Union wants Antigua gov't to rescind decision to establish embassy in Iraq

Friday, April 08, 2016

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ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC) – The Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) is questioning the government’s decision to establish an embassy in Iraq.
Last month the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) called on the Gaston Browne administration to rethink its decision to allow Iraqi nationals to participate in the country’s Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) and also questioned the decision to open an embassy in Iraq.
 “There can be no benefit to the people of Antigua and Barbuda. We have no cultural and we have no trade ties with Iraq.
 “What is the benefit to opening an embassy in Bagdad? Iraq as we know is in the midst of a civil war with ISIS and ISIS is in control of large sections of Iraq. We are unnecessarily exposing our country and our people to unnecessary risk,” UPP leader Harold Lovell said.
In a letter to Prime Minister Browne, the ABWU raised objection to the decision to establish ties with Iraq, stating it was concerned about the negative impact an embassy could have on the twin island state.
 “What are the benefits to be derived from having an Embassy in Iraq and how can it (government) justify to citizens that this linkage could not prove disastrous to us in the future,” the union said, and calling on the government to abandon the idea “immediately”.
Last month, the government issued a statement indicating that the island’s product offering stands to benefit significantly as a result of a newly formed alliance between St John’s and Ambassador Ahmed Abbas Alewi.
It said that the diplomat, who was recently appointed as Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to Iraq met with Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy Minister Asot Michael and “brought good news of his intended investments in Antigua, chief among which is the proposed project for the development of approximately 93 acres of land at Pensioner’s Beach”.
The statement said “there will be a total investment of some US$1.5 billion over the next several years” and that talks have also started on a twice weekly flight from Baghdad to Antigua.

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