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Iranian Presidential Election Boosts Iraq Dinar

by admin ~ July 8th, 2013

Since the beginning of 2012 the Iraqi dinar has been on something of a roller coaster ride. Changes in central bank policy combined with strong dollar demand from Iran and Syria have twice pushed the market rate above 1280. Both times, subsequent increases in dollar sales at the central bank’s currency auctions then steered the rate back toward 1200. (See chart. Data is from the Central Bank of Iraq website.)

In the most recent iteration of this cycle, the dinar appears to have gotten a boost from the Iranian election held on June 14. Hopes for an easing of US sanctions following the victory of moderate candidate Hassan Rouhani seem to have led to a significant drop in Iranian dollar demand both at home and abroad. The Iranian rial is reportedly up 20.7% post-election, rising from 36,200 to the dollar to 30,000. Iranians are now said to be selling down hoards of US dollar cash, the total value of which the Central Bank of Iran puts at USD 18 billion.

The effect on the dinar has been less dramatic but is still easy to see on the chart. The Iraqi currency rose 1.0% from June 13 to June 15 and was up 2.9% (to 1215) as of June 27.

How long this trend can continue remains to be seen, however. President Obama earlier this month signed an executive order that will take effect July 1 and is intended to increase the pressure on the rial.

16-Year Ban on Commercial Flights from US to Iraq Lifted

by admin ~ January 25th, 2013

Commercial flights going to Iraq from the US were banned since 1996 due to safety reasons. Sixteen years later, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has finally decided to lift the ban on commercial U.S. carriers going to two airports located within Kurdish northern Iraq, raising hopes that it will soon be easier to buy dinar and visit the country.

The barring of plane trips going into the Middle Eastern country was largely due to mayhem now-executed Saddam Hussein caused during his rule as President. Moreover, the dictator reportedly “urged his air defense forces to ignore both the southern and northern no-fly zones and to attack ‘any air target of the aggressors.”

FAA officials say they are currently allowing people to buy dinar and land at Erbil and Sulaymaniyah airports. The fact that other commercial operators have utilized these airports over the past years without incident is proof that stability within the region has indeed reached notably higher levels over the past decade.

“The FAA has determined that flights by U.S. operators may now be conducted safely to these two airports under certain conditions,” said a representative of the agency.

Today, U.S. civilian flights have permission to fly over Iraq at altitudes above 20,000 feet. Moreover, the FAA has allowed some commercial flights into the country under contract by certain agencies or the military itself.

The notion to remove this ban will become effective starting January 7, 2013. However, approval by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for U.S. carrier operations in Iraq is required before the removal is implemented.

Hussein’s downfall has gradually cultivated the reestablishment of Iraq’s commercial relations with other countries (aside from the U.S.) Various airlines such as Austrian, Lufthansa, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines and Gulf Air to re-launch their services going to Iraq. Meanwhile, several hotel groups – including Starwood and Hilton – have recently announced their intentions to erect new properties within the country.

When it comes to the oil industry, several giant companies have elected to work with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) over the leaders of Baghdad. Reasons for this are tied to the fact that oil contracts offered by the KRG are more lucrative as compared to that offered by Iraq’s capital.

Regardless of the recent strengthening of relations between the US and Iraq, reports on problems – such as Iraq granting permission to Iran for the shipment of weapons to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces through Iraqi airspace — pertaining to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s central government are still in circulation.

Iraq’s Anti-Measles Campaign Reaching out to 4.5 million Children

by admin ~ January 18th, 2013

Earlier this month, Iraq launched an anti-measles campaign in an attempt to buy Iraqi dinar to control the disease, which was considered a pandemic over the past few years. This special program designed to help the youth extended to all of the Middle Eastern’s provinces to ensure instances of developing the disorder are kept as low as possible.

“Our primary health centres, scattered across Iraq, are continually working to buy Iraqi dinar so they can protect children against measles, in addition to sending vaccination teams on field visits to homes to follow up on those who may have missed immunization,” says Dr. Hassan Hadi Baqer, current general director of public health for the ministry.

Baqer explains that officials conducting the campaign won’t just aim to control the ailment, but to eradicate it as well. “The ministry has stockpiled large quantities of measles vaccines to meet the needs of the campaign period and afterwards,” says Baqer.

To ensure the success of this anti-measles movement, the Ministry imported all vaccines from reputable and well-known international suppliers. On top of this, these vaccines were immediately subjected to thorough testing at the Ministry’s laboratories.

Baqer says the Ministry has taken extensive measures to make sure the shots are given out to as many individuals as possible by mobilizing “numerous immunisation teams, including fixed groups within health centres, as well as mobile ones that carry the vaccination to children under the age of five in their homes or at schools.”

According to the ministry, roughly 5,000 fixed and mobile health teams were deployed to give the Iraqis their vaccines. Some teams had to take vehicles to reach those residing within residential areas far from the centres, while others traveled by foot to places that were close-by.

Kids aging between six month and one year will given a single-type measles vaccines, while those between the ages one and five are to be administered mixed vaccines. In total, the campaign aims to service 4.5 million children

“The vaccines are safe and potent, and proved successful in tests carried out by the ministry’s centre for monitoring and drugs research, and they are certified by the World Health Organisation,” says Dr. Moatez Mohammed al-Jubury, current director of the ministry’s vaccinations programme.

He also added: “During the campaign, children will be given, in addition to these vaccines, doses of vitamin A to reinforce their immune systems.”

In Search of Confluence Points in Iraq

by admin ~ January 16th, 2013

It is strange but true. There are actually people who spend much time, resources, and efforts just to find and visit confluence points rather than buy Iraqi dinar, which are the integer degree intersections of the earth’s longitude and latitude. Approximately, the earth’s degree confluences total about 64,000, with some 21,000 on land, 38,000 on water, and 4,000 on the polar ice caps. Roughly 10,000 of these confluence points purportedly remain to be located.

Iraq is said to have 40 confluence points and only 14 of these have been visited or “discovered.” Hence, the country has drawn considerable attention from confluence-hunters who want to locate what to them are priceless points of interest. What these searchers are actually doing is involvement in an Internet-based, all-volunteer project which its proponents say is an organized world sampling. Called the Degree of Confluence Project, this endeavor seeks to have people visit the earth’s latitude–longitude intersections and have pictures and stories of the visit uploaded or posted in the project’s website.

Some American and British soldiers stationed in Iraq are among those who have had the distinction of having visited some confluence points in the country. However, many of the other “discoveries” of Iraqi confluences are feathers to the cap of a civilian, Ruba Husari, webmaster for iraqoilforum.com. She had actually chalked up six of such confluence visits.

In one of her trips, the search took Husari near the small village of Qalaat Muzeibleh, a place where visitors can buy Iraqi dinar, which is close to the Badra oil field just less than ten kilometers away from Iraq’s border with Iran. Though unremarkable by tourist standards, she was nonetheless exultant upon standing and taking a digital a self-portrait at that exact confluence point between latitude 33 degrees north and longitude 46 degrees east as revealed by her Garmin GPS receiver.

Husari describes her hobby as an often risky but exciting and worthy adventure as it takes her to many places and provides activities that are uncommon elsewhere. She was encouraged into confluence hunting by her friends from Dubai who are into this activity and whose haunts include the Emirati desert. There they roam in off-road vehicles and camp during weekends in search of that latitude-longitude convergence.

Security concerns and the instability in Iraq in recent years have deterred documentation of many of the country’s confluence points, in much the same way that Iraqi tourism growth has been hindered by the same factors. For Husari, nonetheless, confluence hunting has provided lots of adventures such as rowing a small canoe in the southern Iraqi marshes and driving through the Najaf province desert.

Senior Iraqi Clerics Balk at Arab-Kurdish War

by admin ~ January 9th, 2013

The senior Shia clerics in Iraq may have assuaged the worries of many Iraqis on a possible confrontation between the country’s troops and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, saying it would harm the economy and dissuade foreigners to buy dinar. This came after the respected Muslim clergymen issued a fatwa or religious ruling which prohibits conflict and dinar exchange with the Kurds in the country’s disputed northern territories.

The fatwa was issued by the Najaf Hawza, a major Shia religious institution, which declared such a conflict as haram or religiously prohibited, mainly because it would cause people not to buy dinar or oil and harm the economy. The Shia statement further emphasized that Iraqi soldiers dying in fighting with the Kurds will not be considered as martyrs.

Tension in the disputed northern territories developed when the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, deployed his controversial Dijla forces in the highly sensitive area likewise claimed by the Kurdistan autonomous region. In reaction to the prime minister’s maneuver, the Kurdistan regional government sent thousands of its Peshmerga soldiers into the disputed area, thus creating a tense standoff between the two forces for the last several weeks.

The Najaf declaration minced no words in accusing Maliki that he has driven the country to the brink of war just to achieve personal gain. The Iraqis will not be served if there is war with the Kurds, it declared. Curiously, Maliki himself is a Shia leader of the Dawa Party. Nevertheless, he has been widely criticized by Iraq’s Shia clerics, including Muqtada al-Sadr, the Mahdi Army founder. The clerics alleged that Maliki did not consult the Shia leadership about the deployment of Iraqi troops in the northern territories, saying that only a small choice group close to the prime minister were informed of his decision.

The letter of a father who has a soldier-son in the disputed territories was mentioned in the Najaf Hawza’s statement. The father’s letter inquired if his son would be a martyr should he be killed in the northern territories’ fighting. Senior Shia clerics opined that the soldier won’t be considered a martyr.

In their statement, the Shia clerics also charged that Maliki has failed as a prime minister and called the prime minister to step down from his position. The clergymen likewise expressed dissatisfaction with the unstable peace situation in Iraq, saying that security in Iraq hasn’t improved under Maliki. Being the commander in chief, the prime minister has failed in this task, and thus he must step down, the clerics said.

Notably, when Maliki restructured the army and formed the Dijla Operations Command, he drew a number of its high-ranking officers from the former Iraqi army. The reinstatement of these officers caused a stir not only among Shia officials but also among Kurdish authorities.

More than 60,000 Syrians have Fled to Iraq Safety

by admin ~ January 3rd, 2013

The violence and on-going internal conflict in Syria has claimed the lives of over 40,000 thousand people to date. Clashes between military and rebel combatants reached a point wherein more than 63,000 Syrians — who’ve survived the series of battles taking place within various parts of the country over the past 21 months – have decided to seek refuge in neighboring country Iraq, although this hasn’t impacted the value of dinar.

According to a report made by the UN, 63,496 Syrian refugees are in Iraq as of December 5. Approximately 54,550 of these individuals are residing in the three-province autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, while 8,852 chose to relocate in the Anbar province, and 94 within other provinces.

With the situation escalating, Syria’s new opposition coalition recently announced the establishment of a military council, which was designed in part to help unify the ranks of fighters. National Coalition Secretary General Mustafa Sabbagh says that the group “will announce the creation of a supreme military council before the Friends of Syria meeting in Marrakesh.”

During a meeting held in November at Qatar, opposition forces agreed to establish the National Coalition, unify rebel fighters under a supreme military council, and create a judicial commission for fighter areas.

“The council will be exclusively responsible for receiving military aid which we obtain from outside Syria,” said Sabbagh to AFP.

The organization is to be comprised of “commanders of the various military councils on the group and forces battling the regime, namely the Free Syrian Army,” says Sabbagh.

While the intention of this military command is to bring together rebel fighters, radical groups are not to be included in the roster. Moreover, rebels who rejected the formation of the opposition National Coalition will be excluded as well.

Al-Nursa Front – currently one of the most formidable fighting forces – is a group comprised of extremists behind most of the suicide bombing attacks which claimed the lives of victims numbering by the thousands.

Roots for the armed Syrian conflict are traced backed to protestors demanding for the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad, as well as the Ba’ath Party rule which lasted nearly five decades.

Back in April 2011, the Syrian Army was sent in to neutralize the uprising, and soldiers were order to use lethal force and open fire upon the protestors. Months of succeeding military sieges provoked civilians, rebels, and foreign mercenaries to fight back with weapons.

World Bank Targeting Iraq For Contributions

by admin ~ December 25th, 2012

Based on current Iraqi Dinar newsreports, Iraq’s oil industry is one of the world’s strongest today, producing millions of barrels of oil on a daily basis. And with several noteworthy experts and organizations predicting the Middle Eastern country’s output to increase over the decades to come, more investors – interested in purchasing Iraqi Dinarnotes to invest in oil and other sectors conducive for investments – are becoming drawn to this nation.

The predicted increased output of the country’s most marketable product has also caught the attention of World Bank, which is an international financial organization dedicated to the alleviation of poverty through the extension of special loans for developing countries to establish capital programs.

According to a representative of Iraq’s Central Bank, the World Bank asked Iraq to become a donor state by the year 2014. Although this Middle Eastern country’s oil sector is doing quite well, and is predicted to do even better within the next few years, the Iraqi economy’s legs are still somewhat maimed by the adverse after-effects of war.

“Poverty is still rife in Iraq. Iraq continues to be a potential conflict zone. There are regular bombings in the country,” says Paul Sullivan, an economics professor at National Defense University (NDU).

Sullivan, who is also an adjunct professor of security studies at Georgetown University, has long been studying the recuperation of Iraq. He points out that this country has several problems of its own to worry about at present, such as the need to rebuild infrastructure and initiate health care programs.

Iraqi Dinar newsreporters quote Sullivan explain how the Iraqis have an abundance of oil revenue lying around, yet they’re never fully utilized because of corruption, inadequate governance, poor rule of law, and other detrimental factors.

“The World Bank is less than clueless if they think Iraq is ready to be a donor state,” says Sullivan.

On the other hand, Majid al-Sadi, current head of the Iraqi Business Council, believes that this nation will be ready to become a donor state as soon as the oil output rises. “Iraq since its inception has always been a donor county,” he says.

He then explained how Iraq extended billions of dollars (which basically amounts to trillions when converted to Iraqi Dinarcurrency) to other countries in need of financial aid, including Jordan, before the 2003 invasion.

Iraq’s Signature Dish Masgoof Enjoyed By Locals Once Again

by admin ~ December 21st, 2012

Iraqi Dinar newsreports have described rampant communal war across Iraq in the past, and how its repercussions caused drastic impacts on the economy – including the value of dinar currency – as well as the lifestyle experienced by locals.

However, despite the levels of violence remaining relatively high, analysts note that the intensity and frequency of these battles have dropped over the past few years. This in turn gives locals, such as Abu Shahad, the confidence they need to go out once again and enjoy Iraqi specialty dishes, such as the nation-wide renowned cuisine, Masgoof.

“This fish is part of Baghdad’s heritage, part of the heritage of the south, the west of Iraq,” he says. The Iraqi then goes on to explain how the decreased occurrence of bloodshed has made him, as well as his close buddies, more relaxed when dining at restaurants or unwinding at cafes.

Of course, Shahad isn’t the only one who’s feeling safer about going out and dining with friends. Statistics show that the number of Masgoof – which is essentially a mouth-watering flame-grilled carp — sold is significantly increasing everywhere, meaning plenty of other citizens are now coming out of their homes to enjoy hearty meals.

“During the sectarian tensions, we would hardly sell 10 fish a day,” says Hashim Murshid, the owner of Khadra restaurant in northern Baghdad where Abu Shahad and his pals were spotted dining. “But now, we serve around 100 fish a day,” he added.

Restaurants located along the banks of Tigris River are also receiving more customer traffic from Iraqis braving the decreased dangers posed by unpredictable outbreaks of war. Citizens interviewed have noticed that the smell of freshly grilled fish, as well as vapors from flavored water pipes customers puff on as they dine, has once again filled the air.

According to Iraqi Dinar newsreporters, the preparation of Masgoof is quite interesting, and has served well in attracting both locals and tourists to place orders. Upon arriving at a restaurant, customers are prompted to select the carp he or she would like to eat from the fish pond.

The carp is then killed with a sharp blow to the head, and sliced into two afterwards. From there, it is seasoned with a combination of spices, onions, plus tomatoes sauce, and finally grilled in front of an ember-filled pot.

Customers are charged $33 (40,000 dinars) per order, which basically makes it relatively expensive considering how the value of dinaris quite low in comparison to the US dollar.

THE TRUTH BEHIND MALIKI’S RUSSIA VISIT

by admin ~ December 12th, 2012

Those who have a speculative hoard in Iraqi dinar may have been quite unsettled over the potential forex market impact of the recent visit of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s to Russia. It was certainly not just a craving for caviar that Maliki planed in to Moscow for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Iranian leader’s trip generated a lot of media attention as well as interest in military, diplomatic, political, and even economic circles.

The main focus of concern was on the military aspect of the Iraqi prime minister’s visit. More so that it was preceded by a preliminary visit by Saddun Dulaimi, Iraq’s acting defense minister. Prior to these visits, Iraq and Russia signed an agreement for the former’s purchase of weapons including anti-aircraft missiles and helicopter gunships. The deal was worth $4 billion which when converted to the value of dinar would profoundly dramatize not only the drain it would cause on the country’s coffers. It likewise generates uncertainties, especially in the business community, on what really are Iraq’s priorities.

After his meeting with President Putin, Maliki disclosed that part of the weapons were to be used to combat terrorism and some for self-defense purposes. Nonetheless, the Iraqi Russian arms deal is valued much less than other weapons purchases it sourced from the United States. This discrepancy led many observers to believe that Maliki’s Moscow trip is a signal that the Iraqi prime minister is being groomed to replace Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Mideast power triangle that includes Syria, Iran, and Russia. Such a triumvirate would enable Russia to regain some of the leverage it lost following the Soviet Union’s collapse decades back.

Washington’s apparent attempts at damage control may have further confounded the situation, to the dismay of those who would wish to see a stable Middle East and its positive effects on the dinar exchange rate. After the Putin-Maliki meeting, a Whitehouse spokesperson announced that

Washington and Baghdad had inked weapon deals worth $12 billion, another sizable amount.  The spokesperson stressed that U.S- Iraq relations are wide and deep and that the Moscow-Baghdad arms deal was not a source of U.S. concern.

Besides the weapons agreement, Russia wants to pursue other business interests in Iraq, moves that can contribute in some way toward stabilizing the value of dinar. One is enabling Russian oil companies in Iraq to have a stronger foothold in the country. On top of this, Russia aims to resuscitate its old Soviet role in Iraqi agriculture, railway construction, and power generation.

IRAQI ANTIQUITIES RETRIEVAL

by admin ~ December 9th, 2012

Iraq, the cradle of the ancient Mesopotamia civilization, is fast regaining its stature in the world community close to ten years after the collapse of the tyrannical rule of dictator Saddam Hussein. The Mideast nation’s leadership is moving fast to rebuild the country’s economy. Significantly, these moves included the cutting the loose the Iraqi dinar exchange rate from its fixed 1,170 per one U.S. dollar and let the currency seek its own level in the foreign exchange market.

As important, Iraq is now aggressively seeking the help of the international community to retrieve much of the patrimony it lost during the U.S.-led invasion of the country in 2003 to oust Hussein. The losses consist of artifacts representing the glory that Iraq’s locality achieved during the Mesopotamian period, items that cannot be easily quantified in monetary terms, whether via the value of dinar or dollar rate.

These antiques, mostly stored at the central museum of Iraq, were lost to thieves not only during the Coalition Forces’ occupation of Baghdad. Probers on the massive theft estimated that as much as 15,000 archaeological items at the Iraqi national museum alone were either lost prior to U.S.-led war against Saddam or during the conflict itself. These Iraqi antiques often surface at black markets in art circles around the world, with exorbitant prices that can reach more than millions worth in Iraqi dinar exchange rate. These ancient treasures include sculpture heads, Assyrian ivories, amulets, ritual vessels, and cylinder seals

The tourism minister of Iraq, Liwaa Smaisim, is now strongly asserting her country’s rights over those relics of Mesopotamian antiquities. The Iraqi government considers the return of these cultural assets a priority, she declared during a recent visit to the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. While this priority may be lower on the government’s laundry list and below such economic agenda as Iraqi dinar revaluation, Baghdad remains firm on reclaiming its archaeological treasures.

Smaisim specifically urged France to help Iraq in getting back four priceless cuneiform stone tablets which were seized in an incident at the Charles de Gaulle airport. France, she said, had been dilly-dallying on this matter. In no uncertain terms, the Iraqi tourism minister also declared that many countries are not cooperating on Iraq’s drive to have its pillaged antiquities back. She said these countries include the U.S., Israel, along with several countries in the European Union. On a happier note, she noted that some 4,200 items stolen from the Baghdad national museum have been returned.

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