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)

Re:Coded is launching its first boot camp in Baghdad.

If you want to learn how to design and code websites or web apps, don’t miss it!

The bootcamp duration is four and a half months and the application deadline is July 20th, 2019

You will get to learn how to use HTML, CSS and JavaScript to write professional pages.

Limited scholarships are available. Apply now!

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وأخيرا في #بغداد!

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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.

The Arar border crossing between Saudi Arabia and Iraq will reportedly officially reopen in October.

It was closed in 1990 following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

According to Gulf News, some pilgrims are currently being allowed to pass through the crossing to participate in next month’s Haj.

(Source: Gulf News)

NIC Chairman: Iraq is an Attractive Environment for Power Sector

National Investment Commission (NIC) Chairman, Dr. Sami Al-Araji assured, during a word he delivered in Powering Iraq Conference held in Baghdad July.10.19 that Iraq is an attractive environment for capitals in various economic sectors and at the top stands the power sector and that investment laws and regulations contained generous incentives that fertilize the land for the foreign companies to invest in the country.

The conference was attended by Ministers of Oil and electricity, Ministries and Government institutions representatives, Iraqi private sector representatives in addition to Ambassadors of a number of countries.

NIC Chairman stated that the Commission granted a number of investment licenses in power sector a head of which was Bismayah Power station executed by Mass Holding Company with a capacity of 3000 MW and work is proceeding to add 1500 MW, as it is currently covering 60% of Baghdad need for electricity power, while other licenses were granted to implement power stations in the southern part of Iraq with an estimated total capacity of 4500 MW (some of them are achieved and others in their final completion stages).

He also added that NIC is keen to cooperate with other relative ministries and institutions to achieve self- sufficiency in power in all its types including employing the renewable energy to reach this goal. Dr. Sami also praised the role of the local and foreign private sector which contributed to motivating the investment wheel in various strategic and vital sectors like (Oil and Gas, Housing, Industry, Health, Agriculture, and higher education) disseminated all over Iraqi provinces in a way that provided new national income resources.

NIC Chairman invited the Government and the Parliament to issue the legislations that can contribute to implementing the five year and ten year plans laid to guarantee the substantial development, stressing the continuance in NIC program aiming at constructing strategic investment projects that serves the country like the housing project of Bismayah consisting of 100 thousand housing unit.

The conference works also witnessed speeches for Minister of Oil, Minister of Electricity, Representative of the Ministry of Industry and Minerals, Ambassadors of US and UK. the conference was attended by more than 200 businessmen from inside and outside Iraq during which presentations of Ministries of oil and Electricity were presented in the fields of energy and alt- energy and was closed by round tables meetings between the Public and private sectors.

(Source: NIC)

Joint statement by HR/VP Mogherini and Iraqi Foreign Minister Alhakim on the EU-Iraq relations and regional cooperation

The European Union and Iraq strongly affirm their shared commitment to peace and stability in the wider Middle East and call for the de-escalation of the current tensions in the region, reminding that the risks and the consequences may affect Iraq, the region and beyond.

The EU and Iraq share a common vision for the region and wish to proactively support actions and initiatives to promote dialogue instead of confrontation, aiming to build a cooperative framework based on shared interests. Cooperation is the strongest foundation of a long-term regional security, stability and sustainable development.

The European Union remains committed towork together with the Iraqi government to promote these values and is firmly of the view that the Iraqi proposal of a regional conference merits full support and engagement.

Iraq and EU reaffirm their strong bond of partnership and friendship, deepened in recent years during the joint cooperation to defeat Da’esh. The EU highly values Iraq’s contribution and sacrifices in the war against terrorism and supports its efforts to eradicate all forms of terrorist ideology.

Iraq strongly appreciates EU’s support to the Government of Iraq and to the Iraqi people as well as the EU’s commitment to peace and stability in the Middle East through diplomatic engagement.

The 2018 EU Strategy for Iraq defines the mechanism to support the political and economic priorities of the partnership with the Government. The entry into force of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Iraq (PCA) in August 2018 sets the legal framework for this partnership.

Both sides look forward to swift implementation, which will reinforce cooperation on a range of topics of mutual interest, including democracy and human rights, economic and trade matters, energy, security, transport, environment and migration-related issues.

The EU and the Government of Iraq will continue to work together to achieve the objectives of the Conference for Iraq Reconstruction held in Kuwait in February 2018 to provide a better future for the Iraqi people, based on improved governance and inclusive economic development.

Since 2014, the EU has provided €1.2 billion in humanitarian, stabilisation, development, and security cooperation, which is the best testimony of its long term commitment to a strategic partnership with Iraq.

(Source: EU)

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

Iran grants additional visas to Iraqis to boost its economy

In light of the US sanctions and the exit of foreign companies from Iran, Tehran is seeking to boost its income and hard currency by hosting the largest possible number of Iraqi tourists it can.

Iran’s economic charge d’affaires in Najaf, Arif Abbasi, said June 22, “The number of Iranian visas issued from Najaf will increase to 5,000 visas daily.

Click here to read the full story.

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)

JICA (Japan) and UNDP Partnership Agreement to Accelerate the Projects for Socio-Economic Development in Iraq

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and UNDP announced a renewed agreement and commemorated the 10th anniversary for their partnership to accelerate the implementation of socio-economic infrastructure projects in Iraq to improve the economic recovery and living condition of Iraqi people in key sectors such as electricity, water and sanitation, oil, irrigation, transportation, industry, health and communication. The GoI welcomes the reinforced partnership between JICA and UNDP.

Since 2008, JICA has signed 31 loan agreements, total amount of which is JPY 830 billion (equivalent to USD 7.7 billion), with Iraqi Government for economic and social infrastructure projects and programs in Iraq to improve daily lives of Iraqi people. In order to ensure accountability, transparency and efficiency in project implementation, the Government of Iraq (GoI) and the Government of Japan/JICA jointly established a monitoring mechanism called Monitoring Committee (M/C) in 2008. UNDP has undertaken the supporting role to assist and advise the M/C based on the partnership agreement between JICA and UNDP.

Under this partnership, UNDP has been working alongside JICA and the Government of Iraq (GoI) on project monitoring and capacity development. UNDP identifies bottlenecks pertaining to project implementation, providing analyses and recommendations for action on cross-cutting issues to the M/C to accelerate project implementation.

The M/C is the longest continual committee in the GoI system as the 43rd M/C Meeting was held on 4th July 2019 in Baghdad with Iraqi ministries to update the progress and find the solutions for challenges that the projects face in order to accelerate the project implementation and deliver the public services to the Iraqi people.

The GoI, JICA and UNDP reconfirm all parties’ continual efforts to enhance this tripartite collaboration mechanism to expedite the improvement of national strategic infrastructures, which will contribute to better public services as well as to the private sector development for more and better job opportunities.

(Source: UN)