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  1. The Englishman

    Announcement of the largest bloc

    Kurdish PM, Iraqi Counterpart Discuss Erbil-Baghdad Relations BasNews 30/07/2018 - 16:39 Kurdistan ERBIL - Kurdistan Region PM Nechirvan Barzani met on Monday evening with his Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi in Baghdad for talks on Erbil-Baghdad relations and political process in Iraq. During the meeting, where the country's president Fuad Masum was also attending, officials reiterated that discussions between the sides should be continued until reaching a resolution for the issues, according to the statement. The statement added the current collaboration between the Peshmerga and Iraqi forces have to be protected so as to fight against terrorism across the country. They also exchanged views on the formation of the future Iraqi government, stressing on building a government that will serve all Iraqis equally.
  2. The Englishman

    Announcement of the largest bloc

    Nechirvan Barzani, Abadi meet in Baghdad to discuss Erbil-Baghdad relations Baxtiyar Goran | An hour ago Share share A meeting between KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and his Iraqi counterpart, Haider al-Abadi, in Baghdad on July 30, 2018. (Photo: PMO) Kurdistan Iraq Erbil Baghdad Relations A+AA- ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Monday received his counterpart from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, to discuss relations between Erbil and Baghdad. Both prime ministers spoke about the political situation in the country in general and some other common dossiers between the Federal Government of Iraq and the KRG, the Iraqi Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. “The meeting reiterated the importance of continued communication and exchange of dialogue in a way that strengthens joint national work,” it added. Barzani and Abadi also emphasized maintaining cooperation between Iraqi security forces and the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga to eliminate any terror threats after efforts to achieve victory against Islamic State extremists. According to the statement, both leaders shared similar views on dealing with the challenges facing the country. They also addressed ways to move forward with the formation of the next government that meets the demands of the Iraqi people through support for the economy, construction, provision of services, and employment opportunities. Fuad Hussein, the Chief of Staff to the Kurdistan Region Presidency, accompanied PM Barzani on his visit to Baghdad. Relations between the Kurdistan Region and Iraq are slowly improving since ties deteriorated when Kurdistan held a historic independence referendum last September. Baghdad rejected the legitimacy and results of the vote, despite an overwhelming 93 percent voting for secession from Iraq. In response, the Iraqi government imposed a set of punitive measures on the KRG, including border closures, an international flight ban, and the use of military force on Oct. 16, 2017, to regain control of disputed territories. Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
  3. Business Giant tourist city project on Lake Dukan gets $1.6 billion investment By Rudaw 1 hour ago KRG deputy PM Qubad Talabani (C) and investor Faruk Mustafa (2nd L) cut a ribbon to mark the start of the massive tourism project on Lake Dukan, July 29. Photo: Rudaw video ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Plans to build a gigantic tourist city on Lake Dukan, one of the Kurdistan Region’s most beautiful, unspoiled nature spots, made a great leap forward on Sunday when telecoms magnate Faruk Mustafa announced a $1.6 billion investment in the site. Hundreds of thousands of tourists are expected to flock to the 3,250 hectare lakeside complex each year when it is complete. “The project includes building hundreds of flats, houses, villas, two cable cars, one island, and many other interesting places,” Mustafa, owner of Asia Cell and chairman of the board of Faruk Holding Company, told Rudaw. At an event in Dukan on Sunday unveiling the new investment, Qubad Talabani, the deputy prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, said the tourism sector is a top priority. “We as the government gave priority to the tourist sector. And this is because of two reasons. One is that it will create wealth and also it will create employment,” he said. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) approved the project in 2013, but it was delayed by land disputes and the process of compensating local land owners. The project is expected to create 26,000 jobs. “As we could provide 30 percent of Iraq’s demand in the manufacturing sector, with this project we can become an alternative tourist destination to Iran and Turkey,” Mulla Yasin, spokesman for Kurdistan’s Union of Investors, told Rudaw. Conservationist groups have regularly criticized government failures to enforce environmental protection laws. They are concerned unchecked tourism investment could harm Kurdistan’s untouched natural beauty.
  4. Business Saudi Arabia eyes Kurdistan as starting point for investing in Iraq By Rudaw 1 hour ago A delegation of Saudi officials and businessmen is visiting Erbil. Photo: Mohammed Shwani/Rudaw ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A visiting delegation from Riyadh agreed with KRG officials to open economic ties with the Kurdistan Region as a starting point for Saudi investment in Iraq. "Following the completion of the first round of a conference of Saudi investors with members of the Kurdistan Regional Government and businessmen, we followed that there are very important investment opportunities in the Kurdistan Region," Sami Bin Abdullah al-Obeidi, head of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Commerce Chambers, told journalists on Tuesday. Obeidi is visiting Erbil along with Abdulaziz al-Shammari, Saudi ambassador to Iraq, Faysal al-Oteibi, Saudi consul general to the Kurdistan Region, and other officials from the kingdom. After a conference with KRG officials and members of the Kurdistan Region’s business community, Obeidi described the business environment in the Kurdistan Region as very suitable, especially considering "very robust ties" between Riyadh and Erbil. The Kurdistan Region offered over 1,500 projects in tourism, agriculture, and other sectors in the conference with Saudi investors. No agreements were immediately made. Saudi Arabia pledged over a billion dollars for rebuilding Iraq in the Kuwait donor conference earlier this year. KRG officials hope some of this sum can be spent on strategic projects in the Kurdistan Region. "The projects in the Kurdistan Region, whether public or private, were showcased to them and the opportunities that there are. They would like to work here. We hope at the end of these talks that our Saudi friends work on some projects in the Kurdistan Region," Dara Jalil Khayat, head of the Trade and Industry Chamber of the Kurdistan Region, told journalists. Saudi Ambassador Shammari said they were impressed with the presentation. "The investment law in the Kurdistan Region is a unique and attractive law for investment,” he told Rudaw, adding that many of the visiting Saudi businessmen “showed interest in building a complete industrial city in the Kurdistan Region.” The Saudi delegation arrived in Erbil on Monday and met with KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani. They discussed investment and trade, “specifically focusing on fields of shared interest, such as industry, agriculture, and tourism,” read a statement from Barzani’s office. “They agreed that the Kurdistan Region could be a first step and a centre for the initiation of economic, trade, work, and investment activities in all of Iraq,” the readout added. Among the connections discussed were direct flights between them and opening Saudi banks in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. Barzani “showed all readiness for supporting and facilitating Saudi Arabian investment in the Kurdistan Region… He hopes in the near future practical steps are taken for strengthening bilateral ties,” the KRG statement read. Saudi Arabia’s regional influence makes it an important ally. "In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has a very strong position. It is very, very important for us,” Majid Sidiq, member of Erbil's Chamber of Commerce, told Rudaw. His organization would like to establish a joint chamber of commerce with Saudi traders. While Erbil and Riyadh cozied up, an official from Iraq’s Shiite Fatih coalition that has ties with Iran, denounced the Saudi visit. “Saudi Arabia has dirty hidden intentions by opening ties with Kurdistan. It wants to split Iraq and weaken it from within Iraqi soil,” Askandar Watwut told Baghdad Today. He urged the federal government to take a firm stance against Saudi-Kurdish cooperation. Baghdad is restoring relations with Riyadh, nearly three decades after ties were cut when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said regional rivals must not fight their battles on Iraqi soil.
  5. Baghdad pulls $15bn out of emergency fund for Basra, Muthana By Rudaw 25 minutes ago Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi speaks during a press conference in Baghdad on Tuesday. Photo: PM office ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Iraqi government is pulling 18 billion dinars ($15 million) out of its emergency budget to fund projects in Basra and Muthana provinces. The Council of Ministers decided to dedicate 3 billion dinars ($2.5 million) each to Basra’s operating costs, the Umm Qasr water project in Basra, and the Shatt al-Rumaitha water project in Muthana. Another 9 billion dinars ($7.5 million) will go to completing 52 schools in Basra within three months. The Council of Ministers met on Tuesday, chaired by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. In addition to dipping into the emergency fund, the council “decided to assess and hold accountable those responsible for poor performance and service delivery in ministries." Iraq has been rocked by over two weeks of protests by a population angry about endemic corruption, lack of transparency, high unemployment, and poor services. "The Council also decided to form the provincial reconstruction and services committees, chaired by the prime minister, to assess provincial reconstruction and services and to follow up on citizens' needs and demands to improve services, accelerate service delivery, and empower the council of ministers to ensure speedy implementation of mentioned duties,” read a statement from Abadi’s office after the meeting. Speaking in his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Abadi said his government wants to take advantage of the protests to do things that wouldn't have been done before. "We won't go easy on any official proven to be negligent in their duties. Negligence in many cases is the same as corruption. Corruption is not necessarily extending your hands into public funds. If you don't carry out your responsibility correctly, this is part of corruption,” he said. He labeled wastage of money and delays or failure to finish projects as another type of corruption. "The biggest corruption we are faced with is mismanagement. The biggest corruption is wasting the state's resources, not necessarily stealing them,” Abadi said. His governmental program includes the “strategic" decision of administrative decentralization, he explained, saying that provinces should be responsible for providing services and not all blame for Iraq’s problems can be laid on the federal government. The Council of Ministers decided to form a Supreme Committee to "evaluate and hold accountable" officials responsible for services failures and poor performance both at the ministerial level and in in the provincial administrations, Abadi explained. The latest reports are that 14 people have died in over two weeks of protests.
  6. https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/putting-iraq-krg-oil-relations-on-solid-legal-ground. POLICY ANALYSIS POLICYWATCH 2992 Putting Iraq-KRG Oil Relations on Solid Legal Ground James F. Jeffrey and Bilal Wahab July 19, 2018 Notwithstanding their decades of contention, the two governments must resolve their differences legally to make way for economic development and stave off public unrest. Despite their country producing 4.3 million barrels of oil per day, Iraq’s population remains poor. Gathering in the streets of southern towns, masses are protesting government corruption, power shortages, and high unemployment rates. Consequently, the government must refocus its attention on economic prosperity and the daunting financial demands of reconstruction following years of war against the Islamic State. To that end, it should resolve its dispute with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) over management of the oil and gas sector. Doing so would be the first of many crucial steps toward injecting rule of law back into the energy industry. Currently, a messy but promising case to adjudicate management rights over these disputed resources sits before Iraq's Supreme Court. Should the case progress constructively, it will pressure the newly elected parliament to prioritize passage of a national hydrocarbons law. This in turn would infuse much-needed confidence into Iraq’s risk-laden energy sector and invite greater foreign investment to boost production and revenues. Moreover, Kurdish recognition of the federal court foreshadows a more realistic approach to energy—one that aims to salvage and de-risk the KRG oil industry through better coordination, if not integration, with the federal industry. REENERGIZED AMBIGUITIES In 2005, Iraq’s new constitution enshrined federalism and the equitable sharing of oil and gas revenues. As the basis for its case that the KRG is supposed to take part in this arrangement, Baghdad cites three articles of the Iraqi constitution. Article 110 stipulates that the federal government shall have “exclusive authorities” in formulating “foreign sovereign economic and trade policy,” presumably including the trade in hydrocarbons, which account for over 95 percent of Iraq’s exports. Article 111 establishes that oil and gas are owned by all the people of Iraq. And the first paragraph of Article 112 stipulates that “present” oil and gas fields shall be managed by the central government alongside “the producing governorates and regional governments,” essentially continuing Saddam Hussein's arrangements at the time of the constitution’s enactment. Yet the second paragraph of Article 112 implies a distinction between old and new oil, with 2005 as the dividing line. It asserts that “the federal government, with the producing regional and governorate governments, shall together formulate the necessary strategic policies to develop the oil and gas wealth.” The KRG therefore premises all hydrocarbon production, excluding its claims to Kirkuk, on “new oil” provisions covered by the “together” phrase, which is not found in the article’s first paragraph. In its view, this phrasing also supersedes the “exclusive authorities” granted to Baghdad in Article 110. However these differing interpretations are ultimately reconciled, Article 112 clearly gives the government a mandate to pass legislation regulating the shared management of production, sale of crude oil, and the distribution of revenues. Due to constant power wrangling, though, these constitutional provisions have not yet been translated into regulations, let alone clear laws. In a major push during 2007-8, the United States offered to mediate a new hydrocarbons law, but both Baghdad and the KRG decided to stick with their self-serving interpretations of the constitution. The Kurds, eyeing the exit door from Iraq, sought to build an independent petroleum industry, inviting international oil companies (IOCs) to look for hydrocarbons in their territory. They also began independently exporting oil in January 2014 and contracted with Turkey to export gas, in clear violation of Article 110. Today, the KRG independently exports almost 300,000 barrels of oil per day via Turkey. For its part, Baghdad seeks to remain the locus of such decisionmaking; accordingly, it claims ownership of the KRG’s oil exports and refuses to recognize Kurdish deals with IOCs. In effect, Baghdad acts as if Article 112 regulates all oil, including “new” oil—a stance that seems to violate the constitution just as surely as Erbil’s unilateral exports do. COURT BATTLE In 2012, the federal government took the KRG to the Supreme Court over the legality of its oil contracts and independent exports. But the KRG deliberately neglected to appear before the court until April of this year. So far, the court has not made any rulings, requesting more information on the petroleum value chain instead. While the next and, perhaps, final hearing will take place on August 14, both parties are encouraged by the proceedings thus far. Federal officials feel they have a strong case against the KRG, while Kurdish officials are pleased to see the court question the two constitutional articles cited by Baghdad as grounds for indictment. The court has also put the onus of formulating a national oil law on Baghdad, since the KRG passed its own natural resources law in 2007. Moreover, past budget laws passed by the national parliament required the KRG to contribute certain oil export earnings to the country’s overall exports—a practice that Erbil cites as clear recognition that its independent exports are legitimate. One deal in 2015 had the KRG and federal government equitably split the proceeds of 150,000 barrels per day produced in the Kirkuk fields, whose oil can only be exported via the Kurdish pipeline to Turkey. Today, however, federal authorities refuse to export that oil, avoiding KRG infrastructure at all costs. By so doing, they limit Iraq’s northern export outlet—a self-defeating approach at a time when protests could threaten the flow of crude from the south. ONE COUNTRY, TWO INDUSTRIES The ongoing legal vacuum has essentially bifurcated Iraq’s energy industry. Although building an energy industry from naught was quite a feat for the KRG, its main goals—staving off the central government and building the economic foundation for a independence—led it to overreach at times, such as when it commandeered Kirkuk oil fields and revenues during the war against the Islamic State. The Kurdish energy industry also became increasingly less transparent as KRG officials sought to evade Baghdad. Yet federal authorities refused to give the KRG a break from day one. They declared Erbil’s production-sharing contracts illegal, blacklisted any interested IOCs, and sued buyers. Short-term and short-lived deals replaced law-based policy and strategy. Between 2013 and 2016, Erbil intermittently recognized Baghdad’s determinant role by turning its oil over to the central government for export. In return, Baghdad’s acceptance of this arrangement indirectly recognized the legality of the KRG’s contracts. The Kurds also received their share of country-wide oil export earnings: around 17% in most budgets up until recently. But various technical disputes and instances of overreach by both sides scotched several of these initiatives. The disputes have also opened a door for more Iranian influence. Last month, Baghdad and Tehran agreed to swap 30,000 barrels of Kirkuk oil, with Iraqi oil feeding Iranian refineries and Iran delivering equal amounts of its own oil to Iraq’s Persian Gulf ports. Warming oil relations could potentially enable Iran to evade U.S. energy sanctions, reminiscent of Baghdad’s own evasion methods in the 1990s, when Iraqi oil tankers flew Iranian flags. Going forward, the balance of power has clearly tipped in Baghdad’s favor given Erbil’s costly independence referendum, its loss of control over Kirkuk’s oil fields, and its dire need for cash flow from Iraqi coffers. Yet Baghdad also realizes that the KRG energy industry is here to stay. And continuing to substitute gentleman’s handshakes for regulated production handovers and revenue sharing is unsustainable. Mutually destructive approaches hamper the progress of the Iraqi oil sector, which seeks to reintegrate and recover in a competitive market. In standing before the Supreme Court, the KRG has an opportunity to cash out on the constitution, the forging of which was one of its main institutional and legal achievements in the post-Saddam era. And Baghdad cannot simply play the bully now that it is dealing with the KRG’s international energy partners, which include Russia’s Rosneft and Turkey’s BOTAS. TOWARD RULE OF LAW Allowing courts to settle Iraq’s oil disputes is a principle worth supporting, since a transparent, rule-based energy industry is in the interest of all parties. Among other benefits, resolving the oil issue would help untangle Baghdad and the KRG’s disputes over territory. It would also undercut Iran’s influence, limit its opportunities for oil smuggling, and aid efforts to spot its sanctions-busting efforts. To that end, the priority of the next Iraqi government should be passing a national hydrocarbons law and constructing inclusive state institutions that reflect the constitution. Rationalizing Iraq’s petroleum sector is necessary to maximize revenue and formulate economic policies needed to cope with recent public protests. The United States should resume the assistance it extended in 2007-8 toward passing an oil and gas law. It should also support the court proceedings as a positive precedent for conflict resolution, while offering the technical advice the court needs to pass a fair judgment. Baghdad and the KRG are both receptive to such assistance.
  7. World Bank partner pledges $269 million to develop Iraq telecom Zain John J. Catherine | 2 hours ago Share share The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is hoping the project will develop Iraq's telecommunications infrastructure. (Photo: Archive) Iraq WorldBank Telecom Mobile ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – An international financial institution announced on Tuesday that it was providing a financial package of $269 million to a leading Iraqi mobile network operator to help reconstruct the country’s telecom operations and spur economic growth. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a Washington-based member of the World Bank, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in so-called "emerging markets." "IFC arranged a $269 million debt package including $100 million from IFC’s own account, and $169 million in mobilization," plus loans from other institutions as well, according to a statement released on the website for the United Nation's in Iraq. "The financing will help Zain Iraq enhance the capacity and quality of its 3G network and expand coverage to unserved areas, as well as helping the company modernize its networks and customer service in northern Iraq." The other two major telecom competitors in Iraq are Korek Telecom and Asiacell. By arranging and mobilizing a seven-year loan in a country where long-term financing options remain extremely limited, IFC is hoping its investment "will support the company’s growth plans, while sending a positive signal to domestic and international players at a critical point in the country’s recovery." Iraq is one of the least-developed telecom markets in the Middle East, due in part to the fragile security situation. Mobile network operators have often struggled to maintain their networks and have refrained from investing heavily in infrastructure.
  8. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/notice-regarding-continuation-national-emergency-respect-stabilization-iraq-2/. STATEMENTS & RELEASES Notice Regarding the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to the Stabilization of Iraq FOREIGN POLICY Issued on: May 18, 2018 ALL NEWS On May 22, 2003, by Executive Order 13303, the President declared a national emergency pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706) to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by obstacles to the orderly reconstruction of Iraq, the restoration and maintenance of peace and security in the country, and the development of political, administrative, and economic institutions in Iraq. The obstacles to the orderly reconstruction of Iraq, the restoration and maintenance of peace and security in the country, and the development of political, administrative, and economic institutions in Iraq continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. For this reason, the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303, as modified in scope and relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13315 of August 28, 2003, Executive Order 13350 of July 29, 2004, Executive Order 13364 of November 29, 2004, Executive Order 13438 of July 17, 2007, and Executive Order 13668 of May 27, 2014, must continue in effect beyond May 22, 2018. Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency with respect to the stabilization of Iraq declared in Executive Order 13303. This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress. DONALD J. TRUMP
  9. The Englishman

    Announcement of the largest bloc

    Iraqi election winner Al-Sadr hints at alliances to form government Sangar Ali | May 15-2018 11:28 AM Share share Supporters pour onto the streets of Baghdad following the victory of Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's electoral win. (Photo: AP) Iraq Elections Baghdad Sadr Iran ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Monday revealed potential political allies needed to form a new government following Saturday’s as-of-yet inconclusive elections. Sadr, who is the winner with 53 seats out of a total of 329 in Baghdad's parliament, hinted at those with whom he intends to establish a new government comprised of "non-partisan technocrats." In a tweet on his official Twitter account, Sadr described the prospective cabinet and appeared to indirectly name 12 parties and alliances. Those thought to be referred to are al-Hikma, al-Wataniya, Irada, New Generation, Gorran (Change), al-Qarrar, Bayariq, al-Nasr (Victory), Baghdad Alliance, Hawiyatuna, Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and Kawadir. View image on Twitter Sadr’s tweet excluded mention of Former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law Coalition, al-Fatih led by Shia militia leader Hadi al-Amiri, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), all known for having close ties to Iran. Projecting himself as an Iraqi nationalist, Sadr has a zealous following among the young, poor, and dispossessed among Shia Iraqis, but had been sidelined by influential Iran-backed figures. Unlike current Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a rare ally of both the United States and Iran, Sadr is an opponent of both countries, both wielding influence in Iraq since a US-led invasion toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003 thrust the Shia majority into power. Sadr has led two uprisings against US forces in Iraq and is one of the few Shia leaders to distance himself from Iran. A source familiar with ongoing talks between Iraqi political parties told Kurdistan 24 on Tuesday that the head of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qassem Soleimani is currently in Baghdad to meet with Shia parties in an attempt to prevent Sadr from choosing the new Premier. Sadr cannot become prime minister since he did not personally run in the election, but the fact that those within his party hold a large number of seats could put him in a position to pick someone for the job. Editing by John J. Catherine
  10. The Englishman

    Announcement of the largest bloc

    Sadr calls for brotherhood in phone call with Barzanis By Rudaw 35 minutes ago ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Masoud and Nechirvan Barzani called Muqtada al-Sadr on Tuesday to extend their congratulations on his election win, Sadr’s office stated. They wished “his eminence success,” the statement said. Masoud Barzani is former president of the Kurdistan Region and current leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Nechirvan Barzani, his nephew, is KRG prime minister and deputy leader of the KDP. Sadr thanked them for their wishes and expressed his hope that “the brotherhood of the Iraqi people be strengthened and for the love ties be solidified between the different sects, components and ethnicities.” A Shiite cleric, Sadr ran on a non-sectarian platform pledging to tackle corruption. His movement joined forces with the Communist Party on the Sayirun alliance. They have emerged as the surprise leader after the release of preliminary results. Fifteen days after final election results are released, the new parliament must hold its first session during which the speaker will be chosen. A new president will be elected within three days of the legislature convening and the president will then ask the largest parliamentary bloc to form a cabinet. Traditionally, the speaker of the parliament has been a Sunni Arab, the prime minister a Shiite, and the president a Kurd. Sadr and Erbil have frequently taken a similar stance with respect to Iraqi politics over the past decade, including opposition to Nouri al-Maliki during his tenure as prime minister. http://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/150520183
  11. Abadi behind, Sadrist and Hashd gains in preliminary election results By Rudaw 1 hour ago Iraqi electoral commission employees examine electronic counting machine print-outs in the central holy city of Najaf on May 13, 2018. Photo: Haidar Hamdani / AFP 12.20 a.m. Iraq's election commission has published the preliminary results for ten of the nation's 18 provinces. Incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's Nasr (Victory) Coalition has so far failed to win a province. Meanwhile, Hashd al-Shaabi's Fatih (Conquest) Alliance and Muqtada al-Sadr's Sayirun Alliance with the Communist Party has made gains. Preliminary Iraqi election results by province Results for Erbil, Sulaimani, Najaf, Duhok, Salahadin, Kirkuk, Misan and Nineveh are expected later on Monday. Baghdad: 1. Sayirun 2. Fatih 3. State of Law 4. Al-Wataniya 5. Victory Alliance Anbar: 1. Al-Anbar Is Our Identity 2. Al-Wataniya Wasit: 1. Sayirun 2. Fatih 3. Victory Alliance 4. Hikma Front 5. State of Law Babil: 1. Fatih 2. Sayirun 3. Victory 4. Hikma Front 5. State of Law Muthana: 1. Sayirun 2. Fatih 3. Hikma Front 4. Victory Alliance 5. State of Law Diyala: 1. Qarar Alliance 2. Fatih 3. Al-Wataniya 4. Sayirun 5. Victory Alliance 6. Hikma Front 7. PUK 8. State of Law Karbala: 1. Fatih 2. Sayirun 3. Victory Alliance 4. State of Law 5. Hikma Front 6. Al-Wataniya Dhi Qar: 1. Sayirun 2. Fatih 3. Victory Alliance 4. State of Law 5. Hikma Front 6. Iradah (Will) 7. Al-Wataniya Basra: 1. Fatih 2. Sayirun 3. Victory Alliance 4. State of Law 5. Hikma Front Al-Qadisiyah: 1. Fatih 2. Sayirun 3. Victory Alliance 4. Hikma Front 5. State of Law --- Unofficial results for Arab lists announced: Nasr Alliance (Abadi): 38-41 seats Sayirun (Sadr): 37-39 seats Fateh (Amiri or Hashd list): 34-39 seats State of Law Coalition (Maliki): 18-23 seats Hikma Front (Hakim): 17-24 seats Al-Wataniya (Allawi): not known Sources from the main Kurdish parties who took part in Iraq's parliamentary election on Saturday have offered Rudaw their predictions on their share of seats. KDP: 25 seats ERBIL: 8 Duhok: 9 Sulaimani: 1 Mosul: 7 PUK: 15 seats Erbil: 3 Sulaimani: 5 Kirkuk: 5 Diyala: 1 Mosul: 1 Goran: 6 Erbil: 1 Sulaimani: 5 New Generation: 4 Erbil: 2 Sulaimani: 2 CDJ: 3 Erbil: 1 Sulaimani: 2 KIU: 2 Duhok: 1 Sulaimani: 1 Komal: 2 Erbil: 1 Sulaimani: 1 Media close to former Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki claimed his State of Law Coalition was taking the lead early on Sunday. Later on Sunday morning, Reuters, citing an unnamed election body and an unnamed security source, reported incumbent PM Haider al-Abadi's Nasr (Victory) Coalition was ahead of Maliki's list and Moqtada al-Sadr's Sa'irun Alliance, which is in coalition with the Iraqi Communist Party. Ayad Allawi, a former Iraqi Prime Minister who is considered to be a moderate Shiite leader, called for an annulment of Saturday's election. “The refrainment of Iraqi people from voting in large numbers, the spread of violence, rigging, misinformation, purchase of votes, and exploitation of the conditions of the displaced," read an Al Wataniya Coalition statement, as reported by BBC on Sunday. Sunni politician Salaim al-Jabouri, the incumbent parliament speaker, is on Allawi's list. Voter turnout was 55 percent in Duhok, 48 percent in Erbil, and 40 percent in Sulaimani, according to the IHEC. Across Iraq's 18 provinces, it was 44.52 percent. This is a developing story...
  12. The Englishman

    The bourse falls in three sessions a week

    Will Iraq be the next hot frontier stock market? Matein Khalid/dubai Filed on April 29, 2018 Iraqi stocks are up 10 per cent in 2018, far better than Europe or Japan, while its market's capitalisation is a mere $10 billion. (Reuters) There are reasons to be optimistic on Baghdad A dismal legacy of civil war, sanctions, insurgency, foreign invasion and terrorism has had a catastrophic impact on the Iraqi economy. Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi told the assembled global elite at Davos 2018 that Iraq needed $100 billion in post-war construction. Yet money alone will not solve Iraq's problems of systemic corruption, a society divided by sectarian cleavages, poverty, the displacement of 2 million people and youth unemployment. The West and the Arab world have a vested interest in leading the reconstruction of Iraq since this pivot state straddles both the Arabian Gulf and the Turkish-Kurdish mountains. There are positive signs that the precarious political situation has stabilised. Violence in Baghdad has fallen to 2009 lows. Consumer spending metrics are beginning to exhibit growth and optimism. The share prices of the cellphone operator Asiacell has risen 65 per cent since last summer on stellar sub adds. Iraq sovereign wealth fund has amassed $50 billion in assets. Iraq's sovereign eurobond was oversubscribed six times. Western and Arab investors cannot ignore a fabulously rich country with 40 million citizens that happens to be the second-largest oil producer in the Opec after Saudi Arabia. International donors have pledged $30 billion in Iraqi reconstruction. After a stellar 11 per cent GDP growth in 2016, Iraqi real GDP growth fell to near zero in 2017 due to Baghdad's compliance with Opec output cuts. Iraq produces 4.3 million barrels of crude oil a day. However, the surge in Brent crude to $74 due to geopolitical risks, the success of the Saudi-Russian output pact and fears of renewed sanctions on Iran oil and exports are hugely bullish for Iraq, a classic petro-state. The IMF expects Iraq to deliver 2.8 per cent GDP growth in 2018. Post-war Iraq faces monumental political, social economic and even psychological challenges. Twenty per cent of the population lives in poverty. The swaths of Anbar, Diyala and Nineveh provinces under Daesh control have still not been fully stabilised and face economic depression. The government in Baghdad is divided by ethno-sectarian conflicts and unable to resist Iran's infiltration and manipulation of state institutions. This is the reason the parliamentary elections in May 2018 will be a crucial milestone in the political evolution of post Saddam Iraq. The Iraqi private sector, while exceptionally resilient, faces huge challenges from corruption, a primitive banking system insecurity and war ravaged infrastructure. Iraq ultimately needs to shed its Baathist-era model of state ownership of land and nationalised industries. Iraq needs big-bang economic reforms that the Al Abadi team has failed to deliver since it is hostage to contradictory political pressures and rival vote banks. Iraq was the classic example of a failed petro-state, a symbol of the 'resource course', under the Baathist dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, who invaded Iran in 1980, Kuwait in 1990 and conducted a campaign against the Kurds. A generation later, Iraq is quite possible the most attractive frontier market in the Middle East. Investors in Iraqi stocks faced devastating losses after President Obama withdrew US forces, Prime Minister Nuri Maliki embraced Iran, the Iraqi Army was unable to prevent militants' seizure of Mosul and oil prices crashed in 2014-16. Yet Iraqi stocks are up 10 per cent in 2018, far better than Europe or Japan. While the stock exchange in Baghdad is illiquid and hardly state-of-the-art, its market cap is a mere $10 billion, a pittance in a nation whose proven oil and gas reserves could well top 300 billion barrels. My experience in the post-Soviet frontier markets tells me Iraqi economic reconstruction could be a secular growth ballast for Iraqi banks (80 per cent of the population does not have a bank account), cellphone operators, consumer companies and, yes, hotels. I concede the Iraqi stock exchange trades behind concrete blast walls. Yet it is one of the top-performing stock markets of 2018, though down 60 per cent from its 2014 peaks. I learnt in Karachi in 2011 that the end of a civil war can be a catalyst for a powerful multiyear bull market. George Soros said the big money is made "when things go from godawful to just plain awful". No guts, no glory is the tagline of my own passage to Iraqi equities.
  13. US Ambassador breaks ground in Kurdistan for largest consulate complex By Rudaw 35 minutes ago US Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman delivers remarks at the site of the new US Consulate General in Erbil, Kurdistan Region, on April 23, 2018. Photo: Rudaw TV ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — US Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman broke ground on the largest US consulate complex in the world on Monday in Erbil with Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani giving the KRG's blessing for the project. "The ties between the people of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and the United States of America have endured for decades. The new consulate building demonstrates that the United States will stand with the people of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, as they build a future that will be brighter than the past," said Silliman. The ambassador urged closer ties between the US and Kurdish business sectors. "The United States wants to work with the KRG, but more importantly with Kurdish businessmen and businesswomen to help attract new projects to come here to Kurdistan," said Silliman. "I believe the Iraqi Kurdistan Region will be an important point of entry for foreign investment because this region has a very positive history of doing business." He touched on how the United States has supported the Kurdistan Region in responsible governorance, cultural, professional and educational exchange, as well as in English language struction. "I'm very happy that we'll have beautiful new compound in the shadow of the mountains here on the northside of Erbil," concluded Silliman. Nechirvan Barzani, the prime minister of the Kurdistan Region, speaks at a ground-breaking ceremony in Erbil, Kurdistan Region, on April 23, 2018. Photo: Rudaw TV Barzani echoed that the consulate building represents much more bilateral relations between Washington and Erbil. “I thank and congratulate them for this decision. We see it as a significant and valuable step, and hope that it will be finished successfully at its schedule time. Construction of the American Consulate General complex in Erbil … is a sign of trust by America in currently and bright future for Kurdistan," said Barzani. He said it is indicative of the development of relations between the United States and the Kurdistan Region "in the framework of the diplomatic relations it has with Iraqi federal government." He added that Kurdistan wants strong relations with the United States in all fields. “We want to have strong relations with America regarding politics, economy, business, science, culture and all other fields, based on mutual interests,” said the Kurdish premier. Barzani stressed that the US relations with Kurdistan Region is not something new, but it dates back to 1991 when the US had a role in establishing no-fly-zone for the region. He also reminded their relations with the US in 2003 when Baath regime was ended. He called on other countries to take a similar step and establish their complexes and buildings in Kurdistan Region. The new US consulate building will cost $600 million, and will be built on 200,000 square meters on Erbil-Shaqlawa Road. The United States currently rents homes and buildings from local residents and business owners in Ainkawa to house its consulate complex, which opened as a diplomatic office in February 2007 and was upgraded to a consulate general in 2011. EYP of Albany, New York, will be the project’s architects, which is the largest US consulate complex in the world.
  14. US, KRG, lay cornerstone for new Consulate building in Erbil Sangar Ali | An hour ago Share share Kurdistan Region Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, and US Ambassador to Iraq, Douglas Silliman, stand in front of sketches for the new US Consulate General compound at the upcoming construction site, Erbil, April 23, 2018. (Photo: Kurdistan 24) Kurdistan USA Washington Iraq Consulate ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The US Ambassador to Iraq, Douglas Silliman, along with the Kurdistan Region’s Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, on Monday announced the start of constructing a new US Consulate in the capital of the semi-autonomous region. In a statement delivered at a ceremony in Erbil, Barzani said that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) welcomes the construction of the compound, one of the largest in the world, and that “it is a sign of US confidence and trust in the Kurdistan Region, now and in its future.” He mentioned that the project is an indicator that Washington wants to develop its diplomatic relations with the Kurdistan Region, “within the framework of federal Iraq.“ “We hope [the construction of a new compound for the US Consulate] will lead to an important, strategic, and long-term partnership with the Kurdistan Region,“ Barzani stated. Sketches of the new US Consulate compound in Erbil. Ambassador Silliman also praised the project in Erbil. “The building will be a tangible sign of the continuing commitment of the US to engage with and assist the KRG and its people to build a strong region within a unified, federal, democratic, and prosperous Iraq,” the US Ambassador said, noting how ties between the Kurdish people and America have endured for decades. ”I believe the Kurdistan Region will be an important point of entry for foreign investment because this region has a very positive history of doing business,” the ambassador added, explaining that the US wants to work with the KRG, but more importantly, with Kurdish businessmen and businesswomen to help attract new projects. “The new Consulate building demonstrates that the US will stand with the people of Iraqi Kurdistan as they build a future that will be brighter than the past.” According to Silliman, the new Consulate General “will represent the best in America's architecture, engineering, technology, environmental sustainability, art, culture and construction, and of course the best in diplomacy.” Sketches of the new US Consulate compound in Erbil. The new US Consulate General building will take a number of years to complete and will be located on Pirmam Road in Erbil. “I am very happy we will have a beautiful new compound in the shadow of the mountains here on the north side of Erbil,” Silliman said. The US has a number of projects with the KRG, including the Iraqi Governance and Performance Accountability Program, with its office in Erbil to improve the management of public finances in the Kurdistan Region. There are 38 foreign consulate and representative offices in the Kurdistan Region, including the five permanent members of the UN’s Security Council. The US opened its consulate in the semi-autonomous region in 2011. Editing by Nadia Riva
  15. Haider Al Abadi announces plan to wean Iraq off oil dependency Baghdad aims to build the country's private sector Mina Aldroubi April 2, 2018 Updated: April 2, 2018 08:05 PM Iraq's government unveiled a five-year economic development plan to wean the country off its long-term dependence on oil and build its private sector. During a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi said the plan will aim to diversify the oil-reliant economy. Baghdad depends on the oil sector for more than 90 per cent of its revenue. The strategy, announced ahead of May's elections, aims to expand the private sector, provincial reconstruction, poverty alleviation and good governance. “The strategy will focus on the development of the agriculture industry, with a target of seven per cent growth rate, in addition to providing sustainable employment opportunities for nationals,” the cabinet statement said. Mr Al Abadi said that the country is "working to establish a healthy economy with diversified revenues that does not depend on the changing prices of oil." Rasha Al Aqeedi, a researcher at Al Mesbar Studies and Research Center in Dubai said that unless Iraq uproots the scourge of mismanagement and corruption "no plan is realistic." "Mismanagement and corruption drains most of Iraq's income," Ms Al Aqeedi told The National. "Mismanagement being a budget burdened by a bureaucracy that pretends to work. Iraq has an excess of desk employees in the public sector. Are there proper plans to scale down the bureaucracy while providing private sector jobs?" "The same concerns of every new annual budget remain valid. How much of a role do patronage and partisan loyalties play into this new plan?" she said. This month the country marks the 15th anniversary of the fall of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein - years in which Baghdad's central government has faced mounting sectarianism and battled the extremist group ISIL, who seized a third of the country in 2014. Underlining its current reliance on oil, the cabinet also approved a plan to raise the output of crude oil capacity to 6.5 million barrels per day (bpd) over the space of five years. In January, the Iraqi oil minister Jabar Al Luaibi, said that capacity was currently close to 5 million bpd. The country is producing more than 4.4 million bpd in line with an agreement between the 14-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other exporters including Russia in a bid to cut supply and boost oil prices. Iraq, OPEC’s second-largest producer after Saudi Arabia, plans to award oil and gas exploration and development contracts in 11 new blocks on April 15. Meanwhile, the Iraqi economy is expected to grow 1.5 per cent in 2018 before increasing to 4.5 per cent in 2019, BMI Research said in a report. “The extension of the OPEC deal until the end of 2018 will continue to weigh on the country’s exports through the end of the year. However, next year the completion of new development phases of major oil fields will boost production capacities and support headline growth,” said the report. Spending on infrastructure will boost Iraq’s non-oil economy and increased government spending ahead of the May elections will enhance consumer spending, BMI said. However, the report stipulates that insufficient funding and endemic corruption as well as OPEC oil supply cuts in the country will weigh on the pace of progress.
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