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UK to Fund Peshmerga Training

By , October 16, 2014 2:17 am

UK to Fund Peshmerga Training

The UK has announced that it is funding state-of-the-art bomb disposal training to assist the Kurdistan Region of Iraq’s Peshmerga forces in their frontline battle against ISIL.

This funding is for a four-week pilot course, delivered by a UK firm, which will initially train up to 18 students from the Peshmerga to counter Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), raising their expertise to NATO Level.

The UK Government funded the same course for members of the Iraqi Security Forces in Baghdad earlier in the year.

Speaking from Erbil, in the Kurdistan Region, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (pictured) said:

The Peshmerga are on the front line of the battle against ISIL. It is vital that the UK and all in the international community support them in this fight, which is our fight too.

“Given the scale of the threat faced from IEDs, this assistance could prove lifesaving for the Peshmerga forces and civilians, and serves as one small but vital part in the package of support being provided by the UK to Iraq to tackle the threat from ISIL.

(Source: UK FCO)

Iraq Business News

How Islamic State Uses Oil To Fund Its Onslaught

By , October 3, 2014 10:22 pm

How Islamic State Uses Oil To Fund Its Onslaught
By: Claude Salhani on: 03.10.2014 [13:32 ] (124 reads)

How Islamic State Uses Oil To Fund Its Onslaught

By Claude Salhani | Wed, 01 October 2014 22:47 | 1

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In a remote area along the Turkish-Syrian border, a line of oil trucks materializes seemingly from nowhere. Quietly, the vehicles line up to purchase oil. The drivers will pay about $ 18 a barrel, well below the average market price of $ 93.45.

Still, for the seller — the Islamic State — the price represents a 100 percent profit since it has no investment in the oil production.

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This is a crucial part of how the group being called “the most dangerous Islamic extremist terrorist group in the world” fills its coffers and funds its brutal advance across Syria and Iraq.

U.S. intelligence officials believe that the Islamic State (IS) — which they refer to by its former name of ISIL — has become one of the wealthiest terror groups in history, netting somewhere between $ 2 million and $ 3 million every day.

Related: Oil: A Blessing And A Curse For The Middle East

I first wrote about the group’s profit making here several weeks ago. Also, as I previously reported, the group continues to sell oil from Syrian wells back to the regime of President Bashar Assad, with whom it is engaged in a fight to the finish.

In fact, most of the illegal trade carried out by IS is oil from fields in eastern Syria, and more recently from fields captured since June in Iraq. The terror group is creating its own economy through a series of pragmatic trades, as Turkey’s Zaman newspaper recently detailed.

The U.S. — along with a coalition of mostly Gulf Cooperation Council states and Jordan — has started to target some of the Syrian fields in an attempt to sever the group’s sources of revenue.

An interesting question to ponder is why did the U.S. and its allies allow IS to achieve so much economic power? The explanation is that the Islamists’ take-over of oil wells in Syria, and later Iraq, was gradual. Also, some wells were captured not by IS, but by other Islamists groups that later merged with IS.

Upon “acquiring” the wells, IS faced the immediate challenge of keeping them functioning, which requires skills that neither ISIS nor its affiliates had. ISIS solved the problem by finding local technicians who managed to keep the oil wells pumping at around 60 percent of full capacity.

Before the outbreak of civil war in 2011, Syria was producing between 385,000 and 400,000 barrels per day. An operating capacity of 60 percent still means the group reaps around 200,000 bpd and turns a massive profit, despite selling the oil well below the official market rate.

The report in Zayman quotes an unnamed Western oil executive who used to work in Syria as saying that “the Islamic State makes not less than $ 2 million daily.” That may sound like a lot of money — and it is — but IS has huge overheads. It needs to pay, feed, and house its thousands of fighters. It needs to purchase weapons and munitions, and give money to the families of fighters killed in battle. And if they are cognizant of political realities, the group is probably regularly stashing a few million dollars in secret bank accounts for later.

In the meantime, IS has managed to deprive Damascus of some serious revenue stream. The Syrian government reports that its production fell from 164,000 bpd in 2012 to an average of 28,000 bpd in 2013. Oil sales made up nearly a quarter of state revenues before the war. The government says it has lost $ 3.8 billion in stolen oil because of the conflict.

Related: U.S. Targets Islamic State’s Lucrative Oil Smuggling Operations

Syria’s pre-war production, estimated in 2001 at around 380,000 bpd, suffered heavily when Kurdish forces took control of some of the fields located in Hasaka province and IS took fields in Shadad, al Omar, Tenak and Ward operated by companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, Total, and Petro Canada.

A number of wells were shut down as foreign firms withdrew and rebels looted equipment. Few people with technical expertise remain in areas where the Islamic State has taken over.

Meanwhile in Iraq, the same script is playing out. IS-controlled oil fields produce around 80,000 bpd. Production has gone down severely as a result of military action by the U.S., its allies and Kurdish forces, but in the interim, IS continues to rake in millions every day.

By Claude Salhani of Oilprice.com

http://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/How-Islamic-State-Uses-Oil-To-Fund-Its-Onslaught.html

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DNO Announce MENA Fellowship Fund

By , April 30, 2014 5:11 am

DNO Announce MENA Fellowship Fund

By John Lee.

Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) today announced the creation of the Middle East-North Africa Graduate Fellowship Fund underwritten by a $ 1 million gift from the Norwegian oil and gas company DNO International ASA.

The fellowship will support qualified applicants who enroll at HKS through the Edward S. Mason Program. The internationally focused Mason Program brings accomplished professionals from around the world to earn a Mid-Career Master in Public Administration (MC/MPA) degree, with a focus on developing analytical and leadership skills.

Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani, DNO International’s Executive Chairman was awarded his MPA in 1982 and said of the donation:

“My DNO International colleagues, which include two other HKS graduates, and I are pleased to help support access to the finest school of public policy in the world by the most talented mid-career students from a region undergoing dramatic societal transformation.”

The program will cover tuition, fees and living expenses for the one-year term of the Mason Program, with awards available beginning with the 2014-15 academic year. Along with the rigorous MC/MPA curriculum, the Mason Program offers intensive co-curricular activities including targeted seminars and workshops culminating in the Mason Certificate in Public Policy and Management.

David Ellwood, the Scott M. Black Professor of Political Economy and Dean of HKS, expressed his delight at the donation:

“We are deeply grateful to DNO International for this outstanding support for students from the Middle East and North Africa and for the leadership that Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani has shown in this effort. These students represent a region of great importance to the world, and we are fortunate to play a role in developing their knowledge and expertise in working towards the public good. We look forward to welcoming the first beneficiaries of this fellowship.”

(Source: DNO, Harvard Kennedy School)

Iraq Business News

CBI is preparing to take over Iraq’s assets in America “Development Fund for Iraq”

By , April 1, 2014 12:14 pm

http://theiraqijournal.com/cbi-is-preparing-to-take-over-iraqs-assets-in-america/

Yen Plunges on Pension Fund Speculations

By , March 6, 2014 6:10 am

A fan of 10,000-yen billsThe Japanese yen dropped today as the advisory panel said that Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund no longer needs to stick to a ”domestic-bond-centric portfolio” as the country moves out of deflation.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government was hoping that the GPIF will buy more domestic stocks bonds to generate higher returns for Japan’s population. But now it looks like capital may move out from Japan to foreign companies. The yen also fell as diplomats from Russia and the United States were talking in Paris, giving hope that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine will end peacefully and reducing demand for safe currencies.

USD/JPY rose from 102.28 to 102.72 and EUR/JPY advanced from 140.46 to 141.27 as of 12:57 GMT today.

If you have any questions, comments or opinions regarding the Japanese Yen, feel free to post them using the commentary form below.

Earlier News About the Japanese Yen:

Forex News

Arab Partnership Participation Fund 2014/15

By , February 22, 2014 10:45 pm

Arab Partnership Participation Fund 2014/15

The British Embassy has the pleasure to invite you to bid for funds from the Arab Partnership Participation Fund (APPF) for the financial year 2014/2015.

The Arab Partnership Participation Fund (APPF), led by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) focuses on three priority areas:

· political participation · freedom of expression and public voice · good governance (better access to justice and support for civil society initiatives to strengthen the rule of law transparency, integrity and tackling corruption)

Please note that APPF cannot currently commit funds beyond March 2015, and is therefore only accepting single-year bids for 2014-15. Deadline for submitting bids (Full project proposal) will be on 26th February 2014 to the following email addresses: najwa.AlHabeeb@fco.gov.uk and cc Zahra.Al-Zubaidi@fco.gov.uk

For further information, please have a look at the following link:

The Arab Partnership Participation Fund

(Source: UK FCO)

Iraq Business News

Fund Repatriation and Rate Comments Help Euro

By , December 30, 2013 9:14 am

20-euro bill and the map of EuropeAs the year draws to a close, the euro continues to gain ground against its major counterparts. Much of the help for the euro comes from comments that another rate cut isn’t likely to be needed to help keep the economy in recovery mode. However, there is also help for the euro from the fact that banks are repatriating funds.

Euro zone banks are repatriating their funds as the year draws to a close. Another ECB Asset Quality Review is on the horizon, so many banks are shoring up their capital. This is positive for the euro, since the banking system is an integral part of the euro zone’s success.

Forex traders are also paying attention to the latest data releases. Even though it is clear that there are still some difficulties ahead for certain euro zone players, the region as a whole continues with its economic recover. ECB President Mario Draghi recently said that new rate cuts wouldn’t be needed — at least for now — and that is helping the situation to some degree.

At 14:01 GMT EUR/USD is higher, gaining to 1.3787 from the open at 1.3753. EUR/GBP is also up, rising to 0.8359 from the open at 0.8349. EUR/JPY is higher as well, up to 144.9705 from the open at 144.6575.

If you have any questions, comments or opinions regarding the Euro, feel free to post them using the commentary form below.

Forex News

World Bank Approves $335m Road Fund

By , December 21, 2013 12:41 pm

World Bank Approves $  335m Road Fund

From The World Bank.

A new project will reduce traffic fatalities by nearly 25 percent on two transport corridors connecting Iraq to its northern, southern and western neighbors and beyond.

The US$ 355 million Iraq Transport Corridors Project, approved by the World Bank Board of Directors on Thursday, will improve road quality and safety and promote citizens engagement, national unity and regional trade integration. It will be implemented in partnership with the government of Iraq, who will contribute US$ 384 million, and the Islamic Development Bank who will contribute US$ 217 million as a first phase.

“The project which covers the main national route will facilitate trade movement between Iraqi governorates and with neighboring countries. This will boost economic growth and lead to better service quality along the international corridors which carry most of the tradable goods,” said Ferid Belhaj, World Bank Country Director for the Mashreq Department.

“Iraq has one of the highest levels of road accident fatalities in the world and the rehabilitation of the expressway will improve road safety and travel time. Commuters and residents will also be able to report on the condition of the roads using mobile phones and GPS technologies.”

Decades of war in Iraq have left the road agencies with limited human resources capacity to effectively manage the 48,000 kilometers road network. Poor maintenance has resulted in an increase in the number of traffic accidents with almost 6,000 fatalities reported in 2010.

Iraq Business News

Cihan Bank Plans $100m Fund

By , December 14, 2013 9:40 am

Cihan Bank Plans $  100m Fund

By John Lee.

Erbil-based Cihan Bank, a privately-owned Islamic bank, is about to launch a $ 100 million investment fund focused on opportunities in Iraq, and is planning to expand its operations in the UAE.

Vice-Chairman Nawzad Yahya Bajger told Gulf News:

Currently, we have an office in Dubai. We are seeking to establish a representative office in the UAE in 2014.

Fayeq M. Al Obaidi, banking development consultant at the bank, added:

After prolonged period of war and unrest, Iraq is now open for business with huge opportunities in infrastructure, healthcare, oil & gas, power and education sectors to name a few. We have the local knowledge and expertise and are looking for banks and investors to join us in investing in new opportunities.

The bank has paid-up capital of 250 billion Iraqi dinar and is owned by 100 private investors.

(Source: GulfNews)

Iraq Business News

Joint UN, KRG Trust Fund Signed

By , November 9, 2013 12:17 am

Joint UN, KRG Trust Fund Signed

The Kurdistan Region Government and the Integrated Coordination Office for Development and Humanitarian Affairs (ICODHA) of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) have announced today signing of an agreement to launch a joint Trust Fund aimed at supporting the Kurdistan Region Government’s development vision outlined in the Kurdistan Vision 2020 Development Strategy.

The official title of the fund is “Kurdistan Vision 2020 Joint Programming Facility”.

The Facility provides a mechanism for the Kurdistan Region Government to draw upon expertise of the United Nations System to support the realization of development objectives for and implementation of development programs targeting priority sectors including health and social services, education, employment, physical infrastructure and economic development. The Kurdistan Region Government is the main funder of the Facility, with the United Nations as a principal co-funder.

The initial projects and joint programmes to be financed through the Facility, amounting to over $ 18 million, of which over $ 13.6 million is financed by the Kurdistan Region Government, will support the implementation of activities in the priority sectors beginning in early 2014.

Iraq Business News