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Samson: Text of a Notice on the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to the Stabilization of Iraq

Issued on: May 20, 2020

On May 22, 2003, by Executive Order 13303, the President declared a national emergency pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by obstacles to the orderly reconstruction of Iraq, the restoration and maintenance of peace and security in the country, and the development of political, administrative, and economic institutions in Iraq.

The obstacles to the orderly reconstruction of Iraq, the restoration and maintenance of peace and security in the country, and the development of political, administrative, and economic institutions in Iraq continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.

For this reason, the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303, as modified in scope and relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13315 of August 28, 2003, Executive Order 13350 of July 29, 2004, Executive Order 13364 of November 29, 2004, Executive Order 13438 of July 17, 2007, and Executive Order 13668 of May 27, 2014, must continue in effect beyond May 22, 2020. 

 Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency with respect to the stabilization of Iraq declared in Executive Order 13303.

This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.


May 20, 2020.

OlLar:  I hope this doesn’t really matter , pretty sure it just protects Iraq from creditors.

Samson:  Trump: Iraq’s instability continues to pose ‘extraordinary threat’ to US national security

21st May, 2020

US President Donald Trump has extended the national emergency first declared on May 22, 2003 to address the “unusual and extraordinary threat” to America’s national security and foreign policy posed by Iraq’s continued instability.

It commits the US government to continue addressing “obstacles to the orderly reconstruction of Iraq, the restoration and maintenance of peace and security in the country, and the development of political, administrative, and economic institutions in Iraq.”

These obstacles “continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” Trump said in a White House statement published on Wednesday.

I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency with respect to the stabilization of Iraq declared in Executive Order 13303,” he added.

The original Executive Order 13303, signed by former US President George W. Bush on May 22, 2003, sparked controversy at the time as it appeared to hand US oil companies blanket immunity from lawsuits and criminal prosecution in connection with the sale of Iraqi oil.

Opponents of the 2003 war accused Bush of removing Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in order to open up Iraq’s substantial oil reserves to western companies.

Several executive orders in 2003, 2004, 2007, and 2014 renewed the original national emergency as security conditions evolved in Iraq and the scale and scope of US involvement changed.

Although Iraq has entered a reconstruction and stabilization phase since the 2003 invasion, its 2006-09 civil war, and the 2014-17 Islamic State (ISIS) conflict, its security continues to be marred by insurgency, internal division, structural and institutional weakness, and Iran-backed militia proxies.

Among the most urgent threats is the ongoing presence of ISIS militants and sleeper cells across the country, particularly those operating in areas disputed between the federal government and the Kurdistan Region, where militants have exploited security gaps.

A new Pentagon report published earlier in May warned the group has been given the breathing space to conduct a “low-level insurgency” in territories once under its control, “in mountainous and desert provinces north and west of Baghdad, particularly within an area of northern Iraq claimed by both the central government and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government.”

“US CENTCOM in February described ISIS as ‘regrouping and reforming’ in the Makhmour Mountains in northern Iraq, while the 2021 DoD budget justification for overseas contingency operations said that ISIS is expected to seek to re-establish governance in northern and western  areas of Iraq,” the Pentagon’s Lead Inspector General Sean W. O’Donnell warned in his report.

Most frequently attacked has been the eastern Iraqi province of Diyala, where 80 of the 250 attacks recorded in the last three months have been reported. The Diyala towns of Baqubah and Khanaqin have been among the deadliest.

Other attacks were reported in the provinces of Anbar, Kirkuk, Nineveh, and Saladin, according to the report. The primary methods of attack were assault, IED use, and assassinations. ISIS also appears to have resurrected its summertime tactic of agricultural arson.  The group appears to be exploiting the chaos caused by the coronavirus lockdown to ramp up its attacks.

Despite the continued ISIS threat, the US and other coalition forces have consolidated their positions in Iraq in recent months, handing over control of several military bases to the Iraqi security forces.

The transfers are part of a long-term plan for the coalition to step back from its mission, coalition officials have said – although the COVID-19 pandemic and recent rocket attacks on bases hosting US and other coalition troops by Iran-backed militias are likely to have influenced strategists.

The Iraqi government, meanwhile, seems to have ramped up its efforts to purge isolated areas of ISIS remnants, launching massive sweep-up operations which have uncovered bomb factories, arms caches, and tunnel networks.  Although such tactics look good on paper, the thorough, intelligence-based police work required to break up terror cells is broadly lacking thanks to the failure of Iraqi and Kurdish forces to coordinate.

Since the sides clashed in October 2017, the Kurdish Peshmerga has harbored deep mistrust of the Iraqi armed forces and their Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) auxiliaries. As a result, local knowledge and intelligence networks forged over many years have been squandered.

With Mustafa al-Kadhimi installed as Iraq’s new prime minister, tackling the threat posed by ISIS appears to be high on the agenda.  But the new PM also faces a massive economic crisis brought on by the collapse of world oil prices and the coronavirus lockdown, which will hobble his efforts to address the demands of Iraq’s young protesters for jobs, public services, and action against rampant corruption.  He is also caught in the middle of a dangerous rivalry between Iraq’s two main foreign allies – the US and Iran – which risks dragging the country into a proxy war.

Trump’s renewal of the national emergency is therefore a recognition of the fragility of Iraq as it combats the insurgency, navigates internal divisions exploited by regional foes, and skirts financial collapse – all challenges which could pose a threat to US national security, foreign policy, and oil interests.   LINK

Samson:  Kurdistan region announces the holiday

21st May, 2020

The Kurdistan Regional Government announced on Thursday to suspend official working hours in its departments and institutions for five days on the occasion of Eid Al Fitr.

A spokesman for the regional government, Gottiar Adel, said in a statement received to Shafaq News today, that the official holiday of the holiday will start on 5/25/2020 until 5/28/2020.

The Ministry of the Interior of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq announced on Monday the imposition of a comprehensive curfew throughout the region during the days of Eid Al-Fitr, explaining that the ban will begin on the first days of the holiday and continue for up to 72 hours.

The interior minister of the region, Riber Ahmed, announced on Thursday the deployment of the Peshmerga forces and the Kurdish security forces (Asayish) in the streets of the region to implement the comprehensive ban during the days of Eid Al-Fitr.

Ahmed said during a joint press conference held with the Minister of Health Saman Al-Barzanji today, “The dangers of the Corona virus are still continuing, and the new infections recorded in the past few days in Arbil and Sulaimaniya are a source of concern to us and a serious position should be taken towards it.”

“I call on citizens not to leave their homes during the days of Eid, because the Asayish and Peshmerga forces are roaming the streets to control and prevent movement,” he added.  LINK


Don961:  In light of the indicators of deflation and increasing unemployment rates … “the specter of poverty” is chasing Iraqis and economic measures to overcome the crisis

May 20, 2020 8:51 PM Author: alzawraapaper  Baghdad / Pursuing Zora:

The pessimistic expectations regarding the economic situation in Iraq continue, in light of the expansion of the Corona virus and its implications for oil prices globally, which led to expectations of the economy shrinking and increasing rates of poverty in large proportions, because of the near-total dependence on oil as a basis for the general budget.

On the other hand, the United Nations representative in Baghdad, Jenin Henness Blackshart, expected during her last briefing, “the Iraqi economy will shrink by 9.7 percent, with poverty rates rising to about 40 percent in 2020, in addition to expectations of a decrease in economic opportunities.”

There is talk in the economic and political circles of a number of measures that the Iraqi government must take to bypass the nation, by selling treasury bonds, borrowing, and raising the dollar exchange rates, as well as the possibility of reducing employee salaries.

While parliamentary sources told “Independent Arabia” that “there is a tendency in the cabinet to issue a decision to change the exchange rate of the dollar.”

The sources indicated that “this procedure may take place gradually, but it has not yet lived up to the decision level.” Noting that «the purpose of this measure is to raise the price of the dollar against the Iraqi dinar to address the crisis of low cash and reduce the budget deficit».

According to the Parliamentary Finance Committee, Iraq’s oil imports amounted to about $ 5 billion in February, but it started to decline from March (March), when it reached about $ 2.9 billion. In April, it recorded 1.2 billion. Dollars.

Perhaps the continued decline in oil prices, places the Al-Kazemi government facing a major challenge to provide cash and pay the dues of state employees, as well as to address the crisis of poverty and unemployment.

On the other hand, Ahmed Hama Rashid, a member of the Finance Committee in the Iraqi parliament, said:

“We have no data yet regarding increasing poverty rates, but it is certain that the economic crisis the country is going through has increased its rates.”

He added, “Overcoming the financial crisis is very difficult because the public debt has increased greatly, and we pay annually about 16 trillion dinars (about 13.33 billion dollars) of interest and debt installments, and this is considered a complete state budget.”

And on the procedures for overcoming the financial crisis, Rashid revealed that “the government sent the first bill for internal and external borrowing, by selling treasury bonds,” stressing that “the project reached the Finance Committee as a draft, and in the first session of Parliament it will read the first reading.”

He added that «the salaries of the employees for this month will be delayed due to lack of cash, and, according to my information, the Ministry of Finance has indicated that it has no financing.»

For his part, Abd al-Zahra al-Hindawi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Planning, said: “Poverty indicators, according to our readings and expectations, have witnessed an increase during the past two months and the ministry is preparing a study on this matter,” noting that “estimates are preliminary indicators that poverty rates may exceed 30 percent.” .

He explained, “This is called transient poverty, and it is an emergency that touches the near-poverty line, and they are the workers whose work stopped due to the current crisis and were directly affected.” As soon as life returns to normal and they return to practice their work, the problem ends.

And on the option of offering treasury bonds to provide external and internal debt, Jabr pointed out that “it is necessary to borrow to overcome the financial crisis, and internal borrowing is better than the external because its terms are easy and set by the state.”

He explained that “internal borrowing will not reach its goals, because the public and non-bank financial institutions will not lend to the state, and this will push for external borrowing, which is tiring and with unfair terms that bear the burdens of future generations.” However, we have a financial burden of approximately $ 79 billion, and interest and installments due.

He continued, “Nobody lends to Iraq in light of the current economic indicators, and the International Monetary Fund must interfere by providing guarantees to creditors in exchange for Iraq achieving the conditions of the fund that may increase poverty rates.”

Iraq faces major difficulties in facing the financial crisis it is going through, with the increasing fears of large classes in Iraqi society that this decline may increase with the continued decline in oil prices.


Samson:  A glance into Sulaimani’s foreign exchange markets

6th May, 2020
Sulaimani’s Shakawti Mala market is a hub for exchanging Iranian tomans into local currency.

One of three exchange markets in the city, most of the money exchanged here goes to and from Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Dubai and China. 

It has been the main market for Iranian tomans since 1991.

Local traders use Iranian counterparts to transfer money from Iran into US dollars. 

No cash is handed over at the market; instead, transactions are built on trust.

“They [traders in Sulaimani] have accounts in Iran and tell their Iranian counterparts to transfer the tomans to their accounts, and they will transfer dollars,”  says Mohammed Haji Qadir, who has been trading at the market since 1991.

“It is based on trust…everyone adheres to [the rules], otherwise they’d be kicked out of the market,” he added.

Millions of dollars are traded at the markets every day.

However, due to the instability of the Iranian currency, some traders lose everything.

Fresh sanctions on Iran also affect the exchange rate, Qadir added.

Syrian pounds are also exchanged locally, but their value has plummeted after years of civil war.

The equivalent of $50,000 in Syrian pounds before the civil war is now only worth $1,900. 



Samson:  The Russian Central Bank earns $ 6 billion from the high gold

21st May, 2020

The Russian Central Bank won about $ 6 billion in high gold prices in one month, in evidence of the correctness of the strategy that Russia has pursued over the past years by increasing gold reserves.

According to the data of the Russian Central, gold reserves, which are part of its international reserves, rose to a record level by May 1, amounting to 126 billion dollars, an increase of 5%, equivalent to 6 billion dollars from its level at the end of last March.

This increase is due to the rise in world prices, and Russia, which used to be the largest buyer of gold in the world, had stopped buying precious metals in April to stimulate gold exports.

“Last month, it showed that the Russian strategy for buying gold had paid off. The gold reserves support the overall reserves,” said Kirill Choyko, head of analysis at BCS Global Markets.

Gold was recently traded at peak prices since 2012, as the Corona pandemic increased demand for the precious metal, which is a safe haven. Over the past five years, Russia has spent more than $ 40 billion on gold purchases, as part of a strategy aimed at reducing the dollar’s share in reserves. LINK