Category: Iraq

Academic says Visiting Iraq caused Problems entering US

By John Lee.

A British academic has said that visiting Iraq has caused him to have problems entering the United States.

Writing in Times Higher Education, Nick Petford, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Northampton, said:

My forays [into Iraq] have not been without consequence. In March this year I fell foul of Donald Trump’s travel restrictions from Middle Eastern countries that included Iraq. On a trip to Miami, I was pulled out of the immigration queue by Homeland Security, held for five hours and questioned twice about why I had been to “Syria”.

“My UK ESTA travel authorisation was revoked and replaced by a temporary visa, probably because more paperwork was needed to kick me out than let me in. Whether I’ll be allowed back into the US any time soon is yet to be resolved.

But he says that this experience won’t stop him travelling to Iraq again. “Our rationale for working there and in other challenging territories is simple,” he adds.

Our mission requires it, and frankly the Iraqi people deserve our support given the UK’s historically interventionist stance. One area that we intend to focus on more with our Iraqi partners is healthcare. Another is MBA provision. There are also research opportunities that include exchange visits between staff and students.”

Nick Petford’s full article can be read here.

(Source: Times Higher Education)

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Can US-Sunni Alliance lure Baghdad away from Tehran?

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

There are strong indications that Gulf states want to keep Iraq away from Iran‘s influence by including Iraq under the banner of a US-backed Sunni Arab alliance.

The United States sees Iraq as a vital location in need of a clear US policy, especially with the presence there of US military bases and about 8,500 US soldiers, as well as the US impact on the country’s overall situation.

The most recent quest in this direction was the Arab Islamic American Summit held May 21 in Riyadh, attended by US President Donald Trump and Iraqi President Fuad Masum.

It also appears that Iraq’s participation in the Eager Lion maneuvers, an annual military exercise, launched May 7 in Jordan with the participation of more than 7,000 soldiers from over 20 countries, was part of the attempt to bring Iraq into the Sunni Arab axis.

The race to convince Iraq to abandon its well-known alliances with Iran and Iran’s allies was already underway when Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir visited Baghdad on Feb. 25, declaring that “Saudi Arabia and Iraq face the [same] scourge of terrorism.”

This rhetoric reflects Riyadh’s keenness on overcoming the obstacles to developing its relations with Baghdad. Those relations took a bad turn when the Saudi ambassador to Iraq, Thamer al-Sabhan, was expelled from Iraq in August after the Iraqis took offense at his statements about the “Iranian intervention in Iraq” and “Iranian-backed armed Shiite organizations fueling the tension with Sunnis.”

Jubeir’s hopes of extracting Baghdad from Tehran’s grip were revived when Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met March 20 with Trump in Washington.

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Video: Radio Show finds Talent amid Rubble of Mosul

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

It’s a radio talent contest with a mission: showcasing the skills of Mosul’s youth after years of jihadist rule and a months-long battle for the city.

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Iraq Considers Massive Oil Hedge

By John Lee.

The head of the State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) has reportedly suggested that Iraq is interested in creating an oil price hedging program that would lock in prices for future trades far in advance.

Falah Al Amri is quoted as saying:

We will not rush. This is a long process … We must make sure we do not lose money. You know the Iraqi parliament, it would not accept that.

“Transforming SOMO is unstoppable. It will do more than just market Iraqi crude.

(Sources: Bloomberg, OilPrice)

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Iraq Tech Ecosystem Map 2017

By Lara Saeed (pictured), Managing Editor, Bite.Tech. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Over the past 6 months, we at Bite.Tech have been mapping out the startup ecosystem in Iraq which consists of all the stakeholders who directly add value and and drive the startup ecosystem providing entrepreneurs, investors, and new comers with an overall guide of the ecosystem.

With this map we can also identify the main challenges the Iraq’s startup ecosystem faces and the initiatives the Iraqi ecosystem needs to go through for it to become a high-potential site amongst regional startup ecosystems. For example, a notable missing section on the map is investments/funding.

E-commerce:

  1. Chanbar is an online platform that allows merchants to create online stores within 24 hours, users can start to sell products online immediately after a simple setup. Payment can be made through Zain cash.

CO-Working Space

  1. Tech Hub: the first tech focused co-working space in Iraq, the Erbil location is already accommodating several startups and is running workshops, with a Baghdad branch soon to follow.

Media:

  1. Bite.Tech is an online newsletter published in English covering the tech startup ecosystem of Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan.

Events:

  1. HackaErbil: a two-day hackathon, participants are required to present new and innovative projects.
  2. Startup Weekend: Powered by Google, Startup Weekend teaches its participants how to network and build their startups within 54 hours.
  3. Pitch Bootcamp: a two-day career accelerator program that helps participants develop their skills, and improves their chances of finding jobs. The concept is from Spark Agency in Portugal who have organized these events around the world.
  4. Rwanga: the NGO running the Rwanga Awards. The event is open to anyone who wishes to showcase their work in the fields of writing, photography, scientific discoveries and many more.

Maker Space:

  1. Fikra Space: an open space in Baghdad for people who have common interests in computers, technology, science, arts and other fields.
  2. Science Camp: a space for anyone with interest in computing technology, digital arts, design, green energy, recycling & digital arts run in Basra?

Education:

  1. Al-Mansour University Incubator: The incubator is located in Al-Mansour University. They guide and support entrepreneurs through brain storming sessions, business analysis and more.
  2. MSELECT: a staffing agency with a training academy offering internationally certified public and private courses in business, IT, soft skills, vocational subjects and more.
  3. Re:Coded: the mission is to equip refugees and vulnerable youth in conflict affected areas with fundamental coding skills and professional experience that together create access to careers in technology.
  4. Code Lab: an intensive software development boot camp that meets virtually on Facebook. The boot camp focuses on writing clean and efficient code to produce scalable and maintainable software products.

 

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Iraq’s Christians demand Reconstruction of Religious Sites

By Wassim Bassem for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

A new era has started in the northern Ninevah Plains, known for its ethnic and religious diversity, following the expulsion of the Islamic State (IS). IS took over the area in June 2014 and forced the Christians living there — estimated at more than 100,000 — to abandon their farms and towns and head to the neighboring Kurdistan Region and other areas in the country, or to leave Iraq altogether.

On May 16, the heads of the Christian churches told the media of their “concerns over the possible return of terrorism” and demanded that “the areas of the Ninevah Plains be protected by the United Nations and enjoy autonomy.”

This fear, however, has not prevented many Christians from returning to their farms and cities and practicing religious rites in their monasteries and churches. During the Easter mass April 15 at the Mar Mattai Syriac Orthodox Monastery in Ninevah, Christians prayed for the safe return of the displaced to their homes and the spread of peace.

IS reduced several monasteries and churches to ruins, and Christians in the Ninevah Plains are demanding that plans be made for their reconstruction, especially for the monastery of Mar Behnam (pictured). It dates to the fourth century; IS occupied it in 2014 and bombed it in 2015. They are also calling for the reconstruction of the Mar Mattai Monastery, founded more than 1,600 years ago.

Yonadam Kanna, a Christian member of parliament, told Al-Monitor, “IS besieged the Mar Mattai Monastery in 2014 and prevented people from getting to it. So the first thing I did after the liberation of the Ninevah Plains was to restore the road leading to this monastery through the slopes of Mount Maklub, on top of which the monastery is built. [The monastery] extends over about 1 kilometer [0.6 miles] at a height of 2,400 meters [7,874 feet] above sea level.”

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Iraq’s Future Generations risk being Left Behind

Without urgent investment in education, Iraq’s future generations risk being left behind

The future of Iraq, its economic security and prosperity depends on increasing investment in education today.

And while the price of investing in Iraq’s education sector is high, failing to do so will cost the nation far more in the future.

“The Cost and Benefits of Education in Iraq” a UNICEF-supported report released today by the Ministry of Education estimates that Iraq lost almost US$1 billion in unrealized wages from school dropouts from the 2014-2015 school year.

Lack of investment threatens the future of millions of Iraqi children. 3.5 million school-aged Iraqi children are missing out on education, which means they are at increased risk of early marriage, child labour and recruitment into armed groups.

Half of all school buildings in Iraq need urgent repairs. Children are dropping out of school while others are repeating grades.

“Children in Iraq are suffering from protracted periods of conflict. Without equitable access to quality education, children are at risk: we are talking about losing a generation of children.” said UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Geert Cappelaere.

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U.S., Coalition Strikes Target ISIS Terrorists

U.S. and coalition military forces continued to attack the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria on Wednesday, conducting 34 strikes consisting of 78 engagements, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported yesterday.

Officials reported details of yesterday’s strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Strikes in Syria

In Syria, coalition military forces conducted 21 strikes consisting of 29 engagements against ISIS targets:

  • Near Albu Kamal, four strikes destroyed three ISIS oil tanker trucks, two ISIS wellheads, two ISIS fuel tanks, a front-end loader, a crane and a bulldozer.
  • Near Hawl, a strike destroyed a vehicle bomb.
  • Near Dayr Az Zawr, a strike destroyed an ISIS barge.
  • Near Raqqa, 15 strikes engaged 12 ISIS tactical units; and destroyed five fighting positions, four ISIS dump trucks, four vehicles, two artillery systems, a front-end loader and a weapons cache.

Strikes in Iraq

In Iraq, coalition military forces conducted 13 strikes consisting of 49 engagements against ISIS targets:

  • Near Beiji, seven strikes destroyed 22 trenches, six bunkers, a tactical vehicle, a supply cache, an ISIS staging area, a front-end loader and a vehicle bomb.
  • Near Mosul, three strikes engaged two ISIS tactical units; destroyed five vehicles, four fighting positions, four medium machine guns, three heavy machine guns, three weapons caches, an improvised explosive device, a mortar system, an ISIS staging area, a rocket-propelled grenade system; damaged two ISIS supply routes; and suppressed two mortar teams.
  • Near Rawah, a strike destroyed an ISIS fuel point.
  • Near Tal Afar, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed a vehicle.
  • Near Tikrit, a strike destroyed an ISIS fuel tank.

Additionally, three strikes were conducted in Syria May 23 that closed within the last 24 hours:

  • Near Raqqa, three strikes destroyed eight command-and-control nodes and destroyed a vehicle bomb-making facility.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

These strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The destruction of ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria also further limits the group’s ability to project terror and conduct external operations throughout the region and the rest of the world, task force officials said.

The list above contains all strikes conducted by fighter, attack, bomber, rotary-wing or remotely piloted aircraft; rocket-propelled artillery; and some ground-based tactical artillery when fired on planned targets, officials noted.

Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike, they added. A strike, as defined by the coalition, refers to one or more kinetic engagements that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single or cumulative effect. For example, task force officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIS vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against a group of ISIS-held buildings and weapon systems in a compound, having the cumulative effect of making that facility harder or impossible to use. Strike assessments are based on initial reports and may be refined, officials said.

The task force does not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

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Currency Auction Results, 25th May

By John Lee.

The Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) has reported that 38 banks and 10 remittance companies took part in its currency auction on Thursday.

A total of $158,102,404 sold at a price of 1184 Iraqi Dinars (IQD) per dollar.

(Source: Central Bank of Iraq)

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Pentagon admits failing to follow up the transfer of US weapons in Iraq, one billion dollars

Pentagon admits failing to follow up the transfer of US weapons in Iraq, one billion dollars Thursday , 25 May 2017 at 9:34 BAGHDAD / Sky Press Revealed a regulatory report to the US Department of Defense, “Pentagon”, that the US military did not follow proper registration and military equipment and weapons worth more than […]