Security


Iran urges Visa-Free Regime with Iraq

Head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) Ali Asghar Mounesan said removing visa restrictions on travels between Iran and Iraq could serve the interests of both nations.

Speaking at a meeting with Iraq’s Culture and Tourism Minister Abdul Amir al-Hamdani, Mounesan, also a vice-president, praised bilateral relations between Tehran and Baghdad as “brotherly and very cordial” and said the two countries enjoy good ties in all economic, social, and political areas.

“Each year, millions of Iranian and Iraqi tourists visit the two countries and there is a readiness to promote relations in the field of tourism,” he noted.

Referring to the abolition of the visa requirements for Iranians visiting Turkey and Oman, the official urged a similar move by Iraq and said an increase in the number of tourists from the two countries would be in the interests of both nations.

“We should make efforts to speed up this process by lifting visa requirements,” said the vice president.

Annually, millions of Muslim pilgrims, mainly from Iran, travel long routes to Iraq’s Karbala, where the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (AS), the third Shiite Imam, is located.

Iran and Iraq enjoy cordial political, security and cultural ties but due to some internal and regional problems including Daesh (also known as ISIS or ISIL) terrorism in Iraq, they have not been able to increase their trade volume in the past years.

Iran’s main exports to the neighboring country include agro products, foodstuff and fruits such as watermelon, tomato and cucumber, which account for 37% of the total exports.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

Conflict over Shiite and Sunni Endowments in Mosul

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

Conflict over Shiite and Sunni Endowments erupts in Mosul

The northern Iraqi city of Mosul is on guard about the possibility of an outbreak of sectarian strife between Sunnis and Shiites following allegations that the Shiite Waqf (religious endowment) is seeking to seize Sunni-held land in the area.

The head of the Iraqi Al-Qarar Coalition, Osama Najafi, said Jan. 30, “The Shiite endowment in Ninevah [province] is trying to register hundreds of property bonds belonging to the Sunni Waqf in its name, using its influence through official books issued by the General Real Estate Registration Directorate.”

Najafi said the Shiite endowment was also “pressuring and threatening staff in the real estate registration office in Mosul.”

Click here to read the full story.

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: Bringing Faith Communities Together

By the Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR).

IWPR-trained activists have launched a successful series of initiatives to promote reconciliation between Iraq’s different faith communities.

In one striking success, an Assyrian Christian church that had been closed for 15 years was renovated and reopened thanks to the efforts of a group of IWPR mentees.

The Mar Korkis church in Anbar’s Al Habbaniyah district had been abandoned since 2003, when around 1,000 Christian families left the area due to the deteriorating security situation. Partially destroyed by an explosion in 2005, the church had been semi-derelict ever since.

IWPR-trained journalist Aya Al Mashhadani highlighted the church’s plight in a report on coexistence in Al Habbaniyah for which she interviewed the Shia security guard who still watched over the site.

In response to the story, Sawt Al Shabab radio station – itself headed by IWPR-trained journalist Mohamad Sleiman – launched a campaign for the church’s rehabilitation.

Volunteers, local civil society organisations and municipal officials all joined together in a mass cleanup just before Christmas, braving heavy rain to light candles, decorate a Christmas tree and ring the church’s bell.

Christians who heard the Sawt Al Shabab follow-up report on the clean-up campaign said that they were deeply moved, and the Assyrian Church diocese in Baghdad decided to hold a mass in the church in response. Their delegation, welcomed by local Muslims holding olive branches, hosted a service on January 11, 2019 attended by 250 Assyrian Christians.

Valentiana Yuwarich, 46, a Christian from Baghdad who was among the visitors, said, “Thank you so much to the beloved people of Habaniyah and to Sawt Al Shabab radio. This visit will be always remembered in the history of Iraq as a birth for a brighter Iraqi future.”

Other deeply symbolic initiatives over the festive season included efforts by IWPR activists Manar Al Zobeidi, a Muslim, and Nazek Barakat – a Yezidi – whose projects promote empathy towards minority communities in northern and southern Iraq.

Al Zobeidi, whose campaign Gypsies are Human was launched in 2016, organised a visit to the village of Al Zohour village on the outskirts of Diwaniyah city to mark Christmas and New year.

Despite being from a religiously conservative background, al Zobeidi issued a call on social media for other female volunteers to don Santa costumes and visit the gypsy village.

Five women answered her call and joined her in her visit, all wearing Santa costumes and pushing a decorated cart loaded with gifts for the children.

The celebration was attended by international media including Reuters, France-Presse 24 and AlHurra TV.

After the event, London-based al-Arabi TV broadcast a talk show dedicated to the issue of gypsies in Iraq and Kurdistan, with Al Zobeidi as the main guest.

Meanwhile, Barakat raised 200 dollars to buy Christmas presents for internally displaced people (IDPs) in camps in Dohuk.  Barakat, herself displaced from Sinjar after it fell under the control of the Islamic State, said she hoped her initiative would help IDPs feel integrated and thus contribute to the reconciliation process.

Her efforts received widespread coverage in various media and she was nominated for the Al Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Prize in the Emirates. Launched in 2018, this prize aims to honour individuals who create outstanding social initiatives.

(Source: IWPR)

Oil Smugglers can count on Corruption in Iraq

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

Accusations are flying about oil smuggling in Iraq’s Ninevah province, and many accusers say government officials, armed factions and other powerful parties are involved.

Representatives of the province, including parliament member Ahmed al-Jubouri, have said recently that oil is being smuggled from the Ninevah wells.

That news coincided with Osama al-Nujaifi, head of the Iraqi Decision Coalition, telling the media Feb. 1, “Security forces sent out military vehicles to halt the smuggling operations, but armed parties controlling the wells stood in the way.”

Click here to read the full story.

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

US Firm Wins $29m VSAT Contract in Iraq

By John Lee.

Florida-based NIC4 Inc., a division of Network Innovations Group, has been awarded a $28,812,143 firm-fixed-price Foreign Military Sales (Iraq) contract for capabilities to operate, sustain, support and expand Iraq’s Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) network.

Bids were solicited via the internet with five received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Jan. 31, 2024.

NIC4 will provide knowledge-based support services for requirements with VSAT related needs, including satellite-bandwidth services for fixed and mobile users, OCONUS backup VSAT hub services, internet access over the VSAT network, satellite transition services and equipment, public internet protocol (IP) addresses, and annual maintenance and sustainment support.

In a statement, the company said:

“Enabling the Iraqi government to utilize satellite connectivity as part of the government’s rebuilding is significant in coordinating military and strategic operations.  Running critical communications over satellite networks reduces the Iraqi government’s dependency on vulnerable terrestrial infrastructure and ensures military and strategic services are operational at all times. “

Chad Gatlin, CEO of NIC4, added:

“NIC4’s unique contribution to the Iraq MOD is our experienced team members and network sustainment expertise. The competition for this U.S. Army FMS case to the satellite integrator industry was immense, and we are pleased to be chosen as the partner of choice to deliver our exceptional services to the Program.”

(Sources: US Dept of Defense, NIC4)

US Firm Wins $29m VSAT Contract in Iraq

By John Lee.

Florida-based NIC4 Inc., a division of Network Innovations Group, has been awarded a $28,812,143 firm-fixed-price Foreign Military Sales (Iraq) contract for capabilities to operate, sustain, support and expand Iraq’s Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) network.

Bids were solicited via the internet with five received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Jan. 31, 2024.

NIC4 will provide knowledge-based support services for requirements with VSAT related needs, including satellite-bandwidth services for fixed and mobile users, OCONUS backup VSAT hub services, internet access over the VSAT network, satellite transition services and equipment, public internet protocol (IP) addresses, and annual maintenance and sustainment support.

In a statement, the company said:

“Enabling the Iraqi government to utilize satellite connectivity as part of the government’s rebuilding is significant in coordinating military and strategic operations.  Running critical communications over satellite networks reduces the Iraqi government’s dependency on vulnerable terrestrial infrastructure and ensures military and strategic services are operational at all times. “

Chad Gatlin, CEO of NIC4, added:

“NIC4’s unique contribution to the Iraq MOD is our experienced team members and network sustainment expertise. The competition for this U.S. Army FMS case to the satellite integrator industry was immense, and we are pleased to be chosen as the partner of choice to deliver our exceptional services to the Program.”

(Sources: US Dept of Defense, NIC4)

Iraq Gains one place Transparency Ranking

By John Lee.

Transparency International has said that Iraq’s ranking has risen one place in its global Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).

From a total of 180 countries, Iraq came in at number 168; last year’s position was 169 out of 180 countries.

This result puts it on equal ranking with Venezuela, behind countries such as Chad, Congo and Angola, and just ahead of Burundi and Libya.

Denmark beat New Zealand to first place, with Somalia in last place.

Iran was ranked in 138th place.

The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople.

More here.

Iraq Gains one place Transparency Ranking

By John Lee.

Transparency International has said that Iraq’s ranking has risen one place in its global Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).

From a total of 180 countries, Iraq came in at number 168; last year’s position was 169 out of 180 countries.

This result puts it on equal ranking with Venezuela, behind countries such as Chad, Congo and Angola, and just ahead of Burundi and Libya.

Denmark beat New Zealand to first place, with Somalia in last place.

Iran was ranked in 138th place.

The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople.

More here.