Tag Archive | "Sulaymaniyah"

Automobile Factory to be Built in Sulaymaniya

By John Lee.

Sulaymaniya’s general directorate of investment has said that a local company called ‘Mario‘ is building an automobile factory on a 22 hectare (90 donum) site.

The company will initially import parts from China and assemble them at the new plant; at a later stage the factory will also make the parts itself, according to a report from AKnews.

The land has been allocated in an industrial area near Arabt, 27km south of Sulaymaniya, and there is the option to expand the site depending on requirements.

(Source: AKnews)

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Kurdistan to Build $5.9m Dam in Sulaimaniya

KRG’s Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources has signed a contract to build a dam in the Qaradakh parish of Sulaimaniya, reports AKnews.

The Chami Smora project will cost 6.96 billion IQD (approx. $5.9 million), and the companies Birkar and Zhina Gharib have undertaken to complete it within 820 days.

The dam will be 20 meters high and will hold two million cubic meters of water from a brook from Diwana River.

Akram Ahmed, general director of dams in Kurdistan, said the project is a strategic one intended to alleviate the drought the area has been suffering from in the recent years.

(Source: AKnews)

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Industrial Town to be Built in Sulaimaniya

A 3,000 acre industrial town is to be built in the Arbat district of Sulaymaniyah Governorate, according to a report from AKnews.

Sulaymaniyah Investment Commission met with a number of private companies this week to discuss the master plan for “The Industrial Town of Arbat District”, which will involve an initial investment of $3 billion USD (3,500 billion IQD).

Yasin Mahmoud, spokesman for Kurdistan Investors Union, told AKnews the construction of almost 450 factories of various sizes will begin this year because all formal bureaucratic boxes have been ticked.

Mahmoud said that Iran is especially interested in the project because the EU and U.S. are imposing economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic. It hopes the project is launched soon so that it can rescue some of its factories by relocating them to Arbat district, explains Mahmoud.

“It will become a very important project for Sulaymaniyah because it will change the city from a tourist destination to an industrial hub,” he added.

Farman Gharib, Sulaymaniyah investment director told AKnews that after the master plan for the project is approved, the plan will be opened to competing companies to bid for spaces.

(Source: AKnews)

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Weekly Security Update for 7th December 2011

As the US military withdrawal continues, many are worried at the possibility of increased militancy over the coming year in Iraq. Levels of violence rose over the past week with the highest number of casualties recorded in six months. As warned, terrorists targeted Shi’ah worshippers gathering to commemorate Ashura, with a number of attacks in Baghdad and the central provinces. However, the authorities reported no violent incidents in the revered city of Karbala where many of the worshippers were actually travelling to which is grounds for some optimism over the capability of the Iraqi security forces. Meanwhile, unrest in Kurdistan over the weekend illustrates that even in the quiet north there remains the potential for political violence.

Mob violence left several properties damaged in the town of Zakhu in Dahuk province on 2 December. Shortly after Friday prayers a crowd of young men roused by a particularly inflammatory sermon, began attacking properties associated with the sale of alcohol. These included several Christian and Yazidi-owned shops and at least two hotels. Dahuk has consistently been amongst the quietest provinces in Iraq since 2003 but the incident highlights the fact that even here care should be exercised. Close attention should be paid to localised developments while hotels are advised to review their security measures. Otherwise, the Kurdish region remains stable and the majority of commercial and industrial interests will be unaffected by the latest unrest. Organisations should simply be mindful of current cultural sensitivities while personnel should consider exercising discretion if consuming alcohol.

Weekly Attacks in Iraq - the last 6 months

Unlike several other parts of the country levels of violence fell in Baghdad over the past week with security heightened for Ashura. Nonetheless, a number of attacks marked the date, demonstrating that terrorists still have the ability to operate in the city and conduct attacks even for events the security forces have been specifically preparing for. Foreign nationals have also been alarmed by last week’s bombing in the International/Green Zone while the US state department has altered its advice on travel to the country with many now concerned that the risk of kidnap has increased. With almost 80 people abducted in the country so far this year Iraq should still be considered a kidnap hotspot. Personnel should exercise caution and bear in mind that even the fortified IZ is not completely ‘safe’.

There were no major incidents of violence recorded in the south of Iraq last week although the security forces continue to conduct counter-insurgency operations throughout the region. The police in Basrah in particular remain on alert following the bomb attack in the city centre prior to last week’s oil and gas conference. The province currently sees an average of around one major attack per month so conditions are still far more quiet than in the centre of the country.

John Drake is a senior risk consultant with AKE, a British private security firm working in Iraq since 2003. You can access AKE’s intelligence website Global Intake here, and you can obtain a free trial of AKE’s Iraq intelligence reports here.

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Polluted Waterways could End Agriculture around Sulaymaniyah

Once the farms around the city of Sulaymaniyah provided all of the fruit and vegetables locals needed. Now climate change, pollution and illegal dumping in local waterways are forcing farmers out.

“We can no longer grow vegetables here, that time has come to an end,” lamented farmer Mohammed Aziz. “The water is so dirty that we don’t even dare get near it,” the 55-year-old said, pointing toward the Tanjero River, once a chief source of water for farming here.

Aziz used to grow vegetables and other crops but since major amounts of sewage began being discharged into this small river, he and his fellow farmers can no longer benefit from what they describe as once fertile land. The waters of the Tanjero River, which runs southwest of the city of Sulaymaniyah and flow into the Darbandikhan Lake, are now unsuitable for agricultural use.

“In the past, the water was not clean either,” Aziz admits. “But it was good enough and we used it. At that time, not all sewage went into the river. But now all of the sewage goes into the river and the river has become so polluted that farmers are being forced to leave their land and abandon agriculture.”

This has been confirmed by Nature Iraq, an environmental action group with links to United Nations eco-projects, that has initiated a community awareness project, called the Iraq Upper Tigris Waterkeeper Project. Nature Iraq has tested the waters of Tanjero and Darbandikhan Lake (pictured).

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Oil and Security

Iraq’s oil wealth is massive, with significant economic potential for years to come. Unfortunately, development is being hampered by endemic violence and ongoing instability. However, the main reserves are not evenly distributed around the country and neither is the violence. By avoiding the violent hotspots companies can still make significant profits with minimal exposure to the risks posed by militancy and political upheaval. Instead of being deterred by regular headlines of death and destruction, companies should take a closer look at the country to assess exactly where the risk lies, and where the opportunities abound.


Some parts of the country have oil paucity and extensive violence. Anbar province, for example, has comparatively few hydrocarbon reserves, yet it sees attacks on an almost daily basis. On the other hand, some areas such as provinces in the south or those administered by the Kurdish Regional Government in the north, have extensive reserves and see virtually no violence.


Frequency of Attacks by Province - Q2 2011

The South

By comparing the oil wealth of each province with the number of attacks it sees on a regular basis, it would appear that Maysan province in the south of the country could be a particularly attractive investment location. Accounting for over 7% of the country’s oil wealth the province suffered less than 1% of all countrywide attacks recorded in the second quarter of 2011 (April – June). Neighbouring Basrah province saw between 2-3 attacks every week over the period, but with more than half of the country’s oil reserves it is no surprise that energy firms and numerous service companies are still flocking to the province and its significant potential.



The North

Kurdistan in the north of the country is more of an established investment hotspot. As previously documented, conditions are very stable in the autonomous region, which accounts for at least 3% of the country’s oil, and more of its gas reserves. Conversely, the adjacent northern provinces of Ninawa and Ta’mim have over 15% of the country’s oil reserves between them, yet they experienced a quarter of the country’s violence in the second quarter. Ta’mim province currently sees an average of around eight attacks per week, while Ninawa province sees up to 12 and more so upstream oil and gas activity could be seen as more of a gamble in these areas. Companies operating here will have to take extensive measures to protect their assets and personnel – although business is certainly still possible in the two provinces.



Conditions seem even more punishing in the capital, which suffered more than 40% of all attacks recorded between April and June. The wider province accounts for just under 6% of the country’s oil reserves, and the violence must seem a daunting challenge to those looking to do business in the city. Nonetheless, Baghdad still houses the embassies and main political decision making bodies of the government, all of whom are involved in the oil and gas industry. Occasional trips at least will be required by companies looking to work in the country’s most important economic sector.

Baghdad at Sunset


To reassure those that must, it is still perfectly possible to do business in the capital, and indeed all of the parts of the country which still see regular violence. With proper security procedures companies are able to overcome the many security obstacles presented in the country. Indeed industry considerations aside Baghdad remains a favourite destination of this author, who even without a military background, is still able to travel around the city in relative security.


John Drake is a senior risk consultant with AKE, a British private security firm working in Iraq from before 2003. Further details on the company can be found here, and you can obtain a free trial of AKE’s intelligence reports here.

AKE will be exhibiting at Offshore Europe in Aberdeen between the 6th and 8th September. Feel free to visit stand 5C110 where you can meet the author. If you would like to register to attend as an AKE guest for free please complete your details here.






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New 4-Star Hotel for Sulaymaniya

Faruk Group Holding, a group of companies with a diversified range of interests including telecommunications, cement manufacturing, hotels, medical services, properties, construction and IT, recently announced the upcoming launch of the first international boutique hotel, Copthorne Hotel, Baranan in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq.

The Copthorne Hotel Baranan is a four-star hotel located in the tourist district of Sulaymaniyah. Built on a site covering 1,320 m2, it has a floor area of 9,198 m2. The seven-storey hotel offers a contemporary setting with 72 guest rooms, 6 suites, 8 service rooms and 7 elevators. Amenities include meeting rooms, an all day dining restaurant, an Italian restaurant, a cigar bar and a Duplex Entertainment Center.

Commenting on the occasion, Mr. Faruk Mustafa Rasool, Chairman of Faruk Group Holding said:

The development of the hospitality sector is an important factor as Faruk Group Holding has always been in the forefront of our country’s development. Launching Copthorne Hotel is another step in our strategic expansion plans as Iraq’s largest and most respected private company.

Faruk Group Holding continues to invest in the hospitality sector to attract more visitors to Sulaymaniyah and provide international quality accommodation for guests and tourists from all over the world; as well as corporate clients, exhibition delegates, and other business and leisure visitors.

Faruk Group Holding created Asiacell, the largest Iraqi private company, the first and only mobile company covering all of Iraq’s 18 governorates.

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A Security Review of the Last 8 Weeks

The average weekly number of attacks has risen in Iraq over the last two months. Conditions gradually worsened in the first five months of the year, and while the increase in attacks has not been dramatic, it is nonetheless still a concern, particularly as the US prepares to withdraw its military by the end of the year. However, with careful planning companies can still overcome the obstacle of security in Iraq. For a start, violence is highly concentrated, with some areas barely being affected at all.

The Capital

Militant attacks have been most concentrated in Baghdad over the past eight weeks. The city accounted for over 40 per cent of all incidents and is currently over three times more hostile than the next two dangerous cities (Mosul and Kirkuk). However, while it may see more violence than anywhere else in the country, it nonetheless has a number of advantages. For a start, it has numerous ‘safe havens’ or areas where personnel can seek assistance in the event of an incident. It has more security force checkpoints, better hospital facilities and a number of well-patrolled districts which see virtually no violence at all. Foreign firms looking to do business in the capital have a range of options when considering places to arrange meetings or even set up a permanent presence – and their choices are certainly not limited to the Green Zone. There are several districts in the so-called Red Zone that see far fewer incidents on a yearly basis than the heavily fortified city centre.

Levels of Violence by Province - the last 8 weeks

The North

The next two most violent provinces over the last eight weeks were Ninawa and Ta’mim, situated in the north of the country. Each province accounted for 13 per cent of all countrywide attacks, with most of the incidents concentrated in the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk. Recent months have seen a very gradual improvement in security conditions in Mosul, as well-established terrorist organisations have been tackled in a slow and bitter war of attrition with the Iraqi security forces. Kirkuk on the other hand has seen a slight worsening in conditions, with an increase in inter-communal tensions as different ethnic groups compete for influence in the oil-rich and historically contested city.


In sharp contrast to the rest of the country, the area administered by the Kurdish Regional Government has seen very little violence over recent weeks. Companies intent on doing business here have little need to worry about security. That is not to say that there are not other health and safety concerns of a political risk nature in the region. The province of Sulaymaniyah has seen a number of protests over recent weeks, and while most were peaceful, some involved low-level scuffles, arrests and even some vandalism, which is why the province appears on the AKE violence chart. Nonetheless, with only one per cent of all countrywide violence taking place in the province over the last eight weeks, it should still be seen as a stable and largely secure part of the country.


In general, unrest and protests have quietened over recent weeks, although conditions could still escalate over the coming weeks as temperatures rise and the government faces increased criticism for failing to address major public frustrations. Power shortages, poor services and high unemployment are likely to stoke further unrest in Iraq in the future.

Weekly Attacks in Iraq - the last 8 weeks

The Central Region

Apart from the capital, the province of Anbar has been the most hazardous part of the central region, accounting for nine per cent of all countrywide attacks over the last eight weeks. Most of the incidents have been concentrated in the east of the province, among urbanised areas such as Fallujah and Ramadi. The provinces of Diyala, Salah ad-Din and Babil each accounted for between four and five per cent and remain hazardous, albeit significantly more quiet than the earlier years of Iraq’s post-invasion history.


The South

The southern part of the country continues to avoid the majority of violent trends which affect central and more northern provinces. The last eight weeks have seen a scattering of incidents in the region, with Basrah province accounting for only three per cent of all countrywide incidents. Nonetheless, there are still no grounds for complacency and fairly robust security measures are still recommended by personnel operating in the area. An attack on an oil field earlier on 5 June indicates that violence is still a concern, and that the energy sector is still an attractive target for the militant groups operating in the region.


Almost two-thirds of all countrywide attacks have involved explosive devices, while a quarter have involved firearms. The vast majority of explosive devices have been relatively small, usually incurring injuries rather than fatalities. Sticky bombs have been regularly used, particularly in Baghdad. Casualties have also usually been indiscriminate, with many of the victims being civilian bystanders caught up in attacks against police patrols or US military vehicles.


While the use of firearms in attacks has been much less frequent, it is perhaps a more sinister tactic, in that the victims are almost always singled out and monitored closely prior to an attack. Many of the victims have been senior members of the security forces or mid-level civic employees.


Iraqis targeted in kidnap and ransom incidents are also likely to have been singled out and monitored. Some are selected because of their rank, some because of their community, but most simply because their abductor believes their family will be able to raise money for a ransom. Counter-surveillance measures are therefore recommended for a wide range of individuals.


Indirect fire (rockets and mortars) only accounted for around seven per cent of all attacks, and most did not incur any casualties. Nonetheless, personnel still need to take the risk into account, particularly those using airports or staying on fortified military facilities such as the Green Zone. Indirect fire is most commonly used to target these types of asset, so they should not be considered entirely secure.


John Drake is a senior risk consultant with AKE, a British private security firm working in Iraq from before 2003. Further details on the company can be found here while AKE’s intelligence and political risk website Global IntAKE can be accessed here.

You can obtain a free trial of AKE’s intelligence reports here.
You can also follow John Drake on twitter here.


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