Lebanon: Annan quits as Syrian peace envoy. NOW Lebanon: 'Kofi Annan is quitting as UN-Arab League envoy for Syria after battling to persuade President Bashar al-Assad to accept a peace plan, the UN said Thursday. UN leader Ban Ki-moon announced "with deep regret," that Annan had tendered his resignation, as the Syrian civil war spiraled further out of control. ...'
Iraq: Kurdistan threatens to halt oil exports. Reuters: 'Iraq's Kurdistan region said its planned resumption of oil exports may last only to August 31 if the central government does not pay arrears to foreign companies, meaning the rise in Iraq's overall shipments to world markets could be brief. The semi-autonomous region said on Wednesday it would restart exports this week in a bid to end the payments dispute with Baghdad. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) says the central government has withheld payment of $1.5 billion. Natural Resources Minister Ashti Hawrami gave the end-August deadline in a letter posted on the KRG's website and addressed to oil companies DNO, Genel Energy and Kar Group. ...'
Iraq: Turkish visit to Kurdistan violates sovereignty. Meanwhile, Stratfor reports that a Baghdad spokesman complained that a recent visit to Kirkuk by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu constituted a serious breach of Iraqi government sovereignty.