ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: OCTOBER 10 – OCTOBER 17, 2019

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Key Takeaways:

  • Sistani Gives Government Two Weeks To Investigate Violence Against Protesters; Former PM Calls For Early Elections; Security Officials Say Militia Commander Ordered Snipers To Target Protesters – On October 11, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani blamed the Iraqi government for the violence and numerous deaths during the recent demonstrations in Baghdad and other provinces and gave Iraqi leaders two weeks to conduct an investigation into the bloodshed and publicize its findings. On October 12, Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi formed a commission to investigate the deaths of over 110 protesters in recent demonstrations. On October 14, former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called for new elections under UN supervision as a means to address Iraq’s political crisis. On October 17, two Iraqi security officials revealed details about the role of Iran-backed militias in using sniper fire to kill Iraqi civilians during anti-government demonstrations last week. The officials said the orders to use snipers came from Abu Zainab al-Lami, the head of security in the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). On October 11, Iraq’s Ministry of Communications announced the return of uninterrupted internet access to the country, ending the restrictions imposed during the recent protests. more…
  • Iraq To Repatriate And Try Iraqi ISIS Suspects Held In Syria; Multiple Bombings, Clashes Hit Diyala, Ninewa and Salah Ad-Din; Rosneft Partially Suspends Kurdistan Operations Due to Fighting – On October 17, Iraq’s Foreign Minister, Mohammed Ali al-Hakim, announced that Iraq is willing to repatriate detained Iraqi ISIS fighters and their families from Syria and try them in Iraq. Al-Hakim explained though that the detained ISIS fighters originating from 72 other countries should be the responsibility of their respective home nations. On October 11, ISIS militants assassinated the Mukhtar of al-Rashad subdistrict, southwest of Kirkuk. On October 11, gunmen killed a civilian in the village of al-Kisk, west of Mosul. On October 14, unidentified gunmen killed a civilian in Mosul’s old city. On October 12, an IED killed two civilians south of Mosul. On October 12, unidentified gunmen killed a civilian in eastern Baghdad. On October 15, unidentified gunmen shot and killed a civilian in Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad. On October 13, a vehicle borne IED killed one Iraqi Army officer and wounded two soldiers in Anbar. On October 13, an IED injured three members of the Iraqi security forces south of Kirkuk. On October 14, an IED injured two farmers in Diyala. On October 14, an explosion killed three members of the PMF clearing explosives in Salah ad-Din. On October 15, an IED killed one civilian north of Mosul. On October 16, ISIS militants killed one PMF member and wounded two more in Diyala. On October 17, an IED wounded three soldiers in Diyala. On October 17, Russian oil company Rosneft announced that it will suspend its operations at Block 8, an oil field in the KRI near the Syrian border, due to security concerns caused by Turkish military operations in northeast Syria. more…
  • Eighty Nine Christian Families Return To Mosul; More Than 1,550 Syrian Refugees Cross Into Iraq; Iraqi Lawyers Say Government Continues To Hold 6,000 Protesters In Detention – On October 11, the Ninewa provincial council said that 89 Christian families returned to eastern Mosul from Duhok province after more than four years of displacement. On October 17, the Joint Crisis Coordination Center of the KRG reported that a total of 1,552 Syrian refugees have arrived in the Kurdistan Region since October 12 to escape the ongoing Turkish military operations in Syria. On October 14, the Iraqi Lawyers Association said that the Iraqi government continues to detain more than 6,000 protesters, most of whom are teenagers, despite promises by Iraqi leaders to release all demonstrators arrested during the recent protests. On October 15, Human Rights Watch expressed concern over attempts by several European countries, including France, Denmark, and Britain, to speed up the transfer of hundreds of ISIS suspects from camps in Syria to those in Iraq warning that such transfers could lead to torture and arbitrary trials. On October 11, Iraq repatriated 64 children of Uzbek ISIS fighters serving prison sentences for joining a terrorist organization in Iraq, back to Uzbekistan. The Iraqi and Uzbek governments, working with UNICEF, organized the transportation of the group, which included 14 children who are three years old or younger. more…
  • 1.3 Million Apply For Unemployment Benefits; Internet Restrictions Hurt Business; U.S. Renews Iran Sanctions Waivers; KRG Announces $420 Million In Infrastructure Projects – On October 14, authorities reported that over 1.3 million Iraqis applied for unemployment benefits offered through an emergency grant established last week by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. On October 15, AFP reported that Iraq’s economy suffered significant losses due to the government-ordered internet shutdown during last week’s anti-government protests. Losses may amount to a total of $951 million. On October 16, the U.S. State Department granted Iraq another 120-day sanctions waiver allowing Iraq to continue importing electricity and gas from Iran. On October 17, KRG Prime Minister, Masrour Barzani announced a $420 million government program to expand the KRI’s infrastructure to enable economic activity and growth. Barzani said that the project will focus on the region’s transportation network, grain storage facilities, electrical grid, and water distribution infrastructure across the KRI. 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.


Sistani Gives Government Two Weeks To Investigate Violence Against Protesters; Former PM Calls For Early Elections; Security Officials Say Militia Commander Ordered Snipers To Target Protesters

On October 11, Iraq’s most senior Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani blamed the Iraqi government and security officials for the violence and numerous deaths during the recent demonstrations in Baghdad and other provinces. Sistani’s statement, delivered by one of his senior aides during the Friday sermon, expressed his support for the demands of the protesters, which he urged the government to address “before it’s too late.” Sistani also condemned the attacks on journalists and the use of snipers to suppress the protesters, demanding that the government identify who authorized security forces to shoot. Sistani gave Iraqi leaders two weeks to conduct an investigation into the bloodshed and publicize its findings regarding the at least 110 deaths during the protests. 

On October 11, Iraq’s Ministry of Communications announced the return of uninterrupted internet access to the country. This resumption of service concludes the government’s internet and social media crackdown in response to the recent protests in Iraq. The restrictions started on October 2, when the government blocked social networking sites like Facebook and WhatsApp, and culminated with a virtually complete shutdown of all internet access until October 9. By October 9, the government partially restored internet access during business hours, while maintaining a night time “internet curfew.”

On October 12, Iraq’s Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi established a commission to investigate the deaths of over 110 protesters in recent demonstrations. The announcement explained that the Ministry of Planning will lead the commission, which will also include five other members representing the armed forces, parliament, human rights commission, and the judiciary. The commission seeks to identify and hold accountable those who attacked the members of the media and used excessive force against protesters. Additionally, the prime minister’s office said on October 14 that Iraq’s national security council will establish a new security command called the Law Keeping Forces. This new entity will be responsible for providing security for and maintaining order during major social and public events, including large demonstrations. There are calls among Iraqi activists to resume protests on October 25, which marks the deadline that Ayatollah Sistani has set for government investigations, and coincides with the first Friday following the conclusion of the Arabaeen pilgrimage. 

On October 14, former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called for new elections under the supervision of the United Nations as a means to address Iraq’s political crisis in the aftermath of last week’s anti-government protests. Abadi also outlined seven potential measures to overcome the current crisis. These measures focused on establishing a state monopoly over violence, creating a special court to prosecute corrupt officials, holding those who used violence against protesters accountable for their actions, taking swift action to assert state authority and deal with “rogue” actors, and a number of other economic and political reforms. Abadi also talked separately about ongoing talks to secure a parliamentary majority to withdraw confidence from the government of the incumbent prime minister. He did not say with whom he was having these discussions. 

On October 14, Baghdad’s provincial council voted to elect Hamad Jaber al-Atta from the State of Law bloc as the new governor of Baghdad. Atta will replace Falah al-Jazairi, who reportedly resigned on October 6. Atta has previously served as head of the services committee as well as other committees in Baghdad’s provincial council. The succession process appears to be contested. On October 11, unidentified armed men reportedly stormed Baghdad’s provincial council building in an attempt to help al-Jazairi reclaim the governorship. Unconfirmed press reports suggested that the militants belonged to Kata’ib Hezbollah, the militia group led by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy chairman of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) committee. The group issued a statement denying its involvement in the incident.  

On October 14, Iraq’s prime minister, president, speaker, and judiciary chief met to discuss the political and security ramifications of the recent protests in Iraq. The leaders issued an eight-point statement to address the demands of the protesters. The statement promised unbiased investigations into the excessive use of force against demonstrators, affirmed the right to freedom of expression and vowed to protect journalists, ordered the immediate release of the detainees arrested during protests, and called on parliament to support reforms, fight corruption, and respond to the demands of protesters. The statement comes on the heels of a series of initiatives that Abdul-Mahdi announced on October 6, which are designed to allay the grievances of protesters. 

On October 14, the Secretary General of the Council of Ministers Hamid Naim al-Ghazi signed a resolution that would remove 61 general directors from their positions in Iraqi ministries. The dismissals appear designed to demonstrate a serious government effort toward reducing graft and corruption in state institutions. These ousted directors are to be replaced temporarily by their deputies or the longest-tenured civil servant from the department in question until the government can fill the roles permanently. 

On October 15, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Iraq’s President Barham Salih to discuss the Turkish military operations in northeastern Syria. Pompeo expressed his hope that the Turkish offensive, which followed Washington’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops stationed in the area as part of the anti-Islamic State (ISIS) campaign, end immediately. Pompeo also urged Baghdad to hold those who used force against protesters and journalists during last week’s protests accountable for their actions. Iraqi leaders, in both Baghdad and Erbil, have expressed concerns about the impact of Turkey’s operations in Syrian on Iraq. Deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Qubad Talabani, wrote a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump the previous day in which he stressed that the U.S. withdrawal from northeastern Syria undermined the fight against terrorism and invited damaging foreign interference, in a clear reference to Turkey’s operations against the Syrian Kurds.

On October 15, the head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) office in Kirkuk, Mohammed Khursheed, said that the federal authorities and the KRG have agreed to allow the party to return to Kirkuk. Khursheed added that implementing the agreement would take place after the federal police replaced the PMF in the disputed city. Since 2017, when Iraqi forces took control of Kirkuk from Peshmerga forces, the KDP has refused to return to the city, calling it “occupied.” As part of the new agreement, Iraqi security forces (ISF), who have taken the local KDP office as the headquarters of their local Joint Operations Command, would relinquish the building to the KDP. The acting governor of Kirkuk opposes the transaction. On October 15, dozens of locals protested the return of the KDP with a sit-in near the Joint Operations building. The Nasr Coalition of former prime minister Hadier al-Abadi, who ordered the ISF into Kirkuk in 2017, also attacked Abdul-Mahdi’s deal with the KDP, arguing that it would incite further violence. On October 16, protesters cut off the Kirkuk-Erbil road as they marched to the contested building. Amid the rising objections, the Sadiqoun parliamentary bloc called on the prime minister to reconsider his agreement with the KDP.

On October 17, two Iraqi security officials revealed to Reuters that Iran-backed militias were responsible for sniper fire that killed several Iraqi civilians during anti-government demonstrations in Baghdad last week. The security officials stated that these militias used sniper fire from rooftops against protesters without authorization from Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi. Instead, the orders to use snipers came from Abu Zainab al-Lami, the head of PMF security, according to one of the officials. A spokesperson for the PMF denied that the group had a role in the violent suppression of protests, asserting that none of its members were present in places where protests took place. Government officials have not formally attributed the violence to the PMF, and instead said they will draw their conclusions from the findings of the investigations ordered by the prime minister. The commanders of militias close to Iran have been trying to deflect accusations of involvement in killing protesters. Recently, videos circulated throughout Iraqi social media that supposedly showed members of al-Khorasani Brigades, a militia group with close ties to Iran, shooting at demonstrators in Baghdad. The group’s leader, Ali al-Yasiri, alleged that “Iraq’s enemies” had sent their own forces into Iraq to kill protesters and security forces alike.


Iraq To Repatriate And Try Iraqi ISIS Suspects Held In Syria; Multiple Bombings, Clashes Hit Diyala, Ninewa and Salah Ad-Din; Rosneft Partially Suspends Kurdistan Operations Due to Fighting

On October 17, Iraq’s Foreign Minister, Mohammed Ali al-Hakim, announced that Iraq is willing to repatriate detained Iraqi ISIS fighters and their families from Syria and try them in Iraq. After meeting with his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, in Baghdad, al-Hakim explained that the detained ISIS fighters originating from 72 other countries should be the responsibility of their respective home nations. Previously, Iraqi intelligence officials said that the United States planned to move 50 ISIS members detained in Syria to Iraq. The report did not specify the nationalities of those 50 individuals. There are over 10,000 suspected ISIS members imprisoned in northern Syria: 2,000 are foreigners and at least 8,000 are Iraqi or Syrian. The Director of Intelligence at Iraq’s Interior Ministry, Abu Ali al-Basri, said al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria holds more than 35,000 Iraqis who are family members of the suspected ISIS fighters. After the Turkish incursion into Syria began on October 9, Iraqi intelligence officers warned that ISIS militants were planning operations to release its members detained in Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) controlled prisons amidst the expected chaos. The new Turkish operation in Syria has prompted stakeholders to seek arrangements for the transfer of detainees is an effort to stop avoid escapes that could in turn reinforce the ranks of ISIS. The transfer of suspected ISIS members and their families is a sensitive and controversial issue in Iraq. Sadrist politician and former head of the parliamentary security and defense committee, Hakim al-Zamili, warned against transferring detainees from al-Hol detention camp to Iraq. He accused the U.S. of planning to use the humanitarian needs of women and children in Syrian camps as a disguise for “smuggling” ISIS fighters into Iraq. Al-Hol is recognized as a poorly secured camp home to upwards of 70,000 women and children, including ordinary IDPs and many others with alleged affiliations to ISIS members. Last weekend, the SDF reported that some 780 ISIS supporters fled from an IDP camp in northeastern Syria. On October 17, a spokesperson for the Iraqi Defense Ministry said that an unknown number of escaped ISIS detainees crossed the Syrian border into Anbar province and that ISF arrested several of these escapees, without offering a specific number. 

On October 10, Turkish airstrikes killed three members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the Zab and Gara regions of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Renewed airstrikes on October 15 killed two more PKK fighters, also in the Gara region. These attacks are a part of “Operation Claw”, a Turkish mission against the PKK in the KRI that started in May. Leaders of villages in the KRI said that residents fled their homes to avoid the airstrikes. The Sulaymaniyah governor and local officials provided tents for living and schooling, but one school principal warned decreasing temperatures will soon prohibit outdoor classes from continuing.

On October 11, a security source in Kirkuk said that ISIS militants assassinated Zakaria Taha Saleh Mansour, the Mukhtar of al-Rashad subdistrict, southwest of Kirkuk. 

On October 11, unidentified gunmen shot and killed a civilian in the village of al-Kisk, west of Mosul. On the same day, security sources reported finding an unidentified body in the Owaynat village near Sinjar, west of Mosul. Then, on October 14, unidentified gunmen killed a civilian in the Shahwan area of Mosul’s old city.

On October 12, an improvised explosive device (IED) explosion killed two civilians in al-Shoura district, south of Mosul.

On October 12, unidentified gunmen killed a civilian walking in the Sabi Qusoor neighborhood in eastern Baghdad. On October 15, unidentified gunmen shot and killed a civilian in Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad.

On October 13, a vehicle borne IED (VBIED) explosion killed one Iraqi Army officer and wounded two soldiers in the Rutba district, west of Anbar.  

On October 13, the explosion of an IED targeting a security vehicle injured three members of the Iraqi security forces (ISF) in the Daquq district, south of Kirkuk. 

On October 14, an IED explosion injured two farmers in the village of Islah, in the Jalawla subdistrict, in Diyala province.

On October 14, an explosion at an IED disposal facility belonging to the Ministry of Interior wounded twelve members of the ISF. The ISF opened an investigation into the incident, which occurred in al-Ga’ara sub-district, southeast of Baghdad. 

On October 14, an explosion in a booby trapped building killed three members of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) as they cleared explosives from houses in western Salah ad-Din province. 

On October 14, forces from the Samarra Operations Command killed two suicide bombers east of Samarra, foiling their planned attack against the Arbaeen pilgrims. On the same day, an analyst with ties to Iraqi intelligence services claimed that ISF intelligence units in Salah ad-Din and the 6th Brigade of the PMF killed ten suicide bombers wearing explosive belts in Baiji district, also believed to be attacking religious gatherings. On October 17, a joint operation between security forces and counterterrorism units killed one suicide bomber and destroyed several ISIS dens in the Himrin mountains in Diyala province. 

On October 14, an Iraqi security source said that an airstrike killed an ISIS militant in charge of logistics and an ISIS fighter in a hideout in the Himrin mountains in Diyala province.

On October 15, an IED believed to have been placed by ISIS militants killed one civilian near a medicine production factory north of Mosul.

On October 15, a suspected ISIS sniper wounded an officer at a security outpost east of Baqubah. On the same day, ISIS militants attacked an ISF checkpoint in the Waqf Basin area, northeast of Baqubah. The attack injured two policemen who were at the checkpoint.

On October 15, a representative of the Ministry of Defense said that troop reinforcements arrived at the Syrian border. The ministry fears that as many as 13,000 ISIS members could attempt to enter Iraq if they are freed from prisons and detention centers during the conflict in Syria. 

On October 15, a grenade explosion killed one and injured five in Mount Izmer, Sulaymaniyah province. The report did not explain who was behind the explosion or the circumstances of the incident.  

On October 16, there were news reports that unidentified gunmen shot NRT journalist Amanj Babani, his wife Lana Muhammad, a journalist for Kurdsat, and their son in Sulaymaniyah. The three were killed in their car. KRG Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani announced he will oversee the investigation into their deaths. The following day, Sulaymaniyah police announced that Babani committed suicide after killing both his wife and son. They referenced the autopsy results and forensic evidence suggesting the car was never shot at from the outside. 

On October 16, ISIS militants killed one PMF member and wounded two more in an attack on  a PMF outpost near the village of Ramadan, in the Khanaqin district in Diyala province. The following day, fighting between the PMF and ISIS injured one PMF member at an outpost northeast of Baqubah in Diyala province. 

On October 17, an IED explosion targeting an Iraqi army patrol wounded three soldiers near the village of Abu Qarma in the Waqf Basin area, in Diyala province. 

On October 17, Russian oil company Rosneft announced that it will suspend its operations at Block 8, an oil field in the KRI near the Syrian border, due to security concerns caused by Turkish military operations in northeast Syria. The company said that the project will resume once the company can ensure the safety of its workers. Back in 2017, Rosneft and the KRG  signed a deal to develop five oil blocks, including Block 8, possessing nearly 670 million barrels of oil.


Eighty Nine Christian Families Return To Mosul; More Than 1,550 Syrian Refugees Cross Into Iraq; Iraqi Lawyers Say Government Continues To Hold 6,000 Protesters In Detention

On October 10, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed an agreement with the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to help restore al-Tahera Church and al-Saa’a church, both in Mosul. The UAE’s Ministry of Culture is funding a series of these restorations in collaboration with UNESCO including the restoration of two mosques, a Yazidi temple, and the library at the University of Mosul. 

On October 11, the Ninewa provincial council announced that 89 Christian families returned to eastern Mosul from Duhok province after more than four years of displacement. The council chairman said the restoration of local services has enabled the return of these families, adding that several groups of other displaced families are set to return to the town of Bartella, east of Mosul, soon, without elaborating on the timeline of this return.

On October 11, Iraq repatriated 64 children of Uzbek ISIS fighters serving prison sentences for joining a terrorist organization in Iraq, back to Uzbekistan. The Iraqi and Uzbek governments, working with UNICEF, organized the transportation of the group, which included 14 children who are three years old or younger. In September, the Uzbek Foreign Minister announced that they would bring 235 ISIS affiliated citizens, a combination of detainees and children of ISIS detainees, to Uzbekistan for repatriation. 

On October 12, security authorities in Diyala decided to postpone the return of 800 displaced families due to increased traffic and preoccupation with Arbaeen. Last week, authorities announced that these IDPs would be the first of 4,000 families to return to Diyala. 

On October 12, thousands of Iraqi Kurds demonstrated against the Turkish attacks in Syria outside the UN office in Erbil. The protesters condemned the Turkish incursion and the lack of action by the international community to stop the offensive. Three days into the Turkish invasion in Syria, the UN estimated nearly 100,000 Syrians have fled their homes. 

On October 12, a group of 182 Syrian Kurdish refugees crossed the border into the KRI to escape the ongoing Turkish military operations that began on October 9. This was the first report of Syrian refugees moving into Iraq following the Turkish incursion. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that security forces brought the refugees, who entered Iraq using unofficial routes, to a processing center where IOM teams offered them medical treatment and evaluated for further travel. On October 17, the Joint Crisis Coordination Center of the KRG reported that a total of 1,552 Syrian refugees have arrived in the KRI. On October 15, the KRG announced a proposal for a joint plan with the government in Baghdad to receive and process incoming Syrian refugees. The KRG spokesperson said his government was ready to welcome the refugees but lacked the means to care for them without outside support. 

On October 13, Radio Farda reported that thousands of the recorded two million Iranian Shia pilgrims headed for Iraq’s Karbala province returned home before completing the Arbaeen pilgrimage due to a lack of transportation and basic services at the border. Thousands of Iranian visitors who crossed the Khosravi (Khasrawi) border between Iran and Iraq’s Diyala province were stranded without transportation. Some pilgrims reported that local drivers were demanding excessive fees to take the pilgrims to Karbala. Those stranded without transportation or shelter reportedly also faced a water shortage. 

On October 14, the Iraqi Lawyers Association said that the Iraqi government continues to detain more than 6,000 protesters, most of whom are teenagers, primarily in Baghdad. The mass detention is ongoing despite promises by Iraqi leaders and government officials to release all demonstrators arrested during widespread protests in the first week of October. On October 13, a spokesman for the Supreme Judicial Council claimed that only 21 protesters were in custody on specific charges. If these numbers are true, that would suggest that nearly all of those 6,000 deatiness are being held against the law. The Lawyers Association pointed out that the processing of detained protesters is severely slowed down by the large number of detainees and lack of investigators. In the Saadoun police station in Baghdad, a single investigator was assigned to deal with more than 370 detainees, according to Ammar al-Saadi, a volunteer lawyer defending detainees. Saadi added that families of those unlawfully detained and subjected to violence have brought a total of fifty lawsuits against the prime minister, the riot forces, and the army. According to al-Mada’s reporting, footage on social media platforms has shown detainees signing a pledge that prohibits them from participating in another demonstration in exchange for their release. 

On October 15, Human Rights Watch (HRW) expressed concern over attempts by several European countries, including France, Denmark, and Britain, to speed up the transfer of hundreds of ISIS suspects from camps in Syria to those in Iraq. The SDF holds approximately 10,000 European ISIS fighters, and European countries fear that in the face of Turkish attacks, the fighters will attempt to return. Balqees Wali, a researcher on Iraq with HRW, warned that such transfers could lead to more torture and arbitrary trials. HRW urged European countries to bring their nationals home.


1.3 Million Apply For Unemployment Benefits; Internet Restrictions Hurt Business; U.S. Renews Iran Sanctions Waivers; KRG Announces $420 Million In Infrastructure Projects

On October 13, the Basra Investment Commission discussed plans with the Korean company, Hanwha, to build 10,000 housing units in the district of Shatt al-Arab, east of Basra. This project is a part of the commission’s initiative to build a total of 100,000 housing units in the area. Hanwa has worked in Iraq previously, most notably constructing housing units and associated infrastructure in the city of Bismayah, southeast of Baghdad.  

On October 14, authorities reported that over 1.3 million Iraqi citizens applied for unemployment benefits offered through an emergency grant established last week by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. The Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Bassem Abdul-Zaman, said the ministry will determine eligible recipients by organizing specialized committees after the applications deadline on October 24. Last week, the Iraqi government announced a number of initiatives to address the demands of popular protests demanding jobs, better services and serious political reforms, that spread throughout Iraq since October 1. The initiatives included a plan to pay ID 175,000 monthly stipends to “150,000 citizens who are unemployed and are unable to work” for a period of three months.

On October 15, AFP reported that Iraq’s economy suffered significant losses due to the government-ordered internet shutdown during last week’s anti-government protests. According to the report, Iraqi businesses lost customers, were forced to delay deliveries, and incurred expensive bills as a result of conducting business over the phone. The cyber security non-governmental organization, NetBlocks, estimated that Iraq’s economy faced a total of $951 million worth of losses. This calculation only accounts for the seven days of total internet blackout, and does not reflect any losses during several days of partial limitations. 

On October 15, Iraq’s Minister of Transportation Abdullah Laibi met with the U.S. Deputy Ambassador to Iraq Brian McFritters, to discuss reviving direct flights between Baghdad and Washington. Laibi said that Iraq’s Ministry of Transportation is committed to maintaining a high standard of security precautions to ensure that Iraqi operations meet the U.S. standards. The Federal Aviation Administration permits some high-altitude flights to pass through Iraqi airspace, but otherwise does not allow U.S.-operated aircraft over the country, citing security concerns. Iraq’s aviation sector has also suffered from European restrictions due to reliability and maintenance standards. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency banned Iraqi airlines from flying to Europe in 2015, a restriction that persists today. 

On October 16, the U.S. State Department granted Iraq another 120-day sanctions waiver allowing Iraq to continue importing electricity and gas from Iran. This is the fifth waiver Iraq has received since the U.S. re-imposed sanctions on Iran in November of 2018. These waivers are meant to help Iraq gradually decrease its heavy dependence on Iran for a significant (up to 40% by some accounts) amount of its electricity needs. The U.S. originally granted Iraq a 45-day waiver in November of 2018, and subsequently issued two 90-day waivers and a 120-day waiver in June

On October 17, KRG Prime Minister, Masrour Barzani announced a $420 million government program to expand the KRI’s infrastructure to enable economic activity and growth. Barzani said that the project, which he announced via Twitter, will focus primarily on expanding the region’s transportation network, grain storage facilities, electrical grid, and water distribution infrastructure. Investment in major infrastructure projects in the KRI has faced delays due to financial difficulties associated with war against ISIS, an influx of refugees, lower oil prices and exports, and budget disputes with Baghdad.


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs from October 10-October 17, 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
10/17/19Waqf Basin,
Diyala Province
03
10/15/19North of Mosul,
Ninewa Province
10
10/14/19Western Salah ad-Din Province32
10/14/19Jalawla Subdistrict,
Diyala Province
02
10/13/19Daquq District,
Kirkuk Province
03
10/13/19Rutba District,
Anbar Province
12
10/12/19al-Shoura District,
Ninewa Province
20

 

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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