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Basra joins Revenue Sharing Talks


By John Lee. 

According to a 2009 revision of Iraq’s Provincial Powers Act (also known as Law 21) the province of Basra is supposed to be receiving an extra $5 dollars of oil revenue per barrel produced in the province.

If this was the case, the province could be receiving an income equivalent to that of some small countries.

To date however, this has not been the case for both political and economic reasons and currently the province receives much less than its entitlement. This is of critical importance, because the province produces most of Iraq’s oil.

This situation might be about to change. The current governor, Majid al-Nasrawi, had his position strongly contested by former PM Maliki, who opposed decentralising power from Baghdad.

Now Maliki is on the sidelines and the Ministry of Oil is headed by the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq member Abdel Adel Mehdi, of the same party of the Basra governor. Given that Maliki is now longer in the seat of power, we might expect more power to be devolved to provinces like Basra.

Abdel Mehdi hinted a new arrangement could be on the horizon, noting recently that the government were looking for “fairer ways to share revenue with the provinces” to include Basra and not just the Kurdish provinces.

Certainly, the political alignment of Basra and the Oil Ministry through ISCI, a party which pursued a strong federalist agenda in the 2009 election could see some interesting developments. If the current Baghdad-Arbil deal holds, we might expect a new deal for the southern provinces.

In the long term, such federalised arrangements could lead to greater security in Iraq as a whole, since the war torn provinces of Anbar and Ninewa also have oil and gas reserves, although not on the scale of the KRI and the south.

(Source: Various publications)

 

 

 

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Mobile Medical Clinics Arrive in Erbil


The World Health Organization (WHO) and World Food Programme (WFP) have collaborated to deliver eight mobile medical clinics which arrived in Erbil on Sunday.

These urgently needed clinics will be immediately deployed to parts of Iraq and Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). The vehicles, flown in from Amman, Jordan, were procured by WHO and have been purpose-built to address the health needs of displaced populations residing in places with limited access to health care services – in camps, informal settlements and urban areas across the country.

The clinics were made possible through the support of the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and are the first of their kind to be brought to Iraq to accelerate response efforts.

To mark the arrival of the mobile clinics, a ceremony set to host the Ministers of Health of both Iraq and KRI governments, a delegation from the government of Saudi Arabia, and representatives from WHO and WFP, will be held at Erbil airport on Wednesday.

“We are very pleased about the arrival of these new mobile clinics which will provide round-the-clock health services for vulnerable populations in Iraq,” said Dr Jaffar Hussein, WHO Representative for Iraq.

“Not only are mobile health clinics swift and relatively cost-efficient, they also enable health care to be provided as close as possible to affected communities. Each clinic has the capacity to support patient examinations, vaccinations for children, diagnosis and laboratory confirmation of diseases, pre- and antenatal care, the treatment of minor conditions such as skin infections, management of minor wounds, and to address dehydration,” he said.

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Video: US Refugee Aid Lands in Erbil


From AFP. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

A United Nations plane carrying aid from the US for Iraqis displaced by the conflict, arrived in the Kurdish capital Arbil on Thursday.

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Weekly Security Update, 25 November – 01 December 2014


PM Abadi’s political manoeuvres continued to lead to a number of dismissals within key ministries. On 01 December, the Prime Minister retired 24 senior Interior Ministry officials as part of government restructuring. This decision comes as central authorities uncovered an estimated 50,000 ‘ghost soldiers’ on the military payroll, prompting the government to take steps towards tackling corruption and patronage. In another development detaching Abadi from his predecessor and current VP Nouri al-Maliki, Baghdad reached a deal on oil exports with Kurdistan, potentially ending years of disputes related to trade and budget. Under the new agreement, both regions would export through Iraq’s national oil company, SOMO, while the Kurds will keep 17% of Iraq’s budget expenditure and take a seat on SOMO’s board. As Iraq continues to be confronted by the threat posed by ISIS, rising violence has forced the country to work towards resolving long-lasting disputes and choose compromise over divisions on a number of issues. After suffering major territorial losses over the previous weeks, ISIS renewed its assaults in the North, in a probable bid to force a relocation of ISF resources away from the frontlines where insurgents have been compelled to abandon their positions, particularly in Diyala. This tactic should be sustained and lead to an increased in clashes reported in Salahuddin, where militant assaults on Baiji and Balad have been witnessed, and areas in the vicinity of Kirkuk.

North

Clearing operations continue in Diyala, while ISIS engage Peshmerga forces in a number of locations in Nineveh, Salahuddin and Kirkuk. On 26 November, Peshmerga forces recaptured the village of Tal Ward, between Kirkuk and Hawija, which had briefly fallen to militants as ISIS multiplies attempts at distracting Iraqi and Kurdish forces from other locations. Clashes also occurred in Baiji, where insurgents are still in control of the town’s outskirts. On 30 November, ISIS launched an attack on Balad, north of Baghdad, which was repelled by a force of ISF and Shia volunteers. Fighting was also reported between Peshmerga soldiers and militants near the Mosul dam, in a possible move to delay a planned Kurdish assault on Sinjar. Assaults, such as the one witnessed in Kirkuk which led Kurdish authorities to allocate reinforcements, are likely to be aimed at destabilising the conduct of ISF clearing operations, forced to rethink their priorities and organisation. This strategy is expected to be repeated over the next weeks, ensuring that direct clashes between ISIS and Iraqi forces continue to increase.

Central

As previously assessed, the focus of ISIS on operations in the North and Anbar continued to translate into a decrease in levels of violence in Baghdad, with no car bombs reported. The fiercest clashes reported in Anbar continued to occur in the vicinity Ramadi, where ISIS have allocated most of their resources. Fighting was witnessed west of Anbar’s capital, in Huz district, as well as in districts near Hit. As Ramadi remains the focal point of both ISIS and the Iraqi army, ISF forces reportedly made advances east of the city, while airstrikes continue to target ISIS vehicles converging on the battlefield. ISIS’s continued freedom of movement in the area, despite the sending of reinforcements and ammunition from Baghdad, continued to translate in high-impact incidents. On 30 November, a VBIED detonated in the Sajariya area of Ramadi, injuring three ISF soldiers. Meanwhile, an increase in Shia militant activity in the capital translated into a number of incidents and further demonstrated the autonomy currently enjoyed by Shia brigades. On 25 November, a group of gunmen stormed a house in Sadr City, killing three individuals. Levels of violence in the capital are expected to remain below average over the next reporting period.

South

Amid levels of violence in line with previous averages, threat levels are set to increase as the festival of Arbaeen approaches and pilgrims are expected to start converging in Karbala. Basra continued to witness acts of criminality, while levels of violence in Babil continued to drop. The continued threat of militant penetration into southern provinces was highlighted by the clearing of four VBIEDs in Karbala. Despite the group’s intent to strike the South-East in the lead-up to the festival, the focus of ISIS on northern provinces should ensure that attacks remain low-impact.

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Total, Marathon Discovery at Harir Block


By John Lee.

Total and Marathon Oil have confirmed a discovery of light oil and gas with condensates at the Harir Block, 60 kilometers from the city of Erbil.

The Jisik-1 discovery well was drilled to a depth of 4,511 meters and encountered light oil and gas with condensates intervals in Jurassic and Triassic carbonate reservoirs.

Jisik is the second discovery in the Block, following on from the Mirawa-1 discovery, announced in October of last year.

Marc Blaizot (pictured), Senior Vice President, Exploration at Total, commented:

“This success confirms Total’s exploration strategy in Iraq.

“The ongoing appraisal of the discoveries made on the Harir and Taza Blocks will allow us to identify options for development…

“We are continuing exploration works on the Total-operated Safen and Baranan Blocks, with additional wells planned for 2015.”

The Jisik-1 well encountered light oil of 43 API in a Jurassic carbonate reservoir. The well was tested with flow rates of 6,100 barrels per day of anhydrous oil, without stimulation.

Two other formation tests, both with flows rates of approximately 10-15 million cubic feet per day, confirmed the presence of gas reservoirs together with associated condensate in the Triassic.

Total has a 35% interest in the Harir Block, alongside Marathon Oil (45%, operator) and the Kurdistan Regional Government (20%).

(Source: Total)

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Bulgaria to Open Consulate in Erbil


The Head of Trade and Economic Section of Republic of Bulgaria in Erbil, Mr. Dimitar Ougrinov, today met with the KRG Head of Department of Foreign Relations, Minister Falah Mustafa to discuss bilateral ties and the latest developments.

Mr. Ougrinov announced that Bulgaria places great importance on enhancing relations with the Kurdistan Region and stated that the opening of the Bulgarian Consulate General in Erbil in 2015 will serve as a stepping stone to broaden and strengthen the existing cooperation between the Kurdistan Region and Bulgaria.

Minister Mustafa welcomed the announcement and hoped that the opening of the consulate general would establish further bridges of cooperation and collaboration between the governments, people, and business community of both sides.

During the meeting both sides spoke in detail of potential areas of cooperation and expressed their government’s desire to broaden political, economical, educational, and cultural ties.

Both sides also discussed the security and humanitarian situation in Kurdistan and the wider region.

Mr. Ougrinov said:

International community should appreciate the role of Kurdistan Region and its Peshmerga forces in fighting against Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) on behalf of the free world.

“The Kurdistan’s Peshmerga forces are fighting for the right cause. I am sure they will succeed and defeat ISIS.”

Minister Mustafa briefed Mr. Ougrinov on the security developments and the humanitarian conditions and the needs of refugees and displaced people in the Kurdistan Region.

(Source: KRG)

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Weekly Security Update, 18 – 24 November 2014


Following Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s decision to reshuffle senior security commanders, Deputy Interior Minister Adnan al-Asadi, an ally of former PM Nouri al-Maliki, was removed from his position. Since assuming office, Abadi has been seeking to clear key government positions from Maliki’s influence, which is effectively strengthening the Iranian-backed Badr Organisation and one of its prominent members Mohammed al-Ghaban, Iraq’s current Interior Minister. As the Iraqi government attempts to manage and overturn the ambivalence of their Sunni populations, the death sentence of former Sunni MP Ahmed al-Alwani, pronounced on 23 November, has the potential to inflame tensions in Anbar, where his arrest last year sparked the chain of events which eventually allowed ISIS to seize Fallujah. Despite high levels of violence and a continued freedom of movement in many areas of northern and western governorates, ISIS recorded a series of losses over the reporting period, consolidating a trend which saw the group retreating from Baiji last week. Following these setbacks, ISIS could choose to focus more heavily on Anbar, where insurgents have seized most of the corridor stretching from the Syrian border to Fallujah, and the lack of government supplies present the group with more opportunities.

North

While the most significant incidents continued to be reported in Diyala and Salahuddin, a rare car bomb blast in Erbil disrupted the stability which usually characterises Kurdistan. On 23 November, a force of Kurdish and Iraqi soldiers, supported by Shia fighters, recaptured the towns of Jalawla and Sadia in Diyala, and are now in the process of securing the zone and clearing the areas of IEDs. These gains follow successful operations in Salahuddin which enabled Iraqi forces to retake Baiji last week, in anticipation of a major ground assault on Tikrit. High-impact operations in Nineveh continued to consist of airstrikes targeting ISIS gatherings near Mosul, as insurgents continue to fail at challenging the Peshmerga forces in the province’s north-west. Meanwhile, a rare suicide attack in Erbil left five people dead and dozens of people wounded, after a car bomb aimed at targeting the citadel detonated after guards stopped the vehicle. This incident, which represents the first deadly attack of this kind to occur in Kurdistan since last year, underscores the presence of ISIS’s ‘sleeper’ cells in provinces which are normally spared the violence witnessed in the most restive governorates.

Central

ISIS continues to seek control of Ramadi, while VBIED attacks in Baghdad witnessed a lull. ISIS fighters attacked a government complex in the heart of Ramadi, in a coordinated effort to seize full control of the city. The attack was launched from multiple axes and resulted in fierce clashes with the ISF, who eventually repelled the assault. Clashes are reportedly ongoing to the west of Ramadi. ISIS appears willing to reverse their setbacks in the North by striking gains against the fragile anti-ISIS coalition in Anbar, which currently lacks ammunition and Baghdad’s full support. ISIS is likely to capitalise on this weakness to sustain their assaults on major provincial districts. Meanwhile, the lull in VBIED attacks witnessed in the capital tends to show that ISIS’s most pressing priorities are currently located outside Baghdad. In light of current dynamics, clashes in Anbar and operations conducted further north should continue to absorb most of government resources.

South

Consistently high levels of lawlessness in Basra, which continue to translate in an increase in criminal acts, demonstrate the divisions existing between the various local tribal factions. Most of the disputes resulting in small-arms fire attacks or low-impact IEDs have indeed been opposing competing tribal members, and the continued focus of the ISF in the country’s North will continue to provide an environment conducive to tribal violence and criminality for financial gain, such as kidnappings. The continued involvement of Shia militias in the fight against ISIS guarantees that this violence remains low-impact and predominantly confined to Basra in the short-term, though an absence of government-backed negotiations will inevitably lead to an escalation in the longer term.
141125 Iraq Casualty Graph

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U.S. Ambassador Visits Erbil IDP Camps


On November 19, U.S. Ambassador Stuart Jones visited Erbil to assess efforts to address the urgent humanitarian needs of displaced populations in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR). To date, the United States Government (USG) has contributed more than $202 million in support of the international humanitarian response to the complex emergency in Iraq, which began in early 2014.

During his visit, Ambassador Jones met with Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Minister of Interior Karim Sinjari and Minister of Planning Ali Sindi as well as representatives from international and nongovernmental organizations operating in the region. The Ambassador also visited the Baharka internally displaced persons (IDP) Camp and the Ankawa Mall IDP center in Erbil, where he met with the Bishop of Ankawa and spoke with displaced families to learn of their experiences.

In his official meetings, the Ambassador thanked KRG leaders and community members for their generosity in addressing the urgent needs of IDPs. He also applauded the coordination between the KRG and international humanitarian agencies to deliver emergency relief to those displaced by the ongoing conflict.

Ambassador Jones said, “This visit to Erbil was an important opportunity to see how our assistance is being used to help vulnerable populations in Iraq. Relief agencies are making progress and providing urgently needed emergency assistance, including shelter and winterization support. Challenges remain and we continue to assess the evolving situation and seek solutions for the cold winter months ahead.”

The USG supports the distribution of winterization kits and weather-appropriate shelter, and funds the provision of emergency healthcare services, safe drinking water, and sanitation infrastructure to help IDPs and refugees in Iraq meet their basic needs.

(Source: Embassy of the United States)

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