Moving Beyond Tribalism

Moving Beyond Tribalism

By Padraig O’Hannelly.

The world has broadly welcomed the approval by the Iraqi parliament of the new cabinet of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

While the formulation of the new cabinet attempts to keep all factions involved and working together, it was clear from al-Abadi’s speech that his arm was twisted in the negotiations, and that given free rein he would have picked a different team.

It remains to be seen whether the allocation of prestigious titles to former Prime Ministers Nouri al-Maliki and Ayad Allawi, for example, will facilitate co-operation between the rival factions, or simply serve as a reminder of the old tribal conflicts that hold the country back.

The new government’s first priority must be the containment and ultimate defeat of the Islamic State, and this will require a major shake-up of the armed forces. With that in mind, the key ministries of defense and the interior are expected to be announced next week, and is to be hoped that these appointments can be made on the basis of suitability rather than tribe.

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Posted in Blog, Politics, Security0 Comments

Mobile Miracles  –  Educational Vision

Mobile Miracles – Educational Vision

Madeleine White is a capacity building specialist and Editor-in-Chief of nina-iraq.com

In the last few weeks Nina has run three major interviews. We have spoken to Iraqi civil society leader and global Vital Voices winner Suaad Allami, women’s rights activist and MP Mayson Damaluji as well as Kurdish politician and business leader Parwen Babaker. All three have cited education, linked to inward investment, as being crucial if the current situation in Iraq is to be combatted – and eventually consigned to the distant pages of history.

All wanted to promote business as usual with good education and linked training opportunities for all complementing the region’s natural resources. Today however, a report issued by Al Fanar (regional higher education dossier) highlights that higher education is becoming nigh on impossible to access in Northern Iraq, announcing that IS has shut down 8 universities.

There is obviously no short term, easy answer but I do want to present a perspective, based on my belief that educational technology coupled with the scalability and accessibility of the internet can transform lives.  Good content when coupled with satellite broadband can be especially powerful when access to formal educational opportunities are denied; as even the most remote rural or conflict areas can be reached. With the regional challenges being what they are at the moment, putting in place a way to ensure uninterrupted access to education and training might prove to be game-changing in the medium to longer term.

The 2013 the Arab States Mobile Observatory Report issued by GSM Association (representing all mobile operators) suggests that by 2025 spectrum release broadband penetration in Iraq would lead to an increase of +9.5 million in mobile connections which in turn would  lead to  4.8% GDP growth. This translates to +US $10.5 billion with an estimated job creation figure of +727,400. Currently mobile penetration in Iraq stands at around 85%.

These figures complement a growing body of expert studies that create a break-down of how mobile telephony impacts economic growth and productivity. Many development economists have come to recognise mobile as a core means by which societies and economies can transform and grow. Mobile phones in the region are evolving from simple communication tools into service delivery platforms. But how much more important is this virtual reach in nation building when mainstream access is threatened or has been removed?

Studies show that good quality educational content, delivered in a way that is non-discriminatory (independent of gender religion race etc.) creates an environment that fosters collaboration and growth; linked to the reach of mobile broadband as described above the benefits can be significant. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) have long been an understood supplement to – or even alternative to traditional methods at higher education level.

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Posted in Blog, Education & Training, Madeleine White4 Comments

Getting the Balance Right

Getting the Balance Right

Iraq-watchers are eagerly awaiting the announcement of Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi’s proposed cabinet, which is due to be put before parliament in the coming week.

As always, it will be a difficult balancing act, but now more than ever it will be crucial to get that balance right.

Under ‘normal’ circumstances, it would seem sensible to reduce the number of ministries from more than 30 at present, but the fine tuning required to get agreement among the competing factions will make this difficult in practice.

With much riding on the outcome, it is clear that Haider al-Abadi has the support of many both inside and outside Iraq, and we look forward to seeing the results of his four weeks of deliberations.

(Flag image via Shutterstock)

Posted in Blog, Politics0 Comments

Your Opinions Matter!

Your Opinions Matter!

As the situation in Iraq changes day by day, we are more interested than ever to hear your views on the developments in the country.

Many of you have been kind enough to participate in our first online survey – State of Iraq 2014 — and we’d like to say a big “Thank You” for your contribution.

For anyone who has not yet been able to take part, we are keeping the survey open, and would welcome your opinions. The survey consists of ten short multiple-choice questions and will only take a minute to complete.

We expect to publish results in early September.

Thanking you in advance,

Your Iraq Business News team.

Please click here to take part in our survey.

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Posted in Blog3 Comments

Online Survey: State of Iraq 2014

Online Survey: State of Iraq 2014

It’s a well-known fact that Iraq Business News has the best-informed and most influential readers – you!

Now we want to hear your opinions about the current state of the country: How easy is it to do business? How is the security situation affecting you? And who do you think will lead it for the next four years?

So we invite you take part in our first online survey – State of Iraq 2014 — and can tell us what you think. It’s ten short multiple-choice questions which will only take a minute to complete.

We expect to publish results in early September.

Thanking you in advance,

Your Iraq Business News team.

Please click here to take part in our survey.

(Flag image via Shutterstock)

Posted in Blog, Industry & Trade, Politics0 Comments

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.

(Flag image via Shutterstock)

Posted in Blog, Oil & Gas0 Comments

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.

(Flag image via Shutterstock)

 

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