By John Lee.

Iraq’s National Investment Commission (NIC), in coordination with the General Committee for Free Zones, has announced the following investment opportunities:

  • The expansional area in Khor Al- Zubair on the land lot No. (13/8 M 44 Hila and 1/3, 2/2, 1/3 M 20 Shaawan) with total area of (20,364,200 M²) that is overlooking khor Al- Zubair stream and adjacent to the sea port and the Fertilizers company with only 55 km paved distance from Safwan border point and full covered by the power grid services.
  • Qaem [al-Qaim] Free zone , on the land lot No. (133/7533 M 21 Deyom Al- maneai) with total area of (430,000 M²) , the land is adjacent to Qaem Border Point and near to Electricity and water sources and close to the center of Qaem District while only (25) km distant from Ukaz gas field.
  • Lands allocated for free zones in Qaem – Ukashat , on the land lot No. (133/7533 and 11/5 M 21 Deyom Al- maneai) with total area of (6,612,500 M²) , the land is adjacent to Qaem Border Point that is only 20 paved kilo meters distant from its strategic location which is close to the Phosphates factory in Ukashat near Ukaz Gas field.

Willing investors are invited to apply through sending their applications to the One Stop Shop dept. of NIC or by visiting the General Committee for Free Zones in Baghdad – Nidhal Street – White palace next to the Building of the General Committee for customs.

(Source: NIC)

By John Lee.

The National Investment Commission (NIC) has announced the following investment opportunities:

(Source: National Investment Commission)

By John Lee.

The National Investment Commission (NIC) has announced the following investment opportunities:

(Source: National Investment Commission)

Briefing to the Security Council by Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert 3 March 2020

Mister President, thank you so much
Distinguished members of the Security Council,

Iraq has not left the headlines in recent months, as domestic, regional and international events have continued to take their toll on the country.
And while we will explore these events today, I choose to begin with hope:

  • The hope of a people who remain united in their determination for a more just and prosperous future;
  • The hope of a sovereign nation that refuses to become a battleground for conflicts that are not its own;
  • And the hope that Iraq may very well find itself at the most opportune moment for genuine and lasting political reform in a generation.

But for this to materialize, political leaders and communities will have to step up to the plate: placing the country’s interest above all else, building domestic strength.

And within this context, it is important not to sugar coat the current harsh reality.

The many brave Iraqis – who continue to pay an unimaginable price for their voices to be heard – deserve that we recognize the intolerable abuses they have been subjected to.

The killings. The abductions. The violence. The intimidation. The threats. These abhorrent human rights violations are ongoing and fly in the face of all that is decent. They have no place in a democracy, any democracy.

And yes, of course, we do recognize the challenges of operating within a fluid, puzzling security context with multiple actors. However, as I have stated many times: the ultimate responsibility for the peoples’ safety and security undeniably rests with the State.

It is therefore imperative to put an end to these abuses. Moreover, it is imperative that perpetrators be brought to justice. Impunity ends where accountability begins.

And let me emphasize: justice and accountability are a matter of burning importance to the many Iraqis who have lost their loved ones or seen them injured, for no other reason than expressing their frustration with poor economic, social and political prospects.

Justice and accountability should also be a pressing matter for the State of Iraq. The rule of law must be strengthened if public trust is to take root.

Now Mister President,
As I have stated time and again: Iraq’s problems did not occur overnight, nor will they be solved in an instant.

Yet times of crisis also present opportunities. And I sincerely hope that Iraqi political leaders will recognise in this moment the crossroads where they either stand idle, or where they place themselves in the service of their countrymen and women. But I have to say: the critical window of opportunity is closing fast.

Now, with regard to the participation of Iraqi women in the ongoing public protests, it is unprecedented and marks a new page in the history of women’s grassroots mobilization in Iraq. Political leaders should heed this call.
Going back to the streets: the security picture is undeniably complex and most challenging to manage. We witness ambiguously identified armed entities with unclear loyalties. And we see groups or individuals using the cover of peaceful protesters and/or security forces to muddy the issues, misleading the public, harming the country’s interest, confusing the scene and causing casualties.

All of this is part of Iraq’s tough reality.

And as Secretary-General Guterres recently stated: “The large number of armed groups operating outside state control is preventing the country from functioning as a normal state.”

However, it bears repeating that this is not something political leaders should hide behind. On the contrary. They must dismantle or formally integrate these armed entities under full state control without delay. In other words: this is no excuse for political and governmental inaction.

Now Mister President,
After five months of protests, and the many injured and killed, it should be clear that peaceful protesters – backed by a silent majority – it should be clear that they will not budge on their aspirations. Now, this should be the political class’ first and last concern – but so far, we have seen few results.
And let me be clear: delivering on the demands of the people will require a collective effort. I again emphasize that no Prime Minister can go it alone. Every single political actor and leader is fully responsible for restoring the critical confidence of the public in their government and its institutions.

Late last November, the Prime Minister announced his resignation, which was soon approved by Parliament and the President.

The designation of a new Prime-Minister, and subsequent attempts to form a new government, ultimately failed due to distrust and disunity. This led to a complicated situation in which the Prime Minister-designate was not able to obtain sufficiently broad support to form his government within 30 days.

Within the last three days, we saw the withdrawal of the candidacy of the Prime Minister-designate – accepted by the President -, and the announcement by the previous and current caretaker Prime Minister that he was stepping back from most of his duties while calling on parliament to seek early elections in December 2020.
Constitutionally, the President now has another 15 days to nominate a new PM-designate, whose government and programme would again be subject to parliamentary endorsement. And While political consultations are ongoing, the question remains whether political parties will find a new consensus-candidate within these time limits.

Clearly, all this prolongs uncertainty and causes significant challenges – further eroding public trust.

Mister President,
One way or another: the road ahead remains fraught with difficulties.

I already mentioned the pressing need for accountability and justice. And another top priority is corruption: perhaps the greatest source of dysfunction in Iraq, and sadly, a core feature of Iraq’s current political economy. It is built into everyday transactions.

A related feature of Iraq’s political economy is its reliance on patronage and clientelism. This has resulted in a ballooning, inefficient public service that functions more as an instrument of political favour than as a servant of the people.

Now, A cynic would describe this “payroll corruption” as the perfect electoral mobilization strategy, where – perversely – low turnout benefits those pursuing their own narrow, partisan and/or transactional objectives.

Now It is important to tackle the system as precisely that: a system and not just a series of individuals or occurrences. Each bribe or favour serves to reinforce the existing structure.

Therefore, full systemic reform will be necessary. And no one understands this better than the Iraqi woman and man whose chances of a more prosperous life continue to be undermined by a system which ignores them.

Mister President,
Iraq is by no means a poor country, but as I said: private and partisan interests conspire to divert resources away from critical investment in the way forward.

Iraq’s massive oil wealth has financed a crude rentier system that sees enormous revenues converted to salaries in unproductive sectors.

Now While external factors (such as regional tensions and oil price fluctuations), while they continue to weigh on the national economy, there are internal factors which Iraq can control. Reducing bureaucracy, increasing the ease of doing business, strengthening the rule of law, anti-corruption mechanisms: these measures can all incentivize the domestic private sector while attracting foreign investment. These steps are necessary to build a healthy environment that is conducive to broad-based, fairly distributed growth and employment generation.

Iraq must also build, repair and upgrade critical infrastructure, and broaden its revenue base to reduce its dependency on hydrocarbons. Now, Agriculture is already showing promise – good news – as a candidate for investment. And an agricultural revival, in the birthplace of agriculture, will not only improve employment and social cohesion (notably in liberated rural areas) but also strengthen Iraqi food security.

And Within this context, I would also like to highlight the creative resilience of the Iraqi people. Because If one looks beyond the statistics and legal structures, we observe – on the street – plenty of commercial activity. And One can only imagine what this spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship could achieve if freed from the burdens of red tape and bribes.

Mister President,
An important aspect of corruption is illicit financial flows: they not only help explain why Iraqis continue to await roads, hospitals, schools, and legal employment opportunities. They also contribute to further destabilization, by providing channels for the financing of organized crime and violent extremism.

And with regards to violent extremism, we cannot ignore the continued threat of terrorism.

Although ISIL has been defeated territorially, it continued – in the past two months – its attempts to increase its military operations in northeastern Diyala, northern Baghdad and areas of western Iraq.

it goes without saying that ISIL must not be allowed to regroup and recruit. And while constructive negotiations between Iraq’s government and its allies are ongoing, following the vote on the parliamentary resolution on the presence of foreign troops, Iraq’s allies continue to assist the government and its institutions in the fight against ISIL.

Now It is obvious that a strong state which has a monopoly on the use of force is best equipped to face these multiple security threats. And of course, an equally powerful tool against violent extremism is fairness and justice.

Mr. President, turning to the need for free, fair and credible elections. While the “electoral reset” is a top priority for many – broad, underlying systemic reform and a strong, independent electoral commission will prove crucial.

In other words: the newly appointed electoral commission will need to stand with greater resolve in adhering to the principles of transparency, accountability, independence and professionalism as they rebuild the commission’s institutional capacities and kick-start technical electoral preparations.

Moreover, in order to firm up the electoral calendar, there is an immediate need to complete the electoral legal framework. Parliament must act on pending, urgent elements of the electoral law, in particular constituency demarcation and seat apportionment, hopefully bringing voters closer to the candidates and making future elected representatives accountable to their constituents.

Now Turning to Baghdad-Erbil relations, notwithstanding an encouraging preliminary deal between the KRG and the Federal Government on oil and revenue sharing, we continue to await a final, long-term and sustainable agreement on this file as well as on security co-operation and Sinjar.

Mr. President,
I think we can all agree that the volatile domestic and regional climate took an extraordinary toll on Iraq in the past months. To point out the obvious, the state-to-state violence we saw play out across Iraq earlier this year, was received as a clear and substantial threat to the country.

The modus operandi and rules of engagement have shifted, and the risk of rogue action by armed groups with unclear reporting lines is a constant concern.

Beyond the immediate security threat, this also takes critical political attention away from urgent unfinished domestic business. But As I have stated before, regional security developments should not eclipse domestic priorities.

Now The question is whether Iraq will flourish as a venue for peace and understanding, or suffer as the arena of external battles.

Mr President,
I will now turn to the issue of missing Kuwaiti, third-country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property, including the national archives.

Hopes renewed in January when new human remains were discovered and exhumed from a third grave in Samawa. Despite a very challenging operational context, the Iraqi Ministry of Defence has demonstrated commendable focus on this important file, leading the excavation efforts with assistance from the ICRC.

And I truly hope that the DNA identification of these newly discovered human remains, as well as those that are still being analysed in Kuwait, that it will prove positive and that it will bring closure to the families and relatives of those who went missing nearly thirty years ago.

The contribution of the Tripartite Committee members through the provision and analysis of satellite imagery, supported by witness information, it all proved crucial in locating the Samawa sites. And I would like to call all members of the Committee to continue their steadfast support to the efforts underway for other potential burial sites.

Mr President,
In closing, It was my intention to conclude with words of hope. But the ongoing political indecisiveness and dissension, leading to a further paralysis in decision-making, unfortunately do not give cause for immediate optimism. The country and its people continue to be pushed into the unknown.

Also, the repeated pattern of parliamentary sessions which have failed to reach quorum is exactly the opposite of what the country needs, especially during a period of acute political crisis. The fundamental mandate of an elected representative is: to be present, to be counted and to vote.

Now Like I said last time: out of the ongoing political crisis – a fairer, stronger and inherently more resilient Iraq can emerge. But again, for this to materialize: political leaders will have to act fast, placing the country’s interest above all else.

Iraq must and can find strength in diversity, recognizing a cohesive society as more than the sum of its parts.

Putting out one fire after the other is no strategy. It must move from constant crisis management to sustainable and stable politics, building resilience through deep and broad systemic reform. And as we all know: at the end of the day, Mr. President, strength at home is a prerequisite for strength abroad.

Thank you.

(Source: UN)

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

Palestinians in Iraq protesting to have their rights restored

Palestinians living in Iraq have taken to Tahrir Square in Baghdad alongside Iraqi demonstrators to fight for their rights as refugees.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) decided Feb. 11 to stop paying housing allowances for nearly 30 Palestinian households in Iraq, adding to their suffering.

That decision follows one about a month ago that halted those benefits for 300 families.

Click here to read the full article.

By John Lee.

The National Investment Commission (NIC) has announced the following investment opportunities:

(Source: National Investment Commission)

Kerlink, a French-based specialist in solutions dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT), has announced the success of a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) pilot program for reservoir monitoring in Uganda and Iraq, which incorporates Kerlink’s LoRaWAN gateway technology.

The effectiveness of the sensor-to-cloud monitoring programs in remote locations is resulting in near-term expansion to eight additional installations in Africa and Asia, and officials see a multitude of potential applications for IoT-based wireless sensor networks going forward.

The UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency, is charged with providing water to millions of people worldwide, often with daunting logistics. The Ugandan Arua Field effort, where the pilot monitoring program was first implemented, provides daily water deliveries to as many as 470,000 refugees.

The LoRaWAN-enabled sensors installed at reservoirs starting in January 2019 enabled managers to monitor water levels in real time, providing unprecedented visibility into usage and resource management. They also provided a reliable new source of coordinated payment information for some 630 rental tanker trucks that were hauling up to 6,387 cubic meters (about 1.5 million gallons) of water daily when the emergency response began in 2015.

Data from the sensors designed by several companies travelled through an outdoor Kerlink Wirnet™ Station LoRaWAN gateway, which provided essential connectivity with cloud databases and applications. UNHCR managers integrated the data into a dashboard that provided new levels of visibility into operations of this global program.

UNHCR Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Officer Ryan Schweitzer noted that the IoT made it both easy and cost-effective to roll out a static water-level monitoring system. The agency hopes to use it globally as a “basis-of-payment‟ system for water-trucking operations, which in Uganda are as high as $15 million per month. “The LoRaWAN IoT technology is mature, extremely cost effective and scalable. The static reservoir-monitoring technology works extremely well,” he said.

Schweitzer added that the approach has broad potential for all sectors of humanitarian services, including monitoring of groundwater, water-supply systems, water quality, waste collection, and air quality. He described it as a “possible game-changer for monitoring in refugee settings,” noting that the ability to document delivery of safe, potable water to refugees at all times is a “holy grail”-type of technology for UNHCR water and hygiene efforts.

Next steps include replication of the pilot systems at other locations in Uganda and Iraq, as well as Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Bangladesh.

“This unique and vital use case underscores the humanitarian benefits that the IoT can support,” said Stéphane Dejean, Kerlink’s chief marketing officer. “Because the UNHCR sensor-to-gateway-to-platform system provides critical life support for large numbers of people, there’s a very high need for trustworthiness and reliability.”

“At the same time, the projects’ remote location and minimal staffing also demanded a true carrier-grade solution with quick, easy integration and deployment, and secure and straightforward administration,” he said. “We’re gratified by our Wirnet Station’s performance under harsh conditions, and honored to work with UNHCR – their work reflects our values and commitments towards society and the environment, and we look forward to continuing to provide expertise on the next round of projects.”

Since its introduction in 2014 as the first commercial LoRaWAN gateway, the Wirnet Station has been chosen for thousands of installations worldwide by public operators, cable operators, private businesses, and public authorities. It has set new standards for robust, reliable, high-performance operation; an upgraded successor, the Wirnet iStation, was introduced in 2019.

(Source: Kerlink)

From Middle East Monitor, under a Creative Commons licence. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq’s official anti-corruption agency stated in its latest annual report that it restored 2.84 trillion Iraqi dinars ($2.38 billion) to the Treasury in 2019.

The Federal Commission of Integrity added that it has utilised its relationships with other state watchdogs, and that it created a national strategy for fighting corruption in collaboration with the Federal Board of Supreme Audit.

According to the report, the commission examined and was involved in 26,163 notices and court cases in 2019, with 10,143 persons accused of corruption. Those included 50 officials who were government ministers or holding equivalent positions.

There were 931 court rulings in which 1,231 defendants were convicted of corruption. They included four ministers or officials at the same level.

(Source: Middle East Monitor)

By John Lee.

The National Investment Commission (NIC) has announced the following investment opportunities:

(Source: National Investment Commission)

A United Nations report published today finds that some children in Iraq are still unable to receive education in the aftermath of the territorial defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant over two years ago, saying they cannot access schools or obtain key civilian documentation necessary for enrolment in state schools.

The Right to Education in Iraq: The legacy of ISIL territorial control on access to education is jointly released by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The report is based upon 237 interviews and group consultations with children, youth, parents and teachers in areas that were controlled by Da’esh/ISIL until their territorial defeat in December 2017.

Several of those interviewed said that they could not move freely in and out of IDP camps due to restrictions on their movement, preventing them from daily activities such as attending schools outside the camps. One boy from a displacement camp in Ninewa Governorate said:

“There is no future in the camp anyway, what am I going to do here? Why do I need an education for this life? It has been so long since we were at school, our minds feel closed to learning, some of us can no longer even read and write. We have no support to overcome these things. Even if I could take the exams, I would not pass them. I don’t see a future for myself.”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said the importance of the right to education for children and young people cannot be overstated:

“When the full enjoyment of this right is impaired for any reason, their lives and futures are severely impacted … Inclusive, quality education is not just a right in itself but it is essential for the full realisation of a range of other human rights. Education literally has the power to transform lives and make dreams come true.”

While acknowledging the steps taken by the Government to ensure access to education, the report identifies two main challenges specific to the community. Firstly, the absence of appropriate programs aimed at reintegration of students into the state education system, particularly given that many have suffered a significant time gap in their schooling. Secondly, the impact that limited access to civil documentation is having on school enrolment.

The report indicates that these issues have been compounded by the fact that many adolescents have now reached an age that where traditional primary or junior education may no longer be appropriate, that there are an insufficient number of schools or accelerated learning programmes, inadequate teaching hours, and movement restrictions.

The report calls on the Government of Iraq to take measures to overcome existing administrative and security clearance challenges for children to obtain civil documentation and to revise existing provisions of accessible forms of education for children who have missed years of education due to ISIL control.

The report was shared with the Government of Iraq and integrates comments received from the Ministry of Education, annexed to the report.

“Access to education must be guaranteed for every Iraqi child,” said Danielle Bell, Chief of UNAMI Human Rights Office. “Alternatives for those who missed out on their school years due to conflict must be found.”

For the Arabic version of the report, please click here

For the English version of the report, please click here

(Source: UN)