Cabinet announces Eid holiday, authorises payment of May salaries of state employees

The Cabinet held its regular meeting in Baghdad on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.

At the start of the meeting, the Prime Minister told the Cabinet that the government is determined to overcome the security, economic and health challenges facing the country, and urged all state institutions to work as a team to combat corruption and cut red-tape.

The Cabinet discussed Iraq’s national efforts to combat Covid-19, and received a briefing from the Minister of Health who reiterated the importance of continuing to follow official health advice, social distancing measures and abiding by the curfew.

The Cabinet discussed measures to mitigate the effects of the economic crisis on citizens, cut the deficit and maximize non-oil revenues.

The Cabinet authorised the Ministry of Finance to borrow to address the financial deficit caused by low oil prices.

Following discussions, the Cabinet decided to:

  • Authorise the payment of the salaries of state employees for May in full
  • Declare 21 – 28 May as Eid Al-Fitr holiday, and impose a total curfew during this period

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

From Rabee Securities; re-published with permission by Iraq Business News:

Mr. Allawi was born in Baghdad in 1947.

He left Iraq in 1958 with his family after the 14 July Revolution (the 1958 Iraqi coup d’état, that resulted in the overthrow of the Hashemite monarchy in Iraq that had been established by King Faisal I in 1921 under the auspices of the British) due to the family’s links to the monarchy.

Both his father, Abdul Amir Allawi served as minister of Health in several cabinets while his grandfather, Abdul Hadi Chalabi was head of the Senate.

Mr. Allawi is a nephew of Ahmad Chalabi (the founder of the Iraqi National Congress (INC) the President of the Governing Council of Iraq, and deputy prime minister).

A Shia Muslim, Allawi, went to school in the UK and graduated from MIT in the United States with a BSc in Civil Engineering in 1968. He completed an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1971, and studied at the London School of Economics.

After completing his MBA, he worked in international development for the World Bank. In 1978, he co-founded the Arab International Finance merchant bank. In 1992 he founded the Fisa Group which manages hedge funds. Between 1999 and 2002 he was a Senior Associate at St Antony’s College, Oxford. He was part of the Iraqi exile opposition community during Saddam Hussein’s rule in Iraq.

After 2003, he held the positions of Minister of Trade and Minister of Defense in the Interim Iraq Governing Council from September 2003 to 2004. From 2005 to 2006, he was Minister of Finance in the Iraqi Transitional Government.

He is also the author of several books including the widely reviewed “The Occupation of Iraq – Winning the War: Losing the Peace » in 2007.  In it he says, “The situation in Iraq is complex, dangerous and fraught with poor alternatives. But it is not hopeless.” In 2009, he published his second book, “The Crisis of Islamic Civilization”, and in 2014 he published the first major biography of King Faisal I, “Faisal I of Iraq”.

The New York Times Book Review called The Occupation of Iraq “…the most comprehensive historical account of the disastrous aftermath of the American Invasion.” In October 2009 the Washington Institute for Near East Policy announced that The Crisis of Islamic Civilization was awarded the Silver Prize of its annual book prize. In December 2009, The Economist named The Crisis of Islamic Civilization one of the Best Books of 2009.

He was elected as a Senior Visiting Fellow at Princeton University for 2008-2009 and has held several visiting scholar positions since.

Mr. Allawi started serving as both finance minister and acting oil minister in Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s government.

At Rabee Securities we wish the new Minister best of luck at these difficult times.

(Source: Rabee Securities)

By John Lee.

Iraq’s Council of Representatives (Parliament) on Thursday approved by a majority the government programme presented by Prime Minister Mr. Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.

The programme is a general framework that sets out the government priorities, which include:

  • Holding free and fair early elections after finalising the new electoral law
  • Mobilising all resources to combat the coronavirus pandemic, and laying the foundations for a modern health system
  • Restricting weapons to state and military institutions
  • Submitting to Parliament a special draft budget law to address the economic crisis
  • Launching a national dialogue with all sections of Iraqi society, listening to the demands of the protest movement, bringing to justice those involved in the spilling of Iraqi blood and looking after the families of the martyrs
  • Protecting the sovereignty and security of Iraq, continuing to fight terrorism, and providing a national vision on the future of foreign forces in Iraq
  • Fighting corruption and protecting the wealth of Iraq
  • Promoting the values of shared Iraqi citizenship, respecting Iraq’s ethnic, religious diversity, and rejecting all forms of discrimination
  • Providing all the necessary requirements to support internally displaced people to return to their home, and end internal displacement in Iraq

Developing and reforming security institutions

The programme outlines the government’s plans to reform and modernise Iraq’s military and security institutions, and confirms that:

  • The duty of the Iraqi Army is to protect Iraq’s external borders, sovereignty, and democratic process. It must not operate inside civilian areas unless by exceptional orders from the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces
  • The security formations of the Ministry of Interior will be responsible for internal security, maintaining civil peace, the rule of law, and protecting human rights. These formations will be reorganised, will receive further training, and be properly equipped
  • The National Intelligence Service, the National Security Agency, the Counter-Terrorism Service, and Popular Mobilisation Units will continue to perform the tasks assigned to them as directed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces
  • The security forces will be properly equipped and provided with the necessary arms and ammunitions to enable them to protect Iraq from terrorism and to secure its borders
  • The Armed Forces will be governed by a professional military doctrine with a strict respect for the chain of command, and be representative of all segments of Iraqi society

Addressing the economic and fiscal challenges

The programme outlines several measures the new government will implement to address current economic challenges, including:

  • Reducing public spending, ending non-essential expenditure, developing an effective system for collecting customs tariffs, and starting negotiations to restore Iraq’s oil production share which was reduced recently
  • Working with global financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, to develop programmes to minimise the impact of the economic crisis, especially in relation to reducing the budget deficit, and ensuring efficient management of financial resources
  • Establishing the Supreme Council for Construction and Investment which will be responsible for drawing up a comprehensive plan for building Iraq’s infrastructure, and for encouraging investment in all provinces
  • Submitting to Parliament a draft Iraqi National Oil Company Law, and establishing a team to negotiate with oil companies changes to Iraq’s oil licensing rounds to reflect recent developments in global markets
  • Launching a “Made in Iraq” national project to encourage local industry and agriculture by adopting appropriate mechanisms and laws, and through the consistent and effective application of customs tariffs
  • Directing the Central Bank of Iraq to develop a plan within a year for the modernisation of the Iraqi banking sector
  • Undertaking comprehensive administrative reforms of state institutions, removing unnecessary procedures, and implementing anti-corruption measures
  • Restarting the e-government and transparency projects to include all state institutions
  • Adopting programmes to empower young people to access jobs in the private sector and provide them with social security benefits similar to those enjoyed by their counterpart in the public sector
  • Expanding the scope of social security benefits to support low and fixed income groups
  • Adopting automation and modern technology in state institutions, especially at the Border Crossings Authority and  in the customs system

Iraq’s foreign relations

The programme outlines three pillars that will guide the government’s approach to foreign relations:

  • Sovereignty: Iraq will not allow any country to violate its sovereignty, and will not permit its territories to be used to launch attacks on any of its neighbours or be used as an arena to settle regional or international scores
  • Balance: Iraq will not become part of any regional or international axis, and will adopt a balanced policy of positive engagement with its Muslim and Arab neighbours, countries around the world, and abide by its international commitments
  • Cooperation: Iraq seeks to build an integrated system of common and shared interests as a basis for its foreign relations, and seeks to contribute effectively to resolving regional and international crises, combating terrorism, money laundering, and organised crime. The government will also commence detailed preparations for the upcoming talks with the United States on the future relationship between the two countries and the presence of the Global Coalition in Iraq, with the aim of preserving Iraq’s higher interests and fulfilling the aspirations of the Iraqi people.

Combatting corruption and administrative reforms

The programme outlines a range of measures to combat corruption, including:

  • Conducting an audit of the financial records of companies and commercial entities belonging to political parties, public figures, and others which are suspected of having illegitimate sources for their assets
  • Reforming the system of awarding government contracts and changing investment rules
  • Enforcing current laws to pursue  and return Iraq’s money that have been smuggled abroad
  • Holding corrupt individuals accountable, regardless of their influence

Delivering justice and judicial independence

The government will propose laws and adopt measures to safeguard the independence of the judiciary, and to pursuse and hold accountable law breakers.

Protecting the right to protest, empowering youth

The programme underscores the government’s commitment to protecting the right to peaceful protest, describing it as a “fundamental democratic practice”. It also highlights the critical role of young Iraqis in shaping the future of the country.  The programme commits the government to:

  • Establishing an advisory council of young Iraqis representing all provinces, linked to the Prime Minister’s Office, to be part of the policy formulation process with regard to the government reform agenda. The proposed council will also advise the government on the development of mechanisms and regulations to protect the right to peaceful protest.

The Federal Government, the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Governorates

The programme sets out a number of steps to regulate relations between the Federal government on the one hand and  the Kurdistan Reginal Government and the governorates on the other, including:

  • Working with the Kurdistan Regional Government to address outstanding problems in accordance with the Constitution
  • Working with Parliament to develop necessary legislation to organise the relationship between the Federal Government and the governorates in a way that guarantees an effective distribution of powers between the centre and the provinces.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

By John Lee.

Iraq’s Council of Representatives (Parliament) on Thursday approved fifteen candidates nominated by Prime Minister  Mustafa Al-Kadhimi for membership of the Council of Ministers (the Cabinet).

Reuters reports that voting on the oil and foreign ministries was delayed as the parties failed to agree on candidates.

The parliament rejected Kadhimi’s picks for justice, agriculture and trade; and, according to Xinhua, also rejected his nominees for culture and migration.

Members of the new Iraqi Cabinet are:

  • Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief: Mustafa Al-Kadhimi
  • Minister of Defence: Juma’a Enad Saadon Khattab
  • Minister of Interior: Othman Ali Farhood Musheer al-Ghanimi
  • Minister of Health and Environment: Hassan Mohammed Abbas Salman
  • Minister of Finance: Ali Haidar Abdulameer Abbas Allawi
  • Minister of Communication: Arkan Shihab Ahmed Kadhim
  • Minister of Construction and Housing: Nazineen Mohammed Wassaw Sheikh Mohammed
  • Minister of Education: Ali Hameed Mukhlif
  • Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology: Nabil Khadim Abd Al-Sahib
  • Minister of Electricity: Majid Mehdi Hantosh
  • Minister of Industry and Minerals: Manhal Aziz Mahmoud
  • Minister of Labour & Social Affairs: Adil Hashush Jabir Jassim
  • Minister of Planning : Khalid Battal Najim Abdullah
  • Minister of Youth and Sport: Adnan Dirjal Matar Jasim
  • Minister of Transportation: Nasir Hussein Bander Hamad
  • Minister of Water Resources: Mehdi Rasheed Mehdi

Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi will submit to Parliament nominees for other Cabinet posts at a later date.

During the parliamentary session in Baghdad, the Prime Minister told MPs that the new government will create a consultative framework that brings together all blocs, parties, women organisations, the protest movement, professional bodies and trade unions so that together, Iraqis can overcome current crises and challenges.

A new programme for government

The Prime Minister also set out the key priorities of his government which include mobilising all resources to combat the coronavirus pandemic, preparing for early elections, submitting a special draft budget law to address the economic crisis, ending internal displacement in Iraq and protecting the country’s sovereignty and security.

Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi called on all Iraqis to work together, saying that the challenges facing Iraq are great, but they are not greater than our ability to address them.

Click here for details of the Iraqi government programme.

(Sources: Govt of Iraq, Reuters, Xinhua)

By John Lee.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has urged Iraqi leaders to put aside the country’s sectarian quota system to help form of a new government.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, he said:

In Iraq, we’re watching closely as Prime Minister-designate Mustafa Kadhami enters the third week of trying to form his government.

“The Iraqi people need and deserve a government that frees the country from external intimidation, puts the prosperity of the Iraqi people first, and tackles the major challenges that continue to face Iraq. 

“Iraqi leaders must put aside the sectarian quota system and make compromises that lead to government formation for the good of the Iraqi people, and for the partnership between the United States and Iraq.

“The Iraqi government, too, must heed the call from many elements of Iraqi society to bring all armed groups under state control, and we welcome steps that have been taken in the past days in that direction.

(Source: US State Dept)

By Dr Renad Mansour for the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House). Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Why is it So Hard for Iraq to Form A Government?

Mustafa al-Kadhimi has emerged as the compromise prime minister designate, but his potential appointment is built on shaky foundations.

Click here to read the full story.

By Dr. Layth Mahdi.

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

America and Britain have failed in introducing democracy into Iraq because they handed power to politicians, most of whom do not have the qualification or experience to be in their positions. They are now paying the price for their mistakes.

17 years ago, Iraq was ruled by a dictator who had an agricultural, industrial, health, educational, military, and police system. Today, Iraq is a failed state with diminished local production, also experiencing domestic security and political instability.

Since 2003, all the elected government officials have been unable to address issues concerning mismanagement and corruption. They have failed to prioritize the Iraqi interests and meet the needs of its people. Likewise, the failed parliament has become hated and unwelcome by the Iraqi people because many political parties and blocs are corrupt, competing amongst each other for power. Members of parliament do not have the vision, knowledge and creditability to establish clear political, economic or social programs in rebuilding Iraq.

The popular protests that started in October of last year were a result of continued political failure and mismanagement of the country since 2003. The mass protest movement started with demands to improve social and economic conditions. Following the brutal suppression by the government the protests grew against government corruption, the constitution, control of militias and Iranian interference. As the protests gained momentum, they started to become more organized and unified amongst the provinces. The protest movements are now demanding to dissolve the parliament, form an interim government, and hold early elections with the aim of bringing about a fundamental change in the political system.

The Iraqi government made a mistake in not taking advantage of international experts working in the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) and the Iraqi-American Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) signed in 2008 to develop the Iraqi socio-economic programs.

The Iraqi politicians in power since 2003 and until now have not offered anything to future generations, and they are the least responsible for their people. They have destroyed the economy, spreading ignorance and not educating and empowering their people.

Iraq suffers from widespread and persistent corruption across all levels of government and sectors. According to the World Bank’s governance indicators, from 2003 until 2013, Iraq has consistently scored in the bottom 10 percentile for control of corruption, rule of law and political stability which created successive living and economic crises for citizens.  The Transparency International Organization reports that 300 billion dollars has been looted since 2003 and local Iraqi sources state that another 350 billion dollars have been mismanaged and stolen within more than 5000 projects funded between the period of 2003-2014 in the sectors of housing, health, education, roads, bridges, and electricity. The report claims most of these projects were fake and not implemented because of poor planning.

Today, Iraq needs a strong prime minister who is able to make important decisions to meet these challenges. The Prime Minister-designate Mr. Mustafa Al Kadhimi has recently been appointed to form new cabinet. To succeed in his mission, he MUST create a team with strong political and economic credentials to present radical solutions to a transitional program that includes:

  • Restore the security and political stability;
  • Strengthen the integrity of national sovereignty;
  • Implement reform programs to fulfill the demands of the demonstrators and respond to their legitimate aspiration;
  • Development of the economy and international relations.

Since 2003 the GoI has continuously failed its citizens and contributed to the deteriorating economic and security situation. The corruption and lack of security control cannot continue as the population has reached a tipping point. History has proven that the GoI cannot independently rebuild Iraq, they must collaborate with international agencies as they do not process the expertise. If Iraq continues on the same path then we can only expect a continued path towards a failed state.

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.

Iraqi PM designate readies cabinet to present to parliament

Mustafa al-Kadhimi, director of Iraq’s National Intelligence Service, is expected to present his cabinet to the Council of Representatives early next week.

On April 9, Iraqi President Barham Salih designated Kadhimi to form a new government within 30 days. Kadhimi is the third PM-designate this year. Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi and Adnan al-Zurfi previously tried, and failed, to form governments.

Kadhimi appears to have broad backing among Iraq’s political factions – all of the major Shiite parties, as well as the key Kurdish and Sunni blocs support him – with no major political opposition so far.

Click here to read the full story.

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.

Iraqi PM designate readies cabinet to present to parliament

Mustafa al-Kadhimi, director of Iraq’s National Intelligence Service, is expected to present his cabinet to the Council of Representatives early next week.

On April 9, Iraqi President Barham Salih designated Kadhimi to form a new government within 30 days. Kadhimi is the third PM-designate this year. Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi and Adnan al-Zurfi previously tried, and failed, to form governments.

Kadhimi appears to have broad backing among Iraq’s political factions – all of the major Shiite parties, as well as the key Kurdish and Sunni blocs support him – with no major political opposition so far.

Click here to read the full story.