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

Nadia Murad, the Iraqi Yazidi, has been awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. This has raised the expectations and hopes of Iraqi minorities, especially Yazidis, since she is the first Iraqi to win the prize.

Iraqi political leaders welcomed the award as a tribute to the struggle of the Iraqi people against terrorism and extremism.

Iraqi President Barham Salih called Murad on Oct. 5 to congratulate her on the award. The president said the prize was a tribute to the Iraqis’ struggle and steadfastness.

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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.

British Ambassador Jonathan Wilks warned at a press conference last month that, at its current rate of growth, Iraq’s population would increase by a million people per year.

Iraq’s Central Statistical Organization (CSO) announced soon after, on Oct. 1, that the country’s population had reached about 38 million in 2018, and that Baghdad’s population had reached more than 8 million.

While Iraq has not conducted any comprehensive census since 1997, these figures, combined with the rising unemployment rate, indicate an imbalance between the growing population and the availability of services.

Najeh al-Obeidi, an economics researcher at the University of Baghdad, is worried that the state will not be able to respond to population growth or provide decent living conditions for Iraqis. “This raises concerns about the future,” he said. “Baghdad alone has a population equal to that of the entire country five decades ago.

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After five months of political uncertainty, Iraq finally has a new prime minister.

On October 3, Iraq’s newly named president, Barham Salih, picked Adel Abdul Mahdi, an independent Shia politician, to be the next prime minister and form a government. The appointment of Mahdi may have provided an opportunity to calm the protests that have roiled the southern Iraqi city of Basra since July.

Unrest in Basra escalated to levels high enough for the United States to shut its consulate in the city on September 28.

The unrest reflects a changing Iraq—one in which many citizens will no longer tolerate an unaccountable government.

The full article can be viewed here.

(Source: Atlantic Council)

 

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

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (pictured) is due to travel to Iraq on Oct. 11 for a two-day official visit to the capital Baghdad and the Iraqi Kurdistan Region’s seat of government, Erbil.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Cavusoglu would be received by Iraq’s newly elected ethnic Kurdish President Barham Salih and that he would also meet with Iraqi political leaders and Turkmen representatives.

The trip, Cavusoglu’s first since August 2017, when he traveled to both capitals to lobby against the Iraqi Kurds’ ill fated independence referendum, is seen as an effort to re-assert Turkey’s heft in Iraq amid the receding fortunes of its local Sunni Arab allies.

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By John Lee.

Iraq’s Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul Mahdi has launched a website to allow Iraqis to apply for ministerial positions in his new cabinet.

According to BBC News, Mr Abdul Mahdi invited “those with expertise, specialisation and practical experience” to come forward.

Applicants have until Thursday to submit a CV and evidence they meet his conditions.

The website can be found here.

(Source: BBC News)

Iraq’s prime minister-designate, Adel Abdul Mahdi, is the kind of leader the U.S. might have hoped for: experienced, well-respected, and, by the standards of Iraqi politics, above sectarian and ethnic factionalism, according to an editorial piece from Bloomberg Opinion:

Unfortunately, the chances that he can create a government consistent with those values remain slim.

“While Washington and its allies should wish Abdul Mahdi success and give his government all reasonable assistance, they would be wise to focus on strengthening economic, cultural and institutional relationships in Iraq without counting on the new leader’s political fortunes.

Read the full article here from Bloomberg.

 

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

The oil-rich port city of Basra is feeling the heat of the intensifying conflict between the United States and Iran. Pro-Iranian armed groups that threaten the United States from time to time are active in the city. The US-Iran tension is expected to affect the economic situation in Iraq in general, and in Basra in particular.

The US State Department announced Sept. 28 its intention to close its consulate in Basra and pull out its diplomats. This comes after three mortar shells targeted the US Consulate there.

On Sept. 29, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the Quds Force — a special force unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — and its commander Qasem Soleimani of being behind the threats. The United States “will respond promptly and appropriately to any such attacks,” he said.

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(Picture credit: Ahmed Mahmoud)

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

Concerned that tensions between Iran and the United States could blow back onto Iraq, a senior Iraqi diplomat said today that Iraq would be willing to facilitate dialogue between the two nations.

“Iraq is capable and willing to facilitate and create communication between not only … the US and Iran, but with all the countries in the region,” Ahmed Mahjoub, spokesperson for the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told a small group of journalists and analysts at the Iraqi Embassy in Washington.

“During the recent two years, Iraq was able to solve a couple of problems between states,” Mahjoub said, adding that he could not discuss the details because the parties agreed not to disclose the Iraqi role in those mediations. “But I assure you that Iraq managed to solve problems between states during the last few years, and I believe that Iraq is willing to continue to this role.”

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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.

The Iraqi Ministry of Planning announced the launch of the Social Fund for Development on Sept. 23, with initial capital of $300 million, in cooperation with the World Bank.

The project aims to improve the living conditions of Iraq’s poor. High poverty rates in Iraq have led to repeated protests for 15 years calling for improving the standard of living and for more employment opportunities. These protests have resulted in dozens of deaths and injuries.

A May 2018 World Bank report noted that Iraq’s population of 38.5 million sits at the poverty line with a poverty rate of 22.5%. The spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Ammar Menem, told Al-Monitor that this high rate is due to “exceptional security conditions ensuing from the war and its costs, as well as to the slump in oil prices. This resulted in the cessation of funding of projects for the rehabilitation of unemployed persons, a lack of investment projects and faltering economic growth.”

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