By Sajad Jiyad, for the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). Any opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Torn between two allies: How Europeans can reduce Iraqi dependence on Iran and the US

After the long fight against the Islamic State group (ISIS), Iraq is now struggling to win the peace and faces acute challenges in achieving stability.

Caught in escalating tension between the United States and Iran, and confronted with a resurgent ISIS, the Iraqi leadership is paralysed by political deadlock and impending economic collapse.

The potential for the deterioration of conditions in Iraq should cause real concern among European governments that have already invested significant resources to defeat ISIS and stabilise the country.

Moreover, a recovery in the fortunes of ISIS, and greater tension between Iran and the US in Iraq, would undoubtedly have implications for European security – while a collapse of the Iraqi state would reverberate across the region in dangerous ways.

Read the full article here.

Pathway to peace: New recommendations to enhance local policing programmes in Iraq

Designing adaptable programmes, promoting the role of women in policing, and streamlining international interventions and are some of the key recommendations made by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in a recent conflict assessment on local policing in Iraq.

Conflict Assessment in Support of Efforts to Improve Local Policing in Iraq outlines key recommendations to mitigate the drivers of conflict and promote forces for peace, focusing on two key governorates in Iraq, Anbar and Ninewa.

It highlights different approaches to address drivers of conflict and instability, and makes recommendations to shape robust, sustainable local policing programmes in Iraq.

“Local police play an integral role in establishing and forging peace in Iraq, especially in the years since the ISIL conflict,” says Resident Representative of UNDP in Iraq, Zena Ali Ahmad.

“We hope this assessment is a useful tool for international partners and local decision makers to shape robust and sustainable local policing programmes that reflect community concerns, and promote a more peaceful and just Iraq. In doing so, it is important to increase and promote the role of women in policing, and improve women and girls’ access to local police services,” she adds.

The conflict assessment was developed under UNDP Iraq’s Security Sector Reform/Rule of Law programme with generous funding from the Government of The Netherlands.

The assessment findings are available online in English and Arabic.

(Source: UNDP)

Second former Unaoil executive sentenced for bribery in post-occupation Iraq

Stephen Whiteley, Unaoil‘s former territory manager for Iraq, has today become the second Unaoil executive to be sentenced for paying over $500,000 in bribes to secure a $55m contract to supply offshore mooring buoys. He was sentenced by HHJ Beddoe to 3 years’ imprisonment.

This follows the sentencing of his co-conspirator Ziad Akle on 23 July 2020, another former Iraq territory manager for Unaoil, upon whom HHJ Beddoe imposed a sentence of five years’ imprisonment.

The two men conspired with others to pay considerable bribes to public officials at the South Oil Company to secure contracts for Unaoil and its clients to construct offshore mooring buoys in the Persian Gulf. The new buoys formed part of a series of state-run projects designed by the government of post-occupation Iraq to boost its economy by rebuilding the country’s oil industry and thereby expanding its oil export capacity.

A jury at Southwark Crown Court found Stephen Whiteley guilty on one count of conspiracy to give corrupt payments. In the same trial, his co-conspirator, Ziad Akle, was found guilty on two counts of conspiracy to give corrupt payments.

SFO Director Lisa Osofsky said:

Faced with a country in desperate need of reconstruction following years of military occupation, Stephen Whiteley, Ziad Akle and their co-conspirators saw an opportunity to swindle the fledgling state for their own ends.

“The flagrant greed and callous criminality exhibited by these men undermines the reputation and integrity of British business on the international stage. We will not cease in our mission to bring such people to justice.

The convictions followed the guilty pleas of co-conspirator Basil Al Jarah who, in July 2019, admitted five offences of conspiracy to give corrupt payments. Al Jarah, who admitted to paying bribes totalling over $6million to secure contracts worth $800m for the supply of oil pipelines and offshore mooring buoys, is due to be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on 8 October 2020.

(Source: UK SFO)

By John Lee.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry has said it will no longer issue visas at border crossings for Turkish citizens wanting to visit Iraq.

In a statement, it accused Turkey of violating a 2009 deal that eased the visa process for citizens of the two countries:

Iraq is keen to adhere to the agreements and the memorandums of understanding it has with the countries of the world within the framework of exchanging interests and enhancing bilateral cooperation.

“Iraq had concluded a consular memorandum of understanding with the Republic of Turkey in 2009, stipulating that the traveler obtain the entry visa at border crossing points without reviewing the relevant embassy or consulate; In order to facilitate the movement of nationals of both countries, the Turkish side suspended work on the content of this memorandum, on its part the Iraqi government decided to suspend it in application of the principle of reciprocity.

“The Foreign Ministry informed our embassy in Ankara of the decision to inform the relevant authorities, and we have informed the embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Baghdad of this decision.
Discussions are still ongoing with the Turkish side on the memorandum of understanding under discussion.

(Source: Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) conducted a ceremony with Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) to transfer the Coalition area of Besmayah Base, Iraq, July 25, 2020.

Due to Iraqi Security Forces’ success in the campaign against Daesh, the Coalition is adjusting its positioning and focus in Iraq. These military movements are long-planned in coordination with the Government of Iraq.

“Today marks the seventh base this year transferred to the ISF, as part of an ongoing partnership between the Iraqi security forces and the anti-ISIS international military Coalition,” said Maj. Gen. Gerald Strickland, CJTF-OIR deputy commander for strategy. “Iraqi forces trained here were critical in the liberation of Mosul three years ago. Besmayah serves as a shining example of Iraqi military capability. The Coalition has supported the development of this facility, enabling the Iraqi military to deliver forces ready to root out the remnants of Daesh.”

Coalition activities at Besmayah were primarily led by Spanish forces, who trained nearly 50,000 Iraqi military personnel at the site. In conjunction with their Portuguese partners, Spain’s military forces trained the ISF in a broad range of military tactics and programs. Courses quickly evolved to a “train-the-trainer” approach, with Iraqis assuming daily leadership and delivery of the programs.

The Spanish contingent transferred and divested $4 million in classrooms, barracks, weapons ranges, mock urban training sites, and other facilities to the Government of Iraq. The United States contributed $1 million in power generation and base force protection materials and equipment.

“The train-the-trainer courses were highly successful in building a sustainable future for Iraqi-led training programs,” said Spanish Col. Leopoldo Ramirez, the CJTF-OIR senior national representative for Spain. “More than 5,000 Spanish soldiers served 12 rotations at this base, they can be very proud that their Iraqi partners have assumed full control and are capable of operating independently for a secure and stable future of Iraq.”

CJTF-OIR will continue to relocate and consolidate personnel and equipment from Iraqi bases throughout 2020, in cooperation with the Government of Iraq. The ISF increasingly conducts independent operations in the fight against Daesh and the defense of their homeland including the 2020 series of operations “Heroes of Iraq,” in which they have cleared thousands of kilometers to capture enemy fighters and equipment.

Coalition troops will depart Besmayah in the coming days. As a member of the 77-nation international Coalition, Spain firmly believes that unified, well trained Iraqi armed forces are essential to defeating Daesh, and remains committed to a long-term engagement with the Iraqi people in support of this objective.  Spain therefore remains a strong member of the Coalition, providing advisors to the Iraqi Joint Operations Command and valuable helicopter support to the Coalition.

(Source: Operation Inherent Resolve)

Ziad Akle, Unaoil‘s territory manager for Iraq, has been sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for paying over $500,000 in bribes to secure a $55m contract to supply offshore mooring buoys.

The new buoys formed part of the post-occupation Iraqi government’s “Master Plan” to rebuild Iraq’s oil industry and thereby expand the country’s oil export capacity. To ensure Unaoil benefitted from these state-run projects, Akle, conspiring with Stephen Whiteley and others, bribed public officials at the South Oil Company to secure contracts for Unaoil and its clients.

In his sentencing, HHJ Beddoe said:

“The offences were committed across borders at a time of serious need for the government of Iraq to rebuild after years of sanctions and the devastation of war. They were utterly exploitative at a time when the economic and political situation in Iraq was extremely fragile.”

A jury at Southwark Crown Court found Akle guilty on two counts of conspiracy to give corrupt payments. Another individual, Stephen Whiteley, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to give corrupt payments in relation to the same crime. He will be sentenced on a date to be determined.

SFO Director Lisa Osofsky said:

Ziad Akle and his co-conspirators exploited a country reeling from years of dictatorship and military occupation to line his own pockets and win business. It is this combination of greed and heartless avarice that led to these convictions.

“Today’s sentencing sends a clear message that the United Kingdom and the SFO will not tolerate criminal activity that undermines the fairness and integrity of international business.

The convictions followed the guilty pleas of co-conspirator Basil Al Jarah who, in July 2019, admitted five offences of conspiracy to give corrupt payments. Al Jarah, who admitted to paying bribes totalling over $6million to secure contracts worth $800m for the supply of oil pipelines and offshore mooring buoys, is due to be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on 8 October 2020.

(Source: SFO)

By Isadora Gotts for the London School of Economics (LSE) Middle East Centre.

Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The business of recycling war scrap: the Hashd al-Shaʿabi’s role in Mosul’s post-conflict economy

The modalities of the scrap trade reflect a larger struggle for power in post-ISIS Mosul, and how seemingly marginal processes can and will impact the future balance within the city.

On the local level, the scrap trade has become a monopoly, disrupting the ability of residents to profit from this very lucrative material.

By co-opting local economic processes, various actors stifled trade and reshaped the very ways in which economic activities are conducted.

Click here to read the full paper.

By John Lee.

The British conman who made an estimated £50 million from selling fake bomb detectors in Iraq has reportedly been freed from jail.

According to The Sun, James (Jim) McCormick claims that his fortune and lavish lifestyle has disappeared, and that a lawnmower is now his only possession.

Security officials believe his scam allowed suicide bombers to kill and maim thousands.

More here.

(Source: The Sun)

By John Lee.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is preventing about 1,200 Arab families from returning home to 5 villages more than 6 years after the area was retaken from the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Sunday.

KRG authorities have allowed Kurdish residents in neighboring villages, in the Rabia subdistrict, west of Dohuk, to return.

More here.

(Source: HRW)

By Elizabeth Hagedorn for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

US squeezes Islamic State’s cash flow with new sanctions

The United States and six other countries imposed fresh sanctions today on half a dozen targets accused of helping fund the operations of the Islamic State (IS or ISIS), including by funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to the group’s leaders in Iraq and Syria.

Click here to read the full article.