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Weekly Security Update 26 June – 04 July 2013

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By Tom Walker, Director, Assaye Risk


This week saw no huge changes in the security situation other than a marginal increase in the number of high impact bombings and a slight geographical shift south. We continue to see pervading levels of daily violence with significant numbers of fatalities and wounding’s.

The number of people killed in militant attacks across Iraq reached 761 in June, lower than the month of May (where more than 1,000 people were killed in violence, making it the deadliest month since the height of sectarian bloodletting in 2006-07). The vast majority of casualties in June were civilian, with 131 policemen and 76 members of the Iraqi security forces also killed, the United Nations has reported with the worst affected region being Baghdad, where 258 people were killed. Salahuddin, Diyala, Nineveh and Anbar provinces each exceeded 100.

There have been a number of significant attacks across the country this week. On Friday 28 June a series of bombs near a bakery, at a funeral, inside a senior police officer’s car and at a football stadium killed at least 22 people across Iraq. Twin blasts at a neighbourhood football stadium killed five players in Madaen, about 30 km southeast of Baghdad, and a roadside bomb near a bakery shop in the west of the capital left three people dead.

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Interpipe Wins Preferred Supplier Status

Interpipe Wins Preferred Supplier Status

Interpipe, the Ukrainian seamless pipe producer, has announced that it is installing a local support team to work in Basra following the company’s approval from South Oil Company (SOC) as a preferred supplier.

The announcement sees Interpipe appoint a new Iraq country manager, based in Basra, with immediate effect. Following several recent meetings in Iraq with South Oil and a lengthy audit of its steel mill in Ukraine, the approval allows Interpipe to participate in local tenders. The meetings in Iraq also saw a tour of the oil fields due to the increasing need to provide a better service of transporting and stocking pipes from the ports.

Duncan Pell, regional director for MENA & Asia, Interpipe ME said:

The development of Interpipe in Iraq is part of our overall growth strategy across the wider Middle East and Africa region. Whilst at the World Economic Forum last week in Jordan, it was clear that the potential of Iraq will be realized over the next few years and Interpipe aim to contribute significantly to driving the Iraqi infrastructure, economy and development.

Andrey Burtsev, regional director, market development, Interpipe ME said:

The approval from South Oil signifies Interpipe’s commitment to Iraq which has the potential to reclaim its historical position as one of the most prosperous economies in the Middle East. With the National Development Plan well under way, we expect to see early signs of success in Iraq from our efforts in the latter half of 2013.

Interpipe has also appointed a local partner in Basra, Al Nukhba Oil Field Services, to provide company facilities and fulfill on-the-ground security requirements.

Interpipe has been working in the steel manufacturing industry since 1895 and produced over 1.1 million tons of carbon steel pipes in 2012.

(Source: Interpipe)

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UN Releases Casualty Figures for June

UN Releases Casualty Figures for June

According to UNAMI figures, a total of 761 Iraqis were killed and another 1,771 were wounded in acts of terrorism and violence in June.

The number of civilians killed was 685 (including 131 civilian police) and the number of civilians injured was 1,610 (including 221 civilian police). A further 76 members of the Iraqi Security Forces were killed and 161 were injured.

Baghdad was the worst-affected Governorate with 950 civilian casualties (258 killed, 692 injured), followed by Salahuddin, Ninewa, Diyala and Anbar (triple-digit figures).

Kirkuk, Babil, Wasit, Basra and Najaf also reported casualties (double-digit figures).

(Source: UNAMI)

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First Deputy Speaker Resigns Amid Queries

First Deputy Speaker Resigns Amid Queries

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

On June, 24 2013, Qusay al-Suhail (pictured), first deputy speaker of the Iraqi parliament and a leading member of the al-Sadr bloc, also known as the Liberal bloc, resigned without providing any reasons. Suhail’s decision was attributed to his relationship with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and the rage of his leader, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, over Maliki’s role in prohibiting the questioning of a minister in the State of Law Coalition.

An informed political source told Al-Monitor that “Suhail was dismissed and did not resign. He was instructed by Sadr to leave office after the exposure of his role in obstructing the questioning of Minister of Higher Education Ali al-Adeeb, a Shiite leader close to Maliki.”

The source said, “Suhail is accused of favoring Maliki’s State of Law coalition, and has opposed the questioning of several ministers, namely Adeeb. He also played a major role in the Central Bank of Iraq investigations.”

The source noted, “The Liberal bloc has been divided between supporters and opponents of Suhail’s approach and his way of representing the movement.”

On June 11, 2013, Sadr called on Suhail to expose corruption and activate interrogations. He warned him against deviating from the Sadrist line and refraining from exposing corruption. He said that Suhail “built his glory because of Sadr.”

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Black Iraqis Struggle To Shake Legacy of Racism

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.

Many people are surprised to hear that there is a black minority of African descent in Iraq, particularly in Basra, and they are even more surprised to hear that this minority is being discriminated against and is falling victim to racism.

Their first reaction would be to repeat that the era of racism against blacks ended decades ago, or with the advent of Islam. But those ideas conflict with the societal reality in Iraq.

Although racism has been illegal under the Iraqi legislative system since the founding of the state in 1921, this minority is trapped by different types of discrimination and racism within society. The legislative and educational systems, as well as the official Iraqi media, need to give special attention to the issue by passing laws that criminalize any form of racism or discrimination, while educating the community in this regard.

Iraq, like other countries in the ancient world, witnessed a wide slave trade, as Baghdad was the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate for over five centuries. The trade was at its peak back then, and slaves of different races were brought to Iraq to be sold in the slave markets.

The Zanj rebellion (869-883 AD) paints a historical picture of the spread of slavery at the time and reflects the intensity of racism and injustice. The rebellion started in Basra, included half a million slaves and swept across a vast country. The rebellion continued to Mecca, where slaves stole the black stone of the Kaaba, seeing it as a symbol of the values ​​of their masters, who had legalized the trade. The rebellion was eventually put down, as thousands were killed and many displaced and brought back to slavery.

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List of Downstream Oil Companies in Kurdistan

List of Downstream Oil Companies in Kurdistan

Erbil Governorate has compiled and published a list of the top downstream oil companies in Kurdistan. [Note: This list was originally compiled and published by Marcopolis - Ed.]

Unlike the upstream sector, Kurdistan’s refining industry is almost the exclusive preserve of locals, among them KAR Group, one of the region’s largest private companies, which operates Kalak Refinery (pictured).

According to the Financial Times:

“In addition to Erbil and the refineries at Baiji, central Iraq, Baghdad and Basrah, there are dozens of backyard, so-called “teapot”, refineries. Together they are capable of processing a total of about 790,000b/d of crude, according to the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

“The surge in Kurdistan’s oil consumption is part of a broader trend within Iraq. The country has seen its oil demand rise to more than 700,000 b/d in 2011, up from just 450,000 b/d in 2003, as economic activity improves, according to estimates by the US Department of Energy.

Top downstream oil companies and refineries in the Kurdistan Region:

UB Holding

In 2009, the company’s turnover was $1.2 billion, and this increased to approximately $1.5 billion in 2010. The company is involved in the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors. At present, UB Holding is one of the leading private sector companies in Iraq.

Baziyan refinery (Qaiwan Group)

Situated near Kurdistan’s second city of Suleimaniya, Baziyan refinery was taken over in 2009 by a local trading company, Qaiwan. It is being upgraded by Ventech to increase its capacity to 34,000 b/d.

Kalak Refinery (Kar Group)

Kalak is the largest refinery in Kurdistan. It now has refining capacity of 100,000 barrels of oil a day, a figure that is set to rise sharply in the coming years. Kalak is expanding fast. Kalak supplies 75 per cent of local demand for products such as high-octane gasoline.

(Source: Marcopolis)

(Picture: KAR Group’s Kalak refinery, Erbil)

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Iraq Moves Troops To Syrian Border

Iraq Moves Troops To Syrian Border

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

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, commander-in-chief of the Iraqi armed forces, decided on the night of June 16, to move nearly 8,000 Iraqi troops toward the Iraqi-Syrian and Iraqi-Jordanian borders. This comes a few days before local elections are to be held in the cities of Mosul and Anbar.

A senior military official in Maliki’s military office said in a statement to Al-Monitor that “four regiments of the ground forces, each consisting of nearly 2,000 troops and protected by armed helicopters, had arrived to the border with Jordan and Syria.”

The official, who is a senior officer supervising the security situation in the Sunni provinces, said, “The objective in moving the troops to the border is to secure Iraqi areas adjacent to the border and to prevent fighters from sneaking into [Iraq].”

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added, “The forces that have finally arrived to the border are equipped with sophisticated heavy weapons,” without giving any further details.

The province of Mosul had earlier announced the arrival of military reinforcements into the city to protect voters who will cast their ballots in the provinces of Ramadi and Mosul, which are adjacent to Syria, on June 17.

During the day on June 16, a series of bombings targeted different Shiite majority areas in the central and southern parts of the country, while the UN described these acts of violence as “ruthless.”

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New Governors; Anbar and Nineveh Elections

New Governors; Anbar and Nineveh 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.

Things are not going too bad in local politics in Iraq: As of this week, all governorates that held provincial elections on 20 April have formed new local governments following certification of the final results in late May – hence more or less on time and in accordance with the legal framework. During the past few days, on top of the councils that were formed last week, new local governments have been seated in Karbala, Muthanna and Diyala.

As with the first batch of new governorate councils, a variety og government-formation dynamics prevailed in the last three councils. Karbala saw the emergence of a “political majority” government led by the State of Law alliance of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and various local blocs including that of the sensation from the 2009 elections, Yusuf al-Hububi.

The Sadrists and ISCI remained on the sidelines. Conversely, in Muthanna, Maliki’s allies cut a deal with ISCI to keep the governor position for themselves whereas an ISCI politician became council speaker. Finally, Diyala saw a particularly interesting deal whereby Kurds and a local Iraqiyya list formed the government with the support of the Sadrists – but not the other Shiites with whom they had run on a joint pan-Shiite ticket (mainly State of Law councillors including several from Badr and Fadila).

This makes for the following table of all the new 12 councils elected on 20 April:

ScreenHunter_07 Jun. 21 17.35

Beyond the broad three-way classification of “consensus” and “political majority” (pro-Maliki and anti-Maliki), there are further nuances in this picture. For example, in Basra, ISCI in principle held the votes to exclude Maliki and more or less dictated the terms whereby the popular governor from Maliki’s list was given the consolation prize of the council speakership. In Maysan, perhaps the governorship given to the Sadrists more than anything reflects a longstanding association between the Sadrists and that governorate.

In sum, the outcome of the local government formation is a mixed bag for Maliki. He keeps control of the shrine cities of Najaf and Karbala and consolidates his position in Mid-Euphrates governorates where ISCI was formerly strong. On the other hand, the loss of Baghdad and Basra must be painful, and with additional marginalisation experienced in Wasit and Diyala there should be plenty to think about as the parliamentary elections of 2014 approach.

Meanwhile, delayed elections for local councils in Anbar and Nineveh are being held today. Much is a stake in an area that is sandwiched between rising Sunni militancy in neighbouring Syria and a Baghdad government with which attempts at rapprochement have so far been quite ambiguous. Provisional results should be expected next week.

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