Monday, August 27, 2012

Amanat Baghdad Clean Up Operation

Baghdad Invest - 05/09/2012 Baghdad.

Amanat Baghdad is planning to sign contracts with foreign companies for clean-up work in several neighbourhoods of the capital, officials said.
The move comes as part of a new strategy to privatise the cleaning sector.

According to Amanat media director Hakim Abdul Zahra, "This policy was adopted following the success of a pilot project with a Turkish company, which was awarded work cleaning up the neighbourhoods of Karrada and Rusafa."

In December 2010, Amanat Baghdad announced it signed a one-year, 31 billion dinar contract with the Turkish firm Akdeniz to clean the area extending from the University of Baghdad in Jadiriya through Karrada Dakhil, Karrada Kharij, Abu Nuas Street, Bab al-Sharqi, Palestine Street and up to Bab al-Muadham.

"The work was praised by several government bodies, such as the general secretariat of the council of ministers, the Baghdad Services Commission and residents who live in the areas that were cleaned," Abdul Zahra said, citing an Amanat survey on the company's performance.

"After evaluating the results of this project, the mayoralty found it necessary to continue to develop the initiative by providing the same opportunity for more foreign companies to compete to clean up larger areas of Baghdad," he added.

Officials invited a number of international companies to submit offers for clean-up work in Karkh and Rusafa municipalities, Abdul Zahra said, confirming that "several companies from Europe, the Emirates, Turkey and Jordan submitted bids."

"We are evaluating the offers and will choose the best one based upon the company's experience, reputation, its previous similar works and cost estimates of the work," he said. "When we are done with this phase, we will announce the winning bids."

Abdul Zahra said, "Privatisation in this sector will not mean the end of the municipal district clean-up services. Instead they will be sharing in the provision of these services [with public workers]."
"This step is also important for economic reasons, because the contracts make it conditional on companies to benefit from the local manpower and provide work for a big number of unemployed people," he said.

Privatisation to support municipalities

Meanwhile, Ghalib al-Zamily, deputy chairman of Baghdad provincial council's services commission, told Mawtani, "Privatisation will help us achieve progress in clean-up services in order to create a clean, civilised environment."

"We support the idea of allowing foreign investment companies not only to enter into this sector, but also to venture into other service sectors, such as water, sewage and roads," he added.
Al-Zamily said meetings were recently held with representatives from Italian, Swedish and German companies that specialise in clean-up services.

"These companies expressed eagerness to compete for available opportunities in the clean-up sector, and they presented us with numerous documents and pictures to show the clean-up projects they completed in several Arab countries," he said.

Wahda al-Jumaily, member of the parliament's services and reconstruction committee, emphasised the necessity of "attracting the investment companies that specialise in clean-up services to support the efforts of municipalities".

"It is also necessary to intensify the education process through media, seminars and posters to increase public awareness of cleanliness as a basic, civilised practice for a healthy environment," al-Jumaily said.

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Baghdad Burger Boom

Baghdad Invest - 01/09/2012 Baghdad.
BAGHDAD'S embattled residents can finally get their milkshakes, chili-cheese dogs and buckets of crispy fried chicken - original recipe or extra spicy, of course.
A wave of new American-style restaurants is spreading across the Iraqi capital, enticing customers hungry for alternatives to traditional offerings like lamb kebabs and fire-roasted carp.

The fad is a sign that Iraqis, saddled with violence for years and still experiencing almost daily bombings and shootings, are prepared to move on and embrace ordinary pleasures - like stuffing their faces with pizza.

Iraqi entrepreneurs and investors from nearby countries, not big multinational chains, are driving the food craze. They see Iraq as an untapped market of increasingly adventurous eaters where competition is low and the potential returns are high.

"We're fed up with traditional food," said government employee Osama al-Ani as he munched on pizza at one of the packed new restaurants last week. "We want to try something different."

Among the latest additions is a sit-down restaurant called Chili House. Its glossy menu touts Caesar salads and hot wing appetisers along with all-American staples such as three-way chili, Philly cheesesteaks and a nearly half-pound "Big Mouth Chizzila" burger.

On a recent afternoon, uniformed servers navigated a two-story dining room bustling with extended families and groups of teenagers. Toddlers wandered around an indoor play area.

The restaurant, located in the upscale neighbourhood of Jadiriyah, is connected to Baghdad's only branch of Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken, a US chain concentrated in a handful of Midwestern and Southern states.

Azad al-Hadad, managing director of a company called Kurdistan Bridge that brought the restaurants to Iraq, said he and his fellow investors decided to open them because they couldn't find decent fried chicken and burgers in Iraq. He called the restaurants a safe investment for companies like his that are getting in early. He already has plans to open several more branches in the next six months.

"Everybody likes to eat and dress up. This is something that brings people together," he explained. "People tell us: 'We feel like we're out of Baghdad. And that makes us feel satisfied.'"

Baghdad's Green Zone and nearby US military bases once sported outposts of big American chains, including Pizza Hut, Burger King and Subway, but they shut down as American troops left last year. Because they were hidden behind checkpoint-controlled fortifications, most ordinary Iraqis never had a chance to get close to them, anyway.

Yum Brands Inc., owner of the Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC chains, has no plans to return to Iraq for now, spokesman Christopher Fuller said. Burger King declined to comment on its Iraq plans, and Subway did not respond.

Dining out in Iraq is not without risk. Ice cream parlours, restaurants and cafes were among the targets of a brutal string of attacks that tore through Iraq on August 16, leaving more than 90 people dead.

Iraqis say the chance to relax in clean surroundings over a meal out is worth the gamble. For them, the restaurants are a symbol of progress.

"This gives you a feeling the country's on the right track," said Wameed Fawzi, a chemical engineer enjoying Lee's fried chicken strips with his wife Samara.

Baghdad's Mansour district is the heart of the fast-food scene.

At the height of sectarian fighting in 2006 and 2007, it was tough to find shops open along the neighbourhood's main drag. Militants targeted shop owners in a campaign to undermine government efforts to restore normality.

These days, roads are packed with cars. The traditional Arabic restaurants long popular here now find themselves competing against foreign-sounding rivals such as Florida Fried Chicken, Mr. Potato, Pizza Boat and Burger Friends.

There is even a blatant KFC knockoff called KFG, which owner Zaid Sadiq insists stands for Kentucky Family Group. He said he picked the name because he wanted something similar to the world-famous fried chicken chain. And he believes his chicken is just as good.

"In the future my restaurant will be as famous as KFC. Why not?" he said.

One of Mansour's newest additions is Burger Joint, a slick shop serving up respectable burgers and milkshakes to a soundtrack that includes Frank Sinatra. It is the creation of VQ Investment Group, a firm with operations in Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.

Its Mansour store is outfitted with stylish stone walls and flat-screen televisions. Another branch just opened across town in the commercial district of Karradah.

The group also runs the Iraq franchises of Pizza Pizza, a Turkish chain, and is planning to launch a new hot submarine sandwich brand called Subz.

Mohammed Sahib, VQ's executive manager in Iraq, said business has been good so far.

Even so, running a restaurant in Iraq is not without its challenges.

Burger Joint's servers had to give up the iPads they originally used to take orders because the Internet kept cutting out, he said. Finding foreign ingredients such as Heinz ketchup and year-round supplies of lettuce is also tricky, and many customers need help understanding foreign menu items like milkshakes and cookies.

Health experts are predictably not thrilled about the new arrivals.

"The opening of these American-style restaurants ... will make Iraqis, especially children, fatter," said Dr. Sarmad Hamid, a physician at a Baghdad government hospital. But even he acknowledged that the new eateries aren't all bad.

"People might benefit psychologically by sitting down in a quiet, clean and relatively fancy place with their families, away from the usual chaos in Iraqi cities," he said.

Purveyors of traditional Iraqi specialties, who might be expected to oppose the foreign-looking imports, don't seem to mind at all.

Ali Issa is the owner of fish restaurant al-Mahar, which specialises in masgouf, the famous Iraqi roasted carp dish. He said every country in the world has burger and fried chicken restaurants, so why shouldn't Iraq?

Besides, he said, he and his family are fans of "Kentucky," the name Iraqis use for fried chicken, regardless of where it's made.

"Sometimes we need Kentucky. Not just fish, fish, fish," he said.
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Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi

Iraq's communications minister has resigned, accusing Prime Minister Nouri Maliki of refusing to stop "political interference" in his ministry.

Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi, a member of the Sunni-backed Iraqiyya bloc, said he had submitted his resignation a month ago, but that it had only now been accepted.

There has been no word yet from the prime minister on the allegations.

Mr Allawi is thought to be the first member of the national unity government to resign since it was formed in 2010.

Last year, Electricity Minister Raad Shallal al-Ani, an independent who was nominated by Iraqiyya, was sacked after allegedly authorising £1.1bn ($1.7bn) of improper contracts for power stations with foreign companies.

Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi, Iraq's most senior Sunni Arab politician and a leading member of Iraqiyya, is meanwhile on trial in absentia, accused of financing a sectarian death squad targeting Shia officials.


Mr Maliki's support of the prosecution led Iraqiyya to boycott cabinet meetings for more than a month, bringing the government to a standstill.

They accused the prime minister, who is a Shia, of trying to marginalise the country's minority Sunni community and cement his grip on power.

On Monday, Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi told the AFP news agency: "I required certain conditions from the prime minister, to stop the political interference in my ministry."

"Otherwise, I told him: 'I am not ready to work at the ministry with this big interference.'"

"I told him: 'Either you fulfil those conditions or accept my resignation.' He decided after one month to accept my resignation."

In separate development on Monday, security officials said gunmen had shot dead a senior army officer outside the capital, Baghdad.

Brig-Gen Abdul Muhsin Khazal was killed in the town of Taji. One report said the assailants used weapons with silencers.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Iraq Water Project

Iraq signed a contract with Pell Frischmann Ltd. for the design of a $85 million water project in the western Al Anbar province, a local municipal official said.
The U.K.-based consulting company will draw designs for a new water station in Hadeetha, which will pump 4,500 cubic meter of water an hour to feed surrounding towns, within two years, Basim Naji said by phone today. Pell Frischmann will also design an upgrade to an existing water station in the same district which pumps 1,500 cubic meter an hour, he said.
The Iraqi government is seeking foreign investment and expertise to rebuild its infrastructure and energy industry damaged by decades of conflict and sanctions. Iraq holds the fifth-largest proven crude reserves, including Canada’s oil sands, according to data from BP Plc.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Baghdad History

Baghdad was once the capital of an empire and the centre of the Islamic world, but at 1,250 years old, the Iraqi city is a far cry from its past glories after being ravaged by years of war and sanctions.
Construction of the city on the bank of the Tigris River began in July 762 AD under Abbasid Caliph Abu Jaafar al-Mansur, and it has since played a pivotal role in Arab and Islamic civilisations.
"Baghdad represented the economic centre of the Abbasid Empire, and it was used as a starting point for controlling other neighbouring regions to enhance Islamic power," said Issam al-Faili, a professor of political history at Mustansiriyah University.
"Baghdad witnessed a renaissance of thought through translation, which was usually mastered by Jews and the Christians, and became a destination for intellectuals, poets and scholars from all parts of the world, and a centre for craftsmen and a city of construction," Faili said.
"Baghdad today, after it was the capital of the world, has become one of the most miserable cities," he said.
British consultancy firm Mercer ranked Baghdad as the worst place in the world to live in its 2010 Quality of Living Survey.
The city has been conquered several times in its history, the first in 1258 when the Mongols destroyed Baghdad.
It was captured in 1831 by the Ottomans, in 1917 by the British, and in 2003 by a US-led coalition that overthrew dictator Saddam Hussein but also ended up unleashing internecine violence that killed tens of thousands of people.
Baghdad was a modern capital known for its nightlife in the 1970s, but it has fallen into gloomy disrepair in the years of conflict since.
Saddam started a war with Iraq in 1980 that lasted for eight years, and then launched a disastrous invasion of Kuwait in 1990 only to be forced out in 1991.
Iraq was hit by a harsh regime of international sanctions over the Kuwait invasion, and later lived under an ever-present threat of bombings, assassinations, gun battles and death squad killings in the years after 2003.
Even now, government employees, including high-ranking officers in the security forces, are frequently gunned down in the streets.
Concrete blast walls still surround official buildings, hotels, and other structures that could be the target of attacks.
Despite its long history, there are only fleeting signs of historic buildings on even its oldest streets. Ugly, uninspired concrete boxes are far more common.
Checkpoints cause massive traffic jams, and security forces in the city are armed for war, with equipment including assault rifles, machine guns and armoured vehicles.
Baghdad's streets are often strewn with rubbish and riven by potholes. What public works projects there are move at a glacial pace.
Spider webs of power cables criss-cross many streets, linking houses to private generators -- a testament to the failure of the government electricity grid to provide citizens with consistent power.
The government is headquartered in a heavily fortified area known as the Green Zone, which is defended, among other things, by newly acquired US-made Abrams tanks.
Entry to the area requires passing through a Byzantine series of security checks, some of which are of questionable value in deterring attacks, and journalists' cameras are regarded with deep suspicion.
While Baghdad was once the centre of an empire, the Iraqi government has been paralysed by political crises for almost eight months, during which it has accomplished little.
"Baghdad today is like Baghdad of yesterday in terms of the luxury that was enjoyed by the caliph and his family in the days of the Abbasid era, while the people were in misery," Faili said.
Corruption is widespread, and while Iraq takes in billions of dollars a month in oil revenues, signs of it benefiting the general public are hard to find.
Iraq has made some efforts to return its capital to regional prominence, hosting a summit of Arab leaders in March and talks between world powers and Iran on the Islamic republic's controversial nuclear programme in May.
Preparations for those events cost around $1 billion, although the impact of that outlay for most Iraqis was limited.
Iraqi writer and journalist Rifaat Mahmud said that the "issue of restoring Baghdad to what it was is a difficult matter, and cannot be achieved in circumstances such as those in which the neglected city now lives.
"Baghdad needs what we can call a miracle to regain its form and heritage and at least a part of its past."

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Iraq Oil Producers Opec

Iraq has finally overtaken Iran as the second largest oil producer in OPEC according to the International Energy Agency. Baghdad chalked up 3mb/d production compared to 2.9mb/d from Tehran. For some, that’s cause for celebration – ‘proving’ that international sanctions against Iran are ‘working’ – but it merely highlights the profound supply side problems afflicting the oil world. Bad news all round.
The idea that Iraq, now the second largest producer in OPEC, could be relied upon to provide consistent (let alone) excess supplies, flies in the face of all the political problems afflicting the country. Its main output gains have come in Kurdistan, a region that the central Shia government in Iraq refutes as a self-standing oil producing region. The dictum was very clear after Saddam fell; those who do business in Kurdistan will be barred from far bigger fields in the centre and South of the country. Ballpark numbers certainly backed it up. Baghdad sits on 143bn barrels of ‘proven’ oil reserves, compared to 40bn barrels in Kurdistan. For a time, it was a message that most IOCs were happy to heed. The likes of Exxon, BP, Lukoil and Shell signed very unattractive service contract agreements (i.e. hired help), with a view to securing proper production sharing agreements with Baghdad down the line. The problem is that Baghdad has never worked out what’s good for them; decent contracts have never been put on the table to entice IOCs (or national counterparts) to see Iraq as a serious proposition. Fields haven’t been developed. New infrastructure hasn’t been built.
That’s exactly why the biggest players, including Exxon, Chevron, and Total have called Baghdad’s bluff by signing bilateral deals with Kurdistan as the more credible (if modest) output option. Unless Iraq blinks first to revise contractual terms, don’t expect IOC investment anytime soon. Baghdad might take their chances with the Chinese, (if Beijing happens to still be interested). Russia might invest when asked, but they’ll make sure new fields only come online at times of their choosing for global fundamentals. Alas, far from blinking, Baghdad has kept their eyes wide shut. Although it didn’t chuck Exxon out of West Quarna plays, it barred them from their latest licensing rounds, and indeed Chevron for their ‘Erbil betrayals’. Baghdad will hit its ‘12mb/d’ production targets by 2017, with or without international help – or so the story goes. The snag isn’t just that Kurdistan provides IOCs with the perfect hedge to put pressure on Baghdad, but that Iraq hasn’t understood the unfolding contours of the new energy world. Ten years ago, the greatest risk for IOCs wasn’t operating in high risk, uncertain return markets, but not having access to prospective elephant fields in the first place. It was ‘follow the resources, or die’.
The global unconventional explosion has totally re-written this analysis. If you aren’t willing to offer decent terms and decent conditions, investment won’t come. International players can pick and choose jurisdictions for the best returns. You’re as likely to find a herd of elephants in the US Mid-West these days as you are in a highly explosive Middle East, which, if anything, provides the real kicker for Iraq here: Not only is Baghdad offering poor fiscal terms on new concessions (without any serious legal structure), it’s doing so in an increasingly large security vacuum. Since the US upped-sticks, local grievances have been sharpened without a common enemy. 19% unemployment and chronically high levels of absolute poverty afflicting the population don’t help. But it’s sectarian schisms that remain the most divisive fault lines rather than rich vs. poor in Iraq. Oil sits at the heart of this debate.
However you spin things, IOCs are bankrolling Kurdish succession in the North thanks to enhanced oil receipts (Turkey could obviously do without such developments), while Sunni politicians (let alone insurgency groups) have never come to terms with Shia power, embodied by the al-Maliki central government. Something will eventually have to give in Iraq on how state formation does (or doesn’t) play out, with oil providing the underlying formula for who gets what, where, and when. That’s before you ‘price in’ external meddling from neighbouring Iran, a nation that’s more than happy to stir the Shia pot to progress its economic and political interests in the region. Clipping Iraqi oil production is the perfect way of doing that. It hardly went unnoticed in Tehran that Iraq made as much cash ($22-24bn) in the last quarter. That’s not been the order of things since the 1990 Gulf War; Iran will work hard to keep it that way.
Put all that together, and Iraq will struggle to nudge output towards 4mb/d over the next few years, let alone hitting 5, 6, or 7mb/d over the next decade. As for 12mb/d production targets by 2017 as a the new ‘swing producer’, forget it. Iraq has squeezed out all it can from its older fields; any further gains will be attritional, at best. The upshot is that we’re left with the same oil market equation we’ve had for decades: Saudi Arabia and Russia are simply too big to fail. No one, least of all Iraq is going to change that anytime soon when it rejoins OPEC quotas in 2014. It’s therefore all the more disturbing that the IEA are pinning their main global supply growth hopes on Iraq over the next decade.
But let’s be generous and assume Iraq prevails against all the odds; you then have to beg the serious question: Would enhanced oil royalties from 7mb/d oil production be the catalyst to hold Iraq together from sharing the spoils, or would it rip the country apart? In a winner takes all system between its constituent parts, my bet would be on the latter. The more Iraq gets it oil ‘right’, the more likely things will end in spectacular (and very crude) failure…

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Iraqi Lawyers face daily risks

Iraqi lawyer Ahmed al-Abadi put up with years of threatening phone calls for taking on sensitive sectarian cases but, after he narrowly escaped death when three shots were fired at his car last year, he could take no more.
Abadi had just finished successfully defending a woman accused of involvement in a sectarian killing and he thinks this was the reason behind the gun attack - but he decided against seeking legal redress.
"I did not go to the police station to report it. I knew it would not get me anywhere," he said, seated in the lawyers' room of Rusafa appeal court in eastern Baghdad. "It has affected me mentally and sapped my enthusiasm for work. I started to handle only easy cases which do not cause me problems."
After years of vicious sectarian strife between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims, individual cases are increasingly coming to court. But justice suffers because lawyers are an easy target in a country where rule of law remains weak, tribal loyalties take precedence and sectarian armed groups still operate.
Abadi is one of many lawyers who have suffered constant threats and intimidation from relatives of the accused or the plaintiff. Lawyers come into contact with both sides of a case and they must appear in court, where everyone can see their faces. Lawyers say some judges treat them as if they were involved in the crime simply because they defend the accused.
"We are very sensitive about terrorism cases," the 55-year-old Abadi said, employing the term regularly used to describe sectarian cases in Iraq.
"After taking more than one terrorist case, I quit," he said as he removed his robe after attending the guilty verdict in a corruption case of two clients who worked in a government-spending watchdog.
Sectarian warfare plagued Iraq in 2006-7, when death squads, insurgents and militias claimed thousands of victims.
Violence is no longer an around-the-clock menace but remains common. At least 116 people were killed and about 300 wounded in bomb and gun attacks on July 23 - by far the bloodiest day since U.S. troops withdrew in December, eight years after the invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.
And tensions between Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims still run high as politicians feud over power-sharing in government.
Practicing law is often a life-threatening profession.
Iraq's lawyers syndicate says 103 lawyers were killed between 2003-2008 but the actual number could be double that since not all cases are reported. The syndicate, which has 50,000 members, lacks figures on victims for after 2008.
Abadi defended a woman who was accused with her husband of kidnapping and killing her husband's friend, a Shi'ite, when he visited them in their home in a Sunni district of Baghdad.
The couple said gunmen had broken into their house and kidnapped the guest, but the victim's relatives accused them of the crime. Abadi, who was the woman's lawyer, won the case and his client was released from prison.
Shortly afterwards three gunmen in a BMW car opened fire at him when he was driving and three bullets whizzed past his head, shattering the window. He stopped his car, and they thought he was dead and drove away.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the judiciary faces enormous pressure in Iraq, particularly lawyers when intimidation, including threats through text messages, is a fact of life.
"The lack of security allows lawyers to be threatened particularly if they take on sensitive cases and those who make threats are able to do so with impunity," Samer Muscati, a researcher at the New York-based watchdog, said.
Thair al-Qassim, a Baghdad-based specialist in sectarian cases, said he has been threatened 32 times.
His son was kidnapped and beaten severely in 2006 and only freed when Qassim paid a $40,000 ransom. He was kidnapped briefly himself in 2009 after militiamen targeted his car, interrogated him and told him to stop covering certain cases. He managed to escape unharmed.

Qassim has endured hand grenade attacks, threatening phone calls and text messages and a letter thrown into his garden.
"All that because I defend Sunnis against Shi'ites or Shi'ites against Sunnis," Qassim said.
"When I defend a client who is from the Sunni sect...someone from the other side, the Shi'ite side, calls me and says 'Sir, leave this case, otherwise you will face regrettable consequences' - and vice versa."
But Qassim said he did not abandoned these cases because this is how he earns his living.
He was part of the defense team for an Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at then-U.S. President George W. Bush in December 2008. He received a phone call from someone telling him to drop the case or he or his family would be killed.
It proved an empty threat - but it sticks in his mind.
Apart from the threats, lawyers say they are often prevented from meeting clients, who undergo lengthy interrogations. The Iraqi legal system is especially slow and bureaucratic.
According to Iraqi criminal law, arrested people should be presented to a judge in 24 hours, but this rarely happens in practice, lawyer Farhan al-Bighani said. "They should not stay at the mercy of a police officer for a month or longer just because he wants to extract a confession."
Abdul-Sattar al-Birqdar, spokesman for the Supreme Judicial Council, said lawyers could present their complaints and the council would take legal procedures in such cases.
Lawyers complain some judges are under political pressure, make decisions based on sectarian or tribal affiliations or are corrupt, charges rejected by the Supreme Judicial Council which says judges are independent, and not politically affiliated.
In one of Iraq's most high-profile and contested cases, Vice-President Tareq al-Hashemi, a Sunni politician in the Iraqiya bloc, says he is being targeted in a legal investigation partially because of sectarianism.
Hashemi fled Baghdad in December when the Shi'ite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki sought his arrest on charges that he ran a death squad.
Hashemi has said he is ready to face trial, but not in a Baghdad court, which he believes is under the sway of Maliki in a judicial system tainted by political bias.
Maliki's allies say the Hashemi trial is not political. But many Iraqi Sunnis say they see a sectarian hand behind the case, accusing Maliki of shoring up his position at their expense.
Lawyers and Human Rights Watch criticized a government campaign in November to arrest Baathists and former military officers who authorities maintained had plotted to oust Maliki one month before the departure of U.S. troops.
Maliki said more than 600 people had been arrested on evidence that they sought to undermine security in Iraq.
"We have spoken to lawyers and the families of detainees who said they would not take on these types of cases because it would put the lawyers at risk," HRW's Muscati said.
For lawyer Abadi who dodged the bullets, the lawyers syndicate is not doing enough to defend his profession. He even laments that lawyers cannot be armed to defend themselves.
"The lawyer is in the courtyard, fighting alone," he said.

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Baghdad Property Investment

Baghdad needs 750,000 new homes to make up for a massive housing shortfall, Iraq's investment commission chief said on Sunday as he called for bidders for a new property development project.
Iraq is aiming to build one million new homes in the coming years, including a vast construction project southeast of Baghdad that officials hope will provide new housing for 600,000 people.
"Baghdad now needs 750,000 more homes," Sami al-Araji told reporters.
Araji called for bidders for a new housing development project at a former Iraqi army military camp known as Al-Rasheed in southeast Baghdad.
The area is currently home to a small Iraqi army base, as well as a refuse dump where poor families have built make-shift accommodation.
Araji hopes that up to 70,000 apartments and 5,000 independent houses will eventually be built there, along with sports and entertainment facilities, shopping and medical services.
After decades of war, sanctions and under-investment, Iraq is experiencing a major housing shortfall, and the difficulty in finding a home was one of the reasons protesters demonstrated nationwide last year.
Around 57 percent of Iraq's urban population lives in "slum-like conditions", according to a report published by the United Nations in 2011.
The report noted that 13 percent of houses in urban areas have more than 10 people living in them, with 37 percent holding three or more people per room.

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