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)

Zoom Invitation: Iraq 2020, a Country at the Crossroads

You are invited
to hear a discussion of the IBBC Advisory Council's paper on
'Iraq 2020, a country at the crossroads'

When: Monday 15th June at 2pm UK
Where: Zoom Platform

The paper published for the new Iraqi Government recommends a number of decisive changes to be implemented without delay, in order for Iraq to be able to navigate the rapidly deepening economic crisis she is facing.

This open public forum takes place in partnership with IRIS (Institute of Regional and International Studies) at AUIS (American University of Iraq, Sulaimani) and Chatham House.

Speakers include:

  • Professor Frank Gunter, Lehigh University
  • Dr Renad Mansour, Chatham House
  • Mr Ahmed Tabaqchali, IRIS at AUIS
  • Professor Mohammed Al-Uzri, University of Leicester
  • Mr Abdul Aziz Shwan Ahmed, Iraqi Government
  • Mr Hani Akkawi, CCC

Click below to read the full paper:

Iraq 2020: a country at the crossroads - English

Iraq 2020: a country at the crossroads - Arabic

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

BOC Boss to Head Iraqi Oil Ministry

By John Lee.

Iraq's parliament has approved the appointment of the former head of the Basra Oil Company (BOC) as Minister for Oil.

Variously named as Ihsan Ismaeel, Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismail, and Ihsan Ismaael, he was one of seven cabinet ministers approved on Saturday, completing Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi's 22-member government.

The other posts filled were foreign affairs, trade, culture, agriculture, justice and migration.

According to Al Jazeera, Fuad Hussein, who served as finance minister in the previous government, is the only member of the old government to join the new team, returning as Minister of Foreign Affairs. The veteran Kurdish politician is reported to be close to Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani.

(Sources: AFP, Iraq Oil Report, Reuters, Al Jazeera)

Iraq Denies Plans to Shut al-Ahdab Field

By John Lee.

Iraq's oil ministry has denied a report from Bloomberg that it plans to shut down the al-Ahdab oil field in Wasit due to protests.

In a statement the Ministry said the protests near the field are not related to the oil industry, but to the administration of the province.

(Source: Ministry of Oil)

KRG PM Barzani calls for Constitutional Solution

Prime Minister Barzani chairs cabinet meeting, calls for constitutional solution to problems with Baghdad

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani chaired a cabinet meeting in Erbil on Wednesday to discuss economic conditions in the Kurdistan Region and outstanding problems with the federal government.

In the meeting, which was also attended by Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, the Prime Minister wished success to the new Iraqi cabinet, and stressed the need for a constitutional solution to ongoing issues between Erbil and Baghdad.

The cabinet discussed proposed draft bills covering the selling and renting of public properties, investment, and patients' rights. Relevant departments in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) were assigned to prepare final drafts for parliament.

Prime Minister Barzani said the Kurdistan Region is going through difficult economic times due to falling oil prices and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and must make adjustments due to limited financial resources.

He called for a review of the economy in light of the regional financial downturn, and underlined the importance of continuing to implement the Reform Law (2020).

The Prime Minister said the KRG will do its best to pay public sector salaries, and reiterated his commitment to continue providing public services and strengthening the region's infrastructure.

During the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Talabani provided an update on recent discussions with federal authorities on budgetary issues and oil exports. He said dialogue with Baghdad will continue to reach a deal on outstanding problems.

(Source: KRG)

US Welcomes New Iraq Govt; Extends Iran Sanctions Waiver

By John Lee.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (pictured) has welcomed the formation of a new government in Iraq following months of instability.

In a phone call with the new Prime Minister, Mustafa Kadhemi, he said that the US would not enforce sanctions on Iraq buying electricity from Iran for 120 days "as a display of our desire to help provide the right conditions for success".

The full statement via Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said:‎

"Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke today with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. Secretary Pompeo welcomed Prime Minister Kadhimi's new government, which was confirmed by the Council of Representatives.

"They discussed the urgent hard work ahead for the Iraqi government, implementing reforms, addressing COVID-19, and fighting corruption. In support of the new government the United States will move forward with a 120-day electricity waiver as a display of our desire to help provide the right conditions for success.

"The Secretary and the Prime Minister also discussed the upcoming U.S.-Iraq strategic dialogue and how they look forward to working together to provide the Iraqi people the prosperity and security they deserve."

(Source: US State Dept)

Baghdad “Halts Payments to KRG”

By John Lee.

Baghdad is said to have stopped payments to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Writing for Argus Media, Rowena Edwards says central government will also seek to recover payments made since the start of the year, in the absence of KRG transfers of crude oil, which were part of the as-yet-unsigned 2020 budget.

More here.

(Source: Argus Media)

Mechanics, Vendors Protest Coronavirus Lockdown

By John Lee.

Mechanics and vendors staged protests on Saturday against the continuing lockdown across the Kurdistan Region, calling on the government to allow them to reopen their garages and shops after a month of closures.

Workers in Erbil and Duhok said the lockdown, implemented to stem the spread of COVID-19, is impacting their ability to provide for their families.

More here.

(Source: Rudaw)