On Thursday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated two militia figures, Rayan al-Kildani and Waad Qado, and two former Iraqi governors, Nawfal Hammadi al-Sultan and Ahmed al-Jubouri, pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption.

“The United States is taking action against four individuals in Iraq implicated in serious human rights abuse or corruption,” said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “We will continue to hold accountable persons associated with serious human rights abuse, including persecution of religious minorities, and corrupt officials who exploit their positions of public trust to line their pockets and hoard power at the expense of their citizens.”

Many of the corruption- and abuse-related actions committed by these sanctioned individuals occurred in areas where persecuted religious communities are struggling to recover from the horrors inflicted on them by ISIS.  Therefore, today’s sanctions demonstrate solidarity with all Iraqis who oppose corruption and human rights abuse undertaken by public officials, and underscore the Administration’s commitment to support the recovery of persecuted religious communities in Iraq.

As a result of today’s actions, all property and interests in property of these individuals, and any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by these individuals, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC.  OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit any dealings by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of blocked persons.

RAYAN AL-KILDANI

Rayan al-Kildani (al-Kildani) was designated for being a foreign person who is responsible for or complicit in, or who has directly or indirectly engaged in, serious human rights abuse.

Al-Kildani is the leader of the 50th Brigade militia.  In May 2018, a video circulated among Iraqi human rights civil society organizations in which al-Kildani cut off the ear of a handcuffed detainee.

The 50th Brigade is reportedly the primary impediment to the return of internally displaced persons to the Ninewa Plain.  The 50th Brigade has systematically looted homes in Batnaya, which is struggling to recover from ISIS’s brutal rule.  The 50th Brigade has reportedly illegally seized and sold agricultural land, and the local population has accused the group of intimidation, extortion, and harassment of women.

WAAD QADO

Waad Qado (Qado) was designated for being a foreign person who is or has been a leader or official of an entity, including any government entity, that has engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, serious human rights abuse relating to the leader’s or official’s tenure.

Qado is the leader of the 30th Brigade militia.  The 30th Brigade has extracted money from the population around Bartalla, in the Ninewa Plain, through extortion, illegal arrests, and kidnappings.  The 30th Brigade has frequently detained people without warrants, or with fraudulent warrants, and has charged arbitrary customs fees at its checkpoints.  Members of the local population allege that the 30th Brigade has been responsible for egregious offenses including physical intimidation, extortion, robbery, kidnapping, and rape.

NAWFAL HAMMADI AL-SULTAN

Nawfal Hammadi al-Sultan (al-Sultan) is designated for being a foreign person who is a current or former government official, or a person acting for or on behalf of such an official, who is responsible for or complicit in, or who has directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.

Al-Sultan is a former governor of Ninewa Province, Iraq.  Following a ferry accident in Ninewa’s capital, Mosul, that killed nearly 100 people, Iraq’s parliament removed al-Sultan from office.  The ferry, loaded to five times its capacity, had been carrying families to an island on the Tigris River when it sank.  Iraqi authorities have issued an arrest warrant for the former governor, who fled shortly after the accident.

In a letter to Members of Parliament after the ferry accident, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi accused al-Sultan of negligence and dereliction of duty, and said there was evidence the former governor was misusing funds and abusing his power.  On March 27, 2019, the Ninewa investigations court said the former governor and several other officials were suspected of misusing their powers and wasting public money.

Al-Sultan has faced allegations of widespread corruption since 1994.  He was removed from his first post as mayor because of corruption and a conviction on smuggling charges.  In 2017, the United Nations Development Program suspended reconstruction projects after multiple allegations of al-Sultan siphoning off United Nations funds.

AHMED AL-JUBOURI

Ahmed al-Jubouri (al-Jubouri) is designated for being a foreign person who is a current or former government official, or a person acting for or on behalf of such an official, who is responsible for or complicit in, or who has directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.

Al-Jubouri, also known as Abu Mazin, is a former governor of Salah al-Din, Iraq, and current Member of Parliament who has engaged in corruption.  Al-Jubouri was removed as governor and sentenced to prison in July 2017 upon conviction for misusing authority and federal funds and appropriating land for personal use.  Al-Jubouri has since been released.  Al-Jubouri has been known to protect his personal interests by accommodating Iran-backed proxies that operate outside of state control.

GLOBAL MAGNITSKY

Building upon the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, on December 20, 2017, the President signed E.O. 13818, “Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in Serious Human Rights Abuse or Corruption,” in which the President found that the prevalence of human rights abuse and corruption that have their source, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States, has reached such scope and gravity that they threaten the stability of international political and economic systems.  Human rights abuse and corruption undermine the values that form an essential foundation of stable, secure, and functioning societies; have devastating impacts on individuals; weaken democratic institutions; degrade the rule of law; perpetuate violent conflicts; facilitate the activities of dangerous persons; and undermine economic markets.  The United States seeks to impose tangible and significant consequences on those who commit serious human rights abuse or engage in corruption, as well as to protect the financial system of the United States from abuse by these same persons.

To date, OFAC has sanctioned 113 individuals and entities pursuant to E.O. 13818.  These designations are in addition to the numerous human rights- or corruption-related designations Treasury has issued under various other sanctions authorities.  In total, since January 2017, Treasury has taken action against more than 680 individuals and entities engaged in activities related to, or directly involving, human rights abuse and/or corruption.  The Treasury Department has also published advisories to U.S. financial institutions on human rights abuses enabled by corrupt senior foreign political figures and their financial facilitators that can be found here, as well as advisories related to some of the programs listed above, which can be found here.

View identifying information on the individuals designated today.

(Source: OFAC)

By John Lee.

Iran’s gas and electricity exports to Iraq are reportedy expected to reach $5 billion by the end of the current Iranian calendar year, which ends on March 21, 2020.

Mehr news agency quotes the Secretary General of Iran-Iraq Joint Chamber, Seyed Hamid Hosseini, as saying that if Iraq agrees it is possible for Iran to barter the necessary goods in return for the gas and electricity, the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) “should cooperate in this regard“.

(Source: Tehran Times)

By John Lee.

On Wednesday, the Lebanese President, General Michel Aoun, welcomed the Vice President of Iraq, former Iraqi Prime Minister, Dr. Iyad Allawi, with whom he discussed the bolstering of Lebanese-Iraqi relations in all areas, especially on economic matters.

Following his meeting with President Aoun, Xinhua quotes Vice President Allawi as saying:

“We have discussed with Lebanese President Michel Aoun the possibility of creating partnership between Lebanese and Iraqi businessmen and we will be following up on our agreements to make sure they are put in action very soon.”

He reportedly added that Iraq is keen to benefit from the Lebanese expertise in the banking sector.

(Source: Govt of Lebanon, Xinhua)

By John Lee.

The Jordanian-Iraqi Forum on digital transformation in the financial sector was held on Wednesday in Baghdad.

It was organized as part of the partnership between Jordan’s Information and Communications Technology Association (int@j), the Jordanian-Iraqi Economic Association, the Iraq Private Banks League, and the International Finance Corporation, and saw the participation of 30 Jordanian IT companies.

Through the forum, int@j aims to assist Jordanian IT companies enter the Iraqi market.

The Chairman of the Board of Directors at int@j, Dr. Bashar Hawamdeh, said that the company’s role in organizing the forum is part of their efforts to bolster networking among Jordanian companies and Iraqi banks and others operating in the financial sector. int@j’s role in organizing the forum comes as well amidst efforts to enable Jordanian companies to offer their expertise in digital transformation and technology to Iraqi sectors more broadly, particularly considering there exists an urgent need on the Iraqi side to implement digital transformation projects.

Dr. Hawamdeh noted that the Iraqi market is an important market to Jordanian companies, as those companies possess significant expertise in systems building and management. He added that Jordanian companies have been instrumental in developing e-governance for states in the region and have assisted in building systems that serve digital transformation.

He added that the forum is an opportune time for Jordanian companies to explore opportunities related to cooperation and sharing of expertise, especially considering the faith the Iraqi market has in Jordanian expertise in all areas.

The following Jordanian companies are taking part in the forum: Access 2 Arabia, Bridges PR and Events, Globitel, Green Circle Co., Hayyan Horizons, MenalTech, HyperPay, MadfooatCom, Jordan Payments and Clearing Company (JoPACC), Middle East Payment Services (MEPS), and Quality Business Solutions.

Also participating in the conference are: Real Soft Advanced Applications, Sidra Electronic Payment Software, Synaptic Technologies, Trismart, VTEL Holdings, dot.Jo, Jordan Data Systems, Takamol, ProgressSoft, Al Bayanat Al-Raqamiah for Information Technology, Image Technologies (ITECJ), OPTIMIZA, Oracle, Jordan Systems Consulting Co, OFFTEC, Dell, KPMG Jordan, Virtual/Al-Nayi for Informational and Communications Consulting, and Mawdoo3.com.

(Source: int@j)

By John Lee.

The state-owned Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) is reported to be planning to expand its operations in China and the Gulf.

Chairman Faisal al-Haimus [al-Haimus] told Reuters that the bank want to increase revenues from retail banking and international operations from 25 percent to 30 percent by 2022.

He added that it plans to open a representative office in China in 2020, and will upgrade its license in Abu Dhabi from a “representative office” to “asset management company“.

More here.

(Source: Reuters)

The Al-Bayan Center for Planning and Studies has just published a new report from our Expert Blogger Ahmed Tabaqchali:

The current debate over the interpretation of the 2019 budget that governs the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) share of the federal budget in return for contributing 250,000 bbl/d to federal oil exports has echoes of the first conflict in April 2012 on the issue.

The adept quote above by the International Crisis Group (ICC), in its description of the relationship between the two sides leading to that conflict, is as applicable today as it was then, and over the many repeats of similar conflicts in the intervening years.

The current flare up is initiated by members of the federal parliament against the Government of Iraq (GoI) over its continuing payments to the KRG, under the terms of the 2019 budget, while the KRG has not or refused to honour its obligations under the terms of the same budget.

The internal and external dynamics of the players on both sides, the federal politicians and the regional Kurdish politicians, follow the same trajectory that led to countless struggles over this issue and others since 2003. Each side is not only blind and deaf to the other side’s needs and motives but views it with suspicion and mistrust.

Unless something breaks the mould, either an intervention by Iraq’s international stakeholders or a change in the balance of relative power between the two, both will continue to think and act in the same manner that each had acted in the past, while still expecting a different outcome for the conflict or a different response form the other side.

Read Ahmed Tabaqchali’s full report here.

By John Lee.

The World Bank will reportedly lend a total of $200 million to Iraq for upgrades to its electricity grid.

According to Basnews, the agreement was signed by Finance Minister Fuad Hussein and Yara Salim, a representative to the World Bank.

There will be attempts to address the problem of power supply in Basra province and surrounding areas in collaboration with the World Bank,” the Iraqi minister added.

Iraq is expected to implement the projects within five years, and repay the debts in ten to 15 years.

(Source: Basnews)

By Padraig O’Hannelly.

Iraq’s Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Construction, Housing, Municipalities and General Works has presented details of reconstruction projects underway in areas affected by terrorism.

Dr Dara Reshid, who is also Vice President of the Reconstruction Fund for Areas Affected by Terroristic Operations (REFAATO), told CWC‘s Kirkuk & Mosul Megaprojects conference in London that IQD 1,086 billion ($870 million) has been allocated from Iraq’s 2019 budget to fund 267 projects in the liberated areas.

More details here and here.

This weekend, the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) hosted its annual members’ retreat at Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Park, which was generously sponsored by Al Burhan Group.

As with previous years, it was very well attended by over seventy delegates, and allowed our members to mingle and network with representatives of other businesses, civil servants, and Iraqi government dignitaries.

Speakers and organisations represented included:

  • Dr Falah Al Amiri, Advisor to the Ministry of Oil, Government of Iraq
  • Dr Hameed Ahmed, Deputy Higher Education Minister
  • Eng. Dara Rasheed, Deputy Minister of Housing, Construction & Municipalities
  • Jon Wilks CMG, HM Ambassador to Iraq
  • Beverley Simpson, Director, Department of International Trade (DIT) in Iraq
  • Dr Victoria Lindsay, Director, British Council, Iraq
  • Emma Sky, Director, Greenberg World Fellows Program, Yale University
  • Nicolas Pelham, The Economist
  • Professor Toby Dodge, London School of Economics
  • Dr Renad Mansour, Chatham House
  • Al Burhan Group
  • Basra Gateway Terminal
  • Bath Spa University
  • BP
  • Chevron
  • Constellis
  • ExxonMobil
  • Financial Times
  • G4S
  • KBR
  • Management Partners
  • Mosul University
  • OiLSERV Kuwait
  • Petrofac
  • Rolls-Royce
  • Serco
  • Shire Oak International
  • Stirling Education
  • Tube Tech International
  • TurnKey LLC
  • University of Dundee
  • University of Liverpool
  • University of Northampton
  • University of Northampton
  • University of Sheffield
  • Wood Plc

Sessions included discussions and panels on the state of Iraq, contemporary Middle Eastern politics, meetings for our various sector tables (including oil and gas, and construction and infrastructure), economic development strategies for Iraq, and how higher education partnerships could be developed between the UK and Iraq. A biannual council meeting for representatives of our member organisations was also held.

Christophe Michels, Managing Director of the IBBC was happy with how the weekend went:

“As in previous years the Retreat has attracted some of the finest minds from business, academia, politics, media and diplomacy working on Iraq to conduct truly meaningful and intimate discussions”.

Baroness Emma Nicholson, President of the IBBC and the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Iraq, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan said:

“IBBC has had a fantastically happy and hugely productive busy weekend. We call it a retreat, but I am not sure what it was a retreat from! People were working morning, noon, and night, and they were making great achievements, and huge strides in the various different table meetings…one of the best I can ever remember”.

For more information on the Iraq Britain Business Council, visit our website at https://www.iraqbritainbusiness.org/

(Source: IBBC)

By John Lee.

Iraq and the Netherlands have signed a double taxation agreement on Monday.

Iraqi Finance Minister Fuad Hussein is quoted as saying that avoiding double taxation will improve the business environment and help to attract foreign businesses and investments to Iraq.

(Sources: Iraqi Ministry of Finance, Kurdistan 24)