Iraqi forces advance towards Mosul

US-backed Iraqi forces have begun moving towards Mosul airport, the first target of a ground offensive to capture the western side of the city that remains under control of Islamic State.

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Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi earlier on Sunday announced the formal start of a ground offensive on western Mosul, asking the Iraqi forces to ”respect human rights” during the battle.

IS militants are essentially under siege in western Mosul, along with an estimated 650,000 civilians, after US-backed forces surrounding the city forced them from the east in the first phase of an offensive that concluded last month.

Iraqi federal police units are leading a northward charge on the Mosul districts west of the Tigris River, aiming to capture the Mosul airport, according to statements from the armed forces joint command.

They captured several villages and a local power distribution station in the first hours and killed several militants including snipers, the statements said.

“Mosul would be a tough fight for any army in the world,” the commander of the US-led coalitions forces, Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend said.

Iraqi planes dropped millions of leaflets in western Mosul warning residents the battle to dislodge IS was imminent as troops began moving in their direction, the Iraqi Defence Ministry said on Saturday.

Up to 400,000 civilians could be displaced by the offensive as residents of western Mosul suffer food and fuel shortages and markets are closed, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Lise Grande said.

Commanders expect the battle to be more difficult than in the east because tanks and armoured vehicles cannot pass through its narrow streets and alleyways.

The militants have also developed a network of passages and tunnels that will enable them to hide and fight among civilians, disappear after hit-and-run operations and track government troop movements.

Western Mosul contains the old city centre, with its ancient souks, Grand Mosque and government buildings.

It was from the pulpit of the Mosul Grand Mosque that IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a “caliphate” over parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014.

US scientists rally against Trump policy

Hundreds of scientists, environmental advocates and their supporters have rallied in Bostonx to protest what they see as increasing threats to science and research in the US.

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The scientists, some dressed in white lab coats, called on President Donald Trump’s administration to recognise evidence of climate change and take action on various environmental issues.

Geoffrey Supran, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studies renewable energy solutions to climate change, said scientists are responding to the Trump administration’s “anti-science rhetoric”.

“We’re really trying to send a message today to Mr Trump that America runs on science, science is the backbone of our prosperity and progress,” Supran said on Sunday.

The Rally to Stand Up for Science in Boston’s Copley Square was held outside of the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, one of the first major gatherings of scientists since Trump was elected in November.

Protesters held signs that read “Science Matters”, “Scientists Pursuing Truth, Saving the World” and “Make America Smart Again”.

Some of those who turned out criticised Trump’s appointment of Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency over the objections of environmental groups.

During six years as the attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt filed 14 lawsuits challenging EPA regulations.

He previously expressed scepticism about scientific evidence showing the planet is heating up and that humans are to blame. However, during his Senate confirmation hearing last month, he said he disagreed with Trump’s past statements that global warming is a hoax.

From Taliban hit list to CEO: Mahir Momand’s journey to Australia

The last time Mahir Momand left Afghanistan there were shots ringing in his ears.

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The microfinancing business he had started in his home country had infuriated the Taliban to such an extent that he was near the top of their hit list.

And someone had tried to tick him off that list.

He was forced to urgently leave the country he loved – for the third time in just 30 years.

Mr Momand has been appointed the chief executive of Thrive Refugee Enterprises, an organisation that will provide microfinancing for refugees starting or expanding their own small businesses in Australia.

“Therefore that program was put under attack by the Taliban.”

He told SBS News his microfinancing business in Afghanistan had angered the Taliban because it was interfering in the group’s business model.

“Effectively what we were doing was cutting from the Taliban’s revenues by not allowing farmers to grow opium and we were also cutting from their capacity to recruit insurgents by getting people who didn’t have any jobs to start small businesses so have jobs, and also we were attacking their ideals by working with 50 per cent of Afghanistan’s population, which is women,” he said.

“And therefore that program was put under attack by the Taliban.

“Myself and my colleagues were put on the threat list and a lot of my colleagues got killed, including my international colleagues who arrived in Afghanistan and were helping us with the microfinance program.”

Mahir Momand talks about why the Taliban targeted his business:

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Mr Momand was born three years after the Russians invaded Afghanistan and forced him and his family into an extended exile in Pakistan.

“At the time when I was born, my father, who was a senior military general in the Afghanistan army, was put in jail, in prison, by the Russians because he was not on their side,” he said.

“We didn’t have support because the head of the family was not there, and my grandparents had to take us [to] the other side of the border to Pakistan, so I actually became a refugee at the age of one.

“I lived in Pakistan until 2001, so about 19 or 18 years of my life I have spent there as a refugee.”

For a man who would go on to become the head of a complex financial company, his childhood education was a struggle.

“I started working at the age of nine and during nights I would go to school,” he said.

“During the day I would work, which was quite difficult because as a child I could see other Pakistani children in their beautiful uniforms going to school, while in my situation I had to sell things I was supposed to sell during the day and then only go to a refugee school during the nighttime.”

Mr Momand’s father was released after six brutal years imprisoned by the Russians, “having his nails taken out a few times and teeth taken out a few times”.

“Every time our colleagues were captured we would receive threats from the Taliban.”

The family eventually moved back to Afghanistan in 2001, after 18 years of living as refugees.

“We went back to Afghanistan just after a few weeks of the American invasion when they overthrew the Taliban in 2001, because we were quite excited we were back to Afghanistan, the country my mum used to tell me very beautiful stories about,” he said.

“We went back to Afghanistan and I started working with the United Nations at that time and then from there I moved on with the World Bank and started that microfinance program.”

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It was the microfinance program that would lead to his second exile from his beloved Afghanistan.

In 2008, pressure and Taliban attacks on himself and his colleagues forced Mr Momand to flee to Canada where he re-evaluated his business.

“When I was in Canada, I was thinking, very naively, the reason I was attacked in Afghanistan was because we were providing loans to people in an unislamic way – we were charging interest – and that was the reason that probably the Taliban attacked us,” he said.

“I thought that there was an Islamic way of doing microfinance, so I went back to Afghanistan and started an Islamic way of providing microfinance, which is very similar, but slightly a different model.

“But because we were still working with those three categories of people and the Taliban still didn’t like it, we used to be called spies of the foreign government, because we had a lot of support from the foreign governments – the US government, the Australian government, European governments.”

The reality of carrying out his work in Afghanistan took its toll as the Taliban once again started picking off his colleagues and staff members one by one.

“I was not only responsible for the operational side of the business, which was quite a large organisation with 1200 employees, 41 credit unions or community banks … I was also responsible for that fact that when every time our colleagues were captured we would receive threats from the Taliban saying if you don’t stop this operation immediately we would kill or slaughter this person, this colleague of yours,” he said.

The horror of seeing the Taliban kill your colleagues one by one:

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“While I had started that whole thing it was beyond my power to stop that whole thing.

“How do you stop an operation with 1200 employees and one million people actually directly benefiting from that program and this being a source of survival for them?

“It’s very hard to stop something like that, and therefore, because we couldn’t stop the program, it meant that every time our colleagues got captured we lost them one by one and it was very hard because it was not only an operational burden in management, but it was also a psychological thing – mental pressure – being responsible for people who were losing their lives.”

Because of his continuing activities the Taliban moved Mr Momand and his colleagues into category one – the highest on the hit list.

“During that period of time 17 of [my] colleagues got killed, captured and killed, and in mid to late 2012 I was personally attacked and that led to my immediate evacuation and departure from Afghanistan and I became a refugee for the third time, this time in Australia,” he said.

“When people become economically active that in turn makes way for social integration.”

Mr Momand’s new role as the chief executive of Thrive Refugee Enterprises is a return to work he is passionate about.

Thrive, supported by Westpac, Settlement Services International and AMES, will provide microfinancing and business advice to refugees keen to start or expand their own small businesses in Australia.

Mr Momand said Thrive would help its refugee clients in three different ways.

First, the organisation will make sure the potential business owners are aware of the Australian business environment, the regulations and the market for their products or services.

Only after that is a loan granted and once the business is up and running Thrive will provide business mentoring and further advice.

The program will also give refugees the chance to attain the positive credit history they will require to apply for mainstream financial services in the future.

But Mr Momand said he saw the benefits of the program going beyond business and financial matters.

“Not only will we be helping people to become financially self-sustainable and financially independent, which means [they’re] less reliant on government welfare funding, but also when people become economically active that in turn makes way for social integration,” he said.

“I know firsthand when you go as a refugee to a new country you don’t have your family and your friends and probably you don’t speak that language and it can be hard to make those social connections, those human connections that are very important in any person’s life.

How Thrive Refugee Enterprises will help build refugees’ businesses:

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“By us providing people with microfinance it is not only economically integrating them into the Australian economy, by creating jobs for themselves and hopefully other people, but it’s also a faster way of socially integrating people into the Australian society.”

Mr Momand said many refugees were used to working for themselves in their home countries and were keen to become business owners in Australia.

“There is this big group of people who come with fantastic experience, they bring in skills with them, they’re bringing experience with them, which needs to be translated into the Australian business market by providing them that initial support they need to understand the Australian market,” he said.

And Thrive’s clients are set to benefit from the experience Mr Momand gained providing microfinancing in Afghanistan.

“I always had this view that when I grow up I would like to help people who are in my situation – and there were many, many people who were in that situation.”

“Because that was at a much bigger scale we can actually bring those lessons, incorporate them right from the very beginning here in Australia,” he said.

“For example, at the very beginning in Afghanistan we just provided microfinance and the result of that actually shows in the repayment rate.

“If you have lower repayment rates and then there’s bad debts, that tells you that probably some of the businesses we financed didn’t do well and therefore they couldn’t pay back.

“Now here in Australia we want to make sure we … provide them that business support initially to understand the Australian market, to make sure that the products and services that they produce, that there’s a market for it … and only then we lend to them, which means there’ll be less of an issue of repayment and that’s one major lesson that we bring from Afghanistan and include it in the model here.”

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Many may ask why Mr Momand continued to return to Afghanistan and continued to work against the Taliban when his life was on the line.

For him the answer is simple and is influenced by his own history as a refugee.

“I always had this view that when I grow up I would like to help people who are in my situation – and there were many, many people who were in that situation – and I always heard very beautiful stories about Afghanistan from my mum, which I obviously didn’t remember because I had left the country at the age of one,” he said.

“That always had created a desire inside me to go back and help people who were like me, who had similar experiences, to go back and help them.

“And that was the reason I went back to Afghanistan from Pakistan very quickly, and I went back from Canada to Afghanistan, and here in Australia now that I know Thrive will be helping refugees who actually I very much resonate with because two-thirds of my life I lived as a refugee myself.

“It means that I can actually see the results of my work in helping people who have had similar experiences as myself, so that is something that very much motivates me.”

But despite his love for Afghanistan there is little hope he will be able to return any time soon.

“It is very hard,” he said.

“I’ve been very close to my mum all my life because the first five or six years of my life I didn’t have a dad, so it was all mum and now I’m away from that, from that very important element of my life.

“Unfortunately the way things are going in Afghanistan in terms of security it is very hard to see that will be sometime soon, but I very much hope for the best.”

What drives Mahir Momand?

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NZ win rain-interrupted Geelong T20

Anna Peterson’s hat-trick trumped Molly Strano’s record Australian bowling figures as New Zealand levelled their T20 series with a rain-affected win in Geelong.

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Peterson bowled her only over at the end of the Australian innings, with the home side needing 11 to win.

The Kiwi spinner took wickets with her first three deliveries, all caught, as the batters went for big hits.

There was also a run-out on the last ball of the game as Australia finished on 9-61 and lost by eight runs under the Duckworth-Lewis system.

New Zealand had made 9-101 from 20 overs and Australia were already in trouble at 3-35 from eight overs when rain stopped play for half an hour.

They needed 35 off five overs when play resumed and never came close.

Asked for her reaction when captain Suzie Bates threw the ball to her for the last over, Peterson said: “I probably can’t say it on camera.

“It (the hat-trick) was a little unexpected, but it was great fun.

“I just had to bowl the ball and the fielders caught it – I only did half the job.”

It was only the sixth hat-trick in women’s T20 internationals and the first by a New Zealander.

In just her second game for the national team, Strano also made history with the best figures by an Australian in men’s or women’s T20 internationals.

Her 5-10 beat the 5-27 from James Faulkner in March last year against Pakistan.

Also, had Megan Schutt held a difficult chance in the deep off the last ball of the NZ innings, Strano would have taken the best women’s T20 international figures of 6-8.

But the result ruined Strano’s personal achievement.

After Australia easily won the first game on Friday, the series will be decided on Wednesday in Adelaide.

“It’s really disappoiinting not to get the win – I’m a really competitive person, I hate losing,” Strano said.

“It’s a bit bittersweet – I was sort of happy at halftime and now I’m absolutely, really flat.

“It was nice to get a few wickets, but I’m really disappointed not to get the win.

“You play cricket to win.”

Despite a first-rate national debut in this series, Strano feels World Cup selection later this year remains a long shot.

“I still feel quite far away from cementing myself in this squad,” she said.

Gunaratne stars with epic T20 knock

Speak softly and carry a big bat.

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Unassuming all-rounder Asela Gunaratne produced an epic T20 innings on Sunday night in Geelong that snatched the match away from Australia’s grasp.

Chasing Australia’s 173, Sri Lanka slumped early to 5-40.

With three overs left, they still needed 48 and then 36 off the last 12 balls.

In those final two overs, Gunaratne mauled Moises Henriques and Andrew Tye with three fours and four sixes, including the match-winning four off the last ball of the match.

Gunaratne’s 84no, his highest T20 international score, came off just 46 balls and featured six fours and five sixes.

More importantly, it was the second time in three days that Sri Lanka had beaten Australia on the last ball of the match, giving them the series win ahead of Wednesday’s third and final game at Adelaide Oval.

Asked if it was his best innings, Gunaratne smiled bashfully and said “yes” in Sinhalese.

He certainly wasn’t shy after hitting the winning runs, jumping for joy and punching the air before teammates ran out onto the ground and mobbed him.

Speaking through an interpreter, Gunaratne felt Sri Lanka was a chance if he could bat through to the end.

He spoke matter-of-factly about the strategy he came up with for the last two overs.

“My plan was to try to close the gap, by getting about 20 runs in quick time,” he said.

“When I got 22 (off Henriques), I felt it was well within reach – so it really worked to what I was thinking.”

Gunaratne again smiled when told how simple he made it sound.

“It certainly wasn’t easy, but you have to come up with some plan and this time, it worked,” he said.

“I’m very happy with what I did – I was planning to finish the match, at all costs.

“The fact we won the series was the greatest satisfaction.”

Teammate Dilshan Munaweera said they were like supporters in the last couple of overs, in awe at Gunaratne’s powerful hitting.

“He made our dream come true because we wanted to win this series,” Munaweera said.

Australian captain Aaron Finch said Gunaratne played “a hell of an innings”

Gunaratne also top-scored with 52 in Friday night’s win at the MCG.

“Geez, he hit some clean, didn’t he?,” Finch said.

“He hasn’t mis-hit a ball in two games now.

“When you have a guy who’s in like that, it’s so hard to defend.

“That was definitely up there.”

The game only attracted 13,500 fans, with unseasonably cold and wet weather obviously a factor.

But a large and rowdy contingent of Sri Lankan expats again were prominent, staying for more than an hour after the match to celebrate the win.

Harrison beats Basilashvili for first ATP World Tour title

But he proved unbreakable in the clutch, digging out of trouble time and again before securing the title with an ace down the middle on the indoor hardcourt in Tennessee.

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“I was overwhelmed with emotion there at the end of the match,” the 24-year-old from Louisiana said in a teary on-court interview.

Harrison, a former teenage prodigy who turned pro in 2007, had seen his form and ranking declined in recent years.

“I was fortunate to have a great start on the tour at a young age and after a lot of setbacks, and a few years of having my ranking drop a little bit, you get to a point where you’re not quite sure and you really don’t know if you’re ever going to achieve some of those things you always wanted to achieve, one of those being winning an ATP title,” he said.

“So for me to be where I am now, and where I was seven-or-eight months ago, and feeling like there was no light at the end of the tunnel, it’s surreal. I honestly can’t believe it.”

Harrison, who won every set he played the entire tournament without facing a tiebreak, will jump into the top 50 in the world rankings, after starting the tournament ranked 62nd.

The hard-hitting Basilashvili, meanwhile, could only lament failing to convert any of his 10 break point opportunities in the second set.

The world number 67 was seeking to become the first player from Georgia to win an ATP World Tour title.

But his prodigious power proved a double-edged sword in the final, as he made unforced errors in a baseline battle.

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Gene Cherry)

Proteas late show snatches ODI win vs NZ

AB de Villiers has smashed a boundary with the second-last ball to give South Africa a four-wicket one-day international win over New Zealand.

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Set a target of 208 for victory in the reduced-overs match in Hamilton, de Villiers smacked Tim Southee straight down the ground to pinch victory at the death.

But the 33-year-old skipper couldn’t have done it without the help of Andile Phehlukwayo’s quick-fire 29, including one critical final-over six off Southee.

Southee, who had previously impressed with the bat himself, was tasked with limiting the world No.1 ODI side to fewer than 12 runs in the final over.

But he couldn’t secure the dot balls required, with New Zealand going 1-0 down in the five-game series.

The match had earlier been delayed by three hours due to rain.

“It’s a little bit of a shame really,” skipper Kane Williamson said.

“We fought hard but it wasn’t a great performance from us, so we’ll have to do better next time.”

The loss will be all the harder for New Zealand to take after batting first and overcoming a middle-order collapse to hit 7-207 off 34 overs.

Williamson scored a clinical 59 off 53 deliveries at first-drop, before some lower-order ball-bashing produced 49 runs in the last three overs.

Southee scored 24 off 13, including three boundaries and a six, while Colin de Grandhomme cleared the ropes three times on the way to 34.

The pair’s 50-run partnership in 23 balls forced the Proteas to score 6.08 an over for victory, which they approached gradually on a quick-turning wicket.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock pounded the deep-point boundary on his way to a half-century off 47 balls before partner Hashim Amla went for 35.

Faf du Plessis was soon after trapped LBW by Ish Sodhi for 14 and de Kock was dismissed by Trent Boult for 69.

JP Duminy and Farhaan Berhadien were then knocked over in successive Southee deliveries.

The four wickets in 14 balls put the Black Caps on the front foot, and after a brief rally Morris skied Santner to Boult at long-off for 16.

But South Africa couldn’t be discounted with de Villiers at the crease, and alongside Phehlukwayo he guided his side home.

“I thought we adapted exceptionally well,” de Villiers said.

“The wicket turned so much in the evening.”

The two sides will clash again in the second ODI in Christchurch on Wednesday.

Regional community disappointed by government’s rejection as resettlement location

Syrian doctor Ricardo Al Khouri says living in Armidale feels just like home.

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He moved to the regional community in northern New South Wales with his wife and two children 10 years ago.

“Armidale is maybe the best town I have lived in Australia,” said the local GP.

“I would never imagine myself living in a big city, no way. I was born in Homs which is a city but in my time it wasn’t crowded.”

When the government announced it was taking in 12,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees in 2015, he thought it was the perfect opportunity to welcome those from his old hometown to his new one.

“Everything you need is around and people are very friendly.  People are very open-minded to foreigners I think it is a very important point. When you come and you have an accent it is very obvious that you are a stranger and you need people to be patient with you.”Syrian doctor Ricardo Al Khouri enjoys living in Armidale with his family.SBS

It is a view shared by many in Armidale including former Mayor Herman Beyersdorf.

He raised the issue with the Armidale Council who unanimously supported a decision to apply for the town to be a refugee resettlement location.

Mr Beyersdorf said the community was well-equipped to take in refugees especially when it comes to education and settlement services.

“We have a world-class university, a TAFE, a regional hospital, we have quite a few schools – primary and secondary, and one of the schools actually has English lessons for primary and secondary children which is being used by migrants and refugees.”

He added there were also services such as the Northern Settlement Services and Sanctuary which have successfully looked after refugees in the past.

Yet the Department of Social Services rejected the Council’s application to be a resettlement location saying it is unsuitable.

“I was told Armidale was not currently on the list for Commonwealth resettlement which is a pity and there was no explanation as to why we’re not, despite what we considered to be our suitability,” Mr Beyersdorf said.

“Later in the same letter it says that the government is committed to the humanitarian migrant intake for regional and rural areas. Well that just seems to be a contradiction.”

The Department said a large proportion of the entrants are settling close to a relative or personal connection within Australia.

Others are located where there are specific settlement services, employment opportunities, and the potential for harmonious settlement of specific groups.

But the community has an ally in the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.

“In the New England area we are very proud of the fact we’ve got no problems, of course we will open our arms to refugees, course we will. And I’m only too happy about them going to places such as Armidale and I’ll do everything in my power to make sure they are welcome there,” said Mr Joyce, the Member for New England.Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce has been supportive of Armidale as a place to welcome refugees.AAP

It’s not the first time Armidale has opened its arms to refugees.

In 2003, the town took in African refugees from South Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia and many still live there.

Armidale Business Chamber CEO Tracy Pendergast said there are many jobs available for incoming refugees from unskilled work at the local tomato farm to skilled work at the University of New England.

She emphasised there is also an untapped potential for refugees to explore entrepreneurial endeavours.

“We have a lot of self-employment and a lot of ways of encouraging people to start their own business and I think that is something that would have been of benefit to the incoming refugees,” Ms Pendergast said.

The five countries that account for three quarters of world’s heavy weapon exports

Between 2012-2016, arms imports in terms of volume by countries in Asia and Oceania accounted for 43 percent of global imports, a 7.

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7 rise compared to the previous 2007-2011 period, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

“Transfer of major weapons in 2012-16 reached their highest volume for any five-year period since the end of” the Cold War, the independent institute said in a statement. 

The share of Asia and Oceania in international imports was slightly higher (44 percent) between 2007 and 2011.

The share of countries in the Middle East and the Gulf monarchies jumped from 17 per cent to 29 per cent, far ahead of Europe (11 per cent, down seven points), the Americas (8.6 per cent, down 2.4 percentage points) and Africa (8.1 per cent, down 1.3 points).

“Over the past five years, most states in the Middle East have turned primarily to the USA and Europe in their accelerated pursuit of advanced military capabilities”, said Pieter Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme. 

“Despite low oil prices, countries in the region continued to order more weapons in 2016, perceiving them as crucial tools for dealing with conflicts and regional tensions,” he added. 

Sipri said worldwide arms imports and exports over the last five years have reached a record level since 1950. 

Saudi Arabia was the second largest importer of weapons in the world (up 212 percent), behind India, which unlike China, does not have a production at national level yet. 

The United States remains the top weapons exporter with a 33 percent market share (up 3 point), ahead of Russia (23 percent, down 1 point), China (6.2 percent, up 2.4 points) and France (6.0 percent, down 0.9 points) passing Germany (5.6 percent, down 3.8 points). 

These five countries account for almost 75 percent of global exports of heavy weapons.

France’s boost in the export ranking is a result of important contracts signed with Egypt, which acquired Mistral-style warships and Rafale combat aircraft. 

Aude Fleurant, head of the armaments program at Sipri, told AFP that “competition is fierce among European producers” with France, Germany and Britain in the lead. 

The United States and France are the main weapons providers for the Middle East while Russia and China are the main exporters to Asia.

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Calm De Villiers leads South Africa to win over New Zealand

The visitors, who had looked to be cruising to victory at 117-1 with 14 overs remaining courtesy of Quinton de Kock’s 69, lost four wickets in 14 balls to slump to 126-5 before Chris Morris helped his captain in a 30-run partnership.

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South Africa needed 22 runs from the final two overs and scored 10 from Trent Boult in the penultimate one which included a six from Phehlukwayo, who repeated the feat against Tim Southee in the final over.

De Villiers belted Southee for four off the penultimate ball to clinch the victory.

New Zealand made 207-7 after heavy rain over the past three days had forced a delay of more than three hours and reduced the match to 34-overs-a-side.

“It was really tough out there,” De Villiers said. “The wicket turned so much in the evening. I thought it would skid on and get a bit flatter.

“From past experience this becomes a good batting track in the evening and this was far from it.

“I’ve never seen a wicket turn so much in my life.”

New Zealand struggled for much of their innings particularly up front against tight bowling from Morris, who took the first four wickets as the hosts slumped to 82-4 in the 16th over.

But Morris, who had figures of 4-24 from his first five overs, was then taken apart by Colin de Grandhomme (34 not out) and Southee (24 not out) in his final two.

De Grandhomme and Southee blasted 51 runs from 23 balls, including smashing 38 runs from Morris’s final 12 deliveries to blow out his figures to 4-62 from seven overs.

“Bit of a shame really. We got ourselves into a good position but credit to South Africa, they adapted really well,” said New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, who top-scored for his side with 59.

“We weren’t perfect with the bat but we felt that 5-1/2 a half an over would be tough to get on that surface and we had enough to make life difficult.”

The second match is in Christchurch on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Napier; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty and Ed Osmond)