United states

Siemens may have to share $15bn Power Deal with GE

By John Lee.

Germany’s Siemens may have to share a $15-billion contract to supply power-generation equipment to Iraq with US rival General Electric (GE).

The Financial Times reports that although it appeared that Siemens would win the deal, the Trump administration successfully intervened on behalf of GE.

Last month German business newspaper Handelsblatt reported that Chancellor Angela Merkel had personally intervened with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to persuade the Iraqi Government to award the contract to Siemens.

(Source: Financial Times)

Iran masses Troops on Iraq Border

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

IRGC masses troops on Iraq border amid rising tensions with Kurdish groups

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is launching increasingly daring operations to degrade the capabilities of armed Kurdish opposition groups.

In its latest move, it has deployed thousands of troops to difficult mountain ranges in the western part of the country used as safe havens by the groups for decades.

The IRGC’s operations have taken on an air of urgency since US President Donald Trump’s May 8 announcement that he was withdrawing the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, and re-imposing sanctions against Iran.

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Iraq to buy 90,000 tons of US Rice

By John Lee.

Iraq has agreed to buy 90,000 metric tons of rice from the United States.

US Congressman Ralph Abraham, M.D., R-Alto, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, said in a statement:

“Iraq is buying three times more rice than we requested in our letter, so I’m thrilled that this resulted in such a successful sale.  A purchase of this great amount will have an immediate and strong impact on the American rice market, and this is certainly a testament to American rice producers, who grow the best rice in the world.”

Dr. Abraham said he has led several letters to Iraq over the last few years advocating for US rice, adding that the most recent success was in August when Iraq purchased 15,000 metric tons from the United States.

(Source: Congressman Ralph Abraham)

How will Basra be Affected by Closure of US Consulate?

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

The oil-rich port city of Basra is feeling the heat of the intensifying conflict between the United States and Iran. Pro-Iranian armed groups that threaten the United States from time to time are active in the city. The US-Iran tension is expected to affect the economic situation in Iraq in general, and in Basra in particular.

The US State Department announced Sept. 28 its intention to close its consulate in Basra and pull out its diplomats. This comes after three mortar shells targeted the US Consulate there.

On Sept. 29, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the Quds Force — a special force unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — and its commander Qasem Soleimani of being behind the threats. The United States “will respond promptly and appropriately to any such attacks,” he said.

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(Picture credit: Ahmed Mahmoud)

Iraq offers to Mediate between Trump, Iran

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

Concerned that tensions between Iran and the United States could blow back onto Iraq, a senior Iraqi diplomat said today that Iraq would be willing to facilitate dialogue between the two nations.

“Iraq is capable and willing to facilitate and create communication between not only … the US and Iran, but with all the countries in the region,” Ahmed Mahjoub, spokesperson for the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told a small group of journalists and analysts at the Iraqi Embassy in Washington.

“During the recent two years, Iraq was able to solve a couple of problems between states,” Mahjoub said, adding that he could not discuss the details because the parties agreed not to disclose the Iraqi role in those mediations. “But I assure you that Iraq managed to solve problems between states during the last few years, and I believe that Iraq is willing to continue to this role.”

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US Approves Helicopter Sales to Iraq

The US State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of five (5) Armed Bell 407GX helicopters configured with M240 7.62mm Machine Guns for an estimated cost of $82.5 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on October 3, 2018.

The Government of Iraq has requested to buy five (5) Armed Bell 407GX helicopters configured with five (5) M240 7.62mm Machine Guns. Also included are five (5) RF-7850A Secure Communications Radios, five (5) AN/AAR-60 MILDS Automatic Plume Detectors, five (5) AN/ALE-47 Airborne Countermeasure Dispensing Systems, five (5) M3P .50 Caliber Machine Guns, five (5) M260 Rocket Launchers (APKWS Configuration), five (5) MX-15Di EO/IR Sensors, five (5) GAU-19 .50 Caliber Machine Guns, five (5) Pathfinder Mission Management Systems, five (5) ARES Weapon Management Systems, five (5) Mission Configurable Armament Systems (MCAS), night vision compatible lighting systems, aircraft intercommunications systems (ICS), cockpit and seat armor kits, and bifurcated exhaust infrared suppressor systems, operating manuals, spare parts, maintenance and operator training for radio systems, technical and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistical and program support. The total estimated program cost is $82.5 million.

This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a strategic partner. The addition of five Bell 407GX helicopters will help compensate for the combat loss of seven IA407 helicopters in recent years and increase the Iraqi Security Forces’ combat effectiveness against ISIS and other terrorist elements in Iraq. The 407GX variant – an upgrade from the current IA407 configuration – includes Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) launchers. Providing Iraq with this capability supports U.S. security goals by furthering the Iraqi Army Aviation Command’s ability to counter terrorism and protect critical infrastructure. Iraq will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The principal contractors will be Bell, Fort Worth, TX; L3 WESCAM, Burlington, Ontario, Canada; Dillon, Scottsdale, AZ; Tekfusion Global, Williamsburg, VA; Harris, Melbourne, FL; and Fulcrum Concepts, Mattaponi, VA. There are no known offset agreements associated with this proposed sale.

Implementation of this proposed sale will require approximately 17 contractor representatives to travel to Iraq in support of this effort. The GOI desires Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) presence in country.

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.

All questions regarding this proposed Foreign Military Sale should be directed to the State Department’s Bureau of Political Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs, pm-cpa@state.gov.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

2019 Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Programs (IYLEP)

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is pleased to announce that applications are currently being accepted for the 2019 Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP).

IYLEP is the U.S. Government’s premier youth exchange program in Iraq, providing Iraqi students the opportunity to live in U.S. communities for four weeks in the summer. Students sharpen their leadership and community skills and learn about American culture.

IYLEP forges bonds of understanding and friendship between American and Iraqi youth as part of the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement.

The IYLEP undergraduate program provides leadership training and classroom instruction to talented and dedicated students ages 18 – 24 from Iraq. Participants are hosted at four universities throughout the United States and programming focuses on four thematic topics.

The high school programs provide Iraqi high school students with a leadership program based in the United States for Iraqi and American teenagers’ ages 15-17. Iraqi adult mentors chaperone the high school groups.

The IYLEP program for Arabic speakers in high school is modeled on the IYLEP English program and will also include adult mentors to chaperone this of group of students ages 15 – 17. This new program caters to students who meet the same eligibility criteria for IYLEP except for the English language proficiency.

IYLEP programs are fully funded by the U.S. Department of State.  Candidates are selected in a transparent and rigorous review process.  There are no costs to apply to the program, attend a U.S.-sponsored information session, or to participate in the program if selected.

For more information and how to apply, please visit our website https://iq.usembassy.gov/education-culture/exchange-programs/iylep/

The deadline for applications is November 26, 2018.

(Source: U.S. Embassy in Baghdad)

US Evacuates Consulate in Basra

Due to concerns about the security of U.S. government personnel, on September 28, 2018, the Department of State ordered the departure of U.S. government personnel from the U.S. Consulate General in Basrah.

In a statement, the State Department said:

“Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo [pictured] has made the determination to place Consulate Basrah on ordered departure. U.S. Embassy Baghdad will continue to provide full consular services to for those in and around Basrah. The Department’s updated Travel Advisory is available at Travel.state.gov. We remain strongly committed to supporting Iraqis in the southern provinces and throughout the country.”

Please see the Department’s updated Travel Advisory for Iraq here.

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Iraq and recommends U.S. citizens currently in Iraq to depart immediately.  Because commercial options are readily available, the U.S. government does not plan to offer to transport U.S. citizens out of the country at this time.

U.S. citizens should not come to the Embassy for travel arrangements.  They should make their own transportation and lodging arrangements.  The Embassy will not accept any personal or real property for protection, including pets.

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad will continue assisting U.S. citizens.  Those without valid passports or who are unable to arrange for their own travel or travel for their dependents because of insufficient funds or other reasons that prevent them from traveling by commercial means, should email this office at BaghdadACS@state.gov or contact our office by phone at 0770-443-1286, as soon as possible.  If asked to come in for an appointment, people should bring:

  • U.S. citizens:  passport or other proof of U.S. citizenship; and
  • Non-U.S. citizen spouses, children, and dependents:  passports with valid visas and proof of relationship (birth or marriage certificates).

Embassy Baghdad will contact visa applicants to inform them if a change is made to their appointment.

We strongly recommend the following for U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Iraq:

  • Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
  • Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney.
  • Discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, etc.
  • Share important documents, login information, and points of contact with loved ones so that they can manage your affairs if you are unable to return as planned to the United States.
  • Establish your own personal security plan in coordination with your employer or host organization, or consider consulting with a professional security organization.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Following us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Reportfor Iraq.
  • S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

NOTE:  U.S. citizens should pass the contents of this notice to other U.S. citizens and keep it handy for reference.

(Source: US State Dept)