By John Lee.

Iraq’s Council of Ministers has approved a contract with Japan’s JGC Corporation to build a 55,000-bpd refinery in Basra province.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Oil, the new plant will create 7,000 jobs, in addition to 70,000 during the construction phase.

The General Manager of the South Refineries Company (SRC), Hussam Wali, said construction is hoped to start early next year, and be completed within four years.

The $4-billion project will be funded by a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

(Source: Ministry of Oil)

A senior Iraqi official said the construction work for establishing a major railway project connecting the Arab country to neighboring Iran will get underway not in the too distant future.

“The railway between Iran and Iraq through the Shalamcheh link will get going soon,” said Qasim al-Araji, a national security adviser to the Iraqi government, in a tweet on Thursday.

The announcement comes just days after a high-ranking Iraqi delegation traveled to Iran to discuss key issues with officials in Tehran, Press TV reported.

The announcement by Araji, a former interior minister of Iraq, could be a sign that Iran and Iraq have reached fresh arrangements on how they can finish a project that that has stalled on the Iraqi side of the border for almost eight years.

Iran’s Mostazafan Foundation (MFJ), a semi-governmental charity with years of experience in construction activities, is responsible for funding and execution of the entire project in Iran and Iraq.

Iran has finished its side of the railway, a 17-koilometer link between the cities of Khoramshahr and Shalamcheh. However, MFJ plans for continuing the project into Iraq hit a snag in 2014 when the Arab country became involved in an extensive war on terror.

The $150-million project, which spans 47 kilometers through the two territories to reach the Iraqi city of Basra, has also faced issues like mine clearance inside Iraq.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

By John Lee.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi met Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on his first foreign trip since taking office.

Following the meeting they announced that they have agreed to “revitalise current agreements between our two countries, including the agreement to establish a rail link between Iran and the Iraqi city of Basra“.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

The Iraqi Cabinet held its weekly meeting in the city of Basra on Wednesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.

At the start of the meeting, the Prime Minister said that the Cabinet meeting in Basra is the first of a series of such meetings that will take place in other Iraqi cities and provinces.

The Prime Minister added that Basra is Iraq’s economic and cultural gateway and has a special place in the hearts of all Iraqis.

The Prime Minister paid tribute to the people of Basra, saying they have endured the horrors of dictatorship and wars, just as they endured the consequences of corruption, mismanagement and bad planning that afflicted their city and its environment.

The Cabinet then discussed several projects in Basra, and agreed to:

  • Press ahead with contracting procedures in relation to the Great Basra Water Project, and for the work on this strategic project to commence
  • Direct the Ministry of Water Resources, in cooperation with the Ministry of Construction and Housing, and Basra Governorate, to submit a plan to implement the Al-Bida Water Project
  • Direct the Ministries of Finance and Planning to include Al-Bida Water Project in the 2021 Federal Budget
  • Establish an infrastructure implementation programme to press ahead with the distribution of residential plots of land to entitled groups through the Ministry of Construction, Housing and Municipalities which will work with the consultant contracted by Basra Governorate to review and update the designs of Al-Sayyab Residential city
  • Authorise the Governor of Basra to pay the salaries of 30,000 Basra citizens from the Governorate cash reserves
  • Refer all delayed projects in Basra to the Ministerial Council on Services which will submit to the Cabinet recommendations to expedite them
  • Refer Al-Zubair Sewage Project to the Ministerial Council on Social Services which is required to make recommendations to the Cabinet to expedite the project after inviting the Governor of Basra to take part in its deliberations.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

By John Lee.

The Iraqi Government has announced that commercial operations have begun at the “Al-Kaytan Falcon Cement Plant” in Basra.

According to a government tweet, the project cost $43.7 million to build, has a production capacity of a million tonnes annually, and created more than 250 new jobs.

Falcon is a cement brand owned by Attock Cement Pakistan Limited (ACPL), which is a member company of Pharaon Commercial Investment Group. According to a statement made to the Pakistan Stock Exchange in September, commercial production started with effect from 1st September 2019.

According to previous information from Business Recorder, the investment is a joint venture with the Iraq-based Al Geetan Commercial Agencies.

By John Lee.

Dar Al-Shifa Hospital has been opened in Al-Zubair district in Basra Province.

The hospital, a private-sector investment project which created 100 new jobs and cost $24 million, has a capacity of 60 beds, five operating theatres, an ophthalmology centre, a dental clinic, a maternity ward, an emergency department, laboratories and a pharmacy.

The Iraqi Government said it encourages private investment in Iraq’s health infrastructure as part of its strategy to build a modern and accessible healthcare system.

(Source: Iraqi Government)

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

Basra, the richest city in Iraq with little water to drink

Iraq’s third-largest city, Basra, was once called “Venice of the East” due to the numerous water canals and bridges meandering throughout the entire city.

This description is no longer true, as the Shatt al-Arab (“Stream of the Arabs”) and its branches have become polluted with algae, bacteria, chemical toxins, and waste products from humans, hospitals and factory residuals.

Click here to read the full story.

Perceptions of Police, Security and Governance in Iraq: IOM Study

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Yale Law School‘s Center for Global Legal Challenges (GLC) are releasing a new report that evaluates community perceptions of police and security in three communities across Iraq.

This new study – Perceptions of Police, Security and Governance in Iraq – presents evidence from an assessment of IOM Iraq’s ‘Community Policing’ Programme, implemented alongside the Government of Iraq Ministry of Interior.

The study is based on data from two waves of surveys conducted in three communities where the programme was implemented in 2019: Baradiyah (Basra Governorate), Hamdaniyah (Ninewa Governorate), and Jubeil (Anbar Governorate).

Community policing (CP) is a method of law enforcement defined by the United Nations as “a strategy for encouraging the public to act as partners with the police in preventing and managing crime as well as other aspects of security and order based on the needs of the community.”

Surveys were conducted in July and August 2019, before IOM Iraq implemented the CP programme in the three communities, and again in December 2019 after six months of programming.

“In Iraq, where waves of violence over the past four decades have eroded trust between communities and security actors, there has been very little publicly available research on efforts to re-establish this trust,” said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite.

“This study is a step toward establishing an evidence base to evaluate community policing methods in Iraq, that will help tailor the programme for diverse contexts across the country.”

“In Iraq and around the world, public distrust of state institutions has driven unrest, instability, and support for violent non-state groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant,” said Oona Hathaway, Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Global Legal Challenges at Yale Law School.

“This study suggests that training police in the importance of human rights and equality under the law can strengthen both human security and national security.”

The study also included surveys in two comparison communities – Khor Zubair, Basra and Saqlawiyah, Anbar – that were selected for geographical proximity and demographic similarity to the communities where the Community Policing Programme was implemented. Conducting baseline and endline surveys in these communities provides some insight into whether other trends and events unrelated to the CP Programme might have contributed to the changes observed over the course of the study.

The key findings of the endline study are available in infographic form:

Evaluating Perceptions of Security and Police in Iraq, the baseline report analysing data from the first wave of door-to-door surveys conducted before implementation of the CP programme, was published in April 2020.

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

Iraq’s national lockdown in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has reportedly given a boost to local businesses.

According to a report from AFP, local businesses no longer have to compete with imports from countries such as Turkey, Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait.

It quotes the owner of an ice-cream factory in Basra as saying:

“The coronavirus crisis has allowed us to prove ourselves on the Iraqi market.”

More here.

(Source: AFP)

 By John Lee.

Shell has reportedly evacuated its foreign staff who had been working at the Basra Gas Company (BGC).

BGC executives told Reuters that around 60 staff were flown out on Wednesday after workers who had been laid off staged a protest.

Shell has a 44-percent stake in the $17-billion, 25-year BGC project, with Iraq’s South Gas Company (SGC) having 51 percent, and Japan’s Mitsubishi 5 percent.

(Source: Reuters)