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Enhance Understanding

ISHM 222: September 12 – September 19, 2019

Key Takeaways: Iraqi Minister Resigns Under Pressure; Parliament Moves to Abolish Public Inspector Offices; New Calls for Removing U.S. Forces From Iraq – On September 15, Iraqi Health Minister Alaa al-Alwan announced his resignation, citing extortion by external political forces seeking illegal profit from corrupt deals. The prime minister rejected the resignation. On September 16, Parliament announced that it will abolish the offices of the Inspector General that monitor performance at Iraqi ministries and independent commissions. Some of the inspectors were appointed by the prime minister as recently as August. On September 16, 53 members of Iraq’s Parliament, representing the

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ISHM 221: September 5 – September 12, 2019

Key Takeaways: Sadr Threatens To “Disown” Abdul-Mahdi’s Government; Kurdish Parties Unite To Contest Kirkuk Elections In 2020; KRG President Appoints Two Deputies – On September 6, Moqtada al-Sadr said he would “disown” the Iraqi government if it didn’t take strict measures to assert its authority after the deputy chairman of the PMF commission, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, announced plans to form a separate air force to defend the PMF against Israeli airstrikes. On September 9, Kurdish political parties announced from Kirkuk that they plan to compete in the 2020 provincial elections in the disputed province as one unified party list. On

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Iraq’s Assyrian Christians’ struggle to secure political rights

Interview with Yacoob Yaco, the deputy secretary general of the Assyrian Democratic Movement. This is the first of a series of interviews we had with representatives of various minority communities in Ninewa that will be published in the following weeks. In July, EPIC traveled to Iraq and visited Erbil and Ninewa provinces as part of our work on Safe Return, a USAID project designed to enable the safe and sustainable return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their homes in Ninewa. While in Erbil, we had the pleasure of meeting with Mr. Yacoob Yaco, the Deputy Secretary General of the

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EPIC WELCOMES FALL 2019 INTERNS

Three times per year, EPIC welcomes a new cohort of interns – young professionals seeking to add practical experience to their academic backgrounds in humanitarian affairs, international relations, security studies, political science, public relations, and beyond. We are grateful for their contributions to our research, action, and advocacy, and for the opportunity to connect them to Iraq and its people. Please join us in welcoming our Fall 2019 interns: Laura and Jennie! Laura Clancy is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Justice Studies with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of New Hampshire. She is

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ISHM 220: AUGUST 29 – SEPTEMBER 5, 2019

Key Takeaways: Maliki Renews Push For VP Post; Fayyadh In Moscow Seeking Weapons; New Border Dispute With Kuwait; Hikma To Form “Shadow Cabinet” – On August 31, Nouri al-Maliki said he was awaiting a decision from President Barham Salih to nominate him for the vice presidency. On September 2, PMF chairman Falih al-Fayyadh visited Moscow and met with the Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation amid statements by allied politicians about plans to buy advanced Russian air defense systems. On September 3, Iraqi media reported that Iraq sent a letter to the UN accusing Kuwait of making

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ISHM 219: AUGUST 22 – AUGUST 29, 2019

Key Takeaways: PMF Affiliates Call Israeli Airstrikes “A Declaration Of War”; Government Issues Six-Point Statement To Contain Crisis – On August 25, the PMF-affiliated Fatah coalition called Israel’s recent airstrikes against PMF weapons stores a “declaration of war”, and accused the U.S. of complicity. On August 26, Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi briefed Iraq’s president and speaker of parliament on a government investigation into recent attacks on PMF bases. The meeting concluded with a six-point statement highlighting the need to avoid entanglement in a proxy war. On August 25, a member of Parliament with the Sadiqoun bloc said his group would

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ISHM 218: AUGUST 15 – AUGUST 22, 2019

Key Takeaways: PMF Accuse U.S., Israel Of Targeting Their Bases; President Salih Tries To Contain U.S.-Iran Tensions; Parliament Removes Immunity Of Several Lawmakers – On August 21, senior PMF leader, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis said the PMF hold the U.S. and Israel responsible for recent attacks on PMF sites and threatened to fire at foreign aircraft that fly over PMF bases without Baghdad’s knowledge. On August 18, Iraqi President Barham Salih met separately with the U.S. and Iranian ambassadors to Iraq and discussed defusing U.S.-Iran tensions that are affecting Iraq. On August 16, Moqtada al-Sadr criticized PM Abdul-Mahdi over weak government

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ISHM 217: AUGUST 8 – AUGUST 15, 2019

Key Takeaways: Abdul-Mahdi Defends Pace Of PMF Reforms; Unidentified Bodies Spark Sectarian Recriminations; Election Law May Harm IDPs – On August 10, PM Abdul-Mahdi defended his stumbling measures to replace the PMF brigade 30 with regular troops in Ninewa. He affirmed that there was “no confusion from our end” about regulating the PMF and that implementing his “fixed, clear policy” must be gradual. On August 12, Sunni political groups called on the PM to open an investigation into the discovery of 31 unidentified bodies in Babyoln, arguing that that the bodies belonged to Sunni victims of sectarian violence. On August

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ISHM 216: AUGUST 1 – AUGUST 8, 2019

Key Takeaways: Iraq, Egypt And Jordan Discuss Trilateral Cooperation; Ninewa Standoff Tests PM’s Resolve to Control Militias; PM Appoints Inspectors In Key Institutions – On August 3, the foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan visited Baghdad and discussed reducing tensions in the Gulf region between Iran and the U.S./Arab states, strengthening trilateral economic cooperation and counter-terrorism cooperation. On August 5, protesters in the Ninewa plains expressed opposition to orders by PM Abdul-Mahdi to withdraw the PMF from checkpoints in the area. The developments tested the prime minister’s ability to bring PMF factions under government control. A negotiated compromise will reportedly

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ISHM 215: JULY 25 – AUGUST 1, 2019

Key Takeaways: PMF Chairman Says Reorganization Needs Two Months; Parliament Scrutinizes KRI Payments; Iraq Militia Threatens Bahrain Over Executions – On July 29, the head of the Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada militia threatened the king of Bahrain with retaliation over Manama’s recent execution of Shia opposition activists. On July 30, PMF committee chairman, Falih al-Fayyadh, informed Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi that the PMF is “fully committed” to complying with the prime minister’s instructions on reorganizing the force but said the process requires two months to complete. On July 31, the parliamentary finance committee said it seeks to summon the finance minister

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ISHM 214: JULY 18 – JULY 25, 2019

Key Takeaways: Baghdad And Erbil Appear Closer To Oil Agreement; CoR Amends Provincial Election Law; Abdul-Mahdi Mediates Between The UK and Iran – On July 20, 80 MPs asked Speaker Halbousi to reject U.S. sanctions on four Iraqi politicians. On July 22, the Iraqi parliament approved 20 clauses of an amendment to the provincial elections law. Elections are planned for April 2020, and will include Kirkuk. On July 22, Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi met with Iranian President Rouhani in Tehran, where they discussed easing Gulf tensions and attempted negotiations over the release of the British tanker seized by Iran. On

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ISHM 213: JULY 11 – JULY 18, 2019

Key Takeaways: U.S. Sanctions Four Iraqi Politicians/Militia Leaders; EU Backs Iraqi Proposal For Iran Conference; Draw-Down Of U.S. Diplomats May Be Permanent – On July 12, Foreign Policy magazine reported that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo intends to make the drawdown of embassy personnel in Baghdad permanent. On July 13, Bahrain’s ambassador to Iraq returned to Baghdad after he was recalled to Manama following the storming of the Bahraini embassy by Iraqi protesters. On July 13, EU foreign policy chief visited Baghdad and expressed the Union’s support for an Iraqi proposal to hold a conference on U.S.-Iran tensions. On

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