This week’s headlines:
- Security Operations against ISIS Continue, ISIS Strikes Security Checkpoint in Anbar Province – While Iraqi efforts to clear Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants from the country continue, ISIS perpetrated a deadly attack on a security checkpoint in Anbar Province on August 29, killing eight and injuring 12. On August 25, the Iraqi Air Force bombed ISIS locations in Ninewa Province. According a statement released by the Security Information Center , Iraqi warplanes struck ISIS locations in the Shourah District, approximately 56 kilometers south of Mosul. Ten ISIS militants were killed during the operation. On August 26, the Ministry of the Interior announced the arrest of two ISIS terrorists in Mosul. According to the statement released by the Ministry, the first militant was arrested in the Rifai District, while the second was captured in the al-Zira’i District. more…
- Government Faces Criticism Over Basra Water Contamination Issues, High Commission for Human Rights Records 18,000 Cases of Contamination Due to Polluted Water – On August 24, Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalai, official representative of the Grand Ayatollah Sayed Ali al-Sistani, criticized the Iraqi government for allegedly neglecting the issue of water pollution and the lack of safe drinking water in Basra Province. On August 24, the Iraqi Ministry of Health denied reports concerning the spread of epidemics in Basra Province due to water contamination, and announced sending more medical supplies to the province to prevent a possible emergency. On August 28, during its regular session, the Iraqi Council of Ministers discussed measures to address water pollution issues in Basra Province. On August 29, the Iraqi Human Rights Commission revealed that 18,000 cases of contamination linked to polluted water were recorded in Basra Province. more…
- Masum Meets with Leaders of Different Coalitions, Parliament Will Convene on September 3, 2018 – Anticipating the parliament session of September 3, 2018, on August 24, Iraqi President Fuad Masum met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Baghdad. On August 24, Iraqi President Fuad Masum held a meeting with Nouri al-Maliki, leader of the State of Law Coalition, in Baghdad, after he met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. On August 27, Iraqi President Fuad Masum issued a decree according to which Iraq’s parliament will convene on September 3, 2018, preparing lawmakers to elect a new government. more…
- Negotiations to Form Coalition Bloc Continue Amid Concerns of U.S. Interference, Iraq to Send Negotiating Team to the U.S. for Talks over Sanctions Exemptions – Coalitions and political blocs are continuing the negotiations to form alliances, which will determine the formation of the new Iraqi government. Concerns about potential U.S. interference in the formation of the new government grown, as U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, Brett McGurk Arrives in Baghdad. On August 25, the leader of the Iraqi Communist Party, Raed Fahmi, said that the signs are “positive from Kurds and Sunnis to ally with the “nucleus” of the largest bloc to form the next Iraqi government.” On August 25, the Iraqi Islamic Party expressed its support for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the national majority coalition. On August 27, Mansour al-Baiji, member of the State of Law Coalition, accused the United States (U.S.) of trying to interfere with the Iraqi political process of forming a new government. On August 28, Qais al-Khazali, leader of the PMU Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), said the the U.S. is pressuring parties to form a new government. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced on August 28 the an Iraqi delegation will travel to the United States to discuss exemptions of Iran sanctions. more…
For more background on most of the institutions, key actors, political parties, and locations mentioned in our takeaways or in the stories that follow, see the ISHM Reference Guide.
On August 23, a team created by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) started its work on crimes committed by the Islamic States of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The team was formed and approved one year ago, and it will collect and preserve evidence of ISIS war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
On August 24, the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced its intention to send 22 technology experts to Iraq, in order to confront the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) on the technical level, as “after its military disintegration, it has become necessary to confront it technically.” A statement released by the Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anders Samuelson, read that the experts will be sent to Iraq pending approval of the Foreign Affairs Committee, “to continue the war against [ISIS].” Samuelson considers the task “a priority issue for the training of Iraqis within the NATO project, to confront this organization with technology and communication means.”
On August 25, the Iraqi Air Force bombed some ISIS locations in Ninewa Province. According a statement released by the Security Information Center , Iraqi warplanes struck some ISIS locations in the Shourah District, approximately 56 kilometers south of Mosul. Tene ISIS militants were killed during the operation.
On August 26, the Ministry of the Interior announced the arrest of two ISIS terrorists in Mosul. According to the statement released by the Ministry, the first militant was arrested in the Rifai District, while the second was captured in the al-Zira’i District.
On August 29, the spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior, Major General Saad Maan, announced the arrest of 11 ISIS militants in Mosul. Maan added that the suspects were arrested in the al-Islah District of the city.
On August 29, a suicide car-bomb hit a security checkpoint in Qaim District, Anbar Province. The attacker drove the car into the checkpoint, which was controlled jointly by both Iraqi army personnel and PMUs. The attack killed eight people and twelve other were wounded. The Iraqi military released a statement saying that “security forces in the Qaim district noticed a suspect Kia vehicle and shot at it after it turned out to be rigged and driven by a suicidal terrorist, which led to its explosion and the death of seven people, including four from the security forces and three civilians.” ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, putting the death toll at 28 victims, contradicting official sources.
On August 29, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia condemned the attack perpetrated by ISIS, which targeted a security checkpoint in Qaim District, Anbar Province. The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement in which it also pointed out that Saudi Arabia stands in solidarity “with all those countries against all manifestations of violence, terrorism and extremism.”
On August 29, the Special Representative of the United Nations (U.N.) Secretary-General for Iraq, Jan Kubis, released a statement condemning the attack in Qaim District, Anbar Province. The statement read that “although [ISIS] has been defeated on the battlefield, the terrorist organization continues to pose a threat to peace in Iraq, using cowardly and indiscriminate attacks to terrorize people in an attempt to destabilize a country that is recovering from conflict,” adding that “an attack such as that carried out today is a reminder to Iraqis that the struggle for peace is not yet over. The resilience and unity of all Iraqis are key to thwarting the terrorists’ schemes and consolidating stability and achieving prosperity.”
On August 29, the Mercy Corp Country Director in Iraq, Dr. Deepmala Mahla, released a statement in relations to the terrorist attack, which killed eight people and injured twelve in Qaim District, Anbar Province. Mahla said that “this latest is yet more evidence that the spectre of extremism still looms large over Iraq. From Al Qaim to Kirkuk, we are seeing signs of a resurgence that is hauntingly reminiscent of 2011. The idea that extremism has been defeated in Iraq is at best, wishful thinking. Military victories won’t save young people from the risk of being radicalized; we still need to pull extremism out by the root. If we are to avoid the calamitous mistakes of the past, the international community must prioritize providing support for communities, many of which are still living in a state of emergency with no reliable access to water, food or basic amenities. So far, the pace of reconstruction has been woefully inadequate as the international community has looked to tighten the purse strings. This is a false economy -the human and financial costs could be astronomical if these wounds are allowed to fester. The majority of Iraq’s population is under 25, they have had their education disrupted, and much of their lives have been blighted by conflict. All they are looking for is an opportunity. If the international community fails to recognize this and invest in humanitarian programs, other groups will invariably look to capitalize.”
On August 24, Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalai, official representative of the Iraqi Grand Ayatollah Sayed Ali al-Sistani, criticized the Iraqi government for allegedly neglecting the issue of water pollution and the lack of safe drinking water in Basra Province. Karbalai said that “the use of contaminated water by some citizens has resulted in many cases of poisoning and skin diseases. Despite the claims, efforts to resolve the problem remain below the minimum.” Karbalai added that “this humanitarian crisis is not given the proper attention by the competent government agencies, which do not improve, but only blame each other to hold some of them accountable.” Karbalai called on the different parties to cooperate in order to resolve the issue in Basra Province, putting aside the “conflicts of power”, to “end the suffering of the people of Basra.”
On August 24, the Iraqi Ministry of Health denied reports concerning the spread of epidemics in Basra Province due to water contamination, and it announced sending more medical supplies to the province, to prevent a possible emergency. The Ministry said it had already sent a team of experts, which confirmed that there was no evidence of any serious cholera outbreaks, and that the recorded cases were “mild and moderate”, and did not require hospitalization.
On August 26, Iraqi Members of Parliament (MPs) elected for Basra Province, threatened not to vote for the new government it it fails to find a solution for the province’s problems, especially the ones concerning drinking water and the pollution. Basra Province depends on the Shatt al-Arab waters, which, according to the Ministry of Water Resources, have reached a proportion of 7500 tds of dissolved salts in water, when the World Health Organization (WHO) considers it unacceptable when water salinity exceeds the 1200 tds. During a press conference, MP Khaled al-Khazali said that “the deputies agreed not to remain spectators of what the province is going through.” Khazali added that “in the event of a failure to respond to Basra’s needs, we will call for an open sit-in, and we will not vote for the next government, unless its program includes solutions.” Basra Province holds 25 out of 329 seats in the Iraqi parliament. Khazali said that during a meeting among the Basra MPs, they agreed upon recommending “the need of increasing water releases to 100m3/s, as well as the need to spend financial budget benefits within the 2018 budget for desalination plants.”
On August 26, the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights documented the high incidence of diarrhea, skin diseases and cancer in Basra Province. The Commission released a statement saying that “the delegation of the High Commission for Human Rights formed for the purpose of visiting Basra Province and investigating on the humanitaria reality of the province, arrived in Basra and documented violations of environmental and health pollution [rules].” The statement added that “high incidence of diarrhea, skin diseases and cancer are due to environmental and health pollution, and water salinity,” and it encouraged citizens to “file complaints against ministries who caused the violations” of health and environment policies in Basra.
On August 27, the Basra Health Department announced that 4,000 cases of poisoning related to contaminated drinking water were recorded in Basra Province. Hospitals in the province are in state of maximum alert, as as many cases of diarrhea and intestinal diseases are reported, duck to the lack of chlorine for water sterilization. Health officials in Basra Province revealed that several samples of water coming from water bottles, water plants were analyzed, and found to be chlorine-free, which means the water was not sterilized. Lagoon waters in the province were also found to be polluted. The Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights called for the government to declare the state of emergency in Basra Province. In the meantime, activists launched a campaign under the name “#savingBasra”, to bring international attention on the issues affecting the province.
On August 28, during its regular session, the Iraqi Council of Ministers discussed measures to take in order to face water pollution issues in Basra Province. As a result of the meeting, the Ministry of Water Resources committed to deliver the water quota of Basra Province to a rate of 75 m3/second and remove the excesses on the river. Additionally, the Council decided to monitor the chlorine content in the water produced in filter stations, including water projects managed by the private sector. Basra Health Department will be strengthened through the delivery of medical supplies, and additional tests will be conducted on waters.
On August 29, the Iraqi Human Rights Commission revealed that 18,000 cases of contamination linked to polluted water were recorded in Basra Province. The commission released a statement saying that “it is estimated that 18,000 cases have been reported in the province’s hospitals so far, ranging from diarrheas, acute intestinal colics and vomiting, affecting all age groups, and entire families.” The statement added that its delegation “documented the high level of salinity in the waters feeding the Shatt al-Arab, the decline of water in rivers feeding residential areas, and the increase in chemical and biological contaminants in the Shatt al-Arab [waters], due to residues of factories and sewage.” The statement also read that “the lack of specialized medical laboratories in Basra, the delay in sending samples to the Ministry of Health in Baghdad, in addition to the lack of water discharges allocated to Basra province, and the violations, have increased the percentage of salinity of water,” together with “the transformation of the course of the Karun River from its main outlet, which led to a major humanitarian disaster in the region, causing the loss of crops and raising great risks for individuals.” The Commission warned that if an effective solution will not be found, contamination cases might increase, with a higher risk of a cholera epidemic breakout. The Commission will submit its reports to the Iraqi government, as well as the United Nations (U.N.) and the U.N. Human Rights Council, and will plan to meet with “the representatives of the embassies of the countries concerned to resolve the crisis, especially Turkey and Iran, as well as coordination with the international missions in Iraq.”
On August 29, the head of the Sadiqun bloc in Basra, Uday Awad, announced that MPs from Basra will not attend the Parliament session which will take place on September 3, 2018. Awad said in a statement that they will “refrain from attending the meeting of the House of Representatives scheduled to be held in a few days, until there are immediate responses to the demands of the province and its people.” Awad said the decision is made in solidarity with Basra residents, “who are going through a toxic crisis.”
On August 24, Iraqi President Fuad Masum met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Baghdad. The President’s office released a statement saying that “the meeting discussed the political, security and economic developments in the country, including the problem of services in Basra,” pointing out that one of the main topic of discussion was “accelerating the formation of the largest bloc, in preparation for the convening of the fourth session of the House of Representatives within the constitutional time.”
On August 24, Iraqi President Fuad Masum held a meeting with Nouri al-Maliki, leader of the State of Law Coalition, in Baghdad, after he met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. The President’s office released a statement concerning the meeting with Maliki, saying that they discussed “the necessity of convening the fourth session of the House of Representatives within the constitutional deadline and the importance of adhering to the Constitution and respect the will of voters to reform and develop the country’s institutions, and to develop of services.”
On August 26, Iraqi President Fuad Masum met with United States (U.S.) ambassador to Iraq, Douglas Silliman, in Baghdad. The President’s office released a statement concerning the meeting, saying Masum “reviewed with Silliman ways of enhancing the relations of cooperation between the two countries and the two friendly peoples, as well as the overall political and security developments in Iraq and the region.” Masum expressed “appreciation for the continued support of the United States in various fields,” while Silliman reiterated U.S. support for stability in Iraq, and said the U.S. will continue to provide assistance to Iraq, according to strategic agreements between the two countries.
On AUgust 26, Iraqi President Fuad Masum met with the delegation of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), during their official visit to Baghdad. According to the statement released by the President’s office, the meeting stressed the need to convene the Parliament by the constitutional deadline, in order to start the process of the formation of the new government. The leaders also discussed the political development in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), as well as enhancing cooperation and collaboration among the parties in the upcoming political process.
On August 27, Iraqi President Fuad Masum issued a decree according to which the Iraqi parliament will convene on September 3, 2018, preparing lawmakers to elect a new government. Masum’s office released a statement saying that “the President has held several substantive talks with all political groups, urging them to finalize their political agreements in order to meet constitutional provisions.”
On August 27, Al Sumaria published the decree issued by Iraqi President Fuad Masum to convene the parliament of September 3, 2018. According to the decree, “the session will be presided by the oldest member.”
On August 25, the leader of the Iraqi Communist Party, Raed Fahmi, said that the signs are “positive from Kurds and Sunnis to ally with the “nucleus” of the largest bloc to form the next Iraqi government.” Fahmi added that “there is real tangible progress towards forming the largest bloc. The next few days may be better.”
On August 25, Massoud Barzani, former President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), affirmed that the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) feels closer to the State of Law Coalition, led by Nouri al-Maliki, though it has not drawn a “red line”. Barzani added that the KDP agreed with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) upon precondition to ally with any Shia faction, including “balancing the Iraqi components in the institutions of the state, and maintaining a genuine partnership in the administration of the country and the implementation of the Iraqi constitution with respect to obligations in the disputed areas, including Kirkuk.”
On August 25, the Iraqi Islamic Party expressed its support for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the national majority coalition. The leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party, Ayad al-Samarrai, said in a statement that “we look at the Victory Alliance, led by the Prime Minister, a project for the future, not the project of the person of Abadi, and we have asked him to preserve the unity of the Victory Alliance.” Samarrai added that “the Victory Alliance should be the focus of the gathering of others, and we are with it as long as it is unified as a project for the future, not for the Prime Minister, and do not accept its dissolution.”
On August 26, the vice president of the Sairoon Alliance, Nazem Abadi, declared that the Alliance is in talks with Kurdish and Sunni blocs to take part in the formation of the national majority project. He said that “the discussions and understandings reached advance stages.” He also pointed out that “the Sairoon Alliance put forward a program, not a candidate for prime minister or any other government post, providing a safe environment to attract the rest of the blocks, with the element of confidence, because of Sadr’s adoption of the subject personally.” Abadi also noted that “the most important thing is the way out of the political impasse, as well as [the way out of] the growing popular anger over the failure of previous governments,with the Alliance providing a solution to save the country, and reform of reality, as well as reform the reality of blocs and parties as we propose a code of honor, which regulates the solution and exit from the tunnel failure and dark corruption.”
On August 27, the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) announced the start of the process for registering alliances to form the new Iraqi government. This comes after the Iraqi Supreme Court ratified the results of the parliamentary elections on August 19, 2018.
On August 27, Mansour al-Baiji, member of the State of Law Coalition, accused the United States (U.S.) of trying to interfere with the Iraqi political process of forming a new government. Baiji said in a statement that “the Americans are seeking to form a future government that works according to their agendas and meets their interests in the region,” adding that his coalition “rejects any foreign intervention to form the next government, on the grounds that the formation of the government must be an Iraqi decision without the intervention of any external party and if the blocks will respond to the pressure of the US, the next government will be equal to the previous quotas for each party and this is what the Americans are seeking to achieve their interests.”
On August 27, the National Coalition, led by Iyad Allawi, suggested the formation of temporary government and to hold new parliamentary elections. Hadi al-Dhalmi, spokesman for the National Coalition, said in a statement that “the leadership of the Iraqi National Coalition has repeatedly stressed, on all occasions, that the first step in the way out of Iraq’s chronic crises begins with free and fair elections that represent the will and interests of all Iraqis without discrimination. The violation of this condition, in a serious and continuous manner, especially in the last parliamentary elections, has brought the crisis back to its beginnings and warns of worrying repercussions.” Dhalmi added that “the Iraqi National Coalition shares the public’s rejection of the results of the elections and calls for the accountability of the people and for a responsible review of the political process as a whole.”
On August 28, Qais al-Khazali, leader of the PMU Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), said during a meeting with the leader of the Fatah Alliance, Hadi al-Amiri, that the U.S. is pressuring parties to form a new government. Khazali said that “U.S. President Donald Trump’s envoy will arrive today in Baghdad to pressure some parties into forming a new government.” Khazali added that “if the U.S. embassy continues to intervene, we will not be silent, and the parties that support it must stop it. America intervenes in negotiations to form a government openly and sometimes it even imposes certain personalities.”
On August 28, Iraqi prime Minister Haider al-Abadi released a statement saying that Iraq will send a negotiating team to the United States (U.S.), to discuss an agreement on financial transactions with Iran. Abadi said during a press conference that “we have requests for the American side, we have presented them, and a delegation will go to negotiate within that framework,” adding that “we have presented a clear vision of what Iraq really needs. This includes Iranian (natural) gas, which is very important, as well as other trade and the electricity sector.” Abadi affirmed that U.S. sanctions on Iran are “unilateral” and “oppressive”, pointing out that Iraq will not take part in the “blockade”, having experienced international sanctions during the Saddam Hussein regime.
On August 28, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, Brett McGurk arrived in Baghdad and met with Iraqi Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi. According to Nujaifi’s office, the meeting discussed political developments in Iraq and the ongoing negotiations to form a national majority and a new government. McGurk reported on his meeting with KRG Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, and reiterated Washington’s committment in helping Iraq.
On August 29, the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, Hamam Hamoudi, warned against foreign interference in Iraqi affairs, saying it violates the country sovereignty and people’s right to choose their own government. Hamoudi talked about the current political situation and the formation of a national majority, as well as the importance of speeding up the process of forming a new government.
On August 30, the leader of the National Coalition, Iyad Allawi, met with U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, Brett McGurk, and U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Douglas Silliman. During the meeting, Allawi said that the new Iraqi government should be the result of a national dialogue, which leads to a real partnership, far from foreign influence. Allawi added that the formation of the new government should include all the winning parties, within the principle of partnership, not participation.
On August 30, the leader of the Fatah Alliance, Hadi al-Amiri, held a meeting with the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, Brett McGurk. Amiri rejected any U.S. involvement in the government formation process, and threatened to take down the government after two months, if the U.S. would interfere. Amiri said that “if you insist in intervening, we would consider any government to be your client, and we would drop it within two months.”
IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties
|08/24/2018||Khanaqin, 113 kilometers northeast of Baqubah||0||2|
|8/25/2018||Hosseinia, 41 kilometers north of Baghdad||0||0|
|8/25/2018||Hawija, 68 kilometers west of Kirkuk||0||3|
|8/26/2018||Dora, 11 kilometers south of Baghdad||0||3|
|8/28/2018||Muqdadiyah, 30 kilometers northeast of Baqubah||1||0|
|8/28/2018||Muqdadiyah, 30 kilometers northeast of Baqubah||0||4|
|8/29/2018||Taji, 37 kilometers north of Baghdad||0||2|
|8/29/2018||Qaim District, 283 kilometers northwest of Ramadi||8||12|
|8/29/2018||Al-Makhisa, 25 kilometers northeast of Baqubah||1||0|
|8/30/2018||Abbasi, 65 kilometers southwest of Kirkuk||2||3|
Please note: some geographic locations represented are approximations and this map may not represent all incidents.
Derived from firsthand accounts and Iraq-based Arabic and Kurdish news sources, the Iraq Security and Humanitarian Monitor is a free publication of the Education for Peace in Iraq Center.