ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM 210: JUNE 20 – JUNE 27, 2019

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Key Takeaways:

  • Iraq Parliament Approves New Ministers Of Defense, Interior and Justice; Multiple Governors Sacked; New Protests In Basra, Baghdad And Najaf; French President To Visit Iraq – On June 24, the Iraqi Parliament voted to approve the appointment of new ministers for Defense, Interior Minister, and Justice, but failed to confirm a candidate for the Ministry of Education. On June 20, the French President announced that he intends to visit Iraq before the end of the year. On June 20, protestors gathered in Baghdad to condemn government corruption and the lack of public services. On June 22, dozens of Basrawis demanded the dissolution of the provincial council, the removal of the governor, and better services. On June 23, dozens of citizens protested in Najaf asking for better electricity provision and better health care. On June 25, protests flared in Basra again as demonstrators demanded better electric service and an answer to unemployment. On June 24, the new KRG Prime Minister announced that he is preparing to present his cabinet nominees by the end of June. On June 26, the Dhi-Qar provincial council voted to dismiss governor Yahya al-Nasiri. On June 27, the Diwaniyah provincial council voted to sack governor Sami al-Hasnawi. One June 27, the Administrative Court of Justice ratified an earlier decision in May by the Karbala provincial council to remove governor Aqil al-Turaihi from office. more…
  • U.S. Denies Reports Of Evacuating Contractors; Militant Attacks Continue In Baghdad And Northern Provinces; ISF And Coalition Forces Conduct Multiple Operations – On June 21, Iraqi and U.S. military spokesmen denied reports that U.S. forces were planning the evacuation of staff from the Balad military base.On June 20, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive belt inside a cafe in t Diyala province. On June 21, a bomb killed or injured multiple people in a Shia mosque in Baghdad. On June 23, an IED exploded in southwestern Baghdad. n June 23, ISIS attacked a village west of Mosul, killing one. On June 24, ISIS killed three civilians in Kirkuk province. On June 25, an IED targeted an Iraqi police patrol in Kirkuk killing one officer and injuring four. On June 26, a second IED attack killed a senior police officer near Kirkuk. On June 27, ISIS attacked a southwest of Mosul, killing three women and injuring several others. On June 21, the ISF announced a preventative military operation to drive out ISIS militants in the desert between Ninewa and Anbar. On June 24, PMF forces conducted a large operation to secure 120 kilometers of Iraq’s borders with Syria.On June 23, Iraqi counterterrorism forces (CTS) supported by coalition aircraft, destroyed ten tunnels and caves southwest of Mosul. On June 24, security forces destroyed another two tunnels and a weapons cache south of Mosul. On June 24, CTS reported killing 14 ISIS members south of Kirkuk. On June 24, coalition aircraft killed five ISIS fighters in an airstrike in Anbar. On June 25, an international coalition strike killed seven other ISIS members in Kirkuk. On June 26, Canada announced that it would extend its NATO training mission in Iraq until November 2020. Canada has been leading the training mission, involving 250 of the 850 personnel it has currently stationed in Iraq, since 2018. more…
  • Mass Grave Discovered Near Mosul; UN And Iraq Discuss Prosecution Of Foreign ISIS Fighters; Iraq To Close Ninewa IDP Camps; Water Shortage Threatens Sulaymaniya; Toxic Fumes Force Evacuations – On June 21, Ninewa police revealed the discovery of a mass grave containing 29 bodies of the police officers who were killed by ISIS south of Mosul. On June 21, Iraq’s Minister of Immigration confirmed the upcoming closure of IDP camps in Ninewa. On June 24, the U.N. human rights chief called for the release and repatriation of more than 55,000 suspected ISIS fighters and families currently detained in Iraq and Syria. On June 25, a local official said that at least 30 of the province’s 56 water pumps were defective, which could lead to severe shortages of potable water. On June 26, Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi revealed that Iraq is discussing with the UN whether it can prosecute foreign ISIS fighters held in Syria who did not commit crimes in Iraq. On June 26, HRW warned of torture in Iraq’s prisons after a detainee lost an arm while in police custody. On June 26, two villages in Mosul were evacuated after a fire in the al-Mishraq sulfur factory emitted toxic gas. more…
  • Baghdad And Erbil Negotiate Their Oil And Budget Obligations; Major Oil Deal With ExxonMobil In Doubt; Iraq Exported 110 Million Barrels Of Oil In May – On June 20, the KRG president met with Iraq’s prime minister, president, and Speaker of Parliament to discuss the 2020 budget and the region’s oil exports. On June 21, Reuters reported that a $53 billion oil infrastructure deal between Iraq and ExxonMobil has been stymied by contractual disagreements and security concerns. On June 24, the Ministry of Oil announced that it continues to offer spot shipments of oil through electronic auction to capture extra revenue. On June 24, the KRG president met with the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq to discuss economic opportunities in the KRI. On June 24, Iraq’s Ministry of Oil reported exporting more than 110 million barrels of oil in May, generating revenue in excess of $7 billion. 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.


Iraq Parliament Approves New Ministers Of Defense, Interior and Justice; Multiple Governors Sacked; New Protests In Basra, Baghdad And Najaf; French President To Visit Iraq

On June 20, protestors gathered in Baghdad to condemn government corruption and the lack of public services. Many blamed political parties and the quota system for government failures. The protestors also expressed support for other civil movements in Basra and called for other demonstrations around the country. On June 22, dozens of Basrawi citizens demonstrated outside the local government building. According to al-Sumaria News, the demonstrators demanded the dissolution of the provincial council, the removal of the governor, better services and jobs. On June 23, dozens of citizens protested in Najaf asking for better electricity provision and better health care. On June 25, protests flared in Basra again as demonstrators demanded better electric service and an answer to unemployment.

On June 24, the new Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Masrour Barzani, announced that he is preparing to present his cabinet nominees by the end of June. On June 22, Barzani had met with several Christian and Turkmen parties to assure them that they would be represented in the new cabinet. Aidn Maruf, head of the Turkmen Front, said that his group would be given the “Minister of Region” post while Jameel Zaito, leader of one of the Christian parties, said that they were ready to accept any cabinet position. Meanwhile, the Yazidi Spiritual Council released a statement demanding cabinet posts for Yazidis. The Council said that the new prime minister has yet to offer them anything. On June 24, the second biggest party in the KRG, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), stated that they would only support the cabinet if they were allowed to nominate the next governor of Kirkuk. The prime minister’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) said it had taken the PUK’s request into consideration, but that it was more important to first finalize a cabinet. On June 26, the PUK and KDP met for negotiations in order to resolve the dispute. A member of the PUK, Khalid Shwani, expressed confidence that both sides would reach a deal soon.

On June 24, the Iraqi Parliament voted to approve the appointment of new ministers for Defense, Interior Minister, and Justice, but failed to confirm the candidate for the Ministry of Education. These positions had been vacant for more than 13 months since Iraq’s May 2018 election. The breakthrough came on the heels of news that half a dozen parties were moving to oppose Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi’s government. The move also came nine days after Moqtada al-Sadr gave Abdul Mahdi and Parliament ten days to end the deadlock that had thus far prevented the completion of cabinet formation. Najah al-Shammari’s confirmation for the Defense post was the smoothest with 190 votes out of 223 lawmakers in attendance. New Interior Minister, Yasin al-Yasiri, by contrast, only won 150 votes, indicating weaker consensus on his nomination. Parliament did not approve Shaima Al-Hayali for the Education Ministry, due to footage allegedly showing her brother’s involvement with ISIS. The new Minister of Justice, Farouk Amin, was confirmed the KDP and PUK nominated him as their consensus candidate for the position. On June 27, Prime Minister Abdul- Mahdi presented another candidate for the Education Ministry, Zahida Abdullah Mohammed, who also failed to gain enough votes in Parliament.

On June 24, KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani met with the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State to Iraq and Iran, Andrew Peek. They discussed the situation in Iraq’s disputed territories as well reestablishing joint security mechanisms between federal Iraqi and KRG security forces. Barzani asked Peek to help secure salary payments for the Peshmerga.

On June 25, Iraqi President Barham Salih met with British Prime Minister Teresa May in London. May praised the Iraqi government’s attempts at defusing regional tensions involving Iran and the U.S., while Salih thanked the United Kingdom for its assistance in defeating ISIS. The two leaders  discussed greater cooperation in combating terrorism in the region.

On June 26, the Dhi-Qar provincial council voted to dismiss the governor, Yahya al-Nasiri. Out of 23 council members, 22 voted to remove the governor from office. Yahya al-Nasiri, an ally of former Prime Minister Hairder al-Abadi, was sacked on charges of corruption in a move spearheaded by Nouri al-Maliki’s coalition and the Sadr Movement.

On June 27, the Diwaniyah provincial council voted to sack the governor, Sami al-Hasnawi. In the vote, 16 council members supported the removal of al-Hasnawi and appointed the second deputy, Malik Husseini as the interim governor.

One June 27, the Administrative Court of Justice ratified an earlier decision in May by the Karbala provincial council to remove governor Aqil al-Turaihi from office. Following the court’s decision, the provincial council announced it would hold an emergency session to choose a new governor.


U.S. Denies Reports Of Evacuating Contractors; Militant Attacks Continue In Baghdad And Northern Provinces; ISF And Coalition Forces Conduct Multiple Operations

On June 20, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive belt inside a popular cafe in the Khanaqin district in Diyala province. No casualties were reported.

On June 21, Iraqi and U.S. military spokesmen denied reports that U.S. forces were planning the evacuation of staff of Lockheed Martin Corp and Sallyport Global from the Balad military base, where they work as contractors. This clarification comes after four separate reports from military sources claimed the two firms were preparing to leave the base over security threats.  Last week, three mortar shells and one rocket hit the Balad and Taji bases, respectively, and ExxonMobil evacuated 21 foreign staff after their site in Basra came under rocket attack.

On June 21, a bomb killed or injured multiple people in a Shia mosque in the Baladiyat neighborhood of Baghdad. Sources conflict on the number of casualties, with some reporting as few as two killed and nine wounded and others reporting up to seven killed and over twenty wounded. On June 22, according to Reuters, police claimed that the higher casualty reports were false and came from witnesses who were feeding incorrect information to make the attack look more successful. Reuters reported the number of casualties as around seven wounded. On June 23, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

On June 21, the Ministry of Defense announced conducting a preventative military operation to drive out ISIS militants in the desert between Sinjar in Ninewa and al-Qaim in Anbar. On June 24, elements of the PMF conducted a large operation to secure 120 kilometers of Iraq’s borders with Syria and prevent further infiltration by ISIS members into Iraq.

On June 23, an IED exploded in the Shurta Rab’a neighborhood in southwestern Baghdad. No casualties were reported.

On June 23, ISIS attacked the village of Tufaha west of Mosul, killing the son of the village mukhtar during a firefight with the village residents. The assailants fled when security forces arrived at the scene.

On June 24, ISIS killed three civilians in al-Wardiya village in the Abbasi district in Kirkuk province.

On June 23, security sources in Diyala province reported destroying several hideouts in the Mendili district used by ISIS militants for storing supplies. During the operation, a suicide bomber attacked security personnel and was killed before he could detonate his explosive belt.

On June 23, Iraqi counterterrorism forces, with support from international coalition aircraft, destroyed ten tunnels and caves in the region between Hatra and Sainiya southwest of Mosul, killing an unspecified number of ISIS fighters in the process. On June 24, security forces destroyed another two tunnels and a weapons cache south of Mosul.

On June 24, Iraqi counterterrorism forces reported that they had conducted operations south of Kirkuk city, supported by international coalition aircraft, resulting in the killing of 14 ISIS members. Also on June 24, in Anbar province, international coalition aircraft conducted a strike near Akashat that killed five more ISIS fighters. On June 25, an international coalition strike killed seven other ISIS members as they took refuge in a hideout in Kirkuk province.

On June 25, Turkish warplanes killed four PKK members and destroyed the group’s bunkers, weapons stockpiles, and hideouts in the Zab and Hackork areas in northern Iraq as part of Turkey’s continuing “Operation Claw” against the PKK. On June 26, Turkish planes bombed a village in the Zinian region north east of Erbil, killing one civilian and injuring another.

On June 25, an IED targeted an Iraqi police patrol in the district of al-Rashad in western Kirkuk province, killing one officer and injuring four. On June 26, a second IED attack killed a senior police officer and injured four of his bodyguards on the Kirkuk-Baghdad road near Haftaghar village. No party has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks.

On June 26, Canada announced that it would extend its NATO training mission in Iraq until November 2020. Canada has been leading the training mission, involving 250 of the 850 personnel it has currently stationed in Iraq, since 2018.

On June 27, ISIS attacked Khazrajiya village in the Baaj district southwest of Mosul. Casualty reports claim that up to three women were killed and several other villagers were wounded, including children.


New Mass Grave Discivered Near Mosul; UN And Iraq Discuss Prosecution Of Foriegn ISIS Fighters; Iraq To CLose Ninewa IDP Camps; Water Shortage Threatens Sulaymaniya; Toxic Fumes Force Evacuations

On June 21, Ninewa police revealed the discovery of a mass grave containing 29 bodies of the police officers south of Mosul. The police members were allegedly executed by ISIS in the village of al-Athba, according to one source. The bodies were handed over to forensic services in Mosul for identification.

On June 21, Iraq’s Minister of Immigration, Nofal Bahaa Mousa, confirmed the upcoming closure of internally displaced person (IDP) camps in Ninewa. Mousa and a committee representing various federal ministries visited the area prior to the announcement. The closure of the IDPs camps would come in stages, ending with the hopeful return of IDPs to their homes. The minister asserted that his government is “serious” about the plight of Yezidi survivors of ISIS atrocities and refugees abroad.

On June 24, the U.N. human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, called for the release and repatriation of more than 55,000 suspected ISIS fighters and families currently detained in Iraq and Syria. In Iraq, most of the detainees are held by the Iraqi government. In her appeal, Bachelet referenced more than 150 men and women who have been sentenced to death in Iraq without due process. She also reminded countries of their responsibilities under international law, and urged European countries to take back their nationals, which most are reluctant to do. Bachelet told Human Rights Council that “foreign family members should be repatriated, unless they are to be prosecuted for crimes in accordance with international standards.”

On June 25, a member of the Sulaimaniya provincial council announced that at least 30 of the province’s 56 water pumps were defective, which he warned could lead to severe shortages of potable water in the province. The official warned that the remaining pumps could also break due to poor maintenance. According to local media, summer shortages have been a recurring issue and as a result, residents now receive drinking water only a few days a week. The former governor reportedly sent multiple requests to the regional government for funding to deal with the problem that went unanswered.

On June 26, Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi revealed that Iraq is discussing with the United Nations whether it can prosecute foreign ISIS fighters held in Syria who did not commit crimes in Iraq. The detainees include at least 2,000 suspected fighters, many of whom are from Western countries. Many European countries are unwilling to take back citizens who traveled to fight for ISIS, raising controversy regarding where the fighters ought to be prosecuted. In recent weeks, Iraqi courts have sentenced approximately a dozen French citizens released to Iraq by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to death after being found guilty of ISIS membership.

On June 26, Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned of torture in Iraq’s prisons after a detainee lost an arm while in police custody. The man was arrested in March 2018 and was allegedly hung by his hands for three days during his interrogation, but did not receive medical treatment until July 2018. Lama Fakih, the deputy Middle East director at HRW, commented that this case is a sign that “something is very wrong in Iraqi detention facilities.” The report called for the Iraqi government to protect its detainees against abuses.

On June 26, two villages in Mosul were evacuated after a fire in the al-Mishraq sulfur factory emitted toxic gas. The President of the Ninewa provincial council declared a state of emergency for the province, leading to the evacuation of the villages of al-Safina and Talul Nasser. The villagers escaped to Mosul. The causes of the fire are unknown.


Baghdad And Erbil Negotiate Their Oil And Budget Obligations; Major Oil Deal With ExxonMobil In Doubt; Iraq Exports 110 Million bpd In May

On June 20, the President of the Kurdistan Region, Nechirvan Barzani, met with Iraq’s prime minister, president, and Speaker of Parliament to discuss the 2020 budget and the region’s oil exports. New disputes emerged over the KRG’s failure to uphold its obligation under the 2019 budget agreement to deliver 250,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) to the central government in exchange for a share of 10 trillion dinars (almost 8.5 billion USD) of the federal budget. On June 22, Barzani, said that the region has “no problem” handing over 250 thousand bpd to Baghdad, but he cautioned that “there are legal issues,” so there must be discussions of the terms before any exchange is carried out. On June 26, Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi said that Barzani showed his willingness to keep his side of the deal by transferring the oil. He added that although there is no timeline attached to these discussions, the government was “committed to implementing the law.” The Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Fouad Hussein reported that Japan, Oman, and Switzerland are mediating between Erbil and Baghdad.

On June 21, Reuters reported that a $53 billion oil infrastructure deal between Iraq and ExxonMobil has been stymied by contractual disagreements and security concerns. The project aims to boost oil output from Iraq’s southern fields. Iraqi officials stated the most pressing disagreement surrounds ExxonMobil’s proposal to recover the development costs by sharing the oil produced by two fields, which Iraq says encroaches on state ownership of production. The deal has also been hindered by two evacuations of ExxonMobil’s staff from Iraq due to recent rocket attacks and tensions between Iran and the United States. An Iraqi oil official voiced skepticism about the deal’s future. “The question is how [ExxonMobil] will run a $53 billion project with constant regional instability. They might abandon work again and that will hurt our energy sector.”

On June 22, Iraq’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Ali al-Hakim, called on France to aid in Iraq’s reconstruction by investing in the country. In a phone call, Hakim and his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian also discussed  bilateral relations and the latest regional developments.

On June 23, the Central Bank of Iraq announced the establishment of a Takaful insurance company for all Islamic banks. Takaful insurance refers to a type of Islamic insurance in which members contribute money into a pool system to guarantee each other. To establish the new program, the Central Bank worked with the Insurance Bureau and created a pool of 15 billion dinars (over $12.5 million) with the participation of all Islamic banks in Iraq.

On June 24, the Ministry of Oil announced that it continues to offer spot shipments of oil through electronic auction. The ministry reported that the total extra revenue generated from such sales from June 2017 to April 2019 exceeded $43.5 million.

On June 24, KRG President Nechirvan Barzani met with the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Teuller to discuss economic opportunities in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Barzani emphasized that American companies can benefit from working with the KRI as a gateway to reach the rest of Iraq. During this visit, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Mission to the KRI also signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between the U.S. Chamber and the KRI Federation of Chambers of Commerce.

On June 24, Iraq’s Ministry of Oil reported exporting more than 110 million barrels of oil in May, generating revenue in excess of $7 billion. Of that total, 106.6 million barrels came from central and southern oil fields, 3.16 million barrels came from Kirkuk, and approximately 900 thousand barrels came from the Qayyara oil field in Ninewa. The average selling price was 66.190 dollars per barrel.

On June 25, the mayor of the Merka-Sur district announced that work is underway to Turkey. The mayor said the road would subsequently allow for creating a new border crossing between Turkey and the KRI and contribute to improving trade between Iraq and Turkey.


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs June 20, 2019 - June 27, 2019

The following table includes both civilian and security forces who were either injured or killed due to improvised explosive devices (IEDs), vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), or suicide attacks.
DateLocationDeathsInjuries
06/20/19Corniche Street, Khanaqin, Diyala00
06/21/19Baladiyat, Baghdad720
06/23/19Shurta Raba'a neighborhood, southwest Baghdad00
06/25/19al-Rashad district, western Kirkuk province14
06/26/19Kirkuk-Baghdad road, near Haftaghar14

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.


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