By Dana Taib Menmy for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Abdul Mahdi urges Kurds to help rid Iraq of US troops

Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi arrived Jan. 11 in Erbil — his first official visit to the Kurdistan region since taking office — to discuss the country’s stability and the need for Kurdistan to cooperate with a push to expel US forces.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted Jan. 8 that Iran will “kick all US forces out of the region” in response to the Jan. 3 killing by US forces of Qasem Soleimani, chief commander of the Quds Force in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units.

Click here to read the full story.

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

Iraqi Kurdistan president: ‘We are not scared of Iran, but we respect Iran’

The assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in a Jan. 3 drone strike carried out by the United States sent shock waves throughout the region.

Those who argued that Tehran would take its time to retaliate proved wrong. On the night of Jan. 8, Iran launched more than a dozen missiles on Iraqi bases housing US forces. Several struck the Ain al-Assad base west of Baghdad.

Several others landed in an open field near an air base in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Nobody was killed. The attack was seen, however, as a clear message from Tehran about the potential punishment Iraqis would face if they pursue their relations with the United States.

Click here to read the full story.

Due to militia attacks at the U.S. Embassy compound, all public consular operations are suspended until further notice.  All future appointments are cancelled.

U.S. citizens are advised to not approach the Embassy.  The U.S. Consulate General in Erbil is open for visa and American Citizen Services appointments.

U.S. citizens in Iraq or those concerned about family in Iraq should contact the Department of State at +1-202-501-4444 or toll-free in the U.S. at 1-888-407-4747.

Actions to Take:

  • Do not travel to Iraq
  • Avoid the U.S. Embassy and areas of demonstrations
  • Monitor local and international media for updates

Assistance:

  • State Department – Consular Affairs
    888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444

(Source: US Embassy)

The first ever Leading Brands Iraq award ceremony was hosted at Rotana Hotel Erbil, Iraq.

Popular brands of consumer goods in Iraq have received their awards in a ceremony attended by representatives of the Iraqi central government and the KRG, delegates of leading brands as well as academics and media. Kurdmax TV recorded the event co-sponsored by Al Sharqiya TV and Rudaw TV. Ms Kazhan Abdul served as event presenter.

In his opening speech, LBI Advisory Board Chairman Prof Dr Ibrahim Sirkeci (Regent’s University London) presented the aims and methodology of LBI highlighting growth opportunities in Iraq and sharing statistics on the country.

The consortium organising the Leading Brands Iraq event is led by ScorePR while Nish Research Iraq has been running regular consumer surveys and market analysis. The leading brands were solely determined by analysis of survey data while the technical team behind has used robust statistical techniques in preparing rankings and sector based reports.

Ministerial speeches were given by Dr Ammar Saadun, representative of the Iraqi Ministry of Trade, and by adviser on economic relations Mr Fathi Mudaris, representative of the KRG Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Well known academics and experts from the UK delivered keynote speeches reflecting on branding and brand building processes. Prof. Finola Kerrigan (University of Birmingham) emphasised the importance of heritage in brand building while Dr. Phil Clements discussed the potential of Erbil as a location in respect to MICE, the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions sector.

LBI Project Director Dr. Sinan Zeyneloglu announced the SCORE points of Leading Brands in each category. International brands as well as local brands from Iraq and the KRI have achieved leading brand status for entire Iraq as well as for Kurdistan separately in the categories given below:

Carbonated Beverage
Chocolate
Cooking Oil
GSM Operator
Home Appliances
Laundry Detergent
Mobile Phone
Paper Towel
Powdered Milk
Queshta
Sanitary Pad
Shampoo
Soap
Tea
Toilet Paper
Tomato Paste
TV

Representatives of companies achieving leading brand status were excited and supportive of the organisation on and off the stage.

A full list of leading brands as well as pictures of the event can be seen at http://leadingbrandsiraq.com/en/pages/lbi-2019

A 10-min summary video of the event is posted on https://youtu.be/VOm5EMYKplg

(Source: Leading Brands Iraq)

By Dana Taib Menmy for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

What is the fate of Baghdad-Erbil’s oil-for-budget agreement amid ongoing protests?

The Kurdistan Region of Iraq has vast proven oil and gas resources; however, mismanagement, corruption and ruling parties’ monopoly on power have brought the region to the brink of financial collapse amid longstanding controversies with the Iraqi government over the region’s share of federal budget.

Following extensive negotiations, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced Nov. 27 that a final oil-for-budget deal with the Iraqi federal government had been reached in which the KRG agreed to submit 250,000 barrels per day of crude oil to Iraqi State Oil Marketing Company in return for receiving a fair share of the country’s budget for 2020.

The KRG currently produces 500,000 barrels per day, and has been exporting most of its oil independently through Turkey since 2013.

Click here to read the full story.

By Dana Taib Menmy for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

What is the fate of Baghdad-Erbil’s oil-for-budget agreement amid ongoing protests?

The Kurdistan Region of Iraq has vast proven oil and gas resources; however, mismanagement, corruption and ruling parties’ monopoly on power have brought the region to the brink of financial collapse amid longstanding controversies with the Iraqi government over the region’s share of federal budget.

Following extensive negotiations, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced Nov. 27 that a final oil-for-budget deal with the Iraqi federal government had been reached in which the KRG agreed to submit 250,000 barrels per day of crude oil to Iraqi State Oil Marketing Company in return for receiving a fair share of the country’s budget for 2020.

The KRG currently produces 500,000 barrels per day, and has been exporting most of its oil independently through Turkey since 2013.

Click here to read the full story.

By John Lee.

ShaMaran Petroleum has reported that the Atrush Field continues to perform “exceptionally well“.

Average production for the month of November was 43,360 bopd. The CK-15 well is now online and wells currently are undergoing normal-course maintenance.

The Company reiterates its Atrush 2019 average daily production guidance of between 30,000 and 35,000 bopd and a target 2019 exit rate between 45,000 bopd and 50,000 bopd. The Company shares in this production, pursuant to a production sharing contract, with a working interest of 27.6%.

Since the beginning of the year, production has increased 56% and the Company has invested significantly in infrastructure to facilitate continued production growth.

The Atrush field is located 85 km northwest of Erbil and is one of the largest new oil developments in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The field was first discovered in 2011 and oil production started in July 2017. In its over two years of production the Atrush field has sold all its production to the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq at international market prices.

(Source: ShaMaran Petroleum)

By John Lee.

ShaMaran Petroleum has reported that the Atrush Field continues to perform “exceptionally well“.

Average production for the month of November was 43,360 bopd. The CK-15 well is now online and wells currently are undergoing normal-course maintenance.

The Company reiterates its Atrush 2019 average daily production guidance of between 30,000 and 35,000 bopd and a target 2019 exit rate between 45,000 bopd and 50,000 bopd. The Company shares in this production, pursuant to a production sharing contract, with a working interest of 27.6%.

Since the beginning of the year, production has increased 56% and the Company has invested significantly in infrastructure to facilitate continued production growth.

The Atrush field is located 85 km northwest of Erbil and is one of the largest new oil developments in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The field was first discovered in 2011 and oil production started in July 2017. In its over two years of production the Atrush field has sold all its production to the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq at international market prices.

(Source: ShaMaran Petroleum)

Top Mountain and USAID open Business Incubator and Training Center in Erbil

Top Mountain, in partnership with USAID, held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the Business Incubator and Employment Program’s first training center.

This will be the first of four facilities that Top Mountain will open over the next two months, with three additional training centers planned for Ninevah.  The Erbil Training Center will enable Top Mountain to deliver training, events, and mentorship focused on career development and entrepreneurship for displaced people from Ninevah who are living in Erbil.

The event was attended by the U.S. Deputy Consul General, Elisabeth Rosenstock-Siller, and USAID’s Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for the Middle East, Hallam Ferguson, as well as community leaders, academics, international donors, and NGOs that are currently working in Ninevah.

During his remarks, Mr. Ferguson mentioned that this is the first time since re-establishing its presence in Iraq 16 years ago that USAID has partnered directly with local organizations. “We are very excited to be working with local groups because it’s Iraqis that play the most important role in improving their country,” he said.

USAID is the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results.  USAID has funded Top Mountain’s program under the New Partnership Initiative (NPI), which aims to build the capacity of local organizations and assist populations in Iraq recovering from the genocide perpetrated by ISIS.

Top Mountain is a consulting firm based in Iraq that focuses on stabilization, economic development, and promoting employment and entrepreneurship.  The Business Incubator and Employment Program is aligned with Top Mountain’s mission to support economic development and stability in Iraq.

(Source: Top Mountain)

Iraq’s media regulator should reverse its decision to order the closure of 12 broadcasters over a licensing dispute and should allow media outlets to freely cover protests in the country, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said on Monday.

On November 12, the Communications and Media Commission (CMC), Iraq’s media regulator, ordered the closure of eight television broadcasters and four radio stations for three months for allegedly violating media licensing rules, and issued a warning against five more broadcasters over their coverage of protests, according to a copy of the closure decision, which CPJ reviewed, and reports by local news organizations and press freedom groups.

According to the decision, the commission also renewed the closure of U.S.-funded broadcaster Al-Hurra for an additional three months. The outlet was shuttered on September 2 after it aired a report on alleged state corruption, as CPJ reported at the time.

The decision includes a recommendation to the prime minister’s office to send security forces to the outlets to force them to close. According to CPJ’s review of the outlets’ broadcasts, and an official with the media regulator who spoke to news website Arab News, none of the outlets have been closed as of November 25.

The outlets have critically covered the protests that have taken place throughout Iraq since October over a lack of basic services, unemployment, and government corruption, according to CPJ’s review of their broadcasts.

“Iraqi authorities are using all the means at their disposal, legal and otherwise, to intimidate outlets in an effort to prevent them from covering the ongoing protests in the country,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “We call on the Iraqi Communications and Media Commission to reverse this order and to allow TV broadcasters, radio stations, and journalists to do their jobs.”

The outlets listed in the decision are the Amman-based Dijlah TV and Anb TV, the Dubai-based Al-Sharqiya TV, the Saudi-funded Al-Arabiya Al-Hadath, the U.S.-funded Radio Sawa, the Sulaymaniyah-based NRT News and Radio Nawa, and the Baghdad-based Al-Rasheed TV, Al-Fallujah, Hona Baghdad, Radio Al-Nas, and Radio Al-Youm.

The decision also issued a warning to five outlets to “adapt their discourse to the media broadcasting rules” or else face possible suspension: the Abu Dhabi-based Sky News Arabia, the Beirut-based Al-Sumaria, the Erbil-based Rudaw, and the Baghdad-based Asia TV and Ur TV.

The document recommends that the prime minister’s office approach representatives from the home countries of the foreign outlets listed in the decision, as well as the management of Egyptian satellite provider NileSat, to address the alleged violations.

Iraq’s Communications and Media Commission did not immediately reply to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.

Amid the protests, unidentified gunmen raided the Baghdad offices of four broadcasters, and the Communications and Media Commission ordered Al-Dijlah TV’s transmissions into Iraq to be blocked and its offices shut down for allegedly failing to abide by professional standards, according to CPJ reporting.

(Source: CPJ)