ISHM 26: August 8 – 14, 2015

ISHM_Logo_2016Updates for August 8-14, 2015

  • Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s reform plan was unanimously approved by the Council of Representatives on August 11. The reforms aim to scale back corruption and inefficiency while improving the delivery of public services and overall governance. In addition, Abadi continued to press for stronger political inclusion of Iraq’s Sunni community. The Prime Minister’s reforms have gained broad international and public support, including the backing of Iraq’s most revered Shi’ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
  • Amid soaring temperatures and chronic shortages of electricity, massive demonstrations continued this week across Iraq as citizens called for reform and an end to corruption. The protests successfully mobilized young people and a diverse cross section of Iraqi society, strengthening Prime Minister Abadi’s push for reform.
  • Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have progressed marginally in Anbar. This week, they gained control of the al-Karma Bridge to the west of Fallujah. Additionally, 1,000 fighters from the Anbar tribes are fighting on the front lines against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) for the first time. The ISF also cleared the village of Khrbanah in Ninewa.
  • ISIS fighters continue to fight aggressively and infiltrated five new areas in Baiji this week. Regions in Diyala have crumbled because of ISIS destruction and there are claims that ISIS has started using chemical weapons against Iraqi Kurdistan’s Peshmerga forces.
  • ISIS furthered violent attacks on innocent civilians this week, carrying out mass-casualty bombings in Diyala and Baghdad. In Mosul, ISIS reportedly carried out a series of mass executions by firing squad, killing 53 doctors and as many as 2,000 Iraqi Turkmen.

Abadi’s Reform Plan Implemented

On August 11, the Iraqi House of Representatives unanimously approved Abadi’s reform plan, which aims to:

  1. Eliminate the positions of Vice President and Deputy Prime Minister
  2. Abolish all exclusivity allocated to high government positions, including retired personnel
  3. Immediately reduce the numbers of security personnel for all state officials, including ministers, deputies, general managers, governors, and members of the provincial councils
  4. Remove all senior positions from the partisan and sectarian quotas system
  5. Revisit old and current corruption files under the supervision of a supreme committee that is comprised of specialists working with the principle of “Where Did You Get This From?” The reform also calls for judges to investigate and prosecute those who are suspected of corruption
  6. Condense ministries and federal agencies to increase efficiency and reduce costs

The consequences of the reform implementation were realized immediately. On August 10, a spokesman for the Electricity Minister, Mohamed Fathi, stated that “the ministry completed the restructuring process which aims at reducing the waste of public money, [saving] nearly four billion dinars.” The same day, Deputy Prime Minister of Energy Affairs, Bahaa al-Araji, announced his resignation due to public interest and Abadi’s plans for reform.

Many provinces consequentially eliminated corrupt officials. On August 10, the Provincial Council of Dhi Qar announced the dismissal of 14 government department directors, including officials in the Health and Police Departments. On August 13, the Governor of Anbar, Suhaib al-Rawi, announced the dismissal of his aides, general managers, and department directors who have been working for four years.

On August 12, the Deputy Chairman of the Diwaniya Provincial Council, Kadhim al-Jubouri, announced that the Council President decided to dismiss his office staff (including “province director” and “department managers”). On the same day, the Diwanya Council voted to cease the collection of local taxes, and formed a special committee to investigate “suspicions of corruption and bribes.”

On August 11, the Karbala Provincial Council unanimously voted to change managers who had been in office for 4 years, and to form a committee to evaluate the work performance of all managers of the province to determine whether or not they should be dismissed.

The same day, an anonymous source in Dhi Qar revealed that the Governor of the province, Yahia Nasseri, dismissed three of his aides, dissolved his board of advisers, dismissed the Director of Water Affairs, Ahmed Aziz Knhor, Director of the Department of Labor and Social Affairs, Tahir Muslim Idris, and the heads of administrative districts in the areas of Rifai and Shatra, Nasiriyah.

On August 12, the Maysan Provincial Council dismissed several department directors in the province.

The same day, al-Abadi dismissed the General Secretary of the Council of Ministers, Hamid Khalaf, and his aides from office.

Additionally, the Integrity Commission announced the formation of field teams to investigate corruption among the Ministries of Electricity, Trade, and the Secretariat of Baghdad

On August 11, the Wasit Provincial Council announced that it will dissolve municipal councils across the districts of the province, as well as change the heads of administrative units in the province. The Council authorized the Governor to choose new heads of administrative units after consultation with the Council.

On August 13, the Basra Provincial Council announced the dismissal of department directors who have been in office for four years. The Governor of Basra, Majed Nasraoui, confirmed his decision to dissolve his own office and reduce the number of consultants and departments in the province.

The same day, the Diwaniya Provincial Council voted to abolish the posts of assistants and advisers to the Governor. Additionally, an anonymous source familiar with the Wasit Provincial Council revealed that the Governor of Wasit dismissed six of his advisers.

Fervent Demonstrations Continue

Last week’s protests continued on August 7 in Babil, Baghdad, Basra, Dhi Qar, Diwaniya, Karbala, Muthanna, Najaf and Wasit. The protesters demanded improved services (including water projects, paved city streets, construction of schools and health centers), government accountability, the creation of jobs, and the dismissal of corrupt government officials. Demonstrations began in Al-Qadisiyah later in the week.

Changes resulted immediately following the massive protests throughout the country.

On August 9, the Karbala Provincial Council decided to distribute 5 million dinar grants that are typically allocated to its Council members to the “poor and needy” instead.

On August 10, the Mayor of Al-Hashmya distric, Babil, Zaki Almamori, resigned in response to demonstrators’ demands.

On August 12, Director of Al-Hamza Subdistrict, Nabil Kazem submitted his resignation in response to the demonstrators.

The same day, in response to the water crisis, the Muthanna Provincial Council unanimously approved of a mechanism to fairly distribute drinking water to all areas that rely on the Rumaitha River. The mechanism ensures that water will reach remote areas, and aims to prevent “any case of abuse.”

Iraqi Security Forces Progress Marginally

On August 11, an anonymous source said that the ISF and Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) gained control of the al-Karma Bridge to the west of Fallujah.

The same day, Haditha field commander Ghassan Ithawi announced that 1000 fighters from the Anbar tribes are fighting on the front lines against ISIS for the first time. The tribal fighters are from Ramadi, Amiriyat al-Fallujah, and Karma and have been training the past several months in military combat.

On August 12, a source from the war media cell stated that airstrikes launched by the Air Force and the CIA killed fifty ISIS members and destroyed four vehicles and a rocket launcher in the Albu Azim area in West Mkeshivh.

The same day, head of the security committee in Khalidiya, Ibrahim Fahdawi, stated that the army, police, and PMUs launched a wide-scale operation in Khalidiya Island to cut off an ISIS supply route to Ramadi and Fallujah.

On August 9, alliance forces announced that over 80% of the infrastructure in Anbar has been destroyed due to violence caused by ISIS. Such infrastructures include 50 “vital” bridges and over 40 schools, as well as medical centers, government buildings, security centers, and service projects.

On August 9, Rashad Klaly, an official for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in Makhmor, said that Kurdish Peshmerga forces cleared the village of Khrbanah in the subdistrict of Qaraj in Makhmor in Ninewa.

ISIS Operations Cause Mayhem

On August 8, a security source stated that ISIS infiltrated five new regions in Baiji. ISIS expanded in the refinery, the neighborhoods of al-Muhandeseen and al-Asri in central Baiji, and al-Hareijiya, Albu Jwari, and al-Samtiya to the north.

The same day, the administration of the Saadia Subdistrict in Diyala announced the need for more than 50 billion Iraqi dinars to restore the area from the destruction of ISIS. Director of the Subdistrict’s administration, Ahmed Alzercoche, stated that “more than 40,000 people have been displaced…because of the violence…[and are] distributed to 30 villages belonging to…[Saadia],” noting “the need for more than 50 billion dinars to rebuild infrastructure…construction projects, water and [the] rehabilitation of schools.” Alzercoche stated that ISIS had “destroyed more than 20 schools…two water projects…the health center in the district and…more than 30 electric converted.”

On August 12, Ismail Qader, an officer in the Peshmerga forces, stated that the ISIS fired dozens of rockets allegedly filled with chemical substances on Peshmerga fighters near Makhmor. Experts are conducting a survey to determine whether the weapons contained chemicals.

ISIS pursues Violent Attacks on Civilians

On August 10, Diyala Police Chief Mohammed al-Tamimi stated that an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated at the Huwaidar Market, four km north of Baquba, killing 51 civilians and injuring 80 others.

On August 8, Ali al-Bayati, head of the Save Turkmen Institution, announced that ISIS executed two thousand people by firing squad in Mosul. Nearly 700 Turkmens were executed because of their former jobs with the police, media, of the Electoral Commission. The same day, official of the Kurdistan’s Mosul Media Center, Ghiath Surji stated that ISIS executed 53 doctors in Mosul.

On August 13, a source from the Iraqi police said that a VBIED detonated in a popular vegetable market in Sadr City in eastern Baghdad, killing at least 60 people and injuring 200 others. Ghaleb Zamili, head of the security committee of the Baghdad Provincial Council, said that the Council asked Baghdad Operations Command to investigate the attack. The Council expressed their “astonishment” at the execution of the attack despite the security checkpoints that are in place.

Ahmed Ali is a Visiting Senior Fellow and Director of ISHM at EPIC and Sarah Walker is a Research Intern at EPIC. They would like to thank Tarai Zemba for her research support.

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