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

Mohammad Hassan worries about the steady decline in the number of customers who come to his shop in Baghdad’s Souk al-Safafeer, the legendary copper market in the neighborhood of Bab al-Agha. The shop sports Hassan’s handmade copper products, mostly miniatures of Iraq’s symbols and monuments, such as the palm tree, the Lion of Babylon, the Malwiya Minaret in Samarra and Mosul’s Great Mosque of al-Nuri, which the Islamic State destroyed in 2017.

Hassan, who has been a coppersmith for 30 years, exercises a profession that dates to the Abbasid period of the 10th century, when many everyday goods, from lanterns to water bottles and from cups to knives and daggers, were made of copper. But those days are long gone.

“Industrial development has turned this profession into a business that only provides decorative objects,” Hassan told Al-Monitor in his shop in Souk al-Safafeer, which takes its name from the color of copper, “safra” in Arabic.

The situation is similar in all coppersmiths’ markets around the country. In Nasiriyah, a city on the banks of the Euphrates River about 370 kilometers (225 miles) southeast of Baghdad, the copper market, once an important place of commerce and socialization, is now almost nonexistent. The same goes for Mosul’s market, Basra’s Musa al-Attiyah market and Najaf’s Safafeer market, which are turning into mere memories.

Coppersmith Haider Khafaji told Al-Monitor that the famous Safafeer market in the southern province of Babil has now faded behind the modern shops, but in the past it was packed with tourists who would head there after visiting the nearby historic city of Babylon about 20 kilometers (12 miles) away.

Khafaji said, “I started working in this profession 40 years ago, back when there was significant demand for copperware, when copper was an important commercial commodity and copper goods were a sign of status.” He added that there are just a few coppersmith shops left and most double now as blacksmiths.

“Our work today is limited to making gifts and souvenirs that hardly ever get sold,” Khafaji added. “We seriously fear that this craft will disappear, as the new generation is not keen to learn the craft.”

Member of parliament Maysoon al-Damluji, a member of the legislature’s committee on culture, told Al-Monitor that the days when people used copper in most of their daily goods are gone, but that the craft of the coppersmiths, part of the Iraqi intangible heritage, should be maintained.

“[The coppersmith shops and markets are part of] the identity of Iraqi cities,” he said, expressing concern that Iraq’s cities, which have been badly damaged in the wars and battles that have taken place in Iraq and have been subject to poor urban planning, have lost their historical heritage.

Damluji said one of the reasons copper markets are disappearing is the “law issued by the Ministry of Health in the 1950s preventing the use of copper utensils for eating, as it causes poisoning.”

Another reason, according to Damluji, is related to “the unstable security and political situation in Iraq, as the Iraqi state has allocated its budget for wars since the 1990s, leaving no room for projects to preserve cultural heritage.”

Ibrahim Khalil al-Alaf, professor of modern history at the University of Mosul, told Al-Monitor that the craft was also disappearing because local and handmade goods were unable to hold their ground against foreign copper miniatures of Iraqi monuments that flood the markets and are sold at lower prices. These come from China and the government has no regulation or subsidies to protect the local products. “The Safafeer market in Mosul has been in steady decline,” he added.

In many Safafeer markets, coppersmiths themselves have begun trading in imported goods, no longer relying on creating their own. Given the lack of financial support from the government for this dying profession and the reluctance of the new generation to master this craft in which profits are low, coppersmiths are becoming a part of disappearing intangible heritage.

Alaf said he deeply regrets how Mosul’s heritage has been falling apart before his eyes. “We need to preserve historical monuments using modern restoration techniques and learning from the experience of developed countries in urban and market planning,” he said.

“The Directorate of Heritage and Antiquities should develop a comprehensive national strategy and cooperate with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization because the Safafeer market in every city is not only a market but a museum preserving this profession and all Iraqi handicrafts,” Alaf said.

Meanwhile, Amran Obeidi, the director of media and spokesman at the Ministry of Culture, told Al-Monitor that the ministry believes preserving Baghdad’s Safafeer market, the largest of the copper markets in the country, does not fall under its responsibilities according to laws and regulations in force. “Maintaining the Safafeer market is Baghdad municipality’s job. Our work in the ministry is only limited to technical consulting,” he said. “The Safafeer markets are Iraq’s cultural introduction to the world, as well as they showcase a now rare profession that has long been part of the Iraqi folklore.”

Obeidi said the ministry classified Rashid Street, at the end of which the Safafeer market in Baghdad is located, as a historical area, so any change in buildings there requires the ministry’s approval. “It is particularly important to preserve this market because it specializes in creating cultural handicrafts,” he said.

Hakim Abdul Zahra, the director of media and public relations in the Baghdad municipality, told Al-Monitor that the city is trying to ensure that the old markets do not disappear. Some store owners try to reconstruct the historical stores and turn them into another business, which is illegal. “We have plans, in coordination with the Heritage Authority, to repair and restore houses and ancient markets as soon as our financial situation improves,” Zahra said.

(Picture credit: Jonathan Zander)

Iraqi cash reserves rise to $ 50 billion

The Committee on Economy and Investment parliamentary, on Saturday, exceeded the cash reserve with the Central Bank of Iraq to about $ 50 billion, due to the high global oil prices and the completion of military operations against the organization, "Daash" criminal.

" The cash reserve with the Central Bank of Iraq exceeded 50 billion dollars after a decline lasted for several years because of the decline in oil prices and economic loss after the invasion of gangs and urged several provinces in 2014," said a member of the committee Najeeb Najib .

"The rise in oil prices and the completion of military operations against the criminal advocate raised the cash reserve in the central bank," adding that "the rise in Iraqi cash reserves will contribute to increase the confidence of foreign investors and increase the profits of the bank from the sale of the dollar."

Najib explained that "the cash reserve decreased last year to about 45 billion dollars, while in 2016 to about 43 billion dollars after the government withdrew amounts to pay the deficit in the budget,"…-%D9%85%D9%84/

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

By Hayman Hassan.

The Iraqi Kurdish authorities owe many state employees months in back pay. The citizens of Iraqi Kurdistan owe the government a variety of fees. But right now, it seems nobody is getting anything.

In the semi-autonomous, northern region of Iraqi Kurdistan, there are a lot of debts to be paid – and everybody owes somebody money.

One of the most pressing issues is that of the partial payment of salaries to those employed by the government. Iraqi Kurdish teachers have recently been protesting about this again, causing the closure of some local schools, and other state employees have done so in the past.

As a result of its financial problems – caused, partially by the security crisis, a fall in oil prices and ongoing wrangling about their share of the national budget – the government of Iraqi Kurdistan decided to “save” employees’ salaries in 2016. This means that a part of any employee’s salary was paid to them as usual and the other part was withheld, with a view to returning it later. It was a debt that the Iraqi Kurdish government owed to its people.

Earlier this month, the authorities decided again to set up a whole new department – the department of government debt – to deal with this issue. They had announced they would do this last year but nothing really happened.

The department should log all of the money that the Iraqi Kurdish government owed and also what was owed to them. The staff salary “savings” are meant to be part of this but it’s hard to know how the department could enforce any exchange of cash. As yet, there is no dedicated bank account to deal with this issue and nobody knows when repayments might happen.

“The Kurdish government should pay their people back around US$10 billion, and then another US$10 billion to other investors,” Ali Hama Salih, the deputy head of the Iraqi Kurdish parliament’s finance committee and a member of the anti-corruption Change movement, told NIQASH. “But it has no mechanism in place to pay anything back.”

“When the government’s revenues increase again, it is going to pay those debts,” says Safeen Dizayee, the spokesperson for the Iraqi Kurdish government and a member of the region’s biggest political party, the Kurdish Democratic Party.

Over the past four years, nobody has managed to figure out how to pay government employees back what they are owed. One of the ideas suggested by provincial councils late last year was that the government deduct the money they owe citizens from citizens’ bills for power and water and for other payments such as traffic fines.

“We’ve suggested this project two times now,” says Khanzad Younis, a member of the Erbil provincial council. “But the government refused, saying such a thing cannot be implemented right now. That is despite the fact that we outlined all of the specific things the government and citizens should do to have these debts repaid.”

The Kurdish government told the council members that it would all take too long and that too much information was required, that nobody had. It also requires all employees to have bank accounts, which they do not. Additionally, the government still only has enough money to pay the proportion of salaries it is liable for.

Another proposal says that a bank account should be opened, and all of the savings should be deposited in there eventually. This would be impossible currently and anyway, the ministry of finance has all of the details of what is owed. Still, the idea was thought to be a symbolic step in the right direction. However, this has not happened either.

And there is an added complication. In November 2017, the government waived some payments that local tax payers were supposed to make to it. This includes some payments for water and power, marriage license fees and loans for housing, saying that those who had been impacted badly by the fight against the extremist group known as the Islamic State should not have to pay these.

The debt that locals owe the Kurdish government apparently totals around IQD3 billion (around US$2 million) and is slowly being paid back via small monthly instalments, Dizayee explains. But this is nothing when compared to the larger amount of back pay owed to employees.

“Given that the government is the executive authority in Iraqi Kurdistan it could issue new laws that allow it to collect those debts from citizens faster,” speculates Khalid Hayder, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Sulaymaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan. “As for what the government owes its citizens, it is under pressure to pay that money back at some stage. If it doesn’t this creates a serious lack of trust and endangers the whole region’s economic future.”

Right now, it seems the Kurdish government is waiting for the federal authorities in Baghdad to pay them their share of the federal budget. But, he adds, when it comes, that is most likely to be used to pay the outgoing salaries of citizens and not the debts.

The Iraqi government passed its 2018 budget earlier this month, and although wrangling continues as to whether it is actually workable, one thing does appear to have been made clear: The percentage of the income that the Kurds get has dropped. Politicians have already warned that they won’t be getting enough to pay back the debts they owe their own employees and voters. The debtors’ standoff looks likely to continue.

By John Lee.

The United Nations has advertised new positions in Iraq:

(Source: UN)

US presence and last details of stay in Iraq


BAGHDAD (Reuters) – With the announcement by the American side of increasing the number of its troops in Iraq, there are still many doubts about this presence, which was rejected by several factions and the Iraqi parliament, where the latter worked to authorize Prime Minister Haider Abadi to schedule the exit of foreign troops from Iraq , Urgently before the elections.

A member of the coalition of state law, MP Mohammed Chihod said in a press statement, "The parliament said his speech on the American presence and put the ball in the government stadium, led by the commander of the armed forces Haider Abadi," stressing that "the latter is obliged to remove foreign forces before the end of the government and the elections "He said.

"The United States of America has openly declared its regret to leave Iraq in 2011, which makes it take advantage of the war to urge the survival of Iraq."

"The US presence in Iraq will face fierce Islamic resistance if it does not comply with the will of the Iraqi people to leave the country," said Hassan Salem, a member of the parliamentary security and defense committee.

"The armed Islamic factions, in all their names, reject the presence of US forces and establish bases in Iraq, where they will return to confront that presence and its radicalization," Salem said.

On the other hand, called for the National Alliance MP, Rasool Radi in a press statement, to calm and dialogue and use the language of negotiation with the US side in order to set a timetable for the removal of their forces.

He added that "the parliament put the issue of removing foreign forces before the central government, which in turn announced a close timetable for the exit of these forces, indicating the need for advisers and expertise in the country under the strategic cooperation agreement between Iraq and the United States of America."

Radhi warned that "the use of force and being dragged behind Western targets in igniting a new war in Iraq between the factions of the Islamic resistance and US forces," stressing that "this will harm Iraq and its people and enter into a new conflict long-term."

The Security and Defense Committee earlier confirmed the presence of more than 5,000 US troops in Iraq, which reveals the falsity and allegation of the US administration on the presence of the elements mentioned for training and counseling in the Iraqi camps.…B1%D8%A7%D9%82

Parliamentary Finance announces the reservation of the International Monetary Fund on the budget and reveal the reasons

The Parliamentary Finance Committee, on Thursday, the reservation of the International Monetary Fund on the federal budget for 2018.

Commission member Ahmed Hama told "Iraq News" that "the International Monetary Fund, expressed reservations on the Federal Budget Law for the year 2018 and do not know what will be issued of the decisions on the budget in the coming days."

He added that "the reason for the reservation of the International Monetary Fund on the budget is due to lack of commitment to the budget conditions of the Bank and include materials that had been developed as conditions earlier and warned of passing."

It is noteworthy that the economic expert, Salam Smism announced earlier rejected the International Monetary Fund, rejected the federal budget for 2018, which voted the House of Representatives to pass recently.

"The International Monetary Fund, announced its rejection of the financial budget for 2018, because it was contrary to the agreement signed between Iraq and the International Monetary Fund."

"The agreement between Iraq and the International Monetary Fund, obliges Iraq to implement a set of conditions, including the abolition of jobs and the addition of financial burdens on the budget."

She pointed out that "the inclusion of the budget by the government and parliament by the decisions to install contracts and the restoration of their contracts and other financial burdens are what prompted the Monetary Fund to reject the budget."

The Iraqi Council of Representatives, on the third of March, the budget of the country, which amounted to 77.5 billion dollars deficit of 11 billion dollars, amid the province of Kurdish deputies who oppose the reduction of the proportion of Kurdistan Region in the budget from 17 to 12.6 percent.

The President of the Republic, Fuad Masum, announced last Tuesday, refused to approve the budget of 2018, and ordered the return to the House of Representatives.

The Presidency of the Republic said in a statement that infallible "decided to return the draft (the Federal Budget Law of the Republic of Iraq for the fiscal year 2018) and voted by the Council on 3/3/2018, to the House of Representatives to re-examine form and content of the constitutional, legal and financial, "The existence of about 31 points intersect with the legislation in force."

The Bureau explained that "the re-budget came after the experts and legal and financial advisers to study and scrutinize in detail to diagnose the most important constitutional, legal and financial violations of some of the articles or items or paragraphs that need to be addressed before ratification as well as to address any imbalance in its formulations.

The Council of Ministers of the Kurdistan Region has considered that the passage of the federal budget law in its current form a clear violation of the principle of partnership and consensus on which the new Iraq was built. "

Jubouri: Budget will not be presented again to the House of Representatives


Lawmakers promise to restore the budget to the House of Representatives (a constitutional breach)
BAGHDAD / Sabah / Omar Abdul Latif / Muhannad Abdul Wahab
counted parliamentary circles, rejected the President of the Republic, Fuad Masum, the ratification of the Federal Budget Law for 2018 and return to Parliament, because of what he described as " Legal and constitutional violations, "is unconstitutional and can not be accepted.

While they hinted at the existence of political motives forced the President to return to parliament, they confirmed that it will be considered as a ratification after 15 days of sending to the presidency of the republic.

For his part, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Salim Jubouri, that the budget «has become a law and will not be submitted to the House of Representatives again».

The Prime Minister, Haider Abadi, has confirmed, in the first official reaction to the re-budget to parliament, on Tuesday, that "no one has the right to suspend the general budget of the country after the vote by the House of Representatives," expressing his hope to »A copy of the budget of the Presidency of the Republic to be effective».

The budget has become «law»
as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Salim al-Jubouri that the draft budget law became «a law after the vote by the Council» pointing out that any observations can be fixed on the origin of the law and challenged in the Federal Court.

Al-Jubouri pointed out that "the formula of rejection in a way (veto) does not exist in the Iraqi constitution and can not be adopted as a way to reject," explaining that "the House of Representatives is not interested in the draft budget bill again or to make any vote on any paragraph of what was voted To be taken into account by pursuing the normal procedures of publishing.

" The Speaker of the House of Representatives to "consider the observations of the observations made but they have no impact on the origin of the law as a law was voted on," stressing that "the budget is still after the vote in the House of Representatives and take their natural contexts publication and time limits set by the Constitution," stressing that " The budget will not be presented again to the House of Representatives and there will be no paragraph in the review of voting at all. "

Jubouri said that "the natural situation after the vote of the House of Representatives on the budget be in view of the nature of the observations that were submitted and then re-sent to the presidency of the Republic to take the time period for the purpose of publication is an explicit violation of his part, said a member of the Legal Committee, Mahmoud Hassan, in a statement:

The President of the Republic to re-draft the federal budget law for the year 2018 is a clear violation of the Constitution and in violation of its provisions », noting that« the provisions of Article (73) of the Constitution showed the powers of the President of the Republic, especially paragraph (III) of the said article (approves and issues laws enacted by the House of Representatives and is a validated They sold D.

Fifteen days have elapsed since the date of delivery. Consequently, the President of the Republic may not reinstate the laws legislated by the House of Representatives.

Al Hassan pointed out that «this authority was entrusted exclusively to the Presidency Council, which was in the first session only in accordance with the provisions of Article (138 / V) of the Constitution, which has the right to return the draft laws voted by the House of Representatives for reconsideration», adding that «the Court The Federal Supreme Court confirmed its decision No. (18/2009) on
4/8/2009 to this effect.

Therefore, the President of the Republic clearly disregarded the rights of citizens from different sectors, headed by the employees whose waivers were lifted, in addition to the service projects that are needed .

In turn, the member of the Committee, Hassan al-Shammari, saw that two reasons, one legal and the other political, called on the President of the Republic to restore the budget, explaining, in an interview with «morning», that «the right of the President of the Republic, first, to make comments on the budget or any resolution issued by the House of Representatives This right is based on Article 138 paragraph V of the Iraqi Constitution and that the Council to address the observations and approval by simple majority (half present + 1) and sent to the presidency and published in the Official Gazette after that ».

Al-Shammari added that "if the Council does not agree and insists on its position not to accept the remarks, then the President of the Republic either to take the opinion of the House of Representatives or return it (Parliament) again, and in the event of approval of the Council’s decision back the budget and vote on it by three-eighth members of the Council and ratify And there is no need to return them to the presidency a third time.

" Appeal to the federal

For his part, MP Mohammed al-Lakash, said that the budget after the vote of the House of Representatives, has gained legitimacy and ratification is nothing more than a formality.

Al-Lakash told Al-Sabah that he was the first president to ratify it and not to return it to the House of Representatives on the grounds that there are formal and technical problems, although it is far from its competence.

He pointed out that «in the event of such problems can go To the Federal Court and the appeal ».

While pointing MP, Mohammed al-Shammari, that the Parliament will verify the observations sent by the Presidency of the Republic and address if found right and then vote by one decision on the paragraphs indicated without the need to vote on all paragraphs.

Al-Shammari called on politicians and media to "be careful in expressing their positions towards the presidency and the Council of Representatives, and that all remain in the framework of professional work, because those paragraphs if they violate the constitution, the parliament is obliged to amend them and return them to the presidency for approval.

In the meantime, attributed the MP for the rule of law, Abbas al-Bayati, the re-President of the Republic budget to the Parliament that «the Kurds are not satisfied with some paragraphs».

Al-Bayati said that «an important part of the budget of the region was allocated to cover the salaries of employees», noting that «the last step of the Prime Minister in regard to airports and border crossings positive messages confirm that the purpose of approving the budget was to achieve justice and not derogate from the rights Party on another account ».

Al-Bayati said that «the budget should provide part of the needs of the region as it provides part of the needs of other provinces», adding that «the insistence of the region on the demands of a normal political process, but the federal parliament approved the budget in a democratic manner so the region to engage in dialogues to convince his political partners and the Iraqi people that His needs are more than he acknowledged. "

Al-Bayati concluded by saying: "The percentage of population approved by the Ministry of Planning was the criterion in the distribution of revenues to all Iraqis."

The position of the Kurdish blocs
While MP Karam Arafat pointed out that the Kurdish blocs their position is clear from the budget and did not participate in the first reading and the second did not participate in the vote on them, pointing out that «the budget is in the interest of certain blocks for electoral purposes and did not meet the demands of the citizens of Kurdistan so we suggested to the political leadership asylum To some options because the withdrawal from parliament is impossible at this time and withdraw from the political process difficult to near the elections ».

On the other hand, the head of the «Change» Parliamentary bloc Amin Bakr, the House of Representatives to deal «professionally» with the remarks made by the President of the Republic on the federal budget.

Bakr said in a statement: "The President of the Republic and after a comprehensive review of the budget found that it included nearly 31 articles of violation, some legal and some constitutional, in addition to other materials need to formulate a more solid legal, which led him to return to the House of Representatives to amend
those materials.

Bakr, a member of the parliamentary legal committee, said that "the failure of the legal committee to participate in the budget preparation stages was the main reason for this failure, which was expected by us as a result of the obvious weakness and fragility in the formulation of the budget that was voted on,"

adding that " Included in the budget, not to mention the illegal formulations, some of which included a waste of public money, such as the situation of three trillion dinars can be increased with the financial abundance at the disposal of the Prime Minister is in violation of the law of financial management and public debt, in addition to other constitutional remarks concerning the percentage of Kurdistan and other allocations Singled out doors that we think are unnecessary and burdens the budget. "

He stressed Bakr on «the need not to go over those remarks by the political blocs and be dealt with full professionalism with those observations and address it because the end will be a stage of the life of the House of Representatives and we have to be careful to write in the best form».

The MP of the coalition of state law, Zeinab al-Khazraji, that the ratification of the President of the Republic on the laws that are voted in the House of Representatives and sent to the President of the Republic honorary protocol as approved by the Constitution in Article 73 and does not entail legal matters whether ratified or not ratified ,

Explaining that it is not the right of the President of the Republic to restore the budget to the House of Representatives or decide what are the irregularities in the budget as it is not within the jurisdiction of the President of the Republic on the grounds that the budget will be work after two weeks of voting.

Khazraji added in a press statement that the budget law for this year was much delayed and the projects and the interests of the Iraqi people were all disrupted because of the lack of approval and it was better for the President of the Republic to take full responsibility and ratify the budget because it does not bear the delay more », indicating that« the budget this year achieved justice between All governorates were distributed revenues equally by population ratios, including the provinces of Kurdistan ».

Legal effects In the same context, a member of the parliamentary legal committee, Hamdiya Husseini, that the President of the Republic can not veto the budget because there is no authority under the Iraqi constitution to veto the laws enacted by the House of Representatives.

Al-Husseini confirmed in a press statement that Article 73, paragraph 3 of the Constitution stipulates that the President of the Republic shall ratify and issue the laws enacted by the Council of Representatives and shall be considered ratified after fifteen days from the date of receipt.

Therefore, the budget is ratified by it after 15 days from the date of receipt, and the objection has no legal effect.

The Information Office of the President of the Republic has confirmed, on Tuesday, that the President of the Republic Fuad Masum decided to return the draft «the Federal Budget Law of the Republic of Iraq for the fiscal year 2018) and voted by the Parliament on the third of this March, to the House of Representatives to re-audit form and content of Constitutional, legal and financial aspects.

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.

The Islamic State (IS) appears to be staging a comeback in parts of Iraq, which could endanger the country’s oil deal with Iran.

Hamid Hosseini, the Iranian secretary-general of the Iran-Iraq Chamber of Commerce, warned in late February that the countries’ plan can’t be implemented fully because of security concerns. The countries signed a bilateral agreement in July 2017 to install a pipeline to transport Kirkuk’s crude oil to Iran to be refined. In the meantime, the oil is being transported by trucks, which are vulnerable to attacks.

The Kurdish military, or peshmerga forces, took control of Kirkuk in 2014 after Iraqi forces fled as IS swept through the area. But in October, Iraqi forces reclaimed the oil-rich territory from the Kurds.

IS has been blamed for numerous recent attacks in the area. On Feb. 19, IS fighters ambushed a convoy of the Baghdad government’s Shiite Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) in the Hawija district, southwest of Kirkuk, killing 27. On Feb. 27, gunmen had targeted the Turkmen Front with a rocket shell. Since Hosseini’s warning, security has deteriorated both in Kirkuk and Hawija. Local authorities have called for military enforcement.

Masrour Barzani, the head of Kurdistan security, stressed that the “IS offensive in Kirkuk province is not coming to an end anytime soon.”

These developments cast clouds of uncertainty over any investment attempts in Kirkuk city, particularly in the oil sector. Yet Rakan al Jibouri, Kirkuk’s Baghdad-appointed interim governor, doesn’t agree, though he acknowledges “there are unsecured areas.”

“This won’t obstruct the development of oil facilities and exportation projects, as the agreement signed by the [Iraqi] Ministry of Oil on Feb. 8 to construct a new refinery clearly demonstrates otherwise,” Jibouri told Al-Monitor.

Ministry spokesman Asim Jihad also told Al-Monitor the present security situation won’t affect Kirkuk oil investments. “The Iranian official’s [Hosseini’s] statement reflects his state’s point of view. The Iraqi side is committed to upholding the agreement as long as Iran is not backing down.”

Jihad said the contract provides for exporting 30,000-60,000 barrels of oil a day via trucks from Kirkuk fields to the border zone near Kermanshah, Iran.

“Work is still underway to install an oil pipeline to Iran with a capacity of over 250,000 barrels [per day],” Jihad added. “Moving forward, we are going to stop using trucks, which are more exposed, require more security measures and cost more.”

Moreover, one of the reasons behind the agreement was “Iran’s need of large amounts of Iraqi oil for refinement purposes, as well as for complementary industries in Iranian areas across [the border].” Jihad said Iraq will also benefit because it will be able to export oil abroad at lower costs.

All that said, however, Jihad noted the Oil Ministry has no authority to assess the security situation: “The ministry is only concerned with the technical end of things.”

Iskander Witwit, a member of the Iraqi parliament’s Security and Defense Committee, contradicted Hosseini’s evaluation. “We haven’t recorded any indications of oil investments in Kirkuk being too risky,” Witwit told Al-Monitor.

He said the Kurdish peshmerga wants “security anarchy so that the oil trade project between Iraq and Iran fails, because the [Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)] wants oil to be transported through its soil.” The KRG, he said, “seeks to stop all oil and economic projects as long as Kirkuk is not under its control.”

Witwit also challenged a statement by Hosseini that security is at risk because Iran doesn’t have X-ray machines to inspect trucks coming from Iraq.

“This is an irrational reason,” Witwit said. “Truck security is both countries’ responsibility, and oil-transporting trucks are registered and take off from secured points to their designated destination. Therefore, they can’t possibly be used for any other purposes, considering the strict security measures in oil zones. Also, army and PMU troops are dispatched throughout the route used by the trucks.”

Meanwhile, it appears Iraq is moving ahead to expand its export options. Aziz Abdullah, the head of the Iraqi parliament’s Oil and Energy Committee, told Al-Monitor, “Talks between the [Iraqi] federal government and the [KRG] government on transporting oil via Ceyhan [Turkey] pipe have reached advanced stages.”

Ahmad al Askari, the head of the Energy Committee of the Kirkuk Provincial Council, believes those talks reflect Iraq’s “new direction not to solely rely on one window that could be shut on account of political disagreements.”

Speaking to Al-Monitor, Askari added, “Political and security concerns compelled Iraq to consider more than one means of exporting Kirkuk oil. Iraq started a pipeline to Turkey’s Ceyhan port that doesn’t go through the [Kurdish] region, besides the one that does go through the region. In addition, trucks have been moving to Iran since Iraqi forces took over Kirkuk.”

Parliament finishes reading eleven laws


Raising its meeting to Thursday
Baghdad / Al-Sabah

The House of Representatives raised its session to Thursday, after he finished reading a number of laws. A statement by the Information Department of the House of Representatives received «morning», a copy of it »

The Council completed the first reading of the proposed law of the first amendment to the law of the annexation of the Judicial Institute to the Supreme Judicial Council No. 70 of 2017 submitted by the Legal Committee for the purpose of correcting the amended articles and items referred to in the law with the treatment Deaths for students of the Judicial Institute ».

"The Council also completed the first reading of the proposed law of the Office of Financial Supervision No. 31 of 2011 submitted by the Legal Committee to activate mechanisms to combat corruption and extend the powers of the Financial Control Bureau to crimes committed in unions, trade unions, NGOs and professional associations to respond to Iraq’s international obligations and to preserve On public money.

After that, the Council completed, according to the statement, the first reading of the proposed law of the first amendment to the law of the scientific complex and submitted by the Legal Committee, which aims to provide justice to the staff of the Academy as their peers from the staff of Iraqi universities as equal rights and duties.

The Council completed the first reading of the proposal of the law of protection for the legal officer provided by the legal committee to facilitate the completion of the functions of the legal officer in defending the rights of the state and protect it from the risks suffered in the performance of his duty, "according to the statement.

The Council concluded the first reading of the draft law of the Union of Iraqi Businessmen, submitted by committees of civil society, economy, investment and legal institutions to support the private sector, develop the Iraqi business community, regulate the activities of businessmen and businessmen in the field of investment, support the national economy and contribute to sustainable development and localization of industries to invest the primary resources and available human resources. In increasing the country’s national output ».

The statement pointed out that «Jubouri denounced on behalf of the House of Representatives criminal operations that affected innocent citizens, whether they are Christians or those who were targeted on the road between Baghdad and Kirkuk», calling on the security authorities to «take all measures to provide protection for citizens».

he statement added that «the Council completed the reading of the report and discussion of the draft law amnesty from the tax sanctions submitted by the Financial Committee and the economy and investment».

In the interventions of deputies MP Ammar Tohma, «the importance of not to drop the criminal proceedings in the case of discharge of the persons covered by amnesty», according to the statement issued by the House of Representatives.

While MP Abbas al-Bayati to «give incentives under the law in order to facilitate the payment of merchants and businessmen to the taxes incurred by them».
MP Mohammad Naji suggested that "the owners of shops affected by terrorism should be exempt from paying taxes." In its response to the interventions, the committee stressed the need to take into account all the comments made by the ladies and gentlemen on the bill.

The statement also said that MP Yonadam Kanna read out a statement denouncing "the heinous crime that afflicted the family of the assassinated doctor Hisham Maskouni, a Christian in the Mashtal area of ​​Baghdad and the young Samer Salah al-Din Jajo, who was killed last month in Al-Nairiya, in addition to the killing of the Sabai citizen and the theft of his place,

"Repeating these crimes without revealing the criminals or any deterrent measures raises concern and surprise and undermines the citizen’s confidence in the state."

He called on the government to "assume its responsibilities in protecting citizens, prosecuting murderous criminals and enforcing the rule of law by limiting arms to the state." In turn, MP Joseph Saliwa, according to the statement «the Ministry of the Interior to disclose the results of investigations into the circumstances of the crimes that affected a number of Christian citizens in Baghdad».

In the meantime, the Council postponed the vote on the draft amendment to the first law of the Royal Claims Commission No. 13 of 2010 and submitted by the committees of deportees and displaced and legal until a compromise formula is reached.

The President of the Council set a date for holding a special session to vote on the draft laws and proposals on the agenda and others added to the table.

"The council completed the discussion of the draft law on the completion of the example of state-owned land for non-agricultural purposes submitted by the finance, agriculture, water and marshes committees," the statement said.

In the interventions of the deputies, MP Haider al-Fawadi stressed the importance of the bill to deal with many economic, security and tribal problems.

He called on Iskandar and Tut to extinguish the debts of farmers as well as address the water crisis with Turkey.

The Council completed the discussion on the report of the Olympic Committee’s proposal submitted by the Youth and Sports Committee. In the interventions of MPs, MP Riyad Gharib stressed the importance of the law because it cancels the former Olympic Committee law which gives arbitrary powers to its former president, noting that the legislation of the law will give the Iraqi government an opportunity to support sport.

The MP Hassan Khalati that voting on the law will contribute to the development of sports work in Iraq. In its response to the interventions, the committee stressed the importance of speeding up legislation to serve the Iraqi sport.

The Council completed reading and discussing the report of the proposed amendment to the Second Law on the inclusion of health and medical professionals No. 6 of 2000 submitted by the Health and Environment Committee.

The Council completed the first reading of the proposed law of the National Authority for Culture and Arts submitted by the Committee on Culture and Information.

The Council completed the discussion of the proposed law amendment law of the Independent High Electoral Commission and submitted by the Legal Committee.

It was then decided to adjourn the meeting until Thursday.

By John Lee.

Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi has announced the reopening of Erbil and Sulaimaniyah airports to international flights.

In a statement, he said he signed the decree “following the response of the local authorities in the Kurdistan region to restore the federal authority to the two airports in accordance with the constitution, in order to facilitate the travel of citizens through Erbil and Sulaimaniyah international airports, The Kurdistan Regional Airports will be under the command and control of the Federal Ministry of Interior.

Dr. Haider Al-Abadi has said that the system of verification (Paysys) for the airports of the province and its frontier will be linked to the main system in Baghdad, as it is the case in other Iraqi ports and linking the passports and nationality departments and employees at the airports of Erbil and Sulaimaniyah in the Federal Ministry of Interior, according to the law.

He added that a higher committee will be set up to oversee the management of airports in the region and its borders crossings, ensuring compliance with federal standards, including representatives of all concerned authorities in the center and the region and report to the commander-in-chief of the armed forces or authorized person.

(Source: Office of the Prime Minister)