Iraq Stands Alone (older archived)

25 Aug 2011

Iraq opposes actions against Iran's security: Kurd official

TEHRAN, Aug 25, 2011 (AFP) - The visiting Iraqi Kurdish region's vice president said on Thursday Iraq opposed any action against Iran's "security," as Tehran reiterated it was "serious" in its fight with Kurdish rebels near the border area.

"Considering the historic support and strategic relations with the Islamic republic, Iraq will oppose any action that is against Iran's security," Nechirvan Barzani said in a meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"We believe that the security of Iran is as important as that of Iraq and problems must be solved through cooperation," Barzani, son of president of the autonomous Kurdish region Massud Barzani, was quoted as saying by the Iranian president's website.

In July, Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards launched a major offensive against rebels from the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), targeting their bases along the Iran-Iraq border.

The Guards said they destroyed PJAK compounds inside Iraqi territory, while claiming to have killed more than 50 rebels and losing eight men in the fighting.

Saeed Jalili, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, met with Barzani in the evening, and said Tehran was "serious" in its fight against terrorism.

"Those ... who (seek) to spread insecurity and terrorist actions should not be allowed" to achieve their objectives, he was quoted as saying by the state television website.

"We will not under any circumstances allow foreigners to use terrorism to disturb the security, development and welfare of the people" of Iran and Iraq, he added.

PJAK rebels, labelled as terrorists by Tehran, often clash with Iranian forces. Their bases in the mountainous border regions of Iraqi Kurdistan, from which they launch their attacks, are bombed in retaliation.

On August 17, an operations commander, Colonel Hamid Ahmadi, told foreign media in Tehran Iran intends to continue the operation "to secure our borders, for the terrorists not to infiltrate and harm our people."

Before launching the attack, Iran had criticised Massud Barzani for what it called providing the PJAK with a vast safe haven along the border.

On Thursday, Ahmadinejad said Tehran supported "a secure and developed Iraq which would be in the interest of Iran and the region."

"The common enemies of Iran and Iraq ... are devising new plans to spread insecurity in the region," Ahmadinejad said in an allusion to Kurdish fighters, whom Tehran says are backed by arch-foes Israel and the United States.


Council of Ministers will break for Eid holiday; Aug 30 thru Sept 4
Posted: August 25, 2011 by THE CURRENCY NEWSHOUND 

Secretariat of the Council of Ministers sets holiday Eid al-Fitr with “five” days
2011-08-25 10:33:00

The General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers that the holiday Eid al-Fitr has identified five days starting next Tuesday.

The Secretariat of the Council of Ministers said in a press statement that “the holiday of Eid al-Fitr will begin on Tuesday approved 30 of the current month of August and ends on Sunday, day on 4 of next September.”

The Secretariat explained that “on Sunday approved the September 4 will be the official time in all ministries and government departments.”

Although Eid al-Fitr in three days, but a specific difference between the religious sects in determining the first days to pay the government to extend the holiday to be more than three days.

24 Aug 2011 Aswat Aliraq

US withdrawal is politicized - Change Movement MP

BAGHDAD: Kurdish Change Movement MP said today that "the U.S. forces withdrawal dossier is subject to political interactions in the country."

MP Sardar Abdullah told Aswat al-Iraq that " the withdrawal dossier is politicized by the political blocs," calling to form a military experts committee to study and decide the preparedness of the Iraqi forces and how to fill U.S.
presence in the future."

"The Iraqi borders are still open, and we have no ready forces to defend them", he confirmed. According to the signed agreement between Baghdad and Washington in 2008, the U.S.
forces should finally withdraw by the end of this year.
© Aswat Aliraq 2011

24 Aug 2011 Aswat Aliraq

Talabani, Mutlaq discuss political situation in Iraq

BAGHDAD:  President Jalal Talabani discussed today with Deputy Premier Saleh al-Mutlaq the general conditions in the country and how to support the political process taking place, according to a presidential statement.

The statement, as received by Aswat al-Iraq, said that they discussed the general situation and stressing to unify all efforts to overcome obstacles and move the political process forward.
© Aswat Aliraq 2011

24 Aug 2011 Aswat Aliraq

Cabinet Ministers should unite their statements - Talabani

BAGHDAD: Iraq's President, Jalal Talabani, has called on the Iraqi Cabinet Ministers to unite in their positions when giving statements about the developments in other states, confirming that some states do not respond positively towards Iraq.

A Presidential statement pointed out that President Talabani had ordered an Iftar (Ramadan breakfast) in honor of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet on Tuesday evening, during which Talabani spoke about the misunderstandings between Iraq and its neighboring states, which then impact Iraq's relations.

"I have exerted efforts with several parties to improve our relations with the neighbors, and Iraq is not responsible for the abnormal relations with the Arab states, who don't respond positively with Iraq," Talabani said.

"I wish that the brother Ministers would unite their statements towards the course of events, because contradicting statements only lead to creating a fuss in the foreign public opinion, especially the problems between us and Kuwait, or between us and Iran or Turkey, because those problems can be settled through dialogue and not through tension," he stressed. "Being the President of the Republic, I am constitutionally responsible for the sovereignty of the country and its national independence, and I carry out my duty in a practical way.

I contacted the Iranian Brothers and the Turkish Brothers, about the bombardment of (Iraq's) border areas, striving to convince them (to stop it), and I really achieved some results with them; but the media talk cannot achieve any results, as we are not in a position nowadays to become enemies of the whole world," Talabani said. 

"It is in the interest of Iraq to achieve understanding and cohesion with all its neighbors; and I think that there is possibility to settle all the problems with the neighboring states," he concluded.
© Aswat Aliraq 2011

24 Aug 2011 AK News

Kuwait port delegation "did not strike deal"

By Jaafar al-Wannan
Baghdad - The legal adviser to the Iraqi government today denied that the Iraqi technical delegation that visited Kuwait last week signed an agreement with the Kuwaitis to allow the construction of a controversial port.
Fadel Mohammed Jawad told AKnews that contrary to media claims the technical delegation's only task was to submit a report to the government about the location and progress of Mubarak port - which experts say may steal 60 per cent of Iraq's maritime trade.
The Iraqi government yesterday postponed the announcement of its official position on the port until next week.
Earlier this month Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki threatened to resort to the United Nations if the delegation found proof of economic and shipping damages to Iraq.

Following the threats from Hezbollah Iraq to bomb the Kuwaiti port if it is built, Kuwait deployed its troops near Bubiyan island, where the port is being constructed.
In April Kuwait laid the foundation stone of the port at a site just a few kilometres over the Iraq border and very close to Iraq's planned mega-port, al-Faw.
© AK News 2011

23 Aug 2011 AK News

Maliki ally threatens Kuwait with military action

By Yazn al-Shammari
Baghdad - A bloc within Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's coalition today threatened to use violent force after 48 hours if Kuwait continues with the construction of a port that Iraqis say will steal their maritime business.

The State of Law Knights joined other firebrand groups who have threatened to use force against Mubarak Port, including Iraqi Hezbollah who have threatened to bomb the construction site.

Abdulsattar al-Abboudi, the head of the bloc, told AKnews that he warned the Kuwaiti authorities and gave them 10 days to stop work on the port, "however, neither the Kuwaiti government nor the Kuwaiti poeple have responded" which has pushed him to issue another statement that gives Kuwait 48 hours to stop all activities on the port before the bloc resorts to "popular and military bodies"

Kuwait is constructing Mubarak port just next to Iraq's only deep-water port of Um Qasr. According to Iraqi economists, the port  - upon completion - will lose Iraq 60% of its maritime business.

Tensions escalated recently as Kuwait deployed troops near the port and announced its forces were ready for "any possibilities".

"We are serious and will start mobilization if our demands were not responded to," al-Abboudi said.

Iraqi demonstrators recently have railed against the plans for the Kuwaiti port, among what they termed "attacks" on Iraqi territories.

Al-Abboudi said the Iraqi government has failed to find solutions via diplomatic means to "the ongoing transgressions".
© AK News 2011

20 Aug 2011 AK News

Government sanctions 'plot' to oust Kurds from Diyala, says KBC deputy

By Qader Ismael
Garmiyan - 426 Kurdish families in Jalawla are being pressed by the government to leave their homes in the district says a local Kurdish party leader.

The leader of the Jalawla branch of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Sherko Tofiq, told AKnews the region's "indigenous" Kurds are being forced to give up their property by orders from the Deeds Complaints Committee, sanctioned by the courts in Baghdad. 

In what Tofiq describes as a "neat plot" to alter once more the demography of an area that is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Iraqi capital and the Kurdistan Regional Government. 

Each day, federal security forces break into the homes of Kurdish families and threaten them, the KRG leader said. 

He complained that the committee is exploiting the same Saddam-era laws that were used in the Arabization process at the heart of the territorial disaccord. 

The properties of Kurds who had close ties or family connections to members of the Peshmarga (Kurdish militia) were confiscated and accorded to Arab settlers. The expelled Kurdish families were then forced to resettle in the south of Iraq.  

After the toppling of the former regime in 2003, many Kurdish families returned to Jalawla, successfully reclaiming the properties that were confiscated from them. 

A reverse trend in recent years however has seen more and more of the resettled Arab families lodging counter claims.   

"The same Arabs that had occupied the houses of the Kurdish families are now trying to fabricate documents to re-obtain those properties," Tofiq said.

A number of Kurdish families have succumbed to the harassment and abandoned the lands and homes that are rightfully theirs', he continued "...because now Jalawla has become a military base." 

Official figures reveal what Tofiq refers to as a renewed "Arabization" of the district since the fall of the Baath regime. 

In 2003, Arab families made up 49% of the overall population whereas today, that figure has jumped to 77%. In the meantime, the number of Kurds in the region has fallen from 33% in 2003 to just 18% today. 

In nearby Saadiyah the Arab population rose from 37% to 82%  in the same period while the Kurdish population plummeted from 31% to 0.07%. 

Since 2003 nearly 1,353 Kurdish families have been ousted from their homes in multiethnic areas of Diyala such as Khanqin, Qaratapa, Jalawla, Saadiya and Naftkhan.

On top of this, an additional 500 or so Kurds have been killed in acts of insurgency over the past eight years.

Earlier this week, a request by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to re-deploy Peshmarga forces in the region to shield its citizens from violence and harassment, was approved by Baghdad. 

Peshamrga forces were stationed in Diyala until 2008 but forced to withdraw due to disputes with the Iraqi army.

© AK News 2011

20 Aug 2011 AK News

KRG urges Kurdish armed groups not to use Kurdistan to attack neighbours

By Sarbaz Salih
Erbil - The Kurdistan regional government (KRG) has announced in an official statement that Kurdish armed groups should not use the Kurdish region to stage cross border attacks against neighbors.

The statement comes days after the Turkish war planes bombarded more than 160 targets in the northern territories of Kurdistan Region to dislodge the armed group - Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has been fighting for the self-rule of Turkey's Kurds for three decades.

"In these circumstances, it is necessary that all parties take into consideration the sensitive situation of Kurdistan Region" said the statement, "No force should use the Kurdistan Region's soil to attack neighboring countries because this is against the the higher interests of the people of Kurdistan Region and the reconstruction process"

The KRG also urged the Kurdish armed groups and the neighboring countries to solve the issues through dialogue and talks.

The use of arms and violence to resolve the issues is no longer an option, the statement says, "we could approach solution to the issues through mutual understanding and talks"

The statement also calls on the neighboring countries not to trespass the Kurdish territories under any pretext "because it will have negative impacts on the friendship and mutual interests  of the nations of the region"

Turkey and Iran have been bombarding the border territories of Kurdistan Region for years, ostensibly aiming at dislodging the PKK and the Iranian off-shoot of the PKK, the PJAK - Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan.

© AK News 2011

20 Aug 2011 Arab Times

Iraqi lawmaker slams Kuwaiti MP's 'offensive' statement

Al-Sadr urges Kuwaiti govt to treat Iraqis as friends
KUWAIT CITY: Iraqi senior lawmaker Kazim Al-Shimari has slammed the recent statement by Kuwaiti MP Musallam Al-Barrak, saying it's offensive to the Iraqi nation, reports Al-Rai daily.

MP Kazim said Al-Barrak is the only lawmaker in the Kuwaiti National Assembly who is famous for immorality and impudence, and far from the morals of parliament and good Kuwaiti nation.

He added that Al-Barrak interprets things as he sees with the mentality of an adolescent politician, and "Al-Barrak must realize that Iraq does not renounce any fair accord signed between the two countries. All of us know that agreements the former regime of Saddam Hussein signed with Kuwait government were not fair; as well as the decisions of the International Security Council regarding the demarcation of borders between the two countries".

He added the moustache Iraqis wear, as Al-Barrak has stated, is honorable and that he must be polite while addressing Iraqis, even if it involves an MP or an ordinary Iraqi citizen.

Earlier, MP Al-Barrak had reportedly stated that Kuwait of 2011 is not like the Kuwait in 1990s. Besides, plans Iraqis are trying to implement with the militia is beyond their moustaches, indicating any desire to perpetrate atrocious schemes against Kuwait is impossible.

In the same context, the media office of the Iraqi White Bloc said MP Al-Shimari's statement has been misinterpreted, as he only urged the Kuwaiti government to open a new page for serious talks with Iraq to arrive at a proper solution to the issue of Mubarak Al-Kabeer Port, which may adversely affect Iraq economically.

The statement clarified that the actions of the Kuwaiti media may go a long way to harm Kuwait, and any chances of building good relations with Iraq will be lost. The statement added the Kuwaiti government must consider the interests of its nation and dangers associated with the issue in case Iraq is provoked. However, the Al-Shimari tribe in Kuwait is said to have renounced the statement by Iraqi lawmaker Kazim Al-Shimari.

Meanwhile, Moqtadha Al-Sadr has reportedly called for the suspension of Mubarak Al-Kabeer Port if it's confirmed the project will harm the interests of Iraq. He also urged the Kuwaiti government and its people to treat Iraq and its government as friends. He noted the current Iraqi government has no business with the former regime of Saddam Hussein, indicating Iraq is a neighboring nation that wants to live in peace.

Regarding the militant groups threatening to kill any person who works for a Kuwaiti company in south Iraq, he said it's not allowed to use the sacred Iraqi lands to attack or assault neighboring countries or a friendly nation.

© Arab Times 2011

20 Aug 2011 Aswat Aliraq
 Criticism on Kurdish situation in cut off areas in Diala - Barzani
Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani warned against the policies practiced against the Kurds in the disputed areas during his meeting with the U.S. ambassador. 

A Kurdish presidency statement said today that Barzani received US ambassador James Jeffrey and the commander of the international alliance in Iraq. 

During the meeting, the latest political and security issues were discussed, as well as security ministerial posts and the withdrawal of the U.S. forces. 

The statement added that both sides stressed the importance of "abiding by the agreements reached to fill the ministerial posts and the Higher National Strategic Council as agreed." 

Ambassador Jeffrey confirmed that Barzani should directly interfere to solve pending questions among the political entities. 

Both sides tackled the questions of cut off areas in Diala province which led to the decrease of Kurdish representation there. 

For the last few months, Diala province has been suffering greater tension due to the threats committed against the Kurdish population there and their immigration to Kurdish region. 

In two sessions, the Kurdish parliament discussed these conflicts, calling to take steps to stop these actions. 
© Aswat Aliraq 2011

20 Aug 2011 AFP

Turkey says it hit 85 Kurdish rebel targets in Iraq

ANKARA, Aug 20, 2011 (AFP) - Turkish planes carried out two raids in Iraq on Friday and bombarded 85 Kurdish rebel targets, the army announced Saturday, without giving any possible casualty figures.

Turkey resumed its bombing of positions held by Kurdish rebels in the Iraq mountains after a break of more than a year following an attack on Wednesday in southeast Turkey in which nine members of the Turkish security forces were killed.


© Copyright AFP 2011.

19 Aug 2011 Aswat Aliraq

Demands to stop regional intervention

Tens of Iraqis demonstrated today in Tahrir square in the center of the capital, Baghdad, calling to stop "regional" intervention in Iraqi internal affairs. 

An Aswat al-Iraq correspondent reported that the demonstrators called on the government to stop regional intervention, particularly from Iran and Kuwait, as well as any violations of Iraqi territorial waters and termination of foreign presence on Iraqi soil. 

The correspondent pointed out that the demonstration contained calls "to political entities to end their differences, work for better services, termination of unemployment and corruption." 

Others demanded the release of innocent detainees.
© Aswat Aliraq 2011

19 Aug 2011 Aswat Aliraq

No objection for limited immunity if central government approves, Kurdish MP

The Kurdish Alliance announced Thursday night it will no object granting US soldiers a limited immunity, provided getting the approval of the central government. 

Spokesman Mu'aiad Al-Tayeb told Aswat al-Iraq that " the political entities authorized Premier Nouri al-Maliki to negotiate with the American side for the stay and training Iraqi army. If it agreed to give them limited immunity, we will not object". 

He called for holding a new agreement suitable for Iraqi interests and to the Americans. U.S. combat forces withdrew completely by the end of August 2009 according to the security agreement between Baghdad and Washington at the end of 2008, provided that the non-combat forces will complete withdrawing by the end of this year.

© Aswat Aliraq 2011

19 Aug 2011 AK News

Parliamentary committee to report on Turkish air raids

By Haidar Ibrahim
The Security and Defense committee of the Iraqi parliament has been ordered to prepare a report on the Turkish air strikes within Iraqi Kurdistan, a Kurdish MP said today.

For two successive nights Turkish fighter jets have torn across the border and dropped their deadly loads on villages in the Qandil Mountains, where rebels from PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) have their bases from which they launch attacks in Turkey.

Shuwan Taha, an MP from the Kurdistan Blocs Coalition (KBC) said the committee is tasked with reporting the details of the raids, the justifications for them and the damage they have caused, so that parliament can come to a considered stance on the incursions. Speaking to AKnews, the MP described the Turkish assaults 'a disrespect of Iraqi sovereignty'.

The first raid on Wednesday night was carried out by 13 warplanes targeting 60 sites.  Only two jets participated in last night's attacks on a single Kurdish village, Boriskan.
© AK News 2011

18 Aug 2011 AK News

Kuwait port delegation to make report

By Haider Ibrahim
Baghdad, Aug.18 (AKnews) - The delegation that headed to Kuwait to prepare a detailed report about the plans for a controversial port is scheduled to return to Baghdad today to submit its report to the cabinet.

Iraq sent a delegation of technical experts at the beginning of this week to prepare a detailed report about Mubarak port and its negative effects on Iraqi sea faring and docking. Kuwait welcomed the delegation after tensions rose over the gulf states plans to build the mega port so close to Iraq's narrow sea access.

The legal adviser to the Prime Minister Fadel Mohammed Jawad said: "The Technical Committee will return with a detailed report about the port that will be submitted later to the cabinet for consideration."

Iraq announced its intention to build a major new port - al-Faw - in 2005, but the project has stalled. Kuwait, taking advantage of the failure to make any progress announced the construction its own port just a few kilometers away from the al-Faw site.

Historic tensions have flared as a result of the move and Hezbollah Iraq has threatened to bomb the port if its construction goes ahead.
© AK News 201

18 Aug 2011 Aswat Aliraq

UN Security Council denounces series of explosions in Iraq

The UN Security Council severely denounced the series of explosions that hit Iraq at the beginning of this week, which led to tens of casualties. 

In a statement issued, the council's members stressed the need to bring the criminals and collaborators to justice, calling all countries to abide by their duties towards international law and related Security Council's resolutions. 

The members confirmed "their support to the Iraqi people and government to fight all threats against international peace and security." 

Last Monday, Iraq suffered a series of explosions, the first in two months, in a number of provinces, like Wasit, Kerbela, Salahuddin, Najaf and Kirkuk which led to 51 killings and 165 casualties, according to security sources. 
© Aswat Aliraq 2011

17 Aug 2011

 Aswat Aliraq

Non-implementation of Article 140 creates "terrorist" problems in Diala - MP

The Deputy Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Arif Teifur, has said on Wednesday that non-implementation of Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution have caused problems and non-stability in Saadiya, Jalawlaa and Qara-Tappa townships in east Iraq's Diala Province.

A statement by Teifur's office, copy of which was received by Aswat al-Iraq news agency, has stressed that Teifur had conferred early in the day with a delegation representing the UN Mission in Iraq, comprising the Senior Advisor for Elections Affairs, Jose Maria and the Political Affairs Advisor, Masaki Watanabi, and discussed with them the general topics on the Iraqi arena.

"Non-implementation of Article 140 and non-attention by the American forces and the negligence by the Iraqi Army have created problems and terrorist acts in Diala Province's townships of Saadiya, Jalawlaa and Qara-Tappa," Teifur told both UN officials.

Teifur also called on the adjustment of the Independent Commission for the Iraqi Elections, "because that Commission suffers several problems, adding that the Parliament plans to form a new Independent Commission after the Muslim's Eid al-Fitr Holidays."

On his part, Jose had reiterated the significance of "cooperation between the UN Mission and the Iraqi Parliament, along with the UN's efforts to present support and consultation for the Elections Commission."

At the end of the meeting, both sides have confirmed "necessity for the presence of a team for the UN Mission in Iraq, to present assistance for the Iraqi people during the current circumstances."

The Media Advisor of north Iraq's Kurdistan Parliament's Speaker, Tareq Jawhar, had informed Aswat al-Iraq earlier in the day that the Kurdistan Parliament would discuss a report by a committee that was formed to visit the said townships in Diala Province, regarding the situation in those areas, in order to take a clear attitude towards those areas.

Noteworthy is that Kurdish media sources have reported last Monday that Kurdish Peshmerga forces were sent to the townships of Jalawlaa and Saadiya  of Diala Province, 57 km to the northeast of Baghdad, to protect the Kurdish citizens there, taking into consideration that they wee among the areas in-conflict between the Federal government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan government in Arbil.

© Aswat Aliraq 2011

16 Aug 2011

 Kurdistan presses for Iraqi - Kuwaiti dialogueAK News
By Karzan Kanabi
Erbil - The presidency of the Iraqi Kurdistan region has urged Iraq and Kuwait to resolve their differences through dialogue to avoid the Mubarak port issue becoming a political crisis.

In April, Kuwait began construction work on a deepwater marine port in shared waters close to the Iraqi border that economists predict will reduce Iraq's maritime trade by as much as 60%.

With the legality of the port as yet unconfirmed, Iraq called on Kuwait to halt construction until the relevant treaties and international laws have been studied. Kuwait rejected its neighbor's call, describing the demand as "surprising and illegal".

In May, the Sadrist Current - a powerful coalition led by the outspoken Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Iraq - deemed the Mubarak port project "an outrage" and menaced a "surprise response".

Kuwaiti security forces have been deployed around the construction site of the new port in what Kuwaiti officials have described as a bid to "protect" Kuwaiti interests from the possibility of "attack from Iraqi parties".  

In a statement published on their website this morning, the Kurdistan presidency appeals to both governments to return to the negotiating table to settle their disputes through dialogue.

"The creation of a crisis in not in the interests of either party," the statement reads.
© AK News 2011

12 Aug 2011

 AK News

67% drop in customs revenue blamed on tighter regulations

By Jaafar al-Wannan
Baghdad - The Directorate General of Customs said Thursday that its monthly revenue decreased from IQD 32 billion last June to IQD 10 billion for the same period this year.

The 69 per cent drop is put down to the changes in import regulations that saw backlogs at the border crossings. The new rules mean that any importer must obtain a certificate of quality control from one of two companies contracted by the government.

The Director General of Customs, Major General Nawfal Salim told AKnews: "The revenues of border customs decreased because of the reluctance of traders and importers to bring in their goods for 15 days [since the regulations were imposed]."
The Finance Ministry decided on Monday to stop the introduction of a new customs law that would have increased tariffs until early next year due to high prices of goods.
© AK News 2011

11 Aug 2011 AFP
 Iraq ex-transport minister wanted for graft: MP

BAGHDAD, Aug 11, 2011 (AFP) - An arrest warrant has been issued by Iraq's anti-corruption watchdog for a former transport minister in connection with a graft inquiry, a lawmaker told AFP on Thursday.

Iraq's Integrity Commission also said that an interior ministry lieutenant colonel has been sentenced to death for smuggling kerosene, which his unit was tasked with guarding, to "finance terrorism."

The warrant for Luay al-Aris, a minister in former prime minister Iyad Allawi's government, was issued on Wednesday by an investigative judge working for the Integrity Commission.

"An arrest warrant has been issued against Luay al-Aris," said Jaafar al-Mussawi, an MP and the spokesman of parliament's own anti-corruption committee.

"He is accused of financial corruption, and the investigation is ongoing against others also."

Aris has previously appeared in court on corruption charges but has not been convicted.

The Integrity Commission said in a statement on Thursday that "the criminal court of Salaheddin issued a death sentence for a lieutenant colonel, the former deputy commander of an oil protection unit in the province, for smuggling 116 tankers of kerosene."

Integrity Commission investigators seized the tankers protected by forces under the officer's command, saying he aimed to "finance terrorism" with proceeds from the kerosene sales.

The officer was sentenced to death under a 2005 anti-terrorism law, the statement added.

"The court will consider other cases against other suspected participants in the smuggling operation," it said, without specifying their number.

Iraq is rated by anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International as the world's fourth most corrupt country, with diplomats and local officials persistently citing widespread graft as a major impediment to its development.


© Copyright AFP 2011.

08 Aug 2011

 Iraqi official runs phony electricity companyAswat Aliraq
BAGHDAD: A member of the Parliamentary Integrity Commission said today that the commission received additional information the phony company that is at the center of the ongoing scandal with Raad Shalah is being run by a high-ranking Iraqi official.

MP Talal al-Zouba'i told Aswat al-Iraq that "the company is run by an Iraqi official who carries the Canadian nationality."

"Our main concern and discussions are on the electricity ministry and the embezzlement of 1.7 billion dollars," he added.

Premier Nouri al-Maliki demoted last Saturday electricity minister Raad Shalal following reports on phony electricity contracts with Canadian and German companies.

Shalal is a member of the "Solution" bloc, affiliated to al-Iraqiya political entity, headed by Iyad Allawi.

Iraq suffers from an acute shortage of electricity in an environment where the heat index can exceed 50 centigrade, and cut off electricity totaling upwards of 18 hours per day in most of Iraqi provinces.
© Aswat Aliraq 2011

08 Aug 2011 AK News

Electricity ministry squanders $27bn

By Haider Ibrahim
Baghdad, Aug. 8 (AKnews) - The Electricity Ministry has wasted $27bn in its contracting with companies in the development of electric power, the Integrity Committee of the Iraqi Parliamentary revealed today.

Committee member Aliya Nassif told AKnews that the "committee received a detailed report from the Finance Ministry that admits the ministry wasted $27bn in contracting with foreign companies while electric power is still poor."

"The Minister of Electricity was not informed about many of the contracts signed by his ministry. The minister of electricity has exceeded the allowed number of contracts specified by the Cabinet without referring to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki."

State of Law Coalition (SLC) deputy Hanan al-Fatlawi told AKnews on Saturday that the Ministry of Electricity signed contracts - worth a total of $1.7 billion - with two fake companies to build power plants in Iraq.

Fatlawi said that the companies had been discovered to be non-existent by Iraq's former planning minister Jawad Hashem after conducting his own investigation into the contracts. On August 2 Hashem sent a letter to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki outlining the details of his findings.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki decided late on Sunday night to dismiss the Electricity Minister Raad Shallal from his position and to refer his case to parliament to vote on the dismissal. 

On July 6, the Ministry of Electricity announced the signing a contract with  German company "MBG" worth $625 million to build five power stations within 12 months. The ministry also signed a contract with a Canadian company called "Cup Gent" to build ten more power 1.66 billion dollars in an effort to tackle the energy shortage in the country.

But accusations that the companies are not eligible to implement these contracts has sparked debate amid unclear reports about Maliki's delay in dismissing the Minister of Electricity

The demand for electricity is estimated by about 14,000 megawatts during the summer but Iraq only currently produces around 8,000MW. There are plans to increase the capacity to 27,000 megawatts in four years, but experts have cast doubt on the likelihood of hitting this target.

© AK News 2011

07 Aug 2011


Aswat Aliraq

Iraq's Supreme Islamic Council confirms necessity to restore independence and sovereignty

BAGHDAD: Iraq's Supreme Islamic Council has reiterated necessity to restore Iraq's full independence and complete sovereignty on its lands, being among the highest goals it's striving to achieve, according to the Council's statement on Sunday.

"The Supreme Islamic Council is looking with an eye of strong optimism towards achieving full independence by Iraq and leaving behind all the exceptional circumstances that had threatened its independence and sovereignty," the statement, copy of which was received by Aswat al-Iraq news agency had stressed, confirming full moral and political support for "Iraq's Armed Forces, to achieve their national missions in protecting the country's internal security and sovereignty."

In conclusion, the Supreme Islamic Council, had called in its statement upon all national forces to "achieve cohesion and solidarity to strengthen all the achievements, scored by Iraq over the past eight years."

© Aswat Aliraq 2011

07 Aug 2011

2012 budget free of fiscal deficit says ministry

By Jaafar al-Wannan
Baghdad - The Iraqi Finance Ministry said on Sunday that it will submit the federal budget for 2012 - with no fiscal deficit - to the Council of Ministers in September.
Deputy Finance Minister Dia Khayyoun told AKnews that the 2012 budget is based on the premise that Iraq will export 2.2 million barrels of crude oil per day at $85 a barrel.

Iraq sits atop the fourth largest oil reserves in the world and oil exports account for 96% of the country's economy.
"The Ministry of Finance has developed mechanisms to counteract deficit in the 2012 budget," he said, without specifying what those mechanisms consist of.
© AK News 2011

Economists: The future of a market economy in Iraq is controlled by the government

Posted: August 2, 2011 by THE CURRENCY NEWSHOUND 

After the question as posed by the requirement of faith in the economic (market economy) to get away completely from the practice of commercial activity limited to the government and the private sector? Response specialists in their talk (for the Agency news) that the Tsoaj government activity with the private sector and be supportive and non-controlling it.

The economist said Dargham Mohammed Ali in a statement to the Contact Agency (news) on Tuesday: “directed economy to a market economy, rumors and just ink on paper, refusing to be the inclinations of the government control of the private sector for being unlawful manner.

He called on the government to be mated to its industrial and trade cooperation with the private sector, monopolized and controlled him and prevent him from competition, “saying the government Bsellstha current Ataatuge toward a market economy but prevent him from performing his work also note that the Ministry of Commerce, which gives privileges to the car company and public company of construction materials and make them able to compete and this is reflected on the citizen and the trader. “

The economic expert: no support from the government to the private sector except for agricultural initiative is the only one who began to work to support the sector, either of Industry and Trade does not have any support, and that the question of raising slogans in order to transform the economy to a market economy are just rumors have not been implemented yet but ink on paper, in addition to the lack of legislation and laws that move the market economy.

He attributed the researcher for the Economic Affairs of the Iraq Institute for Energy Hussein star (of the Agency news) why the order Iraq ranked (166) Exercise of business and economic out (183) state due to lack of government support for private sector and non-activation of Laws and legislation.

The star “is supposed to be a catalyst role of the government and encouraging the private sector through legislation and to provide logistical support to him, noting that there are some ministries support the departments by having a portfolio of loans for development as it is in the Ministry of Planning.

He spoke a star for the advancement of the private sector, saying: “If we see international reports that the World Bank Iraq the rank (166) Exercise of business, economic, and which was supposed to move forward as it contains Iraq’s chances of foreign investment and large local, calling for the activation and operation of the private sector’s role as in (UAE, Egypt and Algeria).

The researcher pointed to the existence of Iraqi companies operating in Oman and other countries but the lack of legislative incentives, and alpine and lack of banking culture makes many companies migrate.

The economic expert Ahmed Abreha The belief in the economic (market economy) Atchetrt to stay away from the exercise of commercial activity and shortened the government to the private sector.

The Abreha (of the Agency news) “The division of economic labor between the state and the private sector to Atgma doctrines only, but there are considerations of scientific as well, if the note when it worsened the recent financial crisis and was hit by large financial institutions are heavy losses, which went bankrupt, initiated by the U.S. government ownership of these institutions, including, for example (générale Monr Kubni) famous car maker, it is prima facie incompatible with the doctrine of market economy. “

Abreha and wondered: Why is the U.S. government took these actions? Why did not object to U.S. Congressman? “Replying that” the interests Aleilia require that after the Second World War, European countries, without exception, the governments manage production activities immediately and even interfere in price setting and decision-making, noting that the (ideological economic) impact, but in the end the best interests of the country imposing the same, even if we take Example of electricity in Iraq for the private sector can not yet generated, distribution and production, is on the Iraqi government to give up on this subject because they believed in the doctrine of the market? Of course not, and so for the rest of the sectors and activities.

He noted economic expert to the existence of productivity and service sectors so far does not want the private sector to enter the Egged has practiced in the economic feasibility but necessary and indispensable.


العراق يستعد لاستلام أجوائه من أميركا Iraq is preparing to receive the airspace of America

02/08/2011 21:26 02/08/2011 21:26

اربيل2آب/أغسطس(آكانيوز)- أفاد مصدر في وزارة النقل العراقية، اليوم الثلاثاء، ان الاستعدادات جارية لاستعادة السيطرة على أجواء البلاد من الأميركيين. Arbil, August 2 / August (Rn) - A source at the Iraqi Ministry of Transport, on Tuesday, said preparations were under way to regain control of the atmosphere of the country from the Americans.

Iraqi Airways, Iraqi Airlines وقال وكيل وزارة النقل العراقية، بنكين ريكاني، لوكالة كردستان للأنباء (آكانيوز) ان "الوزارة تجري الاستعدادات لاستعادة السيطرة على أجواء البلاد من القوات الأميركية"، مضيفاً ان "الاميركيين يسيطرون على الأجواء العراقية منذ عام 2003". The agent said the Transport Ministry, banks Rakane, told the Kurdish news agency (Rn) that "the ministry preparations are under way to regain control of the country's airspace by U.S. forces," adding that "the Americans in control of Iraqi airspace since 2003."

وأوضح ريكاني ان "وزارة النقل العراقية أبرمت اتفاقاً مبدئياً مع شركة (سيركو) البريطانية، بهدف إعادة تنظيم حركة الخطوط الجوية العراقية، نظراً لأهمية تلك الخطوط". Rakane explained that "the Iraqi Ministry of Transport signed an agreement in principle with the company (Serco), the British, in order to re-regulate the movement of Iraqi Airways, given the importance of these lines."

وأشار الى ان "الاتفاقية التي وقعتها الوزارة مع الشركة البريطانية تنص على تطوير الخدمات داخل المطارات العراقية وتقديم أفضل الخدمات الضرورية المتوفرة في المطارات العالمية، في المطارات العراقية أيضاً". He pointed out that "the agreement signed by the Ministry with the British company provides services in the development of Iraqi airports and provide the best services that are available in airports around the world, in the Iraqi airports, too."

وتكتسب الأجواء العراقية أهمية كبرى، خاصة من الجنوب الى الشمال وبالعكس، بالنسبة لخطوط الطيران الدولية، لأن عدداً كبيراً من الدول قدمت طلبات رسمية بالمساح لها بتسيير رحلات فوق الأجواء العراقية. Iraqi airspace and is gaining great importance, especially from south to north and vice versa, for the international airlines, because a large number of States have submitted formal requests have Balmessah fly over Iraqi airspace.

ونوه الى ان "استعادة السيطرة على اجواء البلاد له أهمية قصوى للعراق في المجال الاقتصادي، ولهذا سيتم احياء الخطوط الجوية العراقية، بحيث يتلاءم مع التطور الشامل الذي يشهده العراق والمنطقة". He noted that "regain control of the country's airspace is of paramount importance to Iraq in the economic sphere, but this will revive the Iraqi Airways, to conform to the comprehensive development witnessed by Iraq and the region."

وكانت الأجواء العراقية مسيطرة من قبل قوات الجيش الاميركي منذ انهيار النظام العراقي السابق في عام 2003. The control of Iraqi airspace by U.S. military forces since the collapse of the former Iraqi regime in 2003.

من: فرياد محمد، تر: احسان ايرواني From: Muhammad Faryad, see: Ehsan Aervani

20 Jul 2011

 Investment in Iraq set to double this year

Erbil, July 20 (AKnews) - Iraq attracted US$45 billion in new investment so far this year, more than the total for the whole of last year, according to a report by Dunia Frontier Consultants reported by USA Today.

The spike in investment is down to improved confidence in Iraq's stability, analysts say. Last year Iraq secured $42bn in investment.

Much of the investment is from companies within the Middle-East, but substantial investment from other parts of the world has been flowing in too. French companies account for 9.9 per cent of all investment in Iraq. The U.S. - despite leading the 2003 invasion - only accounts for 4.7 per cent.

U.S. business interest is growing though. Iraq's commercial attaché office in Washington received 2,251 applications to do business in Iraq in the first half of this year, compared with 1,369 in the same period last year.

South Korea was the largest foreign investor this year, representing 24% of the foreign money flowing into Iraq, according to the report. China also plays a significant role, with a Chinese oil company this month opening the first major oil field in Iraq in 20 years.

Decades of war and sanctions have left Iraq's economy and infrastructure in tatters. But, it is increasingly seen as an untapped market for foreign investors keen to get in on the action early and secure heavy profits despite the obvious risks.

The need for development in Iraq is great. It's electrical grid in desperate need of modernization, there are major housing shortages and infrastructure such as transport needs major improvement. Foreign investment is seen as key by some in the alleviation of these problems, while others warn of companies coming into Iraq, making massive profits and doing little to improve the lot of ordinary Iraqis.

© AK News 2011

19 Jul 2011 Aswat Aliraq
 China's support needed to get rid of sanctions - Maliki
BAGHDAD: Iraqi Premier Nouri al-Maliki stated during his meeting with the Chinese President Hu Jintao that Iraq needs the support of China to get out of the UN Chapter VII, as stated by his office today. 

"Iraq is looking forward for China to be a strategic partner in its economic development in different spheres," Maliki highlighted. 

The statement reported that "China is actively working on minimizing or canceling Iraqi debts and supporting the country in the UN Security Council to get rid of the international sanctions." 
Premier Maliki headed a high ranking delegation on an officail 3-day visit to hold talks on economic, trade and political issues. 

The delegation is comprised of ministers of agriculture, industry, oil and investment commission.
© Aswat Aliraq 2011

Iraq’s Moment        

original link here --->

Posted: May 10, 2011 by THE CURRENCY NEWSHOUND - Just Hopin in Iraqi Dinar/Politics
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Iraq’s strong oil revenues this year, coupled with a new $37-bn investment plan, will ensure double-digit hike in GDP this year. However, political and security issues could derail growth.

Iraq’s expected double-digit growth this year is a reflection of high oil prices more than anything else, but the government has a chance to build on this windfall with the $37-billion development programme announced in late April.

With Iraq sitting on the fourth largest oil reserves in the world, foreign investment can flow quickly if the government can improve security and keep other key economic indicators at favourable levels.

But with the latest political changes sweeping across the region, Iraq has to navigate through a multitude of internal and external challenges, before it can leverage its oil-led growth.

With Libya, Syria, Egypt and Yemen grabbing all the headlines, it is easy to lose sight of some of the countries in the region that are quietly progressing along.

Apart from Qatar, Iraq is the only other economy in the region expected to post double-digit growth this year, according to the International Institute of Finance (IIF). The banking body expects Iraq to post an 11% GDP growth in 2011, second only to Qatar’s 18.1%.

The International Monetary Fund expects Iraq to grow at 9.6%, with inflation at a reasonable 5% and nominal GDP reaching $108-billion – the first time it will cross the $100-billion mark.

But Iraq is hardly a paragon of stability. The Arab Spring has not spared Iraq and its citizens have been out on the streets demanding key reforms and access to basic infrastructure and jobs – but the protests have not threatened the government just yet.

The country, which is recovering from the United States-led invasion apart from multiple wars during the eighties and nineties, remains vulnerable to the problems affecting other countries in the region. There is a danger of Iraq getting swept up in the events taking place in Syria and the Gulf-Iran rivalry which has threatened to escalate.

Iraq, which has a majority Shii’te population, has been watching with some consternation the treatment meted out to Bahraini Shii’te, and while we don’t expect the Iraqi government to intervene, its citizens have protested vehemently against Saudi and Bahraini governments.

Iraq has no shortage of domestic concerns either. Nine months after an election that saw a divided electorate, a new government was finally formed last December led by Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki.

The base of Iraq’s development centres around its oil industry. Although analysts think that Iraq has barely scratched the surface of its oil reserves, the country is already the world’s 12th largest producer of crude. The country sits on the fourth largest reserves in the world, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, with 115 billion barrels of oil reserves.

“Just a fraction of Iraq’s known fields are in development, and Iraq may be one of the few places left where vast reserves, proven and unknown, have barely been exploited,” says the U.S. Department of Energy.

Much of Iraq’s economic growth ihas come coming from its oil production, which has benefited from high oil prices.

“Growth in non-oil real GDP will depend on improvements in the security situation,” says the IIF. “If oil prices remain above $100 per barrel, and if the production of crude oil continues to increase over the coming years to about 4.5 mbd by 2015, then official foreign exchange reserves could almost triple, rising from $50 billion at end- 2010 to $143 billion by 2015, equivalent to 78% of projected GDP, or 15 months of import cover.”

Iraq has stepped up its oil production in the first quarter of this year to an average of 2.70 million barrels per day (mbd), as compared with 2.36 mbd in 2010. Assuming consumption of oil increases by 5% a year, exports of crude oil in 2011 are projected at 2.15 mbd.

The increase was to cover Libya’s shortfall and also aided by three successful bidding rounds held since 2008, which drew in international oil companies to develop and/or rehabilitate Iraq’s vast oil fields. The government has set ambitious plans to increase oil output to 11 mbd by 2020.

But observers don’t expect the government to meet that target. The IIF expects a production level of 4.5-million barrels per day by 2015, and the International Monetary Fund at 5 million by 2017.

“The main risks in the coming years will be bottlenecks in the export infrastructure that will need to be addressed. The authorities are working to upgrade and expand the country’s oil infrastructure,” says the IMF.

Additional single point moorings are planned at the Basra oil terminal, as well as additional pipelines to the terminal, which is Iraq’s largest point of export. Plans also include the construction of new domestic pipelines to connect the southern fields to the northern pipeline to Turkey, and a new pipeline to Syria.

In addition, large investments in supporting activities are also underway and planned, including the construction of desalination plants to produce water for injection in the fields, and storage facilities. These investments will require time to implement, and suggest a more gradual increase in Iraq’s oil production. Based on more conservative assumptions for the time it will take to expand Iraq’s export capacity, oil production could still increase to over 5 mbpd by 2017.


Like many countries in the Middle East, Iraq has a young population with 57% of its 31.5 million between the ages of 15-64 and 41% of the population under 14. Unemployment stands at 17.5%, according to World Bank report, and job creation is crucial.

On April 25, the Iraqi cabinet approved $37-billion development programme to improve its dilapidating infrastructure. Some of the key points of the programme includes development in key areas such as:

Transport infrastructure $10-billion
Highways $1.5-billion
Education $5-billion
Higher Education $2-billion
Water & Sewage $5-billion
Agriculture $5-billion
Health Infrastructure $3-billion

The development, which was first proposed during Prime Minister Nour Al- Maliki’s first term, will at least partially be funded by the government’s oil revenues. The IMF’s stand-by agreement (SBA) of $3.7-billion program will also be used as part of the ongoing reconstruction of the country.

The plan is in addition to the 2011 budget, based on a conservative oil price of $76.50, which aims to accelerate investment in public services and in oil infrastructure, as well as to accommodate additional social safety net and security outlays, while remaining consistent with medium-term fiscal sustainability and available financing.

“Iraq’s rehabilitation needs remain large, particularly to improve public service delivery and rebuild essential infrastructure, which are critical also to help create a private sector that can provide sufficient employment opportunities to the country’s large labour force,” says the IMF.

The budget deficit is projected to narrow substantially in 2012 and to move back into surplus in the following years. Over the medium-term, and even with more cautious assumptions regarding the increase in oil production than those presented in the oil companies’ production plans, Iraq’s government finances would reach a sustainable position.

The Central bank of Iraq has been successful in keeping inflation under control, by managing the exchange rate and by keeping the policy interest rate positive in real terms. Headline inflation and core inflation (excluding fuel and transportation) have remained in the low single digits. The CBI’s policy interest rate, which has been gradually reduced, is currently at 6% and positive in real terms. With low inflation, the exchange rate has been stable since the beginning of 2009.

The bank is also reportedly planning to remove three zeroes from the Iraqi dinnar in a bid to further stablize the currency and improve the government’s purchasing power.

For all its problems – and Iraq has many – under Prime Minister Nour Al Maliki, the country is slowly moving towards stability and economic recovery. Given that foreign investment remains a major driver of growth for the country, the country’s security risks are high and has already delayed projects and development plans. However, the restive population with its various factions and sectarian and political divides are looking to the government for faster growth and more economic reforms to accelerate growth. Al Maliki’s success will depend on how quickly the $37-billion plan is executed and whether the increased oil revenues trickled down to Iraqis on the street.

This article is about the US Military getting the boot from Iraq!


BAGHDAD—Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ruled out the presence of any U.S. troops in Iraq after the end of 2011, saying his new government and the country's security forces were capable of confronting any remaining threats to Iraq's security, sovereignty and unity.

In his first media interview since the Iraqi Parliament confirmed his new cabinet in December, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki sat down for an exclusive conversation with The Wall Street Journal's Sam Dagher. Here are some excerpts.

Mr. Maliki spoke with The Wall Street Journal in a two-hour interview, his first since Iraq ended nine months of stalemate and seated a new government after an inconclusive election, allowing Mr. Maliki to begin a second term as premier.

A majority of Iraqis—and some Iraqi and U.S. officials—have assumed the U.S. troop presence would eventually be extended, especially after the long government limbo. But Mr. Maliki was eager to draw a line in his most definitive remarks on the subject. "The last American soldier will leave Iraq" as agreed, he said, speaking at his office in a leafy section of Baghdad's protected Green Zone. "This agreement is not subject to extension, not subject to alteration. It is sealed."

He also said that even as Iraq bids farewell to U.S. troops, he wouldn't allow his nation to be pulled into alignment with Iran, despite voices supporting such an alliance within his government.

"For Iraq to be dragged into an axis or an orbit, that's impossible, and we reject it whether this comes from Iran, Turkey or the Arabs," he said.

He added that a kind of "paranoia" about a Tehran-Baghdad alliance in the U.S. is matched by a fear in Iran about U.S. influence: "An Iranian official visited me in the past and told me, 'I thought the Americans were standing at the door of your office,' " he said.

In an interview in Washington, Vice President Joe Biden also said Iran had failed to buy influence during the election or to co-opt Mr. Maliki, who was among the members of the current Iraqi government who briefly took refuge in Iran during the reign of Saddam Hussein.

Max Becherer for The Wall Street Journal

Nouri al-Maliki seated in his office. In an interview, he said Iraq would assume responsibility for all its own security by the end of 2011, and would not fall into alignment with Iran.


Mr. Maliki's new majority depends partly on followers of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. But Mr. Biden credited Mr. Maliki for denying Mr. Sadr's bloc any control of Iraqi security, while forming a government with full buy-in from Iraq's main factions of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.

U.S. military commanders still accuse Iran of funding, training and providing sanctuary to Shiite militias, like Mr. Sadr's Promised Day Brigades, which they say are responsible for attacks against U.S. forces and gangster-style assassinations that continue to plague Baghdad and other areas.

Max Becherer for The Wall Street Journal

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki talking with The Wall Street Journal.


Maliki on Iraq's Future

"Our country has the liberal, secular, Islamist, conservative, Christian, Muslim, tribal. This is our country. ... Now listen, all those that you meet among the officials are referred to by their tribe. I am al-Maliki attributed to Bani Malik, a large tribe present in Iraq and extending to the Hijaz and Yemen. So denying reality will produce nothing."
More from the interview

Mr. Maliki suggested his government had co-opted militias like the one associated with Mr. Sadr. "The militias are now part of the government and have entered the political process," said Mr. Maliki. The Sadr contingent, he added, "is moving in a satisfactory direction of taking part in the government, renouncing violence and abandoning military activity, and that's why we welcome it."

Security is the new government's top priority, Mr. Maliki said, as in his previous term. Sectarian violence and suicide bombings continue to plague the country as the full withdrawal of U.S. soldiers nears. Almost a dozen people were killed in double suicide bombings on Monday outside provincial government offices in the city of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, according to security officials.

A resumption of more extreme violence, of course, could alter the thinking in Baghdad and Washington about the U.S. timetable.

But Mr. Maliki said the only way for any of the remaining 50,000 or so American soldiers to stay beyond 2011 would be for the two nations to negotiate—with the approval of Iraq's Parliament—a new Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA, similar to the one concluded in 2008.

That deal took a year of protracted negotiations in the face of vehement opposition from many among Mr. Maliki's own Shiite constituency, and no repeat is expected.

Mr. Maliki and U.S. officials have refrained for the most part from raising the issue publicly during the months of political wrangling in Baghdad, as Mr. Maliki negotiated with potential coalition partners, many of whom have adamantly opposed an extended U.S. stay.

A senior official in President Barack Obama's administration said Washington was "on track" to withdraw all its remaining soldiers in Iraq by the end of next year. That's the final milestone in the security agreement, following the reduction in American troop levels to below 50,000 in August and the pullout of U.S. soldiers from most Iraqi inner cities in June 2009. "The prime minister is exactly right," said the senior official.

During the interview, Mr. Maliki said he was heartened by America's "commitment" to honoring the agreements it reached with Iraq, and he laughed approvingly when told that U.S. Ambassador James F. Jeffrey keeps a frayed copy of the so-called Strategic Framework Agreement in his leather briefcase. That document calls, in broad terms, for long-term cooperation in security, defense, economy, energy and culture, among other areas.

In a briefing for Western reporters last week, Mr. Jeffrey said that despite the requirement to pull out all American troops at the end of 2011, the framework document and other agreements between Baghdad and Washington contain "a very robust security agenda."

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad will house a "significantly sized" office aimed at security cooperation, Mr. Jeffrey said, made up of about 80 to 90 military personnel that would take over most of the current functions of the U.S. military in advising, assisting, training and equipping Iraqi forces. That's similar to arrangements with other countries in the region, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The embassy would also oversee a major Iraqi police-training program.

Mr. Maliki played down Iraq's need for any major help from the U.S. military, even while acknowledging serious deficiencies in areas including control of airspace and borders. He said the days when ethnic or sectarian-based militias roamed the streets of Iraq and operated above the law were over.

"Not a single militia or gang can confront Iraqi forces and take over a street or a house," said Mr. Maliki. "This is finished; we are comfortable about that."

He said full withdrawal of U.S. troops also will remove a prime motivator of insurgents—both the Shiite fighters tied to militia groups and Iran, and Sunnis linked to Mr. Hussein's ousted Baath party.

Mr. Maliki defended his political horse trading with rival factions, many of which are seen as far apart on several substantial policy issues. He called the post-election process—in which he managed to prevail despite his own party bloc failing to gain the most votes—"very arduous."

He acknowledged that he expanded the number of cabinet seats just to placate the squabbling parties that he eventually cobbled together into his governing coalition, arguably the broadest since the fall of Mr. Hussein.

"I mean seven to eight ministries are, allow me to say, ministries for appeasement purposes," he said.

Mr. Maliki said he agreed to several Kurdish demands, including a referendum in contested northern regions, though he didn't think it was feasible without a constitutional amendment to accompany it.

Washington is so concerned about the standoff in the north—where Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and smaller ethnic groups have faced off—that a large contingent of U.S. soldiers continues to staff joint security checkpoints there, as diplomats work on political solutions.

The referendum was one of 19 demands made by Kurdish President Masoud Barzani in exchange for a power-sharing deal that ended the gridlock that followed the March elections. The resulting unity government headed by Mr. Maliki, a Shiite, includes Kurds and a Sunni-dominated bloc headed by the secular Shiite and former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

Mr. Allawi, whose bloc won the most seats in the election but couldn't form a majority, will chair a new National Council for Higher Policies, but won't be able to implement policies without broad government support.

Write to Sam Dagher at

Central Bank: The country's economy is fully liberated from the economic sanctions

18 December, 2010 09:25:00 18 December, 2010 09:25:00
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Central Bank: The country's economy is fully liberated from the economic sanctions
أعلن البنك المركزي العراقي، عن أن اقتصاد البلاد تحرر بشكل كامل بعد قرار مجلس الأمن الدولي أمس برفع العقوبات المفروضة عليه تحت طائلة البند السابع. Central Bank of Iraq, that country's economy is fully liberated after the decision of the UN Security Council yesterday to lift the sanctions imposed on it under Chapter VII.
وقال مستشار البنك المركزي مظهر محمد إن الاقتصاد العراقي تحرر بشكل كامل من جميع القيود الدولية التي وضعت عليه منذ 20 عاما ، بسبب سياسات النظام المباد ، لافتا إلى أن العراق خرج من طائلة البند السابع، وقضية التعويضات الكويتية لا تؤثر على الواقع الاقتصادي للعراق . The central bank adviser said the appearance of Mohammed that the Iraqi economy liberated completely from all international restrictions that have been developed 20 years ago, because of the policies of the former regime, pointing out that Iraq has emerged from Chapter VII, and the issue of Kuwaiti reparations does not affect the economic reality of Iraq. وأوضح مستشار البنك المركزي أن حماية الأموال العراقية امميا لستة أشهر مقبلة جاء بطلب من العراق ليستطيع تأهيل وضعه لاستلام أمواله من جديد . The central bank adviser that the protection of Iraqi funds internationalist for six months to come came at the request of Iraq can qualify and to receive his money again.