Iraq, the Full Picture

Iraq, the Full Picture

Despite the often grim news coming from Iraq in recent weeks, many businesses are seizing the opportunity to go where others won’t.

In this week’s newsletter, for example, we report on a new truck distribution deal in Iraqi Kurdistan, a Turkish company completing a storage tank project, and a Malaysian firm planning to break into the Iraqi helicopter charter market.

We also have news of a new road that will greatly reduce travel times to and from the Iranian border, and an assurance from the Oil Minister that southern oil production is unaffected by the recent violence further North.

People who want the full picture of Iraq read Iraq Business News, and the most effective way to get your message to them is to advertising with us. We have a wide range of options to suit all budgets — you can find more details here.

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The Oil Will Continue to Flow

The Oil Will Continue to Flow

By Padraig O’Hannelly.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has upped the ante in the continuing dispute with Baghdad over oil export revenues.

In response to what it describes as “the Iraqi federal government … not sharing revenues in accordance with the Iraqi Constitution“, the KRG has threatened to take legal action against anyone who buys oil from the State Oil Marketing Organisation (SOMO).

This follows Baghdad’s earlier threat to take legal action against buyers of Kurdish crude, which is now flowing in greater volumes through the new pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan; these threats appear to have frightened some potential buyers, with several tanker-loads of Kurdish crude still remaining unsold after weeks at sea.

It now seems probable that these issues will have to be resolved in the context of more autonomous or even fully independent Kurdistan, which many expect to follow a planned referendum in the region.

In the meantime, it seems unlikely that the potential for courtroom battles will stop the flow of oil from either Kurdistan or Southern Iraq to where it is needed.

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A Thawing of Relations with Saudi Arabia?

A Thawing of Relations with Saudi Arabia?

By Padraig O’Hannelly.

Earlier this week, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud pledged $500 million of humanitarian aid from Saudi Arabia to the Iraqi people, to be administered by the United Nations.

This could be a very significant move, given that relations between Iraq and its powerful and wealthy neighbour have been strained for many years.

As recently as March, the Iraqi prime minister accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of effectively declaring war on his country by funding Sunni fighters in Anbar province.

And while Saudi Arabia denies any such funding, it is generally believed that wealthy individuals in the country are a key source of funding for insurgents, including ISIS.

This development can only serve to improve relations between Iraq and Saudi Arabia and is to be welcomed.

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Tuesday is Next Deadline, but don’t Hold your Breath!

Tuesday is Next Deadline, but don’t Hold your Breath!

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

The session on Tuesday to choose a new leadership to rescue Iraq from meltdown on was arguably one of the most important Iraqi MPs had ever attended.

Roads within a 2 kilometres of Baghdad’s Green Zone had been sealed. Journalists attending the key parliamentary session said they walked 40 minutes in searing heat through 10 security checkpoints to get in. The ring of steel around the National Assembly building had never been tighter.

Right on time the whole show began to play out on state television. It started harmoniously enough with an orchestra playing an uplifting version of the Iraqi National Anthem – the kind of music associated with national pride and a sense of unity.

Lots of hand shakes and smiles all round; you could almost believe that at last Iraqi politicians were getting their act together to begin the process of selecting a powerful new government to beat Sunni jihadist revolution.

But when the music died, the bickering began.

Arab MPs accused the Kurds of selling their oil to Israel. One shouted: “Crush the heads of the Kurds!

Other allegations flew around the assembly hall. The Sunnis were furious about mention of the jihadis movement Islamic State.

Fingers were jabbed in faces. Some politicians raged at each other nose to nose.

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What is a Caliphate?

What is a Caliphate?

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

Iraq’s extraordinary history has turned another page. Jihadists – who only 3 weeks ago swept into northern Iraq – have now declared thousands square kilometres between Aleppo jn Syria and the governorate of Diyala in eastern Iraq, as a caliphate.

In an audio recording distributed on the web, the extremist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) announced that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been appointed caliph and is now the leader of all Muslims wherever they are. The group then changed its name to the Islamic State.

So what is a caliphate?

The caliphate was the Islamic state established after the death of the prophet Mohammed in the beginning of the seventh century.

The caliph, a supreme religious and political leader was at its helm and deemed a successor to the prophet Mohammed – al khilafa in Arabic means the succession. Sunni Muslims believe the caliph should be elected by the people. Shi’ites think the leader should be an imam appointed by God.

Previous historic dynasties include the Rashidun, Umayyads, Abbasids, Fatimids, Sokoto and the Ottomans. Kemal Attaurk, first President of the Turkish Republic abolished the last one in 1924.

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Posted in John Cookson, Security0 Comments

John Kerry: Mission Impossible?

John Kerry: Mission Impossible?

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

US Secretary of State John Kerry’s whistle-stop swing through the Middle East and Europe will likely include a meeting this week with Iraq’s embattled caretaker prime-minister Nouri al-Maliki.

At the Baghdad summit we can expect Secretary Kerry to again hammer home Washington’s demand that the Iraqi premier form an inclusive government of national unity with Sunni politicians given prominent roles. The top US official will also seek assurance that the 300 American military advisers being sent to shore up Iraq’s military are immune from prosecution on Iraqi soil.

In my opinion Secretary Kerry’s visit to Baghdad is almost certainly mission impossible, as Al-Maliki is not likely to relax his hard-line stance on either issue.

On Sunni inclusiveness Washington has made the same impassioned plea for years and Al-Maliki has ignored it, even as unrest raged in Al-Anbar and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned Iraq was facing disaster. It was a high-risk political gamble by Al-Maliki, but the recent general election result shows millions of Iraqis supported him and endorsed his policies.

On the question of whether 300 advisers will not be tried in Iraq if they commit crimes; again Al-Maliki is unlikely to U-turn on his consistent policy of non-immunity, especially as few in Baghdad can forget how 4 American Blackwater security guards, working for the State Department, escaped prosecution in Iraq for shooting dead 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007 – their US trial is ongoing.

Al-Maliki’s tough position was boosted Sunday when Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei came out and expressed strong opposition to intervention in Iraq by the United States – or anyone else – and he insisted that the Iraqis themselves can bring an end to chaos sweeping the country.

Khamenei also suspects Washington wants to keep Iraq under its control and place its own stooges in power.

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Posted in John Cookson, Politics, Security0 Comments

Can 300 US Military Advisers save Iraq?

Can 300 US Military Advisers save Iraq?

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

President Obama opposed the 2003 US-led war which toppled Saddam. He based his run for the White House on ending wars rather than starting them.

So his decision announced at a press conference last night of sending 300 advisers to Iraq – including Green Berets and other special forces – must have been taken very reluctantly.

America has already spent a trillion dollars and lost 4,500 military lives ousting one dictator, training Iraqi security forces and installing a Western-style democracy in Iraq.

So the question is at this pivotal time in Iraq’s history: will 300 US advisers sent in now prevent it plunging in to the abyss?

Acknowledging America’s laudable intentions, and with great regret: I think probably not.

The US sent thousands of its finest to train Iraqi forces for 8 years in the post Saddam era. In 2006 I spent time with intelligent and thoughtful American colonels in towns like Baiji; dedicated men who had taken time to study Iraqi history; honorable commanders who had established a true rapport with their Iraqi counterparts.

The goal: to turn the Iraqi armed forces into disciplined and effective fighting machine, backed by some of the finest military equipment in the world.

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The Eyes of the World are on Iraq

The Eyes of the World are on Iraq

The eyes of the world are on Iraq at the moment, as the country struggles to contain the advance of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, ISIS). And while the attack on the important oil refinery at Baiji is a setback for the government, many are now of the opinion that ISIS has no realistic chance of taking Baghdad.

More eyes on Iraq also means more eyes on Iraq Business News, as we increase our coverage of events with:

But with all the media attention, it’s important to remember that events can swing just as dramatically in the other direction; just as the rise of ISIS took many by surprise, so too could the backlash against them.

In marketing, as in investing, there can be value in contrarianism, in going against the crowd and seeing opportunities where others just see risk. So while this may not look like an obvious time to advertise, getting your company’s name in front of all those extra readers now could position it just right for the next phase in Iraq’s development.

Why not contact us now to see what Iraq Business News can do for you. We’ll even give an extra 5 percent discount to all new customers booking before the end of June.

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