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Iraq Dinar / Economy News Baghdad 3/1/2018  Audio/Video 7min

Economy News Baghdad

Nusseiri issues his book (Central Bank in the face of the challenges of economic and financial crisis)

The economic and banking adviser to the Association of Iraqi Private Banks, Samir al-Nusairi, issued his book entitled (Central Bank in the face of the challenges of economic and financial crisis), which documents the Bank's efforts in supporting the national economy.

Al-Nusairi said in a seminar to present the book, held in the Central Bank of Iraq and attended by the "Economy News", that "it is held under the guidance of the Governor of the Central Bank Ali Al-Allaq to review the book," noting that "it documents transparently and impartially the Central Bank's procedures 2015-2017 Has been able to take effective steps to support the national economy and promote economic steadfastness. "
He pointed out that "includes ten chapters with 300 pages of medium-sized pieces containing an overview of the objectives and positions of the Central Bank of Iraq as stated in Law 56 of 2004, and the challenges facing monetary policy and financial and economic analysis of the structural imbalance in the economy in addition to the central crying procedures in the face of these challenges and overcome The economic and financial shocks that faced Iraq. "
"One of the chapters discusses the central bank's strategy for 2016 2020, its five basic goals and its subsidiary, which has 18 goals," he said. "It includes an assessment and classification of the banking sector in accordance with international standards, particularly the classification for the purpose of selling the currency."
He pointed out that the book deals with the analytical vision of the objectives of the policy of Iraq and its instruments and the achievements of the years 2004 and 2017, as well as contain an important chapter on the challenges facing the banking sector and how to face them by the Central Bank of Iraq, The administrative and regulatory procedures carried out by the specialized departments of the Bank, which contributed effectively to achieve the direction of the Central Bank to support the national economy.
He concluded by saying that his latest version contains a document containing the documents issued by the Central Bank for combating money laundering and terrorist financing and its strategy for the years 2016 2020, in addition to the guidelines for the follow-up and detection of money laundering, as well as a statistical annex to the tables and financial statements, Period.

The symposium was attended by the participants of the symposium, the first of which was the Director General of the Administrative Department of the Central Bank of Iraq, Saleh Mahoud, where he praised the book promising scientific achievement important especially for researchers and science seekers.

In turn, praised the President of the Association of Private Banks, Wadih al-Hanal, the role of the Central Bank of Iraq regarding the establishment of confidence between the banking sector and the Central Bank. source
Iraqi National Bank: We received 3.2 million dollars from the branch of the Central Bank in Erbil.

Economy News Baghdad:

The Iraqi National Bank announced that the adequacy of the capital amounted to 106.65% during the year 2017, stressing that the bank received 3.2 million dollars and 36.5 billion dinars of its assets with the branch of the Central Bank in Erbil.

In reviewing the accounting records and reviewing the nature of the banking operations carried out by the bank during the fiscal year, specifically in the matter of auditing and disclosures prepared for the purpose of calculating the capital adequacy, the bank said that the ratio of capital reached 106.65% Based on Article 16 of the Banking Law No. 94 of 2004.

He added that "the bank's balances with the branches of the Central Bank in both Erbil and Sulaymaniyah have not been exploited in the operations," stressing that "the bank received during the month of August 2017 $ 3.2 million in addition to the amount of 36.5 billion dinars of his reserves with the branch of the Central Bank of Iraq in Erbil. source

Iraq and Kurdistan close to striking Kirkuk oil deal By Rudaw
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on February 27, 2018 that the oil agreement will be made.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region � The Kurdistan Region and Iraq are in the final stages of an oil agreement for Kirkuk. It allows Baghdad to receive the revenue with Erbil receiving a share, as well as securing payments for Russia�s Rosneft and Turkey�s BOTAS in order to transport the oil to global markets, according to the KRG.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi revealed on Tuesday that the two sides have already agreed to resume oil exports through the KRG's controlled pipeline, but that his government was waiting for Turkey�s view within 10 days.

Safeen Dizayee, the KRG spokesperson, told Rudaw that no "concrete agreement" is in place as of yet, but was hopeful that Baghdad will agree to the KRG-proposed plan.

"In short, the agreement would be on the basis that both sides, the [Kurdistan] Region, and Baghdad, and the companies who are related to that amount of oil will receive the benefits," Dizayee said.

He explained that the KRG can receive a share of the crude derivatives like fuel from the refineries, plus a revenue share of the oil exports.

"With regard to the excess in revenues originating from the sale of this amount of oil [to the international market] � that ends up in the Iraqi treasury � the KRG would be able to receive a share of the excess revenues on the basis of the budget, and the agreement that will be made,� said Dizayee.

"[Per the agreement] the two companies of BOTAS and Rosneft would also be able receive their tariffs for exporting oil, both from within the Kurdistan Region, and inside Turkey,� he added.

The KRG has an agreement with the two companies to transport oil through its Kurdistan-Ceyhan pipeline.

"It appears that Baghdad will welcome the agreement, as has been mentioned by Mr. Abadi himself. It is a suggestion that was proposed by the Kurdistan Region," Dizayee said, revealing the details of the deal discussed when the Kurdish delegation met with Abadi last month in Baghdad.

The KRG is hopeful.

"No concrete agreement has been made over this suggestion. It remains a suggestion to this date. But it seems that Baghdad will take it into serious consideration. We hope that it results into a good agreement."

KRG Deputy PM Qubad Talabani touched on oil while attending a KRG Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research event on Wednesday.

"We as Kurdistan Regional Government, have informed them [the Iraqi government] that Kirkuk oil can be exported through Kurdistan's oil pipes and be sold, and the income to be returned to Iraqi government's treasury [so that] everyone can benefit it, but they have not done so as of now," Talabani said. source


Iraq News & more 2/25/2018  Audio/Video

Could elections resolve Erbil-Baghdad energy disputes?

The removal of bans on Kurdistan banks by Iraq�s Central Bank, attempts to reopen the airports, and the auditing of the KRG�s civil servants� payroll are positive indications of improvement in relations between Erbil and Baghdad. On the other hand, marginalization of Kurdistan at the Iraqi Reconstruction Conference in Kuwait, Iraq�s continued pressure on oil companies and signing contracts with companies without considering the Kurdistan Region are not positive indications.

Despite this, can the upcoming May 12 elections, with support from the international community, bring both sides closer to each other, especially on energy issues?

In addition to international political figures, a score of investors and companies were invited to the Kuwait conference. But few were invited from the Kurdistan Region because of Baghdad�s opposition to Kurdistan benefiting economically from the conference.

Although excessive corruption and misadministration meant the conference did not meet its target � bringing in pledges of $30 billion, far short of the $88 billion goal � the Kurdistan Region could benefit from the collected funds. Kurdistan should be given a large share because it played a significant role in the fight against ISIS and some of its territory � especially in disputed areas � was demolished. In addition to this, Kurdistan protected a large section of Kirkuk province, preventing it from falling into ISIS hands, and it was a haven for nearly 2 million IDPs.

Iraq is also exerting pressure on the KRG over its contracts with international oil companies, wanting to sign its own agreements with them, including Russia�s Rosneft, which owns a sixty-percent share in the KRG�s pipeline. At the beginning of this month, Iraq�s Oil Ministry demanded Rosneft send a delegation to Iraq to discuss its contracts with the KRG. Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi is also expected to visit Moscow regarding this.

Despite this, the Kurdistan Region�s oil sector has good news: Chevron will resume its operations in the Kurdistan Region, Genel recently announced an increase of forty percent at Taq Taq oilfield, and Russian companies have not wavered in their interest.

This good news indicates the KRG can stand against Baghdad�s plans to some extent.

Iraq realizes that the Kurdistan Region is experiencing a difficult financial stage � this is a strong point for Baghdad. But Iraqi parliamentary elections on May 12 may be a golden opportunity for Kurds because the United States and the international community are backing Haider al-Abadi�s re-election.

The United States knows that the formation of any new Iraqi cabinet requires Kurdish support. This has increased international pressure on Iraq to make an agreement with the Kurdistan Region.

The current political situation in the Kurdistan Region, its disunity and multiple electoral lists, will weaken Kurdish power in the Iraqi elections, however. The more unified Kurds are, the more likely it is that Baghdad will be willing to reach an agreement.

Yadgar Sadeq is an economic journalist, financial market analyst, and director of media for DCIFX, an investment company in the Kurdistan Region. source

URGENT Parliamentary finance reveals new economic disappointment in Iraq!

Parliamentary finance reveals a new economic disappointment in Iraq!
(Baghdad: Al-Furat News) Member of the Finance Committee MP Masoud Haidar revealed the decline of Iraq's economic level to the level of African countries.
"The economic boom in Iraq is so bad that the Iraqi financial institution, which is considered a long-standing institution, has lowered its rating at the level of international institutions from C to D," Haidar told Al-Furath television.
"We hoped after cooperation with the IMF and the International Bank to be on the level of Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia economically; but we have fallen to the level of African countries in the economic situation."

Standard & Poor�s on Friday confirmed Iraq�s credit rating at B- / B with a stable outlook, but predicted a cut in oil production would affect economic growth in 2017.
The credit rating agency attributed a stable outlook to expectations of continued budget control efforts in the next few years.
Standard & Poor�s said the rating received support from Iraqi oil production being concentrated in areas under the firm control of the federal government. source

Kuwait confirmed that Iraq will continue to pay the debt until 2021
By rami - February 24, 2018

Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid al-Jarallah said that Iraq will continue to pay the debts of Kuwait until 2021, while noting that 85 cases between the two countries have been resolved and left very few of them.
In response to a question about the Iraq reconstruction conference and a pledge of $ 2 billion, Al-Jarallah said in a televised interview that �the compensation is nothing, the payment is something, and the commitments at the Iraq reconstruction conference are something else.�
He continued: �We sat with the Iraqis and with the United Nations, and agreed on a payment mechanism, and started Iraq, and will end in the year 2021.�
He pointed out that �the issues that are still stuck between Kuwait and Iraq are simple, 85 of which have been resolved within the framework of Security Council resolutions, leaving very few (prisoners, property and maritime borders after point 62).� source

Dinnarland talk from the room
from sandyf:
My opinion... article 8 is an absolute must... and they arn't there yet... then when they are eligible...IMF can take up to 60 days for a yea or nay vote... so we got a while - Would agree on the first point, Art 8 is a major bullet point. But it should be remembered the onus is on Iraq, it is up to them to accept the obligations of Art 8, they could remove the IMF issues at any point with the stroke of a pen. It is not about the parallel market rate, it is about the settlement of international invoices at a rate that deviates from the official rate. Vietnam had exactly the same problem and they made it illegal for companies not to settle the transaction at the official rate. If companies made loss/profit on buying the dollars they must show it separately in the accounts. Personally I think that Iraq is holding on to Art 14 for a reason, hopefully as part of some other agenda.

The 'black op' theory has been kicking around for some years, appeared about the same time as the talk of a GCR being funded by the GCA's.


Iraq banking & budget news Audio/Video


The Central Bank of Iraq decides to delay the opening of branches of financial transfer companies

Alsumaria News Baghdad
The Central Bank of Iraq decided on Thursday to delay the opening of branches of financial transfer companies.

The bank said in a statement received, Alsumaria News, it was "decided to wait to grant approval to approve the plan to open branches of authorized transfer companies in Baghdad and the provinces during 2017-2018."

"The decision excludes companies that complete the requirements to convert them to Islamic banks," the bank said.

The Central Bank of Iraq was established as an independent bank under its law of 6 March 2004 as an independent body responsible for maintaining price stability and implementing monetary policy. It supervises 10 commercial banks, 26 private banks and 16 Islamic banks, as well as 19 foreign banks. 6 financial institutions and 31 financial transfer companies.  source


IFC, Central Bank of Iraq to Strengthen Corporate Governance in Banking Sector
Basnews Iraq
IFC, Central Bank of Iraq to Strengthen Corporate Governance in Banking Sector
Baghdad, Iraq, IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the Central Bank of Iraq are launching a series of specialized workshops, starting 2/20/2018 to raise corporate governance standards in Iraqi banks and strengthen the country�s banking sector.

IFC�s advisory services team will support the Central Bank in implementing its new mandatory corporate governance banking guidelines. IFC will initially train all key managers in the Central Bank and then roll out workshops to board members from all the country�s banks. Topics include understanding the unique nature of governance in the sector, the right composition of boards, and risk management best practice.

Aly Al Alaq, Governor of the Central bank said: �Helping banks implement sound corporate governance practices will increase the sector�s resilience and sustainability and make them more investment-friendly, enabling banks to not only boost efficiency, but also increase profit.�

The initiatives are part of IFC�s strategy to spur private sector growth in Iraq and scale up support for fragile and conflict-affected states, where private sector investment is key. For companies operating in conflict-affected environments, strong corporate governance can be vital for sustainability.

�Our aim is to foster a positive corporate governance culture within which banks in Iraq can operate, to strengthen the sector and drive growth,� said Ziad Badr IFC Principal Country Officer in Iraq. �Improved practices help attract direct investments and ultimately stimulate social welfare and economic growth.�

IFC has been working to improve corporate governance in Iraq since 2014. As well as working with local institutions, in May 2017, IFC launched the country�s first independent institute of directors the Kurdistani Institute of Directors (KIoD)�alongside the Erbil Chamber of Commerce and Trade, which advises on best practice and strengthening the role of independent directors and boards.

IFC�s advisory work in Iraq focuses on building the capacity of financial institutions, supporting governments, helping private firms improve their environmental, social, and governance standards, and mobilizing private investments through public-private partnerships.  source


Parliamentary finance likely to approve the budget next Tuesday
Release date: 2/22, 2018
Parliamentary finance likely to approve the budget next Tuesday
(Baghdad: al-Furat News) revealed the Finance Committee parliamentary, for important amendments to the paragraphs of the draft budget law for the year 2018.
"Several amendments have been made to the budget, including clauses to ensure greater interest to citizens and employees in general, including the abolition of the paragraph of the deduction of a percentage of salaries, 3.8%, by general agreement by the members of the Committee, as well as a member of the Committee, Majida Abdel Latif Tamimi said in a press statement. To find an alternative to the decline that will be caused by this cancellation, in addition to lifting the restriction on promotions and allowances and delete and development after it came from the government as a natural right to the work of the employee.
Tamimi added that "the budget included an increase of 144 billion dinars for the disabled victims of terrorism or those who responded to terrorism and urged them to sponsor them, as well as the allocation of 200 million dollars to establish small and income-generating projects for the employment of young people instead of remaining unemployed.
Al-Tamimi expected that "the parliament will vote on the draft budget in the parliament session - scheduled - next Tuesday." source

Latest Iraq News 2/19/2018 Audio/Video


With the approaching date of the elections began the political blocs to re-structure and organize again to enter the election season, but there are blocks succeed in attracting competent and professional figures, which are highly accepted by the Iraqi street and others fail in that and remain in place by the inclusion of personalities predominantly sectarian and national, Bring only states and crises to the country.

The Iraqi voter has a complete culture and consciousness in how to choose the national list and competent personalities capable of change and construction of the country, especially that the next stage is the stage of construction and reconstruction and fighting corruption after the elimination of terrorist organizations in the country.

Iraqi observers have agreed that the most acceptable coalition for all, whether citizens or politicians, is a victory alliance. What distinguishes it from the other coalitions participating in the elections is the inclusion of the different components of the people and the drop down of its list in 18 governorates. It also includes professional and efficient personalities capable of change in the next stage. Winning the most votes in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The alliance of victory led by Prime Minister Haider Abadi, the largest coalition in the parliamentary elections of 2018, which includes the Virtue Party headed by Abdul Hussein al-Musawi and an independent bloc led by Hussein al-Shahristani and the reformist movement headed by Ibrahim Jaafari and the National Congress headed by Aaras Habib and the Turkmen Islamic Alliance headed by Jassim Mohammed Jaafar and the tender movement Headed by Faleh al-Fayyad, and the uprising rebels headed by Muhannad al-Zirjawi and the bloc of Iraq's Renaissance and Peace headed by Nawaf al-Jarba. Observers are likely to win the largest share of the seats.

The deputy of the National Alliance Huda Sajjad told (One News) that "the slogan of a coalition of victory (unite us Vntzrna) and its main goal to eliminate corruption and spoilers of politicians who penetrated the previous governments and were the cause of the crises experienced by the country in the time of explosive budgets that did not benefit the people But pay for these corrupt politicians. "

She added that "Prime Minister Haider Abadi promised the Iraqi street to eliminate the scourge of corruption, as promised previously to eliminate the organization calling for the terrorist," indicating that "what distinguishes the Nasr coalition that includes national blocs carrying the young people are able to change and made a real will and have the ability to build the country And believe that they have pledged to God, and we believe that this coalition will win the confidence of citizens and the Iraqi street and those who want to fight corruption to win in the upcoming elections.

There are many blocs calling for quotas and division and Iraq is a booty in their eyes, and the one who distinguishes from the other alliances the list of all Iraqi provinces and there is no single list that it will fall in 18 provinces Which indicates that the coalition of victory blocks includes the various components of the Sunni, Shiite, Kurdish, Turkmen and other.

For his part, stressed the strategic expert and Al-Hashemi, that the alliance Nasr is an important alliance and will be a difficult figure in the elections as the leader of the Prime Minister Haider Abadi has important files succeeded in achieving is to maintain the unity of the country and the elimination of terrorism and strengthen Iraq's foreign relations.

Hashemi told (One News) that "the alliance of Nasr could be a transient alliance of sectarian as a combination of Sunnis and Shiites, Kurds and Turkmen This is a positive phenomenon to correct the process of political process," stressing that although talk about the results of the election is premature, Will be a difficult figure in the upcoming elections.

He added that "after the announcement of the election results will occur very large variables, but most of the political blocs controlled by foreign agendas. The question is whether the political blocs can get rid of the influence of the external player, who may not only accept a national partnership and not the political majority.

The alliance of the victory of Iraq headed by Haider Abadi, earlier, determined to correct the course of the political process and the fight against corruption, while noting that it is open to all national forces good of all directions.

The coalition said in a statement that it "is determined to correct the course of the political process and remove them from quotas and fight corruption," noting that "seeks to establish a new political path and the building of state institutions in accordance with the Constitution."

"The battle for construction and reconstruction will begin after all the land of Iraq has been liberated," the coalition said, adding that it will "develop the wealth of the people and invest it to provide the country with prosperity."

He stressed "his intention to adopt expertise and professionalism while preserving the participation of all the people of the provinces in the administration of a unified Iraq," pointing out that "open to all Iraqi national forces good of all directions."

Through the announced by the countries participating in the conference to reconstruct Iraq, which concluded its work in Kuwait, for financial contributions to the reconstruction of this country, the amounts made by most of the loans and investment contributions in projects within the country, while the amounts accounted for donations a small percentage. Such loans would increase the country's future financial burden on repayments.

So far, Saudi Arabia has been allocated $ 1.5 billion for Iraq reconstruction and Saudi export financing projects, while Qatar has provided $ 1 billion in loans and investments.

The UAE and Turkey also provided $ 13.5 billion in loans and investments, while Kuwait allocated $ 2 billion in loans and investments.

Thus, we see that the Gulf contributions have had a lion's share of the total amounts provided to Iraq. Are we facing a new phase of the real relations imposed by the economic side between Iraq and the Gulf states? Will Iranian influence diminish with the beginning of such relations?

On this subject, Professor of Political Science at Al-Nahrain University, Dr. Bassem Al-Kanani, said: "The Kuwait Conference is a very important activity and a kind of response to Iraq, which fought on behalf of the Arab countries and the world at large against the vicious attack of organizing the terrorist" Full of Iraq. The reality of the Gulf-Iraqi relations after the opening of the government of Mr. Abadi on those countries began to appear through Kuwait's invitation to hold the conference for the reconstruction of Iraq. The conference was held in a country that was and for a previous period damaged by Iraq. It is a positive sign to move forward with Gulf-Iraqi relations through realistic diplomacy.

The Gulf states are very interested in the Iraqi market, which is a thirsty market that receives everything and needs everything, especially after the destruction of Iraq. The investment will be realistic. We know that the capital is smart and hungry at the same time. The Gulf states are good figures in the global economy and have large capital that can create investment opportunities in Iraq over the medium term and have a positive impact on building the country and contribute to the revival of political and economic relations between Iraq and the Gulf states.

The United States does not throw the money aside, and it always tries to immerse others while it is holding the strings of the game. Gulf funds may be a front for US activity. The United States also has some observations on Iraqi political performance, and its size from Iraq's assistance may have been due to this performance.

We expect to see other economic events, and the United States may have a bigger role.

The next elections will change the Iraqi political map, to forget that the last period during which Iraq was unable to reach an institutional system because of quotas, and the construction of a rule based on a political majority with an active opposition to the process of institution-building and the consolidation of democracy, and through this process will know where to turn , On the one hand there is a real ideological influence by Iran on Iraq, and on the other hand, there is a common rapprochement and blood between Iraq and the Arabian Gulf, as they are the sons of the one Arab nation, in addition to the subject of religion that brings them together, and the presence of capital in the Gulf with the need of Iraq a All of this will lead us to positive thinking in starting towards the Iraqi interest.

Iraqi victories remain fragile as US reduces troops
QAIM, Iraq (AP) � From their outpost on Iraq�s westernmost edge, U.S. 1st Lt. Kyle Hagerty and his troops watched civilians trickle into the area after American and Iraqi forces drove out the Islamic State group. They were, he believed, families returning to liberated homes, a hopeful sign of increasing stability.

But when he interviewed them on a recent reconnaissance patrol, he discovered he was wrong. They were families looking for shelter after being driven from their homes in a nearby town. Those who pushed them out were forces from among their �liberators� � Shiite militiamen who seized control of the area after defeating the IS militants.

It was a bitter sign of the mixed legacy from the United States� intervention in Iraq to help defeat the militants. American-backed military firepower brought down the IS �caliphate,� but many of the divisions and problems that helped fuel the extremists� rise remain unresolved.

The U.S.-led coalition, which launched its fight against IS in August 2014, is now reducing the numbers of American troops in Iraq, after Baghdad declared victory over the extremists in December. Both Iraqi and U.S. officials say the exact size of the drawdown has not yet been decided.

U.S. and Iraqi commanders here in western Iraq warn that victories over IS could be undercut easily by a large-scale withdrawal. Iraq�s regular military remains dependent on U.S. support. Many within Iraq�s minority communities view the U.S. presence as a buffer against the Shiite-dominated central government. Still, Iranian-backed militias with strong voices in Baghdad are pushing for a complete U.S. withdrawal, and some Iraqis liken any American presence to a form of occupation.

That has left an uncomfortable limbo in this area that was the last battlefield against the extremists. Coalition commanders still work with Iraqi forces to develop long-term plans for stability even as a drawdown goes ahead with no one certain of its eventual extent.


�Let�s go win us some hearts and minds,� Sgt. Jonathan Cary, 23, joked as he and Hagerty and the patrol convoy set off from a base outside the town of Qaim, evoking a phrase used in American policy goals for Iraq ever since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.

After just a few hours moving on foot across farmland and orchards to a cluster of modest houses, Hagerty realized the families he thought were returnees to the area were in fact newly displaced. Their homes in Qaim had been confiscated by the government-affiliated Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMF, made up mainly of Shiite paramilitary fighters backed by Iran.

�Our end goal is a stable Iraq, right?� Hagerty said later, back at the base. �But when you see stuff like that, it makes you wonder if they are ever going to be able to do it themselves.�

After victories against IS, the PMF has built up a presence in many parts of Sunni-majority provinces, including western Anbar. It formally falls under the command of the prime minister, but some Iraqi commanders accuse the PMF of being a rival to government power.

PMF flags line highways crisscrossing Anbar. At a PMF checkpoint outside al-Asad airbase � a sprawling complex used by both Iraqi and coalition forces � U.S. convoys are regularly stopped for hours while busloads of PMF fighters are waved through.

U.S. Marine Col. Seth Folsom works closely with the branches of Iraq�s security forces � Sunni tribal fighters and the Iraqi army � who are increasingly concerned about the rise in power of the PMF. Iran has given no indication of dialing back its support after the defeat of IS extremists.

�The biggest question I get now is, �how long can we count on you being here?�� Folsom said of his conversations with Iraqi commanders and local politicians.

That decision ultimately rests with Iraq�s political leadership, he said.

�I guess some people could see that as a cop-out, but at the same time it�s not my place as a lowly colonel to define how long the U.S. presence is going to be.�


For the senior officers leading the current fight against IS, decades of U.S. military intervention in Iraq has defined their careers.

The top U.S. general in Iraq � Lt. Gen. Paul Funk � served in Iraq four times: in the Gulf war in 1991; in the 2003 invasion; in the surge when some 170,000 American troops were serving in Iraq in 2007; and most recently in the fight against IS.

�It will definitely be positive,� Funk said of the legacy of the U.S. role against IS in Iraq. �People see their young men and women out here defeating evil. That�s a positive thing.�

On a recent flight from Baghdad to a small U.S. outpost in northern Syria near Manbij � a trip that traversed the heart of the battlefield with IS for the past 3� years � Funk described the future of the fight as ideological and open-ended.

�The problem is people believe it�s already over, and it�s not,� he said. �Beating the ideology, destroying the myth, that�s going to take time.�

Touching down outside an orchard on the perimeter of the Manbij base, Funk exclaimed: �Welcome to the front line of freedom!�

Funk predicts the ideological fight could take years and easily require U.S. troop deployments elsewhere. He said that is one reason he believes it�s so important to visit U.S. troops on the current front lines � to show them �the American people believe in their purpose.�

�We have got to recruit the next generation,� he said.

Many of the young U.S. troops interviewed by The Associated Press said they didn�t know anything about the Islamic State group when they enlisted.

Rayden Simeona, a 21-year-old corporal in the Marines, enlisted in 2014, when all he knew about the U.S. military was from movies and video games.

�I felt like I wasn�t going anywhere with my life, I had no idea what IS was. I just knew I wanted to go to war,� he said. Once deployed, he said talk rarely broached the big questions of �What we are doing here?� or �Why?�

�But I do wonder all the time: Why are we spending all this money in Iraq?� he said. �There�s probably some greater plan or reason that someone much higher up than me knows.�


Along Iraq�s border with Syria, the two Iraqi forces charged with holding a key stretch of territory lack direct communication. Because one force falls under the Defense Ministry and the other under the Interior Ministry, their radios are incompatible.

Instead, the troops use Nokia cellphones in a part of the country where network coverage is spotty to nonexistent.

At the nearby coalition outpost near Qaim, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Brandon Payne spends much of his time filling communications gaps by relaying messages between different branches of Iraq�s military.

�The coordination is not where we hoped it would be,� Payne said. �But they do talk to each other, and we see that as a sign of progress.�

Tactical shortcomings within Iraq�s military are partially what fueled the expansion of the coalition�s footprint in Iraq in the past three years. As Iraqi ground forces demonstrated an inability to communicate and coordinate attacks across multiple fronts, U.S. forces moved closer to the fighting and sped up the pace of territorial gains.

Despite the caliphate�s collapse, those weaknesses have persisted. Iraqi forces remain dependent on coalition intelligence, reconnaissance, artillery fire and airstrikes to hold territory and fight IS insurgent cells.

Payne regularly shuttles between his base, Qaim and the Syrian border, meeting with different members of Iraqi forces to coordinate security and repel IS attacks from the Syrian side.

�I would say we are still needed,� Payne said. �We are getting great results with this model, but you see how much goes into it.�

The base, once a small, dusty outpost, now houses a few hundred coalition troops and is a maze of barracks, gyms, a dining facility, laundry services and a chapel.

�At some point, someone much higher up than me is going to decide the juice is just not worth the squeeze,� Payne said, referring to the cost of such a large outpost in a remote corner of the country.


Iraqi army Lt. Col. Akram Salah Hadi, who works closely with Payne�s soldiers at the Qaim outpost, said coalition training and intelligence sharing have improved the performance of his unit. But overall, the U.S. effort in Iraq gives him little hope for the future.

Corruption in the military, Hadi said, remains as bad as it was in 2014, when it was seen as a major reason why entire Iraqi divisions simply dissolved in the assault on Mosul by a few hundred IS fighters.

Young Iraqi soldiers with ambition and talent can�t rise through the ranks without political connections. Top ranks are bloated with officers who have bought their promotions. Within his division alone, Hadi said he can think of 40 officers with no military background who attained their rank because of their membership in a political party.

�With leadership like this, the rest will always be rotten,� he said.

Coalition programs that have trained tens of thousands of Iraqi troops have largely focused on the infantry, not the junior officers needed to lead units and instill a culture of service that will make a professional force.

Folsom, the U.S. Marine colonel, said military power will not root out corruption or heal Iraq�s longstanding divisions.

�I have a saying out here,� he added, ��You can�t want it more than them.��

End news report source apnews


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