Iraq sending team to US to seek deal on transactions with Iran

Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi said Iraq will send a delegation to the United States seeking an agreement on financial transactions with Iran. (File photo / AFP)
Updated 28 August 2018
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Iraq sending team to US to seek deal on transactions with Iran

BAGHDAD: Iraq will send a delegation to the United States seeking an agreement on financial transactions with Iran following Washington’s reimposition of sanctions on Tehran, Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi said on Tuesday.
His statement was the first by an Iraqi official since Reuters reported last week Baghdad was going to ask Washington for exemptions from some of the sanctions because Iraq’s economy is closely linked with neighboring Iran.
“We are not with economic sanctions against any country and that is our strategic position,” state television quoted Abadi as saying at a weekly news conference.
US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States in May from world powers’ 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, calling it flawed, and reimposed trade sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
The Trump administration has warned of consequences for countries that do not respect the sanctions. Baghdad is in a difficult position — its two biggest allies are the United States and Iran, themselves arch-adversaries.
Iraqi government and central bank officials said the delegation will travel to Washington to ask for exemptions in applying the sanctions. They did not say when that trip would take place.


Wealth gaps affecting schoolchildren in Iraq

Iraqi schoolchildren walk through the arcades of the old city in Mosul. (AFP)
Updated 20 November 2018
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Wealth gaps affecting schoolchildren in Iraq

  • One-third of schools across the country operate multiple shifts in an effort to enroll as many kids as possible, meaning students may get just a few hours of class per day

BAGHDAD: Economic inequality is massively affecting whether students in war-ravaged Iraq finish school, the UN children’s agency warned Monday, urging the fledgling government in Baghdad to spend more on education.
An economic downturn, years of fighting and little government support has left Iraq’s school system lacking, UNICEF found in a new study of more than 20,000 families. Socio-economic status creates a huge gap in who graduates from secondary school — 73 percent for the wealthiest students compared to just 23 percent of the poorest students.
One-third of schools across the country operate multiple shifts in an effort to enroll as many kids as possible, meaning students may get just a few hours of class per day. To improve access to education, Iraq needs 7,500 new schools, UNICEF said.
“It’s to do with the conflict, the economic collapse, and lack of investment over the past 20 years. When the quality falls, then children themselves march out of the classroom,” UNICEF country director Peter Hawkins told AFP.
“Children are the future of this country, and a growing gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ sows discord and is detrimental for children and for Iraq,” he added.
The wide-ranging study was the first in seven years in Iraq. The country’s infrastructure, including its schools, has been hit hard by conflict, from the US-led invasion in 2003 to years of sectarian violence and bombings.
In 2014, Daesh overran a third of the country, implementing its own twisted curriculum in schools before being ousted from its urban strongholds last year.
And in recent months, a water crisis in the country’s south kept many children at home in fear of contracting diseases.
To get more children in school, the government must boost its spending on education, one of the lowest rates in the region at just 5.7 percent of total expenditure, UNICEF said.
“Ministers: Please use this to target investment to those children in greater need. Those children are your future,” Hawkins urged government members.
Parliamentary divisions mean Iraq has not appointed anyone to head the ministries of education or higher education.
According to Iraq’s Human Rights Commission, more than 1,050 schools across the country have been damaged to varying degrees by the recent violent years.
Sixty percent of the country’s 39 million people are under the age of 24.