By John Lee.

The United States Treasury Department has sanctioned Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba, a radical Muslim militia group of about 10,000 fighters, as well as its leader Akram Kaabi.

The full statement from the​ Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)  can be read here.

(Source: US Treasury Department)

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

In a bid to control armed violence and high crime rates, the Kurdistan Regional Government has given gun owners six months to register their arms and give up their heavy weapons. KRG Interior Minister Karim Sinjari issued the Feb. 10 decree to restrict the possession of such weapons to the armed forces.

People must register all pistols and rifles at security centers. After the deadline, anyone with unregistered or illegal weapons will be prosecuted.

“We are now making preparations for implementing the decree. We printed forms for registering weapons, and this week we will announce the opening of security centers where people can register their weapons or hand over their heavy arms,” Sami Jalal, the Interior Ministry’s chief of staff, told Al-Monitor.

Click here to read the full story.

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

In a bid to control armed violence and high crime rates, the Kurdistan Regional Government has given gun owners six months to register their arms and give up their heavy weapons. KRG Interior Minister Karim Sinjari issued the Feb. 10 decree to restrict the possession of such weapons to the armed forces.

People must register all pistols and rifles at security centers. After the deadline, anyone with unregistered or illegal weapons will be prosecuted.

“We are now making preparations for implementing the decree. We printed forms for registering weapons, and this week we will announce the opening of security centers where people can register their weapons or hand over their heavy arms,” Sami Jalal, the Interior Ministry’s chief of staff, told Al-Monitor.

Click here to read the full story.

By John Lee.

Iraqi and Kurdistan Regional Government authorities have charged hundreds of children with terrorism for alleged Islamic State (also known as ISIS) affiliation, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said, adding that the prosecutions are often based on dubious accusations and forced confessions obtained through torture.

The 53-page report, “‘Everyone Must Confess’: Abuses against Children Suspected of ISIS Affiliation in Iraq,” shows that Iraqi and KRG authorities often arrest and prosecute children with any perceived connection to ISIS, use torture to coerce confessions, and sentence them to prison in hasty and unfair trials.

International law recognizes children recruited by armed groups primarily as victims who should be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society.

More here.

(Source: HRW)

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.

Iraqi security forces killed five suicide attackers northwest of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul Feb. 20. A car bomb in central Mosul killed one civilian and wounded 13 others Feb. 28, just the latest in many recent incidents that have also hit the southern and western parts of the country.

A group of Islamic State fighters entered Haditha province in Anbar governorate on the evening of Feb. 23 and crossed Lake Tharthar in private boats. In Najaf governorate, they came upon six fishermen sleeping in a tent and opened fire, killing them all.

On the same day, an IS group armed with explosive belts and machine guns attacked the village of Anamel in al-Shirqat, Saladin governorate. The residents along with the Federal Police and the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) fought back.

Click here to read the full story.

Denmark provides an additional $4 million to Security Sector Reform in Iraq

The Government of Denmark will contribute an additional 27 million Danish Kroner (approx. USD 4 million) to advance Security and Justice Sector Reform in Iraq in the coming years.

This support will be managed and facilitated by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

UNDP Security Sector Reform/ Rule of Law Programme provides advice to Government of Iraq’s Security Sector Reform Programme through partnerships with the Office of the National Security Advisor, Ministry of Interior, Higher Judicial Council, Ministry of Justice, Parliamentary Security and Defense Committee, Iraqi civil society organizations and, other international donors.

The Danish grant will, among others, be used to support implementation of the Local Police Road Map, for development of quick impact projects to improve police – public partnerships, and for mid-level management and, related specialized trainings to Iraqi police officers in close collaboration between Danish National Police, UNDP and the Ministry of Interior. Denmark has supported Iraq’s security and justice sector reform efforts since 2015.

Danish Ambassador Gert Meinecke said “Denmark maintains its commitment to supporting Iraq’s transition to stability, security and recovery”.

While visiting a mid-level management training course at the Ministry of Interior, the Danish Ambassador expressed hope that the trained Iraqi Police Officers will provide a safer and more secure day-to-day environment for the people of Iraq. “The strengthening of local police is important in the transition from ‘green to blue’ security”. added Ambassador Meinecke.

Mr. Vakhtang Svanidze, Officer in Charge of UNDP Iraq said “I would like to thank the Government of Denmark for its generous contribution of 27 Million Danish Kroner which comes in addition to the in- kind support of the Danish police advisor and, expert trainers”. “Improving key public security services such as policing and justice services in the liberated and, other areas will be a key determiner to Iraq’s transition to stability and, maintain safe returns” added Mr. Svanidze.

UNDP is very grateful to the Government of Denmark’s committed and generous contributions to UNDP Security Sector Reform/ Rule of Law Programme in Iraq.

(Source: UNDP)

A new cybercrimes law that would impose heavy prison sentences and hefty fines against peaceful critics who express themselves online would be a devastating setback for freedom of expression in Iraq, Amnesty International has said.

The organization has highlighted its serious concern over the draft “Law on Information Technology Crimes” in an open letter signed by nine other NGOs. The letter was submitted to the Iraqi authorities this morning and warns that the proposed law would “establish a climate of self-censorship in the country.

If passed, this draconian cybercrime law will be a devastating blow for freedom of expression in Iraq. The vague and overly broad wording of the law means it could easily become a tool for repression in a country where the space for critical voices is already severely restricted,” said Razaw Salihy, Iraq researcher at Amnesty International.

More here.

(Source: Amnesty International)

By John Lee.

The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) have reportedly signed a four-year political agreement which includes measures to speed up the formation of the new Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

According to a report from Rudaw, KDP deputy president Nechirvan Barzani and the PUK’s acting leader Kosrat Rasul Ali signed the cooperation deal in Erbil on Monday afternoon.

It adds that the deal was welcomed by the Change Movement (Gorran), which struck its own deal with the KDP on 16th February.

More here.

(Source: Rudaw)

GardaWorld, a global leader in comprehensive security and risk management, has made its weekly security report available to Iraq Business News readers.

Prepared by GardaWorld’s Risk Analysis Team in Iraq, this essential report includes short- and medium-term outlooks on the security situation, reports and commentary on recent significant events, and a detailed overview of developments across the country.

Please click here to download the latest report free of charge.

For more information on how GardaWorld’s services can support your business in Iraq, please contact Daniel Matthews, Senior Director Iraq, at daniel.matthews@garda.com

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will travel to Iraq on March 11 for an official visit.

Heading a high-ranking delegation, the Iranian president will be visiting the Arab country at the official invitation of Baghdad.

It will be Rouhani’s first official visit to Iraq during his tenure.

On Monday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi met with Prime Minister of Iraq Adil Abdul-Mahdi in Baghdad to make arrangements for Rouhani’s forthcoming trip.

The Iranian president’s visit would come against the backdrop of Tehran’s efforts to boost its foreign trade in the US sanctions era.

Iraq’s foreign minister said recently that his country is “not obliged” to abide by sanctions imposed by the US against Iran and would be pursuing options to continue bilateral trade.

President of Iraq Barham Salih paid a visit to Tehran in November 2018 with a ranking delegation for a series of political and economic talks.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart at that time, Rouhani said the value of trade and economic interaction between Tehran and Baghdad stood at around $12 billion, adding that the two neighbors have the potential for a $20-billion trade target.

Earlier this month, governors of the central banks of Iran and Iraq signed an agreement to develop a payment mechanism aimed at facilitating banking ties between the two neighboring countries.

According to governor of the Central Bank of Iran Abdolnaser Hemmati, Iran is going to open euro and dinar-based accounts to process transactions for trade in oil and gas.

Describing Iraq as Iran’s major partner, Hemmati said the two countries have agreed to make the banking ties much stronger.

He also stated that Iraqi companies can reciprocally open accounts in Iranian banks and conduct transactions in dinar.

In December 2018, Chairman of Iran-Iraq Chamber of Commerce Yahya Ale-Eshaq said the central banks of Iran and Iraq were finalizing negotiations to begin trade in their own currencies.

Iraq’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim has made it clear that his country cannot cut off trade ties with Iran under the US sanctions.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)