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

How Iraq’s Kurds are failing to come together over their new president

Nechirvan Barzani, the prime minister of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), was elected president by the semi-autonomous region’s parliament today in a session that was boycotted by the main opposition party.

Barzani, who is the nephew and son-in-law of the enclave’s veteran leader and former President Massoud Barzani, won 68 votes from 81 members present in the 111-member chamber.

Members of the opposition Gorran (Change) Movement as well as Turkmens and Assyrians joined Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) to push through the nomination despite the unexpected defection of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).

Click here to read the full story.

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

How Iraq’s Kurds are failing to come together over their new president

Nechirvan Barzani, the prime minister of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), was elected president by the semi-autonomous region’s parliament today in a session that was boycotted by the main opposition party.

Barzani, who is the nephew and son-in-law of the enclave’s veteran leader and former President Massoud Barzani, won 68 votes from 81 members present in the 111-member chamber.

Members of the opposition Gorran (Change) Movement as well as Turkmens and Assyrians joined Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) to push through the nomination despite the unexpected defection of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).

Click here to read the full story.

Basrah Museum Opens New Sumer, Assyria And Babylonia Galleries

The official opening of three new galleries in the Basrah Museum on March 19th marks the completion of a project to refurbish all major exhibition space at the complex.

It is a further important milestone in the creation of a major hub for the protection and celebration of the rich cultural heritage of Southern Iraq.

The Sumer, Assyrian and Babylon Galleries will be opened by the end of March and will showcase objects tracing the history of Iraq from c. 3000 BCE to 550 BCE, including statues, cylinder seals, tablets, jewellery, statues, glassware and pottery from many eras from the Iraq Museum in Baghdad and from the Basrah Museum’s original collection. This is the first time that the majority of the exhibits have been on public display in Basrah.

The project to open the new galleries is led by the Director of Antiquities and Heritage of Basrah Qahtan Al Abeed and supported by UK-based charity Friends of Basrah Museum. It includes training and development programmes in labelling, visitor services and museum techniques for staff and volunteers, as well as the creation of an education room for school parties and other young visitors.

The opening will be a tribute to the efforts, dedication and scholarship of leading archaeologist and FOBM Trustee, Lamia Al Gailani Werr who died unexpectedly in Jordan in January this year. Lamia was an unstinting supporter of the Basrah Museum and shared her experience and wisdom generously with cultural heritage specialists in Basrah and Baghdad as the project evolved.

This latest phase of the project was financed by the Cultural Protection Fund, managed by the British Council. It follows the opening of the Museum’s first gallery in 2016. The Basrah Gallery is devoted to the cultural heritage of the city and its environs. It was funded principally by a major grant from UK oil and gas company BP.

A grant extension funding the final phase of the project has been awarded by the Cultural Protection Fund and will focus on the opening of a museum library at the complex for students and academics and members of the public. This phase is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

(Source: Friends of Basrah Museum)

Basrah Museum Opens New Sumer, Assyria And Babylonia Galleries

The official opening of three new galleries in the Basrah Museum on March 19th marks the completion of a project to refurbish all major exhibition space at the complex.

It is a further important milestone in the creation of a major hub for the protection and celebration of the rich cultural heritage of Southern Iraq.

The Sumer, Assyrian and Babylon Galleries will be opened by the end of March and will showcase objects tracing the history of Iraq from c. 3000 BCE to 550 BCE, including statues, cylinder seals, tablets, jewellery, statues, glassware and pottery from many eras from the Iraq Museum in Baghdad and from the Basrah Museum’s original collection. This is the first time that the majority of the exhibits have been on public display in Basrah.

The project to open the new galleries is led by the Director of Antiquities and Heritage of Basrah Qahtan Al Abeed and supported by UK-based charity Friends of Basrah Museum. It includes training and development programmes in labelling, visitor services and museum techniques for staff and volunteers, as well as the creation of an education room for school parties and other young visitors.

The opening will be a tribute to the efforts, dedication and scholarship of leading archaeologist and FOBM Trustee, Lamia Al Gailani Werr who died unexpectedly in Jordan in January this year. Lamia was an unstinting supporter of the Basrah Museum and shared her experience and wisdom generously with cultural heritage specialists in Basrah and Baghdad as the project evolved.

This latest phase of the project was financed by the Cultural Protection Fund, managed by the British Council. It follows the opening of the Museum’s first gallery in 2016. The Basrah Gallery is devoted to the cultural heritage of the city and its environs. It was funded principally by a major grant from UK oil and gas company BP.

A grant extension funding the final phase of the project has been awarded by the Cultural Protection Fund and will focus on the opening of a museum library at the complex for students and academics and members of the public. This phase is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

(Source: Friends of Basrah Museum)

Basrah Museum Opens New Sumer, Assyria And Babylonia Galleries

The official opening of three new galleries in the Basrah Museum on March 19th marks the completion of a project to refurbish all major exhibition space at the complex.

It is a further important milestone in the creation of a major hub for the protection and celebration of the rich cultural heritage of Southern Iraq.

The Sumer, Assyrian and Babylon Galleries will be opened by the end of March and will showcase objects tracing the history of Iraq from c. 3000 BCE to 550 BCE, including statues, cylinder seals, tablets, jewellery, statues, glassware and pottery from many eras from the Iraq Museum in Baghdad and from the Basrah Museum’s original collection. This is the first time that the majority of the exhibits have been on public display in Basrah.

The project to open the new galleries is led by the Director of Antiquities and Heritage of Basrah Qahtan Al Abeed and supported by UK-based charity Friends of Basrah Museum. It includes training and development programmes in labelling, visitor services and museum techniques for staff and volunteers, as well as the creation of an education room for school parties and other young visitors.

The opening will be a tribute to the efforts, dedication and scholarship of leading archaeologist and FOBM Trustee, Lamia Al Gailani Werr who died unexpectedly in Jordan in January this year. Lamia was an unstinting supporter of the Basrah Museum and shared her experience and wisdom generously with cultural heritage specialists in Basrah and Baghdad as the project evolved.

This latest phase of the project was financed by the Cultural Protection Fund, managed by the British Council. It follows the opening of the Museum’s first gallery in 2016. The Basrah Gallery is devoted to the cultural heritage of the city and its environs. It was funded principally by a major grant from UK oil and gas company BP.

A grant extension funding the final phase of the project has been awarded by the Cultural Protection Fund and will focus on the opening of a museum library at the complex for students and academics and members of the public. This phase is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

(Source: Friends of Basrah Museum)

By the Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR).

IWPR-trained activists have launched a successful series of initiatives to promote reconciliation between Iraq’s different faith communities.

In one striking success, an Assyrian Christian church that had been closed for 15 years was renovated and reopened thanks to the efforts of a group of IWPR mentees.

The Mar Korkis church in Anbar’s Al Habbaniyah district had been abandoned since 2003, when around 1,000 Christian families left the area due to the deteriorating security situation. Partially destroyed by an explosion in 2005, the church had been semi-derelict ever since.

IWPR-trained journalist Aya Al Mashhadani highlighted the church’s plight in a report on coexistence in Al Habbaniyah for which she interviewed the Shia security guard who still watched over the site.

In response to the story, Sawt Al Shabab radio station – itself headed by IWPR-trained journalist Mohamad Sleiman – launched a campaign for the church’s rehabilitation.

Volunteers, local civil society organisations and municipal officials all joined together in a mass cleanup just before Christmas, braving heavy rain to light candles, decorate a Christmas tree and ring the church’s bell.

Christians who heard the Sawt Al Shabab follow-up report on the clean-up campaign said that they were deeply moved, and the Assyrian Church diocese in Baghdad decided to hold a mass in the church in response. Their delegation, welcomed by local Muslims holding olive branches, hosted a service on January 11, 2019 attended by 250 Assyrian Christians.

Valentiana Yuwarich, 46, a Christian from Baghdad who was among the visitors, said, “Thank you so much to the beloved people of Habaniyah and to Sawt Al Shabab radio. This visit will be always remembered in the history of Iraq as a birth for a brighter Iraqi future.”

Other deeply symbolic initiatives over the festive season included efforts by IWPR activists Manar Al Zobeidi, a Muslim, and Nazek Barakat – a Yezidi – whose projects promote empathy towards minority communities in northern and southern Iraq.

Al Zobeidi, whose campaign Gypsies are Human was launched in 2016, organised a visit to the village of Al Zohour village on the outskirts of Diwaniyah city to mark Christmas and New year.

Despite being from a religiously conservative background, al Zobeidi issued a call on social media for other female volunteers to don Santa costumes and visit the gypsy village.

Five women answered her call and joined her in her visit, all wearing Santa costumes and pushing a decorated cart loaded with gifts for the children.

The celebration was attended by international media including Reuters, France-Presse 24 and AlHurra TV.

After the event, London-based al-Arabi TV broadcast a talk show dedicated to the issue of gypsies in Iraq and Kurdistan, with Al Zobeidi as the main guest.

Meanwhile, Barakat raised 200 dollars to buy Christmas presents for internally displaced people (IDPs) in camps in Dohuk.  Barakat, herself displaced from Sinjar after it fell under the control of the Islamic State, said she hoped her initiative would help IDPs feel integrated and thus contribute to the reconciliation process.

Her efforts received widespread coverage in various media and she was nominated for the Al Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Prize in the Emirates. Launched in 2018, this prize aims to honour individuals who create outstanding social initiatives.

(Source: IWPR)

Central Bank of Iraq unveils new 1000 dinar banknote featuring Assyrian star

By Rudaw October 7, 2018

The new 1000 IQD banknote featuring an Assyrian star. Photo: CBI / Rudaw

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) has released a series of new banknote designs aimed at modernizing the currency and better reflecting the nation’s heritage and diversity.


The last significant redesign of Iraqi banknotes came after the 2003 US invasion, which saw Saddam Hussein’s face removed from the currency.

Now a new series of 25,000, 10,000, 1000, 500, 250 dinar notes is set to enter circulation from next week. The CBI says it does not plan to recall old banknotes.

As part of the redesign, the new banknotes will now feature the governor of the central bank’s printed name instead of his signature, “compatible with what is being followed in other countries”, the CBI said Sunday.


The issuing date will read 2018 AD and 1440 Hijri of the Islamic calendar.


However, it is the 1000 dinar note that seems to be getting the most significant makeover.


The symbol of the Ikhlas Surah from the Quran, which is currently featured on the 1000 IQD bill, is to be replaced with what looks like an Assyrian star.


Assyrians are a predominately Christian minority group concentrated around northern Iraq. Many of them were displaced or forced to flee abroad during the ISIS war.


The new 1000 dinar note will also feature the words: “Enlisting the marshes and heritage of Southern Iraq on world heritage list”. This is in reference to the inclusion of Iraq’s endangered marshlands on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites in 2016.


During Saddam’s rule, Iraq’s marshes were almost completely drained in order to flush out rebel groups.


The rich natural habitat and the culture of the marshland’s inhabitants were almost lost. International efforts have sought to bring it back to life.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/business/071020182

Now a new series of 25,000, 10,000, 1000, 500, 250 dinar notes is set to enter circulation from next week. The CBI says it does not plan to recall old …

By Ali Mamouri for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

After the Sairoon (On the Move) Alliance emerged victorious in the May 12 Iraqi elections, its leader, Muqtada al-Sadr, has been seeking meetings with the leaders of the other top-vote-getting alliances to discuss the possibility of forming the largest bloc in the new parliament and ultimately form the new Cabinet.

At a May 19 joint press conference after talks with Sadr, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, whose Al-Nasr (Victory) Alliance came in third, said, “During our meeting, we agreed to work together and with other parties to expedite the process of forming a new Iraqi government.”

A few days later, on May 22, Al-Nasr spokesman Hussein al-Adeli said Abadi had reached an agreement with Sadr on a map for forming a new government. Abadi himself, in his weekly press conference the same day, said his coalition was close to reaching an understanding with the Sairoon Alliance “to form a strong technocratic government.”

In a May 20 meeting with Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the second-place Fatah Alliance, consisting of the political wings of the pro-Iran militias of the Popular Mobilization Units, Sadr had said, “The process of government formation must be a national decision, and importantly, must include the participation of all the winning blocs along a national path.”

Sadr appeared to select the phrasing “national decision” and “national path” especially for Amiri, who had days earlier met in Baghdad with Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Quds Force, in an attempt to form a pro-Iranian parliamentary bloc.

Sadr also held talks with Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Hikma Alliance, on May 21 and spoke of the importance of forming the upcoming government in a way that ensures “fixing the path of the political process to suit the aspirations of the Iraqi people who reject sectarianism and corruption.”

Sadr also met May 21 with Iyad al-Allawi, leader of the predominantly Sunni Al-Wataniyah Alliance, and two days earlier had received a letter from Kosrat Rasoul Ali, first deputy for the secretary-general of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, in line with discussions on potential alliances requiring Sunni and Kurdish participation alongside the Shiite majority to form a government.

After failing to assemble a parliamentary bloc under Iranian auspices consisting of the four largest Shiite lists — the State of Law Coalition and the Al-Nasr, Hikma and Fatah Alliances — Iranian Ambassador to Iraq Iraj Masjedi attempted to lure Sadr to his side to prevent the formation of an anti-Iran government. Masjedi told Iran’s Al-Alam TV May 21, “Iran has constructive relations with all parties, blocs and coalitions that won the majority of parliamentary seats in the fourth elections.”

Masjedi also denied rumors of a dispute between the Iranian leadership and Sadr, saying, “Iran’s relations with Sadr are historical and deep-seated. The country had close relations with the martyrs Mohammed Baqr and Mohammed Sadeq al-Sadr [Muqtada’s uncle and father, respectively].” Masjedi added, “Iranian officials’ relations with Sadr are friendly and brotherly, and many of them, including Soleimani, appreciate Sadr greatly.”

In fact, Sadr’s father and Iranian officials were not friendly at all. His representative in Iran, Jaafar al-Sadr, son of Mohammad Baqr, was arrested and his office shuttered in Qom in 1998. In addition, everything indicates that relations between Muqtada and Iran have gone downhill as well in recent years.

Sadr had made several statements critical of Iranian interference in Iraqi decision-making, and his alliance competed against the pro-Iran lists — Al-Fatah and the State of Law Coalition — in the elections. In the preceding years, Sadr’s supporters chanted slogans against Iran at protests calling for reform. Sadr, unlike his rivals Maliki and Amiri, has not met with Soleimani in recent years.

Sadr greeted a group of ambassadors from neighboring countries May 19 after his list’s victory was confirmed. In attendance were the ambassadors of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Turkey and Syria. Official Iranian websites, including Al-Alam’s, criticized Sadr’s relations with Saudi Arabia and charged that Riyadh had been behind Iran’s exclusion from the meeting.

Sadr insists that the largest parliamentary bloc include all Iraqi components, which would be unprecedented if successful. The largest parliamentary bloc has always consisted solely of Shiite parties, which then negotiated with Kurdish and Sunni blocs over forming the government.

On May 21, Sadr tweeted, “I am Muqtada. I am Shiite, Sunni, Christian, Saebean, Yazidi, Islamist, civil, Arab, Kurdish, Assyrian, Turkmen, Chaldean and Shabak. I am Iraqi. Do not expect me to side with any sect against the other to renew enmities and lead to our demise. We are headed toward a comprehensive Iraqi alliance.”

Al-Hayat newspaper on May 21 cited Iraqi sources close to Sadr discussing efforts to bring together Abadi, Allawi, Kurdistan Democratic Party leader Massoud Barzani and Sunni Al-Qarar Alliance leader Khamis al-Khanjar to explore forming the leading parliamentary bloc with all their parties’ participation. If Sadr succeeds, Iraq might overcome sectarian quotas in forming a government, and Iranian influence would dwindle with its political allies, Al-Fatah and the State of Law Coalition, excluded from the bloc.