As Nadia Murad (pictured), the Yazidi activist and survivor of gender-based violence is honored with the Nobel Prize for Peace, UNICEF is calling attention to the plight of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced children in Iraq whose lives are threatened by freezing temperatures and floods that have affected large parts of the country.

“As the world celebrates Nadia Murad’s incredible story of survival and her work for human rights, let us remember that there are many vulnerable children in Iraq who still need our support, even if the worse of the violence may be over” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Iraq.

Winters in Iraq are harsh. It rains and snows and temperatures can fall below zero in the northern part of the country, where a majority of Yazidi and other displaced children live. Most displaced families live below the poverty line, in dilapidated housing with poor heating, or in camps with little protection from the cold. It impossible to afford fuel for heating and winter clothing to keep their children warm.

“The devastating floods have made this winter even more difficult for displaced children who are extremely vulnerable to hypothermia and respiratory diseases. No child should be subjected to such risks. Every child deserves to be warm and healthy,” added Mr. Hawkins.

UNICEF is providing winter clothes, including boots, scarves, and hats to approximately 161,000 children in Sinjar, Erbil, Dohuk, Ninawa, Anbar, Diwaniya, Basra, Salaheddin, Baghdad and Suleimaniah, including through cash support.

UNICEF’s winter campaign aims to reach the most vulnerable children aged between three months and 14 years living in camps for the internally displaced and in hard-to-reach areas.

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

The Iraqi government has reportedly removed the Fayida customs post between Mosul and Duhok province on Tuesday, following a parliamentary vote that deemed the customs points illegal and ordered their removal.

According to Rudaw, the checkpoint, along with two others established by former Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi between Sulaimani and Kirkuk and Kirkuk and Erbil, were a heavy burden on traders.

It adds that the other two customs points are also awaiting removal.

More here

(Source: Rudaw)

Over seven million square meters in areas liberated from ISIS cleared of explosives

The Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency (IKMAA) has cleared 7,414,199 square meters in areas liberated from ISIS of explosive devices and difused 43,057 IEDs and UXO pieces, said Siraj Barzani, Head of IKMAA, in an interview with the Kurdistan Regional Government website.

From the 2014 ISIS onslaught until October 2017, three IKMAA units in Duhok, Erbil, and Germiyan, in cooperation with Peshmerga forces, started their plan to clear contaminated areas and raise public awareness of explosive devices.

Mr. Barzani said that poisonous chlorine gas bottles stockpiled by ISIS were also deactivated by an IKMMA team with the assistance and supervision of a special chemical weapons team from the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs and Ministry of Interior.

According to Mr. Barzani:

“IKMMA teams in liberated areas faced a variety of impediments, including fragile security, logistical issues, unsatisfactory information about areas and risks, pressure to hastily clear contaminated areas.”

With financial assistance from foreign governments, international NGOs – MAG, FSD, Handicap International, NPA, DDG, Sterling – participated in these clearing operations.

According to IKMMA, in 1991, 776 square kilometers of the Kurdistan Region were contaminated with landmines and unexploded ordnance, UXO, laid by former Iraqi regime forces, which has since decreased to 270 square kilometers, a reduction of 65 percent.

According to Mr. Barzani:

“From 1991 until October 2018, there have been 13,233 victims of landmines and other explosive devices. Today, there are fewer victims due to clearance operations and increased public awareness.’’

(Source: KRG)

By John Lee.

Iraqi President Barham Salih has told an international conference in Rome that Iraq will remove any impediments to Iraqi and foreign private sector companies, as well as international financial institutions, donor countries and sovereign wealth funds, to invest in major infrastructure projects in the country.

He added that these projects may include deep port facilities in Basra, a highway network, new railways, airports, industrial cities and dams, and irrigation projects in the Nineveh Plain, Garamian, Erbil, as well as land reclamation in the south.

 

The following is the full text of the speech delivered by His Excellency President Barham Salih at the Conference of the Mediterranean Dialogues on Thursday afternoon, November 22, 2018:

Excellencies,
Distinguished Guests,

First of all, I’d like to thank the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ISPI for organizing this conference and the opportunity to address this distinguished audience. I also want to thank His Excellency President Sergio Mattarella and His Excellency Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte for their kind invitation to Italy.

Many may say there is nothing unique about the present day Middle East — we are living through yet another phase of conflict— as we have been plagued by conflict and powers struggles for much of our contemporary history.

However, the military defeat of DAESH and the formation of a new government in Baghdad may well represent a turning point not only for Iraq, but also potentially for the wider Middle East. Iraq has been the epicenter for change in Middle East- for millennia, Iraq has often been the catalyst, the precursor regional order— or disorder!

I dare say that there is now an opportunity to reorient Iraq’s trajectory and propel the country towards prosperity and stability. This will require embarking on fundamental internal reforms, both political and economic.

As such, Iraq is in need of an internal dialogue to address the underlying structural flaws at the crux of the post-2003 political order. Iraqis are indignant at years of conflict and the failure to deliver services. Restoring basic services like water and electricity, reconstruction of the devastated communities by the war with DAESH and repatriation of our IDPs to their homes is an urgent challenge. Corruption and abuse of public funds undermine the viability of the Iraqi state and sustains the cycle of conflict and terrorism. It is imperative to dry up the swamp of corruption.

The defeat of ISIS was undeniably a monumental challenge and impressive success for Iraqi armed forces— the Army, Police, Hashd Al Shabi mobilized by the fatwa of Ayatollah Sistani and Peshmerga forces fought side by side and have become battle hardened. In this context, we are grateful for the help rendered by our allies in the international coalition, led by the United States and which comprised many nations including our generous host Italy. The task ahead is to enhance our defense and intelligence capabilities, integrate our armed forces within the framework of our national defense institution and affirming accountability of all armed forces to the state.

There remain issues of contention between the Kurdistan Region and federal government— time to resolve these issues in a fundamental way through adhering to the constitution. There is renewed hope as the our new PM Dr Adil Abdul Mahdi and the Kurdistan leadership have pledged to move on to resolve these outstanding issues. The recent agreement to resume oil exports from Kirkuk to Ceyhan is a welcomed gesture in this context.

However, ending the crises that plague Iraq also require a reconstruction of the current political order to restore citizen trust in the government. A reformed political order must be based on the protecting constitution, the civil state that strengthens civic values, supports the role of women and their rights, and ensures a commitment to human rights.

A most important and consequential challenge for Iraq today is economic reform and regeneration. Iraq is endowed with immense natural resources, water and fertile land— and an indispensable geopolitical position that can become the hub for regional trade and economic integration. Yet decades of war, sanctions, conflicts, economic mismanagement and corruption have tuned Iraq into an extreme rentier state. This is unsustainable— we are today a 38 million population, and increasing at a rate of one million each year— youth unemployment is rampant— this is a profound security, social and development challenge.

The new government, led by Adil Abdul Mahdi, a pragmatic reformer and economist, is pursuing an ambitious economic restructuring agenda based on empowering the private sector and promoting investment. The unity of Iraq and its security is crucially dependent on strengthening infrastructure links within Iraq and with the neighborhood. This is imperative to bind the country together and to promote common interests with the neighbors and to ensure job opportunities for our youth.

Iraq will be eliminating impediments to Iraqi and foreign private sector companies, as well as international financial institutions, donor countries and sovereign wealth to invest in major infrastructure projects. These projects may include deep port facilities in Basra, a highway network, new railways, airports, industrial cities and dams, and irrigation projects in the Nineveh Plain, Garamian, Erbil, as well as land reclamation in the south. Similar experiences can be seen in Thailand, Vietnam and India, which attracted investment funding from sovereign wealth funds in Japan, China and the Gulf.

In addition to local economic growth, these projects could also contribute to regional economic prosperity. Iraq is an important strategic hub that joins the Arab world with Iran and Turkey and connects the economies of the Gulf and Europe. These could connect the countries of the region so that Iraq could become the heart of a new Silk Road to the Mediterranean.

But for Iraq to succeed and stabilize, it requires a regional order that can embrace and nurture its stability. Iraq has been the domain for regional power struggles— the rivalry over Iraq, and within Iraq, among regional and global actors have sustained and deepened Iraqi crisis. For the last forty years, Iraq has been moving from a war to a war, sanctions and terrorist onslaught and condemned to en ever deepening cycle of crises. This is got to end. It is time Iraq’s stability and prosperity is turned into a common intertest in the neighborhood. Iraq is an important country in the Arab world— This Arab anchor for Iraq is vital economically and politically, and we are emphatic about fully developing our relations with our Arab and Gulf neighbors. Our relations with Iran is also important, we share a border of 1400 km, and much social and cultural bonds — and it is in our national interest to promote good relations with Iran and alike with our northern neighbor, Turkey, which is undeniably an important economic geopolitical actor.

I just come back from a tour to our neighbors in Kuwait, UAE, Jordan, Iran and Saudi Arabia— our message was that Iraq is adamant to protect its independence and sovereignty— our priority is economic regeneration and jobs for our youth— and that we want Iraq’s stability, sovereignty and prosperity to be shared interests for the neighborhood. I made the point that Iraq’s prospects for success is real, but remains precarious, so it should NOT be burdened with further tensions and escalations in the neighborhood. The Middle East needs a regional order based on shared security interests in the face of violent extremists and also rooted in economic collaboration and integration. As in the past, sovereign Iraq with its geopolitical, cultural and economic relevance can be a catalyst for such an order.

I am sure many of you will consider this as too ambitious— perhaps mere wishful thinking. Europe did it after two devastating World Wars— many other regions of the world have moved away from decades of conflict. We must pursue this agenda for our region with vigor and determination— it is primarily our responsibility in the region— and our people deserve better. However, legions of unemployed youth, millions of IDPs in camps— poverty and conflict are the incubators for terrorism, extremism and yes immigrants fleeing our fertile an rich lands to come to the shores of Europe— this should also be shared global interest— certainly a European interest.

This conference theme is about youth and women empowerment. The agenda of reform in Iraq, and the vision for a durable regional order in the Middle East, is what will defeat violent extremism through providing education, meaningful job opportunities for our youth and prioritizing human development as a core aim for our governments and for the global powers.

Thank you.

(Source: Office of the Iraqi President)

Dana Gas and Crescent Petroleum Announce 30% Gas Production Increase in Kurdistan Region

Dana Gas, the Middle East’s leading publicly-listed regional natural gas company, and its partner Crescent Petroleum, have announced achievement of a 30% increase in production capacity at the Khor Mor field in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, which the companies jointly operate on behalf of Pearl Petroleum.

This increase delivers much-needed gas supply to fuel power plants in the region, and marked a major milestone as the companies commemorate 10 years of continuous production in the region in a special ceremony with the Kurdistan Regional Government in Erbil.

The expansion at the Khor Mor gas processing plant consisted of a series of plant additions and modifications to de-bottleneck throughput, raising output capacity from 305 MMscfd of natural gas to 400 MMscfd, with over 15,000 barrels per day of condensate.

The Plant, which began operating in 2008, supplies natural gas from the Khor Mor field by pipeline to power plants in the towns of Chemchemal and Erbil, and will soon supply a new plant in Bazian. The Khor Mor Plant also produces LPG and NGL, which are sold and trucked to the local markets.

Under a Gas Sales agreement signed in January 2018 with the KRG Ministry of Natural Resources, Pearl Petroleum will sell the additional quantities of gas to supply the power stations with affordable, environmentally favourable fuel, and further enhance electricity supplies.

The plant expansion comes online as Pearl celebrates a decade of production in the KRI. At a ceremony in Erbil attended by Kurdish Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, Minister of Natural Resources Dr. Ashti Hawrami, and other senior officials, Board Members and senior executives from the companies commemorated the partnership between the companies and the KRG in delivering progress and improved services to the people of the region over the past decade.

Total investment in the Kurdistan Gas Project to date exceeds $1.4 billion with total cumulative production over 250 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe), which has resulted in over $20 billion of fuel cost savings and economic benefits for the Kurdistan Region and Iraq as a whole. Further investment is underway to expand production to 900mmscfd per over the coming 3 years, together with associated liquids.

Mr. Majid Jafar, CEO of Crescent Petroleum and Board Managing Director of Dana Gas, commented:

This production increase marks an important milestone as we also commemorate ten years of continuous production, and the beginning of a new chapter of expansion in operations and production which will see a further investment of over $600 million over the coming few years and a more than doubling of production again.

“The gas we have produced has led to significant fuel savings and social and economic value for the economy, and we hope to grow this in the years to come from the significant resources of these world class fields, for the benefit of the Kurdistan Region and all of Iraq.”

Dr. Patrick Allman-Ward, CEO of Dana Gas, added:

“Despite many challenges over the past ten years we are proud to have maintained our production levels and operations and now with the settlement of all past receivables last summer and continuous payments since then, we look forward to significantly growing production to meet the growing demand for gas and electricity in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq as a whole.”

In August 2017, Pearl Petroleum reached a full and final settlement with the KRG of the arbitration between them, including receiving $1 billion in cash from the KRG for past receivables and committing to expand their investment and operations in the region.

These expansion plans include a multi-well drilling program now underway in both the Khor Mor & Chemchemal fields, as well as installation of additional gas processing and liquids extraction facilities.

Operation full-time staff numbers are over 600 with over 80% local staff, and training programmes to increase this figure further. In addition, the companies has contributed to local communities with support for local power generation, education and healthcare facilities, as well as support programmes for internally displaced people in Iraqi.

The Kurdistan Gas Project was established in 2007 as Dana Gas and Crescent Petroleum entered into agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for exclusive rights to appraise, develop, produce, market, and sell petroleum from the Khor Mor and Chemchemal fields in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).

Production from the newly built plant in Khor Mor began 15 months later, in October 2008, an industry record. In 2009, Pearl Petroleum was formed as a consortium with Dana Gas and Crescent Petroleum as shareholders, and with OMV, MOL, and RWE joining the consortium subsequently with a 10% share each.

(Source: Dana Gas)

Negotiations of the "deal of the century" between Baghdad and Erbil .. Are you secretly?!
11/20/2018

Baghdad – Nas
Since the arrival of the government of Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, activates political and administrative movement on the line of Erbil-Baghdad, to liquidate the outstanding issues, and a lot of preparations and understandings in the first letters away from the media,

and exceeded the understandings in some cases address the consequences of the Kurdistan Regional referendum on independence on October 25 2017, and reached the search files stuck between the two parties since the nineties of the last century, as a file of commercial transport between areas of control of the parties.
NAS
A breakthrough in the oil file .. Under US pressure?
In the oil sector, quoted Reuters (November 16, 2018) an official source as saying that Iraq resumed its exports of Kirkuk oil after a halt of more than a year, and that the flows resumed today, at an average level of between 50-60 thousand barrels per day compared to peak levels Hit 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) in some 2017 months,

a development by several observers, a victory for the administration’s efforts to resume Iraqi flows to help address the shortage of Iranian crude in the region after Washington imposed new sanctions on Tehran.
NAS
Airport in Kirkuk and the resumption of state land transportation
But the coordination was not limited to the premise of "American pressure to compensate for the Iranian shortage", but included normalization in other areas, such as land transport, where the General Company for the transfer of passengers and delegations (November 18, 2018) reopening the transport line Baghdad – Kirkuk after a break of more than three years ,

A development that followed the declaration of the federal government on the opening of a civil airport in Kirkuk (30 September 2018) and the landing of the first aircraft on the runway after rehabilitation.
NAS
"Historical" development in the customs file
On November 11, 2018 , the Director General of Customs in the Kurdistan Region, Samal Abdulrahman, announced the agreement on 27 points with the Central Customs Commission , while referring to the removal of all points Between the region and Baghdad. (Kirkuk – Erbil, Kirkuk – Sulaymaniyah and Mosul – Dohuk), pointing to the agreement to unify the customs tariff between the parties.

But Abdulrahman denied two days later, reaching a final agreement.
Although the file remains suspended between the confirmation and denial, but observers described the start of negotiations in this file, a historical development has not reached the parties since the nineties of the last century, and it may re-first the geographical and political integration between the territories of the two parties according to the rule of "national economy common."
NAS
An upcoming visit by a senior Kurdish official to Baghdad
Since Tuesday morning (November 20, 2018), there have been rumors of the visit of the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, Massoud Barzani to Baghdad, but the leaders of the Democratic did not confirm or deny the rumors, and in his conversation with "Nass", said the leader of the party, Abdulsalam Barwari, Expected from the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan region, Najirvan Barzani ,

revealing the existence of a negotiating delegation from the Kurdistan region in Baghdad, is being held on the budget and customs files between the region and other provinces and the export of oil from Kirkuk oil fields across the territory of the region.
NAS

Deal Century?
Over the course of three months, from September to November, developments between the two sides have taken an escalating course in settling settlements and resolving problems that predate the independence of the Iraqi state, which parliamentarians say is paving the way for a "century deal" Historical, driven by the arrival of "moderate" figures to the top of the hierarchy of executive power, the presidency and prime minister.

https://www.nasnews.com/412-2/

The Qishla and Citadel of Kirkuk, two cultural heritage sites symbolising the area’s rich multicultural history but buffeted by time and conflicts, are in desperate need of restoration to preserve them for future generations.

In line with UN support for the country’s diversity and preservation of its historical sites as symbols that boost reconciliation and coexistence, the Deputy Special Representative for Iraq of the UN Secretary-General, Ms. Alice Walpole, led a team from the UN family in Iraq comprising UNESCO, UNAMI and UN Development Coordination Office on visits to the sites on 05 November 2018 to assess the structures and explore ways to assist in the restoration work.

Built in 1863 as the winter headquarters for the Ottoman Army garrison, the Qishla is in a state of near collapse today, leading to serious concerns that if not stabilized the remaining structure could soon fall down. The Citadel is the oldest part of Kirkuk, built in 884 BC as a defensive wall 18 metres high. Later, towers were added and the Citadel evolved as the heart of the city, with a 1,000-year old minaret and the Red Church.

Dr. Iyad Tariq, Director of the Department for Antiquities and Heritage in Kirkuk, grew up on the Citadel. Dr. Tariq remembers how when he was a young boy the Citadel was the center of town. It was home to 850 families, a school, two mosques, minarets, a church, monuments, restaurants, cafes, recreational areas and a bustling market. With support from UNESCO and the international community, the Citadel can be restored to its former glory, Dr. Tariq said.

The Head of the UN Development Coordination Office in Kirkuk, Mr. Martijn Dalhuijsen, says that the Citadel exemplifies the multi-cultural society of Kirkuk. The citadel contains Arabic, Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Kurdish, Seljuk, Turkish and Turkmen moments.

Just like the Forum in Rome, it would be a valuable symbol of reconciliation and recovery to restore in the heart of the diverse City of Kirkuk. Restoration would also create many new job opportunities for artisans and craftsmen, construction workers, while boosting tourism, religious pilgrimage, and instill a sense of pride for Kirkukis after the liberation of parts of the Governorate from Da’esh terrorists.

Prior to visiting the sites, meetings were held between Giovanni Fontana, an architect from UNESCO who specializes in historic preservation, and Sami Al-Khoja, a Cultural Programme Officer who worked on the restoration of the Citadel in Erbil. Supporting the assessment visit were H.E. Mr. Rakan Al-Jabouri, Acting Governor of Kirkuk, Dr. Tariq of the Department of Culture, and Colonel Wisam Abdullah of the Kirkuk Antiquities Police.

(Source: UN)

Central Bank of Iraq unveils new 1000 dinar banknote featuring Assyrian star

By Rudaw October 7, 2018

The new 1000 IQD banknote featuring an Assyrian star. Photo: CBI / Rudaw

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) has released a series of new banknote designs aimed at modernizing the currency and better reflecting the nation’s heritage and diversity.


The last significant redesign of Iraqi banknotes came after the 2003 US invasion, which saw Saddam Hussein’s face removed from the currency.

Now a new series of 25,000, 10,000, 1000, 500, 250 dinar notes is set to enter circulation from next week. The CBI says it does not plan to recall old banknotes.

As part of the redesign, the new banknotes will now feature the governor of the central bank’s printed name instead of his signature, “compatible with what is being followed in other countries”, the CBI said Sunday.


The issuing date will read 2018 AD and 1440 Hijri of the Islamic calendar.


However, it is the 1000 dinar note that seems to be getting the most significant makeover.


The symbol of the Ikhlas Surah from the Quran, which is currently featured on the 1000 IQD bill, is to be replaced with what looks like an Assyrian star.


Assyrians are a predominately Christian minority group concentrated around northern Iraq. Many of them were displaced or forced to flee abroad during the ISIS war.


The new 1000 dinar note will also feature the words: “Enlisting the marshes and heritage of Southern Iraq on world heritage list”. This is in reference to the inclusion of Iraq’s endangered marshlands on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites in 2016.


During Saddam’s rule, Iraq’s marshes were almost completely drained in order to flush out rebel groups.


The rich natural habitat and the culture of the marshland’s inhabitants were almost lost. International efforts have sought to bring it back to life.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/business/071020182

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

President Barham Salih on Oct. 27 announced that he has developed a proposal for resolving the dispute over Kirkuk between Baghdad and Erbil.

Without going into detail, he said his plan focuses on the ethnic and religious components in determining its fate, ignoring the interests of outside players in discussions about the city’s future.

The recent agreement by Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites on the formation of a national government — with Salih as president, Adel Abdul Mahdi as prime minister and Mohammed Halbousi as parliament speaker — raised hopes among many Iraqis that the outstanding issues between Baghdad and Erbil might be resolved, but will the new leadership be able to deliver?