By Aaron Majid, for Foreign Policy. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

These days, Tehran is having trouble getting what it wants from its neighbor—a development Washington can encourage by backing off.

It almost goes without saying these days that Iran dominates its western neighbor. On April 27, for example, Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed tweeted that Iran’s regime “controls” Iraq.

Now-U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton once compared Tehran’s grip on Iraq to the Soviet Union’s stranglehold over Eastern Europe during the late 1940s.

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

Will the Trump administration abort Iran’s land bridge to the Mediterranean?

As the showdown between Washington and Tehran escalates elsewhere in the Gulf, Iran is giving high priority to an effort to secure, control and reopen the al-Bukamal border crossing at Qaim, the only Syrian-Iraqi border crossing under Iranian control, to solidify its influence in the Levant and mitigate the impact of US sanctions.

It remains to be seen, however, whether Iran will pull off this move and how the Donald Trump administration might react.

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By John Lee.

The Netherlands has resumed its training mission in Iraq, following a brief suspension due to security concerns resulting from US-Iranian tensions in the region.

The Dutch Ministry of Defence announced that, after a re-assessment of the situation, its courses can be re-started.

A number of Dutch people are training Iraqi commandos in Baghdad. Peshmerga’s are trained at the northern Erbil. The Kurdish fighters are taught, among other things, marksmanship, leadership and the protection of large areas.

Since 2015, the Netherlands has been participating in the international coalition that is fighting against terrorist organization ISIS in Iraq.

(Source: Dutch Ministry of Defence)

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.

Iraqi factions a wild card in US-Iran blame game

It’s hard to tell what’s really on the minds of Iranian and US officials in the flurry of words they’ve exchanged this week, but Baghdad has been perfectly clear about any potential confrontation between the two: not in my backyard.

Amid prolonged dares and double-dares between Tehran and Washington — punctuated with claims from both sides that they don’t want a war — Iraq has made it known it won’t become a proxy battleground.

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By Padraig O’Hannelly.

Last week, the US Embassy in Baghdad ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. Government employees from Iraq, as tension mounts between the Trump administration and neighbouring Iran. In the meantime, several other organisations have taken similar moves.

While this has made headlines, has there been any real change on the ground?

Iraq Business News spoke with Martin Aggar, General Manager of Al-Burhan Security, to get his perspective on developments.

He says that while some people have changed their travel plans in response to the increased tensions, in practice little has changed in Baghdad:

Our operations team is closely monitoring the situation, and apart from one minor incident last night, there has not been a significant increase in security-related activity or general threat levels.

“Nevertheless, some clients have chosen not to leave our secure accommodation at the Al-Burhan Centre.

“But with meeting facilities on site, and also at our villa in Al-Mansour, we can still help them to see the people they need to see while visiting Iraq. We’re equipped for all situations.”

The events of the past week seem to many to be at odds with the general trend in Iraq. Aggar explains:

This all comes against a background of steadily improving conditions in Iraq; people feel safer, infrastructure is improving, and international companies are taking more of an interest in the opportunities to be had here.

“That’s why we’ve invested in the newest and best armoured vehicles, a VIP meet-and-greet service at the airport, and the full package of services that executives need and expect when they come here to do business.

“And our sister company Al-Burhan Airways is the only private operator licensed to fly helicopters in Iraq, so we can bring visitors quickly and safely wherever they need to be in the country.

Asked how he expects this to play out, he says:

The current tensions are the result of Iran-US relations, and while they don’t originate in Iraq, they do of course influence this country.  

“However, the Iraqi government is very focussed on developing the economy and moving Iraq forward.

“The opportunities are huge and the people are determined to succeed; I think in future we’ll look back on this as the early stage of a boom period for Iraq.

By John Lee.

Oil Minister Thamer al-Ghadban has criticised ExxonMobil‘s decision to temporarily evacuate staff from the West Qurna oil field as “unacceptable and unjustified”.

In a statement on Sunday, he said the move was “political“, and pointed out that other international oil companies are continuing to work freely.

According to CNN, the company evacuated about 30 foreign engineers from Basra as a “temporary precautionary measure“.

(Sources: Ministry of Oil, CNN)

By John Lee.

The U.S. Senate has confirmed the nomination of Ambassador Matthew Tueller to be the Ambassador to Iraq.

Tueller has most recently served as U.S. Ambassador to Yemen.

A native of Utah, Utah, his other overseas assignments have included Ambassador to Kuwait, Deputy Chief of Mission at Embassy Cairo; Political Minister Counselor at Embassy Baghdad; Deputy Chief of Mission at Embassy Kuwait; Political Counselor at Embassy Riyadh; Chief of the U.S. Office in Aden, Yemen; Deputy Chief of Mission at Embassy Doha; Political Officer at Embassy London; and Political Officer and Consular Officer at Embassy Amman.

His Washington assignments have included Deputy Director in the Office of Northern Gulf Affairs and Egypt Desk Officer.

(Sources: US Embassy, US State Department)

From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

An apparent rocket attack has hit the high-security Green Zone. The area houses key government buildings and the United States embassy.

Iraq’s state-run news agency says a Katyusha rocket crashed in the area without causing any casualties.

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford joins us from Baghdad to discuss the latest updates:

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

By John Lee.

General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems has been awarded a $92,400,000 modification (P00003) to Foreign Military Sales (Iraq) contract W15QKN-18-D0020 for 120mm munition high explosive with tracer tank ammunition cartridges.

Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Oct. 16, 2022.

According to Defense World, the ammunition will be used for Iraqi Army M1A1 Abrams tanks, such as the one pictured.

(Sources: US Dept of Defense, Defense World)