U.S. Government to Provide Additional $100 Million for Iraq Stabilization

US Chargé d’Affaires Joey Hood has announced that the United States Government intends to provide an additional $100 million to help stabilize liberated areas once held by the Islamic State.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will provide the funds to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).  With this $100 million contribution, the U.S. Government will have provided $358 million to stabilization efforts in Iraq since 2015.

The Funding Facility for Stabilization is supported by the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and managed in cooperation with the Government of Iraq.

The United States and the GOI are committed to creating the conditions to allow displaced Iraqis to return to their homes and start to rebuild their lives.  Strengthened with new funding, this stabilization program will restore essential services, such as water, electricity, sewage, health, housing, and education.

In his announcement, the Chargé called on Anbar’s elected officials, tribal sheikhs, and residents to protect the project work sites and ‎do their part to re-integrate back into their communities all displaced Iraqis who wished to return home.

(Source: U.S. Embassy Baghdad)

Creativity flourishes as Mosul’s Fine Arts College officially opens

The newly-rehabilitated College of Fine Arts at Mosul University has been officially opened by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Iraq.

The College, rehabilitated by UNDP with financial support from the United States Government through USAID, offers third-level art courses ranging from music, theatre, painting, and sculpture, and will benefit 600 students from across Iraq.

The renovation work included plastering and repainting the classroom walls, repairing doors and windows, replacing the roof and restoring electrical systems.

During ISIL’s occupation of Mosul between 2014 and 2017, the College suffered extensive damage and subsequently closed. Artworks were destroyed and strewn across the campus, as art-making was believed to contradict Islamic State ideology.

“Mosul once sat at the epicentre of Iraq’s cultural identity, so the reopening of this college is a significant milestone for local communities,” says Head of UNDP Stabilization, Dr Mohammedsiddig Mudawi.

“Art as a form of expression has allowed people of Mosul – many of them students who have been born into years of conflict – heal from the atrocities faced under ISIL.  It’s wonderful to see a rejuvenation of this artistic talent here at the College,” adds Dr. Mudawi.

Joey Hood, Chargé d’Affaires of the US Mission in Iraq, says: “Through the United Nations Development Program Funding Facility for Stabilization, the United States is rehabilitating 14 buildings here at Mosul University, including the College of Fine Arts, where1 I am proud to see that students are once again in class.”

The ceremony included a theatrical performance by art students as well as an art exhibition in the College’s refurbished courtyard.

The College rehabilitation project is also supported by the Government of Canada, which funded the rehabilitation of water pump station on campus. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) has funded the supply of furniture and equipment for the College.

(Source: UNDP)

By John Lee.

US-based investment giant BlackRock has increased its shareholding in Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP) to 5 percent, up from 4.89 percent.

Shares in the company have risen 35 percent since the start of the year.

In 2016, GKP announced that it was in default on its debt obligations, which led to a restructuring in which bondholders took control of the company.

(Source: GKP)

US-based Textron Aviation Defense has been awarded a $15,350,000 contract for continued support for the completion of the reconstitution of 15 T-6A aircraft.

This modification provides for a schedule extension to complete the reconstitution of 15 T-6A aircraft and procure cartridge actuated devices and propellant actuated devices. Work will be performed at Imam Ali Air Base, Iraq, and is expected to be complete by July 31, 2019.

This modification involves 100 percent foreign military sales to Iraq, and brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $35,338,422. Foreign military sales funds in the full amount are being obligated at the time of award. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Training Aircraft Division, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

Acting US Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan met Iraqi Council of Representatives Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi at the Pentagon on Wednesday to reaffirm the strategic security partnership between the U.S. and Iraq and the U.S. commitment to a sovereign, secure, and prosperous Iraq.

The secretary extended his condolences to the speaker for the tragic ferry accident in Mosul that killed more than a hundred civilians last week.

The leaders discussed the enduring value of the U.S.-Iraq security partnership and ways to better partner against the enduring threat ISIS poses to both nations and to the world. U.S. security assistance is specifically designed to empower Iraqi forces to defeat ISIS and prevent its resurgence.

The leaders agreed that the U.S.-Iraq security partnership makes us all safer—Iraqis, Americans, and regional allies alike. They also agreed on the value of the international Coalition to Defeat ISIS and the need for continued Coalition support to Iraq.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

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

Pro-Iran factions are pushing for the move just as the Islamic State is starting to hit back.

Momentum is building among deputies in the Iraqi parliament to oust U.S. troops entirely from the country—an outcome that would leave Iraq’s political future in the hands of neighboring Iran and leave its citizens more vulnerable to the Islamic State.

Today, the United States fields an estimated 5,200 troops in Iraq. They are there as part of a security agreement with the Iraqi government to advise, assist, and support that country’s troops in the fight against the Islamic State.

But the Iraqi parliament is expected to vote soon on draft laws calling for a full withdrawal. For now, things don’t look good for the troops.

Click here to read the full story.

By John Lee.

Ride-sharing services Uber, from the United States, and Careem of Dubai, have reached an agreement for Uber to acquire Careem for $3.1 billion, consisting of $1.7 billion in convertible notes and $1.4 billion in cash. The acquisition of Careem is subject to applicable regulatory approvals. The transaction is expected to close in Q1 2020.

Uber will acquire all of Careem’s mobility, delivery, and payments businesses across the greater Middle East region, ranging from Morocco to Pakistan, with major markets including Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Upon closing, Careem will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Uber, preserving its brand. Careem co-founder and CEO Mudassir Sheikha will lead the Careem business, which will report to its own board made up of three representatives from Uber and two representatives from Careem. Careem and Uber will operate their respective regional services and independent brands.

Established in July 2012, Careem operates in 120 cities across 15 countries and has created more than one million economic opportunities in the region.

Careem entered the Iraqi market in January 2018.

(Source: Uber)

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

As more factions within Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) are being designated as terrorists by the US administration on account of their close ties with the Iranian side, Tehran is moving toward pulling the Iraqi file from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and leaving it with the Foreign Ministry, local reports say.

This reported shift in Iranian policy would seek to address a number of critical concerns — none more important, perhaps, than protecting the PMU, which is striving to repurpose itself as a fully-fledged security institution, especially after Washington explicitly told Iranian authorities that supporting militias in Iraq must come to end as part of 12 requirements outlined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in November for the lifting of US sanctions.

Click here to read the full story.

By John Lee.

The Trump administration has reportedly granted Iraq a further 90-day extension to the waiver exempting it from US sanctions on Iran.

CNBC quotes a senior State Department official as saying on condition of anonymity:

“While this waiver is intended to help Iraq mitigate energy shortages, we continue to discuss our Iran-related sanctions with our partners in Iraq.”

According to some energy analysts, without continued sanctions exemptions, Iraq could lose more than a third of its power overnight.

More here.

(Source: CNBC)

By John Lee.

US-based QSC has announced that GSL Professional will begin distributing QSC Systems and Live Sound portfolios in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) region, including Iraq, beginning 1 July 2019.

Ron Marchant, Senior Director Sales Management, QSC EMEASA, said:

As QSC continues to expand the Q-SYS Ecosystem and Live Sound portfolio and focus on specific vertical markets, we look forward to working with GSL Professional to provide new and existing customers the service and support needed in order to accelerate growth in the region.

Adrian Curtis, Managing Director, GSL Professional, said:

“As QSC continues to become a force in the market, GSL is the ideal partner to provide the technical expertise and design consult to ensure customers understand the breadth of the QSC portfolio while helping them deliver real business outcomes.”

(Source: QSC)