Iraq in July 2023

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July 3, 2023

Iraqi Government Says Market Value of Iraq’s Natural Resources Exceeds $15 Trillion (Iraqi News). The Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported that the financial advisor to the Prime Minister, Mazhar Muhammad Salih, said on Saturday that…Iraq is one of the world’s wealthiest countries in natural resources, pointing out that Iraq ranks ninth globally with resources that can be exported or used in local industries…According to estimates, the market value of Iraq’s natural resources exceeds $15 trillion.

July 4, 2023

  1. Iraqi Foreign Minister Visits London to Discuss Political, Security, and Commercial Cooperation (Elaph). On Monday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein began an official visit to London to discuss with senior officials to develop political and security relations and enhance joint commercial cooperation within the Iraqi-British strategic framework document…During his two-day official visit to London, the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein will lead a senior official delegation.
  2. Saudi Arabia & the UAE Allocate $6 Billion to Support their Operational Projects in Iraq (Al Iraq News). The head of the Federation of Iraqi Chambers of Commerce, Abd al-Razzaq al-Zuhairi, announced Monday that Saudi Arabia and the UAE had allocated 6 billion dollars to support their operations in Iraq. Considering the standards of the World Bank, the countries will seek to have full automation in the process of entry and exit of goods.

July 7, 2023

  1. Al-Sudani Pumps New Blood into Security Establishment in Iraq (Elaph). About nine months after taking office, the Iraqi prime minister issued an order to make drastic changes in the positions of senior officials in the National Security and Intelligence Services…The spokesman for the Commander-in-Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces, Major General Yahya Rasool, said that it came under the government program related to administrative reform of security institutions and aimed to pump new blood into the security sector and then raise the efficiency of the security system…Among the most prominent of the names mentioned in the changes is Abu Ali Al-Basri, who became head of the National Security Agency.

July 10, 2023

  1. Despite Baghdad’s Objections, Iran Forces Iraq to Accept “Arbaeen” Passports (Elaph). Despite Iraq’s refusal to deal with an Iranian passport for the entry of Iranians into Iraqi territory to participate in the Arbaeen of Imam Hussein, Baghdad has been forced to accept it officially, as its interior minister revealed Sunday. Ahmed Wahidi confirmed that the Iraqi government agreed to issue his country passports for the fortieth visit of Imam Hussein in Karbala, which falls on the sixth of September, and its ceremonies take place in the Iraqi city of Karbala, with the participation of about two million Iranians every year.
  2. Parliament Calls to Sever Economic and Trade Relations With Iran and Turkiye Due to their Cutting off Water from Iraq (Iraq News). On Saturday, Member of Parliament Zainab al-Moussawi called for fighting Iran and Turkiye with economic weapons after the marshes of the southern governorates dried up. Al-Moussawi said in a statement, “The complete drought of the Hawizeh marsh in the Maysan governorate, and the almost complete dryness of the Chabayish marsh in the Dhi Qar governorate, is a severe warning of the water situation in the country, specifically the cities of southern Iraq.
  3. Iraq Opens Probe Into Israeli Academic Kidnapping (Iraq News). A government spokesman said Iraq had opened an investigation into the suspected kidnapping of an Israeli-Russian academic after her disappearance in Baghdad. Elizabeth Tsurkov, a doctoral student at Princeton University and fellow at the New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy, has been missing in Iraq for over three months. The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday accused Iraq’s Kataeb Hezbollah of holding her. Still, the pro-Iran armed faction has implied it was not involved in her disappearance.

July 11, 2023

  1. Iraq Loses 5000 MW of Power as Iran Decreases Gas Supply (Rudaw). Iraq’s electricity ministry on Tuesday announced that the country had lost nearly five thousand megawatts of power due to Iran limiting the amount of gas exports to its neighboring country. Iran has repeatedly decreased the amount of natural gas it supplies to Iraq over the past few years, sometimes choosing to cut the exports entirely, citing Baghdad’s nonpayment of its debts to Tehran for gas imports. 
  2. Iraq Signs $27B Investment Contracts with France’s Total (Elaph). On Monday, Iraq signed with the French oil company Total investment contracts worth $27 billion in oil, gas, and electric power production. Today, the agreements were signed in Baghdad under Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs and Iraqi Oil Minister Hayan Abdul-Ghani, Chairman and CEO of Total Energy, Patrick Pouyan.

July 12, 2023

  1. Iraq to trade crude oil for Iranian gas to resolve power debt: PM (Alarabiya). Iraq will begin trading crude oil for Iranian gas to end the recurring issue of payment delays to Tehran due to the need for US approval, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said in a televised speech on Tuesday…Sudani said Iran had cut its gas exports to Iraq by more than 50 percent as of July 1 after Baghdad failed to secure US approval to disburse owed funds, but Tehran had now agreed to resume gas exports in exchange for crude oil. 

July 13, 2023

  1. Strikes Topple Several Drug Networks within Hours (Elaph). The Iraqi authorities announced that groups of drug dealers in 5 provinces were overthrown and that other groups are currently being pursued. The Iraqi Ministry of Interior said  “the heroes of the General Directorate for Drug Control” had arrested groups of drug dealers in the governorates of Baghdad, the capital, Anbar (west), Kut (center), Erbil, and Kirkuk (north).
  2. Iraq To Trade Crude For Iranian Gas To Settle Debt (Iran International). Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani announced that Iraq would begin trading crude oil for Iranian gas to settle its debt to Iran and overcome payment delays caused by US approval requirements. Iran had cut gas exports to Iraq by more than 50% due to unpaid funds but has now agreed to resume exports in exchange for crude oil. The deal was reached during talks with an Iranian delegation in Baghdad. Iraq relies on Iranian gas and electricity imports for a significant portion of its power supply. The country owes Iran around $12.1 billion in outstanding debts. The United States has pushed Iraq to reduce its reliance on Iranian gas.
  3. Egypt & Iraq Announce a Giant Project in Baghdad (Al Mustaqila). On Wednesday, Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris shared the details of a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shiaa al-Sudani, pointing out that the meeting resulted in an [unspecified] giant project in Baghdad. Sawiris posted on his Twitter account a picture with Al-Sudani, commenting on it by saying: “A fruitful brotherly meeting for a giant project in Baghdad,” adding, “My best wishes to the President on success in achieving his aspirations for a prosperous future for the Iraqi people.”

July 14, 2023

  1. Iraqi Central Bank Says Rise in the Dollar Due to the Large Volume of Trade with Iran, Turkiye and Syria. (Al Mustaqila). The Central Bank of Iraq revealed that the rejection of Iraqi trade transfers from the US Federal Reserve via the electronic platform has declined to 8 percent, while the reason for the rise in the dollar in parallel markets is attributed to the large volume of trade with Iran, Turkiye and Syria which are under multiple US restrictions. The general manager of investments at the bank, Mazen Sabah Ahmed, said, “The refusal of Iraqi transfers by the US Federal Reserve through the electronic platform decreased from 80 percent to 8 percent.”
  2. Kurdistan Regional Government Says Preparations for Exporting Oil to Türkiye have been Completed in Coordination with “SOMO” (Al Iraq News). The acting Minister of Natural Resources in the Kurdistan Regional Government, Kamal Muhammad Salih, said in a statement that “a high-ranking Turkish delegation will visit Iraq to discuss the oil file.” Iraq recently won an arbitration case that it filed before the Arbitral Tribunal of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris against Ankara regarding the export of crude oil from the Kurdistan region through the Turkish port of Ceyhan without referring to the Iraqi Oil Marketing Company.

July 17, 2023

The First Captagon Production Plant Was Seized (Sky News). The Iraqi authorities announced, on Sunday, that they had seized a Captagon production plant in the Muthanna Governorate, in the south of the country, for the first time. “Today, perhaps for the first time, a laboratory for the manufacture of narcotic substances has been seized,” said Saad Maan, Director of Relations and Information at the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, in a short video posted on social media platforms. The statement indicated that “the laboratory is prepared for the manufacture of the narcotic Captagon pills, with raw materials estimated at twenty-seven and a half kilograms, with the seals of the narcotic pills.”

Ministry of Electricity Says it Will Go to Qatar, Turkmenistan to Secure Gas and Reduce Reliance on Iranian Gas (Al Iraq News). On Sunday, the Minister of Electricity, Ziyad Ali, announced that he is going to Qatar and Turkmenistan to secure gas for power plants. The head of the committee, Muhammad Nuri al-Abd Rabbo, asked the minister about the reasons for the decrease in supply and the ministry’s plan to find alternatives to importing Iranian gas and moving towards renewable energy.

July 18, 2023

  1. A Pivotal Moment: 270 Political Parties Enlist for Iraq’s Elections (Bas News). In a significant development, a staggering 270 political parties have successfully completed the official registration process, signifying their participation in the forthcoming provincial council elections in Kirkuk and several other provinces. Scheduled to be the first provincial council elections held in Iraq since April, 2023, these upcoming polls are poised to serve as a defining juncture for the nation’s political landscape. 
  2. Iranian MP Issues Military Reprisal Threat against Iraq (Bayan Media). An Iranian Member of Parliament, Ismail Kothari, has issued a stern warning to Iraq, cautioning against aligning itself with the Zionists, Americans, and select European nations. Kothari emphasized that such an alignment could lead to dire consequences for Iraq. Furthermore, he highlighted that Iran would not hesitate to take necessary actions if armed anti-revolutionary factions continue to operate in northern Iraq, especially those receiving support from various foreign entities and conducting activities near Iran’s borders.

July 19, 2023

  1. Emerging News on the Kidnappers of Elizabeth Tsurkov (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Ohad Haimo, Arab affairs correspondent for Channel 12, reported intelligence sources in Iraq revealing the narrative behind the kidnapping of Elizabeth Tsurkov. It appears that Tsurkov voluntarily met her captors, driven by her doctoral research focus on “Shiite movements in Iraq,” with particular attention to the prominent Iraqi Shiite leader, Muqtada al-Sadr. During her inquiry, she contacted cleric Ahmed Alwani, requesting a meeting with his cousin Muhammad Alwani, a senior official in the Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq. During this meeting, they discovered her Israeli citizenship, which led to the decision to abduct her. Afterward, there was at least one attempt to transport her to Iran, though the success of this endeavor remains uncertain.
  2. Iraq: An Airdrop Destroys an ISIS Cell (Elaph). The Iraqi Security Media Cell disclosed details of a successful airdrop operation in Kirkuk, targeting an ISIS cell comprising five members. The operation resulted in the elimination of the cell and the seizure of their weapons and equipment. Under the guidance of Lieutenant General Abdul-Wahhab Al-Saadi, the head of the Anti-Terrorism Service, a specialized unit executed the airdrop near the village of Kitka in Alton Kobri district, Dibis district, Kirkuk governorate
  3. US Issues New 120-Day Waiver Letting Iraq Pay Iran for Electricity (Reuters). U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed a new national security waiver, allowing Iraq to pay Iran for electricity. This waiver, the first of its kind, permits the payments to be deposited into accounts at non-Iraqi banks. By implementing this 120-day national security waiver, the U.S. aims to prevent Iran from exerting pressure on Iraq to access the funds previously limited to restricted accounts within Iraq.

July 20, 2023

  1. Sadrist Supporters Torch Swedish Embassy in Protest Following Second Quran Burning Approval (Sky News Arabia). Iraqi media reported that hundreds of Sadrist supporters stormed the Swedish embassy and set it on fire. The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the burning of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Sweden in Baghdad, calling for an urgent investigation into the incident.
  2. Federal Police Arrest Drug-Trafficking Gang Linked to Popular Mobilization Forces in Baghdad (Al Iraq News). The Federal Police Command reported the successful apprehension of a drug-trafficking gang affiliated with the Popular Mobilization Forces in Baghdad. According to a statement released by the leadership, a joint security operation involving the 3rd Mechanized Brigade of Federal Police and a detachment from the Karkh Drugs Directorate led to the arrest of the said gang. 
  3.  The US Imposes Dollar Transaction Ban on 14 Iraqi Banks Amid Iran Electricity Payment Reports and Money-Laundering Concerns (Iran International).  According to a Wednesday report by the Wall Street Journal, the ban, imposed by the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, is part of a concerted effort to clamp down on the flow of US currency to Iran and other sanctioned Middle East countries.

July 21, 2023

  1. Iraq Expels Swedish Ambassador and Closes Embassy Amid Quran and Flag Burning Incident (Elaph). Iraq announced the severing of its relations with Sweden, the expulsion of its ambassador in Baghdad, and the withdrawal of the Iraqi charge d’affaires in Stockholm. This decision came in response to the burning of the Quran and the Iraqi flag in front of the Iraqi embassy in the Swedish capital for the second time.
  2. Ericsson Faces Suspension of Operations in Iraq Over Quran Burning Incident (Iraqi News). The Iraqi government has decided to suspend Ericsson’s license to operate in Iraq. According to the statement, this decision was made in response to Sweden’s permission to burn a copy of the Quran and the Iraqi flag. 
  3. Iraq to Summon US Ambassador Over Remarks on Christian Leader (The National News). Baghdad will summon the US ambassador to Iraq following remarks made by a US official about the removal of the head of the Christian Church in Iraq, as announced by the government on Thursday. Ambassador Alina Romanowski is to be called in for discussion after State Department spokesman Matthew Miller described the treatment of Cardinal Louis Sako as harassment.
  4.  Oil Refining in Iraq Surges 1.1 Million Barrels Per Day  (Al Mustaqila). Oil refining capacity in Iraq has increased to 1.1 million barrels per day. According to the Energy Agency, the oil refining capacity in Iraq reached 1.116 million barrels per day in 2022, up from 976 thousand barrels per day in 2021. The increase can be attributed to the completion of the Karbala refinery and the commencement of actual production.
  5.  Kurdistan Regional Government Suspends Mission in Sweden After Quran Desecration (Rudaw). The KRG condemned the “desecration” of the Quran in Stockholm and suspended its mission in Sweden after the Iraqi government called its charge d’affaires home. Additionally, the Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP denounced the burning of the Swedish embassy while also condemning the desecration of the Quran. 
  6.  US Calls for Peshmerga Unification, Threatens to Halt Military and Political Support (Al Iraq News). An official source in the Kurdistan Regional Government reveals that a high-level US Ministries of Defense and State delegation will visit the Kurdistan Region next week. The delegation aims to urge the ruling parties to address the issues concerning the Peshmerga forces and facilitate their unification. The US warns of potential suspension of military and political support if unification is not achieved.

July 25, 2023

  1. One million Captagon Tablets Seized in Baghdad (Al Naharar). Iraqi security forces made a significant announcement regarding the seizure of approximately one million Captagon pills from a “foreign merchant” in Baghdad. In a country where the drug problem has posed significant challenges for authorities, the Iraqi National Security Service revealed that their forces successfully set up an elaborate ambush that resulted in the arrest of the foreign drug dealer. However, the dealer’s nationality was not specified.
  2. Badr Organization Calls on the Government and Parliament to Expel the American Ambassador from Iraq (Al Iraq News). The leader of the Badr Organization, former deputy Hamid al-Musawi, called on the government and parliament to put an end to the suspicious and public actions of the US ambassador to Baghdad, Alina Romanowsky, due to her interference in internal affairs at the political and societal levels and the promotion of homosexuality. Mousawi said in a press statement, “Calls have escalated regarding the expulsion of the US ambassador, Alina Romanowsky, from various political and social sides.

July 26, 2023

  1. Tensions Rise between Sadr’s Supporters and Security Forces in Baghdad (Bas News). A volatile situation erupted in central Baghdad as supporters and militias affiliated with the Sadrist Movement clashed with federal government security forces. A significant number of militiamen from the Saraya al-Salam gathered in Tahrir Square, central Baghdad. Many of them have also been deployed in Sadr City, al-Baladiya neighborhood, New Baghdad, and other areas in the city, leading to heightened tensions.

July 27, 2023

  1. Iraq’s June Oil Sales $7 Billion (Al Iraq News). The Ministry of Oil announced the final statistics of oil revenues during June, which amounted to (7) billion and (179) million dollars. 

July 28, 2023

  1. Iraq Arrests Suspect in 2014 IS Massacre of 1,700 Captive Cadets (Iraqi News). Authorities in Iraq have apprehended a suspect linked to one of the most heinous war crimes committed by the Islamic State (IS) group in 2014. The massacre involved up to 1,700 captive cadets at the air force academy in Camp Speicher. During the atrocity, IS militants targeted Shiite and Christian cadets among the group, systematically executing them one by one. The victims’ bodies were then disposed of in mass graves or the nearby Tigris River. The suspect, identified as Abdelkhalek Khazaal Soltan, was arrested through a joint operation conducted by the federal intelligence services and counter-terrorism police in Sulaimaniyah, the second-largest city in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region.

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