Iraqi, Syrian Oil Ministers discuss Gas Imports

By Al-Monitor staff. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraqi, Syrian oil ministers discuss gas imports

The Iraqi and Syrian oil ministers talked about the possibility of transporting Egyptian gas to Iraq through Syria during a meeting in Baghdad.

Click here to read the full story.

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Iraq Pays another $380m Reparations to Kuwait

By John Lee.

The United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC) made available $380 million to the Government of the State of Kuwait towards the Commission's remaining claim with an outstanding award balance.

The United Nations Compensation Commission is a subsidiary organ of the United Nations Security Council. It was established in 1991 in accordance with Security Council resolutions 687 (1991) and 692 (1991) to process claims and pay compensation for losses and damages incurred by individuals, corporations, Governments and international organizations as a direct result of Iraq's invasion and occupation of Kuwait (2 August 1990 to 2 March 1991).

The Commission received approximately 2.7 million claims and concluded its review of all claims in 2005. Approximately$52.4 billion was awarded to over 100 Governments and international organizations for distribution to the successful 1.5 million claims in all claim categories.

Successful claims are paid from the United Nations Compensation Fund which receives a percentage of the proceeds generated by the export sales of Iraqi petroleum and petroleum products. This rate was set at five per cent under Security Council resolution 1483 (2003) and reaffirmed in subsequent resolutions. Pursuant to Governing Council decision 276 adopted in November 2017, the percentage was set at 0.5 per cent for 2018, 1.5 per cent for 2019 and 3 per cent for 2020.

The rate will remain at 3 per cent until such time as the outstanding compensation has been paid in full. Payments are made on a quarterly basis utilizing all available funds in the Compensation Fund under Governing Council decision 267 (2009).

With today's payment, the Commission has paid $50.7 billion, leaving approximately $1.7 billion to be paid towards the outstanding claim. This category E claim was submitted by the Government of the State of Kuwait on behalf of the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation and awarded $14.7 billion in 2000 for oil production and sales losses as a result of damages to Kuwait's oil field assets. It represents the largest award by the Commission.

(Source: UNCC)

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Iraq-Lebanon Fuel Oil talks “Shrouded in Mystery”

By Noam Raydan, for Amwaj Media. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq-Lebanon fuel oil talks remain shrouded in mystery

Despite Lebanon's deepening financial crisis, its politicians remain committed to the same stop-gap measures that have crippled the country's dilapidated electricity sector. Lebanese officials continue to experiment with ad hoc solutions to the power sector, which has long been a drag on the national budget.

Among the more controversial plans is the government's attempt to import fuel oil from Iraq. Aside from its unsuitability for power plants in Lebanon, partly due to its high sulfur content, talks between Baghdad and Beirut over fuel supplies have been fraught with contradictory and factually inaccurate statements.

The full report can be viewed here (registration required).

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IBBC Webinar: Causes and Cures for Iraqi Corruption

Corruption Worse Than ISIS: Causes and Cures for Iraqi Corruption

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) is delighted to invite you to the public launch of Professor Frank Gunther's new paper on corruption in Iraq on Monday 26th of April from 1pm - 2pm BST.

Following the presentation of the paper there will be comments from Dr Renad Masour, Chatham House, and Maya Gebeily, AFP. The ensuing discussion will be moderated by Shwan Aziz Ahmed from the IBBC Advisory Council.

Read the paper here

Register Here

Speakers:

Frank R. Gunter is a Professor of Economics, a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and a retired U.S. Marine Colonel. After receiving his Doctorate in Political Economy from Johns Hopkins University in 1985, Frank joined the faculty of Lehigh University where he teaches Principles of Economics, Economic Development, and the Political Economy of Iraq. He has won four major and multiple minor awards for teaching excellence. Based on his two years in Iraq as an economic advisor to the US Government, Frank wrote The Political Economy of Iraq: Restoring Balance in a Post-Conflict Society (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2013). This book was published in both English and Arabic and was selected as an "Outstanding Academic Title" by Choice magazine. His most recent work, "Immunizing Iraq Against al Qaeda 3.0" (Orbis, 2018, Vol. 62, No. 3, pp. 389-408), discusses the possible economic causes of political instability in Iraq. Frank is married with three children and his family shares their Pennsylvania home with over 4,000 books.

Ms Maya Gebeily is a reporter with Agence-France Presse based in Baghdad, where she covers Iraqi politics, security, economics, and societal developments. Before this posting, Maya spent three years at AFP's Beirut bureau covering the Syrian conflict. She covered Lebanon and Syria at local Lebanese news website NOW News, and have reported as a freelancer out of Beirut, Istanbul, and the Kurdish region of Iraq in recent years.

Dr Renad Mansour is a senior research fellow and project director of the Iraq Initiative at Chatham House. He is also a senior research fellow at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani, and a research fellow at the Cambridge Security Initiative based at Cambridge University. Renad was previously a lecturer at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), where he taught the international relations of the Middle East and, from 2013, he held positions as lecturer of international studies and supervisor at the Faculty of Politics, also at Cambridge.

Moderator:

Abdul Aziz (Shwan) A. Ahmed, is the immediate past Chief of Staff to Deputy Prime Minister Dr Fuad Hussain and before him Deputy Prime Minister Dr Rowsch Nouri Shaways. As Chief of Staff he oversaw an office of 70 including 5 Director Generals,  covering the portfolios of Politics, Economics, International Partnerships, Media & Public Relations and Finance & Administration. In this position he has been at the heart of the Iraqi Government for the past 10 years actively participating in the work of several administrations. From 1997 to 2009 Shwan had a distinguished career at UNDP in several countries with his last posting being the Head of UNDP office in Puntland/Somalia from 2006 to 2009. He managed his own engineering business in Iraq from 1993 to 1997 and worked for the Ministry of Industry from 1987 to 1993. He graduated from the University of Technology in Baghdad in as Systems and Control Engineering in 1983. Shwan is happily married with three adult children. He is of Baghdadi Kurdish and Finish origin and is fully fluent in Arabic, Kurdish and English.

Media Partner:
The post IBBC Webinar: Causes and Cures for Iraqi Corruption first appeared on Iraq Business News.

More Lebanese Doctors leave for Iraq

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

More Lebanese doctors leave for Iraq

As Lebanon is sinking deeper into an unprecedented financial and political crisis, many medical doctors are increasingly packing their bags and leaving for the Gulf or Europe, and more recently for Iraq.

Click here to read the full article.

The post More Lebanese Doctors leave for Iraq first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Jiyad: Iraq, and the China-Iran Cooperation Program

By Ahmed Mousa Jiyad.

Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq and the China-Iran Comprehensive Cooperation Program

The China-Iran Comprehensive Cooperation Program (CICCP) was signed on 27 March 2021; two days later the CICCP's direct impacts on Iraq began emerging and one of such impacts seems to benefits both Iraq and Iran!!

A few days ago I completed a detailed preliminary assessment of CICCP document. The assessment was written in Arabic entitled "China-Iran Comprehensive Cooperation Program: Tactically Important Strategically Impacting if Implemented", it was circulated widely and posted on many websites.

The assessment uses composite methodology of three researches approaches (Text analysis, SCOR (Strength, Challenges; Opportunities and Requirements) and facts/evidence based) and comprises an introduction, three parts and concluding remarks. Part one provide brief review of CICCP document structure: preamble, articles, annexes, effective date and term of the deal, coordinating and supervising authorities. Part two, provides detailed assessment of eight fundamental topics/ areas of cooperation, from the perspectives of the political economy of bilateral relations and geopolitical considerations. Part three provides the direct official reactions to CICCP from Iraq, USA, Arab Gulf States/Saudi Arabia and Russia.

The political economy perspectives are related to the following basic issues: The first relates to the nature of bilateral relations in terms of sovereign independence or dependency and hegemony; the second is whether the principle of "mutually beneficial" is also equitable; the third concerns the structuring of the Iranian economy on whether the deal will eventually deepens the dependence on the export of raw materials, oil and gas, or introduces the required and desirable structural changes horizontal, vertical and knowledge-based levels; and the fourth is about the financial and banking independence, monetary and currency issues pertaining to funding investments and trade exchange.

The geopolitical considerations were addressed at four levels, starting from the domestic (national for both countries), continental (Asian from China to Syria), regional (West Asia / Middle East) and international levels.

The assessment argues that the timing of signing and announcing CICCP is tactically motivated and important, while its proper and timely implementation could be a game-changer and thus strategically impacting; but, as usual, reality seldom coincides with expectations.

This brief intervention focuses on the direct current evidenced impacts on Iraq. Interested readers are kindly invited to read the Arabic version of my detailed initial assessment through the web-links mentioned at the end of this article.

In a remarkable speed and substance CICCP has already prompted both Iraq and the US to react!

First; after the current prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, denied, rather harshly, in a press conference on November 18, 2020, the existence of an Iraq-China agreement by saying, 'You know there is no China agreement, why are you promoting these lies?', he returned to authorize, on March 30 - that is, only three days after the signing of CICCP, "to start implementing the Chinese agreement"!!

While I do not find it necessary, now, to discuss what has happened between Iraq and China since the government of Haider al-Abadi, I find it useful to remember the statement by the Prime Minister's Financial Affairs Adviser, Dr. Modhir Muhammad Saleh, on March 29, 2021, that the "Iraq-China agreement" became effective on October 18, 2020, and then he affirmed the "cooperation framework agreement ... and the final accounting and oil annexes were signed on September 23, 2019." So why has not been published to this day any official document on this agreement / cooperation framework agreement, nor any of its annexes or memoranda of cooperation/ understanding related to it!!??

But there is a document at the Ministry of Finance entitled "Export Credit Insurance Cooperation Framework" between the China Export & Credit  Insurance Corporation and the Iraqi Ministry of Finance) dating back to May 11, 2018 (that is, before the date of the agreement signed by former Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi) !!!!

It is worth mentioning that 2021 State Budget Law includes a few infrastructure projects worth 1.803 trillion Iraq Dinnar to be funded, presumably by the above mentioned 2018 framework; since there is no new framework agreement officially published by the Ministry of Finance, nor approved by the Council of Ministers, nor legislated by the House of Representatives/ the Parliament. Moreover, even if such agreement is ratified and activated it utilization will be differed to future state budget for 2022 or even 2023 because of the national election scheduled for October this year.

Apparently, CICCP was a wakeup call for the Iraqi government but it is in reality too late for 2021 budget funding.

But on the other hand, the Iraqi Premier rushed for quick visits to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, immediately after signing CICCP; is there a relationship between the two events? Time will only tell!!!!

Second, among direct reactions by the US administration and as far as Iraq is concerned relates to Iraq-Iran interests. Just two days after signing the CICCP the U.S. renewed and extended the Iraqi exemption from the practices of maximum US pressure on Iran from 45 to 120 days; a waiver to avoid penalties for buying natural gas and electricity from Iran. This exception entails two positive consequences for both Iraq and Iran: the first is to ensure the continued supply of Iranian gas to generates electricity; this what the Iraqis suffer from its shortages especially the heated summer is on the doorstep, and the second is that Iraq pays Iran's accumulated dues for importing gas and electric power (which constitutes about a third Iraq's production of electricity) as the total of those receivables were mentioned in the 2021 budget, about 1688 billion Iraqi dinars.

Third, another important reaction by the US administration was its quick decision to hold a new round of strategic dialogue with Iraq; the discussions began on April 7, and mainly relate to the issue of US forces remaining in Iraq and the Strategic Framework Agreement signed in December 2008. (This agreement and related matters face strong opposition and many important, influential, legal and judicial challenges, especially after the Trump administration assassinated two leading heavy weight individuals, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis (Iraq) and General Qassem Soleimani (Iran), on January 3, 2021 near Baghdad airport).

It is worth noting that energy cooperation is one of the eight topics included in the said strategic framework agreement. Evidence suggests that the previous round of the Iraqi-American Committee for the Coordination of Cooperation in the Field of Energy, which was held, virtually remotely, on January 18 of this year was brief and did not include any important issues or noticeable impacts or new achievements. Hence, it did not attract attention from domestic or external media. Even the two ministries, i.e, Oil and Electricity, that should be directly involved, hardly mentioned anything on their websites on that latest meeting. Will CICCP invigorate Iraqi-American cooperation for the benefit of the energy sector in Iraq?? Who knows, will see!!!

Click here to download the full report in pdf format.

Mr Jiyad is an independent development consultant, scholar and Associate with the former Centre for Global Energy Studies (CGES), London. He was formerly a senior economist with the Iraq National Oil Company and Iraq's Ministry of Oil, Chief Expert for the Council of Ministers, Director at the Ministry of Trade, and International Specialist with UN organizations in Uganda, Sudan and Jordan. He is now based in Norway (Email: mou-jiya(at)online.no, Skype ID: Ahmed Mousa Jiyad). Read more of Mr Jiyad's biography here.

The post Jiyad: Iraq, and the China-Iran Cooperation Program first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Covid-19: Govt amends Curfew, Announces New Measures

By John Lee.

The Iraqi Government has issued the following announcement regarding measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  1. A partial curfew will be implemented during the blessed month of Ramadan from 20:00 to 05:00 the following morning for the first three weeks of Ramadan, while allowing restaurants to provide delivery service.
  2. A full curfew on Fridays and Saturdays every week. Exempt are pharmacies, food marts, fruit and vegetable stands, and bakeries, and allowing them to carry out their work until 19:00, and allowing restaurants to provide delivery service.
  3. Enforcing measures by health control teams and the security forces, and holding violators accountable.
  4. Directing health departments to ask their employees in hospitals and health centres to provide proof that employees are Covid-19 negative through PCR examination results, with tests being conducted within a week or providing proof of their inoculation with a Covid-19 vaccine, to allow them to work starting 1 May 2021. Directors of health institutions will be held legally responsible for implementing and following up these procedures.
  5. Conducting PCR tests on all patients and their caregivers if they are unable to provide a certificate of  inoculation against Covid-19.
  6. Starting 1 May 2021, those employed in retail stores, restaurants, malls, factories and other places of business subject to health control measures will require inoculation. Health permits for the aforementioned businesses will be conditional on providing proof of inoculation of all staff. Following this date, businessowners will be held accountable and subject to fines if any employee cannot provide evidence that:
    • The employee has been inoculated with a Covid-19 vaccine.
    • Those who are unable to be inoculated such as pregnant women and other contraindications, or those who can provide evidence that they contracted Covid-19 during the last three months, by providing a positive PCR test or CT-scan will need to provide proof of a negative PCR test taken within the most recent week.
    • Ministry of Health monitoring authorities, with the support of the security forces, must hold accountable violators of these health measure in accordance with the Public Health Law and the decisions of the Higher Committee for Heath and National Safety.
  1. Starting 1 May 2021 staff working in pharmacies, drug stores, laboratories and private clinics, including radiology clinics, and private hospitals will not be allowed to work if:
    • They cannot provide evidence that they are Covid-19 negative through a negative PCR test conducted within the most recent week.
    • There cannot provide evidence of being inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine.
    • Ministry of Health inspectors and the relevant associations (Doctors' Syndicate, Dentists' Syndicate, Pharmacists' Syndicate) will enforce the implementation of the above and hold violators accountable and closing the practice of violators in accordance with the laws and regulations in force.
  1. Citizens will not be allowed entrance into ministries and government agencies of a crowded nature  (pension department, traffic directorates, passport directorates, civil and national status directorates, etc.), as well as not allowing employees of the aforementioned to work starting from 20 April 2021, in case of:
    • They cannot provide evidence that they are Covid-19 negative through a negative PCR test conducted within the most recent week.
    • There cannot provide evidence of being inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine.
    • All government entities not associated with a ministry and all governorates are responsible for implementing the procedures and following up with their employees and considering any violating employee in absent without payment.
  1. Sports clubs will not allow the presence of any of the players unless they present their inoculation card for the Covid-19 vaccine.
  2. The Ministries of Education, Higher Education and Scientific Research, and Health will coordinate regarding conducting campaigns to vaccinate the covered groups of faculty and students.
  3. The Hajj and Umrah Authority will not register any of the citizens wishing to perform the Umrah and Hajj pilgrimages unless it is proven that s/he has obtained the inoculation card with the Covid-19 vaccine.
  4. Urging all government entities not associated with a ministry and all governorates to direct their employees to be inoculated with a Covid-19 vaccine.
  5. Calling upon community leaders, students of religious sciences, tribal sheikhs, intellectuals, activists and media professionals to take their national and moral responsibility in raising awareness and not to stand watching in light of the continuing dangerous epidemiological situation.
  6. Calling upon all media outlets, governmental and private institutions, and civil society organisations to make efforts to urge citizens to adhere to preventive measures, and to encourage citizens to take the vaccine in health centres and accredited hospitals.
  7. Putting into force the application of the provisions of Article 240 of Penal Code No. 111 of 1969, as amended, related to violating orders and regulations, and authorizing the security forces in support of health teams and their application against citizens in violation in the event that they fail to pay fines.
  8. The Joint Operations Command, Baghdad Operations Command, the Ministry of Interior, and the National Security Agency will continue to support health teams in their inspections and follow-up on the implementation of preventive measures in public places, restaurants, shopping malls, cafes and others during and outside of official working hours.
  9. Reducing working hours in public departments and institutions by one hour during the holy month of Ramadan.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

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Dhi Qar Protests: PM Replaces Governor

By John Lee.

Iraq's Cabinet held its weekly meeting on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.

The Prime Minister addressed the developments in Dhi Qar province, and confirmed that, following consultations with key stakeholders, a new governor has been appointed to run the province and his name will be announced shortly.

He told the Cabinet that an advisory council will be appointed in Dhi Qar, reporting to him, and that he he will follow up on a daily basis with the new governor and the council on all matters related to the reconstruction of Dhi Qar.

He also indicated that the results of the investigation into the violence during the recent demonstrations in Dhi Qar will be announced.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

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Iraq passes $89bn Federal Budget Bill

By Joe Snell 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 passes $89 billion federal budget bill

The budget confronted issues of unemployment, currency devaluation and non-oil revenues and was passed as lawmakers prepare for October's general election; the challenge is implementation.

Click here to read the full article.

The post Iraq passes $89bn Federal Budget Bill first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Protesters Block Entrances to Oil Facilities

By John Lee.

Protesters have reportedly blocked the entrances to the Dhi Qar Oil Company (DQOC), Dhi Qar Refinery, and the Oil Products Distribution Company.

According to Anadolu Agency, they were protesting the passing of the 2021 budget by the Iraqi parliament, which did not meet their expectations regarding guaranteed employment.

More here.

(Source: Anadolu Agency)

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