More than 2.5 million tourists visited Iraq in 2012

By Khayoun Saleh Azzaman, January 12, 2013 More than 2.5 million tourists visited Iraq in 2012 most of them on pilgrimage to the country’s holy shrines, new figures have revealed. The figures were issued by the Ministry of Antiquities and Tourism and show that Iraq has become a mecca for Muslim tourists, mainly Shiites from(…)

U.S. holds 80,000 Iraqi antiquities

By Khayoun Saleh Azzaman, January 11, 2012 The U.S. still keeps 80,000 Iraqi artifacts and refuses to turn them back to the Iraq Museum, a senior Antiquities Department official has said. The official, Hazem al-Shammari, said Iraqi authorities were in touch with their U.S. counterparts but the discussion have so far led to nothing. Shammari(…)

Heavy rain reveals gold coins of great antiquity

By Khayoun Saleh Heavy downpours have removed earth from an ancient mound in southern Iraq, bringing to surface 62 gold coins some of which date to the Babylonian period, the Antiquities Department said in a statement. The statement, faxed to the newspaper, said the coins were picked up by the inhabitants of a village close(…)

Exile Iraqi pilots join the newly formed Iraqi Airways

By Shaymaa Adel Azzaman, January 8, 2012 Iraq’s national carrier was one of the world’s safest and most efficient when U.N. trade sanctions prevented it from flying. Its nearly two dozen planes that were flown to safety to neighboring Iran and Jordan as well as Tunisia were grounded without maintenance or repairs. When the sanctions,(…)

Why do Arab leaders abhor the idea of resignation?

By Fatih Abdulsalam Azzaman, January 7, 2012 Celebrities and stars whether in sports or arts resign while they are at the peak of their success. They, their fans and other people celebrate their resignation. The occasion is seen as a torch that lights up for posterity the peaks they have reached. Resigning while one basks(…)

Kurdish deputies to sue finance minister for lack of transparency

By Fareed Hassan Azzaman, January 4, 2013 Opposition deputies in the Kurdish regional parliament say they want to sue the region’s finance minister for lack of transparency regarding oil sales in 2011. Kardo Mohammed, who heads the opposition parliamentary block, said the ministry has failed to convince parliament that its figures on 2011 oil sales(…)

Turkish warplanes damage drinking water project in northern Iraq

By Fareed Hassan Azzaman, January 3, 2013 Bombing by Turkish warplanes of northern Iraq has interrupted water supplies to more than 200 Kurdish families, a Kurdish official said. The official,  Ismael Mohammed, said the planes hit a water project and destroyed water pipelines in villages in the Province of Arbil. “Turkish warplanes have mounted attacks(…)

Iraq wants Iran to expedite construction of gas pipeline

By Shaymaa Adel Azzaman, December 31, 2012 Iraq’s consumption of gas is surging with demand surpassing supply, according to the country’s parliamentary commission on energy. The commission has prepared a report on Iraq gas consumption and says without imports there will not enough energy to drive power plants and other gas-driven installations in the country.(…)

Syria’s President Assad could have avoided his country’s tragic fate

  By Fatih Abdulsalam Azzaman, December 29, 2012 When President Bashar Assad assumed power in 2000 following the death of his father, many Syrians entertained high hopes that he will lead them on a path of reform. True, the young Assad had no political or diplomatic skills. His only advantage was being the son of(…)

Iraq waives visa restrictions for pilgrims to holy sites

By Sabah al-Khalidi Azzaman, December 28, 2012 The Iraqi government has removed visa restrictions on pilgrims on their way to pay homage of Muslim shrines during ‘holy’ occasions. The move will make it possible for tens of thousands of pilgrims, particularly Muslim Shiites, to fly to the country and obtain their visas at the Iraqi(…)

Development of oil field in southern Iraq creates more than 7000 jobs

By Basem Hussein Azzaman, December 27, 2012 A consortium of foreign firms developing one section of Iraq’s massive oil field of West Qurna has officially asked for the employment of 7500 new workers, according to Fareed al-Ayoubi, head of the Oil and Gas Commission in the southern Province of Basra. “We have officially received a(…)

Iraqi Kurds urged to reconsider moves to disrupt oil supplies

By Shaymaa Adel Azzaman, December 26, 2012 A threat by Iraqi Kurds to disrupt Iraqi oil exports via Turkey has raised grave concerns in the capital Baghdad. The Kurds are reported to have stopped shipping oil produced in their autonomous region via a subsidiary pipeline linked to the strategic twin pipeline that carries Iraqi crude(…)

Antiquities smugglers arrested in Iraq

By Basem al-Rikabi Azzaman, December 22, 2012 Police in the southern city of Nasiriya say they have seized 131 Mesopotamian artifacts in two raids on what they describe as “smuggler hideouts” and have arrested two “smugglers” in their raids. According Radhi al-Zarkani, assistant police chief in the Province of Dhiqar, 40 artifacts were seized in(…)

More insurgent groups opt for national reconciliation

By Ali Shattab Azzaman, December 21, 2012 Several Iraqi rebel groups who fought U.S. occupation have expressed their willingness to lay down their arms and join government ranks, according to a senior Iraqi deputy. The deputy, Hussein Kadhem, who heads the transparency and integrity commission at the Iraqi parliament, said the government will soon announce(…)

Government says it will solve issue of former army officers

By Ali Jassem Azzaman, December 19, 2012 The government says it is determined to solve the issue of all the officers of the former army, which was disbanded shortly after the 2003-U.S. invasion. It has set the end of 2013 to get the tens of thousands of officers either back to serve in the current(…)

Kurds agree to withdraw their militias from oil-rich Kirkuk

By Laith Jawad Kurdish leaders have agreed to withdraw their militias, known locally as peshemerga, from the oil-rich Province of Kirkuk, paving the way for a rapprochement with the central government in Baghdad. Iraqi national army had deployed troops in the province prompting the Kurds to send in their militias. Now Iraqi legislators say both(…)

Ministry receives 21 artifacts stolen from Iraq Museum in 2003

By Adel Kadhem Azzaman, December 17, 2012 The Spanish ambassador to Iraq has handed over 21 archaeological pieces to the Ministry of culture and Antiquities. The artifacts were among the thousands of items that were looted from the Iraq Museum shortly after the 2003-U.S. invasion. The ambassador,  Jose Turpin, presented the artifacts to the Iraqi(…)

More than 5 million Iraqi children lack basic rights

By Laith Jawad Azzaman, December 15, 2012 At least 32 per cent of children in Iraq live in conditions which lack basic rights and services, a new survey has revealed. The survey, conducted by U.N.’s children organization (UNICEF) and the Iraqi Ministry of Planning, is the first detailed study of the conditions of Iraqi children(…)

Syria and its surprises

By Fatih Abdulsalam Azzaman, December 13, 2012 The whole of Syria is now in a state of faint. There is great risk that this state of affairs will continue and aggravate. For Syria to awake and pursue normal life is hard to see. So, wait for more surprises as the fighting approaches the capital Damascus(…)

Government threatens to slash Kurds’ quota of oil royalties

By Zeena Sami Azzaman, December 12, 2012 The feud between the central government and its regional counterpart in the Kurdish north is spilling over to finances. As tensions between the sides are mounting and fears of a military confrontation rising, the government in Baghdad has said it intends to slash Kurdish share of Iraqi oil(…)