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Everything posted by audigger

  1. Socal you going to mining district meeting Saturday 9am, red roof inn, victorville off mariposa rd
  2. laid back, maybe right they pull in the 50 dinars (done) next the 250 and then 500 now you have old notes new note coming 1.000 1 5,000 5 10.000 10 25.000 25 50.000 50 100.000 100 they said the old and new would be equal if i read it right, then move to 1 to 1 just tossing it out there not a lopster
  3. if they pull this off then the goverment will take more and more land, all part of the agenda 21 act ( human reduction act has i call it) they try it in glamas but the off roads were helping replant the seeds by driving on them
  4. dame wish i would have seen this last week I would have can out, would have brought the jack hammer always next time right before the goverment closes it down because of a weed growing out there, anything to take away our land
  5. Iraq's implosion could redraw Middle East boundaries By Samia Nakhoul BEIRUT Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:52pm EDT The capture of Iraqi cities Mosul and Tikrit by al-Qaeda-influenced jihadists has not only redrawn the map of a country corroded by sectarian hatred. It could also redesign Middle Eastern national boundaries set nearly a century ago after the fall of the Ottoman empire, and lead to a forging of new regional alliances. As well-armed forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) raised their black flags over Mosul this week, routing an Iraqi army that fled rather than fight, the future of Iraq as a unitary state hung in the balance. As they pressed south towards Baghdad, the rest of the region, the United States and other powers woke up to the prospect that this Jihadi comeback could establish a dangerous base in the heart of the Middle East - an Afghanistan on the Mediterranean. "What we are witnessing is the fragmentation of power. The government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will never be able to centralize power in the same way he has," says Fawaz Gerges, a Middle East expert at the London School of Economics. "We are seeing a redrawing of boundaries for sure," he said. As the conflict escalated, Iraq's most senior Shiite cleric on Friday urged his followers to take up arms to defend themselves against the Sunni revolt. A rare message from Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the highest religious authority for Shiites in Iraq, said people should unite to fight back against the insurgency by ISIS fighters and former Saddam loyalists. Sistanis's intervention followed the failure of the government of Nuri al-Maliki, the Shi'ite prime minister re-elected in April, to convene a quorum in parliament to grant him emergency powers. Sunni and Kurdish lawmakers had stayed away. A stunned region The peshmerga forces of the Kurdish region of northern Iraq meanwhile seized Kirkuk, the oil-rich region bordering their self-governing territory, stepping into a security vacuum to claim a prize they have always regarded as their own. The ease with which ISIS, a Sunni Jihadi movement that has fed on the civil war in Syria and staked out the ungoverned space between eastern Syria and western Iraq, swept into Iraqi cities has stunned a region seemingly inured to shock. The insurgents, led by Iraqis who broke with al-Qaeda, are pressing south to Baghdad. Some experts say they may be over-reaching. But while ISIS's predecessors were defeated in 2007-08 by Sunni tribal militias empowered by U.S. forces, ISIS has exploited Sunni anger at Maliki's sectarianism and inherited networks from Saddam Hussein's army. "ISIS has been able to embed itself with a disaffected and alienated Sunni community", says Gerges. "In fact, the most important development about ISIS in the last year is its ability to recruit former officers and soldiers of the dissolved Iraqi army. If you observe how ISIS has been waging war you see a skilled mini army, confident, that has command and control, is motivated and using war tactics." The ISIS advance has been joined by former Baathist officers who were loyal to Saddam as well as disaffected armed groups and tribes who want to topple Maliki. So far the towns and cities that have fallen to the militants have been Sunni. "The Sunnis of Iraq are willing to go to bed with the devil to defeat Maliki, this is where the danger lies," Gerges said. Redrawing the borders The million-strong Iraqi army, by contrast, trained by the United States at a cost of more than $20bn, is hobbled by low morale and corruption that impedes its supply lines. Its effectiveness is hurt by a perception among Sunnis that it pursues the hostile interests of the Shiites, a majority in Iraq, raised to power by the U.S. led invasion of 2003. The Kurdish capture of Kirkuk overturns a fragile balance of power that has held Iraq together since Saddam's fall. Iraq's Kurds have done well since 2003, running their own affairs while being given a fixed percentage of the country's overall oil revenue. But with full control of Kirkuk - and the vast oil deposits beneath it - they could earn more on their own, eliminating the incentive to remain part of a failing Iraq. U.S. President Barack Obama threatened military strikes against ISIS, highlighting the gravity of the group's threat to redraw borders in a region already wracked by war. Hayder al-Khoei, Associate Fellow at Chatham House, said the jihadi onslaught leaves Washington in an awkward position. "With US-made military vehicles and weapons being paraded by jihadists in Mosul, policy-makers will be questioning the effectiveness of providing Baghdad with even more military hardware that may end up in the hands of the very people they want to defeat," he said. Ambivalent to hostile Reactions inside the region are ambivalent to hostile. Deep down Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies, which have never reconciled themselves to the loss of Sunni-ruled Iraq to the Shiites, detest Maliki for his alliance with non-Arab Shi'ite Iran. They would like to see Maliki brought down but did not want al-Qaeda affiliates to be the ones doing it. They believe Iran, backed by its allies, wants to build a Shi'ite crescent from Iraq through Syria to Lebanon. "I can imagine a Saudi official saying 'the wrong people are doing the right thing'," said Jamal Khashoggi, head of a TV news station owned by Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. On the other hand, Iran, which has strong leverage in Iraq, is so alarmed by the ISIS advances that it may be ready to cooperate with Washington in helping Baghdad fight back. A senior Iranian official told Reuters the idea is being discussed among the Islamic Republic's leadership. For now, officials say, Iran will send its neighbor advisers and weaponry, although probably not troops, to help Maliki. Turkey, which has turned a blind eye to Jihadists crossing its border to fight Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is not ready to intervene militarily because it fears its own sectarian demons and will focus on securing its borders, experts say. The Kurds, crucial players, will likely resist Baghdad's calls to be drawn in by sending troops to recapture Mosul and other towns. They will instead consolidate their presence in Kirkuk and along their borders, Kurdish officials said. Iran weighing in Iraq watchers say ISIS, estimated to have a few thousand fighters inside Iraq, won't be able to advance into Baghdad, a capital of 6 million where Maliki has his special forces deployed, backed by Iranian-trained militias. "I don't think they will run as far as Baghdad. They haven't got the numbers, they overreached themselves...It is more about the weakness of the Iraqi state than it is about the state of ISIS," said Toby Dodge, Director of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics. Just as there is little chance of ISIS taking over the Shi'ite-dominated capital, the Iraqi army is unlikely to dislodge ISIS from Mosul or regain full control of the north of the country, even with Shi'ite militia volunteers and likely Iranian support. With the rising Sunni insurgency, Iran may have to weigh in to salvage its ally and Tehran's influence in Iraq as it did in neighboring Syria. Diplomatic sources said Iran already has high-ranking commanders, including two close aides of Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards elite Quds force, regularly holding meetings with Maliki. Malikis' mobilization of Shi'ite militias, endorsed by the highest religious authority, has the potential to trigger all-out sectarian strife, analysts say. And there are concerns that Iraq might disintegrate into sectarian and tribal conflict, shattering into Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish entities. "Maliki is playing with fire by trying to unleash Shi'ite militias, this is a recipe for disaster. That's exactly what ISIS wants - to trigger all-out sectarian war," Gerges said. "Iraq has never healed, it is a mutilated country. The crisis is reaching a tipping point whereby Iraq will splinter into 3 or 4 states or reconcile. To reconcile you need a new leader, a new mindset and you don't have it there."
  6. I get it from NEWS SITES just like everyone else, no biggie i can always not post what i read. Just like i just read 4000 arrived in baghdad and 3000 arrived in sulaymaniyah
  7. A security source revealed, Wednesday, for the arrival of 4,000 U.S. troops to Baghdad International Airport for the award of the security forces in the fight against "Daash." The source said that "4,000 troops Amarki arrived today, to Baghdad International Airport, coming from a military base in Turkey to support the elements of the Iraqi army in the face of the organization" Daash "terrorist according to the strategic agreement signed between the two countries." And add that "the security forces regained control of most areas of Mosul and Salahuddin remote control" Daash "on a number of villages and airport Sharqat military watchtowers in Baiji."
  8. Baghdad: security source said, Wednesday, that there is news about the arrival of five thousand U.S. troops to Iraq to participate military operations. The source told "tomorrow's Press," that "there is news about the arrival of five thousand U.S. troops to Baghdad airport, this afternoon." The source, who requested anonymity, that "it is likely to be involved these forces conducted a military operation at midnight today," without giving further details. The militants Daash took control, on Tuesday, the province of Nineveh, fully and marched to spend Alherquae, escaped governor of Nineveh province and officials all the leaders of the army and police to Arbil, the militants seized control of the military headquarters and seized the banks, government and airport preservation and fled all the prisoners from the prison Badush, while Prime Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on high alert and called on the House to convene an emergency session to declare a state of emergency in the country. It is noteworthy that Iraq and the United States signed at the end of November 2008, agreement was called the strategic framework to support the ministries and agencies of the Iraqi transition from the strategic partnership with the Republic of Iraq to the areas of economic, diplomatic, cultural and security, as well as providing important sustainable for the rule of law, including the police development program and the completion of coordination and supervision and the report of the Fund for Iraq relief and reconstruction.
  9. A report issued by the International Center for Development Studies (ICDS) , based in London warned on Thursday from the bankruptcy of Iraq in three years because of the budget deficit , which now threatens the Iraqi oil sector clearly , as the report indicated that the military operations in Anbar cost per day seven million dollars. According to the report , the deficit exceeded $ 50 billion , Iraq would be at risk of bankruptcy in 2017 . Iraq will be unable to pay the salaries of its employees . It seems that the indicators of bankruptcy is looming , especially that the Iraqi government pays the salaries of its employees , including the salaries of the staff of Kurdistan Region in monthly form, which has allocated 4.5 billion dollars for February and did not send the salaries of next March , because the available amount is not enough but for one-third of the staff of Iraq . The report pointed out that the deduction of 15% of the budget allocated to investments in oil has contributed to reduce Iraqi exports of 2.62 million barrels per day to 2.28 million barrels per day during the past three months , what impact clearly on state revenues and plans to increase exports to more than 3.5 million barrels during 2014 . The report adds, that the giant oil companies are unable to cope with the volatile environment of the Iraqi economy threatening to withdraw from it. In addition to the security factor that reveals the financial and administrative corruption, bureaucracy, lack of experience and the need for Iraq to infrastructure and train 70 thousand workers in the oil sector to reach the desired goals. The report refers that “BP “company has cancelled contracts of dozens of foreign contractors in South Rumaila field and threatened to withdraw from Eni Zubair field in Basra because of bureaucratic complications that delayed the signing one of the contracts for six months. The cost of Anbar war is 7 million dollars a day It seems that the budget deficit in Iraq has contributed to weaken the state's ability to establish security , being engaged in a war in Anbar that cost the Iraqi economy seven million dollars a day , which is exhausting burden to the budget and affect the state's ability to carry its other burden in the defense of the rest of Iraq . The report of ICDS notes to the real deficit in the Iraqi budget which has risen today to 32 billion dollars in the absence of an agreement between Baghdad and Erbil on oil exports , the adoption of five dollars in compensation to each oil producer province and the adoption of laws that do not fit with Iraq's ability to carry its financialburden. The budget deficit is not justified ICDS believes that the deficit is not justified , for the fact that the budget has been prepared on the basis of price of $ 90 a barrel , while the price of oil did not get less than $ 100 , meaning that the budget must achieve a large surplus , especially that the completion rates in most Iraqi provinces did not exceed 40 % and in some of them was zero. In addition for that, the retained amounts from previous budgets up to 2012 was more than 50 billion dollars , raising questions about the real reason to talk about the deficit , if not a new attempt aimed to steal the public money and convert the benefits to personal gains of senior officials in the state. Nouveaux The report of the International Center for Development Studies explains that financial and administrative corruption in Iraq has led to the emergence of a new class of rich people and new entrepreneurs affiliated with the Iraqi government , who came to get rich quickly , prompting the emergence of a market for luxury goods in Iraq , most notably the private aircraft in which its prices could reach $ 16 million , while a third of the Iraqi people live under the poverty line . That issue has led the Ministry of Transport to issue checks for the purchase of these aircraft , which means that the volume of applications submitted needed the issuance of such instructions. The report expressed surprise that economist and advisers to the Iraqi government were able to prepare budgets since 2004 , in the absence of clear closing accounts that show real spending for its resources and allows control orders on the exchange , indicating clearly the fears of disclosing them and deliberately hiding them for fear of detecting large financial and administrative corruption in Iraq for years
  10. By David Kashi on November 14 2013 6:48 AM Iraq oil A worker rides a bicycle at Najaf oil refinery in Najaf, 160 km (99 miles) south of Baghdad, October 3, 2013. Iraq exported an average of 2.07 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude in September, the lowest rate so far this year, oil ministry spokesman Asim Jihad said on Friday. The slowdown was due to maintenance and expansion of Iraq's southern export terminals, Jihad said. In August, Iraq exported an average 2.579 million bpd. Picture taken October 3, 2013. REUTERS/Ahmad Mousa While recent headlines out of Iraq mostly tell of worsening sectarian strife, the troubled nation is on the cusp of reasserting its place as a premier player in oil production and export. And according to a recent report from U.K. bank Standard Chartered, Iraq is poised to ramp up its production faster than any other nation and has the potential to become the world's largest crude exporter. Between now and 2035, Iraq could potentially generate approximately $5 trillion in oil revenue, or about 40 times the country’s 2010 GDP, according to International Energy Agency estimates from October 2012. Iraq oil and gas fields Location of Iraq’s oil and gas fields. Hydrocarbon resources are geographically highly concentrated Standard Chartered Research “Not only does Iraq have massive oil reserves, extremely favorable geology makes its crude oil among the cheapest in the world to exploit,” the report said. The IEA estimates that the investment required for a new energy supply infrastructure will total more than $530 billion. How Syria Is Losing Out To Turkey On Oil Yes, Syria, Too, Has Oil And Gas Iraq's proven reserve Iraq’s proven oil reserves and probable potential. Standard Chartered Research But if Iraq wants to become an oil-production leader, it will have to overcome political instability, and first of all stop attacks on its oil infrastructure. Already the latest projections put Iraq’s crude output at 6.08 million barrels per day (mmbd) by 2017, about half of the 12 million barrels a day previously forecast. While Iraq faces challenges and setbacks, the report points to new fields coming online that will help increase production, offsetting the recent shortfall. "One advantage Iraq’s oil fields have over the rest of the world is its geology, which makes drilling less complicated and expensive than in countries like U.S., Canada and Brazil. Furthermore, Iraq’s crude requires less-intensive refining than competitors." Crude oil average extraction cost Crude oil average extraction costs. Standard Chartered Research “Estimates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show the sharp difference in average exploitation costs between Iraq (less than $5 per barrel of oil) and anywhere in the world, including the rest of the Middle East,” the report stated.
  11. NEW YORK/ERBIL,—The NASDAQ OMX Group (Nasdaq: NDAQ) and the Erbil Stock Exchange (ESX) have signed an agreement to power the ESX with NASDAQ OMX’s X-stream trading technology to increase market participant involvement, in the region and internationally. X-stream will provide ESX with a solution to trade equities and debt instruments, and position ESX to move into other asset classes as its market expands. “This is a historical moment that not only illustrates our strategic relationship with NASDAQ OMX, but also, by the creation of a modern stock exchange, will support a market-oriented economy and promote investment in the Kurdistan region,” said Abdullah Ahmed Abdul Raheem, Chairman, ESX. ESX’s decision to adapt X-stream technology from NASDAQ OMX is the result of a comprehensive market analysis by the ESX Board and its advisor, the Louis Borger Group Inc. (LBG). The analysis supported ESX’s belief that multiple markets must operate in a very similar manner, enabling investors to move seamlessly between the markets with their investment activity. The X-stream platform will provide ESX with proven access to international investors and will ensure that ESX will remain current with the most updated trading platform technologies and trends facilitating regional and global securities business. The new trading platform can also disseminate real-time market data and may be also used as an index calculation engine. The new trading system will be implemented in a two-phased process: phase one is the actual delivery of X-stream, which includes the configuration, installation and testing of a customized X-stream version that meets ESX business requirements; the second phase will cover the ongoing support and maintenance of the system, for a period of five years, utilizing NASDAQ OMX’s extensive global status as a market and technology leader, and its customer support network. "This partnership with ESX is an exciting opportunity to help establish a new open and transparent market that will expand their business and bring investors to the region,” said Lars Ottersgård, Senior Vice President, Market Technology, NASDAQ OMX. “NASDAQ OMX, like ESX, have the belief that well-functioning capital markets are cornerstones for economic development and encourage a well-balenced model of growth.” NASDAQ OMX's X-stream technology is currently used by over 26 exchanges, making it one of the most widely-operated trading systems in the world. About NASDAQ OMX: The inventor of the electronic exchange, The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc., fuels economies and provides transformative technologies for the entire lifecycle of a trade - from risk management to trade to surveillance to clearing. In the U.S. and Europe, we own and operate 26 markets, 3 clearinghouses and 5 central securities depositories supporting equities, options, fixed income, derivatives, commodities, futures and structured products. Able to process more than 1 million messages per second at sub-40 microsecond speeds with 99.99% uptime, our technology drives more than 70 marketplaces in 50 developed and emerging countries into the future, powering 1 in 10 of the world's securities transactions. Our award-winning data products and worldwide indexes are the benchmarks in the financial industry. Home to approximately 3,400 listed companies worth $6 trillion in market cap whose innovations shape our world, we give the ideas of tomorrow access to capital today. Welcome to where the world takes a big leap forward, daily. Welcome to the NASDAQ OMX Century. To learn more, visit Follow us on Facebook ( and Twitter ( (Symbol: NDAQ and member of S&P 500) About ERBIL STOCK EXCHANGE: ESX is a private sector led initiative with committed Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) support. It positions Kurdistan as a gateway to investment in Iraq and its growth-oriented companies. ESX was set-up as a joint stock company with share-ownership from day 1 with majority ownership by the private sector. ESX has an initial capitalization of over IQD10 billion (US$8 million) with 56 shareholders comprising reputable companies, financial institutions, chambers of commerce as well as the Ministry of Finance of KRG among others. ESX governance structure consist of a diversified 7-member Board of Directors. ESX is modern market that parallels legislation, regulations, institutions, technology, information and processing of the developed markets in the region. ESX falls under the regulatory purview and oversight of the Iraq Securities Commission (ISC) and the Kurdistan Governance Committee (KGC). ESX business model is designed to create a sustainable market with assured revenue streams from: • Primary Market (To Include Any New/Additional Offerings) Issuance of Equity and Fixed Income Securities; • Secondary Market Listing; • Government Securities Market; and • Growth in Market Capitalization (From New Issues, Stock Price Increases and Secondary Offerings). ESX business is set up to manage its own independent trading platform with the intent to share one common post-trade processing platform with other stock exchanges operating in Iraq under the regulatory oversight of the ISC. Among many other benefits, ESX will lower cost of capital to issuers; unlock value of the region’s companies; serve as the basis for firms to eventually list in other established markets,, increase awareness among investing public and enable better investment choices. Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements The matters described herein contain forward-looking statements that are made under the Safe Harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements include, but are not limited to, statements about X-stream and NASDAQ OMX's other products and offerings. We caution that these statements are not guarantees of future performance. Actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve a number of risks, uncertainties or other factors beyond NASDAQ OMX's control. These factors include, but are not limited to factors detailed in NASDAQ OMX's annual report on Form 10-K, and periodic reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. We undertake no obligation to release any revisions to any forward-looking statements
  12. Iraq to Raise Bank Capital To Address Housing Crisis BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq plans to increase the combined capital of the only two governmental banks in the country, from about $23 million currently to about $360 million next year. Deputies in parliament say that this increase is aimed at supporting housing loans for citizens, in order to help them face the increasing housing crisis in the country. It is worth mentioning that Rasheed Bank’s capital is 2 billion Iraqi dinars (about $1.72 million) while Rafidain Bank’s capital is 25 billion dinars ($21.5 million). In May 2012, the council of ministers agreed to increase the capital of Rafidain Bank to 400 billion dinars and that of Rasheed Bank to 300 billion dinars, using the two banks' general reserve funds. However, the increase was not included in the 2013 budget. An informed source in the Iraqi Ministry of Finance told Al-Monitor, “The country's public budget for 2014 includes a capital increase for Rasheed Bank from 2 billion Iraqi dinars, and for Rafidain Bank from 25 billion dinars, to 200 billion dinars (about $180 million) for each of them.” The source, who preferred to remain anonymous, added, “The government's plan to raise the capital of the two banks consists of two phases. The first is supposed to be implemented next year, and the second will be implemented by 2015, when the capital of the two banks will be doubled again.” For his part, Ibrahim al-Mutlaq, a member of the parliamentary Economic Committee, told Al-Monitor, “The capital increase for Rasheed and Rafidain Banks is a step taken to support the credit scheme for citizens wishing to build residential units.” He added, “These two banks are running a credit program that will help citizens finance private housing projects. The most prominent feature of this program is the so-called ‘100 salaries' credit. This is a loan given to civil servants that is equivalent to 100 nominal [monthly] salaries, provided that the civil servant can show the bank a title deed for a residential unit in his name.” Mutlaq continued, “This program was halted due to an increased demand and lack of liquidity,” and confirmed that “Iraqis desperately need this loan due to the suffocating housing crisis affecting the country.” He explained, “The increase in the capital of the Rasheed and Rafidain Banks will be achieved in the 2014 budget.” As for the investment, he said, “The ‘100 salaries' loans do not yield the desired revenues for governmental banks. They are, however, designed to help people overcome the housing crisis.” Abdul Abbas Shayya, a member of the parliamentary Economic Committee, explained, “The increase in the capital of the two banks is not of great [significance]. Banks are not usually driven by capital, but rather by deposits and banking transactions.” Speaking to Al-Monitor, Shayya added, “Deposits in the two banks exceed 18 trillion dinars [$15.48 billion], which is not that big. Yet the banks are limited by the banking law and do not have the right to invest all of this money. They can only use these deposits to lend to employees if liquidity is available.” He pointed out that “Part of these deposits are frozen and can’t be used in investment projects.” Shayya said, "Iraq needs a new banking law that allows a transition from a totalitarian economy to an open-market economy.” Furthermore, Bassem Jamil Antoine, an Iraqi economic expert, said, “The capital of Rafidain Bank was 25 billion dinars, which hardly fulfills the needs of the bank, because it deals with many billions [of dinars].” Antoine told Al-Monitor, “The decision to increase the capital of the two banks came because of a similar increase in private banks, which will increase their capital by at least 250 billion dinars this year.” He explained, “These numbers are considered small compared to the volume of transactions and the deposit balance in the Rafidain and Rasheed Banks, which are government departments. Accordingly, government departments and ministries don't deposit their accounts in private banks.”
  13. [millionday] , forcing a number of government departments, employees receive their monthly salaries categories of cash very small up to the category of “250 dinars” and certainly that these currencies Small exist between them damaged and torn because of the large Tdoualh in the market reverse groups large. and because of monetary policy lagging in Iraq, the state project in the deletion of zeros from the national currency or issuance of the coin Majlan for unknown reasons. confirms senior officials in the Ministry of Finance that the issue of receipt of the damaged currency and replace it with a new process is vested in the Central Bank is solely responsible for this thing, and it must follow the plans set in love with those currencies of the market without causing any impact of it. [millionday] now let me have the floor and tell you about this piece of info [millionday] they were discussing in a meeting and this is a report that came from it --- the citizens are complaining about [millionday] the condition of the currency because they have as we see here --- taken the currency out of circulation that is higher then a 250 dinar and some are in such poor condition that the [millionday] merchants are no longer accepting them due to the inability to even know what they are for certain so here is what they have said [millionday] the report stated that they took the largest out because cbi was expected to activate the monetary policy and for "reasons unknown to them" they have not moved forward with this so, [millionday] they have now started with this ingenious plan and they have the banks giving out what they call a , "receipt slip" that is to Read more: The people who come to collect their pensions are not treated the same way as others,” Makiya complains. “To get clean, undamaged bank notes you have to pay the bankers a bribe.” Additionally Makiya says that if anybody complains about the IQD3,000 that is usually deducted from the payments by the bankers –a service fee taken for no apparent reason, she says - they are punished by being given even more of the damaged or distressed banknotes. “And then when you get the damaged bank notes you can’t do anything with them because nobody accepts this money,” Makiya says. The descriptions “talef” and “naqes” are often used by people like Makiya when they talk about money. Respectively the words mean damaged and missing and are terms used to describe the smaller notes – the IQD1,000 notes and the half and quarter dinar notes – that those who can’t afford to pay for better, bigger banknotes end up with. And there’s big business being done around the damaged bank notes in Iraq. Yousef Nafea has an exchange shop in Basra’s central Ashar market and he’s well known for his proficiency at fixing the damaged notes; he says he mostly uses transparent sellotape and that he heats it slightly to make the repairs invisible. Visiting him, one immediately notices the piles of notes on his desk. "I fix the damaged one, half and quarter dinar banknotes and sometimes I fix the hundred and the IQD1,000 banknotes too,” he explains. “If I am asked to fix the US$100 note then I have to take great care. Fixing these notes requires that the tape is cut in a special way so it doesn’t look like the bank note was damaged at all.” This kind of repair business is also done by local housewives. Rabab Hussein is one of them and she says she uses sellotape and clear nail polish. “The bank notes are often not only damaged, they are also dirty,” Hussein says. “And they’re ugly. And they’re not good quality, which is why they get damaged so easily,” she concludes. After the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq that toppled Saddam Hussein’s government, new currency was introduced and the bank notes were printed by a British company, De La Rue. Despite repeated calls for the bank notes to be reissued and the currency to be re-denominated, this has yet to happen. Hamid Ghani, the manager of the Iraqi Investment Bank’s branch in Basra believes that a vicious circle of profiteering has developed because of the damaged bank notes in smaller denominations. “The exchange shops make agreements with the bankers – and in some cases, with the bank managers – to replace the smaller notes with bigger ones, in return for a service fee,” Ghani explains. “The service fee is deposited at the bank, in the exchange shop owner’s account. He then withdraws that money in larger, undamaged denominations. In some cases, this equals millions of Iraqi dinars.” Indeed, exchanging one’s smaller bank notes for larger ones at local exchange shops – at a rate of IQD8,000 per million dinars – is common practice today. An example is provided by one local, Ahmad Nofal, who arrives at an exchange shop with two large bags stuffed with Iraqi dinar notes, denominations of one dinar and a quarter dinar. “We usually do this when we receive our salaries. We exchange these for bigger notes because the smaller notes are a hassle to carry around and if they’re damaged, we pay for that with our own money,” Nofal explained. After only a little research into this area, it is easy to conclude that when it comes to Iraqi currency, there are two social classes here. Those who earn good money and end up with clean notes like the red IQD25,000. And those who do not earn much and who are left with dirty and damaged notes in small, useless denominations. As Ayad Bader Sayah, another Basra exchange shop owner, tells NIQASH: "Customers who have accounts at the government banks come to an agreement with the cashiers and bankers and they are able to return the damaged, smaller notes and get IQD10,000 and IQD25,000 notes in return. Then the damaged bank notes are redistributed to those who can’t afford to pay for cleaner money, like the pensioners and low income families.” Although he himself makes some profit in this area, Sayah doesn’t seem that enthused about the business model. “We always hear that the central bank is going to replace the old bank notes but up until now, nothing has happened,” he notes. “And We’re not really happy with the profit we’re making,” he says, “because we know the poorest citizens are paying the price.”
  14. As soon as the results of the Iraqi provincial council elections in April 2013 were announced, some within political circles and the media speculated that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki may seek to postpone parliamentary elections scheduled for next spring to an unspecified date. About This Article Summary : There is speculation in Baghdad that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki may consider postponing Iraq's parliamentary elections scheduled for next year. August 9 2013 Translated by: Rani Geha The speculations were triggered by a significant decline in Maliki’s popularity, as seen in the provincial elections. This decline, of course, is due to the failure of Maliki's government to achieve its promises, particularly in the area of ​​security and public services. Initially, there were speculations that Maliki may resort to postponement to buy some time and regain his lost popularity. But later, a rumor arose of the possibility that Maliki and his coalition may conduct a coup against the democratic path of the political process. This possibility was raised by a Sadrist MP, thus making the coup scenario more credible. The Sadrists are the allies of the State of Law coalition within the National Iraqi Alliance, the largest partner in the current government. They know what is happening on the inside. In a press statement, Iraqi MP Amir al-Kanani said he feared that there will be no peaceful transfer of power if “the results of the upcoming elections turn out different than what Maliki is aiming for.” Could Maliki really reject the very process that allowed him and his party to reach positions of power? It is true that Maliki’s own allies are talking about a clear trend on his part to act individually and concentrate power in his hands. But it is very difficult to imagine that he would stage a coup. Such an action would not only provoke Maliki’s opponents from among the Sunnis, Kurds and secular nationalists, but also all of his Shiite allies, like the Sadrists, the Supreme Islamic Council and the socially and politically influential Shiite authority in Najaf. Najaf is ready to take a strong position against Maliki if he stages such an operation. Maliki’s government is being publicly criticized by Najaf every week in Friday prayer sermons because of his government’s failure to provide security and services. One of Maliki’s reasonable options is to postpone the parliamentary elections under the pretext of an unsuitable security situation. Some analysts consider Maliki’s postponement of the last local elections in the provinces of Anbar and Ninevah to be a dress rehearsal for the postponement of the parliamentary elections. The security situation has greatly deteriorated in recent months in a way not seen since the end of the sectarian war in 2008. Since May, more than a thousand people were killed and 2,500 injured by the violence. That situation will likely continue for months. In July, State of Law MP Ihsan al-Awadi said, “There are no plans to extend the current parliament’s mandate. The elections will be held on schedule.” On Aug. 5, Kurdistan Alliance MP Ashwaq al-Jaff said that some in parliament wish to extend Maliki’s mandate by eight months. “There are some conversations in the corridors of parliament looking into extending the mandate of the current government by eight months under the consideration that there was a delay before the government was formed, and so it has not completed its legal mandate,” she said. But she also considered that “not to be positive,” because “Maliki did nothing in his two consecutive terms that justifies extending [his mandate].” Jaff is considered a credible source of information. In addition to the deteriorating security situation, Maliki may use another issue to justify election postponement. Parliament is supposed to amend the electoral law ahead of the elections. The Federal Supreme Court has ruled that the current law is unconstitutional because it adopted a closed-list system. The electoral law for the governorate councils was amended by adopting the so-called “Saint Lego” system, where the electoral lists are open. But the State of Law coalition blamed its loss in the recent elections on that system, and thus opposes applying it in the parliamentary elections. In June, State of Law MP Walid al-Hilli — who is close to Maliki — said, “The Saint Lego election system doesn’t apply to the parliamentary elections scheduled for next year.” His colleague Ali al-Allak said that Saint Lego is a “failed system” and stressed that his coalition would seek to change the law and prevent the upcoming parliamentary elections from being held according to the Saint Lego law. If Maliki’s coalition does not secure the support of one of the large blocs such as Iraqiya or the Kurdistan Alliance, then the road is at a dead end regarding the election law, and that dead end may end up postponing the election, because Maliki’s Shiite allies — the Sadrist movement and the Supreme Council — have explicitly declared that they are with the Saint Lego system. looks like he may postpone elections
  15. Last month, demonstrators in the southern Iraqi cities of Nassiriya and Basra organized nightly rallies to protest the government’s failure to provide enough electricity for households during the notoriously hot summer. With temperatures exceeding 113 degrees Fahrenheit during July and August, most households get less than 12 hours a day of electric power. The Iraqi government spent $28 billion to reform electricity services, which became one of the most critical problems in the country since the second Gulf War in 1991. The failure to handle this problem is another cause for the increasing disillusionment with the government. Responding to the popular rage, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said in a TV interview that he was manipulated by the minister of electricity and his staff, who provided him with incorrect information about their system's capacity. Although the minister of electricity position has been rotated among five people since 2006, none of them managed to make tangible improvements. But this did not prevent political parties from competing to obtain this position, a contest driven less by a "commitment" to social welfare and more by the fact the ministry is contract-rich. During a TV interview, Khalaf al-Ileyan, whose party was "awarded" this ministry according to a 2006 power-sharing agreement, said that he was offered a $2 million "down payment" and a monthly $1 million if he accepted a nomination for this position. This confession might be shocking, but in fact it reflects habitual relations within Iraqi elite. "Buying" a ministry is nothing new in Iraq. The ritual of power-sharing has become all about finding ways to distribute the growing oil revenues among political parties and transforming state institutions into fiefdoms of competing groups. Initially, the power-sharing formula was presented as a method to create an inclusive system of government that departs from the legacy of exclusionary politics. In practice, power-sharing has become a power apportionment, what Iraqis call: Muhasesa. This is partly because it emphasized ethnic and sectarian categories in determining political weights, which turned institutions into instruments of political conflicts rather than being frameworks to solve them. Maliki has exploited the failures and gaps of this system to create a shadow state that is loyal and responsive to him. He managed to maneuver this system and build strong personal influence within the security institutions, armed forces, independent institutions and Iraq’s judiciary. In an oil-dependent country like Iraq, the executive branch tends to become stronger than the legislative branch because it manages more resources and more complex networks of patronage. But these measures have only intensified political conflict while failing to make the state more efficient. Divided between Maliki’s camp, whose authoritarian disposition is increasing, and his rivals’ camp, whose only alternative is more "apportionment" politics, the political elite is evidently out of touch with the demands of average citizens. Maliki accuses his rivals of doing everything to hinder his government; his rivals say that the failure is caused by his policies. Their contest is more about finding a scapegoat and less about identifying new ways to address the state’s failure. The problem overrides this short-sighted dispute among opportunistic politicians. It is rather about the way Iraq’s economy is working and the way in which the lack of strong institutions affects a responsible and wise management of the wealth. The Iraqi constitution stipulates: “Oil and gas are the Iraqi people’s property,” but the true story is different. According to the UN Development Program, 75% of Iraqis identified poverty as the most pressing need, 79% of households rated electricity as "bad" or "very bad," and only 26% of the population is covered by the public sewage network. This, despite Iraq’s GDP growth from $20 billion in 2002 to $128 billion in 2012, thanks to growth in oil production, which accounts for 60% of GDP and 90% of government revenue. For years, it has been repeated that Iraq is a rich state and a poor society. The path Iraq has taken has only confirmed this saying, despite the improvement in per capita income. Powerful political parties managed to extract their revenues through the networks of patronage they run within state bodies. One way to do so was by awarding governmental contracts to real or fake companies in exchange for bribes or commissions. One example is the Ministry of Interior's $40 million contract with a British businessman, James McCormick, to import "bomb detectors" that turned out to be dressed-up divining rods. McCormick was convicted on four accounts of fraud in England, yet his devices were still used by Iraqi security. Some officials, including the prime minister himself, insist that not all these devices were fraudulent. After two years since Iraqi authorities arrested Maj. Gen. Jihad al-Jabiri, the army’s bomb squad commander, on corruption charges for taking bribes to purchase McCormick’s fake explosive detectors, he was recently released and the charges against him were dropped. Security-related ministries have seen the worst examples of corruption because of their huge budget allocations, poorly monitored US financial support and the urgent need to build them from scratch. There are reports by the Integrity Committee, the US general inspector in Iraq and the Parliamentary Security and Defense Committee, on the hundreds of millions wasted because of corruption in these ministries. Yet, except for a few mid- or low-level officials who found no political sponsor, all partisan senior officials managed to escape punishment or accountability. As the highest constitutional body with a mandate to monitor executive officials, the parliament was supposed to play a crucial role in addressing this corruption. In reality, it did nothing but deepen it by relating accountability to sectarian targeting and behind-the-scenes compromises on the basis of "let my guy go, I let yours go." Among average Iraqis, the parliament itself is very notorious, especially for legislation it passed to provide its members with huge salaries and benefits. The state in Iraq has always been the main shaper of social change and hierarchies. Post-Saddam Iraq is no exception. In the last few years, and as a result of the flourishing clientelism and political nepotism, new alliances have emerged between political groups and sectors of the business class in a sort of collaboration based on crony capitalism. Each major group has its own favorite entrepreneurs, who benefit from contracts awarded by the group’s representatives in the government and, in turn, they support the group financially. Politics is mixed with business everywhere, but in Iraq this takes the form of direct looting of "national" wealth by a new oligarchy composed of conflicting political groups and their economic and bureaucratic clients. The political process which was initially intended to break with the authoritarian past is becoming more influenced by elite politics and interests than people’s needs. Politicians resort to identity politics and ethnic and sectarian incitement to overshadow their personal benefits generated by a process which, instead of solving ethno-sectarian tensions, reproduces them.
  16. BAGHDAD, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshayar Zebari said Thursday that Iraq is about to end its Chapter VII status after reaching agreements with Kuwait on resolving pending issues under Chapter VI of the UN Charter. Zebari identified the longstanding issues with Kuwait as finding and returning Kuwaiti prisoners of war and missing people; returning seized Kuwaiti properties; returning Kuwait state body archives; repairing border markers; and compensations. “Iraq has assured the State of Kuwait, through a series of long talks, that it has no interest in hiding POWs or dead bodies, nor in keeping the seized Kuwaiti properties and (state) archives” he said. He went on to say that “Baghdad has returned to Kuwait all in its hands of Kuwaiti archives and properties”. The Iraqi minister stressed that Baghdad is also greatly cooperating with Kuwait in the search for missing citizens. He added that Iraq and Kuwait have agreed on assigning the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) to follow up the search for and return of the missing citizens, properties and archives. Zebari pledged to offer all help and support to any Kuwaiti team seeking to work on these files in Iraq. “The State of Kuwait has agreed to move these three files from Chapter VII to Chapter VI under the supervision of UNAMI, or any other UN body if UNAMI’s mandate ends.” As for the borders markers’ repair, the Iraqi top diplomat said that “the two countries have signed two memoranda of understanding in this regard; the first related to forming a joint committee to supervise border markers repairing process and the second related to financing a residential complex project in Umm Qasr for Iraqi families affected by the demarcation.” Moreover, Zebari said that the two neighbors have agreed, after difficult negotiations, to form a joint committee to administrate navigation in the channel of Khor Abdullah. Also, “Iraq and Kuwait have agreed to drop resolution No. 833 of Chapter VII and to move it to Chapter VI,” he said. With regard to the compensations file, Zebari estimated the total value of Kuwaiti reparation at about USD 52 billion. “Iraq has paid USD 41 billion so far, and the remaining sum is only USD 11 billion. If Iraq decided to pay the remaining amount in one batch, it will immediately get out completely from Chapter VII,” “But if it decides to pay the sum according to the currently applied annual deduction, the sum will be fully repaid by the end of 2015.” The Iraqi Foreign Minister described the agreements reached between the two neighboring Arab countries as a “great achievement” and a “huge step forward” towards normalizing relations and the opening of a new brighter chapter in bilateral ties.
  17. ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Due to a traditional mistrust of saving money at banks and a banking system still largely in its infancy, most people in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region prefer to keep their money at home. “People don’t trust banks because there is no guarantee that their money will be safe,” says Rizgar Hassan, a 41-year-old shopkeeper in Erbil. Hassan acknowledges that he needs a bank account to keep his savings and enjoy other benefits, but like many other Iraqi Kurds he still remains reluctant about trusting the evolving Kurdish banking system with his hard-earned cash. Majed Mala, the manager of the Erbil Investment and Finance Bank, says the banks have done everything in their power to gain the people's faith. “When they don’t put money in the banks, that is their choice,” he adds. But Khalid Habib, executive manager of the Kurdistan International Bank for Investment & Development, says that people are unaware of developments in banking, and blames the government for not educating them. Shler Adnan, 24, who has lived in Erbil all her life, says, "When I say there is no trust, it's not because I don't have trust in banks. I say it because the whole idea is something new to the Kurdish people," Years of war and persecution are partly to blame for this cold relationship between banks and people in the region. To escape persecution, especially under ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein who was overthrown a decade ago, the Kurds often had to run for the mountains on short notice. At times like these, the little money they had was best kept at home for a quick getaway. Under Saddam, most banks were state owned, allowing them to routinely seize private assets, delete accounts and pass conflicting regulations. This subsequently left the people of Kurdistan "weary of banks, a legacy that continues today," according to a recent report from the Investment Group LLC. Since gaining autonomy after 2003, the Kurdistan Region has created its own economic system, which includes advancements in developing a sustainable banking system. According to the Kurdistan Board of Investment, 16.67 percent of the region’s capital investment is dedicated to the banking sector, which constitutes about $2.3 billion in investment projects. The ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) own bylaws state that it remains committed "to rebuild and activate the financial and banking sector of Kurdistan and to rehabilitate them to gain the trust of the citizens." To date, the Kurdistan Region consists of two state-owned central banks, 14 state-owned regional banks and 30 privately owned banks with branches spread across the region, the report states. "Despite the involvement of foreign branches and the continued growth of local banks, the banking sector of Kurdistan requires further modernization and development,” it adds. “The continued operation of local banks coupled with further involvement from established foreign banks is expected to force the changes in current banking regulations," it says. But these commitments do little to reassure news of banking irregularities reported by the media. In the past three years, the Federal Bank of Erbil has had two incidences of billions gone missing due to corruption and embezzlement. In 2012, $25 billion Iraqi dinars ($21.4 million) went missing, reportedly embezzled by a bank worker and private contractor. Just two years earlier, 2.4 billion Iraqi dinars went missing from the same bank and led to the arrest of the head of the bank and his accountant. Reports from Sulaimani indicate that banks have been unable to pay individuals and small businesses the money that is owed to them, because leaders from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan -- the ruling party in the area – withdrew billions from banking deposits after news last December that PUK leader Jalal Talabani – who is also Iraq’s president -- had suffered a stroke. The Iraqi National Investment Commission reports that there are currently 43 banks in Iraq, in addition to the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI). And there are nine banks with 200 branches in Iraq that have full ATM capability, according to the commission. “At present, each card-issuing bank operates its own system. Because not every point of sale is connected to every system, no one card will work everywhere,” according to USAYS’s Iraq Financial Development Project. In November, the CIB and USAYS’s Iraq Financial Development Project on “Integrating the Banking and Financial Sector in Iraq” held a conference in Istanbul, Turkey proposing a solution to “connect all of Iraq’s ATM machines and credit card point-of-sale scanners to a common platform.” With the help of investment and other foreign banks coming into the market, the banks could have the ability to give the people of Kurdistan the banking system that is promised to them, but investment professionals say that may not be the case. Herish Muharam, head of the Kurdistan Board of Investment, says in the report with Invest Group, that red tape by CBI creates a major deterrent for foreign investors and banks in the Kurdistan Region. He says that even though small projects have progressed, he still does not see a very significant, positive or tangible intervention from the banks in the investment sector.
  18. Iraq, the second-largest oil producer in the oil cartel, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), is aiming to increase its bilateral trade with Indonesia to US$1 billion this year via a recently signed oil sale and purchase agreement and increasing its non-oil and gas imports direct from Jakarta, says a senior Iraqi diplomat. “Both countries signed a memorandum of understanding [MoU] last month during a visit by Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa to Iraq. “Under the agreement, Iraq will supply 35,000 barrels per day [bpd] of oil starting from May 2013. It’s a new beginning,” Iraqi Ambassador to Indonesia Ismieal Shafeeq Muhsin told The Jakarta Post recently. “Every month, we will export $100 million worth of crude oil to Indonesia. In fact, we offered to supply 65,000 barrels of oil per day. We are now eyeing a billion-dollar trade with Indonesia ”. According to Indonesia’s Central Statistics Agency (BPS), the value of bilateral trade in 2012 was just $45 million. According to Ambassador Muhsin, bilateral trade could be far greater still if Indonesia removed Iraq from its immigration red list. “It’s a big hindrance for Iraqi businesspeople who want to visit Indonesia. We strongly urge Indonesia to remove Iraq from the red list to boost people-to-people contacts and business links,” Muhsin said. Many countries, including Indonesia, still consider Iraq a dangerous place, and a number of Iraqi citizens illegally enter Indonesian territory each year in their attempts to reach Australia. Besides oil, Iraq can export fertilizers to Indonesia as Baghdad has strong reserves of phosphate and sulphur, the key ingredients in fertilizer production. At the same time, with its 32 million-strong market and a daily output of 3.7 million bpd of oil as well as over $100 billion in foreign exchange (forex) reserves, Iraq could be a promising market for Indonesian products. “We need large quantities of furniture, coal, clothing, palm oil, shoes, paper, automobiles, rubber and electronic goods from Indonesia. We are currently getting them through third countries like Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, but we want to import them directly,” Muhsin said. Iraq, Muhsin said, had been one of the first countries to recognize Indonesia’s independence in 1945. The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1950 and have signed around 15 agreements to boost bilateral ties. In the process of reviving their bilateral relations, which were stalled due to the war in Iraq, Hatta’s visit was important to take the ties to new heights. During his historic visit to Iraq, Minister Hatta met Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs Hussain al-Shahristani to discuss energy issues. “During the discussion, Pertamina expressed its interest in buying a stake in the West Qurna 1 oil and gas block. We welcome Pertamina’s intentions. Our government gave its clearance for Pertamina, but it has to negotiate with the current main operator, ExxonMobil Iraq Ltd.,” Muhsin said. With almost 9 billion barrels of reserves and 2 million bpd output, West Qurna is Iraq’s largest oil and gas block. Muhsin, who assumed his post in July 2010, has played a key role in reviving the stalled relations between Iraq and Indonesia. At the height of the Iraq War, Indonesia temporarily closed its embassy in Baghdad in 2003. Thanks to Muhsin’s continual efforts and the gradually improving security situation in Iraq, Indonesia agreed to reopen its embassy in June 2011. Since then, relations between the two countries have developed at a fast pace. Last October, a 75-strong trade delegation visited Indonesia to explore business opportunities.
  19. The Head of the Kirkuk branch of the Article 140 Implementation Committee says the compensation cheques will be distributed next week. Kakarash Sidiq said, “The compensation cheques were to be distributed when the budget was approved, but due to some problems it was postponed until next week.” Until now, 28 groups of families have been given compensation with the returnees receiving 10 million Iraqi dinars and to those who leave 20 million ids. Compensation is a phase of the Article 140 implementation of the Iraqi constitution, specialized to the disputed areas which include Kirkuk, Mosul, Diyala, and Salahadin. ( Added link. Carla)
  20. 320 billion Iraqi Dinars are to be allocated for the implementation of Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution in 2013, while the head of the Article 140 committee has claimed the sum will decrease the issues of the indemnification. Muhsin Sadun, head of the Article 140 committee told Kirkuk Now “320 billion ID is being allocated for the implementation of Article 140 after they have demanded the sum.” “The allocation of the sum will decrease the issues of the indemnification of the individuals included in Article 140,” Sadun added. He further stated that they have also demanded that offices for Article 140 be opened in the cities of Kurdistan so that those Kurdish individuals that were harmed during the reign of the Baath regime can be indemnified ( Added link for you. Carla)
  21. ‘We Should Impeach Maliki,’ Kurdish MPs Say Author: Aslan » Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:16 pm SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – Iraq’s Kurds have been too patient with the Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and it is time to have him impeached, Kurdish MPs said. “We have to show Maliki our strongest reactions," urged Bakir Hama Siddiq, an MP from the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU). "Maliki's policies and behavior must be ended. This prime minister has practically proven that he has nothing positive in his agenda," Siddiq said. "Impeaching Maliki is still on the table and a consensus has formed among the political parties about the dire consequences facing Iraq if his State of Law party continues on its current path," according to Shwan Muhammad Taha, an MP of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Baghdad. Maliki “has already made all the possible bad and illegal decisions," he added. "The only decision left for him is to make war." Maliki’s government is built on complex alliances with the Kurds, Arabs and other religious and ethnic groups and parties. For weeks, the premier’s Shiite Arab government has been locked in a dangerous military stand-off with the Kurds. He ignited the fuse by sending in troops to take over security in the disputed oil-rich province of Kirkuk, and the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) countered by deploying thousands of its own Peshmarga fighters. More recently, Kurdish anger against Maliki has been joined by protests by the country’s large Sunni minority over alleged discrimination against their provinces. The anger at Maliki comes as Iraq’s ethnically Kurdish President Jalal Talabani, who also leads the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party, has been recuperating in Germany from a serious stroke he suffered three weeks ago. Ala Talabani, a leadership council member of the PUK, said that another Kurd should replace the ailing president, because the post belongs to the Kurds. "This issue has not been discussed yet. But this post belongs to the Kurds," she added. Meanwhile, a KDP source told Rudaw that the party agrees Talabani’s successor should come from his own PUK. Sources also said that Iran has told Massoud Barzani, KRG president and head of the KDP, that Tehran would not approve of anyone who did not have his blessing
  22. Baghdad ( -The parliament started conducting the first reading of a law draft aims at limiting the terms of the three Presidencies to avoid renewing the term of the Premier, Nouri al-Maliki. Parliamentary source stated to “The law draft proposes limiting the terms of the three Presidencies to two terms only.”
  23. A clear indication of the trade build up between Iraq and other Gulf countries is that some GCC members, such as Kuwait, want Iraq to join the bloc. Currently the UAE is Iraq’s primary trading partner with total 2012 trade estimated to reach up to $7 billion, up more than seven per cent on 2011. In spite of the negatives, Iraq is one of the world’s fastest growing economies with double digit GDP growth predicted over the next three years. The federal budget is expected to reach $120 billion in 2013 and increasing steadily up to $200 billion by 2015, allowing a continuing high level of government spending to improve infrastructure and boost oil exports. Eighteen international oil companies are already committed to multi-billion dollar investments in central and southern Iraq that are designed to treble the country’s oil production and create a new gas industry. Kuwait Energy joined this effort in May last year after winning exploration rights in a 900 square kilometre block in Basra province. Sharjah-based Crescent Petroleum with its affiliate Dana Gas is already implementing an $850 million project in Kurdistan to process 300 million cubic feet of gas a day that will feed two power plants designed to generate 1,250 megawatts. Growing business prospects are reflected in the increase of scheduled flights to and from Iraq and the Gulf. Even though large parts of Iraq are still off limits, according to the advice of many foreign embassies, the security situation in Kurdistan is stable. This has led to a considerable increase in visitors to northern Iraq and new airport developments in Sulaymaniyah, Erbil and Dohuk. Iraq as a whole though remains a difficult environment for doing business. Public services have still to be adequately restored and there are continuing security concerns. A bureaucratic labyrinth has created structural inefficiencies that are reflected in administrative delays and corruption. Nevertheless, shrewd investors have recognised the potential. Iraq’s mobile telephony market has proved a big draw for Gulf investors such as Qatar’s QTel. Last June the company said it intended to raise its shareholding in Asiacell, one of the top three cellular operators in Iraq, to 60 per cent for $1.47 billion. Another leading operator is Zain Iraq, a subsidiary of Kuwait’s Zain group while Kuwait’s logistics operator Agility is also a principal shareholder in the Korek mobile telephone company. Despite disputes with the regulator over delayed stock markets listing, the mobile investments have proved very successful and encouraging new fourth generation mobile technologies to be rolled out to serve a market that is not yet fully penetrated. GULF LINKS There are a growing number of significant Gulf investments in other sectors. Gulftainer is providing logistics links throughout the country from Zakho on the Turkish border in the north to Umm Qasr on the Gulf coast. In 2010, the Sharjah-based company was awarded the concession to operate a berth at Umm Qasr port and to develop, operate and complete construction of the planned Iraq container terminal north of the port on a 750,000 square metre site designated Umm Qasr Logistics City. “It’s a massive market. There are barriers to entry right now, but in five years the situation will get better and it will be the prime market in the region along with the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia,” Al Assam believes. Evidence of this came last October, when the ministry concluded a memorandum of understanding with Dubai’s Emaar Properties to jointly develop residential, commercial and tourism projects in Iraq. Iraq needs millions of new homes, which will require both public and private sector involvement. According to Emaar Properties MD, Ahmad Al Matroushi, “Iraq is one of the promising emerging markets in the Middle East and our partnership complements our strategic goal to expand to key international markets.” In addition, Abu Dhabi’s Bloom Properties and Dubai’s Damac have recently signed initial agreements for construction projects in Iraq potentially valued at $7 billion. Bloom is looking to develop both commercial and residential projects, as well as schools and sports facilities. Damac, which is reported to have already acquired two plots of land in Baghdad, is expected to focus on commercial and residential developments as well in and around the capital. Earlier in 2012, the Iraq government appointed Bloom as prime developer for a project in Karbala province involving building schools, a university, hospital and clinics, hotels, retail areas, and recreational facilities in addition to up to 40,000 homes. Bloom Properties CEO Simon Azzam believes that “Iraq is clearly one of the most important destinations that we have scheduled for growth,” while Damac’s chairman Hussain Sajwani describes the group’s Iraq move as representing “a significant agreement.” The hospitality area is also a growing investment. Abu Dhabi-based Rotana is managing a property in Erbil and has signed an agreement to manage two more 200-room five-star hotels in Erbil. The company has also opened a hotel in Baghdad’s international green zone. Dubai’s Range Hospitality, which focuses on developments around religious sites, is building the $100 million Al Rawdatain Gardens 644-room hotel project in Karbala. Range’s chief executive Munaf Ali says, “We originally raised the seed capital early in 2010 and we were massively oversubscribed, even in this economic environment.” THE KUWAITI CONNECTION More than 50 Kuwait companies are preparing to invest in a variety of Iraqi sectors including agriculture, industry and real estate, according to Ali al-Muamman the emirate’s ambassador to Iraq. For instance, Kuwait’s Safir Hotels & Resorts is also developing a hotel project in Karbala and has plans to manage a 500-room hotel in Najaf. This reflects a thaw in bilateral relations since the emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sultan al-Ahmad al-Sabah, paid the first head of state visit to Iraq in 25 years during the Arab League summit at the end of March. Reparation issues accruing to the invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and aviation disputes have prevented links developing. The haggling is not over since Kuwait is still owed some $22 billion by Iraq. The long-running and still unresolved dispute has resulted in international legal action, which has prevented Iraqi Airways flying to Europe without the risk that its aircraft will be impounded. Kuwait Airways Corporation has been seeking $1.2 billion in compensation for 10 aircraft taken during the 1990 invasion. Iraq has offered $300 million to the carrier and an additional $200 towards establishing a joint Iraq-Kuwait airline. Saudi Arabia has also taken the decision to re-open the gas pipeline that runs from the Gulf coast to Yanbu on the Red Sea. The pipeline is able to transport 1.6 million barrels-a-day of oil and was built with Iraqi funds to carry the latter’s crude during its war with Iran in the 1980s. The decision taken unilaterally by Riyadh is strategic in light of tensions in the region but also reportedly in compensation for $30 billion of outstanding Iraq debts. In spite of this the two countries seem to be seeking to put relations on a better footing. Saudi Arabia named an ambassador to Iraq this year though Fahd Al Zaid, who is also envoy to Jordan, will continue to reside in Amman. The UAE is the only Gulf state to have written off Iraqi debts. Following the cancellation of $7 billion of Iraq debts in 2008, the emirates decided earlier this year to write off a further $5.8 billion. The move seems to have opened a door to an increase in bilateral trade and investment in Iraq. Clearly it is not a country for faint- hearted investors, but certainly not one to be ignored. “On paper it is probably the most difficult market to operate in and it does have its challenges. But it is also the most lucrative and if you know how to go about doing business there, it’s not as difficult as people think,” says Amar Al Assam, executive director for Dubai-based Dewan Architects & Engineers.
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