ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM 213: JULY 11 – JULY 18, 2019

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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 July 16, KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani arrived in Baghdad to discuss oil exports, the implementation of Article 140, and security cooperation. On July 15, the Turkish ambassador to Baghdad announced that Turkish President Erdogan would be visiting Iraq by the end of the year. On July 18, the U.S. Treasury announced that it was imposing sanctions against four Iraqis over their involvement in corruption and human rights abuses. The four are militia leaders Rayan al-Kildani and Waad Qado, and former governors Nawfal Hammadi al-Sultan and Ahmed al-Jubouri. more…
  • Militant Attacks Hit Diyala And Baghdad; Turkey Launches New Anti-PKK Operation, Turkish Diplomat Killed in Erbil – On July 12, the Turkish military launched “Operation Claw-2” against the PKK in the KRI. On July 12, an IED exploded in the Shaab district in Baghdad without causing casualties. On July 15, two suicide bombers attacked a Shia mosque south of Baghdad, killing at least two people. On July 15, an IED attached to a motorbike exploded north of Baghdad, killing one person. On July 16, ISIS militants stormed a village south of Kirkuk and executed two civilians. On July 16, a bomb targeted Turkish forces in the KRI killing one soldier. On July 17, two bombs exploded in Diyala province injuring seven people. On July 17, gunmen killed the Deputy Consul of Turkey in the KRI inside a restaurant in Erbil. On July 12, four PMF fighters were killed in an IED explosion in Diyala. Between July 15 and 17, three coalition airstrikes killed seven ISIS militants in Salah ad-Din province and eight others in Ninewa. more…
  • Nadia Murad Outlines Plan For Yezidis’ Safe Return; 423 IDPs Return to Their Homes in Ninewa; New Reports Emerge Of Torture In Iraqi Prisons – On July 17, Yezidi activists and ISIS survivor Nadia Murad outlined a plan to enable the safe return of Yazidis. She called for ending the rivalry between Baghdad and Erbil, focusing on long-term stability and sustainable development, including religious minorities in the ISF, the quick prosecution of ISIS fighters, and she also appealed to the international community to not forget the Yazidis. On July 14, the Ministry of Migration announced that it had resettled 423 IDPs in Ninewa province. On July 15, Iraq’s Foreign Ministry announced that it had deported 33 Russian children, believed to have been fathered by Russian ISIS fighters, back to Russia. On July 17, the KRG Ministry of Martyrs and Anfal Affairs called on the federal government to sign the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to allow for the prosecution of of those who committed crimes of genocide. On July 16, the governor of Najaf launched an investigation into the death of a detainee held by the Najaf Criminal Investigation Office. A member of the Human Rights Commission in Iraq acknowledged that deaths due to torture in Iraqi prisons have increased.
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  • Electricity Supply Increased 18% From 2018; Iraq Signs Gas Processing Deal With Honeywell; Baghdad Prepares To Host Its 46th Annual International Fair – On July 17, the Ministry of Electricity released statistics on electricity supply showing that 15 of Iraq’s provinces, excluding the KRI, received at least 8% more electricity compared to last year, while nationwide supply was up by 18%. On July 12, the Iraqi government began preparations for the 46th Baghdad International Fair, scheduled to begin in October. On July 15, Turkey’s Ambassador to Iraq, Fatih Yildiz, visited Mosul and pledged Turkish support for its reconstruction, prioritizing the city’s airport, industrial base, and a railway line from Mosul to Turkey. On July 17, Iraq’s oil ministry signed an agreement with Honeywell to process natural gas from Basra’s Artawi oil field and eventually produce 600 million cubic feet per day. 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.


U.S. Imposes 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. An official spokesperson called the information “inaccurate”, but according to anonymous sources, the remaining staff in the U.S. embassy believe the staff reduction was not temporary. A senior state department official, speaking anonymously, said: “we took a powerful functioning embassy that was keeping Iranian influence at bay…and we gutted it.” Another state department representative also expressed concern that the withdrawal of personnel was detrimental to the U.S. position in Iraq vis a vis Iran. Many non-essential personnel in both the embassy in Baghdad and the consulate in Erbil were evacuated in May of this year following what U.S. officials believed to be increased threats from Iran-backed actors. The U.S. consulate in Basra was shut down completely in September 2018 in the wake of terrorist attacks, and has not reopened.

On July 13, the Bahraini ambassador to Iraq, Salah al-Maliki, returned to Baghdad and met with Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali al-Hakim. Al-Maliki was recalled to Manama in recent weeks after protests against the Bahrain-hosted conference on the U.S.-proposed “deal of the century” threatened the security of the Bahraini embassy. Al-Hakim expressed the Iraqi government’s hope that the two countries could continue friendly relations and cooperation.

On July 13, EU foreign policy chief, Frederica Mogherini, visited Baghdad and expressed the Union’s support for an Iraqi  proposal to hold a conference on U.S.-Iran tensions. Speaking at a joint press conference with Iraq’s foreign minister, Mogherini acknowledged the threat that conflict between the U.S. and Iran poses to the region, and expressed the EU’s approval of Iraq’s suggested approach towards de-escalation. The Iraqi minister told the press that he stressed to Mogherini that “Iraq should not become a battleground for this [U.S.-Iran] conflict, but rather it should play a role in helping solve this crisis alongside other Arab countries especially Kuwait and Oman.”

On July 13, Iraqi security forces deployed to protect the PUK offices in Kirkuk city as protestors gathered in opposition to the nomination of a Kurd for the role of governor. After long debate, the KDP and PUK parties announced on July 11 that they had come to an agreement on a candidate, a major goal for both parties over the past few months. However, Turkmen and Arab constituents in Kirkuk province oppose the appointment of a Kurd. Protestors painted the Kurdish parties as separatist and dangerous, with the Turkmen Illi party calling for the next governor to be from their ethnic community, appealing to the history of Turkmen in Kirkuk city. 

On July 15, the newly-appointed Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) council of ministers held its first meeting. In it, Prime Minister Barzani directed his cabinet members to develop plans for their departments within the next 30 days and submit them for approval. The cabinet laid out rules to combat corruption, including a requirement that all ministers should declare their financial assets to the commission of integrity to enhance transparency.

On July 16, a KRG delegation led by Prime Minister Masrour Barzani arrived in Baghdad to meet with authorities from the federal government. In various meetings with President Barham Saleh, Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, and Speaker of the Parliament Mohammed al-Halbousi, Barzani discussed issues of conflict between Erbil and Baghdad, such as oil exports from Kirkuk province, the implementation of Article 140 regarding disputed territories, and security topics. 

On July 15, Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi met with visiting Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Ashteh and his delegation in Baghdad. The two leaders discussed potential economic cooperation and advancing bilateral relations. On July 16, Ashteh met with President Saleh, who reiterated Iraq’s support for the Palestinian people and a solution to the Palestinian issue, in clear reference to the U.S. “deal of the century” recently discussed at a regional meeting in Bahrain, which Iraq boycotted.

On July 15, the Turkish ambassador to Baghdad announced that Turkish President Erdogan would be visiting Iraq at the end of the year. The visit comes in the wake of increased tensions between Baghdad and Ankara regarding Turkey’s “Operation Claw” against the PKK in northern Iraq. However, according to Ambassador Fatih Yildiz, the subject of Erdogan’s visit revolves around water cooperation projects and reconstruction issues. 

On July 18, the KRG Commission of Integrity called on the newly formed regional government to establish an anti-corruption council similar to that established by Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi in Baghdad.  In February 2019, Abdul-Mahdi established a new anti-corruption council which meets regularly with Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi to discuss anti-corruption strategies and work towards implementing them. The Commission also called for the establishment of a special court to deal with corruption cases in the KRI.

On July 18, Al-Sumeria News and Rudaw reported that a dispute between Iraq security forces and Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) over flags and displays of authority prevented the opening of the Shingal (Sinjar)-Rojava border crossing, which was scheduled for last week. The border has been closed since December 2018, except for temporary openings to allow Yezidi survivors to cross. The Iraqi forces and Kurdish Workers Party (PKK)-affiliated SDF on the Syrian side agreed to open the border three months ago, but the opening was delayed indefinitely after Iraq demanded the SDF raise the Syrian flag on their side of the crossing, which the SDF refused. 

On July 18, the U.S. Treasury announced that it was imposing sanctions against four Iraqis over their involvement in corruption and human rights abuses. Rayan al-Kildani, the leader of the 50th Brigade militia, appeared in a video in which he cut a detainee’s ear off, and his militia is accused of looting, extorting, and harassing civilian residents in the Ninewa Plains. Waad Qado, the leader of the 30th Brigade militia, has been accused of similar wrongdoings in the Ninewa Plains, as well as of illegally detaining people without a warrant. Nawfal Hammadi al-Sultan, the former governor of Ninewa province, was accused of negligence after a ferry accident in his province killed more than a 100 people. He also faces accusations of corruption. Ahmed al-Jubouri, an MP and the former governor of Salah ad-Din province, has been accused of corruption and affiliation with Iran-backed militias. The U.S. sanctions against these individuals allows any assets they own within the U.S. or under the control of a U.S. citizen to be blocked.


Militant Attacks Hit Diyala And Baghdad; Turkey Launches New Anti-PKK Operation, Turkish Diplomat Killed in Erbil

On July 12, an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded next to a house in the Algiers neighborhood of Shaab district in Baghdad. No one was injured in the attack. 

On July 12, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard shelled multiple sites along its border with the KRI as part of operations targeting Kurdish militant groups that began on June 10. There are conflicting reports about whether the attacks took place on the Iraqi or Iranian side of the border. In response to the bombardment, Iran’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP-Iran) called on the international community to protect provide protection from persecution by Iran.

On July 12, the Iraqi military, counter-terrorism service (CTS) and the Public Mobilization Forces (PMF) launched a new operation against ISIS militants in Diyala. On the first day of the operation, four PMF fighters were killed in an IED explosion in the town of Sa’diya in Diyala.

On July 12, the Turkish National Defense Ministry launched “Operation Claw-2” against the PKK in northern Iraq. This is in addition to the ongoing “Operation Claw-1” in the Harkurk area. On July 15, the ministry claimed that three PKK members were killed in the first stages of the new operation.

On July 14, a grenade exploded inside the home of a government employee in the Sheikh Omar district in central Baghdad. Two civilians were injured in the attack. 

On July 14, security forces found and disposed of ten explosive devices inside a structure in the Domiz area in Kirkuk province. 

On July 14, the Iraqi Ministry of Defense said that security forces found six ISIS militant hideouts south of the Hamrin mountains, near Khanaqin. The Diyala Operations Command raided the hideouts and confiscated explosive belts, 18 roadside bombs and three motorcycles.

On July 15, the international coalition against ISIS in Iraq killed seven ISIS militants with an airstrike in Salah ad-Din province. A subsequent pursuit by security forces in the same area resulted in the death of an eighth militant. Two days later, another coalition airstrike killed two ISIS militants in Ninewa province. The same day, a third coalition airstrike killed six militants in al-Baaj district near the Syrian border.

On July 15, two suicide bombers detonated their bombs near a Shia mosque in Maalif, south of Baghdad. Although reports vary on the exact number of casualties, at least two people were killed (not including the perpetrators) and several others were wounded.

On July 15, an IED attached to a motorbike exploded in the Sab’ al-Bur area, north of Baghdad. The blast killed one person and injured four others.

On July 16, ISIS militants stormed the village of Ahmad al-Danuk in the Rashad area south of Kirkuk. The militants reportedly executed two civilians.

On July 16, a bomb believed to be planted by the PKK targeted Turkish forces in the Qandil mountains of northern Iraq. One Turkish soldier was killed.

On July 17, three unknown gunmen opened fire at the Deputy Consul of Turkey in the KRI and other consulate staff members in a restaurant in Erbil. The Deputy Consul and one civilian were killed in the attack. The incident represents a rare security breach in the traditionally tranquil capital of the KRI.  The same day, the UN Special Representative for Iraq, UNAMI, condemned the shooting and Iraqi Foreign Minister al-Hakim said that the attack “will not affect the extent and nature of the relations between Baghdad and Ankara.” 

On July 17, two bombs exploded in Jalawla in Diyala province, injuring seven people. The town was targeted by mortar fire shortly after the explosions.


Nadia Murad Outlines Plan For Yezidis’ Safe Return; 423 IDPs Return to Their Homes in Ninewa; New Reports Emerge Of Torture In Iraqi Prisons

On July 11, the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and the International Red Cross returned the remains of Iranianian soldiers from the 1980 Iran-Iraq war. The bodies had been recovered from the provinces of Basra and Maysan and were delivered at the Shalamjah border crossing. The ministry handed over 44 identified remains, 23 unidentified remains, and 21 forms of ID.

On July 14, the Ministry of Migration and Displacement announced that it had resettled 423 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ninewa province. The IDPs were returned to Baaj, Tel Afar, Tel Abta, al-Mihalabya, Hamidat, Northern Terminal, al-Nahrawan and Mosul. Moving trucks were provided to assist. Out of the returnees, 142 were from Khazir and Hasan Sham IDP camps, while 281 were from the Jadaa, Hamam Alil, and Southern Mosul Airport Track camps.

On July 15, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry announced that it had deported 33 Russian children, believed to have been fathered by Russian ISIS fighters, back to Russia. In a statement, the Ministry said that it had worked closely with the Russian Embassy in Baghdad and that the rights of the children were guaranteed. It also called on other governments to claim their own foreign nationals, mainly women and children. On July 17, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that they had so far received 90 children from Iraq, while another 30 remained in the country. Lavrov said that the fate of the mothers however was more uncertain,66 of whom are detained in Iraq over charges of terrorism or affiliation with ISIS. 

On July 17, the KRG Ministry of Martyrs and Anfal Affairs called on the federal government to sign the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). A spokesperson for the ministry told PUK Media that signing the statute would give Iraq and the KRG access to the ICC for the prosecution of those who committed crimes of genocide, such as ISIS members against the Yezidis or persons involved in the Anfal campaigns against Kurds under Saddam Hussein. 

On July 16, the governor of Najaf province, Luay al-Yassiry, launched an investigation into the death of a detainee held by the Najaf Criminal Investigation Office. Maher al-Ramahi, a detainee, reportedly died while in government custody, due to torture during interrogation. The police denied wrongdoing, arguing that they followed all proper and legal procedures. The police department added that they would sue the parties that sought to smear the department and its officers in what it described as “baseless” allegations. The same day, a member of the Human Rights Commission in Iraq, Mashreq Naji, acknowledged that deaths due to torture in Iraqi prisions have increased. Naji called upon the Iraqi Parliament and the Ministry of the Interior to end the practice in government institutions, citing Article 37 in the Iraqi constitution which bans forms of physical or mental torture. 

On July 17, Nadia Murad, a former refugee from the Yazidi community and Nobel Peace Prize winner, gave a speech at the 2019 Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom conference where she outlined a plan to enable the safe return of Yazidis. Foremost she denounced the rivalry between the Federal Iraqi Government and KRI and demanded that they resolve their differences, arguing that as long as their conflict continued, the Yazidi people would not be safe. During her speech, she highlighted the need to focus on long term stability and sustainable development, including the building of schools, roads, and hospitals. She also argued for marginalized Iraqi religious minorities like Yazidis to have a place in the Iraqi Security forces,. Murad also emphasised the quick prosecution of ISIS fighters in order to achieve justice for the community. Finally she appealed to the international community to not forget the Yazidis, arguing if they did then ISIS would “ accomplish its goal of eradicating the Yazidis from their homeland”.


Electricity Supply Increased 18% From 2018; Iraq Signs Gas Processing Deal With Honeywell; Baghdad Prepares To Host Its 46th Annual International Fair

On July 17, the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity released new statistics on electrical supply across 15 of Iraq’s provinces, excluding the KRI. According to statistics, all provinces received at least 8% more electricity compared to the same day of the previous year. Babylon and Wassit provinces received the greatest percentage increases, 9% and 25%, respectively. The provinces that received the most power in absolute terms were Baghdad and Basra, which saw increases of 17% and 18%, respectively. Baghdad received 4,403 megawatts in 2019, compared to 3,760 megawatts in 2018, and Basra received 3,105 megawatts in 2019 compared to 2,633 last year. The province that received the least electricity was Muthanna province, which had 388 megawatts supplied to it in 2019, a 21% increase from 2018 when it only received 321 megawatts. Total supply was up by 18% across the country, from 15,218 to 17,967 megawatts. Waste increased too. On July 17, 2018, 945 megawatts were lost in transmission compared to 1,031 the same day a year later, an increase of 9%.

On July 12, the Iraqi government began preparations for the 46th Baghdad International Fair, scheduled to begin in October. Trade Minister Mohammed al-Ani announced that invitations have been sent to many countries and international companies, as well as Iraqi ministries and members of the private sector. Al-Ani stated that the fair may be “different from its predecessors” due to newfound stability following Iraq’s declaration of victory over ISIS. 

On July 15, over 150 local and foreign companies gathered in Erbil for the fourth Rwanga-Foras International Job Fair, a two-day event. Organizers of the event hoped to provide over 1,700 jobs for young people in the area. In addition to Iraqi organizations, other companies from South Korea, Kuwait, Germany, USA and more participated in the fair. KRI President, Nechirvan Barvani, opened the event with a statement that the public sector, private sector, and civil society must work together to “maximize job opportunities.”

On July 15, Turkey’s Ambassador to Iraq, Fatih Yildiz, visited the city of Mosul and pledged Turkish support for its reconstruction. Yildiz highlighted the importance of rebuilding the city’s airport and industrial base. He also expressed support for building of a railway line from Mosul into Turkey. Yildiz added that a consortium of Turkish companies were prepared to assist in rebuilding the airport.

On July 15, Iraqi Foreign Minister al-Hakim asked the EU to grant visas for Iraqis to visit the Schengen area. During a meeting with visiting EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, al-Hakim stressed recent efforts to revitalize the tourism sector and expressed hope that the visas will permit Iraqis to travel, study and trade in Europe.

On July 17, Iraq’s oil ministry announced an agreement with U.S. energy company Honeywell to process natural gas from Basra’s Artawi oil field and eventually develop an agreement to process gas from five oilfields. Honeywell hopes to increase production at the five oilfields to 600 million cubic feet per day. The agreement was signed by oil minister Thamir al-Ghadhban on the Iraqi side, and the ceremony was attended by U.S. ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller.


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs July 11, 2019 - July 18, 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
07/17/19two successive bombings in Jalawla, northeastern Diyala07
07/16/19Qandil mountains, northern Iraq10
07/15/19twin bombings in Maalif, south of Baghdadat least 220
07/15/19Sabbur, north of Baghdad14
07/14/19Sunni Waqf, central Baghdad02
07/14/19Jalawla-Kalar highway, northeastern Diyala01
07/14/19Jalawla, northeastern Diyala02
07/12/19Algiers neighborhood, Shaab district in Baghdad00

 

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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