ISHM 212: JULY 4 – JULY 11, 2019

ISHM LOGO

Key Takeaways:

    • New KRG Cabinet Sworn In; Baghdad And Erbil Agree On Security Arrangements In Disputed Territories; Parliament Fails To Amend Local Elections Law – On July 10, Masrour Barzani and 22 other candidates were sworn in as the new prime minister and cabinet of the KRI. The new ministers are all affiliated with the KDP, PUK and the Gorran, except for two representing Turkmen and Christian minority communities. On July 10, PM Abdul-Mahdi announced that the Iraqi Defense Ministry has reached an agreement with the KRG over security arrangements in the disputed areas. On July 10, Iraq’s parliament failed to vote on amending the local elections law due to lingering disagreements over elections in Kirkuk. On July 5, the Defense Minister ordered an investigation into allegations of treason against the Anbar operations commander, who’s accused of collaborating with the CIA against the PMF. On July 10, KRI President Nechirvan Barzani visited French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris. On July 11, Iraq’s Defense and Foreign Ministers, and the chief of Iraqi intelligence concluded a visit to Turkey, where they met with Turkish leaders, including President Erdogan, to discuss counter-terrorism cooperation. On July 4, the National Union of Iraqi Journalists demanded protections for freedom of the press after a senior commander threatened to arrest journalists for covering what he described as “illegal protests” demanding better services. more…
    • Iraq Launches Major Anti-ISIS Operation; Iranian Shelling, Turkish Airstrikes Impact KRI; Militant Attacks Cause Casualties in Multiple Provinces – On July 7, Iraq launched operation “Will of Victory” targeting ISIS sleeper cells in Ninewa, Salah ad-Din, and Anbar. About 20,000 fighters from the army, Popular and Tribal Mobilization Forces have participated in this operation which discovered and destroyed numerous ISIS targets. On July 4, an IED killed four people and injured five in the Tarmiyah district, north of Baghdad. On July 6, gunmen attacked a checkpoint south of Fallujah, killing two policemen and wounding another; On July 7, three IEDs detonated near vehicles belonging to a Kuwaiti company in Basra, wounding one person. On July 7, a “sticky bomb” attached to a vehicle used by the PMF exploded, killing four fighters and wounding one. On July 7, a car bomb in northeastern Diyala injured one civilian. Two policemen were wounded in a subsequent ambush. On July 9, three mortar rounds struck the town of al-Sharqat, north of Salah ad-Din province, killing three and wounding four. On July 10, Turkish media announced new airstrikes targeting PKK sites in the KRI, killing 15 PKK members. On July 10, a KDP source reported that Iranian forces have shelled the party’s sites in Choman area in Erbil province, killing 3 people. more…
    • HRW Urges Solution To Inhumane Crowding In Ninewa Prisons; The Netherlands To Stop Repatriating Yezidi Refugees; Babylon Recognized As World Heritage Site; UNDP Helps Restore Services In Mosul – On July 4, HRW said that three prisons in Ninewa were holding almost twice the numbers they are designed to hold. On July 5, the Netherlands said it would halt the repatriation of Yazidi refugees to Iraq and that the refugees would be classified as a vulnerable minority, making it easier for them to claim asylum. On July 4, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) warned that over 300,000 Mosul residents are still IDPs, many of whom are both homeless and stateless due to loss of ID cards. On June 5, UNESCO classified Babylon as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On July 10, Norway donated $9 million to the UN Development Fund to support Iraq’s reconstruction. The money will be dispersed through the UNDP restructuring program and funneled into areas recaptured from ISIS. In total, Norway has donated $45 million to the fund. On July 11, the Government of Ninewa reopened a variety of public and community services in Mosul rebuilt with the help of the UNDP. To date, UNDP has completed or started 847 stabilization projects in Mosul city. more…
    • Iraq To Sign Power Contract With Siemens; Iraq Discusses Oil Cooperation With Oman; World Bank Loans Baghdad $200 Million – On July 4, the German Ambassador to Iraq said Siemens will sign a contract with the Iraqi Government to construct two 800 megawatt power stations. On July 4, Iraqi’s Minister of Oil met with his Omani counterpart and agreed to increase cooperation between their oil and gas sectors, including establishing a joint oil refinery in Oman. On July 7, Iraq and the World Bank signed an agreement for a $200 million loan to improve energy distribution in the provinces of Basra, Dhi-Qar, Maysan, and al-Muthanna. On July 8, the Central Bank of Iraq raised the ceiling of loans for small and medium businesses to one billion dinars (approximately $840,000). On July 8, al-Sumaria reported that nine Iraqi and foreign companies have ceased operations in Iraq this year due to demands for “royalties”, kickbacks, and other benefits by certain influential parties. 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.


    New KRG Cabinet Sworn In; Baghdad And Erbil Agree On Security Arrangements In Disputed Territories; Parliament Fails To Amend Local Elections Law

    On July 10, Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi announced that the Iraqi Defense Ministry has reached an agreement with the Peshmerga Ministry of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) over security arrangements in the disputed areas. According to the agreement, the forces would cooperate to protect and eliminate security gaps along 500 kilometers of internal borders in disputed areas and along Iraq’s borders with Syria and Iran. Peshmerga forces would not operate in urban areas, which would be controlled by federal police, Abdul-Mahdi said. The agreement also does not cover any other topics, such as oil operations in Kirkuk, a source of chronic disputes between Baghdad and Erbil. The agreement followed an announcement on July 4 by the Deputy Speaker of Iraq’s parliament, in which he stated that a committee had been formed to address stabilization of  the disputed areas between federal authorities and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Deputy Speaker Bashir Haddad said the UN would oversee the work of that committee. Haddad stressed the need for the return of Peshmerga to disputed territories and coordination with Iraqi security forces, warning that “Baghdad cannot solve the issue of those areas alone.” 

    On July 4, the National Union of Iraqi Journalists held a protest outside the Basra government building, demanding protections for freedom of the press. The union asked Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi to step in and protect them against threats of arrest and prosecution Protesters were referring to comments made by the Basra operations commander, General Qasim Nazzal, who recently threatened to arrest journalists for covering what he described as “illegal protests” demanding better services. The Iraq Ministry of Defense issued a statement saying that the commander’s warning was only meant for was journalists who spread “fake news.”

    On July 5, the Defense Minister ordered the formation of a commission to investigate allegations of treason against the Anbar operations commander, General, Mahmoud al-Falahi. Al-Falahi was accused of communicating with a CIA agent and giving the U.S. forces information to conduct strikes against Iran-backed militias in the Anbar area. Al-Mada Paper reported that Kata’ib Hezbollah leaked the alleged recording of al-Falahi that drew the accusations. The paper also cited sources claiming that the powerful militia group sought to punish al-Falahi because he continues to hold the group responsible for mass kidnappings of civilians that took place in 2016 in the al-Nukhaib area between Anbar and Karbala provinces. 

    On July 7, Iraq’s Ambassador to the U.S., Farid Yassin, remarked in an interview that there were “objective reasons” to pursue relations between Iraq and Israel, including the presence of an Iraqi community in Israel and the countries’ shared struggles with aridity. The diplomat’s comments caused a public backlash, including political calls to sack the ambassador, despite his explaining that there were also “moral and legal reasons” that precluded such relations. Iraq’s Foreign Ministry distanced itself drom the ambassador’s comments, saying they did not express the official Iraqi stance on the Palestinian situation. 

    On July 10, Masrour Barzani was sworn in as the new prime minister of the KRI, and Qubad Talabani, the incumbent deputy prime minister, was approved to keep his position. All other candidates presented by Barzani to fill the ministerial positions were approved and sworn in as well. On July 10, new Kurdistan Prime Minister Masrour Barzani told Reuters that his priority is establishing stronger ties and fostering cooperation with Baghdad as opposed to further advancements towards independence for the Kurdistan Region. The statement comes in light of the continued threat of ISIS remnants in the region and follows the failed independence referendum of 2017, which was spearheaded by Barzani’s ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Barzani had submitted the names for his future cabinet ministers on July 8. The new ministers are all affiliated with the KDP, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Gorran (Change Movement), except for two cabinet ministers representing Turkmen and Christian minority communities. Also notable about the new cabinet is the absence of Ashti Hawarami, who had served as minister of natural resources since 2006. 

    On July 10, KRI President Nechirvan Barzani visited French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris. In their meeting, Macron expressed his support for the newly-formed Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and, according to Barzani, expressed his desire to visit the KRI. The visit was Barzani’s first trip to France since his election. During the meeting, he thanked Macron for all his efforts to help mend ties between Erbil and Baghdad in the wake of the 2017 independence referendum. 

    On July 10, Iraq’s parliament failed to vote on amending the local elections law, postponing it until a later session. Thefailure was due to lack of agreement on a final version of the amendment, in particular as it concerns the disputed province of Kirkuk. 

    On July 11, Iraq’s Defense and Foreign Ministers, and the chief of Iraqi intelligence concluded a visit to Ankara, Turkey, where they and other senior Iraqi seurity officials met with Turkish leaders, including President Erdogan, to discuss security relations and counter-terrorism cooperation between the two countries. 


    Iraq Launches Major Anti-ISIS Operation; Iranian Shelling, Turkish Airstrikes Impact KRI; Militant Attacks Cause Casualties in Multiple Provinces

    On July 4, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) exploded along a road in al-Nabai neighborhood in the Tarmiyah district, north of Baghdad. The attack resulted in four deaths and five injuries among civilians . 

    On July 6, gunmen attacked a checkpoint in Amiriyat al-Sumoud (aka Amiriyat al-Fallujah) district, south of Fallujah in Anbar province. Two policemen were killed and one was injured in the attack.

    On July 7, three IEDs detonated near vehicles belonging to a Kuwaiti company in Basra. The company is known for providing logistical and life support services for diplomatic missions in Iraq. The driver of one vehicle was injured in the attacks. 

    On July 7, a “sticky bomb” attached to a vehicle used by the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) exploded on the highway between Babylonand Baghdad. The attack resulted in four deaths and one injury among the PMF members who were in that vehicle.

    On July 7, the Iraqi Security Media Cell announced the launch of a new operation dubbed “Will of Victory” targeting ISIS sleeper cells in the area between the provinces of Ninewa, Salah ad-Din, and Anbar, which forms a desert triangle leading to  the Syrian border. The U.S.-led international coalition is providing aerial support for the operation. On July 8, the Security Media Cell reported that three ISIS members were killed in Ninewa, but there had been no ISIS casualties in Salah ad-Din or Anbar. The same day, security forces in the operation seized three explosive factories in Salah ad-Din containing 16 Katyusha rockets, six artillery shells, and one bomb. On July 9, the Iraqi army carried out an airstrike against ISIS in the region of al-Jazirah, killing four militants and destroying two armored vehicles. On July 10, Al-Mada reported the conclusion of the operation that resulted in the discovery of more than 100 ISIS sites and the destruction of factories and explosive devices, in addition to killing a number of militants. About 20,000 fighters from the army, Popular and Tribal Mobilization Forces have participated in this operation.

    On July 7, a car bomb attack on the Jalawla-Kalar highway in northeastern Diyala province injured one civilian. As security forces arrived to respond to the incident, gunmen ambushed them at the scene and wounded two policemen. 

    On July 9, three mortar rounds struck the town of al-Sharqat, north of Salah ad-Din province, killing three citizens and wounding four others. ISIS fighters hiding in the Makhoul mountains are believed to be behind the attack.

    On July 10, Turkish media announced new airstrikes targeting the Kurdistan’s Workers’ party (PKK) sites in Northern Iraq. This attack has reportedly killed 15 PKK members injured others.

    On July 10, a KDP source reported that Iranian forces have shelled the party’s sites in Choman area in Erbil province, killing 3 people including a 14-year-old girl. On July 11, NRT digital media reported that shelling by the Iranian continued despite calls by the KRG to halt fire. 


    HRW Urges Solution To Crowding In Ninewa Prisons; The Netherlands To Stop Repatriating Yezidi Refugees; Babylon Recognized As World Heritage Site; UNDP Helps Restore Services In Mosul

    On July 4, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report about overcrowded prisons in Ninewa province. HRW found that three prisons in the province, Tal Kayf, Faisaliya, and Tasfirat, were holding 4,500 prisoners despite being  designed with a maximum capacity of 2,500 detainees. This meant that many prisoners don’t have bedding . Of the detainees, 1,300 have been tried and convicted and are due for transfer to prisons in Baghdad. However, the authorities have been unable to undertake the transfer process. HRW acting director for the Middle East said that Iraqi authorities “urgently needs to rebuild and rehabilitate its detention facilities.” 

    On July 4, the Norwegian Refugee Council, reminded that over 300,000 Mosul residents are still internally displaced persons (IDPs). During the fight to take Mosul back from ISIS, 138,000 houses were damaged or flattened. With the destruction of these homes, many civilians lost all forms of official identification. Many of these IDPs are both homeless and stateless, as they are unable to prove their Iraqi citizenship. The organisation called on the Iraqi government to speed up the reconstruction process, which has been hindered by corruption and lack of funding. In April, the Iraqi Integrity Commission said that the former Governor of Nineveh had embezzled 64 million dollars from the province’s funds. 

    On July 5, al-Sumaria reported that five women and one child freed from ISIS captivity have been returned to Sinjar in Ninewa province. They had been captured by ISIS and were brought to Syria. After being freed, they were transferred to the Sinjar District council.

    On July 5, the Netherlands announced it would halt the repatriation of Yazidi refugees back to Iraq. In a statement, Secretary of Security and Justice, Ankie Broekers-Knol, said that the government no longer recognises the KRI as an appropriate alternative for the refugees due to overcrowding and poor conditions in existing IDP camps. Broekers-Knol argued that sending Yazdidis to the KRI would worsen their situation and exacerbate poor conditions at  the overwhelmed camps. Instead Yazidi refugees in the Netherlands would be classified as a vulnerable minority, making it easier for them to claim asylum.

    On June 5, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), classified Babylon as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, citing its history as the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Empire and the site of famous works like the Hanging Gardens. This marks a win for Iraq, which has lobbied for the ancient city’s recognition as a World Heritage Site since 1983. Iraqi antiquities officials hope that the designation would allow for greater protections, increased academic study, and also promote and protect the site as a tourist destination.

    On July 10, the Norwegian Government has donated $9 million to the United Nations Development Fund to support Iraq’s reconstruction. The money will be dispersed through the UNDP restructuring program and funneled into areas recaptured from ISIS. In total, Norway has donated $45 million to the fund.

    On July 10, the British Museum in London announced it would be returning 154 Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets to the Iraqi Museum in Baghdad. These artifacts were stolen after the 2003 Iraq War. The museum also announced it would be working closely with British law enforcement in order to identify and return other stolen artifacts. 

    On July 11, the Government of Ninewa reopened a variety of public and community services in Mosul rebuilt with the help of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The facilities include the al-Rabee Primary Healthcare Center, the al-Muthana Sport and Youth Center, and the East Mosul Nursery Plantation. The UNDP is working to help restore water and electricity to areas of the city, while also supporting the rebuilding of 15,000 homes. To date, UNDP has completed or started 847 stabilization projects in Mosul city.  


    Iraq To Sign Power Contract With Siemens; Iraq Discusses Oil Cooperation With Oman; World Bank Loans Baghdad $200 Million

    On July 4, the German Ambassador to Iraq, Serel Non, announced that Siemens will sign a contract with the Iraqi Government to construct two 800 megawatt power stations. This is one of four agreements signed in April between the Iraqi Government and Siemens, totalling around $14 billion. On July 10, Siemens CEO, Joe Kaeser said the company was beginning the “first phase” of its energy development roadmap in Iraq. Kaesere announced that the company was looking to add 2000 megawatts to Iraq’s power grid within 18 to 20 months. Kaeser said that the program is seeking to create around 1,000 new jobs. After the end of the first phase, Siemens then plans to add an additional6000 megawatts of capacity The two phases also involve adding 13 transformer stations in Iraq’s south.

    On July 4, Iraqi’s Minister of Oil, Thamer al-Ghadhban, met with his Omani counterpart, Mohammed bin Hamad, to sign a cooperation agreement. Iraq and Oman agreed to increase cooperation between their oil and gas sectors, enabling joint scientific research and training. The ministers also agreed to establish a joint oil refinery located in Oman, and shared storage facilities for crude oil and refined products in both countries.

    On July 7, Iraq and the World Bank signed an agreement for a $200 million loan to improve energy distribution in southern Iraq. The project will specifically target the provinces of Basra, Dhi-Qar, Maysan, and al-Muthanna. According to Finance Minister Fuad Hussein, the problem with electricity in these areas is “not in production, but in the transmission and distribution.” The loan provides funding for five years and is to be repaid after 10 to 15 years. 

    On July 7, the chairman of the Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) announced the bank’s expansion into China and the Gulf. TBI expects to open a representative office in China next year, and the bankis in the process of upgrading its license in Abu Dhabi from a representative office to an asset management company. The TBI currently attributes 25 percent of its $550 million in revenues to retail and international operations, and hopes to raise this to 30 percent by 2022. TBI expanded into Saudi Arabia this year by opening a branch in Riyadh, which focuses on trade finance. TBI is also in the “very early stages” of purchasing a bank in Turkey, according to the TBI chairman.  

    On July 8, the Central Bank of Iraq raised the ceiling of loans for small and medium businesses to one billion dinars (approximately $840,000). The bank also extended the loan period from five to seven years. The loans are applicable to all sectors excluding housing to encourage investments in the agricultural, industrial, commercial, and service sectors.

    On July 8, al-Sumaria reported that nine Iraqi and foreign companies have ceased operations in Iraq this year due to demands for “royalties”, kickbacks, and other benefits by certain influential parties. According to the report, quoting unnamed officials, 20 other companies have handed over their operations subcontractors to complete their work and avoid incurring these extra charges. The harassers usually demand royalties or the employment of a certain percentage of their party’s constituents. The source claimed that the affected companies are primarily in the fields of energy, housing, and infrastructure, and are located in south, central, and western Iraq. 

    On July 9, General Electric announced it had added 125 MW of electricity to Iraq’s power grid. The project was completed within 3 months, and involved replacing a defective turbine at the 500 megawatt Amara power station in Maysan province. 

    On July 9, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, announced a trade delegation would be sent to Iraq. The group of businessmen and ministers will meet with their Iraqi counterparts to discuss the possibility of importing Iraqi oil. This follows an announcement by the Iraqi Government that they will begin to export oil to Jordan and Syria in an effort to diversify Iraq’s oil export outlets. Iraq and Jordan have been in talks for years over the construction of the planned Basra-Aqaba pipeline intended to deliver around one million barrels of Iraqi oil per day to international markets via Jordan with part of the oil feeding Jordan’s energy needs.

    On July 11, the Iraqi Government authorized the Oil Ministry to sign a deal with the Dutch construction company Boskalis. The company, which specialises in maritime infrastructure, will be tasked with constructing an offshore oil exporting facility. 

    On July 11, 30 Jordanian companies participated in the Digital Transformation Conference in Baghdad. The event focused on increasing cooperation among Jordanian businesses and Iraqi banks in the fields of electronic payments and digital economy. The Iraqi deputy prime minister for economic affairs met with the Jordanian Ambassador to Iraq during the event to discuss further cooperation.


    IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

    Casualties Due To IEDs July 4, 2019 - July 11, 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
    07/07/19Basra01
    07/07/19Jalawa-Kalar highway, northeastern Diyala01
    07/07/19North of Babylon41
    07/04/19Al-Nabai in Tarmiyah district, north of Baghdad45

     

    >

    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.


    Subscribe to our weekly ISHM and have the latest developments in Iraq sent straight to your inbox every Thursday and follow EPIC on Twitter to receive updates throughout the week.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email