Paper Money

Iraq releases first notes since 2003

The Central Bank of Iraq, for the first time since 2003, when Saddam Hussein’s portrait was removed, has released a new series of bank notes. Rudaw, a Kurdistani news agency, says that the new issues are “aimed at modernizing the currency and better reflecting the nation’s heritage and diversity.”

In reality, only the 1,000-dinar note seems to be of a new design. The 250-, 500-, 10,000-, and 25,000-dinar notes will remain the same except that the title of “Governor” is added next to the signature. Until now notes carried only the signature, with no title. 

All notes will be dual-dated with the Western year 2018 A.D. and the Arabic, 1440 A.H. 

The redesign of the 1,000-dinar note may even be considered radical in that a phrase from the Quran known as the Surah Ikhlas has been removed. The words, called “The Unity,” are from the book’s 112th chapter and are considered among the most important in Islam. 

Replacing it is what Rudaw says looks like an Assyrian star. The Assyrians are today a minority Christian group mainly found in northern Iraq and who were subjected to displacement or made to leave their land during the war with ISIS. They claim to be descendants of the ancient Assyrian Empire, which from 900 to 600 B.C. conquered the Middle East, from Egypt to the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, and portions of the present Turkey, Iran and Iraq. 

The note also calls attention to the inclusion in 2016 of Iraq’s endangered marshlands in its south on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites. Saddam’s treatment of the marshlands was another of his atrocities. They were almost lost when he had them drained to subdue rebels. An international response is now trying to bring them back to life. 

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