Jordan to Spearhead Syria, Iraq Reconstruction

By John Lee.

Jordan’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply, Ya’rub al-Qudah (pictured), has reportedly signed an agreement with a leading American company and a number of international firms to build an airport and a major logistics center to facilitate reconstruction for Syria and Iraq.

According to Al Arabiya, the new facility will be built in Mafraq, 60 kilometers northeast of Amman, close to the Syrian border and on the international road connecting Jordan with Iraq.

The Jordanian government has developed a plan of action with the World Bank to make Jordan a major platform for reconstruction projects, the Minister is quoted as saying.

(Source: Al Arabiya)

Human Rights Training for Teachers in Kurdistan

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) Human Rights Office (HRO) in cooperation with the Ministry of Education in Kurdistan Region of Iraq organized a four-day training course in Erbil for 23 teacher, including 9 females, during 13 – 16 November on human rights education.

This was the second in a series of courses organized by HRO and supported by the Flemish Government and the Ministry of Education in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR-I).

Mr. Yousif Othman, Director-General of the Planning Department in Ministry of Education in KR-I welcomed the training, which targets Public School teachers in KR-I. He also highlighted the importance of mainstreaming human rights principles in the curricula and teaching methods and techniques.

Ms. Shahla Saeed, Human Rights Education Project Manager at HRO emphasized the role of teachers in influencing students’ attitudes in line with human rights values and fundamental freedoms in schools.

The overall goal of the training focused on raising awareness of teachers and supervisors of secondary schools on human rights education in Erbil Governorate and its surroundings and districts (Soran, Koya, Khabat, Makhmour and Shaqlawa).

(Source: UNAMI)

Authorities Clamp Down on Sectarian Hate Speech

By Mustafa Saadoun for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

The Iraqi government, headed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, is seeking to penalize people for the hate speech prevalent in Iraqi society by arresting anyone who expresses such ideas or promotes slogans that insult former or current religious and social figures.

Each year around this time, millions of Shiite Muslims make the pilgrimage to the shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala for the festival of Arbaeen. People observing Arbaeen sometimes raise banners and shout slogans insulting Sunni figures. In the past, these people were met with public indignation — but not legal measures.

Wahab al-Tai, the interior minister’s media adviser, told Al-Monitor in an interview, “Up until Nov. 8, the ministry had arrested 76 people who were caught promoting sectarianism. Out of the 76 arrested, 25 were in Karbala and 51 in Babil [province]. Most were Iraqis, but some foreigners were arrested as well.”

The Interior Ministry was reacting to a video that has been circulating. The video, taken in Karbala during the festival, shows a group of followers of Shiite Grand Ayatollah Sadiq Hussaini Shirazi — a group known for promoting hateful speech toward important Sunni religious figures. The video shows a young man with a loudspeaker cursing Umar ibn al-Khattab, a senior companion of the Prophet Muhammad considered sacred by Sunnis. Despite all the arrests, that man is still on the loose.

Only two days after appearing in the first video, the same man appeared in another video saying that he was only “expressing his opinion.”

The ministry’s measures against promoters of sectarianism received both political and public support. Sayyid Ahmad al-Safi, the representative of Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani in Najaf, applauded the move in his Friday sermon in Karbala on Nov. 10.

Iraq’s Southern Oil Exports “Close to Record High”

By John Lee.

Reuters reports that oil exports from southern Iraq have risen to close to a record high.

It cites industry sources as saying that exports in the first 20 days of November averaged about 3.50 million bpd, up 150,000 bpd from October’s average.

The current monthly record of 3.51 million bpd was achieved in December 2016, immediately before an OPEC cut took effect.

The news agency says that exports from Iraq’s northern fields have averaged around 250,000 bpd month to date, down from an estimated 450,000 bpd in October and more than 500,000 bpd earlier this year.

(Source: Reuters)

Baghdad Increases Pressure on KRG with Budget Cut

By Omar Sattar for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

The first draft of Iraq’s federal budget for 2018, approved by the government at the start of the month, envisions slashing the Kurdish region’s share from 17% to 12.7% of the total.

The cut is one of several “punitive” constitutional measures that followed the Sept. 25 Kurdish referendum on independence. Those measures also saw Baghdad seize control of disputed areas, border crossings and air bases, and demand that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) transfer taxes and other public revenues to the central government.

This is the first time that the KRG’s share of the budget has been subject to review since 2005, when the government of then interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi allocated 17% to the Kurdish region, despite the fact there has not been an official census in Iraq since 1997.

“There have been no negotiations so far with Baghdad on the budget or other pending issues, despite the KRG’s desire for talks,” said parliament member Najiba Najib of the Kurdistan Alliance. “The central government is still refusing to receive the Kurdish delegation.”

“Iraq still doesn’t currently have official statistics,” she added. “Even data from the Ministry of Trade is inaccurate. It’s not reasonable to believe that the population of the Kurdish region has stayed at just 5 million, as the United Nations said in 2003 when it recommended the KRG receive 13% of the national budget.”

She said the central government has felt “arrogant and powerful” since it regained control of Kirkuk.

Germany continues Support for Iraqi Children

UNICEF thanks the people of Germany for their continued support to the children of Iraq

Years of conflict have severely curtailed the rights of children in Iraq. Their rights to protection from violence, education and access to safe drinking water are under assault from nearly every direction.

“UNICEF is working with partners like the German government to champion the rights of Iraqi children and to ensure they have every opportunity to fulfill their potential,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF’s representative to Iraq.

A new contribution of 23 million USD from the German government will enable UNICEF to deliver educational services to some 265,000 children who may have missed school for a year or more. The generous contribution will also be used to repair damaged water networks in conflict affected communities, so that families can return to their homes.

“The extent of violence and poverty faced by Iraqi children because of the long-lasting conflict is deeply concerning,” said Dr.
Cyrill Nunn, the German Ambassador in Iraq.

“Children are abused, abducted, injured or even killed without a chance to escape this cycle of violence and despair on their own. I am pleased that the German Government can support UNICEF in addressing the most urgent needs of these children, be it through protection, education or lifesaving water and sanitation,” Dr. Nunn added.

Over 3 million Iraqis are currently displaced. During the past year, more than one million people —half of them children—have been displaced as the result of the conflict in Ninewa, Anbar and Kirkuk governorates. Nearly 200,000 of those children are still displaced and receiving on-going humanitarian assistance.

(Source: UNICEF)

Details of Latest Strikes Against ISIS

U.S. and coalition military forces continued to attack the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, conducting 16 strikes consisting of 29 engagements Nov. 17-19, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

Officials reported details of the strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

There were no reported strikes conducted on Nov. 19 in Iraq or Syria.

Strikes in Syria

On Nov. 18 in Syria, coalition military forces conducted three strikes consisting of three engagements against ISIS targets:

  • Near Abu Kamal, two strikes engaged two ISIS tactical units and destroyed three ISIS vehicles.
  • Near Dayr Az Zawr, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit.

On Nov. 17 in Syria, coalition military forces conducted four strikes consisting of five engagements against ISIS targets:

  • Near Abu Kamal, three strikes engaged two ISIS tactical units and destroyed a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, a tactical vehicle and an ISIS construction vehicle.
  • Near Dayr Az Zawr, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit.

Strikes in Iraq

On Nov. 18 in Iraq, coalition military forces conducted five strikes consisting of 17 engagements against ISIS targets:

  • Near Beiji, two strikes destroyed two ISIS tunnels.
  • Near Rawah, two strikes facilitated effective harassing fire on ISIS targets.
  • Near Qayyarah, one strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed 14 ISIS-held buildings and an ISIS vehicle.

On Nov. 17 in Iraq, coalition military forces conducted four strikes consisting of four engagements against ISIS targets:

  • Near Beiji, a strike destroyed an ISIS-held building and a fighting position.
  • Near Rawah, a strike destroyed an IED factory.
  • Near Qayyarah, two strikes engaged two ISIS tactical units and destroyed an ISIS weapons cache.

Previous Strikes

Officials also provided details today on 17 earlier strikes and 17 engagements against ISIS in Syria and Iraq for which the information was not previously available:

  • On July 30, near Raqqa, Syria, three strikes damaged three ISIS fighting positions.
  • On July 31, near Raqqa, Syria, three strikes damaged three ISIS fighting positions.
  • On Nov. 16, near Al Qaim, Iraq, three strikes facilitated effective harassing fire on ISIS targets.
  • On Nov. 16, near Rawah, Iraq, seven strikes destroyed five ISIS supply routes and facilitated effective harassing fire on ISIS targets.
  • On July 17, near Qara Tapa, Iraq, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed two weapons caches and an ISIS tunnel.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

These strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The destruction of ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria also further limits the group’s ability to project terror and conduct external operations throughout the region and the rest of the world, task force officials said.

The list above contains all strikes conducted by fighter, attack, bomber, rotary-wing or remotely piloted aircraft; rocket-propelled artillery; and some ground-based tactical artillery when fired on planned targets, officials noted.

Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike, they added. A strike, as defined by the coalition, refers to one or more kinetic engagements that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single or cumulative effect.

For example, task force officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIS vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against a group of ISIS-held buildings and weapon systems in a compound, having the cumulative effect of making that facility harder or impossible to use. Strike assessments are based on initial reports and may be refined, officials said.

The task force does not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

GardaWorld Weekly Security Report

GardaWorld, a global leader in comprehensive security and risk management, has made its weekly security report available to Iraq Business News readers.

Prepared by GardaWorld’s Risk Analysis Team in Iraq, this essential report includes short- and medium-term outlooks on the security situation, reports and commentary on recent significant events, and a detailed overview of developments across the country.

Please click here to download the latest report free of charge.

For more information on how GardaWorld’s services can support your business in Iraq, please contact Daniel Matthews, Senior Director Iraq, at daniel.matthews@garda.com

Iraq Stock Market ends week 6.3% Up

Advertising Feature

Rabee Securities Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) market report (week ending: 16th Nov 2017).

Please click here to download a table of listed companies and their associated ticker codes.

The RSISX index ended the week at IQD815 (+6.3%) / $838 (+6.6%) (weekly change) (-15.1% and -11.6% YTD change, respectively). The number of week traded shares was 15.0bn and the weekly trading volume was IQD10.8bn ($8.5mn).

ISX Company Announcements

  • According to the letter published in The Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) website on Wednesday, a consultative meeting was held on Nov. 13, 2017 under the chairmanship of the Governor of the CBI and faculty of the CBI with heads of boards of directors and executive directors of Iraqi banks to discuss the letter of the CBI dated Nov. 7, 2017 related with the suspension of activities of branches of banks operating in the KRG. In the letter it was mentioned that The Iraq Private Banks League welcomes the directives of the CBI regarding the branches of banks in the region and appreciate what was presented at the meeting to ensure the stability of the banking sector and not subject to risk through the CBI’s guidance for upholding the needs and interests of the citizens in the region in all branches of activities in line with the decision of the Council of Representatives. On Tuesday, CBI sources told Reuters that the CBI has eased restrictions on private banks in its Kurdistan region. In addition, according to the observations of Rabee Securities, the Iraqi banks are continuing to operate in a normal way in Kurdistan region.  (CBI, Reuters, Gulf-Times)
  • The Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) decided on Thursday to increase the fines for counterfeit banknotes from 500% to 700% and fines for the shortage discovered in the banknotes from 100% to 250% with the compensation of the shortfall. (Alsumaria)
  • Cihan Bank for Islamic Investment & Finance (BCIH) will hold AGM* on Nov. 20, 2017 to discuss and approve 2016 annual financial results. ISX suspended trading of BCIH starting Nov. 15, 2017.
  • New shares of Mamoura Realestate Investment (SMRI) from the capital increase to IQD22.78bn through 15% rights and 3.6% bonus issues resumed trading on Nov. 14, 2017.
  • Babylon Hotel (HBAY) will hold AGM* on Nov. 19, 2017 to discuss and approve 2016 annual financial results and distribution of 44.5% cash dividend (IQD0.445 dividend per share, 1.3% dividend yield). ISX suspended trading of HBAY on Nov. 14, 2017.
  • Cross Transactions: 7.6bn shares of Al-Harir for Money Transfer (MTAH) on Nov. 15, 2017, which represents 17.0% of MTAH capital. 313mn shares of Asiacell (TASC) on Nov. 12, 2017, which represents 0.1% of TASC capital.