- KRG Defends Its Share Of Budget As Baghdad Halts Payments; Fatah Accuses Kadhimi Of Using Double Standards, Marginalizing The Shia In Cabinet Formation; Kadhimi Presents Government Program; Protests To Resume May 10 – On April 25, the local press reported that the Iraqi government instructed the Finance Ministry on April 16 to stop making monthly payments to the KRG because it failed to meet its obligation to deliver 250,000 bpd of oil. The KRG president denounced the move as “unconstitutional and illegal,” and urged the chief of the UN mission to Iraq to intervene. The KRG sent a delegation to negotiate a resolution armed with a document describing hundreds of billions in funds allegedly owed to the KRG. On April 24, political sources said most Shia parties rejected the incomplete cabinet PM-designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi proposed on April 22 and asked him for new candidates, arguing that Sunni and Kurdish blocs insisted on being allocated ministries based on their electoral entitlements. On April 25, a senior advisor to KDP leader, Masoud Barzani said he expected the Shia political blocs to force PM-designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi to step down to keep outgoing PM Adil Abdul Mahdi in office, an assumption with which some Shia factions seem to agree. On April 27, the Fatah coalition said it must get its share of ministries in the cabinet, citing the insistence by Sunni and Kurdish parties on getting theirs, and accusing Kadhimi of “succumbing to Kurdish and Sunni pressures while marginalizing the rights of the largest bloc and [Shia] community in presenting their ministerial candidates.” On April 29, PM-designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi sent his government program to the Iraqi Parliament, saying he will unveil his proposed cabinet “within the constitutional deadline.” On April 29, political sources claimed that Kadhimi agreed to allocate cabinet ministries based on the number of seats the different blocs control in Parliament. Meanwhile, Washington urged Iraqi leaders to let Kadhimi form his government free of the pressures of sectarian quota demands. On April 30, protesters in Wasit province called on fellow protesters in other provinces to resume mass protests on May 10 to “topple” the government unless it met five immediate demands, starting with forming a government independent of the political parties. more…
- ISIS Targets Iraq’s Power Grid; Suicide Bombers Attack Intelligence Department In Kirkuk – On April 23, Iraqi security forces (ISF) killed three ISIS militants in Ninewa. Between April 23 – 25, ISIS militants attacked the subdistrict of Abbara in Diyala with mortars three times, injuring one civilian. On April 24, ISIS militants killed a policeman and two members of the tribal mobilization force in Diyala. On April 25, ISIS snipers wounded two policemen in Diyala. On April 25, the ISF killed seven ISIS militants in Diyala. On April 25, ISIS militants attacked a village in western Anbar, kidnapping a civilian, killing another and and wounding two more. On April 26, ISIS militants fired four mortar rounds at a village near Jalawla in Diyala. On April 26, an improvised explosive device (IED) killed two Iraqi soldiers and wounded an officer in Salah ad-Din. On April 28, ISIS militants sabotaged two electric power transmission towers in northeast Diyala. On April 30, the Ministry of Electricity said that ISIS militants attacked more high voltage towers east of Baghdad and south of Baquba. The attacks put 1,500 megawatts of power out of service, causing a drop in power supplied to six provinces. On April 28, two suicide bombers attempted to attck an ISF intelligence office in Kirkuk city, wounding six people. On April 29, an IED killed one civilian north of Rutba in Anbar province. On April 30, popular mobilization forces supported by Iraqi army aviation killed seven ISIS militants in Salah ad-Din. more…
- Iraq Extends Curfew Hours, Imposes Fines To Encourage Wearing Masks As COVID-19 Cases Continue To Rise – On April 26, Iraq’s Higher Education Ministry announced that all universities and colleges shall provide classes and exams electronically during the next school semester, which begins on May 2. On April 27, the Iraqi government updated the measures to contain COVID-19 by extending the daily curfew period by one hour and imposing fines on people who don’t wear face masks outdoors and drivers who transport more than three passengers in their cars. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization representative in Iraq warned that “the rate of decrease in new Coronavirus cases is not where it should be…there are clear violations of the curfew and lack of compliance with the Health Ministry instructions.” On April 30, Iraq’s Health Ministry reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased this week to 2,085 while deaths from the virus reached 93 and a total of 1,375 patients have recovered. more…
- Iraq Gets Another 30-Day Sanctions Waiver To Import Gas And Electricity From Iran – On April 25, the United States granted Iraq a 30-day extension on the sanctions waiver that allows Baghdad to purchase gas and electricity from Iran despite American sanctions on Tehran. On April 26, the Basra Oil Company warned foreign oil companies against ending the services of local staff or forcing them to resign after some companies fired dozens of local workers or reduced their salaries citing the extraordinary conditions created by COVID-19. 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.
KRG Defends Its Share Of Budget As Baghdad Halts Payments; Fatah Accuses Kadhimi Of Using Double Standards, Marginalizing The Shia In Cabinet Formation; Kadhimi Presents Government Program; Protests To Resume May 10
On April 24, al-Sumaria reported citing political sources that the majority of Shia parties rejected the list of names for an incomplete cabinet that Prime Minister-designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi presented on April 22. The sources said the parties asked Kadhimi for new candidates arguing that the group he presented were either incompetent or suspected of corruption. The only messages of approval came from the Nasr coalition of former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. A Nasr representative hailed the proposed cabinet as “ideal” because those ministers would “answer to the prime minister instead of their political blocs.” A member of the Fatah coalition explained on April 25 that the Shia blocs rejected Kadhimi’s initial list because they think the Sunni and Kurdish blocs insisted on being allocated ministries based on their electoral entitlements. The representative, Falih al-Khazali, argued that either all the blocs agree to grant Kadhimi freedom to choose his ministers, or all the blocs get miniseries based on their respective electoral weight.
On April 25, local news websites reported that the Iraqi Council of Ministers sent a letter to the Finance Ministry on April 16 instructing it to stop making monthly payments from the federal treasury to the Kurdistan regional government (KRG). The government letter argues that the KRG failed to meet its obligation under the budget law to deliver 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil to the state oil marketing organization and asks the Finance Ministry to deduct the resulting damages from region’s allocations under the budget. The following day, the KRG Planning Minister, Dara Rashid, said his government was willing to deliver all the oil produced in the region to the federal government, so long as the latter commits to covering the financial needs of the KRG, including obligations to foriegn oil companies operating its oil fields. The KRG has been struggling to pay its public sector employees as low oil prices impacted its revenue and caused delays in the monthly payments Baghdad sends to the region. On April 28, KRG President Nechirvan Barzani denounced the move to cut the funding on which the KRG depends to pay civil servants as “unconstitutional and illegal,” and urged the chief of the United Nations mission to Iraq to intervene and mediate a solution. On the following day the KRG dispatched a delegation led by its deputy prime minister to negotiate with the federal government. The delegation met with Oil Minister Thamir al-Ghadban and political leaders on April 29-30, departing with no more than an agreement to hold more meetings soon to continue negotiations. Meanwhile, the KRG sent a long document to the federal Council of Ministers demanding the resumption of payment, arguing that the amounts paid by Baghdad to the KRG this year were lower than is required by law and that the deficit already exceeds the damages to the federal government from not receiving the specified 250,000 bpd from the KRG. The KRG document also included tables describing more than $62 billion in budget payments due to the KRG since 2014, more than $7 billion in financial burdens associated with hosting refugees and displaced persons, and over $384 billion in compensations due to atrocities committed against Iraqi Kurds by Saddam Hussein’s regime.
On April 25, a senior advisor to Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader, Masoud Barzani said that he expected the Shia political blocs to force Prime Minister-designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi to step down to keep outgoing Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi in office. Representatives of some Shia factions seem to agree with the KDP assumption. Hakim al-Zamili, a senior Sadrist politician, said on April 26 that some political parties were “working to obstruct the formation of a new government…with the aim of keeping the current government led by [outgoing prime minister] Adil Abdul-Mahdi.” Zamili argued that these parties, which he did not name, were trying to protect their financial interests in the ministries of the outgoing government and therefore won’t support the new prime minister-designate unless he listens to their demands. Meanwhile, Hassan Fadam of the Hikma bloc described a more detailed picture involving three general attitudes. The first, according to Fadam, places impossible conditions on Kadhimi to block him and keep Abdul-Mahdi in office. The second represents groups that want to approve Kadhimi’s cabinet while preserving the share of power they gained in Abdul-Mahdi’s cabinet, while the third represents groups that simply want a new government approved regardless of electoral entitlements because of the country’s extraordinary circumstance. In recent weeks, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, the militia affiliated with the Fatah coalition, made repeated calls for keeping resigned Abdul-Mahdi in office and expanding the powers available to his care-taker government.
On April 27, the Fatah coalition said it must get its share of ministries in the cabinet, citing the insistence by Sunni and Kurdiah parties on getting theirs. Fatah representative Karim Alaywi accused Prime Minister-designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi of “succumbing to Kurdis and Sunni pressures while marginalizing the rights of the largest bloc and [Shia] community in presenting their ministerial candidates.” Alaywi added that Kadhimi “must use the same yardstick” in his dealings with the various parties to “either bring a truly independent government…or let all political powers, Sunni, Shia and Kurdish present ministerial candidates based on electoral entitlements.” Another Fatah representative, Hassan al-Kabi similarly accused Kadhimi of using double standards, warning that “Shia blocs won’t allow [Kadhimi] to weaken the Shia community by bringing his own candidates on their behalf while allowing the Sunni and Kurdish communities to present the candidate they want.”
On April 28, New Generation, an opposition party in the Kurdistan region, called for withdrawing confidence from the KRG, accusing the ruling parties of causing a financial crisis by failing to manage disputes with the federal government. New Generation’s representative in the KRG parliament said the people cannot afford to live with “the repeated mistakes” of the government, which has not been able to pay its employees since January. Other attacks were coming from parties within the government itself. Yousif Mohammed, the leader of the Gorran (Change) moevemnt’s bloc in the KRG parliament blamed the financial crisis on the KDP’s insistence on keeping Fouad Hussein in his position as Finance Minister against the wishes of powerful Shia parties in Baghdad. Last week, two dozen members of Parliament filed a complaint Hussein accusing him of “exploiting his position and deliberately squandering public funds” by making payments to the KRG that violate the 2019 buget law.
On April 29, Prime Minister-designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi sent his government program to the Iraqi Parliament, saying that he will present the names of his proposed cabinet members “within the constitutional deadline.” President Barham Salih tasked Kadhimi with forming a government on April 9, giving him thirty days to complete this mission. Political sources mentioned that Shia political parties reached an agreement on supporting Kadhimi and their respective share of ministries during a meeting hosted by Fatah leader Hadi al-Amiri the night before and which lasted through the early morning hours. Leaked copies of Kadhimi’s program show a rather brief document that sets several priorities. These include preparing for early elections, fighting COVID-19, establishing state monopoly over arms, preparing a budget that addresses the financial crisis, investigating the violence against protesters, protecting Iraq’s sovereignty, fighting corruption and restoring balance between Iraq’s different communities in government institutions .
On April 29, Shafaq reported citing political sources that the prime minister-designate and political blocs agreed to to allocate cabinet ministries based on the number of seats the different blocs control in Parliament (aka the ethno-sectarian quota system). The defense and interior ministries remain reportedly undecided due to internal Sunni and Shia disagreements, respectively. Absent an agreement on these ministries, and if Parliament approves Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s cabinet, the future prime minister would manage both on an acting basis for up to a month to give more time for negotiations. But some politicians claimed that Kadhimi was freely selecting his cabinet members. On April 29, Mohammed al-Karbouli, a senior member of the Iraqi Forces Alliance led by Speaker Halbousi claimed that Sunni and Kurdish political parties “authorized” Kadhimi to select his own ministers, “pushing Shia parties to follow suit.” Karbouli added that this “Sunni-Kurdish authorization thwarted a project to derail” Kadhimi’s mission. Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State urged Iraqi leaders to let Kadhimi form his government free of the pressures of sectarian quota demands.
On April 30, protesters in Wasit province called on fellow protesters in other provinces to resume mass protests on May 10 to “topple” the government unless it met five immediate demands. The demands included forming a government independent of the political parties, passing a fair election law, forming an independent election commission, setting a time for early elections, and appointing new competent and independent governors in each province.
On April 23, Iraqi security forces (ISF) killed three ISIS militants and destroyed four hideouts used by the militants during a search operation in the desert area west of Mosul. The ISF destroyed supplies and neutralized explosives during the operation.
On April 23, three mortar rounds struck the subdistrict of Abbara in Diyala province without causing casualties. Four additional mortar rounds hit the same area the following day, injuring one civilian. The attacks were renewed on April 25, with two more rounds hitting Abbara but without causing casualties.
On April 24, unidentified militants attacked the residence of an Iraqi policeman with a hand grenade. The attack, which occurred near Hamam al-Alil south of Mosul, injured one of the policeman’s relatives.
On April 24, ISIS militants attacked a checkpoint manned by members of the tribal mobilization force near Muqdadiyah in Diyala province. The attack killed two of the tribal fighters and wounded a third. On the same day, another attack by ISIS militants near Muqdadiyah killed an Iraqi policeman. The following day, ISIS sniper fire targeted an Iraqi police checkpoint northeast of Baquba in Diyala province, injuring two policemen.
On April 25, the ISF killed seven ISIS militants and arrested an eighth during a security operation near lake Himrin in northeast Diyala province.
On April 25, ISIS militants attacked a village near the Walid subdistrict in western Anbar province. Security sources said the militants kidnapped a civilian, and wounded three others, including a local tribal leader who died later as a result of his injuries. The ISF launched an operation to pursue the attackers, and reported killing one of them and injuring several.
On April 26, ISIS militants fired four mortar rounds at a village near Jalawla in northeast Diyala province. There were no reports of casualties.
On April 26, security sources reported that small arms fire from an unknown source injured two people, an ISF officer and his relative, in the Abu Saida area in northeast Diyala province.
On April 26, an improvised explosive device (IED) killed two Iraqi soldiers and wounded an officer when it exploded in the Dijail district in southern Salah ad-Din province.
On April 27, security sources said that ISIS militants fired a rocket propelled grenade at an electric transformer in Abbara north of Baquba in Diyala province. The militants then opened fire at an ISF officer in the same area, wounding him.
On April 28, local sources said that ISIS militants used explosives to sabotage two electric power transmission towers near Muqdadiyah in northeast Diyala province. The attack disrupted power supplies to parts of Muqdadiyah. On April 30, the Ministry of Electricity said that ISIS militants attacked with explosives more high voltage towers east of Baghdad and in Buhruz south of Baquba. A spokesman for the ministry said the attacks put 1,500 megawatts of power out of service, causing a drop in power supplied to six provinces: Bagadad, Kirkuk, Diyala, Salah ad-Din and Ninewa.
On April 28, two suicide bombers attempted to attack an ISF intelligence office in Kirkuk city. Security sources said the building guards intercepted the attacker, killing one of them and forcing the other to prematurely detonate his explosive vest. Six people, including members of the ISF and at least one civilian were wounded in the attack.
On April 28, ISIS militants attacked the village of Zulhufa in the Shoura subdistrict south of Mosul using mortars and small arms fire. The attack injured two civilians.
On April 29, an IED placed along the international highway north of Rutba in Anbar province exploded against a passing truck carrying farm produce, killing the truck driver.
On April 29, an IED placed under a vehicle belonging to a government official exploded in Diwaniyah without causing casualties.
On April 30, the popular mobilization forces (PMF) said that their fighters, supported by Iraqi army aviation killed seven ISIS militants and uncovered explosives and other supplies used by the militants during operations in Salah ad-Din province near the Himrin mountains.
On April 26, Iraq’s Higher Education Ministry announced that all universities and colleges shall provide classes and exams electronically during the next school semester, which begins on May 2. The ministry added that institutions would have the flexibility to schedule any mid-year exams that were not held due to COVID-19 and the curfew.
On April 27, the Iraqi government updated the measures to contain COVID-19 it issued on April 19 to extend the daily curfew period by one hour and impose fines on people who don’t wear face masks outdoors and drivers who transport more than three passengers in their cars. The new regulations also specify that shops must allow five square meters for each customer and deny entry to those not wearing face masks. Iraq’s Health Minister, Jafar Alwan, said on April 29 that imposing a complete curfew was unlikely at this point, adding that his ministry is monitoring the situation closely and would take the necessary steps if and when the need arises. But deputy minister Hazim al-Jumaili gave a less optimistic assessment of the situation. Speaking to al-Madad, Jumaili said the ministry acquiesced to reducing the curfew to support low-income people who need to go back to work, on the condition that the government crisis cell would ensure compliance with preventative measures. “But we were surprised in the past few days by the density of crowds moving through the streets without facemasks or gloves,” Jumaili said. Meanwhile, Adham Islamel, who represents the World Health Organization in Iraq warned that “the rate of decrease in new Coronavirus cases is not where it should be…there are clear violations of the curfew and lack of compliance with the Health Ministry instructions.”
On April 29, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that Japan will make a new financial contribution to support IOM’s activities that aim to “break the cycle of conflict” in Iraq. IOM explained that the new $3.63 million in funding will allow the organization to “place a particular focus on supporting the socio-economic reintegration of self-demobilized former combatants who are seeking to re-establish their lives in areas of origin.”
On April 30, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country has risen to 2,085, representing an increase of 408 cases from the 1,677 reported a week earlier. According to the ministry’s data there were ten new deaths during the same period, bringing total fatalities to 93. Meanwhile the total number of recoveries has increased from 1,171 to 1,375. Eighty two of the new infections, 29 of the recoveries and one death were reported within the previous 24 hours. The provinces with the most active cases are Baghdad, followed by Basra, Najaf and Erbil.
On April 25, the United States granted Iraq a 30-day extension on a previous waiver, announced in March and set to expire this week, to allow Baghdad 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 inadequate power generation and distribution capacity. The last three waiver extensions are considerably shorter than previous ones, which lasted 90-120 days each. Iraqi officials said earlier that the U.S. informed Baghdad that the shortening of the waiver period was a response to Iran’s interference in the formation of a new government to replace outgoing Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Madi and his cabinet.
On April 26, the Basra Oil Company (BOC) warned foreign oil companies against ending the services of local staff or forcing them to resign using difficulties associated with the COVID-19 outbreak as a justification. A BOC official stressed that foreign companies have a commitment under their contracts to hire local labor and are not allowed to arbitrarily terminate their employment. There have been reports of foreign service companies that support the oil industry in Basra firing dozens of local workers or reducing their salaries citing the extraordinary conditions created by COVID-19.
IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties
Casualties Due To IEDs from April 23 - April 30, 2020The 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.
|04/26/20||Dijail, Salah ad-Din||2||1|
|04/28/20||Kirkuk||2 (the attackers)||6|
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.