By John Lee.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi (pictured) has called for an investigation into the appointment of a deputy director general to the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA), citing allegation that the appointment was made under threat.

In a statement the Prime Minister said.

His Excellency Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi ordered to conduct an investigation on information indicating the issuance of an administrative order by the Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority to appoint a person in the position of Deputy Director General of the Authority under threat and intimidation, to consider the administrative procedure related to the position of the Deputy of the Chairman of the Authority frozen and inoperable, and the previous contexts shall continue to work until the completion of the investigation and the confirmation.

“His Excellency called for taking the necessary measures and imposing the most severe penalties on anyone who uses the threat or uses his powers to compel citizens or state institutions to carry out actions contrary to law and order.

(Source: Media Office of the Prime Minister)

By John Lee.

Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi and Jordan’s Prime Minister Dr. Omar Razzaz have agreed a series of measures to increase cooperation between the two countries.

Following a meeting at the weekend, they announced that, among other steps, they will finalize the framework agreement for the Iraqi-Jordanian pipeline which will run from Basra through Haditha to Aqaba in the first quarter of 2019.

The full (unedited) list of measures outlined in their joint statement is shown below:

In the transport sector:

  • Opening the Jordanian-Iraqi border crossings (Al Karama-Trebil) in front of the (door to door) traffic to start the journey of goods that are perishable on 2-2-2019 and include all types of goods thereafter.
  • Granting facilities for imported Iraqi goods via Aqaba, whose final destination is Iraq, a discount of 75% of the fees charged by Aqaba Economic Authority.
  • Make an Agreement between the Royal Jordanian and Iraqi Aviation for mutual cooperation in various fields: (Code share).
  • Training and cooperation in all areas of aviation and air transport.

In the industry and trade sector:

  • Activating the Iraqi Cabinet decision for the year 2017 exempting a number of Jordanian goods from customs starting from 2-2-2019.
  • The two councils of the two countries decided to allocate the agreed land on the Iraqi-Jordanian border to reach a depth of 2 km on the two sides of the border and a length of 6 km for the Iraqi-Jordanian Company. By 2-2-2019, in preparation for the company’s presentation of the industrial zone to the private sector for operation and management on the basis of BOT.

In the financial sector:

  • Forming a technical and financial legal committee between the two sides to develop solutions to the outstanding financial files between the two countries.

In the energy sector:

  • The agreement was reached on the Jordanian-Iraqi electricity link through the network of interconnection, where the memorandum of understanding was signed in the presence of the prime ministers, in which the parties agreed to take the necessary measures to accelerate the exchange of electrical energy between the two parties through direct electrical connection to the electricity networks of Iraq and Jordan.
  • It was agreed to finalize the framework agreement for the Iraqi-Jordanian pipeline which will extend from Basra through Haditha to Aqaba in the first quarter of 2019
  • It was agreed that the technical committees will arrive to determine the details of transportation and pricing for the export of Iraqi crude oil to Jordan before 2-2-2019.

In the agriculture sector:

  • Training in the fields of optimal use of water in the fields of aquaculture, water harvesting, seed propagation, biological control, the use of environmentally friendly pesticides and the training of Iraqi environmental police.

In the communications and IT sector:

  • It was agreed to pass the Iraqi Internet capacity from Jordan in 2019 to support Iraq build the infrastructure.
  • It was agreed on transport Jordan’s experiences in the field of the financial technology to brothers in Iraq.

(Source: Media Office of the Iraqi Prime Minister)

By John Lee.

Authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan are said to be hopeful that a meeting later this month between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Iraqi President Barham Salih will lead to Turkey lifting its ban on international flights crossing its airspace to land at Sulaymaniyah Airport (pictured).

According to a report from Ahval News, Turkey imposed the ban on flights to Sulaymaniyah and Erbil in September 2017 after the region voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence, but later lifted the ban on flights to Erbil, as the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which controls that part of the region, is “closer politically” to Erdoğan’s government.

More here.

(Source: Ahval News)

IOM and UNODC Sign Agreement with the Government of Jordan to Upgrade al-Karamah Border Crossing Point

In partnership with the Government of Jordan, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) signed an official partnership yesterday (10/12) to upgrade the al-Karamah border crossing point between Iraq and Jordan.

The project, funded by the European Union Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace (EU IcSP), also contributes to the stability and economic recovery in the region.

“Iraq has always been a key economic partner for Jordan and a significant market for Jordanian exports. The closure of al-Karamah border point over the past years has had a significant negative impact on Jordan’s manufacturing sector and on the Jordanian economy in general. The government is working tirelessly to restore the economic ties with this important country for the benefit of the two sides, and we hope that the rehabilitation of al-Karamah will constitute another building block in this effort,” said Dr Maria Kawar, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation.

Al-Karamah is the only official border crossing point between Iraq and Jordan. Closed in the summer of 2015, it reopened in August 2017 raising the prospect of an improved economy among traders and consumers. Long-lasting crises in Syria and Iraq forced the closure of the land borders with both neighbors, namely the direct route between the ports of Aqaba, on the Red Sea, and Basra, on the Arabian Gulf.

Before the closure of the borders, Iraq was one of the main trade partners of Jordan. In 2013, 178,573 commercial trucks used al-Karamah to enter Iraq from Jordan, and 173,788 entered Jordan from Iraq. Border closures considerably increased the price of imports and exports.

“Border crossing points facilitate trade and exchange between people and communities. This EU-funded project will share the EU approach on integrated border management and adapt it to the situation at the Jordan/Iraq border with a view to facilitate bilateral trade and the movement of people,” said Mr Andrea Matteo Fontana, European Union Ambassador to Jordan.

The project will allow for the construction of a joint building for all departments operating at al-Karamah that will ease procedures and shorten the waiting time for passengers, allowing authorities to process a higher number of passengers per day.

The security of the passengers and the Kingdom will continue to be at the centre of the operation, with enhanced trainings on document forgery detection and other techniques related to border management.

Communities at both sides of the border will benefit from the improved border crossing point.

“I am from al-Anbar and I study pharmacy in Amman. I used to pay around 200 dollars to fly to Baghdad, and then I had to take a bus to al-Anbar from the capital. With the border post re-opened, I save money and time, and I can come home more often,” one young student told IOM staff.

“Communities in remote border regions need additional support to take advantage of the opportunities and overcome the challenges associated to a border context. The project will contribute to revitalize the economy of Mafraq and al-Anbar regions that used to rely on the livelihoods directly or indirectly created by the movements through the border post, before its closure,” said Enrico Ponziani, Chief of Mission of IOM Jordan.

The project will also improve cargo control procedures to secure and facilitate trade with the extension of the UNODC/World Customs Organization Container Control Programme at the al-Karamah border crossing point, and the establishment of a Border Control Unit.

“UNODC’s contribution to this project is two-pronged. Firstly, it aims at further securing the Al Karamah-Turaibil border crossing by strengthening the capacity of Jordanian and Iraqi law enforcement agencies to prevent trafficking of illicit goods. Secondly, it serves to facilitate trade across the border by strengthening cooperation with the private sector and streamlining cargo clearance and control processes”, said Ms. Cristina Albertin, Regional Representative of UNODC.

(Source: IOM)

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)

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

As the United States enacts sanctions on Iran, Iran is increasing its influence in Iraq with plans for a railway that could work around US restrictions.

The state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Railways (RAI) revealed details Nov. 12 about its project to build a railway connecting Iran’s Shalamcheh border crossing to the port of Basra in southeast Iraq.

Maziar Yazdani, RAI’s deputy head of infrastructure and technical affairs, said the Shalamcheh-Basra leg of the project will require only 20 miles of new track at a cost of about $52,000. With the new addition, the rail system will span Iraq to reach Syria’s Mediterranean port city of Latakia.

Click here to read the full story.

(Picture Credit: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

By John Lee.

The Iraqi government has said it is introducing changes to simplify visa and residency procedures for visitors, international investors and entrepreneurs from a number countries.

It added that citizens of Lebanon will be able to obtain entry visas on arrival at Iraqi airports as part of a reciprocal agreement between the two countries.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

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.

Will Iraqis get green light to enter restricted Green Zone?

While new Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has promised to open Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone to the public and to through traffic, there are doubts that he will be able to fulfill that pledge.

The Green Zone, officially the International Zone, is a 4-square-mile area that’s home to Iraqi government buildings for the presidency, parliament, judiciary and the intelligence and national security staffs. Also located there are various foreign embassies, including those of the United States and the United Kingdom; other diplomatic missions; offices of international organizations, notably the UN; and residences of privileged Iraqis and high-level officials.

The restricted zone inconveniences many Baghdad residents, especially commuters. Opening the area could reduce heavily congested streets and slash the amount of time it takes to travel across town. It would also make it easier for citizens to access government agencies.

Click here to read the full story.

By John Lee.

A company has won a tender to supply two truck tractors with low-bed trailer to the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in Iraq.

The contract with US-based Al-Kasid Commercial Agencies Ltd is valued at $269,300.

According to the company’s website, Al-Kasid Commercial Agencies Ltd is the official distributor in Iraq for Hyundai Motor Company (commercial vehicles and buses) and Hyundai Heavy Industries (construction machines and forklifts).

It also has a joint venture with GB Auto for the distribution of Hyundai passenger cars in Iraq.

(Source: UNGM)

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

n an interview with Russia’s Sputnik Nov. 1, Syrian Transportation Minister Ali Hammoud said Syria is preparing to open checkpoints on its border with Iraq now that security has returned and is looking forward to working with Iraq on logistics.

The Iraqi government received a request from Syria at the end of October to send a special delegation headed by Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem to discuss reopening the border crossings. Baghdad reportedly welcomed the idea.

Click here to read the full story.