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Iraq's Central Bank a Political Battleground

In the midst of ongoing political disputes within Iraq, the country’s central bank is facing a number of problems, writes Omar al-Shaher.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki (C) leaves after an Arab economy, finance and trade ministers meeting as part of the Arab League Summit in Baghdad March 27, 2012. The Arab leaders will meet on March 29 in Baghdad for the 23rd Arab League Summit.  REUTERS/Ali Haider/Pool   (IRAQ - Tags: POLITICS)

Sinan al-Shabibi, the former governor of Iraq’s Central Bank — the highest monetary authority in the country — was not the only banker who made it onto the wanted list in Baghdad. Hussein al-Uzri, the former head of the state-owned Trade Bank, preceded Shabibi.

Both bankers are, maybe by complete happenstance, friends with the prominent banker and politician Ahmed Chalabi, who went from being one of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s supporters to one of his opponents. Perhaps it is also a coincidence that he happened to take on substantial roles in the process of redeveloping the Iraqi economy that was launched by Paul Bremer, governor of Iraq after 2003. Shabibi assumed the position of Iraq’s Central Bank Administrator and thus was responsible for exchange rates and exchange reserves, while Uzri became head of the Trade Bank of Iraq, which regulates Iraq’s international trade and funds reconstruction operations.

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