ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: FEBRUARY 6 – FEBRUARY 13, 2020

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Key Takeaways:

  • Sistani Condemns Violence Against Protesters; Amiri Mediates Between Sadr And Maliki; Allawi Under Pressure Amid Competing Demands By Political Rivals; Iraq And NATO Agree On Training Mission – On February 7, Ayatollah Ali Sistani condemned ongoing violence against protesters, specifically the February 5 Najaf attacks during which Sadr’s “blue hats” followers killed between eight and 14 people and wounded many more. On February 9, political sources said that Fatah’s leader Hadi al-Amiri was mediating between political rivals Moqtada al-Sadr and former PM Nouri al-Maliki to unite the Shia parties in Parliament. On February 11, Moqtada al-Sadr warned that he might withdraw his support for PM-designate Mohammed Allawi’s efforts to form a new government because Allawi was allegedly coming under the influence of partisan and sectarian pressures. Sadr appeared to be alluding to efforts by Sunni, Kurdish and rival Shia political factions seeking a share of Allawi’s future cabinet. On February 11, a member of the Fatah coalition accused Sunni and Kurdish factions of making excessive demands for ministerial positions that could derail the government formation process. Political blocs have largely refrained from making public demands for certain ministerial positions, but analysts say that all political blocs are competing to secure their shares of cabinet posts behind closed doors. Local newspapers suggested that members of Parliament opposing Allawi’s confirmation were now the majority. On February 13, the secretary general of NATO said the government of Iraq asked NATO to continue training the country’s security forces. more…
  • Sadr Issues “Charter” To Regulate Protests, Threatens Protesters Over “Promiscuity” And “Insults To Religion”; Iraqi Women March In Defiance; Protesters And Security Forces Struggle For Control Over Key Roads And Bridges – On February 11, Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his “blue hat” supporters to “disband” but allowed them to continue to participate in protests, so long as they “blended in with [protesters]…without declaring their affiliation.” On February 8, Sadr issued an 18-point “revolution charter” that included controversial and overbearing items, such as a call for gender segregation at protest sites and saying that protesters must not interfere in political debates over government formation. Activists criticized Sadr’s attempt to establish “patriarchal control” over the reform movement. On February 13, Iraqi women organized marches in Baghdad and several provinces to assert the role of women in the reform movement and challenge social stereotypes. Sadr responded by accusing young protesters of engaging in “promiscuity, drunkenness, and immorality.” Sadr compared secular, civil-minded protesters to ISIS, saying that he will not tolerate “offenses against religion, faith, and the homeland.” On February 12, protesters and security forces wrestled for control of key bridges and roads. In Baghdad, protesters continued to occupy al-Khilani and Tahrir Squares despite attempts by riot police to restrict protesters to Tahrir Square. Nearby, protesters closed the al-Sinak bridge again hours after security forces had announced the reopening of the bridge and other roads. In Nasiriyah, protesters closed bridges with burning tires and cut off access to local government buildings. At least one protester was killed, two were kidnapped and dozens were injured by tear gas and live fire during these events. Protesters continued to reject Allawi’s appointment, denounce government and militia violence, and demand social, economic, and political rights. more…
  • UN Official Says ISIS Threat Remains “Acute”; Several Bombings Hit Baghdad; Lawyer, Journalist Targeted In Assassinations; ISF Launch New Major Operation; ISIS Conducts Complex Attack In Diyala – On February 7, the head of the UN Counter-Terrorism Department warned that ISIS continues to try to regroup, and that between 20,000 and 27,000 foreign fighters currently in Syria and Iraq continue to “pose an acute short, medium and long-term threat”. On February 7, an IED wounded three civilians southeast of Baghdad. On February 7, an IED killed one soldier in Diyala. On February 8, ISIS militants killed one Iraqi soldier and wounded another in an attack in Salah ad-Din. On February 8, an IED wounded one soldier south of Baghdad. On February 8, four IEDs exploded in separate areas of Baghdad, injuring eight civilians. On February 10, gunmen assassinated a government employee in Diyala. On February 10, gunmen killed a naval officer in Basra. On February 10, an IED wounded six civilians in Diyala. On February 10, U.S. defense officials said that 109 U.S. personnel have sustained traumatic brain injuries following the January 7 Iranian ballistic missile strikes on Ain al-Assad air base. On February 11, gunmen assassinated the CEO of an Iraqi satellite TV channel. On February 11, an IED wounded two civilians in Mosul. On February 12, an IED injured two civilians north of Baghdad. On February 12, gunmen fired on a lawyer who defends detained protesters in Dhi-Qar, seriously wounded him. On February 12, the Iraqi military launched a large-scale security operation to search for ISIS militants across Anbar province and surrounding areas up to Iraq’s borders with Syria and Jordan. On February 12, ISIS gunmen killed a Peshmerga fighter in Diyala and subsequently killed one civilian, one ISF member and injured six other people who responded to the initial attack. more…
  • Plan To Resettle Refugees From Al-Hol Camp Faces Opposition In Ninewa; UNHCR Says There Are 6.3 Million “People Of Concern” In Iraq; Snowfall Increases Need For Fuel, Winter Supplies At IDP Camps – On February 7, the head of the UN Counter-Terrorism Department said that the humanitarian crisis facing 70,000 women and children in the al-Hol refugee camp in Syria was an urgent issue. The official pointed out that children are denied freedom, education, and basic rights because of alleged connections to ISIS fighters from Iraq and Syria, recommending sending them back to their home countries. News of an Iraqi government plan to resettle 30,000 refugees from al-Hol in Ninewa was met with push-back from local officials and Ninewa residents who fear that many of al-Hol inhabitants are not Iraqis and may be from families affiliated with ISIS fighters. On February 10, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees released a new fact sheet on key humanitarian figures in Iraq, which designated 6.3 million people in Iraq as “people of concern,” including 1.4 million IDP, 4.6 million returnees, 247,568 Syrian refugees, 41,237 refugees from other countries, and 47,253 stateless persons. On February 10, a member of the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights urged government and humanitarian agencies to provide heating fuel, medical supplies, and other winter gear to IDP camps to cope with snowfall and an extreme drop in temperatures across Iraq. more…
  • Pollution Forces Oil Field Output Cuts; KRG Seeks Federal Funds For Grain Farmers, Five Dams; U.S. Extends Sanctions Waiver Allowing Iraq To Buy More Iranian Gas – On February 9, the Basra Oil Company plans to cut crude oil production at the Nahr bin Omar oil field to minimize pollution affecting nearby residential nearby. On February 9, a KRG delegation, led by the KRG Minister of Agriculture, met with Iraq’s Minister of Agriculture to discuss outstanding dues to Kurdish farmers dating back to 2014 and the construction of five new dams in the KRI. On February 11, the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Water and Marshlands said the government plans to allocate ID1 trillion (approximately $800 million) to the Agricultural Bank to loan to farmers in Iraq, including the KRI. On February 13, the U.S. granted Iraq a 45-day extension on a previous waiver, granted in October and set to expire February 13, to purchase gas and electricity from Iran despite American sanctions on Tehran. 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.

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Sistani Condemns Violence Against Protesters; Amiri Mediates Between Sadr And Maliki; Allawi Under Pressure Amid Competing Demands By Political Rivals; Iraq And NATO Agree On Training Mission

On February 7, Ayatollah Ali Sistani addressed the continuing violence against protesters, specifically the February 5 Najaf attacks during which Sadr’s “blue hats” followers killed between eight and 14 people and wounded many more. The senior cleric also stated that it was the responsibility of government forces “to preserve security, protect spaces of peaceful protest, and investigate perpetrators of violence,” admonishing government forces for failing to protect protesters and engaging in violence themselves. The Najaf incidents invited foreign attention as well. On February 7, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for justice for the demonstrators who were killed and wounded in Najaf, saying that the Iraqi people deserve the right to protest peacefully against Iranian influence without fear of violence and death. 

On February 9, political sources form the Fatah coalition said that Fatah’s leader Hadi al-Amiri was mediating between political rivals Moqtada al-Sadr and former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to unite the Shia parties in Parliament. The divide can be traced back to 2008 when Maliki led a military campaign against the Mahdi Army militia of Moqtada al-Sadr. Despite brief rapprochement in 2010 when Sadr acquiesced to Maliki’s staying in office for a second term, the antagonism resurfaced with Sadr’s vehement objection to Maliki’s efforts to return to office after 2014. The sources say Amiri’s mediation initiative was designed to respond to mutual challenges, including hostilities between the U.S. and Iraqi militias, pressure from popular protests, and the need for unity during government formation. 

On February 10, the Iranian consul in Najaf announced that the Iranina consulate in the city has resumed operations after being suspended since November 28, when the consulate building was set on fire during protests against Iranian influence in Iraq. 

On February 10, Prime Minister-designate Mohammad Allawi met with representatives of the Kurdish blocs in the Iraqi Parliament to discuss government formation. According to Kurdish representative Ahmed Haji Rasheed, Allawi said he intended to form a cabinet of politically independent technocrats. Rasheed said the Kurdish blocs did not bring up particular candidates for cabinet positions. Instead, they communicated the demands they want the next government to fulfill. The demands included isolating federal payments of civil servant salaries in the Kurdistan region from political debate, securing funds to compensate Kurdish farmers for crops previously delivered to federal authorities, and expanding basic services. In the face of an expected complete government cabinet overhaul by Allawi, the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) bloc affirmed that it would not waive the Kurdish right to representation in the new government. The major Kurdish parties control three ministerial positions in Abdul-Mahdi’s administration, including the important Finance Ministry. Mohammed al-Kahlidi, a member of parliament said to be close to Allawi, said that Allawi’s ministers won’t be “first of second tier party members” yet the prime minister-designate is keen to ensure that all Iraqi constituencies are represented in his government. Political sources told al-Sumaria on February 9 that Allawi sent an envoy to KDP leader Masoud Barzani asking him to “secretly” send his candidates for ministerial positions, stressing that they must not be prominent party members to avoid bringing controversy onto Allawi. 

On February 11, Kurdistan regional government (KRG) President Nechirvan Barzani convened a meeting with senior representatives of Kurdish party blocs in Iraq’s parliament to discuss the situation in Iraq and create a joint approach for addressing political developments. The meeting stressed the importance of unity among Kurdish parties in dealing with federal authorities on issues concerning the strategic interests of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq (KRI) and Kurdish people in areas disputed with the federal government. The meeting reportedly concluded with an agreement to move towards creating a “Kurdistani alliance” through which all Kurdiah parties can approach government formation negotiations as a unified front. A member of the Kurdistan Islamic Group said the parties agreed during the meeting that the Kurdish parties’ share of the new government should be four ministerial positions, an increase from the current three positions. Despite this public show of unity, there are reports that smaller Kurdish parties that collectively hold 15 seats in Iraq’s Parliament plan to hold their own talks with the federal prime minister-designate, independent of the leading parties, the KDP and PUK. 

On February 11, Moqtada al-Sadr warned that he might withdraw his support for Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Allawi’s efforts to form a new government because Allawi was allegedly coming under the influence of partisan and sectarian pressures. Sadr appeared to be alluding to efforts by Sunni, Kurdish and rival Shia political factions seeking a share of Allawi’s future cabinet. One of Sadr’s militia commanders had issued a more explicit threat to Allawi, vowing to overthrow him “in three days” if he yielded to partisan, particularly Shia, pressure in the assignment of cabinet positions. Allawi faces the challenge of balancing protesters calls for an independent cabinet with pressure from parliamentary blocs seeking to maintain or enhance the share of ministerial positions they held in Abdul-Mahdi’s administration. On February 11, a representative of the Fatah coalition accused Sunni and Kurdish factions of making excessive demands for ministerial positions that could derail the government formation process. The political blocs have largely refrained from making public demands for certain ministerial positions, which is likely an attempt to avoid provoking greater backlash from protesters. Analysts, however, say that all political blocs are competing to secure their shares of cabinet posts behind closed doors. As of February 11, al-Mada reported that the number of members of Parliament opposing Allawi’s confirmation has risen to a majority. Despite the apparent obstacles, there are reports that Allawi, whose nomination was endorsed by the Fatah and Saeroun alliances, is expected to present his new cabinet to Parliament early next week. 

On February 13, the secretary general of NATO said the government of Iraq asked NATO to continue training the country’s security forces. The agreement followed talks with Baghdad and a two-day meeting among NATO members to discuss the alliance’s role in Iraq and plans to meet American calls for NATO to contribute more to anti-ISIS security cooperation efforts in the region. Going forward, NATO’s training mission will operate under a new arrangement that reassigns hundreds of personnel currently in Iraq as part of the U.S.-led international coalition to work under the NATO banner. The new arrangement precludes combat operations by the NATO mission.


Sadr Issues “Charter” To Regulate Protests, Threatens Protesters Over “Promiscuity” And “Insults To Religion”; Iraqi Women March In Defiance; Protesters And Security Forces Struggle For Control Over Key Roads And Bridges

On February 11, Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his “blue hat” supporters to “disband” after the group was accused of conducting brutal attacks on pro-reform protesters in Najaf, Baghdad and Karbala last week that killed between eight and 14 people wounded more than a hundred people. Sadr, who has oscillated between supporting the protests and violently attacking them, told his followers that could continue to engage in protest activity, so long as they “blended in with them [protesters] and became part of them without declaring their affiliation.” On February 8, Sadr had issued another controversial statement that contained what he called a “revolution charter”. The 18-points in Sadr’s message included some reasonable and constructive items, such as the withdrawal of the “blue hats” from Tahrir Square, insisting on the peacefulness of protests and protecting them from foriegn and partisan influences. More controversial and overbearing items included a call for gender segregation at protest sites, the non-involvement of protesters in political debates over government formation. Activists criticized what they called Sadr’s attempt to maintain “patriarchal control” over the demonstrations. Hashtags like “She is the Revolution (هي_الثورة#)” gained particular momentum ahead of feminist marches that took place on February 13 in Baghdad , Basra, Karbala, Nasiriyah, Wasit, Babylon, and other provinces. The messages of the protests asserted the vital role of Iraqi women in the reform movement and challenged social stereotypes of women. The messages in some cases directly criticized Moqtada al-Sadr. An angry Sadr responded by accusing young protesters of engaging in “promiscuity, drunkenness, and immorality.” He continued his verbal attack referring to them as extremists and comparing them to ISIS, saying that their “hearts and minds” had deviated from morality and faith. Sadr closed with a threat that he will not tolerate “offenses against religion, faith, and the homeland” and vowing not to allow the protesters to “erase them… the same way we did not allow the occupier to erase Iraq.” 

On February 12, protesters and security forces wrestled for control of key bridges and roads. In Baghdad, protesters continued to occupy al-Khilani and Tahrir Squares despite attempts by riot police to restrict protesters to Tahrir Square. Riot police fired tear gas into crowds at al-Khilani, resulting in four cases of suffocation among protesters. Protesters also reported 17 cases of suffocation and injury in clashes at Tahrir Square. Nearby, protesters closed the al-Sinak bridge again hours after security forces had announced the reopening of the bridge and other roads. Protests in other provinces resulted in 27 injuries in Dhi-Qar and seven in Babylon. In Dhi-Qar, the city of Nasiriyah continued to be an epicenter of activity as protesters closed al-Naser Bridge with burning tires and cut off access to local government administration buildings. The escalation in Nasiriyah followed a February 12 assassination attempt that seriously wounded lawyer Ali Maarij, who is representing a number of detained protesters. The Dhi-Qar police attributed violence to saboteurs among the peaceful protesters, and stated that a committee is investigating assassinations of protesters and violence against security forces. Wednesday’s surge in clashes comes after a week of predominantly student-led protests in Babylon, Najaf, Diwaniyah, Nasiriyah, and Tahrir Square and near the Ministry of Education in Baghdad. Protesters continued to reject Allawi’s appointment, denounce the violence and killing of protesters, and call for improved services and policies to reduce unemployment. On February 10, security forces fired live ammunition and killed one protester at al-Ain University, Nasiriyah. On February 12, the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights said that two activists were kidnapped in Baghdad and Najaf since February 10. On February 13, clashes in Baghdad continued, with reports of 12 cases of suffocation and injury from tear gas in al-Khilani square as security forces maintained their efforts to consolidate protesters into Tahrir Square.


UN Official Says ISIS Threat Remains “Acute”; Several Bombings Hit Baghdad; Lawyer, Journalist Targeted In Assassinations; ISF Luanch New Major Operation; ISIS Conducts Complex Attack In Diyala

On February 7, Vladimir Voronkov, the head of the UN Counter-Terrorism Department, warned that ISIS continues to try to regoup and reestablish itself in physical and cyber spaces, attempting to regain its ability to conduct terrorist operations on a global scale. Voronkov stated that between 20,000 and 27,000 foreign fighters are currently present in Syria and Iraq, who are expected to continue to “pose an acute short, medium and long-term threat”. 

On February 7, an improvised explosive device (IED) attached to a minibus carrying civilians exploded in the Jisr Diyala region southeast of Baghdad. The explosion wounded three civilians. 

On February 7, an IED exploded near a military vehicle in the Buhruz subdistrict of Diyala province. The explosion killed one soldier. 

On February 8, suspected ISIS militants attacked an outpost for Iraqi security forces (ISF) in Mutaibija in Salah ad-Din province. The attackers killed one Iraqi soldier and wounded another, while the ISF killed two of the militants. 

On February 8, an IED exploded next to a military vehicle carrying Iraqi soldiers in the Rustumiyah area south of Baghdad. The explosion wounded one soldier. 

On February 8, four IEDs exploded in separate areas of Baghdad, injuring eight civilians. In al-Bayaa market, an IED exploded and wounded three civilians. A second IED exploded in al-Hurriya, north of Baghdad, injuring two civilians. In Jukok, north of Baghdad, an IED exploded and wounded one civilian. In New Baghdad, an IED exploded near a cafe, injuring two civilians. 

On February 8, unidentified individuals attacked al-Rafidain Center for Dialogue, an Iraqi research institute in Najaf province, with a hand grenade. The attack wounded one person who works at the center.  

On February 9, an explosive remnant of war thought to be left behind by ISIS militants detonated at a quarry in the village of al-Mihzin in Salah ad-Din province. The explosion injured three quarry workers. 

On February 10, an IED exploded near a convoy belonging to a private U.S. security firm in al-Yusufiyah, south of Baghdad. The explosion did not cause human casualties but resulted in material damage. The Security Media Cell attributed the attack to unidentified individuals driving a car who reportedly threw a homemade explosive at a convoy of a foreign company that was carrying food supplies. 

On February 10, unidentified gunmen armed with silenced weapons assassinated an employee of the Diyala Archaeological Inspectorate in Baquba, the capital of Diyala province. The victim was a relative of a former governor of Diyala.

On February 10, unidentified gunmen stormed the house of a naval officer in Basra province. The gunmen shot and killed the officer. 

On February 10, an IED exploded inside a cafe in Baquba in Diyala province. The explosion wounded six civilians. 

On February 10, U.S. defense officials confirmed that 109 U.S. personnel have sustained traumatic brain injuries following the January 7 Iranian ballistic missile strikes on Ain al-Assad air base. This is the fifth announcement from U.S. officials revising the total number of soldiers injured from the missile attack. Initially, U.S. and Iraqi authorities stated that the Iranian missile strikes caused no casualties.

On February 11, unidentified gunmen riding on motorcycles assassinated Nizar Dhanoun, the CEO of Iraqi satellite TV channel al-Rashid, in al-Jami’a neighborhood of Baghdad. Al-Rasheed, whose offices shut down on government orders on November 12 along with a dozen other media organizations, covered the protest movement. Its owner, politician Saad Assim al-Janabi, criticized the government’s violent crackdown on protesters. Dhanoun’s death is the latest in a series of targeted assassinations, kidnappings, and threats on media officials, journalists, and activists since the start of the protests on October 1st. 

On February 11, an IED exploded in the Rashidiya area, north of Mosul. The attack wounded two civilians. 

On February 11, three mortar shells struck a cemetery in the Daquq district in Kirkuk province. There were no reports of human casualties but the attack caused material damage. 

On February 12, an IED exploded in al-Dolaie, north of Baghdad. The explosion injured two civilians. 

On February 12, unidentified gunmen riding in a vehicle opened fire from small arms and seriously wounded Ali Maarij, a lawyer who defends detained protesters, in a failed assassination attempt in Nasiriyah, the capital of Dhi-Qar province. 

On February 12, the Iraqi military launched the first phase of a large-scale security operation dubbed “Iraq’s Heroes”, to search for ISIS militants across Anbar province and surrounding areas up to Iraq’s borders with Syria and Jordan. The operation involves units from the Border Guard, Anbar Operations Command, al-Jazeera Operations Command, the Central Euphrates Operation Command and the Baghdad Operations Command, with support from the Iraqi air force, air defense, and army aviation. The operation aims to cover a total area of 26,238 square kilometers. According to preliminary results released on February 12, the operation uncovered ten IEDs, 82 mortar shells, 25 RPG munitions, and 27 grenades. 

On February 12, ISIS gunmen attacked and killed a Peshmerga fighter in his vehicle in the Khanaqin subdistrict of Diyala province. The militants also fired at and killed one villager and injured three others after they rushed to the scene. The militants later attacked an ISF patrol that responded to the shootings with an IED, killing an Iraqi security officer and wounding three soldiers. 


Plan To Resettle Refugees From Al-Hol Camp Faces Opposition In Ninewa; UNHCR Says There Are 6.3 Million “People Of Concern” In Iraq; Snowfall Increases Need For Fuel, Winter Supplies At IDP Camps

On February 7, Vladimir Voronkov, the head of the UN Counter-Terrorism Department, presented an update on the ISIS threat and humanitarian challenges in countries where ISIS continues to be a security problem. In particular, Voronkov highlighted the humanitarian crisis facing more than 70,000 women and children in the al-Hol refugee camp in Syria as an urgent issue. The report pointed out that children are denied freedom, education, and basic rights because of alleged connections to ISIS fighters from Iraq and Syria. Voronkov warned that this unsustainable situation creates elevated risks of radicalization and escapes. He argued that these children should be treated as victims and that “the best solution is to get the children out of harm’s way and back to their home countries, with the rest of their families, as soon as possible.” On February 10, Iraqi newspaper al-Mada reported that Iraqi authorities plan to resettle more than 30,000 refugees from al-Hol to Iraq as soon as March. According to the newspaper, authorities would move the refugees into Iraq’s Ninewa province in groups of 2,000 persons each. News of the plan was met with push-back from local officials and Ninewa residents. Sherwan Dobirdani, a Ninewa representative, said a group of Ninewa politicians told the speaker of Parliament and Ninewa security commanders that they object to the resettlement of refugees in their province. Ninewa politicians are concerned that many of al-Hol inhabitants are not Iraqis and may be from families affiliated with ISIS fighters. The resettlement idea is also controversial because the new camps to host these refugees are said to be close to Sinjar, the predominantly Yazidi district where ISIS killed 5,000 Yazidi men and captured thousands of Yazidi women and children in 2014. 

On February 7, Marta Hurtado, a spokesperson UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, called on the Iraqi government to protect peaceful demonstrators and pointed to the government’s failure to prevent recurring militia attacks on them. Hurtado’s statement follows a serious escalation in violent attacks by followers of Moqtada al-Sadr against protesters in Najaf province on February 5 and in Karbala province on February 6. In Najaf, Sadr’s followers killed at least eight protesters and wounded more than 100 others, and injured at least eight more in Karbala province. The Iraqi army, reported present at the sites of violence, did not intervene to prevent the violence. 

On February 10, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released a new fact sheet on key humanitarian figures in Iraq. The UNHCR data designated 6.3 million people in Iraq as “people of concern.” The figure includes 1.4 million internally displaced persons (IDP), 4.6 million returnees, 247,568 Syrian refugees, 41,237 refugees from other countries, and 47,253 stateless persons. As of January 20, the UNHCR has secured only 4% of the $510.5 million required to fund its operations in Iraq during 2020.  

On February 10, Fadhil al-Gharawi, a member of the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR), urged government and humanitarian agencies to provide heating fuel, medical supplies, and other winter gear to IDP camps in central and northern Iraq. Gharawi said in a statement that IDPs are living in very rough conditions exacerbated by recent snowfall and an extreme drop in temperatures across Iraq.


Pollution Forces Oil Field Output Cuts; KRG Seeks Federal Funds For Grain Farmers, Five Dams; U.S. Extends Sanctions Waiver Allowing Iraq To Buy More Iranian Gas

On February 9, Iraq’s state-owned Basra Oil Company announced it would be cutting crude oil production at the Nahr bin Omar oil field to minimize pollution from the field, which appears to have reached dangerous levels. The field, located northeast of Basra city, is due to have its operations reduced to a minimum because of the impact of pollution and harmful emissions on staff and nearby residential nearby. 

On February 9, a KRG delegation, led by the KRG Minister of Agriculture, met with Iraq’s Minister of Agriculture to discuss outstanding dues to Kurdish farmers and the construction of five new dams in the KRI. Iraq withheld government subsidies to Kurdish farmers from 2014-2016 because the farmers allegedly delivered imported wheat, instead of locally grown grain, to take advantage of the subsidy system. During discussions, the delegations emphasized the role of secure borders to prevent the smuggling of agricultural products. The KRG delegation also brought proposals to establish five new dams in the KRI. The KRG delegation argued that 85% of the water that flows through the KRI onto the rest of Iraq without being utilized or held in dams in the region. The Iraqi Minister of Water Resources said that the KRI would be entitled to receive the same treatment as other parts of Iraq. 

On February 9, Iraq’s state-owned Rafidain bank issued a statement to address delays in the disbursement of paychecks to civil servants and pensioners, attributing the lag to the failure of government departments submit payroll records needed by the bank on time. The bank’s statement comes after February 1 criticism, directed at the caretaker government, that many civil servants, particularly those working for the ministries of education and health, had not received their monthly salary on time.

On February 10, officials of Japan Petroleum Exploration, a member of the consortium operating Gharraf oil field in Nasiriyah, reported that production at the field declined to 93,000 barrels per day (bpd). The field, which has a production target of 230,000 bpd, was producing 100,000 bpd in January. The officials attributed the decline to delays in the drilling program required to compensate for natural decline and boost production. 

On February 11, the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Water and Marshlands said the government plans to allocate ID 1 trillion (approximately $800 million) to the Agricultural Bank to loan to farmers in Iraq, including the KRI. The goal of the allocation is to promote self-sufficiency and stop importing agricultural and animal products. 

On February 13, the U.S. granted Iraq a 45-day extension on a previous waiver, granted in October and set to expire February 13, to purchase gas and electricity from Iran despite American sanctions on Tehran. The waiver allows Iraq to continue importing 1400 megawatts of electricity and 28 million cubic meters of gas per day from Iran, which Iraq relies upon to supplement its chronically lackingi power generation capacity. The latest waiver extension is considerably shorter than previous ones, which lasted 90-120 120 days each. Iraqi officials said the U.S. was willing to further extend the duration of the waiver if Iraq was to provide Washington with a detailed plan on its efforts to gain energy independence from Iran.


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs from February 6 - February 13, 2020

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
02/07/20Jisr Diyala, south of Baghdad03
02/07/20Buhruz, Diyala10
02/08/20Rustumiyah, Baghdad01
02/08/20al-Bayaa, Baghdad03
02/08/20al-Hurriya, Baghdad02
02/08/20Jukok, north of Baghdad01
02/08/20New Baghdad, Baghdad02
02/10/20al-Yusufiyah, south of Baghdad00
02/10/20Baquba, Diyala06
02/11/20Rashidiya, north of Mosul02
02/12/20al-Dolaie, north of Baghdad02
02/12/20Khanaqin, Diyala13

 

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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