Iraq is trying to ward off the anxiety of the dreaded capital
Security stability contributes to attracting investment in various areas (Sabah Arar/AFP)
The recent security decisions of the Iraqi Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kazemi, related to placing Iraqi ports and harbors under the control of the military, changing the head of security, conducting searches and chasing wanted persons, had economic reasons related to an attempt to dispel the fear of foreign and Arab investors and provide suitable environment for them, as part of a broad plan through which Iraq seeks to attract capital especially in the areas of agriculture and housing, with the aim of creating tens of thousands of jobs and revitalizing the private sector, according to an official for Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
Over the past years, the security dilemma in Iraq has been the first obstacle to foreign investment, as many investors have been exposed to extortion, kidnapping and business disruption in order to get their money. According to observers, armed militias and various gangs are usually behind these riots, which have carried out numerous kidnappings as well as disrupting business operations. Many investment companies have been forced to withdraw despite concessions given to them by successive governments, represented by tax exemptions and freehold land. more than 25 years.
According to an Iraqi official in Baghdad, to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, “Basra, Baghdad and other regions will witness new security campaigns under the title of controlling uncontrolled weapons, some of which have economic reasons, because there is no construction or investment unless there is a secure environment , and lately weapons have been banished.” For every investor, no matter how tempting the offer was, the matter reached Baghdad, and not only the south or the center, because specialized groups were activated. in intimidating investors into taking his money in exchange for keeping quiet about him and letting him run freely.
The official, who refused to be named, added that “the prime minister is trying to move towards Arab, regional and Asian countries, primarily Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Qatar, China and India, as well as the United States of America, to present investment offers to his companies in public and private sectors in agriculture, industry, energy, housing, etc., and that will not be useful.” If the control of the state and the laws of the region is not established over everything.
He revealed that there are more than 11,600 ready-made investment opportunities in Iraq. If they were in any other place, their competition would be from various countries, but despite the defeat of the organization “ISIS” and the cessation of its threat almost completely, the investor is still hesitant because of blackmail and intimidation repeatedly practiced on other investors and they had to leave Iraq, the last of which is an Asian energy company that left Iraq two months ago because it was exposed to extortion.
He added that Al-Kazemi’s government, after the drop in oil prices to less than $40 per barrel and Iraq’s commitment to reducing oil exports, is determined to make Iraq an attractive investment environment, eliminate all causes of investment corruption. Authorities, and to oppose armed gangs and outlaw groups that led to the exit of investors from the country. Noting that in the coming months, success is counted on in ensuring the appropriate environment for attracting dozens of companies and hundreds of capital owners, as well as international support.
At the tripartite summit held in the Jordanian capital Amman in the middle of last month between Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, the Iraqi prime minister presented a number of different investment projects, expressing hope for a permanent partnership between the three countries.
On this issue, a member of the Finance Committee in the Iraqi Parliament, Ahmed Hama Rashid, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the rate of investment in Iraq since 2009 is negligible compared to the opportunities and offers being offered.
Rashid explained that “foreign investments require two basic elements, the first is a safe environment, which Iraq currently lacks due to the deterioration of the security situation and the proliferation of uncontrolled weapons, while the second element is represented by the absence of laws that encourage investment and the control of influential parties over to all files and their participation and takeover by foreign investors The most important part of vital sectors, which led to a decline in foreign investment.
He added: “A qualitative boom in foreign investment within Iraq is expected due to the expected high turnover of capital,” noting that the meeting that brought together Iraq with its abundant wealth with Egypt with its human mass and Jordan with its infrastructure represented by banks and banks and its strategic position, as well as the visit of the French president to Iraq. I sent a message that Iraq has become of great importance in the region and in the focus of attention of most countries.
For her part, Ayat al-Muzaffar, head of the “Victory” coalition led by former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, said: “The transition of any country from a state of unrest to stability means that there are real signs of change witnessed in this country.”
Al-Muzaffar pointed out that Iraq has witnessed real signs of change in recent days, which has forced the international community to fight to contain it economically and security, and this struggle is expected to come from two sides, the first are capitalist countries, and the second is third world countries in order to exploit the elements of the country’s strength and its important position.
She added, “Al-Kazemi has managed to restore the confidence of the international community in Iraq and impose the rule of law”, expecting that in the coming days he will be able to eliminate difficult-to-solve problems, reduce unemployment that has worsened for years, diversify the state’s resources and multiply its sources in order to reduced the large deficit in the 2020 budget, which exceeded 49 trillion Iraqi dinars, without approval so far.
On the other hand, Iraqi parliament member Hamid al-Mutlaq ruled out the possibility of investment companies and owners of investment capital returning to Iraq at this time due to the spread of uncontrolled weapons and Katyusha brigades.
In his interview with Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, Al-Mutlaq said: “Attracting foreign investment to Iraq is a step in the right direction, but the security confusion that the country has been experiencing for years, especially during 2020, has created an environment that is not suitable for investment “, noting that the Iraqi government currently does not have the ability to give confidence. An investor has to sacrifice billions of dollars in such a turbulent environment.
Al-Mutlaq pointed out that it is difficult to convince countries that want to invest and owners of capital to enter Iraq, unless the uncontrolled weapons that are proliferating in the hands of clans, militias and armed groups are confiscated and put into the hands of the state, especially in areas that they have important resources for investment.