Posted on 01 October 2013.
By John Lee.
According to casualty figures released today by UNAMI, a total of 979 Iraqis were killed and another 2,133 were wounded in acts of terrorism and violence in September.
The number of civilians killed was 887 (including 127 civilian police), while the number of civilians injured was 1,957 (including 199 civilian police). A further 92 members of the Iraqi Security Forces were killed and 176 were injured.
The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, said:
“As terrorists continue to target Iraqis indiscriminately, I call upon all political leaders to strengthen their efforts to promote national dialogue and reconciliation … Political, religious and civil leaders as well as the security services must work together to end the bloodshed and ensure that all Iraqi citizens feel equally protected.“
Baghdad was the worst-affected governorate in September, with 1,429 civilian casualties (418 killed and 1011 injured), followed by Ninewa, Diyala, Salahuddin and Anbar. Kirkuk, Erbil, Babil, Wasit, Dhi-Qar and Basra also reported casualties (double-digit figures).
Posted in Security
Posted on 23 September 2013.
By John Lee.
Oil officials confirmed on Monday that a leaking pipeline in the south of the country had been repaired, but planned work at the al-Basra Oil Terminal (ABOT) was continuing to restrict exports.
The leaking pipeline had caused a drop in output from the Rumaila oilfield.
Reuters reports that Iraq had restored normal output from the southern oilfields on Sunday after repairing the leak to an ageing pipeline buried three metres underground, which was caused by corrosion.
“We are planning to pump higher crude shipments for the rest of September to compensate for the reduced exports due to the pipeline leak,” a senior oil said. Iraq will also evaluate all its key oil pipelines in the south to avoid future disruption from technical problems.
“We reached a decision to push ahead with building new key pipelines in the south to make sure we have plan B for any possible disruption to crude flow,” the official added.
Posted in Oil & Gas
Posted on 20 September 2013.
FHI 360 is a nonprofit organization that envisions a world in which all individuals and communities have the opportunity to reach their highest potential. Based in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, and with projects across the globe, FHI 360 works in several sectors, including capacity building and economic development. One of its initiatives, the Iraq Opportunities Project or Foras (“opportunity” in Arabic), is a 2.5 year project funded by the US Agency for International Development. The Foras Project seeks to connect Iraqi businesses with qualified workers, both alleviating unemployment and boosting the country’s fledgling private sector in four regions: Erbil, Baghdad, Karbala/Najaf, and Basrah. Foras uses innovative solutions to serve job seekers, including an online jobs database linked to a text message-based jobs alert system. The project also helps job seekers acquire in-demand skills, helping Iraq-based employers hire locally. The Foras Project will award one or more contracts to Iraqi media buy (television and radio air-time purchasing) companies to reach the target regions of the Foras Project.
EOI – Media Buy Companies
Posted on 19 September 2013.
By Tom Walker, Director, Assaye Risk
Violence has intensified in Iraq this week as the ISI stepped up both their domestic and international campaign with a wave of bombings.
The impact of the Syrian conflict continues to be felt both in Iraq and Syria. In line with their domestic campaign in Iraq the ISI have also done much the same in Syria, with repercussions on both side sof the border. ISI rebels in Syria have declared an offensive against two other insurgent factions, underlining growing turmoil and infighting in the conflict, accusing the two other groups of attacking its forces and suggested they may have even collaborated with the government.
Activists and analysts have however reported a surge in clashes between rebels in recent months, saying they were more to do with rivalry over territory and spoils of war than ideology. In addition to the frayed relationships between Islamist and non-Islamist rebel groups, some fighters say there have also been raising tensions among Islamist fighters. Numerous sources said most of the Islamist clashes were down to localized power disputes, but some added there was also a larger conflict over how to impose Islamist rule.
This increase in internecine fighting in Syria poses another question, that of whether the ISI are over-stretching themselves on two international fronts and whether they will remain capable of maintaining their current campaign in Iraq whilst fighting a high intensity campaign in Syria. The escape of up to 500 Al Qaeda combatants last month has undoubtedly served to swell their ranks and increase their capability however they are reputed to be suffering heavy casualties in Syria and one could question how long they can keep a similar tempo of operations with a similar number of trained personnel.
For the first time in some weeks Baquba was targeted resulting in the deaths of up to 30 people in a sophisticated double bombing. Two roadside bombs detonated outside a mosque as Sunni Muslim worshippers were leaving following Friday prayers. A further 25 people were wounded in the Baquba explosions, which occurred about ten minutes apart. The second explosion tore through a crowd of people who had rushed to help those hurt in the first blast. Separately on Friday a car bomb killed three Shi’ite Muslim pilgrims from Iran in the city of Samarra, where the bombing of a shrine in 2006 touched off the worst sectarian carnage to engulf Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam.
Posted in Politics, Security, Weekly Security Update
Posted on 17 September 2013.
By John Lee.
A pipeline leak has restricted oil flow to Iraq’s southern export terminals, according to Reuters.
A rate of 1.58 million barrels per day was being achieved on Tuesday, compared to an export rate of 2.3 million bpd in August.
Output from Rumaila has been cut due to the leak, while two berths at the al-Basra Oil Terminal (ABOT) are closed due to the early stages of planned work.
Posted in Oil & Gas
Posted on 14 September 2013.
By Omar al-Shaher for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Iraq has decided to exempt foreign companies involved in the Faw Port project from customs duties and taxes. This decision was an attempt to accelerate the completion of the stalled project, through which Iraq has sought to confront Kuwait’s maritime expansion by building a similar port nearby.
A government statement issued on Aug. 27 said, “In accordance with the laws in force, foreign companies shall be exempt from taxes and duties for the purpose of executing the Faw Port project, given that it is a developmental project.”
In April 2012, Iraq laid the foundation stone for the Faw Port project in the al-Faw peninsula in southern Basra. The project has an estimated cost of 4.6 billion euros ($6.1 billion), and the port’s annual handling capacity is predicted to be around 99 million tons. This would make it one of the largest ports in the Arabian Gulf region. Yet construction on the project has stalled and little progress has been made.
The Greek construction company Archirodon was awarded the contract to build the port’s eastern breakwater. Yet the companies that will win contracts to construct the port’s main structure and western breakwater have yet to be revealed. There have been reports that four companies submitted distinguished proposals last month, and one of them will be selected within days.
Speaking to Al-Monitor, Ihsan al-Awadi, a member of the parliamentary Service Committee, said, “The completion of the Faw Port has been stalled due to political conflicts and security conditions.” He explained, “Lately, work on the project has changed.”
Awadi said, “The required designs were completed by companies contracted by Iraq in 2009 to build the port, and they were handed over to the Iraqi administration. Construction on the initial parts of the project, which consist of the eastern breakwater, has started.” He added, “A canal must be built in the sea with a width of 12-13 meters and a depth of 200 meters,” noting that “As soon as the drilling rigs … arrive, work will immediately start in order to build the canal.”
Posted in Construction & Engineering, Transportation
Posted on 10 September 2013.
By Hayder al-Khoei for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
A memoir published in 2012 by a representative of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani sheds new light on the Battle of Najaf that unfolded in August 2004 in southern Iraq. Hamid al-Khafaf, Sistani’s Beirut representative, takes readers behind the scenes in a fascinating account of a crucial period in Iraq’s contemporary history in Al-Rihla al-‘Ilajiya li Samahat al-Sayyid al-Sistani wa Azmat al-Najaf ‘Aam 2004 (The Medical Journey of His Eminence Sayyid al-Sistani and the Crisis of Najaf in 2004).
Many parts of the book read like a fast-paced movie script, with intimate details of back-channel talks and frantic last-minute deals in an effort to avoid a catastrophe. US-backed Iraqi forces were itching to storm the holy shrine in Najaf to route the Mahdi Army forces fortified inside. Sistani, however, stood in the way.
The ayatollah did not want to see further violence in Najaf or have the shrine desecrated on his watch. Instead of a military solution, Sistani and his aides pushed for UN mediation, and when that failed, they personally intervened by negotiating a cease-fire with the Mahdi Army founder, Moqtada al-Sadr. In the end, thousands of Sistani followers poured into the shrine, providing cover for the militants, who walked out without their weapons, defeated but alive.
This was not the first time that Sistani had intervened to end a conflict in Najaf. In April 2004, another battle had raged between the Mahdi Army and US-Iraqi authorities. Khafaf reveals how Sistani’s office drafted a four-point cease-fire agreement in Sadr’s name and addressed it to the “Shia House,” an informal group of Shiite figures and political parties. Sistani’s son, Sayyid Mohammed Ridha, presented the letter to Sheikh Mohammed Mehdi Asifi, the representative of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Iraq.
It was well-known that Iran was providing Sadr with political, financial and military support. Sistani’s son gave the letter to Asifi so he, in turn, could hand it to Sadr to sign. In early August 2004, the terms of that cease-fire agreement were broken, leading to much fiercer fighting. Given that the holy shrine of Najaf was in danger, the stakes were much higher as well.
Posted in Politics, Security
Posted on 10 September 2013.
By Ali Mamouri for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Iraq’s ongoing conflicts are often linked to religious identities. Given the religious nature of these conflicts, the importance of icons, symbols and photographs are certain to emerge more prominently than at other times. Each of the conflicting parties tries to preserve its identity by creating a range of signs — particularly photographs — and by attacking the symbols of other parties.
In this climate, a photo of a religious leader or political figure will no longer be just a photo. Rather, it will reflect the identity of the entire sect or party. It is within this context that one can understand the sharp conflict between Iraqi members of parliament over raising photographs of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Khamenei in the streets of Baghdad.
Hermeneutically, these photographs represent the conflict between religious identities in Iraq. When a Shiite group raises such photographs to protest against the country’s mounting challenges, in the midst of sectarian conflict, Arab Sunnis see it as a declaration of the fall of Arabism in Iraq and the revocation of the project of an independent Iraq.
The verbal and physical altercation that took place in the Iraqi parliament in August 2013 over photographs of Iranian leaders displayed in Baghdad was not a simple political dispute between two blocs that have different political orientations. Instead, it reflects the standing conflict between religious identities in the country.
Iraqi groups try to exploit the public sphere to establish a presence and identity that distinguishes it from other parties. Therefore, neither side cares about common symbols that do not polarize. They focus instead on what provokes and makes others surrender before their symbolic authority.
In this context, one can understand why some Shiites have chosen the photographs of Khomeini and Khamenei instead of Iraqi Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani, and why some Sunnis opted for photographs of former President Saddam Hussein and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan instead of moderate Sunni Iraqi figures.
The series of conflicts over icons and symbols between the conflicting identities in Iraq is not a recent development. The dispute has reared its head on several occasions, beginning with whether to consider April 9, 2003, a day of occupation or liberation in Iraq. The dispute then continued when selecting the new Iraqi flag. While some parties felt that their identity was being overlooked, others felt theirs was being undermined by the use of icons that differ from their own.
Posted in Politics, Security