ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM 219: AUGUST 22 – AUGUST 29, 2019

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Key Takeaways:

  • PMF Affiliates Call Israeli Airstrikes “A Declaration Of War”; Government Issues Six-Point Statement To Contain Crisis – On August 25, the PMF-affiliated Fatah coalition called Israel’s recent airstrikes against PMF weapons stores a “declaration of war”, and accused the U.S. of complicity. On August 26, Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi briefed Iraq’s president and speaker of parliament on a government investigation into recent attacks on PMF bases. The meeting concluded with a six-point statement highlighting the need to avoid entanglement in a proxy war. On August 25, a member of Parliament with the Sadiqoun bloc said his group would seek a resolution to end U.S. military presence in Iraq as soon as the next legislative term begins. more…
  • ISF Conclude New Phase Of Security Operation; New Israeli Airstrikes Hit PMF Targets; Significant Attacks In Anbar, Kirkuk, Diyala And Babylon – On August 24, ISF launched the 4th phase of “Operation Will of Victory”. Over 3 days, ISF cleared 43,000 sq km of the Anbar desert, killed 2 ISIS members, captured 8 more, seized or destroying 72 explosive devices, and destorying 31 ISIS tunnels and positions. On August 25, the PMF said 2 Israeli drones attacked 2 of its vehicles in Anbar, killing 2 PMF members. On August 23, an IED attached to a motorcycle wounded 39 in the town of Musayyab in Babylon. On August 24, unknown militants launched a complex attack in the town of Daquq in Kirkuk, killing 6 civilians and wounding 9 more. On August 28, an IED exploded on a road near Garma in Anbar, killing 4 PMF fighters and wounding 1 more. On August 26, an IED exploded west of Baqubah in Diyala, killing 1 policeman and injuring another. The same day, ISIS attacked an ISF checkpoint near Khanaqin in Diyala, killing 2 Iraqi soldiers. more…
  • Dozens Of Families Displaced In Ninewa; HRW Says Iraq Prevents Children Who Lack Identification From Attending School; NRC Condemns Forced Relocation of IDPs – On August 25, security sources reported that 15 families left the Shora sub-district in Ninewa due to a resurgence in ISIS activity. On August 28, reports came that 25 families left the Hatra district in Ninewa due to similar reasons. On August 28, a HRW report said the Education Ministry instructed school principals to prevent children who lack identification papers from attending public schools. On August 28, Iraqi authorities moved hundreds of IDPs from the Hammam al-Alil camp to the Kirkuk district of Hawijah. The Norwegian Refugee Council condemned the “forced” relocation saying it exposes IDPs to security risks and lack of shelter. On August 28, Iraq and the UNDP signed an $33 million agreement under which the Iraqi government would finance UNDP-managed stabilization project in the provinces of Ninewa, Salah ad-Din, Anbar, Kirkuk and Diyala. more…
  • Iraq, Turkey Discuss New Pipeline; GDP Dropped 4% In First Quarter; ExxonMobil To Send Staff Back To Iraq – On August 28, Turkey’s Energy Minister met his Iraqi counterpart in Baghdad and discussed building a new oil export pipeline from the Kirkuk oil fields to Turkish ports. On August 27, Iraq’s Central Bureau for Statistics reported that GDP for the first quarter of 2019 was $51.3 billion, 4% lower than the fourth quarter of 2018, due in part to delays in approving the budget. On August 26, Basra Oil Co. said that ExxonMobil staff who were evacuated due to security concerns in June would return to Iraq soon. On August 23, the Ministry of Industry said that it has signed 196 contracts for new production agreements with private sector companies as well as the ministries of Defense, Electricity and Oil. On August 26, the Ministry of Oil said Iraq exported 110,548,767 barrels of oil in July, for an average of 3.566 million bpd, generating $6.468 billion in revenue. 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.


PMF Affiliates Call Israeli Airstrikes “A Declaration Of War”; Government Issues Six-Point Statement To Contain Crisis

On August 23, Iraq’s president, prime minister and speaker of parliament met to discuss the recent Israeli airstrikes on weapons depots used by the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and escalating tensions between the PMF, U.S. and Israel. The three leaders stressed Iraq’s opposition to being part of a “proxy war” and affirmed that “any security or military statement in this regard is the sole responsibility of the Commander in Chief.” On August 22, U.S. officials confirmed that Israel had carried out the attacks that struck multiple PMF targets since July but said that the U.S. had no role in them.

On August 25, the Fatah coalition, which represents several of the major PMF factions in Parliament, condemned Israel’s recent airstrikes that targeted PMF weapons stores and personnel. A statement by Fatah also said it held the U.S. responsible for the attacks, which it said were tantamount to a “declaration of war”. Moqtada al-Sadr, who leads the rival Islah coalition, said on twitter that he doubted that Israel was behind the attacks because Israel “knows the response would destroy its security and prestige.” More importantly, Sadr cautioned against unilateral reactions by individual factions in Iraq, calling for restraint because “Iraq can’t handle such reckless actions.”

On August 25, a member of Parliament with the Sadiqoun bloc (affiliated with the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq militia) said his group will seek a resolution to end U.S. military presence in Iraq as soon as the next legislative term begins. The statement came after Kadhum al-Haeri, a senior Iraqi cleric residing in Iran, issued a religious edict forbidding the stationing of U.S. forces in the country. Earlier this year, there were multiple attempts to pass a similar decision through Parliament that did not come to fruition. 

On August 25, members of 15 provincial councils met in Karbala and issued demands for strengthening decentralization in governance and the equitable distribution of federal revenue. The meeting, which included representatives from all provinces except the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) also called for conducting a census on time to determine the rights and obligations of each province. 

On August 26, Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi briefed Iraq’s president and speaker of parliament on the findings of a government investigation into recent attacks on PMF bases. According to a statement by the prime minister’s office, the leaders condemned foreign attacks on Iraqi soil and considered those killed as a result to be “martyrs of Iraq”. The meeting concluded with a six-point agreement on the following principles: respecting Iraq’s sovereignty and refraining from sidelining state institutions; preventing Iraq from becoming a battlespace for proxy conflicts; staying focused on maintaining pressure on ISIS to prevent resurgence; placing the management of weapons stores under the control and oversight of the Commander in Chief; taking appropriate precautions for dealing with emergencies; and finally, ensuring that the International Coalition fulfills its commitments to Iraq’s sovereignty and safety. The three leaders had earlier met with the chairman of the PMF committee and several other PMF leaders to address recent Israeli airstrikes on PMF weapons depots. 

On August 27, a source in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said the KRG intends to replace in September an unspecified number of governors, deputy ministers, director generals, district and sub-district managers. The replacement would include officials who have reached retirement age or those who have held the same position for four or more years. 

On August 28, the Minister of Interior relieved the commander of the Federal Police, Lt. Gen. Raed Shakir Jawdat of duty and replaced him, on acting basis, with Maj. Gen. Jafar al-Battat. Jawdat had served as the chief of Federal Police since July 2014. 

On August 28, the Minister of Interior visited Erbil and with his KRG counterpart in Erbil and discussed a number of issues related to ports of entry, extradition of wanted individuals, civil documents and internal travel. According to PUK Media, the KRG Minister of Interior stressed that the policy of the KRG is to work with Baghdad “at the highest levels” to resolve outstanding issues. The KRG reportedly also agreed to waive the entry fees it used to charge other Iraqis entering KRI provinces.


ISF Conclude New Phase Of Security Operation; New Israeli Airstrikes Hit PMF Targets; Significant Attacks In Anbar, Kirkuk, Diyala And Babylon

On August 23, an IED attached to a motorcycle exploded in the town of Musayyab in Babylon province. The explosion wounded 39 civilians. 

On August 24, militants attacked a police checkpoint in the Hashimiyat region, near Baqubah in Diyala province. The attack resulted in the death of one policeman.

On August 24, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) launched the fourth phase of “Operation Will of Victory”, which aimed to clear approximately 43,000 sq km of the Anbar province desert. Units participating in the operation include the Jazira and Anbar Commands, Tribal Mobilization Forces and the PMF, with support from Army Aviation, Air Force and International Coalition aviation. The PMF said its units cleared 12 IEDs and killed two ISIS members on the first day and killed four ISIS militants during the second day of operations. On August 25, ISF destroyed 15 hideouts, cleared eight IEDs and killed two militants, while coalition airstrikes killed two more. This fourth phase follows three earlier phases since July. On August 27, the Security Media Cell announced the conclusion of the operation and said it resulted in killing two ISIS members (a number smaller than the tally from earlier reports), capturing eight ISIS members, seizing or destroying 53 IEDs and 19 suicide vests, and destorying six tunnels and 25 positions used by ISIS militants. 

On August 24, Turkey launched “Operation Claw 3” to target members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the Sinat-Haftanin region of Dohuk province in the KRI. On August 25, the Turkish military said it killed nine PKK members in an attack on their positions in Haftanin, and on August 26, Turkish forces killed two more PKK members in the Zab region. The first phase of this operation started on May 27.

On August 24, unknown militants launched a complex attack on a sports event in the town of Daquq in Kirkuk province. The Attack killed six civilians and wounded nine more. The attack started with mortar fire that was followed by rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire. 

On August 25, suspected ISIS militants attacked an ISF checkpoint near Jalawla in Diyala province. The attack left one soldier wounded. 

On August 25, the PMF said that an attack by two drones targeted two of its vehicles that were carrying weapons in the Qaim district in Anbar province. The attack, which took place near the Syrian border, killed two PMF members, one of whom was said to be a senior member of the Kata’ib Hezbollah militia. The PMF accused Israel of carrying out the attack. 

On August 22, the PMF said it fired on a drone that flew over Brigade 12 of the PMF in the suburbs of Baghdad. On August 26, the PMF reported a similar incident north of Mosul. These incidents follow recent attacks on PMF positions across Iraq, which the PMF blamed on Israel and the U.S. Last week, the PMF threatened to fire upon any aircraft that approached its positions without Iraqi authorization. It is not clear whether the two drones in question were flying in coordination with Iraqi authorities.  

On August 26, an IED exploded on the road outside Gatoun, west of Baqubah in Diyala province, killing one policeman and injuring another. 

On August 26, ISF reported killing five ISIS members in a vehicle in Akashat, west of Anbar. 

On August 26, militants assassinated a tribal chief in the Tarmiyah district north of Baghdad. The next day, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack on the local leader. The ISIS statement said the victim was involved in mobilizing local fighters against the organization. On August 27, unknown militants assassinated another civilian in the Madaen district south of Baghdad.

On August 26, ISIS militants attacked an ISF checkpoint near Khanaqin in Diyala province. The attack killed two Iraqi soldiers. 

On August 27, an IED exploded on a farm near Abi Sayda sub-district in Diyala province. The explosion severely wounded one civilian.

On August 27, the Iraqi government sent a unit from the Emergency Response Division to the northern districts of Basra province as reinforcements to help restore security. The move follows recent tribal clashes in which warring tribes reportedly used small and medium weapons, resulting in multiple casualties. 

On August 27, five mortar rounds impacted in the vicinity of the Mayyah village in the Muqdadiyah sub-district in Diyala province. The attack did not result in casualties. On August 28, an IED exploded near a farm in the same village, wounding one civilian. 

On August 28, the PMF website reported that an IED exploded on a road near the town of Garma in Anbar province. The explosion struck a vehicle carrying PMF fighters, killing four of them and wounding one more. A report by Reuters, however, put ISF casualties at four killed and seven wounded, and attributed them to gunfire, instead of an IED attacks. 

On August 29, ISIS militants attacked a unit of the Emergency Police in the Jalawla sub-district in Diyala province, wounding three policemen. According to a local official, the militants used small and medium weapons as well as mortar fire. 

On August 29, an IED explosion targeted an Iraqi Army patrol on the road between the villages of Khirbat Tel-Teeba and Farisiyah in the Shora subdistrict in Ninewa province. The explosion injured two soldiers.


Dozens Of Familes Displaced In Ninewa; HRW Says Iraq Prevents Children Who Lack Identification From Attending School; NRC Condemns Forced Relocation of IDPs

On August 25, the Mayor of Fallujah said that 5 percent of the city’s population who were displaced due to the war with ISIS have not returned to the city. Mayor Issa al-Issawi said those Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) remain in camps, either because their homes were destroyed and they haven’t received aid to rebuild them, or because they have family members suspected of being ISIS members, while others may have fear tribal or legal retribution for past offenses. The mayor said Fallujah enjoys good security conditions but estimated that it needs $2 billion to rebuild its damaged infrastructure and revive its economy. 

On August 25, security sources reported that 15 families have been displaced from the village of Khirbat Tel Tiba in the Shora sub-district in Ninewa province. The source said the families were moving to Mosul City due to a resurgence in ISIS activity in the region. On August 28, there were reports of 25 other families leaving their villages in the Hatra district and seeking refuge in Mosul City due to similar reasons.

On August 26, Governor Mansour al-Muried of Ninewa province said that IDPs originally from the Baaj district who are currently in the Jedaa camp would very soon return to Baaj. Muried said his administration was determined to have all IDPs return to their districts and called for greater effort and cooperation from international NGOs and the Iraqi government to support this goal. The governor said a team from the provincial government would visit Baaj within days to evaluate the condition of basic services and address them to prepare for the IDPs return. 

On August 28, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a report about restrictions on access to education that may be affecting thousands of children living in IDP camps. According to the report, officials in the Education Ministry have instructed school principals and aid workers to prevent children who lack identification papers from attending public schools. In just one example, only 50 children who had identification papers, out of more than 1,000 school-age children at one camp for IDPs, were attending an adjacent school. Many families that lived in ISIS occupied towns or escaped during fighting lost their civil documents, and many were unable to obtain new documents from the Iraqi government. The Ministry of Education said the report was inaccurate, denying that it gave any instructions to deny children access to schools. 

On August 28, Iraq and the UN Development Program (UNDP) signed an agreement under which the Iraqi government would finance UNDP-managed stabilization project in areas liberated from ISIS. The $33 million agreement would particularly cover work to rebuild infrastructure and improve basic services in the provinces of Ninewa, Salah ad-Din, Anbar, Kirkuk and Diyala. 

On August 28, Iraqi authorities moved hundreds of IDPs from the Hammam al-Alil camp to the Kirkuk district of Hawijah. The Norweigian Refugee Council (NRC) interviewed some of the returning IDPs issued a report condemning  the “forced” relocation. NRC said the relocation puts the IDPs at risk because of the unstable security conditions in Hawijah, adding that many of these IDPs would be returning to districts that suffered extensive destruction during the war with ISIS and have not been rebuilt.


Iraq, Turkey Discuss New Pipeline; GDP Dropped 4% In First Quarter; ExxonMobil To Send Staff Back To Iraq

On August 23, the Ministry of Industry said that it has signed 196 contracts for new production agreements with private sector companies as well as other government agencies, including the ministries of Defense, Electricity and Oil. The Ministry said the agreements would revitalize national industries by bringing about new production lines and move toward meeting domestic market needs for various products. 

On August 26, the state-owned Basra Oil Co. said that foreign experts working for ExxonMobil, which operates the West Qurna-1 oilfield, will soon be returning to Iraq. The U.S. energy giant had evacuated a number of its experts out of Iraq in June following rocket attacks near its facilities in Basra. 

On August 26, the Ministry of Oil released statistics about oil production and exports in the month of July. According to the Ministry, Iraq exported 110,548,767 barrels of oil in July, for an average of 3.566 million barrels per day (bpd), generating $6.468 billion in revenue. Of these exports, 3.435 million bpd were exported from southern fields via Basra, 100,000 bpd from the Kirkuk fields via Turkey, and approximately 30,000 bpd from the Qayyara field by trucks.

On August 27, Iraq’s Central Bureau for Statistics reported that the country’s GDP for the first quarter of 2019 was $51.3 billion. The 2019 first quarter figure is 8.9% higher than the corresponding quarter of 2018, but 4% lower than the fourth quarter of 2018. The Bureau attributed the decline to the agricultural production cycle and lower spending on construction due to the delayed approval of the federal budget. 

On August 27, a U.S. firm that repaired military tanks for the Iraqi government in 2004 won a $140 million lawsuit in the United States against Iraq. A U.S. federal judge ruled in favor of the firm, Wye Oak, which was not reimbursed by Baghdad for its services and whose principal was also killed in Iraq in late 2004. A lawyer for Wye Oak hinted that the ruling may allow for the seizure of Iraqi assets outside Iraq in order to collect the amount awarded by the court ruling, should Baghdad refuse to comply. 

On August 28, Turkey’s Energy Minister, Fatih Donmez visited Iraq and met with Iraq’s Oil Minister, Thamir al-Ghadban. The two ministers discussed building a new oil export pipeline connecting Iraq’s Kirkuk oil fields with Turkish ports on the Mediterranean. Currently, the Iraqi government and the KRG use an alternative pipeline built by the KRG in 2013 to export oil from Kirkuk and other oil fields in the KRI via Turkey. Iraq’s original northern export pipeline, which passes through Salah ad-Din and Ninewa provinces, has been offline since March 2013, due to repeated militant attacks.


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs August 22, 2019 - August 29, 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
08/23/19Musayyab sub-district, Babylon province039
08/26/19Baqubah, Diyala province11
08/27/19Abi Sayda sub-district, Diyala province01
08/28/19Muqdadiyah sub-district, Diyala province01
08/28/19Garma, Anbar province41
08/29/19Shora sub-district, Ninewa province02

 

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 Enabling Peace in Iraq Center.


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