Terrorist Attack on Bai Hassan Oil Field

By John Lee.

A terrorist attack on the Bai Hassan oilfield in Kirkuk early on Wednesday has caused casualties and damage.

A statement from the Ministry of Oil said that wells 177 and 183 were bombed, and "a number of security forces and energy police were killed and wounded".

The safety and firefighting teams from the North Oil Company (NOC) and the supporting authorities were able to quickly extinguish the fire at well 177, but were still working to control the fire of well 183.

Sources told Reuters that production was not affected.

It's the second attack on the facility in less than a month; a bomb in April did not result in damage or injury.

(Sources: Ministry of Oil, Reuters)

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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:
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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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Fourth Oil Exec Jailed for Iraq Bribery

Paul Bond has today been sentenced to three and half years' imprisonment for conspiring with others to bribe Iraqi public officials to secure lucrative oil contracts in post-occupation Iraq.

Earlier this week, Bond, a former senior sales manager at SBM Offshore (SBM), was found guilty on two counts of conspiracy to give corrupt payments following a retrial of his case at Southwark Crown Court.

This was the fourth conviction the SFO secured in its wide-scale Unaoil bribery investigation, which uncovered the payment of over $17m worth of bribes to secure $1.7bn worth of contracts for Unaoil and its clients.

In 2007, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil set out a 'master plan' to rebuild Iraq's oil infrastructure, which had been destroyed after years of conflict. The post-occupation government tasked the state-owned South Oil Company (SOC) to commission the construction of new oil pipelines and the installation of single offshore mooring buoys (SPMs) in the Persian Gulf.

Together with Unaoil employees, Paul Bond funnelled $900,000 in bribes to Iraqi public officials at the SOC and the Ministry of Oil, which bought access to sensitive information, allowing Bond and others to skew the tendering process in SBM's favour. SBM went on to win a $55m contract for the provision of SPMs.

Lisa Osofsky, Director of the Serious Fraud Office, said:

"Bond and his co-conspirators manipulated the tendering process for an infrastructure project vital to Iraq's developing economy, with no regard for the impact.

The string of convictions in this case demonstrate the SFO's determination to root out and prosecute corrupt practices in all corners of the globe working with law enforcement partners across the world. "

Bond's conviction follows that of former Unaoil territory managers Stephen Whiteley and Ziad Akle, who were last year found guilty of conspiring to bribe Iraqi public officials to secure substantial oil contracts. In July 2019, Basil Al Jarah, Unaoil's former Iraq partner, pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiracy to give corrupt payments, and later asked for a number of additional offences to be taken into consideration, in total admitting to paying over $17m in bribes to secure contracts worth $1.7bn.

Ziad Akle was sentenced to five years' imprisonment, Stephen Whiteley to three years' imprisonment, and Basil Al Jarah to three years and four months' imprisonment for their crimes.

The SFO would like to thank the Australian Federal Police, the French Parquet National Financier, the Police Judiciaires of the Principality of Monaco, the Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD) of the Netherlands, the United States Department of Justice, Greater Manchester Police, the Metropolitan Police, the National Crime Agency and West Mercia Constabulary for their valuable assistance in this case.

More here.

(Source: SFO)

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UN “Gravely Concerned” about IDP Camp Closures

Statement from the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Irena Vojackova-Sollorano (pictured), on IDP camp closures in Iraq:

I am gravely concerned about the thousands of civilians who have been moved from camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Iraq in the last six weeks and have not yet found new homes.

The Government of Iraq has closed or consolidated 11 such camps and reclassified two as informal sites since mid-October, affecting more than 27,000 people. An estimated 78 per cent of those are women and children who were already vulnerable. Their wellbeing is of particular concern in light of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and the onset of winter.

This is not about camp closures. It is about what will happen to those Iraqis, their safety, their wellbeing and their future. Two-thirds of affected people have reached their district of origin, but many are not in their traditional homes, according to United Nations data. About 30 per cent of those returnees do not have safe or dignified housing and remain highly vulnerable.

The other one- third of people affected have been unable to return to their places of origin. Social tensions and insecurity, the presence of unexploded ordnances and explosive remnants of war, and the lack of civil documentation, housing, services, cash assistance and livelihood opportunities remain barriers to their return.

I am also concerned by indications that more Iraqi families could face similar situations if the remaining five camps administered by the Government of Iraq are closed before the end of the year. The United Nations shares the Government's goal of ending the displacement crisis in Iraq but reiterates that the return of internally displaced people needs to be voluntary, safe, dignified, and informed, with conditions in place in advance in their areas of origin to enable reintegration and ensure sustainable solutions.

The United Nations stands by its commitment to support the Government of Iraq in facilitating and achieving longer term durable solutions for all vulnerable displaced and returnees in Iraq, including by supporting social cohesion measures.

Vulnerable displaced populations need more active support to rebuild their lives in dignity and in accordance with the fundamental standards of human rights. They need a suitable environment for a sustainable return and structured support programmes towards durable solutions. It is essential to continue the efforts to build the resilience of communities hosting IDPs as well as those receiving returnees.

Supporting these populations contribute to Iraq's future stability and success. Together with our national and international humanitarian partners, we are closely following the matter, will continue to support and stand ready to provide further assistance when required, in accordance with humanitarian principles.

(Source: UN)

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Successful IBBC Conference in Dubai

IBBC's 5th Annual Iraq Conference in Dubai - Opportunity in Adversity

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) was much praised at its conference on Thursday for pioneering in COVID-19 times by bringing together senior officials from Iraq, the UAE and the UK, prominent international and Iraqi businessmen, bankers and professional advisers as speakers and over 100 delegates.

With the Address Hotel as host venue implementing the strictest hygiene regime and using video links, delegates enjoyed a day of vigorous analysis and debate about the issues currently creating the adverse conditions dominating the Iraqi political and business landscape and what measures were needed to improve matters, but nevertheless inspirational presentations highlighted success stories across a number of sectors in panel sessions covering energy, finance, infrastructure/logistics and tech.

Highlights of the day were presentations made by Mrs Zena Yousif Iraq consul general in Dubai, the first woman to ever hold that position, and the fact that all the leaders of the energy companies presenting were Iraqi nationals for the first time ever, namely Mr Zaid Elyaseri, Vice President Iraq from BP, Mr Ali Al Janabi, Chairman, from Shell, Mr Musab Alkateeb, Managing Director, from Siemens Energy, and all were addressing common global issues currently affecting that sector - low oil and gas prices, environmental and green issues.

Mr Aziz Khudairi, Chairman of the Khudairi Group with multiple businesses in Iraq urged the Iraqi Government to embrace the private sector to grow prosperity in Iraq and to provide employment for the millions of young Iraqis, to protect Iraqi businesses from unfair dumping by foreign competitors, but in return emphasised the need for the Iraqi workforce to rediscover a work ethic so that Iraqi companies would become efficient and profitable.

Baroness Nicholson made her Welcome Address by video link from London and at the end of the day announced the new annual award to be made to an Iraqi SME for its contribution to business in Iraq, in memory of the recently deceased Engineer Rasmi al Jabri, IBBC deputy chairman.

Amongst the many excellent speakers were:

  • H.E. Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, UAE
  • H.E. Dr Abdulkariem Al Faisal, Chairman of the Prime Minister's Advisory Commission
  • Mrs Zena Yousif, Consulate General of Iraq in Dubai
  • Mr Simon Penny, Her Majesty's UK Trade Commissioner for the Middle East

Conference Sponsors were Basra Gateway Terminal, Siemens Energy and Serco.

Vikas Handa of Gulftek, Conference chairman said:

"Today's IBBC conference in Dubai is the testimony of human resilience on the face of adversity. We had unexpected turnout & great participation from the ministers, industry leaders and businesses from Iraq, UAE & UK.

"We covered a lot of ground to chart the way forward, network & learn from each other. I along with IBBC MD Christophe Michels would like to thank our key members for their unwavering support to make it happen."

In parallel

The Tech Forum took place online, with participants from Iraq, UK, Dubai and France, to review and discuss the digitisation of Iraq, based on the World Bank's Report in April.

Chaired by Ashley Goodall of IBBC, we reviewed how the Government of Iraq ( GOI ) and digital development in general has been evolving since April, as Alexandre Laure, the World bank Sector specialist, who wrote the report - shared with us areas of development : namely, 6 key areas : Digital inclusion, banking and finance, Investment, Infrastructure, SMEs and start-ups, skill development and linking to external digital organisations. Two areas of progress include the establishment of a Tech fund for start-ups and SME investment, and the payment of Government salaries directly to bank accounts digitally. Additionally, there are areas of deregulation for start -ups and new businesses, although the registration cost of $37500 was deemed exclusionary for most start-ups.

Jawad Abbasi of GSMA MENA said that 4G infrastructure is critical in extending internet across Iraq, and this has been put on hold for the moment. This would increase the ability of users to trade, exchange and create new products on-line, as well as boost the digital economy. Yazen Altimimi CEO of Zain Cash echoed this issue as Zain are often blamed for poor internet experience, when it's an infrastructure issue. Zain's consumer uptake is rapid and there is a healthy growth and interest in the digital economy as a business and consumer medium. If 4G can be delivered the economy will see a rapid upswing. In short there is pent up demand and an appetite from consumers to transact on- line, so it makes sense to deliver 4G to ensure the whole economy expands.

Laura Oliver, director of Iraq Tech Ventures, amplified the issue for start -ups and SME.s who want to trade on line, and the raised the issue of the high cost of registration that prohibits start-ups registering formally, and therefore rely on the cash economy, so they are unable to get formal credit and investment. These two issues, of 4G and registration should be straight forward to address and would make a big different to the overall digital development of the Iraqi economy, and encourage investment from external digital companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google.

In a second panel: Online Consumer behaviour, Caroline McGarr of ThinkBank - a leading research agency in Irbil, presented key finding among Iraqi consumers between 18-45, and again found a big demand for consumer goods, banking on line for an unbanked 83% of the population. In sectors such as Fashion, health and social media there is enormous pent up demand as over 50% of these people spend over 5 hours a day on-line. Again, the issue of reliable internet, useful apps and products to purchase and reliability of banking, echo the first panel's concerns.

The overall message from both panels is that there is huge unmet demand among youthful Iraqi's for more services, better internet, better banking (trust) and online interaction with Government and products that will be better served by better internet and the proliferation of new goods and services from SMEs and start-ups, who themselves are constrained by registration fees and investment.

A full video of the sessions, including the presentation charts can be viewed here

For more information please contact london@webuildiraq.org

(Source: IBBC)

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Calls for Expression of Interest: Training on GBV Reporting

Calls for expression of interest: training on GBV reporting during health crises

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Iraq will conduct in collaboration with UNFPA Syria Hub a training session for Arab-speaking journalists in Iraq on GBV reporting during health crises: COVID-19.

This training aims to provide participants with advanced skills in covering gender-based violence in light of the Covid-19 pandemic in Iraq and emphasise the role of the media in highlighting cases by producing good quality reports based on ethical standards.

The programme targets 25 journalists from all Iraqi provinces through the implementation of four online training workshops. Each session lasts one hour twice a week every Monday and Wednesday from 26 November until 10 December through the Zoom.

After the training, each participant will be required to prepare a report/story on gender-based violence in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Who can apply?

  1. The journalist should have experience in covering cases of violence
  2. The journalist should be able to speak and write in Arabic
  3. The journalist should present samples of previous journalistic work (links to press materials in the same field are preferred)
  4. The journalist should be committed to cover stories of GBV cases according to the standards delivered during the training
  5. The journalist should have a stable internet connection
  6. The journalist should be able to work full time during training days

How to apply?

FILL OUT THE FORM

Deadline:

Sunday 15 November 2020

(Source: UN)

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Iraqi Camp Closures leave 100,000 in Limbo

The ongoing rapid closure of displacement camps in Iraq is rendering homeless more than 100,000 people in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic and at the onset of winter.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is extremely concerned about the fate of thousands of displaced families living in camps across the country that are being closed down rapidly, including NRC-managed Hammam Al Alil Camp.

People in camps in Baghdad, Kerbala, Divala, Suleimaniya, Anbar, Kirkuk and Ninewa are being forced out with little notice, and are expected to return to their areas of origin. Many come from neighbourhoods that are still totally destroyed and they also risk being blocked at checkpoints, or even arrested, because of lack of security clearance and perceived affiliation with armed groups.

"Closing camps before residents are willing or able to return to their homes does little to end the displacement crisis. On the contrary, it keeps scores of displaced Iraqis trapped in this vicious cycle of displacement, leaving them more vulnerable than ever, especially in the middle of a raging pandemic," said NRC Secretary General Jan Egeland.

So far, based on instructions by the Iraqi authorities, some 600 households have left Hammam Al Alil Camp -- which is one of the largest displacement camps slated to close by next week.

Ahlam, a 49-year-old woman from Mosul living in Hammam Al Alil, burst into tears upon hearing about her forced eviction from the camp. "This is my home. Why would you force me out of my home? We will become homeless. It feels like a funeral to me." She said her last resort would be to set up her tent somewhere in Mosul. Some camp residents have had to sell their tents simply to cover transport costs to go back to their areas of origin.

Tracking of people who have been forced to leave camps in Baghdad and Kerbala in the past weeks shows that nearly half of them have not been able to return to their areas of origin so far, according to the International Organisation of Migration. Many end up in precarious settings on the edge of towns, in damaged, unsafe apartments or unfinished buildings, lacking basic necessities and health care, and forced into further displacement.

A 47-year-old woman pushed out of a camp last year recounted how she had to move four times before ending up in another camp -- a scenario faced also last week by evicted families who made plans to move to another camp only to be told the second camp is closing down too.

"The most difficult thing when they transport you in cars and you don't know where you are heading, is to know that most of these areas do not want you," the woman said.

NRC calls on the Iraqi government to provide a clear plan for camp closures and share that information with families at least a month ahead so that they can make necessary arrangements. Authorities need to ensure coordination with receiving districts so that returnees are not turned away at checkpoints, as well as involve humanitarian organisations in the planning so that returnees can be helped en route and upon arrival at their destination. Those who are unable to return safely to their homes also need to be provided with resettlement and local integration options.

"Anything short of such measures will expose tens of thousands of displaced Iraqis to continued deprivation, rejection and violence," Jan Egeland added. "We urge the international community to keep supporting the Iraqis forced out of camps, many of whom have no chance of returning home. With the pandemic and onset of winter, it is urgent to scale up emergency support."

(Source: NRC, ReliefWeb)

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Why you should come to IBBC Conference: Opportunity in Adversity

Why you should come to the IBBC Conference in Dubai, entitled 'Opportunity in Adversity'

On 19th November the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) is holding its Autumn conference in person at the Address hotel Dubai Marina.

Some would say it's a brave decision, considering COVID, but others are keen to take up the challenge and opportunity to engage, meet, listen to expert business voices of Iraq and overall have proper opportunities for networking.

Not only do we have a good level of members signed up to attend, but also one of the strongest line ups of speakers, ready and willing to address the opportunities for Iraq in 2020.

The backdrop to this conference is not just COVID, but the election of a new American President, rising oil prices, a fundamental change in the way oil and gas companies are globally which will also affect their work in Iraq, a Government willing and able to make significant changes, in the way finance operates, investors can start up and a white paper that will impact a range of activity and on-going digital modernisation.

All these topics will be covered, and we are expecting significant speakers and attendees from our membership and the Ministry of Oil, the Deputy Minister of Electricity, and online from the World Bank, Central Bank payments director and Ministry of Communications, Mastercard and Zain Cash to name a few.

You can hear about one of the biggest changes as the oil and gas companies redefine themselves as Energy companies, and vertically integrate fuel with electricity generation. BP, Shell, Siemens and Ministry of Electricity will address this and other matters on the Energy panel.

On the Finance panel, we are looking at how to operate successfully in the present very challenging financial situation of the country. New proposals by the Government's white paper will also be discussed and how these align with the need of private sector.

Finally, the Tech Forum with the World Bank on the digitisation of Iraq, the progress that is being made with GOI, and to hear from Mastercard and GSMA and Thinkbank on consumer online behaviour and attitudes.

Now is a great opportunity for change and we believe Iraq won't let the opportunity go to waste. Iraq is at a critical inflection point and the Government understands the importance of encouraging the private sector as a vehicle to solving investment, jobs and diversifying the economy at this time, which is why we are expecting a strong attendance from members and speakers alike from sectors crucial to Iraq's future.

As we look to the coming year, we see a Government making good decisions, investing in large projects, understanding the importance of diversifying its economy and also providing work and opportunity to its young population.

Now is the time to turn up, attend and make plans for the future of Iraq, and we look forward to welcoming you.

Please register here:

https://iraqbritainbusiness.org/event/ibbc-autumn-conference-at-the-address-hotel-dubai-marina

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