Shares in Genel Energy were trading up 6 percent on Monday afternoon after the company announced that it has reached agreement to acquire stakes in the Chevron-operated Sarta and Qara Dagh blocks (pictured), in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Genel will acquire 30% equity in the Sarta licence by paying a 50% share of ongoing field development costs until a specific production target is reached, together with a success fee payable on achievement of a production milestone. Chevron will retain a 50% interest in the Sarta licence and the Kurdistan Regional Government will hold the remaining 20%. Genel’s estimate of its total spend up to end-2020 is c.$60 million.

Drilling began on the first appraisal well, Sarta-3, in Q4 2017. The well was successfully completed and tested during the second quarter of 2018. Both that and the Sarta-2 well individually tested at rates of c.7,500 bopd. The first phase of development is expected to see these wells placed on production.

Genel will acquire 40% equity of the Qara Dagh appraisal licence and become the operator through a carry arrangement. Chevron will retain 40% of the equity, with the KRG holding the remaining 20%. The Qara Dagh-2 well is set to be drilled in 2020. The Qara Dagh-1 well, completed in 2011, tested oil in two zones from the Shiranish formation.

Closing is subject to approval from the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Murat Özgül, Chief Executive of Genel, said:

“We are delighted to have been chosen as a partner to Chevron. The agreement provides access to a phased development opportunity with significant growth potential at Sarta, and an exciting appraisal opportunity at Qara Dagh. The additions to our portfolio are an important step in our diversification strategy, offering a further opportunity for near-term production and cash-generation.”

(Sources: Genel Energy, Yahoo!)

In December 2017, Iraqi authorities announced that they had completely freed areas previously controlled by the Daesh terrorist organization.

Today, Iraq has entered a crucial phase of national reconciliation, stabilization and reconstruction of freed regions. These actions are essential for a lasting victory against terrorism and the return of displaced persons.

Humanitarian and stabilization assistance

France and its partners have continued their efforts, and are standing alongside the Iraqi people and Government in order to assist the most vulnerable populations, revitalize the economy and rebuild the country. For example, multi-sectoral emergency assistance (food aid, basic healthcare and essential goods) was provided to almost 200,000 displaced persons during the battle of Mosul.

Since 2017, France has dedicated €60 million to humanitarian and stabilization assistance activities in Iraq, including €20 million to the stabilization of the city of Mosul.

During a visit to Iraq on 26 August 2017, the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, and the Minister for the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, also confirmed that a budgetary loan of €430 million would be granted to the Iraqi Government.

In addition, France runs humanitarian and stabilization assistance activities through United Nations agencies such as the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP). It has contributed €7 million to tools developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Iraq.

Projects in various fields

Security

Restoring security is essential to ensure that displaced people can return voluntarily to regions freed from Daesh control.

As part of the Global Coalition Against Daesh, France is providing military support to local forces working to secure recently freed Iraqi regions, in order to prevent the resurgence of the Daesh terrorist movement.

France is also helping to train Iraq’s internal security forces in the fields of democratic crowd management, mine clearance (including chemical and underwater mines), and post-attack scene management.

Health

In the projects supported by France, special emphasis is placed on the health of Iraqi people. In addition to contributing emergency humanitarian assistance, France has implemented programmes to support health infrastructure (hospitals, health centres in camps and mobile clinics) and provide psychological treatment to populations, who are often traumatized.

France is also strongly committed to rehabilitating the University of Mosul’s College of Medicine, which trains medical staff throughout the Nineveh Plains and beyond. The College was badly damaged during fighting. Today, as a result of France’s commitment and UNDP support, it has been completely rebuilt. It has welcomed a number of students since the start of the 2018 academic year.

Education and support for displaced populations

Education is a priority of France’s assistance. In addition to supporting the University of Mosul, France has committed to programmes rehabilitating schools in the most hard-to-access areas.

It has financed informal educational support projects for children who had no access to education during the Daesh occupation, with a view to reintegrating them into Iraq’s public school system.

Child protection training and campaigns raising awareness of children’s rights have also been implemented by NGOs.

National cohesion

A united Iraq, where all components of society are respected, is essential to ensure that the stabilization process is inclusive and has lasting results. The country must not only focus on physical reconstruction, but also on reconciliation.

France therefore pays special attention to the victims of ethnic and religious violence. A special fund finances projects led by NGOs aiming to respond specifically to the needs of these communities and to encourage their return to their home villages, towns and cities.

At the Paris Peace Forum in November 2018, the French President lent his support to Nadia Murad, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2018, who has launched a fund to rebuild Iraq’s Sinjar region, which suffered heavily under Daesh. France will contribute €2 million to this fund, which will be used to build infrastructure such as schools and hospitals, create revenue-generating structures, foster the return of displaced Yazidi populations to their lands, among other activities.

Cultural heritage

The ties between France and Iraq when it comes to preserving cultural heritage and archaeology are long-standing.

Three priorities have been identified in recent years in coordination with local authorities: combating trafficking, protecting works and safeguarding the memory of sites. Several training activities for Iraqi heritage preservation professionals have been planned in partnership with the Institut National du Patrimoine (INP) and the Department of Near Eastern Antiquities at the Louvre Museum to improve techniques to combat the trafficking of cultural goods and artefacts.

The Institut Français du Proche-Orient (IFPO) in Iraq, which has a branch in Erbil, has established cooperation with academic institutions in the areas of archaeology and cultural heritage.

In 2018, the Institut Français de Recherche à l’Étranger (IFRE) conducted several digitization and preservation projects on Iraqi sites with funds from the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas (ALIPH).

Justice and fighting impunity

France is committed to fighting impunity for crimes committed in Iraq and has taken every opportunity to make progress on this issue, particularly in the Security Council and other UN bodies. It is funding projects to document the crimes committed to provide information for investigations. Training activities to improve the skills of Iraqi law enforcement authorities are also being conducted to make criminal prosecutions more effective.

Interview : France’s action in Iraq

Eric Chevallier, Director of the Ministry’s Crisis and Support Centre, explains France’s action to support the country’s stabilisation and reconstruction, and the humanitarian aid that we are providing.

(Source: French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met a group of Iraqi tribal leaders from south of the country in the holy city of Karbala.

During the last leg of his meetings with Iraqi officials, elites and representatives of Iraqi society from various ethnicities and regions, Zarif sat for talks with the tribal leaders and clans’ representatives of southern Iraq in the consulate of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the holy city of Karbala.

During the cordial meeting on Wednesday, some of Iraqi tribal leaders and representatives expressed their views and ideas about the strong bonds between the two nations of Iran and Iraq, Foreign Ministry website reported.

For his part, Iran’s top diplomat referred to the close relations between the two nations over the past centuries and pointed out that nothing, even the imposed war by the former dictator of Iraq on Iran, could not separate the two nations.

“The love of the third Shiite Imam, Hussein ibn Ali (AS) has served as a bond connecting us together,” he said, adding that Arbaeen, the anniversary of 40th day after the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS) is a beautiful picture of companionship, self-sacrifice, hospitality and sympathy between the peoples of Iran and Iraq.

He also thanked Iraqi tribes for their warm hospitality to the Iranian pilgrims flocking to the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala each year to commemorate Arbaeen.

Zarif then underlined that Iran and Iraq are now involved in the construction process and added the two sides should put their focus on improving the living conditions of their people through overcoming the current obstacles and preparing the ground for further economic cooperation.

“Building on the two sides’ capacities, we can increase our annual trade volume by 20 billion dollars and if the ground is prepared, the Islamic Republic is ready to proudly share its achievements in energy, engineering, agriculture and trade areas with the Iraqis,” he concluded.

Iranian foreign minister arrived in Iraq on Sunday afternoon and held separate meetings with various Iraqis officials from the central government in Baghdad to Kurdistan semi-autonomous region.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the fact that each year, 7 million Iraqis and Iranians visit each other’s country is a sign of the two neighboring countries’ close ties.

Speaking at a meeting with Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohammed Al-Halbousi in Baghdad on Monday, attended by the chairmen of the Iraqi parliamentary factions, Zarif hailed the relations between the two countries, the parliamentary ties in particular.

The fact that seven million Iranians and Iraqis visit each other’s country each year is an outstanding sign of “the proximity of the two great nations,” Zarif said.

Every year, a large number of Iranians visit Iraq for pilgrimage. Iranian pilgrims travel to Karbala, Najaf and Baghdad to pay homage to Shia Imams buried in Iraq.

Iraqis visit the Iranian cities of Mashhad and Qom for pilgrimage.

The Iraqi parliament speaker, for his part, referred to the two countries’ common interests and praised Iran’s role in helping the Iraqi people defeat the Daesh (ISIS or ISIL) terror group.

Daesh militants made swift advances in much of northern and western Iraq over the summer of 2014, after capturing large swaths of northern Syria.

However, a combination of concentrated attacks by the Iraqi military and the volunteer forces, who rushed to take arms after top Iraqi cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a fatwa calling for fight against the militants, blunted the edge of Daesh offensive.

In November 2017, the self-proclaimed caliphate of Daesh collapsed after Syrian and Iraqi armed forces and their allies managed to recapture the terror group’s last strongholds in the two Arab countries.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

WFP supports Iraq in modernising its Public Distribution System

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Iraq have launched an initiative to digitise the national public distribution system (PDS).

The first phase of digitisation will reach nearly 1.3 million people in and around Baghdad and Dohuk.

The PDS is Iraq’s biggest social safety net, providing food entitlements to almost the entire population in Iraq of 39 million people.

WFP is providing technical support to the government as it starts using identification technology and a citizen database to reduce processing time, improve service and maximise resources.

“The initiative guarantees the most efficient use of government resources and ensures that the intended citizens receive their food entitlement,” said WFP Country Director and Representative in Iraq Sally Haydock at the launch in Baghdad. “We’re using digitisation to better serve Iraqi citizens through this key social safety net.”

With WFP’s support, the government will move to a digitised system where citizens’ data is safely encrypted and stored, and where security is enhanced using fingerprints or iris scans. This will allow the government to identify and remove duplicate records as well as conduct biometric verification at the time of food collection. The new system replaces the current paper-based system.

WFP is also designing a mobile application, myPDS, that people can use to collect their entitlements as well as to update their family information about births, deaths and marriages – at their convenience, using personal smartphones.

“The ministry is working on updating data as we put in place technology-based solutions that address people’s needs,” said the Iraqi Minister of Trade Mohammed Hashem Al-Ani.

WFP is partnering on the initiative with the Iraqi Ministry of Trade. Modernising the PDS is one of the priorities of Iraq’s National Poverty Reduction Strategy (2018 – 2022). WFP’s partnership with the ministry dates to the early 1990s when WFP established a database for the PDS.

(Source: WFP)

By John Lee.

Housing prices in Iraqi Kurdistan have reportedly increased by 20 percent in 2018, while rents has gone up by 15 percent.

Citing research from real estate company Baghi Khoshnawati, Rudaw says that demand for rental accommodation in the second half of 2018 has increased by 45 percent compared to the first half of 2018.

It adds that the rent for a house in the Italian Village in Erbil has increased from was $500 per month in May 2018 to $650 now, but “there are no houses available because of high demand“.

More here.

(Source: Rudaw)

(Picture credit: Jan Kurdistani21)

By John Lee.

NATO is to take the lead in the ‘train the trainer’ mission to teach Iraqi military instructors to impart key skills.

According to a press release from the Combined Joint Task Force (Operation Inherent Resolve), the project will involve such skills as countering improvised explosive devices, civil-military planning, armored vehicle maintenance, and military medicine to their trainees. NMI will train the ISF in multiple capacities and build upon their professional military academies, amongst other critical military schools.

The Coalition will build on the training which has already been delivered to more than 173,000 Iraqis.

(Source: Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve)

Advertising Feature

By Veronica Cotdemiey, CEO of Citizenship Invest.

Moldova: the most cost-effective passport from Europe

Citizenship by Investment has become one of the most reliable ways to obtain a legal citizenship and passport for many nationalities around the world. Allowing the ability to travel easily and secure a better future for individuals. However, when we talk about obtaining a fast-track second passport or citizenship and without immigration requirements, many come at a hefty price.

The Republic of Cyprus has one of the world’s most famous citizenship by investment programs and it is the only country that can offer a European nationality without ever needing to immigrate or prove residence in the country to obtain it. However, the property investment required to obtain the Cypriot citizenship stands at 2 million EURO which it is not affordable to large number of potential applicants. Many consider Caribbean countries like Dominica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, Antigua & Barbuda and Grenada through which they can achieve a second citizenship with a considerably lower investment amount.

For many investors in the region, some Caribbean countries can pose some difficulties to obtain their citizenship. In some cases, certain nationalities are banned from applying and they could encounter issues to transfer funds to the Government’s accounts due to intermediary banks based in the United States.

Moldova recently launched its citizenship program, the country is located in Europe and investors can obtain its passport without any residency requirements. The program is cost effective and has a quick processing time where applicants can obtain their citizenship in approximately 3 months. Moldovan citizens have visa-free travel to major countries around the world, most notably, Schengen countries, Russia and Turkey. The Moldovan citizenship program requires an applicant to transfer an amount of EUR 100,000 to Moldova’s Public Investment Fund. The amount goes up to EUR 155,000 for an applicant with more than 4 dependents. Another positive feature in Moldova’s CBI program is the ability to transfer citizenship to future generations without restrictions.

Moldova is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe with a 4 million population. The country is famous for its world-class wine industry and picturesque landscapes. The service sector has grown to dominate Moldova’s economy and currently composes over 60% of the nation’s GDP. In 2017, total bilateral trade between the EU and Moldova increased by 18% to €4 billion. The European Union’s imports from Moldova increased by 23% in 2017, to the value of €1.6 billion.

Although Moldova is not yet part of the European Union, the EU is Moldova’s first trading partner and the first investor in the country, accounting for over 55% of total trade. The value of agricultural, machinery and transport EU imported products from Moldova also grew confirming the positive trend of growth in Moldovan exports to the EU.

Moldova is actively pursuing joining the European Union member states through the EU Eastern Partnership policy. As part of its effort, Moldova is working on integrating various sectors such as transport, Energy, Technology, Media and Telecom with the EU for the possibility to deepen its corporation with the EU and increase the chances of becoming a member state.

By John Lee.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi (pictured) has called for an investigation into the appointment of a deputy director general to the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA), citing allegation that the appointment was made under threat.

In a statement the Prime Minister said.

His Excellency Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi ordered to conduct an investigation on information indicating the issuance of an administrative order by the Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority to appoint a person in the position of Deputy Director General of the Authority under threat and intimidation, to consider the administrative procedure related to the position of the Deputy of the Chairman of the Authority frozen and inoperable, and the previous contexts shall continue to work until the completion of the investigation and the confirmation.

“His Excellency called for taking the necessary measures and imposing the most severe penalties on anyone who uses the threat or uses his powers to compel citizens or state institutions to carry out actions contrary to law and order.

(Source: Media Office of the Prime Minister)

During December 2018 a total of 32 Iraqi civilians were killed and another 32 injured in acts of terrorism and conflict-related violence.

Ninewa was the worst affected Governorate with 26 civilian casualties (07 killed, 19 injured) followed by Baghdad with (17 killed and 03 injured) and Salahadin (03 killed and 03 injured). The figures include ordinary citizens and others considered civilian at the time of death or injury, such as police on non-combat functions, civil defence, personal security teams, facilities protection police and fire department personnel.

UNAMI views these figures as more than mere statistics. Every civilian death documented by UNAMI over the years represents a family grieving and struggling to come to terms with its loss. Each injury or maiming of a civilian represents immense individual and societal suffering,” Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) for Iraq, Ms. Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, said.

NOTE FOR INFORMATION:

UNAMI used to publish these casualty figures on a monthly basis as part of its broader efforts to highlight civilian protection needs, reduce civilian harm, and to encourage all parties to the conflict to abide by their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law. However, UNAMI’s monitoring in recent months has shown a steady reduction in civilian casualties. UNAMI has therefore decided that it will no longer publish these civilian casualty updates on a monthly basis but only if circumstances dictate. Whilst this decision is made in the context of a stabilizing security situation, and a consequent reduction in conflict-related harm to civilians, the conditions necessary for a sustained reduction in violence remain very fragile. UNAMI will, therefore, continue to monitor the situation.

*CAVEATS: UNAMI has been hindered in effectively verifying casualties in certain areas; in some cases, UNAMI could only partially verify certain incidents. For these reasons, the figures reported have to be considered as the absolute minimum. UNAMI was not able to verify casualty figures from Anbar Governorate and as a result they are not included.

(Source: United Nations)