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.

Attitude Adjustment: Are the US and Iran-Backed Militias Getting Friendlier?

Last week Captain Amir al-Saadi, whose unit is based in the Habbaniyah camp in the Anbar province, received a phone call that made him very happy.

Finally his troops, who were fighting the extremist group known as the Islamic State in the province, were going to get the weapons he had asked for months ago.

“It’s a miracle,” al-Saadi said. “Finally we’ve been able to get anti-tank weapons that are capable of destroying armoured vehicles. The Islamic State group has been using them against us by filling them with explosives and we haven’t been able to stop the vehicles because we didn’t have heavy enough weaponry. The government doesn’t have these kinds of weapons,” al-Saadi said. “But we heard that the US would supply us with them.”

Al-Saadi believes that his unit is finally getting the heavy weapons they wanted for so long because of “an agreement between the Shiite factions and the US that was brokered by the federal Iraqi government.” Previously, al-Saadi thinks, the US wouldn’t even send light weapons to the Iraqi army because they were so worried about these falling into the hands of Shiite militias. All this now seems to have changed, al-Saadi says.

In Iraq, criticism of the US’ role in the fight against the Islamic State, or IS, group had been going on for weeks, even months. Leading members of the Shiite Muslim militias involved had been critical of the US’ role in Iraq’s security crisis. They had even accused the US of aiding the Islamic State, or IS, group.

But over the past few days there seems to have been a serious attitude adjustment. The Shiite Muslim militias, which are mostly made up of volunteers and not part of the official Iraqi army but play an extremely important role in combatting the IS group anyway, have stopped criticising the US’ role through their various media outlets. Rumours spread by leaders of the militias, where they accused the US of dropping supplies to the IS group and thereby assumed they were allied with them, have not been repeated again.

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.

Attitude Adjustment: Are the US and Iran-Backed Militias Getting Friendlier?

Last week Captain Amir al-Saadi, whose unit is based in the Habbaniyah camp in the Anbar province, received a phone call that made him very happy.

Finally his troops, who were fighting the extremist group known as the Islamic State in the province, were going to get the weapons he had asked for months ago.

“It’s a miracle,” al-Saadi said. “Finally we’ve been able to get anti-tank weapons that are capable of destroying armoured vehicles. The Islamic State group has been using them against us by filling them with explosives and we haven’t been able to stop the vehicles because we didn’t have heavy enough weaponry. The government doesn’t have these kinds of weapons,” al-Saadi said. “But we heard that the US would supply us with them.”

Al-Saadi believes that his unit is finally getting the heavy weapons they wanted for so long because of “an agreement between the Shiite factions and the US that was brokered by the federal Iraqi government.” Previously, al-Saadi thinks, the US wouldn’t even send light weapons to the Iraqi army because they were so worried about these falling into the hands of Shiite militias. All this now seems to have changed, al-Saadi says.

In Iraq, criticism of the US’ role in the fight against the Islamic State, or IS, group had been going on for weeks, even months. Leading members of the Shiite Muslim militias involved had been critical of the US’ role in Iraq’s security crisis. They had even accused the US of aiding the Islamic State, or IS, group.

But over the past few days there seems to have been a serious attitude adjustment. The Shiite Muslim militias, which are mostly made up of volunteers and not part of the official Iraqi army but play an extremely important role in combatting the IS group anyway, have stopped criticising the US’ role through their various media outlets. Rumours spread by leaders of the militias, where they accused the US of dropping supplies to the IS group and thereby assumed they were allied with them, have not been repeated again.

The KRG’s Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) notes the decision by the Seoul Western District Court in Korea to grant an application from the Korean National Oil Company (KNOC) ordering the Korea Times newspaper to delete all published articles relating to allegations by a Korean MP of a misuse of funds by the KRG and the Minister of Natural Resources, and to not post or distribute any similar articles in the future. All the articles have now been removed by the Korea Times.

In March, 2015, the Korean Times published a series of false and malicious claims by MP Chun Soon-ok of the main opposition party in Korea about legitimate contractual payments made in 2008 by KNOC as part of its production sharing contract to explore for oil in the Kurdistan Region.

The claims in the offending Korea Times articles were unfortunately spread by a number of politicians and news outlets in Kurdistan without checking the facts.

In its 8th June ruling on the suit brought by KNOC (referred to in the Court ruling as the “Creditor”) against the Korea Times (referred to as the “Debtor”), the Seoul Western District Court decided that the MP’s allegations were “not true.”

The Court declared: “There is no reason for this Court to make a conclusion that the money paid to the KRG by the Creditor is either bribery or was distributed to the close associates of [former President] Lee Myung-Bak.”

The Court further decided that a “capacity building bonus” paid by KNOC to KRG “is paid under the Contracts and the ground for payment is clear.”

The Court declared that the Debtor “had not been able to furnish any credible material supporting its allegation that the payment of bonuses under the contract is a bribery” or was given to “Mr Myung-Bak’s associates.”

The Court continued: “This Court finds that the Debtor’s posting of the articles… constitutes an act damaging to the reputation of the Creditor and as an infringement on personal rights of the creditor by stating false fact…”

The Court rejected the counter arguments by the Korea Times “because there is no sound ground for them.”

MNR is satisfied that the issue has now been clarified and ruled upon in the Korean courts.

(Source: KRG)

(Court image via Shutterstock)

U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported.

Officials reported details of the latest strikes, which took place between 8 a.m. Tuesday and 8 a.m. Wednesday, local time, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Airstrikes in Syria

Fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted four airstrikes in Syria:

  • Near Hasakah, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying two ISIL antenna arrays and an ISIL vehicle.
  • Near Aleppo, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
  • Near Kobani, one airstrike struck an ISIL large tactical unit.

Airstrikes in Iraq

Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted seven airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:

  • Near Baghdadi, one airstrike destroyed an ISIL resupply vehicle and an ISIL weapons cache.
  • Near Huwayjah, one airstrike struck an ISIL staging area.
  • Near Beiji, one airstrike destroyed two ISIL armored vehicles.
  • Near Mosul, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL mortar firing positon, destroying an ISIL structure.
  • Near Sinjar, three airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying three ISIL heavy machine guns, three ISIL fighting positons, three ISIL tunnel entrances, an ISIL structure and an ISIL rocket propelled grenade.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, the region, and the wider international community.

The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group’s ability to project terror and conduct operations, officials said.

Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Bahrain, Canada, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani on Tuesday received the Egyptian Ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Ahmad Hassan Darwish, and his accompanying delegation.

Ambassador Darwish highlighted historical relations between Kurdistan and the Egyptian people, hoping to expand those relations particularly in the economic fields of trade and investment.

He pointed out that Egyptian investors are keen to boost investment in Iraq in general and in the Kurdistan Region in particular.

He praised the determination of Peshmerga forces in their fight against the Islamic State terrorist organization, ISIS. He also commended the Kurdistan Regional Government, KRG, and the people of Kurdistan for accommodating and offering assistance to over 1.7 million refugees and internally displaced people, IDPs, who fled ISIS repression and took refuge in the Kurdistan Region.

Regarding relations between the KRG and the Iraq Federal Government, Mr. Darwish expressed his wishes for the settlement of differences through dialog on the basis of the federal Constitution.

Prime Minister Barzani reiterated the historic relations between the two nations, expressing the KRG’s readiness to develop and strengthen bilateral relations and provide assistance to Egyptian investors.  He highlighted continuing victories by Peshmerga forces in the war against ISIS and mentioned the anticipated military operation to liberate Mosul.

On relations with Baghdad, he emphasized that the Iraq Constitution must be implemented fully, and expressed the Kurdistan Region’s desire to settle issues with Baghdad through negotiations.

Regarding the issue of displaced people, Prime Minister Barzani affirmed that his government and the people of the Kurdistan Region will continue to do their best to assist and accommodate refugees and internally displeased people.

(Source: KRG)

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

On May 15, the Shiite Endowment issued a statement that in one week, around 12 million Shiite visitors flew to Baghdad’s Kadhimiya district to commemorate the death of Imam Musa al-Kadhim, who died in the year 799.

On the night of May 14, rioters set fire to the property of the Sunni Endowment and other residences in the Adhamiya Sunni neighborhood, which faces the Shiite city of Kadhimiya.

Media reports showed video footage of groups of Shiites attacking the property of the Sunni Endowment and the houses of Sunni residents. A young man waved victoriously in front of the burned buildings, celebrating revenge on Sunnis.

In an article published May 15, Al-Mada Executive Editor-in-Chief Adnan Hussein called this young man a fool, writing, “The perpetrators of this act are mentally prepared at home, school and mosques to carry out such acts through political and media discourse and sectarian propaganda and are driven by radicalism and fanaticism.”

Violence during religious events has prompted dialogue about sensitive religious issues once considered taboo, and calls for reducing the number of visitors to holy Shiite places. The May 14 incidents, however, are the first of their kind.

Since 2003, Sunni members and supporters of the Islamic State have been attacking Shiite visitors heading to Kadhimiya or to other Shiite holy shrines. The most notable incident occurred in 2005, when rumors spread about a suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt among the Kadhimiya visitors, sparking panic.

People started pushing each other as they rushed to escape, and hundreds fell in the Tigris River. This incident caused thousands of deaths among the Shiite pilgrims.

Renault Trucks has signed up Iraq’s Sunflower General Trading Company as the sole distributor for the French truck manufacturer in Iraq, excluding Kurdistan.

Sunflower General Trading Company is ‎one of the main ‎business ‎partners of the State Company for Automotive Industry (SCAI), and truck ‎distributors ‎in Iraq.

The partnership will allow Sunflower to expand its business and import new and fully completed Renault Trucks vehicles to the country, while continuing its business relationship with the ‎‏SCAI‎‎, Renault said.

The landmark agreement was signed at the headquarters of Renault Trucks in St Priest, France, by‎ Abbas Jasim Mohammed Al Dabbas, CEO of Sunflower General Trading Company, and ‎Bruno Blin, president of Renault Trucks.

Commenting on the deal, Bernard Amiel, business team director of Renault Trucks Iraq, said:

“Renault Trucks is already an established and trusted brand in Iraq‎ and our exclusive partnership with Sunflower Company will allow us to further strengthen our position in this developing market.

“Our goal is to continue improving the service and transport solutions that we offer our Iraqi customers and ensure that they receive the best possible after sales support.”

The deal comes as a new 1,000-sq-m state-of-the-art service centre ‎and ‎workshop in Baghdad is taking shape and expected to open for business in the first ‎quarter ‎of next year.

The facility will service existing Renault ‎Trucks customers based in ‎Iraq as well as new Renault Truck vehicles imported by Sunflower.

The new centre will assist Renault Trucks and Sunflower General Trading Company to service ‎and facilitate a growing aftersales ‎market as well as the existing 2,500 Renault Trucks vehicles in Central and Southern Iraq, said Renault Trucks.

(Source: TradeArabia)

Air Energi has been awarded its first major contract with BP Iraq. The five year agreement will see Air Energi deliver talent acquisition services to support BP Iraq’s operations in the Middle East.

The agreement includes the supply of expatriate talent to support Iraq’s giant Rumaila and Kirkuk oil fields. With estimated recoverable reserves of 20 billion barrels, Rumaila is the second largest oil field in the world and represented 40 per cent of Iraq’s total oil production in 2014.

Air Energi will supply personnel for the full project lifecycle, including exploration, appraisal, project execution, and production operations, as well as co-ordinating activity between BP’s head office in Sunbury and operational base in Iraq.

Air Energi has been active in Iraq for the last five years, and was selected by BP for its proven track record in the region, its in-depth understanding of local processes and procedures, and commitment to health and safety.

This was underpinned by Air Energi’s global mobility capabilities, providing in-depth knowledge of the complex processes associated with mobilising an international workforce safely and compliantly.

Andy Ryan (pictured), VP Middle East and Central Asia, Air Energi, said:

Air Energi’s local knowledge and expertise, combined with our proven global mobility capabilities and access to talent, means we are perfectly placed to support BP’s operations in Iraq,

“Iraq presents a significant growth opportunity for Air Energi. This contract award is an opportunity to gain further traction in the region, cementing our position as the trusted partner for global workforce solutions.”

(Source: Air Energi)

A fifth cooperative agreement has been signed between the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and an Iraqi university.

The agreement with the University of Koya, in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, calls for an exchange of research materials and encourages visits from one institution to the other.

In May, UA spokesman Amanda Cantu said no UA students had visited an Iraqi university as part of the agreements. The first such agreement was announced in June of last year.

According to statistics kept by UA, 34 Iraqi students were enrolled at UA during the spring semester. Iraq ranks 10th among international countries in the number of students enrolled at UA, far below the top country, China, which had 198 students at UA in the spring.

Most of the Iraqi students attending UA do so on Iraqi government-funded scholarships. Nationwide, 1,491 Iraqi students attended a United States college or university in the 2013-14 school year, according to a report published by the nonprofit Institute of International Education in partnership with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The University of Koya seeks to work with UA’s clinical psychology department to help address the needs of those affected by the Islamic State group that has captured some areas in Iraq, according to information released by UA.

(Source: NWA Online)

(University image via Shutterstock)

U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported.

Officials reported details of the latest strikes, which took place between 8 a.m. Monday and 8 a.m. Tuesday, local time, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Airstrikes in Syria

Bomber and fighter aircraft conducted nine airstrikes in Syria:

  • Near Raqqah, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL excavator.
  • Near Kobani, three airstrikes struck one large and two small ISIL tactical units, destroying an ISIL fighting position.
  • Near Tal Abyad, five airstrikes struck three large and two small ISIL tactical units, destroying three ISIL vehicles.

Airstrikes in Iraq

Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 16 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:

  • Near Baghdadi, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
  • Near Huwayjah, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying two ISIL heavy machine guns and an ISIL structure.
  • Near Beiji, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
  • Near Fallujah, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL structure.
  • Near Makhmur, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL vehicle.
  • Near Mosul, seven airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL mortar firing position, destroying an ISIL excavator, an ISIL rocket system, an ISIL structure and an ISIL vehicle.
  • Near Ramadi, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL motorcycle.
  • Near Sinjar, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL mortar firing position, destroying three ISIL structures, two ISIL heavy machine guns and an ISIL vehicle.
  • Near Tal Afar, two airstrikes struck two ISIL fighting positions.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, the region, and the wider international community.

The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group’s ability to project terror and conduct operations, officials said.

Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Bahrain, Canada, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)