By Sajad Jiyad, for the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). Any opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Torn between two allies: How Europeans can reduce Iraqi dependence on Iran and the US

After the long fight against the Islamic State group (ISIS), Iraq is now struggling to win the peace and faces acute challenges in achieving stability.

Caught in escalating tension between the United States and Iran, and confronted with a resurgent ISIS, the Iraqi leadership is paralysed by political deadlock and impending economic collapse.

The potential for the deterioration of conditions in Iraq should cause real concern among European governments that have already invested significant resources to defeat ISIS and stabilise the country.

Moreover, a recovery in the fortunes of ISIS, and greater tension between Iran and the US in Iraq, would undoubtedly have implications for European security – while a collapse of the Iraqi state would reverberate across the region in dangerous ways.

Read the full article here.

By Azhar Al-Ruabie for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraqi doctors under siege as they battle surge in COVID-19 cases

Doctors complain that they have been suffering violence and abuse from some families who blame medical personnel for patients’ COVID-19 deaths.

Click here to read the full story.

By Ali Al-Saffar, Middle East and North Africa Programme Manager at the International Energy Agency (IEA), for 1001 Iraqi Thoughts. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Powering Iraq: Why Electricity is key to Peace, Stability and Prosperity

It does not have to be this way. Iraq’s chronic electricity shortages should not be this bad. The country has allocated around $20 billion to capital investments in the sector since 2012, increasing generating capacity by 13 gigawatts (GW) in the process.

And yet the gap between the electricity supplied and what is needed continues to grow, resulting in poorer service provision and a rising cacophony of legitimate public anger.

Why is Iraq’s electricity sector underperforming? What can be done to remedy the most immediate shortages? And what can be done to give Iraq the electricity sector the country needs and its people deserve?

Click here to read the full article.

Pathway to peace: New recommendations to enhance local policing programmes in Iraq

Designing adaptable programmes, promoting the role of women in policing, and streamlining international interventions and are some of the key recommendations made by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in a recent conflict assessment on local policing in Iraq.

Conflict Assessment in Support of Efforts to Improve Local Policing in Iraq outlines key recommendations to mitigate the drivers of conflict and promote forces for peace, focusing on two key governorates in Iraq, Anbar and Ninewa.

It highlights different approaches to address drivers of conflict and instability, and makes recommendations to shape robust, sustainable local policing programmes in Iraq.

“Local police play an integral role in establishing and forging peace in Iraq, especially in the years since the ISIL conflict,” says Resident Representative of UNDP in Iraq, Zena Ali Ahmad.

“We hope this assessment is a useful tool for international partners and local decision makers to shape robust and sustainable local policing programmes that reflect community concerns, and promote a more peaceful and just Iraq. In doing so, it is important to increase and promote the role of women in policing, and improve women and girls’ access to local police services,” she adds.

The conflict assessment was developed under UNDP Iraq’s Security Sector Reform/Rule of Law programme with generous funding from the Government of The Netherlands.

The assessment findings are available online in English and Arabic.

(Source: UNDP)

By John Lee.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has announced an early general election for 6th June, 2021, roughly a year ahead of when it would normally be held.

According to Reuters, the Iraqi parliament must ratify the election date.

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) welcomed the announcement. The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, said:

“Properly conducted credible, free, fair and inclusive elections can re-energize the political system and build public confidence, giving the people a voice and realizing their aspirations for better representation.”

(Sources: Govt of Iraq; Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence; Reuters, UNAMI)

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

Iraqis face record-breaking heat, electricity cuts

Iraqis are contending with record-breaking temperatures and a poorly functioning electricity system as a heat wave sweeps across the country.

On Tuesday, the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, recorded an all-time high temperature of 125 degrees Fahrenheit (51.7 Celsius), according to the weather forecasting service AccuWeather.

Click here to read the full story.

By Ali Al-Makhzomy, for The Station. Re-published with permission by Iraq Business News.

Five One Labs recently hosted an online Start-up Showcase to celebrate the graduation of their first-ever Arabic incubator program in c.

Over 90 attendees joined the event from Iraq, Germany, USA and other places.

Ten of the entrepreneurs gave brief overviews of their businesses, and then answered audience questions. At the end of the event, Five One Labs announced that three startups would receive seed funding:

  1. Al-Ruaa for CNC, a company providing services, workshops, maintenance, installation and providing spare parts for the CNC machines, came in first place and won $15,000;
  2. For second place, EcoLift, a company providing an alternative power system (potential energy recovery system) to power elevators instead of using electricity, was awarded $10,000;
  3. And finally, Mosul Solar, a company providing and installing solar cells for houses, was awarded $5000.

Second former Unaoil executive sentenced for bribery in post-occupation Iraq

Stephen Whiteley, Unaoil‘s former territory manager for Iraq, has today become the second Unaoil executive to be sentenced for paying over $500,000 in bribes to secure a $55m contract to supply offshore mooring buoys. He was sentenced by HHJ Beddoe to 3 years’ imprisonment.

This follows the sentencing of his co-conspirator Ziad Akle on 23 July 2020, another former Iraq territory manager for Unaoil, upon whom HHJ Beddoe imposed a sentence of five years’ imprisonment.

The two men conspired with others to pay considerable bribes to public officials at the South Oil Company to secure contracts for Unaoil and its clients to construct offshore mooring buoys in the Persian Gulf. The new buoys formed part of a series of state-run projects designed by the government of post-occupation Iraq to boost its economy by rebuilding the country’s oil industry and thereby expanding its oil export capacity.

A jury at Southwark Crown Court found Stephen Whiteley guilty on one count of conspiracy to give corrupt payments. In the same trial, his co-conspirator, Ziad Akle, was found guilty on two counts of conspiracy to give corrupt payments.

SFO Director Lisa Osofsky said:

Faced with a country in desperate need of reconstruction following years of military occupation, Stephen Whiteley, Ziad Akle and their co-conspirators saw an opportunity to swindle the fledgling state for their own ends.

“The flagrant greed and callous criminality exhibited by these men undermines the reputation and integrity of British business on the international stage. We will not cease in our mission to bring such people to justice.

The convictions followed the guilty pleas of co-conspirator Basil Al Jarah who, in July 2019, admitted five offences of conspiracy to give corrupt payments. Al Jarah, who admitted to paying bribes totalling over $6million to secure contracts worth $800m for the supply of oil pipelines and offshore mooring buoys, is due to be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on 8 October 2020.

(Source: UK SFO)

Advertising Feature

Rabee Securities Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) market report (week ending: 30th July 2020).

Please click here to view a table of listed companies and their associated ticker codes.

Note: ISX will be closed starting from Jul. 30, 2020 to Aug. 9, 2020 due to the religious holiday of Eid Al-Adha. The next trading session will be held on Monday (Aug. 10, 2020). 

The RSISX index ended the week at IQD627 (-1.5%) / $656 (-1.5%) (weekly change) (-4.8% and -6.4% YTD change, respectively). The number of week traded shares was 2.4 bn and the weekly trading volume was IQD1.4 bn ($1.2mn).

ISX Company Announcements

  • Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) organized two more investor Zoom conference calls with ISX-listed companies for them to disclose their financial results and reply to participants’ questions related to financial results, operations, and future plans. The fifth Zoom online meeting was held with Ready-Made Clothes (IRMC) on July 24 (Friday) (Please CLICK HERE for the record of IRMC meeting provided by the ISX). The sixth Zoom online meeting was held with Ashur International Bank for Investment (BASH) on July 25 (Saturday) (Please CLICK HERE for the record of BASH meeting provided by the ISX).
  • According to Ooredoo’s financial results, Asiacell’s (TASC) revenues decreased 10% y/y to QAR1.9 bn ($527.1 mn) in 6M20. EBITDA decreased by 15% y/y to QAR828 mn ($226.1 mn) in 6M20, while EBITDA margin decreased from 45% to 43%. Asiacell continued to manage costs to absorb the impact of revenue declines by optimizing operational efficiency and controlling its marketing expenditures. Asiacell’s customer base decreased 4% y/y to 13.3 mn as end of 6M20. The company is continuing to prepare for the launch of 4G as the Government committed to allow operators to launch LTE services in 2021. (Iraq Business News)
  • The CBI decided, on Monday, to postpone the payment of the installments due to government and private banks for the IQD5.0 trln and IQD1.0 trln initiatives, for an additional three months, attributing this to the continued exceptional circumstances in the country due to the Corona pandemic. (CBI)
  • Iraqi Date Processing and Marketing (IIDP) will hold a GA on Aug. 24, 2020 to elect 5 original and 5 alternative private sector representatives. The company has been suspended from trading since Jul. 8, 2020 due to not disclosing the annual financial statements for the ending year Aug. 31, 2019.
  • ISX will suspend trading of National Islamic Bank (BNAI) starting Aug. 16, 2020 due to the AGM that will be held on Aug. 19, 2020 to discuss and approve 2018 annual financial statements.
  • Trans Iraq Bank for Investment (BTRI) will resume trading on Aug. 10, 2020 after being suspended for its AGM in which they discussed and approved 2019 annual financial statements and decided to distribute 0.758% cash dividends (IQD0.00758 dividend per share, 1.1% dividend yield). The opening price will be IQD0.690 with +/-10% change.
  • Al-Rebas for Poultry and Feed (AREB) with a capital of IQD30 bn will start trading on Aug. 10, 2020. The opening price will be free for the first three sessions, and then will have +/-20% price change limit.
  • Baghdad Soft Drinks (IBSD) resumed trading on Jul. 27, 2020 after being suspended for its AGM in which they discussed and approved 2019 annual financial statements and decided to distribute 15% cash dividends (IQD0.15 dividend per share, 5.6% dividend yield).
  • Iraqi for Tufted Carpets (IITC) resumed trading on Jul. 27, 2020 after being suspended for its AGM in which they discussed and approved 2019 annual financial statements and decided to distribute 70% cash dividends for the year 2019 (IQD0.70 dividend per share, 7.3% dividend yield).

By Omar Sattar for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraqi government not giving up on early elections

Despite the fact that most political parties in Iraq agreed to hold elections as soon as possible, and the government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi announced that such elections are among the priorities of the government, several conditions will seemingly prevent such goal from being achieved before the current legislative session comes to an end in 2022.

Click here to read the full story.