Sunday, September 30, 2007

Raising the value of the Iraqi dinar achieved more than what was expected

September 29, 2007

Akbar explained that the "procedures and treatments approved by the Central Bank Governor and the members of the Governing Council, were aiming at stabilizing the exchange rate of the Iraqi dinar against the American dollar at (1,250), but the precise procedures of the monetary policy of the Bank to restore confidence in its independence, gave results of bringing the value of the dinar exchange rate to about (1,234) versus the American dollar, which places the Iraqi dinar in a good market state, due to the optimism created by monetary policy on Iraqi future economy. "

He continued that "according to the monetary policy adopted by the Central Bank, it was decided to raise the price of the Bank (Policy rate) from 16 to 20% annually, in addition to raising the interest rates of credit: the primary credit would be for 22% annually and the secondary credit 23% annually." Pointing out that it was decided to raise the interest rate of the Last Resort Loan to 5,23% annually, as well as raising rates on banks' deposits in the Iraqi Central Bank to be 18% annually for the night investment, and 19% annually for the investment for 14 days, while the interest of investment for 30 days became 20% annually.

On the other hand, the banking expert and general manager of the National Company for Financial Services, Abbas Khudayr Al-Kaabi, praised the monetary policy adopted by the Iraqi Central Bank to deal with inflation, and described it as deliberate and successful policy.

Al-Kaabi said, "however, raising the interest deposits at the Central Bank, to hit 20% annually, would certainly reduce the investment opportunities for Iraqi private and governmental banks; instead of moving towards investment, Iraqi banks will turn towards deposit in the Iraqi Central Bank of, because the interest mentioned earlier represents secure profitability, particularly since Iraqi banks are currently operating in circumstances do not allow them to deal with investment cover from outside the country, which adversely affect the ability of banks to continue their investment directions again. "

Hassan Ghalib Kubbah, Director of Basrah International Bank for Investment stressed the importance of improving the performance of the banking sector to conform to global standards of banking activity. He explained that "treating the imbalances is impossible, without passing through new funding sources which foreign investment is considered one of their direct channels." He pointed out that productive and service companies are currently operating with support from the Bank of Basrah, in the sectors of shipping, tourism, food production and packaging, and achieved good results despite the difficult circumstances.

Kubbah concluded that "the Iraqi banking sector can create the appropriate investment environment, which would activate the investment law, in collaboration with other sectors involved in the Iraqi arena." (Source)AlSabah

Back to Iraqi News & Iraqi dinar Updates

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

On this date:

  • In 1568, Spanish capture English ships at San Juan, Puerto Rico, from Sir John Hawkins' fleet.
  • In 1688, France's King Louis XIV declares war against Holy Roman Empire, called the War of the League of Augsburg.
  • In 1789, US Congress passes the First Judiciary Act, which provides for an Attorney General and a Supreme Court.
  • In 1852, French inventor Henri Giffard makes the first flight in a powered airship, cruising with steam power over Paris.
  • In 1877, the last of the samurai rebellions against the reinstated Japanese emperor is defeated by the new conscript armies.
  • In 1932, the Poona Pact gives new electoral rights to Dalits.
  • In 1943, Soviet army crosses Dnieper River north of Kiev as Germans retreat in World War II.
  • In 1948, first conference in London of representatives from Britain's African colonies; Mildred Gillars, accused of being Nazi wartime radio propagandist "Axis Sally," pleads innocent in Washington, DC, to charges of treason. She serves 12 years in prison.
  • In 1966, Mob ransacks and burns Portuguese embassy in Leopoldville in the Congo.
  • In 1969, the Chicago Seven trial begins. Five of the defendants are convicted of crossing state lines to incite riots at the 1968 Democratic national convention. The convictions are overturned.
  • In 1971, Britain expels 90 Soviets for espionage activities.
  • In 1976, newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst is sentenced to seven years in prison for her part in a 1974 bank robbery. She is granted clemency by US President Jimmy Carter and released after 22 months.
  • In 1982, the US government lifts the military sanctions that it had imposed on Argentina during the war with Great Britain over the Falkland Islands.
  • In 1987, armed forces seize control in of Transkei, one of South Africa's black homelands, ousting the Prime Minister.
  • In 1990, Iraq declares the Kuwaiti dinar invalid and withdraws it from circulation; Soviet lawmakers endorse plan calling for market economy; East Germany formally withdraws from Warsaw Pact.
  • In 1991, Iraq provokes international outrage over its resistance to efforts to dismantle its arms program when Iraqi troops detain a team of United Nations weapons inspectors in Baghdad.
  • In 1993, Nelson Mandela asks the world community to lift economic and diplomatic sanctions against South Africa.
  • In 1994, a report prepared by the CIA reveals confessed spy Aldrich H Ames exposed 55 clandestine US and allied operations to the Soviet Union and Russia.
  • In 1995, after all-night talks, Israel and the PLO agree to sign a pact at the White House ending nearly three decades of Israeli occupation of West Bank cities.
  • In 1996, the United States and the world's major nuclear powers sign a treaty to end all testing and development of nuclear weapons. India objects.
  • In 1998, Iran says it is distancing itself from the reward offered for the killing of author Salman Rushdie, and is ready to exchange ambassadors with Britain.
  • In 1999, deadly Typhoon Bart, packing winds of 108 kmph, threatens the tip of Hokkaido island after lashing Japan with rains and winds that kill at least 26 people and injure hundreds as it floods more than 4,000 homes, set off 245 landslides and downs power lines.
  • In 2000, after the bloodiest summer in recent years, tens of thousands of people, including dozens injured by Basque separatists and relatives of those killed, pack the streets of San Sebastian in northern Spain to demand an end to violence.
  • In 2001, US President George W Bush issues an order instructing US financial institutions to freeze the assets of 27 groups and individuals suspected of supporting terrorists.
  • In 2004, kidnappers seize six Egyptians in Iraq in separate incidents, while the British Embassy in Baghdad hands out leaflets carrying a message from the family of a Briton kidnapped earlier.
  • In 2005, crowds opposed to the war in Iraq surge past the White House, shouting "Peace now" in the largest anti-war protest in the nation's capital since the US invasion. Police estimate around 100,000 protesters.
  • In 2006, Swiss voters ratify new asylum and immigration laws that make it more difficult for refugees to receive assistance and effectively block non-European unskilled workers from entering the country.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Babylon Admitted To Participate in Iraqi Central Bank T-Bill Auction

September 21 2007

West Palm Beach (HedgeCo.Net)- Iraqi hedge fund `The Babylon Fund´ announced that today, as the first foreigners, they were admitted by the Iraqi Central Bank to participate in the primary auction of Iraqi-dinar denominated 6 month and 12 month T-bills.

The investment case for T-bills: Annual net yields are running at approx 18% for 6 month T-bills, and the exchange rate is consistently appreciating against the USD via a managed float regime.

The inflation rate is also now quickly falling down from extreme levels. In January it was running at 50%+ , but YTD it's now down to 5%.

Babylon's winning streak continued during July and August, with a rise of 3,8% in the Babylon Fund's NAV-price.

Of the hedge fund's direct Iraqi holdings, bond yields steered higher upon a combination of dried-up flow and risk aversion factors partly based upon the perceived weakened state of the government whose success might be seen as being indirectly linked to the bond payment stream.

On the other hand, in the ISX stock market in Baghdad, prices rose strongly, as did value and volumes traded, as participants positioned themselves ahead of foreigners' entrance into the ISX, which was allowed as of 1st of August.

According to a statement, Babylon's aim is to provide long-term capital growth from an investment portfolio consisting of Iraqi and Iraqi-dependent securities. The investment process is mainly top-down driven, with a mix of fundamental analysis and portfolio diversification characteristics, aiming to be regarded as an easy, safe and efficient Gateway towards investing into the region.

Babylon Fund is an open-ended mutual fund that primarily invests into large-cap Iraqi-dependent securities, mainly listed on the stock exchanges both in Iraq and in other countries.

Alex Akesson
Editor for HedgeCo.Net

HedgeCo.Net is a premier hedge fund database and community for qualified and accredited investors only. Membership on is FREE and EASY. We also offer FREE LISTINGS for Hedge Funds!
Be sure to check out our sister sites.,, and

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Jordan extends deadline for Iraqi children to enroll

The Jordanian government, bowing to international pressure, has extended by two weeks a September 15 deadline for Iraqi schoolchildren to enrol in public schools, officials said Friday.

The move came after UN organizations reported a below expectation turnout on registration despite an announcement by the Education Minister Khalid Touqan that despite the country's limited resources, his schools were ready to accept 40,000 Iraqi schoolchildren this year.

The decision to extend the deadline to the end of September was meant to help Iraqi students who are having problems accessing the necessary official papers, education ministry spokesman Ahmed Shaheen said.

"Our announcement to allow Iraqi children into schools without residence permits was just before the start of the new scholastic year" on August 19, he added.

"It left little time for families to get school documentation prepared and, in order to be fair, we now give students the chance to enrol," he said.

He pointed out that his ministry had sent out a circular to schools around the Kingdom to inform principals that even children who cannot submit all papers are still entitled to enroll.

Save the Children, an international aid organization working closely with Iraqi children in Jordan, has put the number of registered Iraqi children to date at far les than what Touqan expected the public schools to absorb.

"The latest figure I know is around 21,000 students enrolled. This number includes around 14,000 students already in the system last year," Dennis Walto, country director of Save the Children, told the Jordan Times.

Save the Children, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the US Aid Agency for International Development (USAID) are the four agencies that form the educational task force for Iraqis in Jordan.

The UNHCR estimates that at least 250,000 school-age children are among the 750,000 Iraqis who have taken refuge in Jordan since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

"It is in my very rough estimate that there are currently around 250,000 school-age children living in Jordan. It will remain an estimate since there is so much movement and little official registration," UNHCR senior public information officer, Astrid van Genderen Stort, said at the end of August.

However, an earlier UNHCR press statement estimated a much higher figure of 375,000 as the number of Iraqi children on Jordanian soil.

Jordan's Education Ministry said that it was still early to speculate about the final number of Iraqis who will be enrolled at Jordanian public schools.

"We cannot give out numbers until there is a chance for all. The ministry will announce the final tally after September 30," Shaheen said.

Walto attributed the slowdown in registration to a number of factors, among them the fear that this could be a way to identify families who have overstayed visas as a prelude to deporting them.

"We hope that with time Iraqis living in Jordan will realize that this is a legitimate humanitarian gesture on part of the Jordanian government. We are spreading the word that this gracious decision will not be used in any punitive way," he said.

The inability of Iraqi families to pay the school fees, ranging between 20 and 30 Jordanian dinars (30 to 40 dollars), was also cited as a possible reason for the low turnout.

This also has been solved as UNICEF made an agreement with the education ministry that any child, Iraqi or Jordanian, who cannot pay registration fees will have the costs covered by the international community.

"We have made sure that a copy of this agreement was sent to all public schools around the Kingdom and are letting Iraqis know through existing Iraqi channels," Walto said. dpa ajm pmc

Iraq violence: monitoring the surge


The number of violent deaths in Iraq fell again this week, as the US military commander in the country told Congress that the troop "surge" was working.

An extra 30,000 US personnel have been deployed in Iraq, mainly in and around the capital Baghdad, since the launch of the security drive, in February.

The BBC World Service has been monitoring its effects, week by week, looking at casualty figures, the pressure on hospitals and quality of life for ordinary civilians.

The graphics and analysis are based on figures from the US and Iraqi authorities, Baghdad's hospitals and three families from different neighbourhoods in the capital.


Bar chart showing number of dead and wounded since surge began

The number of people killed in Iraq fell to 269 during the monitoring period of 5 to 12 September. This was down from 283 a week ago and 400 the week before that. It is the lowest figure reported since the surge began.

The numbers coincided with a report by the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, who told Congress that violence had declined significantly since the operation started.

See a map of US security posts in Baghdad

He said that although progress was "uneven", the objectives were "largely being met". It was possible that US troop numbers could be cut by 30,000 by mid-2008.

Of those killed in the past week, 163 were civilians. It was the lowest number during the 13 weeks of the survey and far below the highest toll of 493. A further 109 civilians were wounded.

Military casualties included the deaths of 19 US troops, compared with 13 in the previous week. A further 23 were wounded.

The dead also included eight members of the Iraqi military, 15 Iraqi policemen and 60 insurgents.


Electricity supply

Fuel shortages remain a major problem for Iraqis, with long power cuts and fuel queues a common feature of civilian life, particularly in Baghdad.

The families helping paint a picture of these hardships in this survey are from different areas of the city - which can mean different pressures according to the religious make-up of the area and the subsequent security risks.

Map showing locations of families

Family 1 is located in Palestine Street, a Shia neighbourhood in the east of the capital.

Family 2 is located in Zayouna, a mixed neighbourhood in south-east Baghdad.

Family 3 lives in Saba Abkar, a northern Sunni neighbourhood.

Electricity supplies became increasingly erratic over the week, with family three left without any power at all. They have had the least reliable supply throughout the monitoring period.

Family one's supply halved to two hours a day, while family two's supply remained steady at two hours in every 24.

It followed the previous week's announcement from the Ministry of Electricity that it was setting up 150 generators around Baghdad to supplement the national grid.

The continued power cuts and the approach of Ramadan led to queues of at least eight hours for gas, as people opted to buy fuel for their private generators.

Fuel prices were relatively stable, although large discrepancies between official and black market prices remained.

A litre of petrol, for example, cost 450 Iraqi dinars (18p) at the pump, but 1,000 (40p) on the black market. A gas cylinder at a petrol station was 7,500 Iraqi dinars (£2.99), compared with 27,000 (£10.80) on the black market.


Graph showing number of dead and wounded at two Baghdad hospitals

A rise in the number of doctors at Al-Kindi hospital was reported, after it increased its security force to 100 guards in the previous week.

It had also set up a legal office following repeated attacks on medical staff by patients' relatives, or Iraqi forces.

The hospital received 69 patients with violence-related injuries. Of these 54 were caused by shootings and explosions.

A further 15 were thought to be the result of conflict between the Mehdi Army and Badr Brigade in different Shia districts of Baghdad.

The hospital also dealt with 18 violence-related deaths.

At al-Yarmouk hospital, 20 patients injured during violence were treated. A further three people died as a result of violence and 11 unidentified bodies were received.

Data compiled by BBC producer Mona Mahmoud. This is the final instalment of the weekly survey appearing on the BBC News website.

before the surge, U.S. forces in central Iraq January 2007
Show US troop positions after the surge.

The American forces cannot even protect their great ally

By Kim Sengupta in Baghdad

Published: 15 September 2007

The customers at the Shah Bandar café were sombre and anxious as they watched the news on television and talked about the repercussions of the killing of Abdul Sattar Abu Risha.

The common consensus was that violence will escalate even further and there was little chance of peace in the foreseeable future.

"The security situation had become a bit better because of these extra American troops, but now they cannot even protect Sheikh Abu Risha who was supposed to be their great ally," said Rashid Hussein Mohmmed, 33, and a Sunni.

As The Selling of Our Country, a satirical programme about a corrupt government presiding over a disintegrating society, came on screen, the mood lightened. The appearance of the actors playing Premier Nouri al-Maliki, President Jalal Talabani and a succession of incompetent and venal ministers drew roars of laughter.

The production staff of the programme, shown on a satellite station based in London, all live abroad. It is claimed that the Iraqi government want them extradited for sedition. Mr al-Maliki, the customers in the café would have you believe, wanted them shot.

In Baghdad, President Bush's announcement this week of the withdrawal of just over 5,000 troops brought mixed reactions. Most in the streets wanted all the troops to go, but there were others, mainly Sunnis, yesterday's enemy for the Americans, who felt that would leave them in the clutches of an Iranian-influenced Shia government. There was, however, near unanimity in the view that no progress could be made until Mr Maliki, seen as a bankrupt prime minister, is replaced, and also expressions of disgust that the US ambassador Ryan Crocker had recommended that Washington should continue to back him.

For Baghdad residents, the price they have paid for the fall in violence has been the brutal segregation of the city between Shia and Sunnis, physically represented by a wall, springing up in the al-Ghazaliyah neighbourhood, which this week brought protesters out on to the street.

Meanwhile Baghdad's infrastructure has continued to crumble. Four years after "liberation" and the arrival of a market economy, the electricity supply in the city has dwindled to around an hour a day with most households depending on generators powered by benzine. The price of the fuel has risen in three years from 50 dinars to 450 dinars, the spectacular inflation reflected in the price of many other commodities. Access to basic facilities has regressed – a recent Oxfam report said that just 30 per cent of the people have access to clean water, compared to 50 per cent two months ago.

In the Karada district, Saad Hamdi Faisal, a 24-year-old restaurant worker, another Sunni, wished the report by General David Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker had been more honest and of more use to the Iraqi people. "We thought it will do something to change the government and lead to a new election which will help get rid of sectarianism. But everything will stay the same because Maliki, who is himself sectarian, stays in power." Mr Maliki's support appears to have ebbed even among the Shia constituency.

Mohammed Ali Hussein, 19, who manages a computer shop sees no signs of progress. "What have we got? Shortages in everything except bombs. No, Maliki must go and the occupation must end as well. Let us hope what Bush has said is a start."

And disenchantment with the government spans the class divide.

At the Hunting Club, an establishment for Baghdad's elite which has seen the membership dwindle by 80 per cent in the last two years because of the violence, general secretary Maksood al-Sanjary was gloomy. "They say the situation is improving, but we have lost members and I cannot go outside my home after 6.45pm.

"I am a businessman so members of my family are targets for kidnapping. We have had club members kidnapped and killed."

But there is a silver lining for some, like Fadal Jassem Shwied, for whom the violence and uncertainty at least means employment. Cradling his AK-47 rifle, the 32-year-old security guard said "I cannot complain, everyone needs someone like me now. I am sure the [Petraeus] report was prepared by the Americans to suit themselves but at the end If they leave there will be civil war, street by street, and the country will be finished."

Additional reporting by Omar al-Ogaidy.

$50 million to compensate Diyala residents

By Hussain al-Yaqoubi

Azzaman, September 16, 2007

The government has set aside $50 million to compensate for damages inflicted on the Province of Diyala during the latest U.S. and Iraqi military operations.

Diyala, of which the city of Baaquba is the capital, has been the scene of ferocious fighting in the past few weeks in which warplanes, helicopter gun ships and artillery were deployed.

At least 5,000 families have fled the city and are currently living in horrific conditions.

The province has been a major insurgent stronghold but the rebels are reported to have fled the area seeking haven in other cities and regions currently not included in the U.S. security arrangements.

U.S. and Iraqi officials are reticent about the scale of the damage but residents speak of large-scale destruction of property and infrastructure.

The operations are not confined to the provincial center Baaquba. Almost all towns and villages have been affected. Diyala is a strategic province as it borders Iran and the semi-independent Kurdish enclave. The Sunni dominated province has a sizeable Kurdish minority.

Imad Jaleel, Diyala’s deputy governor, has set 10 million Iraqi dinars (approx. $7,000) as the maximum sum to pay for damage.

But residents say the money is insufficient and falls much short of the market price of the property before damage.

U.S. and Iraqi authorities use compensation as a means to win over the population but the scheme sparks anger and resentment amid rampant corruption and fraud in government ranks.

Baaquba is but one of several Iraqi cities subjected to massive U.S. fire power and military operations.

Almost all major towns in central Iraq have been invaded several times by U.S. and Iraqi troops. Following each invasion the authorities allocate millions of dollars for compensation.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Government stops paying legislators extra money for security

BAGHDAD: The Iraqi government has decided to stop paying a monthly allowance so that parliament members can hire their own security and instead provide each of them with up to 20 policemen for protection, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Tuesday.

The measure appears to be a step to control spending. Lawmakers had been receiving 10 million dinars (US$8,000) a month to pay for up to 20 guards. A guard earned an average of 500,000 dinars (US$400) a month.

Some legislators who live in the Green Zone had been hiring fewer guards and pocketing the rest of the allowance.

Al-Dabbagh said there could be exceptions for key legislators who live outside the Green Zone.

Legislators have come under attacks in the past and a number of politicians have been assassinated since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime following the 2003 U.S. invasion.

In April, a bomb exploded in the parliament's cafeteria, killing Sunni legislator Mohammed Awad.

Since then security has become very tight in and around parliament building where everyone including legislators must be searched.

Loving arms await soldiers returning from harm's way

By Terry Talbert The Record Herald
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2007 10:14 AM CDT
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In the photo at left, Scott Franek of Chambersburg is met with open arms by son Trevor and Trevor’s grandfather. At right, Cole Baker holds his 8-month-old daughter Hailey.

CHAMBERSBURG - They were at the National Guard Armory in Chambersburg before 9 a.m. Monday - children waiting for their fathers and mothers, mothers and fathers waiting for their daughters and sons.

They were gathered to welcome home from Iraq the more than 140 men and women of the Army National Guard's 324th Military Police Battalion. The troops had been in the Baghdad area for a year - some on their second tour of duty. It was, family members said, time that they came home.

Loving welcome

As the buses bringing them to Chambersburg from Fort Dix finally pulled around the corner and within sight of the building more than two and a half hours later, the soldiers could be seen at the vehicle's windows. What greeted their eyes were a high school band, a larger-than-life American flag flying from a Grove crane and, most importantly, flag-waving, sign-carrying family members and friends flanking the area where they would step off the bus.

Their first steps were onto a red carpet, but the men and women of the 324th hardly seemed to notice. They were more intent on finding familiar faces. It was but moments for most before the hugging and kissing and, in some cases, the crying began.

Quincy couple

Nicole Flegel of Quincy had been waiting patiently for her partner, Cole Baker. She was relatively calm on Monday because the night before, she had gone to Fort Dix to welcome him back. She simply could not wait another day to see him.

Nicole was at battalion headquarters in Chambersburg with the couple's 8-month-old daughter Hailey and with Cole's father. She said she and Cole had been together for about a year and a half, and his absence had been rough on her.

She explained that Cole couldn't be home for his daughter's birth, and when he did get back for two weeks' leave in March, it was all family members could do to pry him away from his baby. Then it was back to Iraq.

“It's been stressful, very stressful,” Nicole said. “He left in September and Hailey was born on Jan. 12 ... She only saw her dad for two weeks.”

Cole's father Dale Baker said his youngest son turned 21 in March.

“He told me he'd be ready to go back again, but that was before his baby was born,” Dale said. “I'm sure Cole would be ready to serve his country, but whether he would want to go back to Iraq now, I don't know.”

“I can't wait to see him. What a relief,” Dale said.

It wasn't long before Cole walked off the bus and made a beeline for his family. The first thing he did was take his baby girl in his arms.

Missing Daddy

Scott Franek, 36, of Chambersburg also had a child to greet when he came home. Scott found his family in the crowd, greeted his wife Carla and scooped up his delighted 5-year-old son Trevor in his arms.

Scott has been in the Army Guard Reserves for 18 years. He is a career man. This was his second tour of duty in Iraq.

Before the buses arrived, Carla had talked about how difficult it was for their son to not have his Daddy at home. “It's been very hard,” she said. “Especially Trevor's going to kindergarten and his Daddy not being there. He yells for his father. We counted the days (until his return), but they kept changing.”

Trevor, asked how much he missed his daddy, said, “Hundreds.” He added that the first thing he would do when he saw his father was “fight him.” His grandfather, who was trying to keep Trevor occupied during the long wait, explained that Trevor likes to roughhouse with his dad.

When Scott got off the bus, however, there was no kidding around. Trevor, a huge smile on his face, buried his head in his father's shoulder and clung to him with a death grip.

Mom comes home

Marissa Boyers, 14, of Chambersburg stood waiting quietly for her mother, Staff Sgt. Jamie Boyers. She held a stuffed Garfield toy - a toy that symbolized their connection while her mom was in Iraq.

“She would photograph it in different places she went while she was there, and then send me the pictures,” Marissa explained. “She sent him back home so he'd be here when she got back.”

Jamie Boyers is a single mom, and her daughter stayed with her aunt and uncle while her mother was in the war zone. When Jamie reconnected with Marissa on Monday, she was proud of what she saw.

“The one thing that probably bothered me most was not having any control over what was happening back here,” Jamie said. “So you have to trust your family to take care of things.”

Jamie looked at her daughter and smiled. “Judging from what I see, they did a pretty good job.”

Long separation

While they waited on a hot, humid day for their soldiers to come home, family members of other soldiers talked about their loved ones and their feelings.

Don and Rochelle Sharpe of Carlisle were waiting for their son Christopher, who turned 21 while in Iraq. Rochelle said they were able to spend two weeks with him while he was on leave in April. “The time went too fast,” Rochelle said. “Way too fast ... I'm very excited. I've been waiting a long time for this.”

Don said the fact that Christopher is the couple's only son made it particularly tough on them. “It's very hard for the parents, but it's hard for them too,” he said. “They're going through certain things and you may be too, and you try to work those things out.”

The Sharpes said that their son told them about how much the gift boxes meant to the troops - how much that boosted morale. Still, there were times he said he felt down.

“It was rough for him,” Don said. “It was his first time over there. There was a lot of adjustment. He told us that he was really disappointed that he didn't have a Thanksgiving. He said he was on duty that day, and when he got back, all the food was already gone.”

Dan Bentz of Dillsburg was there to greet his son, Sgt. Steven Bentz. “I'm anxious,” he said. “It's overdue. I last saw him at Christmas.”

Steven's aunt, Louise Schwalm, exuded happiness. “I'm elated,” she said. “Thank God he's back (in the country). I'm so happy and relieved. What am I going to do when I see him? I'm going to scream!”

Steven is Dan Bentz's only son. “That makes it worse,” he said of the waiting.

Solid ground

One woman said that her son called when the unit arrived back in the United States to tell her how happy they were to set foot on American soil.

“He said they got down and rolled around in the grass - they were so happy to see something green,” she said. “He said there was nothing but brown and rocks and dirt in Iraq.”

The 324th MP Battalion, which went to Iraq in September 2006 after three months' training at Fort Bliss, Texas, was kept busy while in the Baghdad area. The soldiers assumed command of three National Guard companies and began their main mission, which was to operate a “theater interment facility” for more than 4,000 detainees.

Battalion troops, 20 of whom were women, also managed the warehouse in which property belonging to more than 20,000 detainees in Iraq was kept, and “managed all the detainee funds in theater, several million U.S. dollars and several billion in Iraqi dinars,” according to the Guard.

The soldiers opened the first juvenile detainee education center in Iraq - a school for more than 600 children age 18 and younger, established the first detainee work program in Iraq, and opened an Iraqi Corrections Officer training program.

While the work of the soldiers was meaningful, what they did in Iraq was not as important to the families as the fact that they survived their tour of duty and came home unscathed.

Don Sharpe, who served in Kuwait in the regular Army for a year from 1990 to 1991, knows some of what his son went through in Iraq. He also knows how dangerous duty can be. He may have best expressed the collective sentiment of the crowd in Chambersburg on Monday.

“I think what's really important ... I think we all should thank God that everybody in the group made it back safely - that no one was lost,” he said.

Iraq: RFE/RL Correspondents Describe Local Security Conditions

Iraq - Iraqi children play football at an empty street in Baghdad, 09Apr2007
Some aspects of daily life continue uninterrupted -- depending on the security situation (file photo)
September 11, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- What does the security situation in Iraq look like through Iraqi eyes? We posed the question to RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq correspondents in several cities, as top U.S. officials brief Congress this week on how well the troop surge strategy is working in Baghdad and central Iraq.

Hassan Nassir in Al-Khadimiyah, Baghdad

The security situation in my neighborhood in northwest Baghdad is more or less stable, but there are situations when we have gunfire, mortar fire, and confrontations.

It is a working-class neighborhood; the standard of living here is average. There used to be a mixture in this neighborhood of Shi'a, Sunnis, Kurds, and even Christians, but many people have left. Now it is basically Shi'ite.

About four months ago, U.S. forces began to build a small, simple base in the area. They are active during the night. After midnight, they begin patrols, or walk along the street, or they may target particular houses or individuals.

The militias are also present; they call themselves "popular committees" but we can call them militias. They don't appear constantly; they are in contact with each another and withdraw when the Americans move in, but they are here.

The militiamen do not have formal checkpoints, but there are points where they observe the cars entering the area, though they don't stop and search cars. When you go to talk to them, they say that they are there to protect the area. There have been many bombings, with cars infiltrating the markets and the neighborhoods, and there have been assassinations.

I can move around my neighborhood, but a sense of anxiety accompanies me everywhere. There is no guarantee there will be calm, because it can be transformed by confrontations, or a sudden explosion.

There are only particular neighborhoods I can go to, and not those that are far away; I don't go for hours over long distances, or ride more than one public-transport car. I can go to some nearby neighborhoods, and even then, only to particular neighborhoods, despite their being nearby.

Expulsions took place in my neighborhood during a specific period prior to the U.S. forces coming, and prior to the "imposition of law" plan. Almost all the homes now are Shi'ite, with the exception of some Sunni homes that are here, of course, with the permission of the people here.

There have been no expulsions since the law, and since the Americans arrived. Such actions have stopped. I think that the neighborhood has been "purified" -- there are no Sunnis left.

Those who can get to work are continuing to work. Those who can bring their work to their own neighborhoods have done so. Those who cannot remain at home, and the majority are sitting at home.

School hours are not regular. The children have also been affected by the events in the neighborhood, so that they are terrified by the sounds of gunfire, the police cars, and by U.S. forces. On such days, they may not go to school. So their attendance is irregular; they might attend or they might not. It's all tied to the security situation, of course.

People have practically forgotten there is such a thing as electricity; it's unavailable except for an hour or two per day, and even then it is sporadic. But recently, electricity has somewhat stabilized, so people are relieved: they no longer set aside money for fuel and generators.

The subject of water is important, because water is scarce. If you try to use a pump, you might get contaminated water. People have also become preoccupied with water: they may buy bottled water, or they may boil their water.

As an Iraqi, I have stayed in my country so far. I hope -- and optimism is inevitable -- for something simple: an improvement or a change in the situation, an increase in forces, more movement of forces deployed in the streets.

We hope not only for the American forces; why not Iraqi forces? We don't see Iraqi forces deployed in all the streets; even when they're present, it's only at the checkpoints where they only wave to stop you or to let you move on; nothing more, nothing less. The areas around the checkpoints are crowded, but there are areas where there are neither Iraqi nor U.S. forces. One cannot go there, even now.

Zainab Hasan in Al-Jamil, Baghdad

My neighborhood, Al-Jamil, close to Al-Sadr City, is primarily Shi'ite, but there are a number of Sunni and Christian homes, because the neighborhood residents have prevented their expulsion. It's a neighborhood with an above-average standard of living.

U.S. forces have taken over a site to use as a camp or a base about 200-300 meters from where I live. The truth is that since the Americans have been stationed here, we have been aware of a number of operations, but I don't think that there is any link between the Americans and this neighborhood. We see them three or four times a day in their vehicles and Hummers, but they have never stopped to talk with the neighbors or other people.

Girls in Baghdad take advantage of a quiet momentThere are no militia checkpoints in my neighborhood, and frankly I don't see the presence of such forces. Our neighborhood is maybe quieter than other neighborhoods. We can move freely around our neighborhood. I see girls and women who go out shopping normally.

As for going to other neighborhoods, I only go to particular neighborhoods. For example, there are areas I cannot reach; I used to buy my clothes in Al-Adhamiyah or in the "Camp" neighborhood, but I am now forced to keep out of these areas. However, I can do my shopping on Palestine Street, which is crowded with shoppers, both male and female, even girls wearing trousers and without hijabs.

I don't feel that the situation has improved specifically with the surge of U.S. forces, but I do see a relative improvement in the security situation in general. I feel comfortable when I go somewhere and see security checkpoints separated by 100 or less meters, and this makes me feel safe. I don't see so many operations taking place anymore; I'm not seeing many bombings or hearing about them, even the car bombings that used to take place four or five times a month.

There is a college nearby, and in the morning you can see the students and other people, in their cars and walking, very normally. The children play in the playgrounds. The situation is very normal.

But there are problems, for example, with electricity. There are many generators in the neighborhood, and we share one of them. They are noisy and annoying, but they generate electricity for us.

And there is the problem of water; my neighborhood is known for its water shortage. At the start of summer, they dug up the ground and laid new pipes, and this has increased the water supply. The problem is that the streets they excavate to lay water or sewage pipes are left as they are. Most of the streets are dug up and unpaved, and when winter comes we will suffer.

In truth, I am always optimistic and I always hope that what is coming is better than what we have now. For example, the U.S. forces came and there has been a greater presence, but now they are talking about a reduction. I wonder if there is an alternative plan: is there going to be an alternative to the vacuum they will leave behind?

Samir Abd al-Rahman in Babylon

The neighborhood where I live is not really mixed in terms of Shi'a and Sunnis. There are very few Sunnis.

We find that some of those with a limited education are anxious to carry guns at night, and sometimes hand grenades. We sometimes hear gunfire for a particular reason or for no reason at all. At the same time, we see that culture survives -- artists and writers are also living here.

We have not seen any U.S. forces. I haven't seen any Americans in the neighborhood, but some time ago there was an attack on the house of someone who was working as a contractor for the Americans. His house was attacked, and we then saw an American presence, but only for a very brief period.

There are no militia checkpoints in this area, because our neighborhood is within the city, and because the security agencies are somewhat alert and they spread out after 11 at night. But how do we know if there are any armed elements around? Any minor incident is accompanied by concentrated gunfire; this shows that people have weapons.

I can move around in complete freedom; I can move around in all the areas that I can see. But it is hard to measure the security situation accurately. For example, you can see that there are no incidents for 10 days or so and then suddenly you can see an abnormal change: streets being closed, one or two explosions in one day, assassinations. So in fact, there is no standard of measurement.

Still, I can see activity in the streets -- people going to work or about their business -- from the time when the call to prayer comes in the morning, and up to 11 at night, the curfew deadline. The children go to school completely normally.

As individuals in just one neighborhood, we hope that services will improve. And we see a large number of unemployed graduates in the coffee shops. You see them there in the morning when you go out to work, and again at noon and at night. They kill their time playing dominoes and backgammon.

We also hope that the administrative corruption that exists now -- it is the talk of the streets -- lessens. It is eating into the heart of society even more than the car bombs. The citizens of Iraq long for change, for recreation sites, even tourist attractions in the neighborhoods. Now we have empty spaces that have become trash dumps. They could be converted into parks where our children can go to play.

I look at the security situation and don't see it as requiring additional forces, but rather a cure for all the internal conditions. We now need a revision of the security operations; we need a revised map, we need to replace officials, we need to replace the security forces that include militias and political parties, and which do not have a sense of national loyalty.

Sa'id Mustafa in Tikrit

With regard to the security situation, we cannot call it good or bad. There is a police presence, and there is control over security, and there have not been any incidents in our actual neighborhood. But we hear that incidents do occur in the market and in the crowded areas, incidents involving explosions, assassinations at night.

U.S. soldiers on patrol in TikritMy neighborhood's standard of living is low to medium. Most people are government employees. It does include the various sects: there are Shi'a, Sunnis, etc., but there is no differentiation here.

The U.S. forces are not present in our neighborhood, but they do pass by on the main street. They have fixed bases where they are centered. Nobody is involved with them, nor does anybody go near them, except for those who work at their bases -- they are distant from us and people do not mix with them.

There are no checkpoints here manned by militias, and the control of the streets is in the hands of the police and army. We sometimes hear about armed elements, but not in our neighborhood. The armed elements are at the governorate level, and on the main roads and highways.

In general, the security situation is good, thank God. This is a working-class neighborhood. Everybody moves around -- they go to the market and it's safe. But of course, freedom of movement depends on the security situation at the moment; if there is an explosion, the streets and roads will of course be closed, and there will be confrontations.

On the question of whether the security situation has improved since the U.S. surge began -- no, on the contrary, it gets worse day by day. We haven't felt any change... The U.S. forces protect themselves in their bases and go on patrols. They actually increase tensions rather than the opposite. We have not observed anything positive.

One thing that has not happened here, as unfortunately happens in Baghdad, are sectarian-based evictions. There have been some people who, out of fear...for example there are Shi'a who have said that they won't stay in a Sunni area, they prefer to leave. But they did that on their own, no one approached them. So, on the contrary, we have coexistence, and evictions have not happened here.

People go to work normally, each according to his type of work. If there is an explosion, everyone will of course close his shop and stay at home. When the security situation is calm, people will go to work.

And the children move around normally. They do not go to distant schools; in a working-class area, every neighborhood has a school.

Beyond security, the other problems -- like water, jobs, prices -- they are beyond count. We have problems with water pollution and unemployment; cronyism and favoritism have become standard in the government offices. A kilogram of tomatoes now costs 1,000 dinars ($.81) and the high taxi fares are taking their toll. All of this affects one's income; even if one is earning 400 or 500 dinars ($.32-$.41) a day, it is still not enough.

I am not optimistic, whether the U.S. forces stay or not. In any case, if they stay or leave, they neither add anything nor are they useful. What I say is that if we had Iraqi forces, or if they reorganize and bring back the former security agencies, the situation would stabilize like before. Our dependence is ultimately on the Iraqis, and that is a million times better than relying on foreign forces, whether they are Americans or others.

Jabbar Musa in Al-Najaf

In general, the situation where I live is quiet up to a point, but we often hear about "the calm" before the storm. My neighborhood has as an above-average or good standard of living. The people there are mostly educated employees with government offices.

There is no presence at all of U.S. forces, but there are two checkpoints manned by the local police in our area.

Markets are open in Najaf, but public services are badly lackingSometimes when there are political activities, the militias appear and take control of the street, exhibiting all of their capabilities, to an amazing level. They have wireless communications devices, and they keep in contact. But they do not have a daily presence.

In our area, freedom of movement is practically total; there are no inconveniences or security pestering, except occasionally. But there are rumors that there are in fact assassinations, and they are aimed at political people, or those who had relations with the previous regime.

In reality, there is fear, because the assassinations that are taking place are random. This may be on purpose, in order to "mix the cards." Actually this is the only issue people talk about in our neighborhood.

The U.S. forces have not entered our neighborhood. But surely, when additional U.S. forces enter and carry out military and security operations in other neighborhoods, their presence, when added to the local police and army, creates additional security in our areas. That's for sure.

We top the list of all of Iraq's cities with regard to the problems of services. Cleaning is virtually nonexistent, electricity is like a transient visitor, and there are constant water shortages. There is also a real fuel crisis; some of the generator owners are declining to provide power, because there is no fuel available.

I am neither pessimistic nor optimistic; I am in the middle ground, and I make no secret of the fact that it is very strange for a person to say that he wants to change his country. It is a bitter pill to swallow; promises are plentiful and we are now in our fifth year of waiting, while the bloodshed continues, and the killings continue, and the poor quality of services continues. These things have begun to make us weary.

(Translated by Ayad al-Gailani)

New Book Release: ‘Look at the Moon!; The Revelation Chronology’

Look at the Moon!

Look at the Moon!

(PRLog.Org) – New York, USA, September 11th, 2007 -- In the 14th chapter of the book of Revelation Jesus Christ is standing on mount Zion in the nation of in Israel. However, 5 chapters later, in the 19th chapter of Revelation Jesus Christ is still in Heaven about to lead the armies of Heaven to the Earth.

The Book of Revelation is not in chronological order.

The world today is unaware of detailed events foretold thousands of years ago in the Bible. For example, politicians, world leaders and analysts call the Iraq War a disaster. Iraq is the second worst failed state on Earth with only poor Sudan below it. Today it takes over 1,200 Iraqi Dinar to equal a single dollar.

The chronology of bible prophecy reveals Iraq will become an economic world super-power and excessively wealthy through world wide exports.

Look at the Moon! reveals the prophetic events of the book of Revelation in chronological order.

# # #

Monday, September 10, 2007

One Soldier's Point of View on Operation Iraqi Occupation

An Army sergeant gives an opinion on America at war, Iraqi reconstructions, the comparison between Vietnam and Iraq, military life, misunderstandings, and where he believes that Iraq is headed. Not anti-American or anti-Iraqi, this soldier still looks at Americans and finds their comfortable lack of understanding and cultural blindness infuriating.

Would you like to give us your name and rank?

SGT, Military Police Corps.

What branch, base, or division are you a part of?

Army, Ft. Campbell, 101st Airborne.

How long have you spent in active duty in the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan?

I went to Operation Iraqi Freedom 1, from March 2003 until March 2004, as part of the tactical signal assets. In October of 2005 to October 2006 I was back in Iraq for my second tour and spent eight months working with one of the task forces in charge of liaison and emplacement of Iraqi police forces.

When not in active duty, where were you stationed?

I was stationed at Ft. Bragg from October 1999 to July 2002.

When you've not been in the field, where were you stationed?

I have been in Germany, minus two tours in Iraq, from July 2002 to April 2007.

What is your overall opinion of the operations given your experiences to date?

Having never seen Afghanistan, I cannot make a fair assessment of that country, but my personal opinion of Iraq is that we are trying to make as much profit as possible. War is a profitable business for industry and media. Misery sells almost better than weapons - human interest stories are a fluffy way of giving people a reason to feel better about their own "suffering" in a "at least I'm not that poor bastard" sort of way.

Do you feel that the democracy and capitalism that we have brought to Iraq has helped or hindered their culture which is so different from our own?

Its a double-edged sword. There are positives - we brought back stable water and power, built hospitals and schools, but what do they teach in those schools? Do they treat everyone in the hospitals, or only those with money? We gave them jobs rebuilding their country, but we pay them in American dollars to the best of my knowledge.

What do you mean by "pay them in American dollars"?

They are not paid in the dinar, they are paid in dollars, or at least they were almost a year ago when I was last there.

Why is that an important point?

The dinar has almost 0 value on the international market; we are the ones who devalued the currency. It went from almost 5 dollars for 1 dinar to .002 dollars for 1 dinar overnight. I know people who bought thousands of dinar for 5 dollars to give away as souvenirs.

Back to your discussions about schools and health care, you mention that the operations include building them and setting up better infrastructure, but you also said, "or only those with money." Could you expand on this a bit?

I was saying that I don't know how the hospitals work; if they actually provide care and do what they are there for, or do they only give care to those with money, like it is in America. We built the hospitals - do we run them, or does Iraq? We set up the entire government so who runs the country - do we, or do the Iraqi people? We are most assuredly the security force in the country.

Do you think there will come a time in the near future when the Iraqi people can, as some people have said, "take back their country"?

Eventually. A better question is take it back from whom? The "terrorists" or us? Peace isn't profitable; simple math. Wars cause new equipment to be needed as old items are destroyed or worn out. New soldiers-to-be need new equipment to be created, which leads to the ways to manufacture it, and so forth. Peace leads to economic stagnation.
I have thought about it a lot while watching things being rebuilt - watching a DFAC and soldier's quarters go from tents to actual buildings; watching us renovate old buildings for our own use.

Do you think that the comparisons between the operations in Vietnam and the operations in the Middle East are fair?

Not hardly. An urban environment changes the game. You have WAY more collateral damage to worry about, way more "innocent" bystanders, way more historical and cultural artifacts to worry about.

Given your activity in the field, what has been your best and worst experiences which have left the deepest impressions on you?

I think the worst is the look on some children's faces when you level a weapon at them for getting too close, and I think the best is that in the dark, quiet hours are truly free to think and grow.

You mention "truly free to think and grow." Could you expand on this a bit? What ways do you grow or need to?

I think that when you sit out on a guard point or on a radio watch long enough by yourself in the night, looking at the stars and listening to the sounds of the world, you begin to realize how small the war, world and we all are compared to the whole entirety of the universe. You find something humble inside yourself and it makes you truly value friends and freedom to come and go and the wild, quiet places of the world.

In a conversation that we had several years ago, I remember you mentioning the children, and how hard it was for you to listen to the things they would say to you and how the Iraqi civilians had called you a "baby killer" and other things like this. Has this environment changed at all?

Iraqi civilians? Hell, American civilians have called me that and worse. I didn't interact with children the second deployment as my team and I were a bit too mission-essential to let us roam about the cities and villages. I have heard its better now from those associates of mine that do interact with the general population. The children not as much afraid of us anymore.

What misunderstandings or hardships to you find come from your own country?

In larger places, they seem to take soldiers for granted. They assume because we ARE soldiers that it is a given that we should happily die and fight for them - that they don't owe us anything for our sacrifices of family and friends for their blind self-absorption. A lot of people seem to assume that of course we should just take over Iraq, because democracy is the best way, which I don't believe that it necessarily is.

Given the United States' desire to spread the Americanized version of democracy, what do you expect would be a better government when, it has been said, Saddam Hussein was the greater of two evils?

In any political system, greed will destroy whatever good may be inherent: communism, fascism, socialism, democracy, republic - it doesn't really matter. The systems are not so much the flaw as the people in power are.

Which leaves what option? Are you suggesting anarchy?

You know, a lawyer once said to me that anarchy is the highest form of moral development. I think that there is a middle ground between communism, socialism and "democracy." I don't really know where it is, but there are good points to all of them that are not mutually exclusive.

When you're not in the field, have you found that your opinion of the U.S. has changed at all as you navigate foreign cultures?


So what changed?

Before I went to Europe and Iraq, I sort of had the feeling like "Okay, well maybe we do things weird in America, but its still the best way." As I have traveled and seen other cultures, I have come to see how much Americans are self-absorbed in their shoes and fast food and all these things that don't really matter, while all around the world and even in America children and other people starve and die and suffer. They give a few cents to a charity to feel good about their billion-dollar houses, and it really sort of pisses me off. I think its that as I have seen other things, I realized that forcing your views, no matter how benign, on anyone else isn't right, and ignoring a problem doesn't make it "not there," it just turns into a cancer. America is rotting from the inside-out, like a leper, and its like it is trying to infect as much of the rest of the world as possible before it expires.

What are your expectations for Iraq given what you've seen and experienced?

In the next few years I would say that we will end up officially and permanently occupying Iraq much like we did in Germany and Korea by opening permanent bases and installations throughout the country in order to better "rebuild" the nation. Our bases in Europe changed more in that region than anything else.

How so?

Our influence on culture, music, ideology - you talk to an older German and a younger German, and there is almost a 180-degree shift in things, much like the 90's shifted the way Americans think. I think that our prevalence of pop culture and trend has influenced the Germans greatly. You can tell a huge difference in towns close to a base and towns away from one - the way people act. Its an intangible sort of thing. I don't know the word for it, but I can see it happening in Iraq - their old ways and culture will lose and become history.

Friday, September 7, 2007

100 Billion Iraqi Dinar for Waste Treatment

The Baghdad City Council announced the allocation of a hundred billion Iraqi Dinar in order to build a waste treatment facility near Baghdad city, last week.

"The Council allocated 100 billion Dinars for the establishment of waste-sorting factories in Baghdad, the first project of its kind in the capital for chemical waste treatment,” said Mueen Al-Kadhimi, Council’s chairman, in a press statement.

Kadhimi continued to explain that the large quantities of waste collected in Baghdad, need to be processed before disposal in order to protect the environment.

Iraqi stocks gaining momentum

September 06, 2007

  • The Iraq Fund, Iraq's first hedge fund, began trading on August 2, the day on which foreign investors were allowed to start investing in the war-torn country. This follows the Iraqi government's enactment of the new foreign investment law last November, giving foreign investors flexibility to transfer capital into and out of Iraq. Foreign investors can form investment portfolios and can trade shares and bonds listed on the ISX. The Iraq Fund focuses primarily on state-owned enterprises (SOEs), which include steel plants, cement factories and glass works, and banking sector stocks listed on the exchange.

  • The fund has a $250,000 minimum investment requirement and charges 1.5 per cent for management and 15 per cent for performance, with a high-water market. After a one-year lock-up, investors can redeem quarterly. The Credit Bank of Iraq serves as its prime broker and the fund is domiciled in Delaware, the United States. Earlier, Holtz was reported as stating: "We target $100 million. There have been delays, but we'd like to do it within the next 12 to 18 months." So far the fund has attracted only private investors.

  • "The Iraq Fund provides investors (with an investment vehicle), who have expressed interest to make intelligent decisions," said Holtz, adding: "Iraq is a challenge because of conditions on the ground, but investors understand the risk." Given the physical conditions and the potential of SOEs "we feel we can turn a profit in three to five years," he said.

  • Asked about the high level of risk associated with an investment in Iraq, Holtz replied: "The difference between Iraq and US is that the US is a mature market. In Iraq there are boundless opportunities and potential but the risk factor is there." He added, however, that "safe is a relative word," citing the recent crisis in the US sub-prime credit market.

  • The ISX, established in 2004, has 33 companies trading out of 100 listed companies, said Holtz. And according to data for Thursday August 30 from the ISX web site, 29 companies were trading and 21 were off the trading floor following decisions at their annual general meetings to increase their capital. Of those companies traded, there were 12 banks, one investment company, three services companies, 12 industrial companies and one hotel company. Overall, six companies saw their shares rise, while 12 saw them fall. Another 11 stocks remained stable.

  • The banking sector accounts for 71.5 per cent of the exchange's capital, which reached ID799.2 billion by April 2007. There are 18 listed banks having a combined capital of ID571.5. The pick up in the stock market is good news for its index had fallen significantly between January 2005 and March 2007, according to research on Iraq by the Kuwait-based Global Investment House. Over this period the general index performance lost more than 50 per cent of its value. The deteriorating security conditions resulted in the ISX index falling from its highest level of 72.6 points, in February 2005, to a low of 25.3 points in December 2006. Currently, the ISX index is trading between 40 and 42 points. The index stood at 40.82 points at the beginning of August and 41.90 points at the end.

  • The move from a manual trading floor to an electronic trading is expected to bring more liquidity to the market, especially as a greater number of foreign investors will be able to trade in Iraqi shares. This is expected to happen in October, according to a posting on the ISX Web site. Initially, however, only five of the listed companies will be traded electronically, and "we don't know how quickly it will take the other 95 companies to be listed", said Holtz.

  • The ISX currently trades on two days a week for two hours each day but once the exchange becomes automated trading days will increase to five days a week with two sessions per day.

  • Last week, the Iraqi Securities Body announced that it was regulating the broker market so that only approved brokerage companies could operate on the Iraqi security market. An approval date for the legislation was not specified, according to a posting on the Investor's Iraq forum web site.

  • It said that the chairman of the Securities Body, Abdul Razzak Al Saadi, had stated: "No new brokerage company would be admitted to the market with capital under one billion dinars, and no licensed banks' brokerage offices could be turned into limited (or contribution) companies without capital of minimum one billion dinars, majority owned by that bank."

  • He is also quoted as saying: "Current brokerage companies must ensure this year that each shareholder's stake is at least iraqi dinar 35 million and that they must build capital over the next five years to the minimum specified above."

Monday, September 3, 2007

Iraqi dinar trading permit extended

Finance minister renews permit to trade Iraqi dinar in Israel, extended validity by two years

Zvi Lavi

Published: 09.03.07, 09:00 / Israel Money

A special permit for trading Iraqi dinars in Israel has recently been renewed. Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On decided on the move due to the widespread trade of the currency in the country.

In the United States, the currency turnover has reached nearly $500 million since the Iraqi dinar began being traded there at the end of 2003, following the printing of new bills issued by the al-Maliki government, which was voted into office under the auspices of the American occupation.

Initially, the permit was issued for a period of one year; its renewal has extended its validity by two years, despite the fact that Iraq is considered an enemy state.

According to estimates by Govev Investments, which has been trading the Iraqi currency over the past year, the currency turnover equals in value to over $20 million. The Iraqi dinar currently stands at $0.0008.

The demand for Iraqi currency in Israel has increased since trading began, under the assumption that its value will also increase with the rehabilitation of Iraq and its economy.

Economists see a promising potential in Iraq to become a wealthy, modern country because of its oil and gas reserves, and its vast, fertile agricultural land.,7340,L-3445047,00.html

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