students were told.

Oxford University’s Equality and Diversity Unit explains in its Trinity term newsletter that “some people who do these things may be entirely well-meaning, and would be mortified to realise that they had caused offence.

“But this is of little consequence if a possible effect of their words or actions is to suggest to people that they may fulfil a negative stereotype, or do not belong”.

Universities have been accused of pandering to the “snowflake generation” of students, who are seen as over-sensitive and quick to take offence.

Dr Joanna Williams, a lecturer in higher education the University of Kent, said the guidance was “completely ridiculous” and will make students “hyper-sensitive” about how they interact with one another.

“Essentially people are being accused of a thought crime,” Dr Williams told The Telegraph. “They are being accused of thinking incorrect thoughts based on an assumption of where they may or may not be looking.”

Dr Williams, who is author of Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity, said that Oxford University’s guidance was “overstepping the mark” by telling students “how they should feel and think”.

She said: “Instead of people seeing each other as potential friends, equals, these re-racialise academia, they force people to see each other as a person of colour, they force people to be put into boxes about identity.

“It is really problematic – it means people can’t relate to each other naturally, they have rules in the back of their mind and they can’t be spontaneous as their interactions are all overlaid with the desire to follow all these rules.”

Last year Oxford law students were told they could skip lectures covering violent cases if they feared the content would be too “distressing”.

Earlier this year it emerged that Cardiff Metropolitan University banned phrases such as “right-hand man” and “gentleman’s agreement” under its code of practice on inclusive language.

The university guidance dictates that “gender-neutral” terms should be used where possible, adding that students should not allow their “cultural background” to affect their choice of words.

The University of Glasgow has started issuing “trigger warnings” for theology students studying the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, whereby students are told they may see distressing images and are given the opportunity to leave.

The term “snowflake generation” was one of Collins Dictionary’s 2016 words of the year. Collins defines the term as “the young adults of the 2010s, viewed as being less resilient and more prone to taking offence than previous generations”.

An Oxford University spokesman said: “The Equality and Diversity Unit works with University bodies to ensure that the University’s pursuit of excellence goes hand in hand with freedom from discrimination and equality of opportunity. The newsletter is one way of advising and supporting staff towards achieving these aims.”

900 New Invader-Refugee Terrorist Cases in Germany in 2017

The flood of nonwhite invaders pouring into Germany pretending to be refugees has resulted in the opening of more than 900 new terrorism cases by German federal prosecutors, stretching that country’s legal system to the limit, new figures have revealed.

(New Observer Online)

According to a report in the Welt am Sonntag newspaper, the number of terrorism cases has quadrupled compared to 2016, when federal prosecutors opened 250 cases. By way of contrast, there were around 80 terrorism cases in the German courts in 2013.

The Welt am Sonntag said the caseload has “stretched manpower at the Karlsruhe-based federal prosecutors office” as nearly 300 terrorism cases have been transferred from federal authorities to state prosecutors.

Most of the cases deal with the fake refugees planning terrorist attacks inside Germany, but in addition, there are a significant number of cases of so-called “refugees” from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, who have been identified as former fighters for ISIS who have now returned to Europe following the military defeats suffered by their organization.

In addition to these cases, the Federal Criminal Police Office has said that there are at least 700 other people—almost all nonwhite “immigrants” of one sort or another—in Germany who are classified as “Gefährder,” or radical Islamists who represent a security risk and are capable of carrying out violent attacks.

According to the German internal security service, the BfV, more than 950 persons with German nationality are currently still fighting for ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Of this number, 20 percent are women and five percent are “children.” Security authorities assume that, as the situation on the ground there deteriorates, many of them will soon be returning to Germany, the paper said.

After apology, Anthony Scaramucci reposts poll on number of Jews killed in Holocaust

(JTA) — Anthony Scaramucci’s self-described news outlet reposted a controversial survey question on Twitter about the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust, saying it was an educational exercise.

The Scaramucci Post originally tweeted out the poll on Oct. 17, asking, “How many Jews were killed in the Holocaust?” and offered multiple choices: “Less than one million, between 1-2 million, between 2-3 million, more than 5 million.”

The historical figure, 6 million, was not offered.

The resulting outcry included a rebuke from the Anti-Defamation League anti-Semitism watchdog, which said the poll could lend credence to Holocaust deniers.

Noting that he is Jewish, Scaramucci’s partner in the enterprise, Lance Laifer, took responsibly for posting the survey, removed the tweet and apologized “if anyone was offended.”

Scaramucci, President Donald Trump’s short-lived communications director, also promised to donate $25,000 to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an organization that combats anti-Semitism. He reportedly lost at least one speaking gig over the controversy.

And yet the poll reappeared Saturday on the Scaramucci Post Twitter account with the statement: “The correct answer is six million. Please fill in the proper answer and retweet this poll.”

Laifer and Scaramucci both retweeted the post, adding: “Please vote & retweet. Do not let Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites control this poll.”

The Scaramucci Post feed defended reposting the poll in a series of tweets. It said the purpose of the poll was to make people aware that the memory of the Holocaust is fading.

“We are extremely worried about the disinformation campaign about the genocidal tragedy, the Shoah, which took the lives of 6,000,000 Jews,” the account said. “We are putting the poll back up because if it helps educate even just one person it will have been a worthwhile endeavor for us.”

We are putting the poll back up because if it helps educate even just one person it will have been a worthwhile endeavor for us.

The account also railed against what it called the “mob-like behavior” of journalists against the Holocaust tweets.

More than a few people apparently need educating. With an hour of the original poll being posted, 4,776 people responded, with 68 percent answering more than 5 million, 21 percent saying less than 1 million and the rest split between the other two options.

On Oct. 16, a day before posting the Holocaust poll, the Scaramucci Post tweeted: “Before we move on we will spend the next half hour digging on one question: How many Jews were alive worldwide in 1939?”

AS RELATIONS THAW, SAUDI ARABIA AND IRAQ PLEDGE COOPERATION AGAINST IS

 

RIYADH – Saudi Arabia and Iraq convened a new joint body to coordinate their fight against Islamic State and on rebuilding Iraqi territory wrested from the group, the Saudi King Salman and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in Riyadh on Sunday.

The rare senior meeting, signalling a thaw between states that have been at loggerheads for decades, was also attended by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who praised the accord between the two close US allies.

“The joint coordination council will not only lead to closer cooperation in the fight against Daesh, but will also help support the rehabilitation of facilities and infrastructure in the areas liberated,” Tillerson told reporters.

“The council will also contribute to reforms that will grow and diversify Iraq’s private sector. Such reforms will encourage the foreign investment that is vital to Iraq’s reconstruction efforts. This will be critical to winning the peace that has been earned through the hard-fought military gains.” Iraqi forces armed largely by the United States ejected the ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim militant group from Mosul and other cities in northern Iraq this year, but the fighting left whole neighbourhoods in ruins and has hit Iraq’s economy.

The U.S. is concerned that Iran, a Shi’ite regional rival also allied to Iraq, will take advantage of gains against IS in Iraq and neighbouring Syria to expand its influence, which is opposed by Gulf Arab states.

Saudi Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih visited Iraq on Saturday to call for increased economic cooperation and praise existing coordination to boost crude oil prices, the first Saudi official to make a public speech in Baghdad for decades.

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Tillerson’s six-day trip will also take him to Qatar, Pakistan, India and Switzerland.