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Iraq in May 2023

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May 2, 2023

  1. Former Iraqi PM to Be Interrogated by Iraqi Prosecution for Soleimani’s Assassination (Iraqi News). Al-Kadhimi’s interrogation is part of a lawsuit filed by the head of the Rights Movement, Hussein Monis, Against Al-Kadhimi as he was the former head of the intelligence service in Iraq. The former Iraqi Prime Minister is charged with dereliction that killed Soleimani and his companions.
  2. Iraq Urges Iran to Cooperate in Water and Drug Control (Al Sharq Al Awsat). During a press conference with the Iraqi president in Tehran, the Iranian president stated, “Security understandings between the two countries have always existed.” He emphasized that destabilizing security in Iraq implies destabilizing security in Iran, adding that “Tehran seeks to secure common interests with Baghdad and places great importance on border security.” Raisi criticized the presence of US forces in the Middle East, saying, “Negotiations between the countries of the region lead to improved security and stability, while the American presence in the region harms its stability.”

May 3, 2023

  1. Iraq Suffers Losses Due to Kurdistan’s Oil Exports Halt (Iraqi News).  Bahjat Ahmed, an expert in oil affairs, confirmed that Turkiye refuses to resume oil exports because the Iraqi government does not waive the compensation amount imposed by the International Court of Arbitration in Paris, which is 1.47 billion USD. Ahmed explained that the other condition for Turkiye is its demand to sell oil exported from Kurdistan at the previous price, which is 19 USD per barrel. Still, the Iraqi government, specifically SOMO, rejected Turkiye’s request.
  2.  “Salary Scale” Protests Sweep Across Iraqi Provinces Amid Ongoing Budget Disputes (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The political and parliamentary blocs have been unable to resolve their differences over the current year’s (2023) financial budget. While the government of Muhammad Shia al-Sudani has presented an ambitious three-year budget plan, some political forces expressed their objections to the budget in three main points: first, that the budget spans three years rather than one; second, that the budget includes a significant deficit; and third, that the budget is based on a $70 per barrel oil price against the dollar, raising concerns about the potential for a drop in oil prices.
  3.  Iraqi Government Ousts Approximately 60 General Directors Across Ministries (The New Arab). The dismissal decisions affected general directors in numerous ministries and agencies within Baghdad and various governorates nationwide. These decisions were likely made with political consensus among the blocs and parties, as Al-Sudani aims to prevent anticipated waves of protest with the arrival of summer. This is especially relevant given the ongoing inadequate supply of electricity and water to regions, particularly in the densely populated cities of southern Iraq.

May 4, 2023

  1.  PM Barzani, US Delegation Discuss Erbil-Baghdad Oil Agreement (Bas News). On Wednesday, Kurdistan Region PM Masrour Barzani received a delegation led by Barbara Leaf, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs… PM Barzani said in a Facebook post. “We focused on resolving the problems between the Kurdistan Region and the federal government. In addition, we stressed the need to implement the recent oil exports agreement to protect citizens of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq from economic harm.”
  2.  Barzani’s Party: Umm Qasr Port in Basra instead of Turkish Ceyhan to Export Oil from Kurdistan (Al Iraq News). A member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, Wafaa Karim, stated that “The National Oil Export Company (SOMO) has more than one option to compensate for the financial loss, which amounts to about one billion dollars per month, including sending the region’s oil to Basra.”

May 5, 2023

  1. Assistant Secretary of State Barbara Leaf Calls on Barzani to Support the Sudani Government in Baghdad (Iraq News Network). On Wednesday in Erbil, Massoud Barzani discussed with US Assistant Secretary of State Barbara Leaf the relations between Baghdad and Erbil and described the steps of the Iraqi federal government as “positive”…The meeting also emphasized implementing the agreement between the political parties and considered the Iraqi government’s positive actions.

 

May 8, 2023

  1.  Iraq Executes Man Convicted of Killing Security Expert Hisham Al-Hashemi (Al Arabiya) Sunday, the Rusafa Criminal Court in Iraq hanged the man accused of killing security expert Hisham Al-Hashemi. Hashemi, a famous Iraqi expert, was assassinated in June 2020 in front of his house in the Zayouna district in east Baghdad.
  2.  Terrorist Group Killed in an Airstrike in Diyala  (Iraqi news) The Joint Operations Command stated that the air strike was carried out by F-16 fighter jets in Diyala governorate…In addition to eliminating the terrorist group, the strike destroyed their guesthouse. The Joint Operations Command said security forces will continue to fight the remnants of ISIS groups.
  3.  Iraqi Forces Receive Super Mushshak Aircraft from Pakistan (Iraqi news). The spokesperson of the Commander-in-Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces, Yahya Rasoul, announced on Sunday that the Iraqi forces received the first batch of the Pakistani aircraft, Super Mushshak, the Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported…Rasoul emphasized that modernization is ongoing to complete building the capabilities of the Air Force.

May 9, 2023

  1. Iraq Agrees with Turkiye and Iran to Hold Meeting on Water Issue (Iraqi News). The Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources announced it agreed with the Turkish and Iranian sides to hold a technical meeting imminently to discuss the issue of water shortages. Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Sudani confirmed that Iraq is continuing regional economic cooperation in the energy sector and in developing plans to confront climate change and its environmental and economic effects, the statement added.
  2.  After a Century, Iraq Recovers 6,000 Artifacts from Britain (Iraqi news). A statement by the Iraqi Presidency mentioned that a ceremony took place in the Iraqi Embassy in London, attended by Iraqi President Rashid, to receive 6,000 artifacts Britain had borrowed from Iraq for study purposes since 1923.

May 11, 2023

  1.  Iraq’s “Oil” Unveils a New Refinery Project and a Petrochemical Plant (Al Arabiya). “One of the ministry’s plans is the Al-Faw refinery project with a production capacity of 300,000 barrels. It is an investment project; it will also be with the petrochemical plant.

May 12, 2023

  1.  Iraqi Kurds keep a Nervous eye on Turkish Elections (Iraqi News) Erbil. As Turkiye’s presidential vote nears, Iraqi Kurds are closely watching the tightest electoral battle yet for Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which could have significant security and economic implications for their region.
  2.  Iran’s Oil Minister Visits Baghdad (Iraqi News), The oil ministries of Iraq and Iran signed a memorandum of agreement under Al-Sudani’s sponsorship. The Oil Ministers of Iraq and Iran both signed it…The memo outlined generic features of collaboration to invest in the shared oil reserves on the borders of the two nations and cooperation in the extraction, processing, and technology exchanges of associated gas and crude oil.

May 15, 2023

  1.  Oil Smuggling And Pipeline Deterioration Are the Biggest Challenges For the Sudanese Government (Mustaqila). Oil experts and deputies point to weaknesses in the oil export system in the national institutions, indicating that unifying the outlets will significantly reduce smuggling operations.

May 16, 2023

  1. Iraqis Banned from Dealing in US Dollars (The National). The Iraqi Interior Ministry has banned people from dealing in US dollars in the latest move by authorities to control a fluctuating black market exchange rate. The surprise announcement on Sunday reflects an attempt to close the gap between the official exchange rate and that on the black market, which has fuelled high prices and caused anger.
  2. Maliki’s Coalition Wants to Dismiss Parliament Speaker Halbousi After Approving the Budget (Al Iraqi News). On Monday, the leader of Al-Maliki’s coalition, Saad Al-Muttalbi, accused Parliament Speaker Muhammad Al-Halbousi of using all his powers and adapting them to remain in his position, indicating that Al-Halbousi is awaiting dismissal during the approval of the budget. 
  3. Prime Minister Sudani Authorized the Al Maliki Coordination Framework Leaders to Replace any Minister (Iraq News). The Prime Minister authorized the leaders of the coordination framework with the power to replace any negligent minister. “The evaluation of the work of ministers in the government of Muhammad Shia’ al-Sudani is a professional evaluation, far from any political motives, pointing out that the Prime Minister authorized the coordination framework with the power to change any minister who is marked as deficient in work and performance,” stated Hassan Al Jabouri, the leader of the Wisdom Movement.  
  4. American Mediation to Solve the Problem of Crossings Between the SDF and Iraqi Kurdistan (Syria TV). The US envoy to the regions of northeastern Syria, Nicholas Grainger, intends to visit the Kurdistan region of Iraq, to ​​try to reach an agreement that reopens the crossings closed by the regional government with the areas controlled by the “Self-Administration” in northeastern Syria.
  5. Qais Khazali Raises a Storm Among Iraqis by Claiming Mossad Killed Imam Ali (Al Arabiya). Many Iraqis circulated on social media during the past hours a video of Khazali speaking during a lecture on “Mahdawi thought” about “Imam Ali,” claiming that “the owners of the red flags and the Mossad are behind his assassination.”  [Editor’s note:  the killing of Imam Ali took place in the 7th century A.D.]

May 17, 2023

  1. US-Iraqi Business Council strengthens its partnership with Baghdad (Iraqi News). The strategic meeting covered a range of subjects, including collaborations in the energy and environmental sectors between Iraq and the United States, as well as economic, financial, and health cooperation.
  2. UAE’s Chamber of Commerce visits Baghdad (Iraqi News). Iraqi Prime Minister Sudani stated a common intention to look into fresh prospects for cooperative economic activity and to fortify current alliances.
  3. Iraqi Kurdish Politician Survives Assassination Attempt (Al-Monitor). Karwan Gaznay, a member of the Kurdistan parliament for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), tweeted on Tuesday that he “survived an assassination attempt” the night prior… The shooting occurred during significant tensions between the KDP and the PUK. Tensions between the two parties are not new but were raised significantly in October when PUK counterterrorism officer Hawkar Jaf was killed in a car bombing in Erbil.

May 19, 2023

  1. Former Kurdish Parliamentarian Says There are 41 Turkish Military Bases in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (Al Iraq News). The former Kurdish representative, Ghaleb Muhammad, revealed the number of Turkish military bases in northern Iraq. Muhammad said in a press interview: “There are 41 military bases in the Kurdistan region spread out in the governorates of Dohuk and Erbil.”
  2. Iran, the Popular Mobilization Militia, Turkiye, and the Weakness of Al-Sudani are Behind Iraq’s Water Scarcity (Al Iraq News). Dozens of Iraqi parliamentarians called on the parliament speaker to hold an “extraordinary” session in the presence of the relevant ministers to discuss Iraq’s water scarcity crisis as a result of Iran and Turkiye cutting off water, along with the weakness of Prime Minister Sudani in the face of this dangerous issue.
  3. KRG Delegation to Visit Iran to Boost Trade Ties (Bas News). A Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) delegation is due to visit the Islamic Republic of Iran at the end of May to meet with government officials to strengthen bilateral trade relations… Trade volume between Iraq and neighboring Iran stand at $12 billion, and between Erbil and Tehran at $4 billion.
  4. Iraqi Politicians Express Concern Over al-Sadr’s Endorsement of a ‘Hot Summer.’ (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Iraqi sources have reported that leaders within the governing “coordination framework” suspect that the ongoing protests sweeping through cities in central and southern Iraq are affiliated with, or supported by, the “Sadr movement,” led by Muqtada al-Sadr.

May 20, 2023

  1. Hemorrhagic Fever Cases Rise to 119, Including 18 Deaths (Iraqi News). The Iraqi Ministry of Health announced on Thursday that the confirmed cases of hemorrhagic fever have risen to 119, including 18 deaths, the state news agency (INA) reported.
  2. UNAMI Head Urges Stable, Institutionalized Ties Between Erbil and Baghdad (Bas News). The head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, called for stable and predictable relations between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal government of Iraq to avoid constant crisis management.

May 22, 2023

  1. Saddam Hussein’s Former Lawyer Claims US Offered Saddam Conditions for a Pardon (Iraqi News). In an interview with Al-Arabiya TV, the attorney representing Saddam Hussein at his trial, Khalil Al-Dulaimi, revealed that the United States set out conditions to have the late President pardoned. Al-Dulaimi explained that the US suggested the appointment of a Vice President with no key authorities to pardon the former President. The Iraqi attorney explained that the Americans asked Saddam Hussein to stop the fight against the American forces in Fallujah, where they faced some of the heaviest combat since their war in Vietnam in 1968. The lawyer clarified that the Americans also requested Saddam Hussein to leave the country after his release, but the late President refused their requests, noting that he transferred those conditions to Saddam himself.
  2. Iraqi PM Meets with Ukrainian President in Jeddah (Iraqi News). The discussion focused on bilateral ties between Iraq and Ukraine and methods to strengthen collaboration in areas of mutual interest.
  3. Iraq and Russia Commit to OPEC+ Oil Production Cuts (Iraqi News). During a phone call on Friday, the Iraqi Minister of Oil, Hayan Abdul-Ghani, and the Russian Minister of Energy, Alexander Novak, confirmed their countries’ commitment to oil production cuts and the OPEC+ agreement, according to a statement issued by the Iraqi Oil Ministry.

May 23, 2023

  1. Fistfight in Kurdistan’s Parliament Over Election Law (Iraqi News).  On Monday, the Kurdistan Parliament in northern Iraq witnessed a violent fistfight between MPs belonging to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) due to a dispute over the election law. MPs of the PUK objected to the reactivation of the electoral commission to hold the elections, considering the move illegal. In contrast, MPs of the KDP thought that the failure to activate the electoral commission was an obstacle to keeping the parliamentary elections on time.
  2. Iraq Loses 1000 Megawatts of Electricity Due to Reduction of Iranian Gas (The New Arab). Iraq depends on Iranian gas to fuel its power plants. In May of last year, Iranian Oil Minister Javad Oji confirmed the extension of Iran’s gas exports to Iraq for the subsequent five years. This announcement followed a delay of more than two months in the gas delivery, attributed to “gas pipeline maintenance,” resulting in a decrease in Iran’s gas exports to Iraq.
  3. Threats and Pressures Delay Basra-Aqaba Pipeline Project (The New Arab). Two Iraqi officials based in Baghdad disclosed to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the government of Prime Minister Muhammad Shia’a al-Sudani had deferred any concrete steps towards implementing the Basra-Aqaba pipeline project, a collaborative venture agreed upon between Iraq and Jordan. This postponement is due to substantial pressure exerted by armed factions and political forces aligned with Iran.

May 24, 2023

  1. Continued Halt of Kurdistan’s Oil Exports Takes Oil Sector to A Dark Tunnel (Iraqi News).  Oil production from the Kurdistan region of Iraq continued to decline, with no significant indications of oil export resumption to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, following a continuous halt for nearly two months.
  2. Iraq to Maximize National Oil Reserves, Achieve Self-sufficiency in Gas (Iraqi News). The Iraqi Ministry of Oil announced on Sunday it is planning to increase oil and gas production and reserves, stressing the government’s interest in achieving self-sufficiency in gas production, the state news agency (INA) reported.
  3. Iraqi Prime Minister Stresses Importance of Developing Iraqi Forces in Meeting with NATO Commander (BNN). Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani emphasized the need for the continuous development of Iraqi forces during his meeting with the new NATO Mission in Iraq (NMI) Commander, Jose Antonio Aguero Martinez. The discussion focused on enhancing the capabilities of Iraqi security forces and fostering cooperation between Iraq and NATO countries.
  4. US Citizen Found Guilty of Torture in Iraq (Iraqi News). For only the second time ever, an American has been convicted of torture in a US court, for brutal treatment of an employee at a weapons factory in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Justice Department announced Monday. Ross Roggio, 54, faces possible life in prison after he was found guilty of torture and other crimes in federal court in Pennsylvania on Friday. In 2015 Roggio was developing a factory to produce M-4 automatic assault rifles in the Kurdistan region of Iraq using parts illegally exported from the United States, the department said in a statement. At the time one of his employees, an Estonian man, raised questions about the project. To prevent the man from interfering, the indictment said, Roggio arranged for Kurdish soldiers to kidnap him.

May 25, 2023

  1. Iran Reduces Gas Supplies to Iraq (Iraqi News). On Tuesday, the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity announced that Iran reduced gas supplies to Iraq by about 20 million cubic meters during the past two days.

May 26, 2023

  1. Iraqi Court Sentences ISIS Leader to Death (Basnews). The Babil Criminal Court handed down a death sentence on Tuesday to a Prominent Islamic State (IS) leader who had reportedly been involved in multiple terrorist activities in the country.
  2. Iraqi Oil Minister: Aramco will Develop an Iraqi Gas Field to Produce 400 Million Cubic Meters Daily (Al Arabiya). The Iraqi Oil Minister, Hayan Abdul-Ghani, said that it was agreed that the Saudi Aramco company would enter the development of one of the gas fields in Iraq to produce more than 400 million cubic meters of gas.
  3. Duchess of Edinburgh’s Trip to Iraq Marks First British Royal Visit since 2006 (Iraqi News). The Duchess of Edinburgh traveled to Iraq this week, meeting politicians and feminist activists in a rare visit by a British royal to the country, Iraq’s presidency said.
  4. Saudi Development Fund will pump $1.5 Billion into Iraq (Al Arabiya). In addition, the Saudi Minister of Investment, Khaled Al-Falih, announced the launch of the Saudi-Iraqi Investment Company, with a capital of $3 billion.
  5. Ex-SOMO President: Iraq Has No Alternative to Turkish Route for Oil Exports (Rudaw). Falah Al-Amiri, former head of the Oil Marketing Company (SOMO) and an oil expert, asserted that Iraq currently lacks an alternative to the Turkish port for oil exports. He also suggested that the ongoing halt to the Kurdistan Region’s oil exports is a “mistake and a loss.”

May 29, 2023

  1. Iraq Announces a Project Connecting the Gulf to Turkiye through its Territory (Al Mayadeen). The project aims to connect the Gulf to the Turkish borders and is expected to transform Baghdad into a primary transit line for goods between the Middle East and Europe. The Iraqi government estimates the project’s cost at around $17 billion. 
  2. The Assad Regime Attended the Development Road Conference in Baghdad (Al Watan). Assad’s Minister of Transport said, “We support the road and suggest that it cross the Syrian territory and reach the Mediterranean ports to reduce costs. Syria participated in the international conference being held in Iraq entitled The Road to Development, along with the neighboring countries of Iraq and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council…Moreover, friends and our presence today in this consultative meeting is an opportunity to assure you of our support for the development path initiative, congratulating the brothers in Iraq for this economic and development start.
  3. Pilgrimage Road Project links Iraq and Saudi Arabia Via Najaf (Iraqi News). The Pilgrimage Road Project will help revitalize commercial and economic activity between Iraq and Saudi Arabia and serve as a gateway for investment and tourism into Najaf and Iraq. The project will also make it easier for religious guest convoys to arrive by land.

May 30, 2023

  1. Electrical Interconnection With Jordan started in July (Iraqi News). Ammon News reported that the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity announced on Saturday that the first phase of the electrical interconnection with Jordan would begin in early July.
  2. World Bank Confirms Iraq Needs $21 Billion Investment in Transport Sector  (Iraqi News) The representative of the World Bank, during his speech at the Development Road Conference held in Baghdad, confirmed that Iraq needs investments worth $21 billion in the transport sector, the Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported.
  3. Ministry of Interior: Higher Directives Regarding Dealing in Dollars Instead of Iraqi Dinars (Al Mustaqila). The Ministry of Interior confirmed that the government issued directives regarding dealing in dollars instead of dinars while setting a date for launching a campaign to hold violators accountable.
  4. Iraq & UAE Discuss Development Road’s Investment Opportunities  (Iraqi News). The Iraqi Prime Minister, Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani, discussed on Saturday investment opportunities related to the Development Road with the UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, Suhail Al-Mazrouei, according to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s press office.
  5.  Saudi Arabia’s Leading Charity Organization to Open Office in Erbil (Bas News). A delegation from the relief center is currently in the Kurdistan Region, engaging in discussions with local authorities, including Health Minister Saman Barzinji, to identify areas of collaboration between the two nations. Accompanied by a group of doctors, the delegation also visited various hospitals to identify potential avenues for advancing cooperation in the medical sector.

May 31, 2023

  1. Prime Minister Sudani is Suing a Researcher Who Criticized the Iraqi Government’s Subservience to Iran (Al Iraq News). The Al-Nakheel Center for Press Rights and Freedoms revealed on Tuesday that the office of Prime Minister Mohamed Shia’a Al-Sudani had filed a second lawsuit against political researcher Mohamed Nana’a.
  2. Baghdad & Washington Discuss Moving Refugees from Al-Hol Camp to Iraq (Iraqi News). The Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fuad Hussein, reviewed on Tuesday with the US Ambassador to Iraq, Alina Romanowski, bilateral relations and moving families from the northeast Syria Al-Hol camp to Iraq, according to a statement issued by the Iraqi Foreign Ministry.

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