KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Gebran Bassil, Minister of State for Combating Corruption Nicolas Tueni, and their accompanying delegation.

In the meeting, also attended by Kurdistan Regional Government ministers and senior officials, they discussed the political situation in Iraq including the post-election process, and the formation of the new Iraqi government and new Kurdistan Regional Government cabinet.

Minister Bassil thanked the Kurdistan Regional Government for its assistance and support to the Lebanese community. He emphasized the desire of Lebanon to strengthen relations with the Kurdistan Region, especially in the fields of investment, trade, tourism and culture.

Prime Minister Barzani reaffirmed the KRG’s support to Lebanese businessmen and investors. He praised the activities of the Lebanese community in the Kurdistan Region.

The political situation in the wider region was also discussed.

(Source: KRG)

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

Intel: How the Barzanis are looking to consolidate power in Iraqi Kurdistan

Iraqi Kurdistan’s dominant clan announced today that it was nominating Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani to succeed his uncle Massoud Barzani as president of the Kurdistan Regional Government. A spokesman for the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) added that Massoud Barzani’s son, Masrour Barzani, the head of the Kurdistan Region Security Council, had been nominated to take over as prime minister.

The post of the presidency has remained vacant since Massoud Barzani stepped down following the ill-fated referendum on Kurdish independence in September 2017. But the elder Barzani continues to rule from behind the scenes.

Click here to read the full story.

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Iraq Baroness Emma Harriet Nicholson, UK Ambassador to Iraq Jon Wilks, and UK Consul-General to the Kurdistan Region Martyn Warr.

Baroness Nicholson welcomed the progress made in the dialogue between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad to settle outstanding issues.

She also expressed her country’s desire to encourage British investors to invest in the Kurdistan Region, contribute to economic development of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, and share expertise in modernizing various sectors.

Prime Minister Barzani thanked the United Kingdom for its humanitarian and military assistance to the Kurdistan Region.

He highlighted the relations between Kurdistan and Baghdad, and affirmed that the KRG supports the new Iraqi Prime Minister, Mr. Adil Abdul Mahdi in restoring security and political stability of Iraq and developing its economy.

(Source: KRG)

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.

The Kurdistan Regional Government has reportedly started repaying its debts, clearing half of what it owes to private banks and 10 percent of what it owes contractors.

According to Rudaw, the KRG will now service its remaining debts every month.

KRG finance minister Rebaz Hamlan (pictured) told the news agency that the regional government has dedicated $100 million from its oil revenues to pay contractors in the Kurdistan Region.

Full story here.

(Source: Rudaw)

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?

 

Security forces have reportedly confiscated many USD and Euro bills and 88 million Iraqi Dinars (IQD) in counterfeit banknotes in Erbil province since the start of 2018.

According to Kurdistan24, 100 suspects have been arrested for dealing and trading in counterfeit dinar.

Full story here.

(Source: Kurdistan24)

Tawke Licence:

The Kurdistan Regional Government notes the updates by DNO and Genel Energy on November 1st regarding production increases under the Tawke Production Sharing Contract (PSC).

The KRG is pleased with the efforts of the Tawke PSC Contractors in the Peshkabir area of the Tawke PSC Licence, where production has risen to over 50,000 barrels per day (bpd) within 18 months, exceeding expectations.

The recent boost in production at the Peshkabir area has more than compensated for the natural decline of the main Tawke field area, where production is now down to about 80,000 bpd, from 109,000 bpd in July 2017. Overall production under the Tawke PSC Licence reached 126,000 during October, compared to 114,000 bpd in July 2017. The current average is around 130,000 bpd (click here to view the chart).

Pipeline Upgrades:

The KRG has also recently completed an upgrade of its export pipeline by installing another pumping station at Shaikhan, which boosts capacity of the pipeline from 700,000 bpd to 1 million bpd. This extra capacity will accommodate future production growth from KRG producing fields, and can also be used by the federal government to export the currently stranded oil in Kirkuk and surrounding areas.

Oil Export:

The KRG currently exports over 400,000 bpd of crude oil. The KRG’s policy of maintaining consistent and timely payments to its producing oil companies has led to more investment in its oil fields, stabilising production levels and paving the way for further production increases during 2019.

These export achievements generate more revenues that will help to reduce the KRG’s overall debts and aid the economic revival and sustainability of the Kurdistan Region. The KRG’s policy of supporting its producers provides further evidence that Kurdistan’s PSCs are a win-win for investors and the citizens of the Kurdistan Region.

(Source: KRG)

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

While Turkey was eagerly anticipating a new government in Baghdad to sort out many problems with Iraq, a last minute decision by the outgoing prime minister has added a fresh item to the list of ongoing disagreements between the two countries.

Haider al-Abadi unexpectedly signed a decree to set up three new checkpoints in government-controlled areas in northern Iraq that will effectively slash Turkey’s trade with it.

The trucks that enter the country normally pass through the sole border crossing that is controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and will now also have to pass at least one of these additional checkpoints.

Click here to read the full story.

Survivors of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) can now dial “119” to receive support, counselling, and referrals to community-based services and resources in the region.

On 26 September, UNFPA and the General Directorate for Combatting Violence Against Women (GDCVAW) in KRI launched the first helpline for gender-based violence survivors.

The Helpline is a 24-hour call centre established to provide confidential support and guidance to survivors of GBV. Callers will be connected with trained social workers as well as legal and psycho-social support counsellors, both female and male.

UNFPA also organised two trainings for GDCVAW social workers and phone operators on the helpline procedures and guidelines for answering, probing, supporting, and following up on calls received at the call centre.

“The Helpline initiative will enable GDCVAW trained operators to provide counselling, advice, and support to GBV survivors and vulnerable individuals in the Kurdistan region of Iraq”, said Mr Kareem Sinjari, Minister of Interior in KRI.

Mr Ramanathan Balakrishnan, UNFPA Representative to Iraq, emphasized the importance of this project:

“While remedial services require strengthening to ensure the best possible care for GBV survivors, the helpline is definitely a positive step forward in that direction. We are confident that the helpline 119 is a solid tool that will help the Government in its efforts to combat gender-based violence and support survivors.”

The project, supported by the Regional Development and Protection Programme (RDPP), is expected to reach more than 3,600 survivors in the first year of its operations.

(Source: UN)