The Baghdad Post presents to its readers the latest news updates and breaking news today in Iraq.
Gov't, security forces, border guards blamed for spread of drugs: MP
Reform and Reconstruction Alliance MP Ghayeb al-Amiri on Sunday blamed the government, the security forces and the border guards for the spread of drugs in the country, accusing them of failing to protect the borders.
"In the past, Iraq was only a path, but now [it became] an environment for the spread of drugs. Youth has become a target of this scourge," Amiri said.
Amiri called on the government to be strict to face those who smuggle, sell or use drugs.
National Wisdom Movement declares joining opposition
The National Wisdom Movement has announced resorting to constructive national opposition with full commitment to this option and its requirements.
The Political Bureau of the National Wisdom Movement held an extraordinary meeting on Monday to discuss the Iraqi political scene and development as well as assessing the government performance.
A statement by the movement’s media office said that the meeting ended by declaring joining opposition rows to evaluate the government’s abilities in resolving crises and boosting performance.
The National Wisdom Movement is a political coalition in Iraq that was formed to contest the 2018 general election. It is led by Ammar al-Hakim, who was previously the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.
Political parties declare allegiance to Abd al-Mahdi amid anger
Iraqi PM faces protests over power shortages and graft
Iraq’s exclusion from US sanctions on Iran and allowing it to import gas and electricity will not ease the pressure on Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi’s government, Iraqi politicians and officials told Arab News on Sunday.
Mass demonstrations are planned for later this week in the Shiite-dominated southern provinces to protest about the lack of basic daily services including electricity and drinking water, high rates of unemployment and corruption in ministries and government departments.
Iranian energy and natural gas imports amount to about 4,000 megawatts per day, equivalent to 20 percent of Iraq’s total production.
The US three-month extension waiver allowing Iraq to import Iranian gas and electricity is expected to dampen some of the anger and give Abdul-Mahdi’s government a chance to find more radical solutions to the electricity shortage caused by terrorist actions, lack of planning and government corruption over the past 15-16 years.
People in Basra plan to take to the streets on July 20, activists told Arab News.
“Unemployment, scarcity of electricity and potable water and corruption are all still in place and none have been addressed despite the fact we have been protesting every year,” Sheikh Raied Al-Fraijai, the head of Basra tribal council and one of the Basra’s key activists, told Arab News.
“We will demand the dismissal of Abdul-Mahdi and his government,” he said.
Electricity supply from the national grid does not exceed a 12-hour-a-day average during the summer, when temperatures exceed 50 degrees Celsius. This is one of the most powerful engines of the demonstrations, which usually turn violent and lead to clashes between protesters and security forces.
Last summer demonstrations extended to most of the southern provinces and Baghdad. There were massive riots, especially in Basra and Amara, where government and party headquarters were set on fire, as well as the Iranian Consulate. At least 22 demonstrators and security personal were killed.
Controlling the demonstrations and preventing Iraqi political forces from exploiting them is one of the challenges facing both local governments and activists.
Security services in Basra were on high alert on Sunday after the circulation of an image of a leaflet with the slogan of ISIS on it calling for support for the protests and inciting demonstrators to attack members of the “Savage army,” a term used by ISIS to describe the Iraqi army.
“This game (the circulation of the leaflet) aims to give the necessary cover for the local government in Basra to target us,” an activist told Arab News.
“Now they (local officials) have a good pretext to come after us. They can easily say that we are belong to ISIS or just say these are aimed to provide the cover for sabotage and targeting security forces.”
Japanese agency offers loan to upgrade Iraqi oil refinery
The International Japanese Cooperation Agency has signed an agreement on Sunday with the Iraqi Ministry of Finance to offer Iraq a loan of 110 billion Japanese Yen (nearly USD one billion) to upgrade the Basra oil refinery.
The deal was inked by Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs and Minister of Finance Fuad Mohammad Hussein and Ambassador of Japan to Iraq Naofumi Hashimoto.
The loan is refundable over 40 years with a ten-year grace period and 0.02 percent interest rate.
A statement by the ministry said the project aims to increase Iraq’s oil refining capacity by constructing a new plant at Al-Basra refinery, south Iraq, and introducing light gas oil hydrodesulfurization (HDS) technology.
Barzani, US amb. talk convergence between Erbil, Baghdad
President of the Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani met with newly-appointed US Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller, where they discussed the political situation in Iraq and the region.
During the meeting, Barzani expressed appreciation for the US support to the region during the hard times, and also its support to the convergence between Erbil and Baghdad.
Barzani affirmed the continuation of the steps to improve relations between Baghdad and Erbil, highlighting the importance of the support provided by the Global Coalition's countries, especially the US, in the reforms in the Kurdistan region.
For his part, the ambassador affirmed the US support to Iraq including the Kurdistan Region, and expressed satisfaction with the improvement of the relations between Erbil and Baghdad to resolve the problems, according to local reports.
Halbousi elected as new president of Iraqi Forces Alliance
The Iraqi Forces Alliance has elected Mohamed al-Halbousi, the Iraqi parliament speaker, as its president, and Falah Zaidan as the head of the parliamentary bloc.
Halbousi and Zaidan were elected during a meeting attended by more than 40 MPs of the Iraqi Forces Alliance, according to a statement by the alliance.
The National Axis Alliance, which was considered to be the largest Sunni bloc in the Iraqi parliament was divided in mid-May to two alliances; the Iraqi Forces Alliance, and the National Axis Alliance led by Khamis al-Khanjar, following internal differences.