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Biggest Ever British Trade Mission to Iraq

Biggest Ever British Trade Mission to Iraq

The Executive Chairman of the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC), Baroness Nicholson (pictured), has announced the biggest ever British trade mission to Iraq.

In a massive push to boost UK business in Iraq the IBBC will take a 100 companies to Baghdad, Basrah and Erbil in mid-June.

A senior UK government minister will co-lead the delegation with Baroness Nicholson who said:

The British are coming! For a long time UK companies have lost out to competitors from countries in the Far East and even those closer to home like the French and the Italians.

“We have to fight back and Iraq-100 is a bold and courageous bid to put British firms in the vanguard of Iraq’s reconstruction.

The first stop for the delegation will be Baghdad for a conference and a mini trade fair at the Al Rashid Hotel. The delegation will then move on to Basrah and Erbil.

In a speech at the IBBC’s Mansion House conference, UK Foreign Minister Alistair Burt praised the mission and said trade between Iraq and Britain has increased by 40% in the last year and is now £1 billion annually.

During the five day visit delegates will meet Iraqi government officials and senior politicians.

In the coming weeks IBBC staff will fly to Iraq to meet with members of Iraq’s National Investment Commission (NIC) to finalise details of the visit including transport and security arrangements.

Baroness Nicholson said:

In trade terms this is the biggest event the IBBC has participated in and we are honoured to have the lead role.

(Source: IBBC)

Posted in 'Your Country' - United Kingdom, Industry & Trade, ‘Your Country’ – United Kingdom - Feature1 Comment

Intra-List Structure of State of Law Alliance

Intra-List Structure of State of Law Alliance

By Reidar Visser.

The following article was published by Reidar Visser, an historian of Iraq educated at the University of Oxford and currently based at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. It is reproduced here with the author’s permission. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

In previous elections in Iraq, the party shares of electoral lists running as coalitions have been important especially at the parliamentary level. In 2005, the internal structure of the all-Shiite United Iraqi Alliance was important and influenced questions like federalism and the relationship with Iran, whereas in the parliamentary elections of 2010, all three main coalitions – Iraqiyya, State of Law and the Iraqi National Alliance – featured internal dynamics that would become deeply significant after the elections.

At the provincial level, such intra-list dynamics have been less prominent until now, primarily because there was in 2005 and 2009 a tendency of political parties to contest the local elections as independent entities, or with only minimal coalitions involving a few other parties with which there were already existing ties – SCIRI’s “Islamic Basra” list in 2005 being an example of this. But in this year’s elections, coalitions were indeed significant, above all with respect to the State of Law list headed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

The reason is that shortly before the elections, Maliki radically expanded his list beyond what had been its core in the previous parliamentary election, i.e. the two main Daawa branches and the Independents movement of Hussein al-Shahristani, the deputy premier. Beyond adding the Jaafari breakaway faction of the Daawa (which had run with INA in parliamentary elections in 2010) Maliki’s new coalition lists now also include entities that historically have been more distant from the Daawa, especially the Badr group that recently split from ISCI after having served as its military wing in the past, as well as the Fadila party, another Islamist parties which emerged from the Sadrist movement after 2003.

Posted in Politics0 Comments

Final Results of Iraqi Provincial Elections

Final Results of Iraqi Provincial Elections

By Reidar Visser.

The following article was published by Reidar Visser, an historian of Iraq educated at the University of Oxford and currently based at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. It is reproduced here with the author’s permission. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Iraqi elections commission IHEC released on Saturday the final results of the provincial elections on 20 April. The seat distribution, presented below with figures from 2009 in parentheses, largely confirms the picture that emerged from initial results.

ScreenHunter_07 May. 05 15.58

Among the Shiite Islamist parties, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has lost some seats in some governorates but is still the biggest seat winner, with particularly strong positions in the governorate councils of Baghdad and Basra. Despite internal splits, ISCI has done a moderate comeback in several governorates. The Sadrists won back Maysan but otherwise are not making big advances; in Najaf, a local list is the biggest winner, exactly as in 2009. It is noteworthy that the Shiite parties that ran together in Diyala managed to emerge as the biggest winner with 12 seats; this will certainly be seen by some as an indication of increased sectarian polarization.

Posted in Politics0 Comments

Iraq Launches World’s Largest Flare Reduction Project

Iraq Launches World’s Largest Flare Reduction Project

South Gas Company, Shell and Mitsubishi today officially announced the commencement of operations of Basrah Gas Company, which will be the largest gas project in Iraq’s history and the world’s largest flares reduction project.

Basrah Gas Company is a 25-year incorporated Joint Venture between Iraq’s South Gas Company holding 51% of its shares, Shell 44% and Mitsubishi Corporation 5%. The Joint Venture captures associated gas that is currently being flared from three oil fields in southern Iraq – Rumaila, West Qurna 1 and Zubair.

Iraq has estimated natural gas reserves totaling 112.6 trillion cubic feet, the 10th largest in the world. However, due to decades of wars and sanctions that led to the deterioration of the gas infrastructure, preliminary estimates indicate that Iraq’s losses from gas flaring could amount to billions of dollars annually.

Mr. Ali Khudair, South Gas Company Director General said:

Basrah produces only around 1 billion cubic feet a day of associated gas and some 700 million cubic feet are being flared, which is wasting millions of dollars of the country’s resources every day.

“Partnering with world class companies like Shell and Mitsubishi will help Iraq fulfil its goal of developing its gas infrastructure to eliminate flaring and provide fuel to the Iraqi industry, power generation as well as income to the state.”

Under the agreement signed with the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, BGC will sell processed gas to state-owned South Gas Company. BGC will be dedicated to the rehabilitation and upgrade of the current facilities to put them back to work safely as well as building new assets which is expected to increase the production capacity from a current 400 million cubic feet per day to 2 billion cubic feet per day.

Posted in Construction & Engineering, Oil & Gas0 Comments

Iraq Offers Credit in Egypt Oil Deal

Iraq Offers Credit in Egypt Oil Deal

By John Lee.

Iraq has agreed in principle to offer a three-month, interest-free credit term to Egypt on its deal to sell 4 million barrels of crude a month.

According to the report from Dow Jones Newswires, the move could ease the fuel shortage that has recently hit the Egyptian economy.

Baghdad is to supply Cairo with 2 shipments of Basra light crude each month at international prices, but the payment will be deferred for three months with no interests incurred.

The first cargo is expected in Egypt next month once the deal is finalised; the value of the deal is close to $400 million a month, based on current market prices.

An Egyptian official told the news agency that Egypt was keen to get nine months credit, but Iraq could not agree to this.

(Source: Dow Jones)

Posted in Oil & Gas0 Comments

Partial Results from Provincial Elections

Partial Results from Provincial Elections

By Reidar Visser.

The following article was published by Reidar Visser, an historian of Iraq educated at the University of Oxford and currently based at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. It is reproduced here with the author’s permission. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

At the end of a long and dramatic week in Iraq, the Iraqi elections commission (IHEC) has released partial results of the local elections based on a count of 87-90% of the vote. At this point there is neither a formal seat distribution nor information relating to the electoral fortunes of individual candidates in accordance with the personal vote option.

Also, it should be stressed that as of midnight 25 April, no official IHEC statistics had been published online. Accordingly, the source base for what follows are Iraqi journalistic accounts of the numbers as read out by IHEC at their press conference. The most comprehensive one appears to be from the AIN news agency, but it does include some very obvious errors and numbers that don’t add up, so the following approximate calculations of percentages of votes to the major parties must be taken as nothing more than rough indications:

ScreenHunter_06 Apr. 26 17.17

Among the trends that stand out in this material are the following:

  • The relative success of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in defending his strong electoral result from the previous local elections in 2009. Whereas his State of Law coalition has lost some seats in many governorates, it is still the biggest seat-getter almost everywhere in Baghdad and the south. Apart from the capital, Maliki has particularly impressive results in Basra and the far south. Still, the fact that some seats have been lost despite a broader coalition of Shiite parties (Fadila, Badr and the Jaafari wing of the Daawa all ran with Maliki this time) indicates that there has been a certain disadvantage of incumbency at work.
  • ISCI, as represented in the Muwatin coalition, has made something of a comeback compared with its dismal performance in 2009. This is most pronounced outside the shrine cities, in provinces like Basra and Wasit. The comeback is all the more impressive given the relatively recent split with Badr, and could perhaps testify to a relatively successful process of reorganisation on the part of ISCI in the wake of the break-up.
  • The Sadrists appear to be at a standstill, not making significant progress apart from winning back Maysan and gaining some new seats in Wasit.
  • The Mid-Euphrates generally sees higher political fragmentation than the far south of the Shiite-majority areas, with much more room for local lists – including most spectacularly in Najaf where a local list came first.
  • The strong performance of the all-Shiite list in Diyala is quite remarkable and possibly a testament to increased sectarian friction in the area. The figures for the Kurdish list in Diyala seem too low in this source and are contradicted by other sources based on earlier counts.
  • With respect to the secular and Sunni camp, the single biggest difference with 2009 is the disappearance of the Sunni Islamist Tawafuq coalition, whose members are this time enrolled in various factions of the Iraqiyya movement, including most prominently Mutahhidun headed by Usama al-Nujayfi.
  • In Baghdad, Nujayfi’s Mutahhidun has emerged as the second biggest list, thus inheriting the role of Tawafuq and to some extent marginalising the mainline Iraqiyya faction on its own home turf.
  • In the other Sunni-majority governorates where elections are held – Diyala and Salahhadin – it is noteworthy that there is also considerable fragmentation and local lists have greater success than Allawi. In Salahaddin, Jamahir al-Iraqiyya was the biggest winner, whereas in Diyala, Iraqiyyat Diyala came first. The latter reportedly includes people closer to the Mutlak and Nujayfi camps.

It is now expected that final results will be published in two weeks, when the complete seat configuration as well as the identity of each new councillor will be known. At that point, the process of forming new local governments across Iraq can also begin.

Posted in Politics1 Comment

Missan Oil Company Builds New Runway

Missan Oil Company Builds New Runway

The Missan Oil Company (MOC) has announced that it has finished building a 1,700-metre runway in the Halfaya area.

It will be used to transport employees of companies like CNOOC and Petrochina to and from the international airport at Basra.

Mr. Ali M. Al-Bahadli, the director general of the MOC, said the runway is 30 metres wide, and can cater for airplanes carrying up to 50 passengers.

Production at Maysan is estimated to increase to one million barrels per day by 2017.

(Source: Ministry of Oil)

Posted in Construction & Engineering, Oil & Gas, Transportation1 Comment

Weekly Security Update

Weekly Security Update

Assaye Risk Logo (Small)

By Tom Walker, Director, Assaye Risk

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

After a brief week-long hiatus the intensity and number of high impact attacks against political and sectarian targets increased with bombings countrywide as Iraqis prepare to go to the polls on Saturday to vote for members of provincial councils in a ballot that will be a measure of the political stability and  Al-Maliki’s true political clout across the sectarian divides.  This increase in attacks follows a predictable pattern of intense activity followed by re-supply and preparation, normally spanning 10-14 days. This week the number of combined ISF and civilian fatalities was higher at 158; bringing the total number of fatalities this year to approx. 1306.

On 12 Apr at least seven people were killed and 25 wounded when a bomb exploded in front of a Sunni Muslim mosque in Diyala province as worshippers were leaving after Friday prayers.  This was followed by car bombs and blasts in cities across Iraq 15 Apr, including two explosions at a checkpoint outside Baghdad’s international airport, which killed at least 33 people. The attacks were mostly car bombs, including two blasts that killed two passengers at a checkpoint as they were on their way into the Baghdad airport complex. Attacks on the heavily guarded airport and the fortified International Zone housing many embassies are rare.

Further afield attacks also took place in Kirkuk, Tuz Khurmato and other towns from north to south long the Tigris River Valley. The most deadly attack was in Tuz Khurmato, 170 km (105 miles) north of Baghdad, where four bombs targeting police patrols killed 5 people and wounded 67, officials said.

Later on 15 Apr, a further 10 people were killed by a bomb at a car market in the Baghdad Shi’ite district of Sadr City and a blast outside a cafe in Khalis, a Shi’ite district in Diyala province. As yet no one has claimed responsibility but the capability and sophistication of these multiple attacks points towards the ISI’s continuing campaign against Shi’ites and the government, however this series of attacks could also be in direct retaliation for the attack against a Sunni mosque on 15 Apr. The ISI is regaining ground, especially in the western desert near Syria’s border, where it is benefitting from the flow of Sunni fighters opposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, especially now that the ISI have joined forces with the al-Nusra Front rebels fighting in Syria. The ISI will continue to tap into Sunni frustrations, with many Iraqi Sunnis feel with many security experts saying the ISI will seek to use the current situation and domestic political uncertainty as a recruiting tool among Sunnis who see themselves as victimized by GoI.

In line with previous weeks reporting the Syrian this week continued to seep into Iraq’s domestic fabric. This seepage was further confirmed by the news that Iraqi Shi’ite militias have begun openly acknowledging they are fighting in Syria in what they see as a worthy battle against rebels seeking to topple President Bashar al-Assad, especially his hardline Sunni opponents.  By doing so Iraqi Shi’ite fighters may gain recruitment momentum to help Assad in a war that is continuously splitting the region along sectarian lines.  In recent months, Iraqi Shi’ite militants have said volunteers are crossing into Syria to fight, often alongside Assad’s troops, or to protect the Sayyida Zeinab shrine on the outskirts of Damascus, a particularly holy place for Shi’ites.  Whilst it was widely accepted that Shiia militias were defending holy sites militia leaders, who have mostly been inactive since U.S. troops left Iraq, had been reluctant to openly acknowledge fighting in Syria, possibly because influential Shi’ite clergy opposed Iraqis joining the battle. Despite this initial reluctance it is likely that many Shiia militias now see a direct need to combat a growing Sunni insurgency and as such have ‘legitimised’ their actions in Syria. Syria’s upheaval is a political nightmare for Iraq’s Shi’ite leaders who believe a messy fall of Assad would fragment Syria along sectarian lines and bring to power a hostile, hardline Sunni Muslim regime that could stir up Iraq’s own combustible Sunni-Shi’ite mix.  This has lead many to speculate how genuine the GoI policy of non-interference in Syria really is, especially when one also considers that it refuses to endorse Western and Arab League demands for the removal of Iran’s ally Assad.

Posted in Security, Weekly Security Update0 Comments

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