" The Dinar Daily " ........ Wednesday, 6 March 2013
Ahrar MP: Deal between Iraqiya and state of law to pass the budget today.
BAGHDAD / NINA / A member of the Parliamentary Committee on Economic, the MP of the Ahrar bloc, Abdul Hussein Raysan said: "All the political blocs reached a solution to the problems of the budget, it is hoped to be voted on today."
He said in a press release that "there is a deal, reached to pass the budget, between the state of law and the Iraqiya coalition necessitated to appoint the elements of the Awakening in the state institutions." Noting that "Ahrar bloc does not have any dilemma to vote on the budget today and hope to pass it as soon as possible."
He added:"The Kurdistan Alliance has settled the issue of the payments to the oil companies operating in the region with the state of law coalition and other blocs and it has been agreed to pay $ 4 trillion in form of batch payments during convergent times."
The Presidency of the Council of Representatives adjourned yesterday the session, which was devoted to the vote on the budget today for lack of the quorum for a vote.
KA MP describes disputes between KA, SLC over Budget as "Political"
Wednesday, 06 March 2013 08:49 | | |
Baghdad (AIN) –MP, Hafal Koystani, of the Kurdistani Alliance described the disputes between the Kurdistani Alliance and the State of Law Coalition as "Political."
Speaking to All Iraq News Agency (AIN), he said "Some of the MPs state that the disputes between the KA and the SLC are artistic and not political, but we think that its main part is political one."
"The political part is that the Federal Government refuses to pay the merits of the oil companies working in Kurdistan Region because it is afraid that KR will be economically dependent and stronger than the FG," he concluded.
By: Ali Abel Sadah for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse. Posted on March 5.
The movement of Iraqi religious figure Muqtada al-Sadr has launched a fierce campaign against the Commission of Integrity, accusing it of covering up for corrupt officials.
The Iraqi Commission of Integrity has become the latest target in Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr’s campaign against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in a dispute that began in 2008, writes Ali Abel Sadah.
Commission of Integrity Becomes Latest Pawn in Sadr-Maliki Power Games
Author: Ali Abel Sadah
Translated by: Steffi Chakti
Key members of the movement have called for the interrogation of Alaa al-Saadi, the head of the commission, who has close ties to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Islamic Dawa party.
Hakem al-Zamli, a Shiite MP in Sadr’s parliamentary coalition, said in an interview with Al-Monitor that “Saadi must be interrogated for covering up corruption in the Iraqi Ministry of Health.”
The efforts exerted against the commission are a continuation of the movement’s campaign to target Maliki. This time, however, the attempt is to free the commission from the grasp of Maliki, who is accused of constraining its abilities in his favor.
Choosing the corruption issue to carry out a power struggle with Maliki gives the impression that the commission might be used in the provincial electoral campaigns that were launched on March 1.
“Maliki is responsible for the endemic corruption in the Ministry of Health, a vital sector for citizens,” reiterated Zamli.
The dispute between the Sadrist Movement and Maliki dates back to 2008, when the latter conducted a security operation under the name of “Saulat al-Fursan,” targeting the militants of the Mahdi Army, the armed wing of the Sadrist Movement.
The animosity exacerbated after the formation of the government in 2010, when the Sadrists’ demands to assume key posts — notably the Minister of Interior — faced rejection from Maliki.
Prior to the campaign launched against the head of the commission — who is closely tied to Maliki — the supporters of the Sadrist Movement had enclosed the fortified Green Zone in downtown Baghdad during a protest to pressure the parliament into ratifying the 2013 budget.
In 2011, Maliki assigned Saadi as an interim head of commission to succeed judge Rahim al-Akili, who resigned “under political pressure from parties glossing over misappropriation.”
“The Board of Supreme Audit and the Commission of Integrity did not respond to the demand of exposing the corruption of the Ministry of Health’s inspector general, Adel Mohsen, and his wife,” declared Zamli.
This is not the first time the indentures of the Ministry of Health have prompted questions. Three years ago, the Sadrist movement tried to remove Mohsen from his post. However, the movement claimed that Maliki covered Mohsen up through the good relations he had with Saadi.
In the same context, the Commission of Integrity announced the readiness of Saadi to undergo investigation before the parliament, given that it is a “constitutional right.”
Karim Ati, the spokesman of the commission, said in an exclusive statement to Al-Monitor that the “commission does not tackle corruption issues according to political rivalry.”
Ati, on the other hand, refused to reveal whether or not key officials in the Ministry of Health were accused of corruption, saying that “the commission cannot publicly announce corruption allegations unless proven by conclusive evidence.”
The Commission of Integrity is an independent governmental body dedicated to fighting corruption that was established as the Commission on Public Integrity, pursuant to the law promulgated by the Iraqi Governing Council. The constitution considers the commission independent, and places it under the control of the parliament.
The process of exposing corruption in Iraq is facing difficult challenges amid the absence of laws that guarantee free access to information and political interference. The corruption files being made public usually fall under the category of political targeting.
As these commissions entered the vicious circle of political settlement, they were transformed into a scapegoat used by both the government which tightens its grip around the commissions’ functionality, and the opposition that uses them to settle political disputes.
Ali Abel Sadah is a writer and journalist from Baghdad working in both Iraqi and Arab media. He was the editorial manager of a number of local newspapers, and was a political and cultural reporter for over 10 years. He has published in various newspapers and magazines covering Iraqi political affairs, human rights and civil society.
Iraq's Border Becomes
New Fault Line in Syrian War
By: Mushreq Abbas for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse. Posted on March 5.
Military clashes erupted earlier this month around the Rabia-Yaarabiya border crossing between Iraq and Syria.
An ambush on the Iraq-Syria border that killed 62 Syrian soldiers and nine Iraqi guards has brought the Syrian civil war to Iraq, writes Mushreq Abbas.
Skirmishes on Iraq-Syria Border Highlight Fragile Peace
Author: Mushreq Abbas
Translated by: Tyler Huffman
Two days following this incident, armed groups that are believed to have infiltrated into Iraq from Syria attacked an Iraqi military convoy in Anbar.
According to the Iraqi army, armed groups that infiltrated into Iraq from Syria attacked an Iraqi military convoy, which included 70 fighters affiliated with the Syrian Army, who had fled from the Rabia-Yaarabiya crossing, seeking refuge in Iraq.
Iraqi forces had sought to transfer them to al-Walid border crossing to be returned to Syria when the military convoy was ambushed by armed groups, which killed and wounded 62 Syrian soldiers and nine Iraqi guards.
Different scenarios for the developments of the military and political conflict, which has ignited on the vulnerable border between the two countries and affects the future of their actions.
Clashes between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Assad regime forces over control of the crossing at Yaarabiya have intensified as Iraqi troops stationed at the Rabia border crossing in the Iraqi province of Mosul — 400 km [about 250 miles] north of Baghdad — intervened.
The parties in the crisis exchanged accusations regarding the reasons for the clashes. Yet, these accusations differed with the different political backgrounds on both sides of the border. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime said that gangs affiliated with al-Qaeda attacked the border point, while Maj. Gen. Salim Idriss, chief of staff in the unified leadership of the FSA, which opposes the Syrian regime, said that his “militants attempted to control the crossing.” He noted, however, that “Iraqi forces took part in the clashes, defending the regime’s military unit, and opened fire, killing six members of the FSA.”
A spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Mohammed al-Askari, denied that Iraqi troops intervened, saying that the FSA fired across the Iraqi border, and that four wounded Syrian soldiers were taken into Iraq for treatment. Yet, the governor of Mosul, Ethel al-Nujaifi, criticized the Iraqi intervention in the fighting, saying that Syrian warplanes overflew Iraqi airspace to shell the opposition militants, and that this overflight was not deterred by Iraqi troops.
Hours before the incident, the FSA broadcast a message saying that its military convoys and equipment had entered from Iraq into Syria via the Rabia-Yaarabiya crossing. Preceding this talk, Iraqi forces — mostly coming from the Shiite south of Iraq — concentrated in the area surrounding the crossing. Meanwhile, Syrian media outlets broadcast official information indicating that there had been instances of border penetration, and weapons and individuals from the al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra had crossed the border into Syria from the same crossing.
From 2003 to 2011, the Iraqi and US authorities accused the Syrian regime of failing to control the border with Iraq. This accusation also provided an occasion to accuse Damascus of supporting al-Qaeda fighters, who carried out most of the attacks that were occurring in Iraq. They also accused Syria of providing these fighters with safe havens and training camps across the border. At the time, the Assad regime stressed that it was impossible for any country to unilaterally control its border with another country.
This transition in the Iraqi stance that occurred after the outbreak of fighting in Syria is related to the fragile border situation between the two countries. Iraqi Sunnis, who are numerous in the areas near the Syrian border, supported their counterparts in Syria. They abandoned the Assad regime, which in the past they had frequently praised, considering it to be a model for Arab nationalism. Meanwhile, Iraqi Shiites, who control the government in Baghdad, went from accusing Assad — who belongs to the Shiite-linked Alawite sect — of supporting terrorism to accusing his opponents of carrying out terrorist acts.
It was the fragile situation on the border that prompted Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to say that the opposition's victory in Syria would trigger a civil war in Iraq.
Arab nationalists say that the borders between Arab countries are "artificial" and exist only because of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which was signed at the beginning of the 20th century. These borders are not based on standards of national identity, geography or history. However, given that nearly a century has passed since borders were drawn between regional countries, social differences between these nations were perpetuated. Despite this fact, what is known today as the "border disputes file" is still a source of crisis between most countries in the region.
While the border between Iraq and Syria has not witnessed deep disputes regarding territorial membership, the distribution of residents along the extent of the border has been a constant cause for concern for the authorities in both nations.
Furthermore, the Shamar tribe — one of the largest Arab tribes, whose members originally migrated from Hail and Najad in Saudi Arabia — is concentrated on both sides of the border in the Iraqi province of Mosul and the Syrian province of Hasakah. In addition, other tribes and families are spread out on both sides of the border in the Iraqi city of al-Qaim in Anbar province and the Syrian city of Abu Kamal. In the areas between these cities, geography overcomes nationality and the border practically dissolves. Similarly, there is a narrow strip of border, represented by the Faysh Khabur crossing point, which separates Kurdish areas in Iraq and Syria and which was outside the control of the authorities in both countries.
Historical facts indicate that until the beginning of the twentieth century, the Syrian cities of Abu Kamal, al-Mayadeen and Deir al-Zour were on the Iraqi side of the border drawn up by the Ottomans between the Syrian and Iraqi vilayets. This even remained the case following the British occupation of Iraq and the French occupation of Syria. However, things changed after 1919, when Syrian tribes launched attacks on the cities and imprisoned a number of British officers who were stationed in the area. This led to Britain acknowledging that these cities were within Syria's borders.
Moreover, the presence of Shamar tribes in the region is linked to a type of historical independence. Most of the tribes elders and members hold both Iraqi and Syrian citizenship, and many of them even have Saudi or Qatari citizenship.
This overlap in language, history, family relationships and economic interdependence between both sides of the border did not weaken in the mid-1990s, nearly 30 years after the political estrangement between the two countries. At that time, the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and that of Hafez al-Assad — Bashar al-Assad's father — in Syria, acknowledged that they could not control the border or smuggling operations between the two sides.
The Syrian unrest in 2011 was enough to stimulate new ideas including changing the border. For the first time, religious calls emerged in support of redrawing the border to unify Sunni regions on both sides. In the meantime, fears increased among the Shiite authorities in Baghdad and southern Iraq, who were worried that Sunni areas in Iraq would transform into a stronghold for Syrian revolutionaries, or that Syria would transform into a stronghold for Iraqi Sunnis who oppose the Baghdad regime.
While these fears are certainly strengthened by the fragile border situation, even worse was the fragility of the regime in both countries. These political regimes have failed to instill a sense of national belonging among citizens, causing nationalist, religious and sectarian affiliations to be pushed to the forefront.
What happened at the Yaarabiya-Rabia crossing was not a military confrontation in the strictest sense of the word, but rather was an extension of the national turmoil on both sides of the border. This turmoil is likely to expand and take on a more dangerous image in the future.
Mushreq Abbas is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor’s Iraq Pulse. An author and journalist who has worked in the media for 15 years, he holds a degree in political science from Baghdad University. Besides writing studies and articles that covered Iraqi crises and publishing in the local, regional and foreign media, Abbas has worked since 2003 in the Iraqi media sector and co-founded media companies. He also produced a number of documentaries for different media and has managed Al-Hayat’s office in Iraq since 2005.
By: Omar al-Shaher for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse. Posted on March 4.
The Iraqi Ministry of Education said that one of its universities has surrendered to overwhelming pressure and agreed to sign contracts with several employees based on a daily wage system. They have settled on a salary of $8 per month. The employees hope to obtain permanent positions as they become available. Some of them have leaked information to the media to increase the pressure on their employers.
Amid a floundering job market, many Iraqis look to public-sector jobs as a means of stable, permanent employment, reports Omar al-Shaher.
Sluggish Private Sector Pushes Iraqis Toward Government Employment
Author: Omar al-Shaher
Translated by: Pascale Menassa
A job in the government has become the dream for millions of Iraqi university graduates, as the private sector plays a declining role in the job market.
Qassem Muhammad, media manager in the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education, stated that “the Iraqi media has published reports about the contract between the University of Technology and daily wage workers. As long as they settle for around $8 per month, they get a promise of permanent employment. This was seen as an act of exploitation or mismanagement by some. Moreover, the truth is that these contract workers have put a lot of pressure on the university to push it to sign contracts with them. They were even willing to give up their wages for the contract, since it would give them priority to become permanent employees, in case of job availability.”
Muhammad believes that several contract workers leaked the contract to local media in order to amp up pressure on the university to give them permanent employment.
The Ministry of Higher Education benefits from a law known as the “Academic Service Law,” which provides for a higher salary for university teachers and administrators. Those holding a bachelor’s degree from one of Iraq’s universities gets paid roughly $800 per month upon beginning work, while the salary of someone working in any other governmental sector does not exceed $500. This has made higher education appealing to individuals who want to work with the government.
Muhammad said that he has examined contracts that were signed by the workers. He says they settled for a symbolic salary, on condition of allowing them the opportunity to be appointed as permanent employees.
He added, “The law gives universities financial and managerial independence, and grants them legal status. For this reason, the ministry was not aware of these contracts, since they were outside its area of expertise.”
Iraq stopped following a daily wages system about two years ago, and the ministry gave its orders to make the contract workers permanent employees if new positions become available.
Most jobs created by the country’s budget during those two years have aimed to make contract workers permanent employees and to calculate their actual contract terms for raise, salary and contractual purposes.
Sources from the University of Technology said that some employees have been on contract for more than two years, and others for more than a year, without being included in the permanent employee scheme. Some became so desperate that they left their jobs altogether.
In some cases, the monthly salary specified in the university contract amounted to 1,000 Iraqi dinars — or less than 90 cents.
A permanent employee at the Ministry of Higher Education said that “the efforts deployed by the daily wage contract workers are not different from those of their permanent counterparts.”
The Iraqi government is the most important source of job opportunities in the country, amid an open local market, an overflow of imported products and scarcity of job opportunities in the suffering private sector.
Omar al-Shaher is a contributor to Al-Monitor’s Iraq Pulse. His writing has appeared in a wide range of publications including France’s Le Monde, the Iraqi Alesbuyia magazine, Egypt’s Al-Ahaly and the Elaph website.
*** LOTS OF RHETORIC CONTINUING IF THERE IS IN FACT AN AGREEMENT ***
Kurdistan MP: State of law uses the dues of the oil companies politically.
BAGHDAD / NINA / The MP, of the Kurdistan Alliance, Sharif Suleiman accused the state of law coalition of using the dues of the oil companies operating in Kurdistan politically in order not approve the budget, even though they are legal entitlements.
He said in a statement to the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA /: "The State of Law coalition took full responsibility not to approve the budget, and using the payments of the oil companies operating in the region was to earn the street by maintaining the public money as they think, but the opposite is correct. "
Solomon added: "The payments of the oil companies is legal according to the agreement between the province and the center as long as they demand the Kurdistan region government to import 250 thousand barrels per day and add them to the state budget, so they have to add these dues of the oil companies in the current year budget.
It is hoped that the House of Representatives is to vote today on the approval of the budget of 2013, which was postponed more than once, as the Kurdistan Alliance calls to include $ 4.2 trillion Iraqi dinars in the budget as dues of the oil companies operating in the Kurdistan region. "/
Politician: Hold face-to-face meeting with the protesters and listen to their demands.
BAGHDAD / NINA / The head of the Iraqi Republican Gathering, Saad Asim al-Janabi called the government to hold a direct meeting with representatives of the demonstrations and listen to their demands and work to find appropriate solutions to these demands to end the crisis.
He said in a statement for Information Office of the Gathering that the direct dialogue will block the way for those who try to exploit the demonstrations for political or electoral gains.
The President of the Iraqi Republican Gathering stressed that ending the crisis means a start to initiate construction and reduce the gap between us and other countries.
Free Zones conclude investment agreement
Tuesday, 05 March 2013 22:59 | | |
Baghdad (AIN) –The Commission General of the Free Zones within the Ministry of Finance announced signing a contract with an investment company in Khur al-Zubair in Basra province.
The Commission General reported in statement received by AIN on Tuesday ''The investment company, Noor al-Helal, which is considered the only representative of Itehad Cement Company in Iraq, has concluded an investment agreement to establish a project to import the shipments related to cement industry and to store it in the Free Zones in Khur al-Zubair area in order to facilitate providing the high quality cement for beneficiaries in Iraq.''
''The Free Zones in Khur al-Zubair witnesses a growing activity during the recent duration since the companies and investors are interested in establishing projects in the Iraqi Free Zones to take advantage of the investment opportunities that the Commission General provides for them,'' the statement added.
Sadrist MP accuses Maliki of "Defending Ba'athists"
Wednesday, 06 March 2013 10:20 | | |
Baghdad (AIN) –MP, Jawad al-Shihaili, of al-Ahrar bloc within the Sadr Trend accused the Premier, Nouri al-Maliki, of supporting and defending the Ba'athists.
He stated to All Iraq News Agency (AIN) "I challenge Maliki if he opposes the Ba'athists to prove that he does not support them and employ them in his office."
"Maliki released about 10 thousand prisoners and we do not know whether they are not guilty or not and why there were arrested," he added, noting that "There is a duality in dealing with the procedures of the Justice and Accountability Commissions where he claim that he is defending the rights of the Iraqi people and at the same time defend those who are included in the Procedures of the J&A Commission."
"By forming the committee tasked to discuss the demonstrator's demands headed by the Deputy Premier, Hussein al-Shihristani, Maliki wanted to go away from the Shiite's side and submit concessions to the Ba'athists to say that the Committee released the Ba'athists prisoners form the Iraqi prisons," he concluded.