As a part of his meetings with a number of leaders and heads of State, President Salih held in-depth talks with US President Donald Trump on Wednesday, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.

The President stressed the need to intensify international efforts to establish international and regional security and stability, noting that their consolidation and strengthening is the only way to ensure comprehensive and lasting peace in the region.

His Excellency added that Iraq is eager to establish balanced relationships with all friends and allies to strengthen its sovereignty, respect its independent decision, achieve the interests of Iraqis, continue the economic development and reconstruction. In addition to Iraq must not be turned into a battleground to settle scores, he stated.

The US President, in turn, reiterated his country’s support for Iraq, showed his desire to have a closer relation, expand the scope of cooperation and raise the trade volume between Iraq and US to serve both peoples. Iraq’s pivotal role in the region, he appreciated.

Discussions covered the presence of foreign forces, the reduction in troops strength in the country as well as the importance of respecting Iraqis people’s demands in maintaining national sovereignty and ensuring security and stability.

(Source: Office of the Iraqi President)

By John Lee.

The head of Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) has reportedly said that the bank would stop processing payments for Iranian gas imports if a US sanctions exemption expires next month.

Faisal al-Haimus told AFP:

“As a bank, the most important thing we have is that we are compliant (with international regulations). That’s why people trust us.”

Iraq relies heavily on Iran to support its struggling electricity sector.

When the United States imposed sanctions on Iran’s energy sector in 2018, it granted Iraq a series of temporary waivers to allow it to buy gas from Iran.

More here.

(Source: AFP)

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

Abdul Mahdi urges Kurds to help rid Iraq of US troops

Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi arrived Jan. 11 in Erbil — his first official visit to the Kurdistan region since taking office — to discuss the country’s stability and the need for Kurdistan to cooperate with a push to expel US forces.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted Jan. 8 that Iran will “kick all US forces out of the region” in response to the Jan. 3 killing by US forces of Qasem Soleimani, chief commander of the Quds Force in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units.

Click here to read the full story.

By John Lee.

US-based Schlumberger has reported that Iraq has contributed to its revenue growth in the region.

In its full-year results for 2019, the company said:

“Sequential international growth was led by the Middle East & Asia area, where revenue increased 5% driven by higher year-end product sales in Kuwait, Iraq, and Oman.”

(Source: Schlumberger)

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.

Iraqi Kurdistan president: ‘We are not scared of Iran, but we respect Iran’

The assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in a Jan. 3 drone strike carried out by the United States sent shock waves throughout the region.

Those who argued that Tehran would take its time to retaliate proved wrong. On the night of Jan. 8, Iran launched more than a dozen missiles on Iraqi bases housing US forces. Several struck the Ain al-Assad base west of Baghdad.

Several others landed in an open field near an air base in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Nobody was killed. The attack was seen, however, as a clear message from Tehran about the potential punishment Iraqis would face if they pursue their relations with the United States.

Click here to read the full story.

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.

Foreign troops’ future in Iraq uncertain as clashes continue

For the security of its personnel, NATO has temporarily suspended its training activities in Iraq, given the recent violence there. Iraqis seem divided over what that will mean for their safety.

The United States on Jan. 3 assassinated Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani and the deputy head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in a drone attack near the Baghdad airport.

Iran retaliated by firing missiles at military bases in Iraq where US troops are stationed. There are also mass protests taking place in Iran and Iraq.

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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.

Killers target activists performing logistics for Iraqi protests

Forces opposed to the protests in Iraq appear to have stepped up operations to kill protest activists and journalists covering the demonstrations following the escalation of the crisis between the United States and Iran in Iraq.

Hundreds of protesters have been reported killed since the protests began in early October. But there has been a subset of killings that has targeted protest activists who have been raising funds, providing ambulance services and mobilizing demonstrators.

Journalists providing the public with information about the protests also have been killed in an apparent bid to curtail coverage.

Click here to read the full article.

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

Senate Armed Services Chairman Inhofe endorses Iraq sanctions

The Donald Trump administration is doubling down on its Iraq pressure campaign, threatening to impose devastating sanctions on the fragile country should Baghdad move forward with its threats to expel US forces.

And the policy has buy-in from key Republican lawmakers, who are in no hurry to push back against the president’s sanctions threats.

Click here to read the full article.

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

Senate Armed Services Chairman Inhofe endorses Iraq sanctions

The Donald Trump administration is doubling down on its Iraq pressure campaign, threatening to impose devastating sanctions on the fragile country should Baghdad move forward with its threats to expel US forces.

And the policy has buy-in from key Republican lawmakers, who are in no hurry to push back against the president’s sanctions threats.

Click here to read the full article.

By John Lee.

The Trump administration has reportedly threatened to block Iraq’s access to its funds in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York if Iraq expels US troops from the country.

The Wall Street Journal quoted unnamed Iraqi officials as saying that the US State Department warning came after the Iraqi parliament voted in favour of a resolution demanding the removal of American forces from Iraq.

Iraq uses the account to deposit its oil sale revenues and pay government salaries and contracts.

According to the most recent financial statement from the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI), the Federal Reserve held about $3 billion in overnight deposits at the end of 2018.

(Source: Wall Street Journal)