Citizens of the Republic of Iraq are now eligible to apply for citizenship under the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP), Antigua & Barbuda’s newly appointed Ambassador to Iraq, Ahmed Abbas Oleiwi Al-Hassani has confirmed.
Up until December 2015, Iraqis were among citizens from several nations who could not apply for citizenship through the CIP.
The first indication that Iraq had been removed from the so-called blacklist came on Friday, in a press release, when Governor General Sir Rodney Williams announced the ambassador’s appointment.
Ambassador Oleiwi later confirmed that he had obtained Antiguan and Barbudan citizenship under the CIP investment scheme.
In 2014, the Government Antigua & Barbuda announced that it had denied citizens from Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, Somalia, Yemen, and Iran the right to apply for citizenship under its CIP. Syria also became ineligible in 2015.
However, Iran was removed from the blacklist last year, but Iraq, which has been devastated by years of military occupation by the United States, which ended in 2011, is the location of a bloody insurgency which had intensified due to the Syrian Civil War still spilling over its borders.
On Friday, the ambassador thanked the government for, “opening the doors for Iraqis and all CIP agents to Antigua”.
Through an interpreter, Ambassador Oleiwi told OBSERVER media that he had “a major influence in removing Iraq from the CIP blacklist”.
Hard on the heels of removing Iraq from the disapproved list, the government’s Chief of Staff, Lionel “Max” Hurst said efforts are being made to establish an embassy of Antigua & Barbuda in Baghdad.
Meantime, Ambassador Oleiwi did not come to Antigua & Barbuda empty-handed. On Friday, he signed a multi-million US dollar-agreement to develop a 2,000 to 4,000-unit condominium project at Five Islands. The exact value of the project was not disclosed.
At the signing ceremony, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said he was pleased to see Oleiwi demonstrate “that level of confidence in the country” that he would invest, “several hundred million dollars into a project … that will see the construction of 2,000 to 4,000 high income homes primarily for CIP citizens”.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)