Iraq, Jordan, Egypt Economic Partnership gains Momentum

By Muhammed Magdy for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq, Jordan, Egypt economic partnership gains momentum

The tripartite meeting between the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, and the ensuing agreements to boost cooperation raises questions about a nascent alliance that could confront Iran's growing influence in the region.

Click here to read the full article.

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Minister proposes Joint Company for Iraqi Kurdistan’s Oil

By John Lee.

Iraq's Minister of Oil, Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismael [Ihsan Abduljabbar] (pictured) has reportedly proposed setting up a joint oil company to manage the production and export of oil from Iraqi Kurdistan.

According to Shafaq News, the new company would be "linked technically and administratively to the presidency of the region and the Federal Oil Ministry".

The Minister is quoted as saying:

"The ongoing talks between Baghdad and Erbil show new visions and ideas for the region."

(Source: Shafaq News)

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Time to focus on Girls in Iraq

Their voice, our equal future, time to focus on girls in Iraq

11th October marked the International Day of the Girl Child, a day dedicated to girls' empowerment, fulfilment of girls' rights and solving challenges that they face.

This year, the global theme is "My Voice, Our Equal Future," a reminder to listen to girls , understand the changes they want to see and to ensure that all of them have an equal opportunity for a bright, safe and healthy future.

In Iraq, the challenges experienced by girls and boys are many and complex. Violence against children, including young people is unacceptably high in Iraq, with 80 per cent facing violence at home and in schools. Many girls in Iraq, like millions of girls around the world, suffer from female genital mutilation, child marriage, sexual harassment and abuse, and other harmful practices.

Girls across Iraq continue to be particularly affected by increased insecurity, which in turn has imposed restrictions on movement that affects their access to education, protection and jobs. Young girls are keen to make the most of opportunities, have specific interests, identities and experiences and are keen to share accountability in their development, exercise of human rights and ensure their gender-differentiated needs.

The COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on movement have elevated risks for girls to be violated and abused. The number of gender-based violence cases has increased since the onset of COVID19 pandemic in Iraq according to the Protection Cluster Monitoring in Response to COVID-19 (August 2020)

According to the GBV Information Management System's data of the first two quarters of 2020, 23 per cent of the incidents of violence reported to the service providers were among children and adolescents, of which 6 per cent were aged between 0 and 11 years, and 17 per cent were aged between 12 and 17 years old.

Interviews conducted by the United Nations with families living in displacement camps across Nineveh governorate, affirm that child marriage remains a frequent practice and a coping mechanism for families living in poverty to reduce the financial strain.

Education and learning are some of the best ways to empower girls and protect them against violence, exploitation and social exclusion by providing them with the opportunity to build a better life for themselves, their families and their communities. To make education and learning accessible and empowering for girls, it needs to be safe and gender sensitive.

Having zero tolerance to bullying, cyberstalking, sexting and harassment should be a priority for all as part of the national COVID-19 efforts to reimagine school systems and learning, we must address violence against girls of all ages in and around classrooms and on digital learning platforms. Because girls have higher risk than boys to experience violence, verbal and sexual abuse, a multi-sectoral approach is needed to address all risk factors and cases. Youth-friendly, accessible and quality education and learning, health and social services are essential for girls' empowerment and their development.

Ending gender-based violence is not a far-fetched dream; this is a real possibility. All that is needed is for girls to have access to formal education, , skilled, civically engaged, healthy, supported, and protected at home, in institutions and at the community. The alternative is devastating with a lasting negative and damaging impact to the health, education and well-being of Iraqi girls.

We call on the government, civil society organisations, the private sector, faith-based groups and the international community to accelerate their efforts to:

  • Improve equal access to quality primary and secondary education including life-skills
  • Promote access to alternative learning opportunities for out of school adolescents and youth, in the form on life skills and citizenship education, including social and business entrepreneurship for improved learning to work transition;
  • Increase capacity of the health sector to provide adolescents and youth-friendly health services across the country, with focus on girls; Ensure that girls - survivors of GBV access free and quality specialised services anchored in survivor-centred and age-appropriate approaches
  • Mobilise girls, boys, parents and leaders through civic and social engagement to challenge discriminatory gender norms and create real social, economic and civic opportunities for all girls;
  • Draft and enforce legislation, such as the anti-domestic violence law and child law, to protect girls and prosecute those who harm them;
  • Implement the recommendations by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, including to criminalise, forced, temporary and child marriage;
  • Increase availability of child protection services for girls and young women.

Girls can be powerful agents of change, and nothing should keep them from participating fully in all areas of life. We must come together and show our commitment by dedicating resources for girls to realise their rights and fulfil their full potential.

(Source: UN)

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Cabinet commits resources to Dhi Qar province

The Iraqi Cabinet held an extraordinary meeting in the city Nasiriyah in Dhi Qar province on Monday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.

At the start of the meeting, the Prime Minister said that the people of Dhi Qar had sacrificed much for Iraq, but they have suffered from the consequences of past marginalisation. He affirmed that this government is determined to address the challenges facing the province.

Following discussions, the Cabinet approved several measures to improve services and boost investment in Dhi Qar, including:

  • Establish Dhi Qar Reconstruction Council to oversee the implementation of key projects in the province
  • Establish a working group to review all delayed and incomplete projects in Dhi Qar to ensure that work on these projects is resumed, giving a priority to projects that have direct impact on the lives of citizens. The working group will be chaired by the Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers, with the membership of the Governor of Dhi Qar, the Deputy Minister of Planning, the Deputy Minister of Construction, Housing and Municipalities, and representatives from the Ministries of Finance, Electricity, Oil and Education
  • Grant the Governor of Dhi Qar the necessary powers to oversee the construction of new roads, rehabilitation of water purification plants, and the rehabilitation and maintenance of hospitals and health centres
  • Direct the Ministry of Oil to allocate 500 million dinars annually to the Heart Centre in Dhi Qar and to the local Health Department
  • Direct the Ministry of Communications to allocate 10 billion dinars to Dhi Qar
  • Direct the Ministry of Health to provide hospitals in the province with medical equipment and supplies
  • Direct the Ministry of Education and Scientific Research to follow up on the progress of Al-Shatra University Project which was established in 2013
  • Direct the Agricultural Bank, the Housing Fund and the Industrial Bank to simplify the procedures for granting loans to the people of Dhi Qar because of the exceptional circumstances facing the province
  • Expedite the completion of Dhi Qar Industrial City and Dhi Qar Refinery
  • Expedite the construction of school buildings and hospitals with a high completion rate

The Cabinet also approved several technical and administrative measures related to Dhi Qar aimed at delivering tangible and rapid improvement across a number of key public services.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

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Iraq “Too Broken to Protect itself from Covid-19”

From The Economist.

Iraq is too broken to protect itself from covid-19

Most Arab regimes have dealt with covid-19 by tightening their grip. Not Iraq. It gave up on lockdowns long ago.

The government seems powerless to enforce social distancing or the wearings of masks (some men see the coverings as an insult to their virility).

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Iraqi Govt needs more Female Voices to Fight the Pandemic

By Hanar Marouf, for the Atlantic Council. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq's government needs more female voices to fight the pandemic

Iraq is in a precarious condition. It has faced major challenges on multiple fronts, including political instability, a drop in oil prices, and the economic fallout amid the coronavirus outbreak.

While the government deliberates protection measures, the capacity of hospitals and staff remain limited.

The rampant spread of the virus, with an average of 3,000 daily infections, has only been exacerbated by a lack of concrete emergency plans. Up to mid-August, Iraq had 150,000 cases and 5,400 deaths.

Click here to read the full story.

Iraqi Govt to prepare Urgent Study on Social Security Fraud

By John Lee.

The Cabinet held its regular meeting in Baghdad on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.

At the start of the meeting, the Prime Minister extended his condolences and paid tribute to Dr. Hisham Al-Hashimi who was assassinated by a group of armed outlaws.

The Prime Minister said that the perpetrators of this crime will be pursued and brought to justice, as will those who have spilled the blood of other Iraqis.

The Prime Minister made it clear that he will not allow Iraq to be held to ransom by gangs, and that the government is determined to reassert the authority of the state and the rule of law.

The Prime Minister said that this government came into office in very challenging circumstances, and it will take the necessary action to fulfill the aspirations of Iraqis.

The Cabinet then received a briefing from the Minister of Health on the latest developments in relation to Covid-19, and the ongoing efforts to combat the pandemic.

Following discussions, the Cabinet decided to:

  • Approve a draft law on the pension rights of medical and health professionals who died as a result of their work caring for Covid-19 patients, and to submit it for parliamentary approval
  • Approve the recommendations of the Ministerial Council on Human Development on secondary education, including the creation of a new arts track in secondary education, in addition to the current science and humanities tracks
  • Commission the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs to prepare an urgent study on the actual numbers of those entitled to social security benefits, the cost of their inclusion in the system, and the measures taken by the Ministry to address any abuse of the social security network
  • Authorise the Minister of Finance to sign a memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Finance and the German Development Bank regarding a grant in the amount of 15,000,000 euros to equip five temporary hospitals for Covid-19 patients in various locations
  • Renew the licenses of mobile phone companies for five years, on conditions they pay 50% of their outstanding debt, and commit to introducing 4G commercial services by early 2021

The Cabinet also discussed other policies and draft laws and issued several directives.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

Govt to graduate Students based on Half-Term Results

The Iraqi Cabinet held its regular meeting in Baghdad on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.

At the start of the meeting, the Prime Minister outlined the challenges facing the country in relation to Covid-19 and the Iraqi government's efforts to combat the pandemic and provide support to health institutions and medical teams.

The Prime Minister called on all Iraqis to follow the directions of the Higher Committee for Health and National Safety, and to follow official health advice for their own safety and that of all Iraqis.

The Cabinet discussed recent protests in relation to grievances to do with the Ministries of Defence, Education and Electricity. The Prime Minister directed ministers to engage in a dialogue with the protesters in order to reach realistic solutions commensurate with their demands and with the difficult challenges facing the country.

The Cabinet discussed current economic and financial challenges, and the necessary measures to encourage and promote investment in Iraq's economy as a key driver of growth and of job-creation.

Following further discussions, the Cabinet decided to:

  • Allow students at stage 3 of intermediate education to progress to stage 1 of secondary education based on their half-term exam scores
  • Authorise the Minister of Health and Environment to take all necessary measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic
  • Consider combatting the pandemic a competency of the federal government, and falls within the general policy of the state
  • Provide the necessary support to expedite the completion of hospitals in Dhi Qar and Maysan provinces

(Source: Govt of Iraq)