ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: AUGUST 13 – AUGUST 20, 2020

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Key Takeaways:

  • U.S.-Iraq Strategic Dialogue Resumes In Washington; Trump Meets Kadhimi, Says U.S. Forces Could Leave Iraq In three Years – On August 19, PM Kadhimi arrived in Washington to meet with President Trump and resume U.S.-Iraq strategic dialogue. Ahead of his departure, Kadhimi met with the leaders of the Fatah Coalition who pressed their demand for the expulsion of U.S. forces. On August 19, Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Iraq and the U.S. have resumed the second stage of strategic dialogue talks in Washington. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein led their respective delegations in opening the meetings of the U.S.-Iraq High Coordination Committee which involved six different sessions: economics, energy (where Iraq and U.S. firms signed multiple agreements), health and environment, politics and diplomacy, security and counter-terrorism, and finally education and culture. On August 20, PM Kadhimi met with President Trump at the White House. Trump described Kadhimi as someone he “gets along with very well.” Trump also said the U.S. could complete the withdrawal of its troops from Iraq within three years. more…
  • Kadhimi Expects Election Law Vote Soon; Baghdad And Erbil Agree On Payments, Customs; Kadhimi Fires Basra Police Chief; Protests Erupt In Zakho – On August 13, PM Kadhimi said that he reached an agreement with President Salih and Speaker Halbousi that Parliament shall vote on the election law during its next session, for which no date has been set yet. On August 15, the Iraqi government and the KRG agreed that Baghdad will make three ID 320 billion (approximately $265 million) monthly payments to the KRG to cover expenses and pay civil servants while the KRG will unify its customs procedures with those used by federal authorities. On August 17, PM Kadhimi fired Basra police chief Lt. Gen. Rasheed Flayeh and dismissed the National Security Service chief in the province after a violent escalation against activists during which unknown gunmen murdered and injured several activists. On August 20, NRT reported that KRG security forces beat up demonstrators at the Ibrahim al-Kahlil border crossing. A KRG official claimed the protesters were PKK supporters who destroyed property and attacked security forces. KRG authorities subsequently shut down NRT offices in Duhok and Erbil. more…
  • More Rockets, IEDs Target Iraqi Bases And Coalition Contractors; Wave Of Assassinations Target Iraqi Activists In Basra; Iraq Struggles To Keep F-16s Flying – Between August 13 – 18, at least ten rockets targeted Balad air base, Camp Taji, Baghdad Airport, and the Green Zone. None of the attacks caused casualties. On August 19, local officials said Turkish bombardment killed a local man in Duhok’s Kani Masi subdistrict. Between August 14 – 19, unknown gunmen in Basra targeted Iraqi activists in at least four separate attacks, killing five people, including prominent activists Tahsin Osama and Reham Yacoub, and injuring at least three others. The assassinations prompted Interior Minister Othman al-Ghanimi to go to Basra and issue orders for stricter security measures. On August 17, Iraq’s Ministry of Defense said the country’s air force succeeded in repairing 25 F-16 fighter jets and returning them to service relying solely on Iraqi crews. The announcement came days after Iraq Oil Report published a report describing how the departure of Lockheed Martin engineers and corruption involving Iraqi officers, U.S. contractor Sally Port and local subcontractors allegedly rendered all but five of the jets inoperable for months. Between August 14 – 15, three IEDs targeted civilian contractors transporting supplies for the International Coalition against ISIS in Dhi-Qar, Basra and Diwaniyah. Between August 15 – 19, five bombings killed a civilian and wounded five more in Kirkuk, Ninewa and Dhi-Qar. On August 18, Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service troops backed by the International Coalition killed at least ten ISIS militants in the Qarachogh mountains. more…

  • WHO Warns Of Imminent Major Health Crisis As COVID-19 Cases Near 200,000; Iraq Braces For Spike In COVID-19 Cases Ahead Of Ashura; U.S. Provides $203 In New Aid But Funding Gap Remains – On August 15, the Iraqi government Iraq issued orders to extend a partial daily curfew from 10pm to 5am until further notice and prohibit people from traveling between provinces except for emergencies. On August 19, the WHO warned that new cases of COVID-19 in Iraq were “exponentially rising to an alarming and worrying level, suggesting a major health crisis soon.” WHO, however, believes Iraq could still stem the tide of the pandemic if Iraqis were to put more effort into prevention, estimating that wearing face masks and avoiding crowds can “reduce the rate of transmission of COVID-19 by at least 57 percent and 30 percent respectively.” On August 19, Iraq’s Health Ministry warned of a spike in COVID-19 transmission during the Ashura observance, urging Iraqis to heed the recommendations of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who encouraged Iraqis to observe religious ceremonies remotely. On August 19, the U.S. said it was providing more than $203 million in new humanitarian aid for Iraq. Prior to this announcement, data by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs showed that only $248.6 million (37.5%) of the $662.2 million funding requirement for Iraq’s 2020 Humanitarian Relief Plan have been received to date. Even if fully funded, the aid would reach only 44% of Iraq’s total population in need. On August 20, the Ministry of Health reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 192,797. More than 4,570 cases were reported on August 18, representing a new daily peak. Deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 6,208 while a total of 137,200 patients have recovered. To date, Iraq has tested 1,368,727 samples for COVID-19. more…

  • Iraq Needs Seven Million More Jobs By 2025; Customs Revenue Rises; KRG To Pay March Salaries; Iraq Signs Energy Deals With Five U.S. Firms – On August 17, Iraq’s Planning Ministry said the country’s population will exceed 47 million by 2025, suggesting that Iraq will need to generate up to seven million additional jobs to accommodate the expanding workforce. On August 17, the chief of Iraq’s Border Ports Authority said that recent Army deployments have created a safe environment at ports of entry leading to improved customs revenue, which reached ID 500 billion (about $400 million) in one month. On August 17, the KRG Finance Ministry said it will pay pensions and civil servant salaries for March after the KRG and Iraqi government reached a new deal to resume budget payments to the KRG. On August 18, Iraq’s Oil Ministry signed a contract with a Norwegian ship builder to build two 30,000 ton oil tankers. On August 19, Reuters reported that Iraq signed deals worth a total $8 billion with five major American firms in a bid to strengthen Iraq’s energy sector and reduce Baghdad’s reliance on energy imports from Iran. Specifically, Iraq signed two deals worth $1.2 billion with General Electric to service and maintain major power stations and important elements of Iraq’s power grid. 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.


U.S.-Iraq Strategic Dialogue Resumes In Washington; Trump Meets Kadhimi, Says U.S. Forces Could Leave Iraq In three Years

On August 19, Prime Minister Kadhimi arrived in Washington to meet with President Trump and resume strategic dialogue between the U.S. and Iraq. Kadhimi is accompanied by a number of senior officials, including Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein and Finance Minister Ali Allawi. Ahead of Kadhimi’s departure, political sources said he had a meeting with the leaders of the Fatah Coalition that was convened by Hadi al-Amiri. The meeting reportedly focused on Fatah’s demand for the expulsion of U.S. forces from Iraq. It was followed by a statement from representatives of the Badr Organization, the leading party in Fatah, saying: “We’re not obligated to accept any agreements Kadhimi signs with Washington, regardless of their benefits to Iraq, unless they include a timetable for U.S. forces exiting Iraq”  News of the meeting with Fatah leaders coincided with rumors that Ismael Qaani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, visited Baghdad to meet Kadhimi and have him convey a message to the American president. Asked about it during an interview with AP, Kadhimi responded by saying: “We do not play the role of postman in Iraq.”

On August 19, a spokesman for Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Iraq and the U.S. have resumed the second stage of strategic dialogue talks in Washington. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein led their respective delegations in opening the meetings of the U.S.-Iraq High Coordination Committee which involved six different sessions: economics, energy, health and environment, politics and diplomacy, security and counter-terrorism, and finally eduction and culture. Hussein said the talks were “good and important,” adding that Iraq looks at the U.S. as “a strong ally of Iraq and we will continue to protect that alliance.” The final statement of the Committee provided a summary of bilateral talks. On economics, the talks identified areas where the U.S. could help Iraq implement economic reforms and e-governance programs. The two sides also discussed obtaining support from international financial institutions to help Iraq cope with low oil prices. On energy, the discussions focused on reducing gas flaring, increasing Iraq’s domestic gas and electricity production, and Iraq’s plans to introduce electric tariff reforms with support from the International Energy Agency. The talks were followed by Iraq signing energy cooperation deals with several U.S. firms (details below). On health and environment, the U.S. and Iraq signed an MoU for expanding bilateral commercial relations concerning health services. With regard to politics and diplomacy, the talks focused on supporting freedom of expression, prosecuting those involved in violence against protesters, and helping Iraq prepare for elections, including through more support for UNAMI. The U.S. renewed its support for the resettlement of Iraqis displaced by violence, and two sides also agreed on the need to improve access for aid organizations. On security and counter-terrorism, the U.S. and Iraq agreed to hold separate technical discussions to develop plans and timetables for the next phase in security cooperation, including moving U.S. forces out of Iraq. Finally, with regard to education and culture, the two sides discussed plans and priorities for higher education reforms in Iraq, strengthening partnerships between American and Iraqi universities, and the return to Iraq of  the Baath Party archives and any artifacts taken illegally from the country.

On August 20, Prime Minister Kadhimi met with President Trump at the White House. In a press briefing on Thursday, President Trump described Kadhimi as someone he “gets along with very well.” Trump also said the U.S. could complete the withdrawal of its troops from Iraq within three years.


Kadhimi Expects Election Law Vote Soon; Baghdad And Erbil Agree On Payments, Customs; Kadhimi Fires Basra Police Chief; Protests Erupt In Zakho

On August 13, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said that he reached an agreement with President Barham Salih and Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi that Parliament shall vote on the election law during its next session. Kadhimi made the announcement during a meeting with the commissioners of Iraq’s High Electoral Commission (IHEC). The prime minister told the commissioners that they should identify reputable companies to provide ballot counting and verification and avoid questionable companies that were involved in the last election. It’s unclear when Parliament will meet next. A member of the legislature’s legal committee said on August 16 that Parliament has not set a date for its next meeting, nor has there been an agreement on the number and shape of electoral districts. A member of Parliament from the State of Law bloc confirmed that there were no scheduled sessions for September, citing numerous COVID-19 cases among representatives and Parliament staff, and lacking preparations for organizing virtual meetings.  However, a member of Parliament from the Fatah Coalition claimed on August 18 that Parliament will resume its meetings as soon as next week.  

On August 15, the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) reached an agreement under which the Baghdad government will make three ID 320 billion (approximately $265 million) monthly payments to the KRG to help cover its expenses and pay civil servants in the region. The document explains that the payment is calculated based on estimates of monthly pensions and civil servant salaries paid by the KRG each month minus any revenues the KRG earns from oil exports and other sources. The new ad-hoc agreement stipulates that the KRG will follow unified customs procedures and fees with the federal authorities, and that the collection and management of fees at the region’s ports of entry will follow the federal financial management law of 2019. The deal also says that both sides will adhere to the same guidelines and policies for imports in accordance with the federal customs law. The agreement also requires the Baghdad and KRG governments to commit proportionately to the oil production cuts required by the OPEC+ deal. Finally, the document, which will be in effect until the next budget bill is approved, says the two sides will work to agree on plans to settle their accounts for the period 2014 – 2020, settle KRG debt to the Trade Bank of Iraq, and that the KRG will cooperate in sharing information regarding its other existing debts (estimated to be in the billions of dollars) to develop a plan for settling them. The agreement invited criticism. Hassan al-Kabi, deputy speaker of Parliament from the Saeroun Alliance questioned the legality of the deal which he said gave ID 320 billion to the KRG without the latter surrendering its oil and customs revenue to federal authorities. Kabi argued that Iraq is in a dire financial crisis that it cannot afford to fund the Health Ministry to deal with COVID-19 and that other Iraqi provinces need the funds more. Another Saeroun representative threatened to sue the government to block the implementation of the deal, saying it repeats the same mistakes of previous governments that made financial concessions to the KRG despite its failure to meet its obligations.

On August 17, Prime Minister Kadhimi fired Basra police chief Lt. Gen. Rasheed Flayeh and replaced him with Maj. Gen. Abbas Naji. Kadhimi also dismissed the chief of the National Security Service in Basra. The changes in security commands in the southern province followed a violent escalation against activists during which unknown gunmen murdered a local protest organizer and injured at least two other activists (details below). The new attacks sparked new protests in Basra demanding that authorities expose the entities behind the killings. Protesters also demanded the removal of the police chief whom they accuse of ordering security forces to use excessive force against protesters. suspension

On August 17, the Iraqi Cabinet issued a number of orders concerning the country’s energy sector. With regard to electricity, the government authorized the Finance Ministry to finalize and sign agreements concerning foreign loans for financing Electricity Ministry projects. The government also gave the Electricity Ministry authority to sign contacts directly, exempting it from the rules requiring the approval of the Planning Ministry. In the oil sector, the Cabinet is pushing to advance the formation of the Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC), which Parliament voted to establish in March of 2018, but remains virtually nonexistent. The new steps include approving an amendment to the 2018 law and sending it to Parliament for ratification, and authorizing INOC’s board to hire consultants to design its organizational chart and inventory its possessions to prepare for its separation from the Oil Ministry.   

On August 20, NRT reported that security forces in the Kurdistan region beat up demonstrators at the Ibrahim al-Kahlil border crossing near Zakho in Duhok province. The demonstrators were reportedly local truck drivers protesting the regional government’s decision to allow Turkish trucks to pass through the border crossing because it negatively impacts their livelihoods. Footage on social media shows what appears to be government forces beating unarmed protesters. A KRg official, however, claimed the protesters were supporters of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and accused them of destroying public and private property then physically attacking security forces. The official claimed that 61 members of the KRG security forces and four civilians were injured by live bullets fired by the alleged pro-PKK protesters. In the aftermath, KRG security forces shut down NRT offices in Duhok and Erbil and ordered the network’s employees to leave.


More Rockets, IEDs Target Iraqi Bases And Coalition Contractors; Wave Of Assassinations Target Iraqi Activists In Basra; Iraq Struggles To Keep F-16s Flying

On August 13, Iraqi security sources said three rockets hit the Balad air base in Salah ad-Din province. The next day, three more rockets struck near Baghdad International Airport. The Iraqi military said the attack originated from the Radwaniyah area west of Baghdad. A third attack involving two rockets fired from the Rashidiya area north of Baghdad targeted the major Iraqi Army base at Camp Taji on August 15. Then on August 16, another rocket struck inside the Green Zone in Baghdad. Iraqi security forces said the rocket was fired from Dhilal street near the Nahdha bus terminal. The ISF discovered two more rockets prepared for launch there. On August 18, Iraqi military sources reported that yet another rocket struck in the vicinity of Baghdad’s airport. The rocket was fired from the Fayadh village to the southeast of the airport. None of the attacks caused casualties.

On August 19, the mayor of Kani Masi, a subdistrict in Duhok province, said that a local man was killed in Turkish bombardment on two areas in the subdistrict on the previous day. Earlier, local officials in Duhok said a Turkish airstrikes on August 13 killed three members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the village of Rashanki north of Duhok. Turkey has recently intensified its operations against the PKK inside Iraq, leading to heightened tensions with Iraqi authorities, especially after a Turkish airstrike last week killed several Iraqi border guards. Security officials in the Kurdistan region said Turkey launched a total of 170 airstrikes and 117 attacks with artillery into the Kurdistan region between January and July of 2020. 

On August 14, unknown gunmen attacked Iraqi activist Tahsin Osama at his workplace in central Basra, killing him and wounding another civilian. The victim was found with 21 bullet wounds in his body. Basra activists describe Osama as a prominent local protest leader who often criticized militia violence on social media. On August 17, another attack by unknown gunmen targeted three other Basra activists. Activists Abbas Subhi and Lodya Raymond sustained gunshot wounds and were taken to the hospital after the gunmen sprayed their vehicle with bullets in central Basra. The third activist was not injured in the attack. The assassinations continued with two more attacks in Basra on August 19. First, unknown gunmen killed doctor, nutritionist, and activist Reham Yaqoub and one of her friends in a small arms attack on their vehicle in central Basra. Hours later, posts on social media indicated that young activists Falah al-Hasnawi and his fiancée were assassinated in yet another attack by unknown gunmen. The Basra police command denied the latest attack happened. The wave of assassinations prompted Interior Minister Othman al-Ghanimi to go to Basra and issue orders for stricter security measures. The minister ordered security forces in Basra to expedite execution of arrest warrants, prevent vehicles without plates from moving on the streets, and increase effective presence at major intersections. 

On August 17, Iraq’s Ministry of Defense said the country’s air force succeeded in repairing 25 F-16 fighter jets and returning them to service relying solely on Iraqi crews. The announcement, which included footage showing a group of Iraqi F-16s perform test flights, came days after Iraq Oil Report published an investigation into alleged corruption at Balad air base, home to Iraq’s fleet of 35 F-16s bought from the U.S. The report describes how the departure of Lockheed Martin engineers earlier this year, and corruption involving Iraqi officers, U.S. contractor Sally Port and local subcontractors allegedly rendered all but five of the jets, the most expensive and advanced in Iraq’s arsenal, inoperable for months. 

On August 14, an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded targeting trucks belonging to civilian contractors transporting supplies for the forces of the U.S.-led International Coalition against ISIS. The explosion occurred on the main highway passing through Diwaniyah province. On August 15, two similar attacks targeted other Coalition supply convoys. The first bombing occurred on the main highway between Basra and Dhi-Qar, and the second one followed hours later on the main highway within Dhi-Qar province. There were no reports of casualties in either attack. 

On August 15, an under-vehicle IED (UVIED) exploded targeting a vehicle belonging to the owner of a local tourism company in the Hannana area in Najaf. The attack caused severe damage to the vehicle but didn’t cause casualties.

On August 16, the U.S.-led International Coalition against ISIS handed over munition stores at Camp Taji to the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). According to a Coalition statement, the munition stores include $11 million worth of machine gun ammunition, grenades, mortar and artillery shells, helicopter rockets, and other supplies. The statement adds that the Coalition will maintain a small presence at Camp Taji to “coordinate logistics and security operations with the ISF.”

On August 16, an IED exploded on a farm in the al-Majid village near Riyadh, west of Kirkuk. The explosion wounded one civilian. Another IED later exploded in the Nwayshin village, also near Riyadh, killing a woman and wounding two other civilians. 

On August 18, a UVIED exploded targeting a civilian car near al-Haboubi Square in central Nasiriyah. The explosion injured the vehicle’s occupant and damaged several nearby cars. 

On August 18, an Iraqi military spokesman said that Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service troops, backed by air support from the International Coalition, conducted an operation targeting ISIS hideouts in the Qarachogh mountains near Makhmour. The operation killed at least ten ISIS militants and destroyed nine hideouts used by the militants. 

On August 19, an IED exploded against a civilian vehicle in al-Shora subdistrict south of Mosul. The explosion wounded one civilian.


WHO Warns Of Imminent Major Health Crisis As COVID-19 Cases Near 200,000; Iraq Braces For Spike In COVID-19 Cases Ahead Of Ashura; U.S. Provides $203 In New Aid But Funding Gap Remains

On August 15, the Higher Committee for Health and National Safety in Iraq issued orders to extend a partial daily curfew from 10pm to 5am until further notice. The Committee also instructed security forces and health departments to prevent any mass gatherings and take legal action against violators. The new orders also prohibit people from traveling between provinces “except for extreme emergencies.” 

On August 19, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that new cases of COVID-19 in Iraq were “exponentially rising to an alarming and worrying level, suggesting a major health crisis soon.” WHO points out that analysis of COVID-19 trends shows that all but 2% of the 175,000 confirmed cases and 5,800 fatalities happened within the last three months alone. Analysis further shows that much of the country faces dangerous threats due to “community-wide transmission” and that the situation necessitates “urgent and serious measures.”  WHO, however, believes Iraq could still stem the tide of the pandemic if Iraqis were to put more effort into prevention by “collective efforts such as avoiding mass gatherings to self-discipline acts of wearing masks in public,” and staying diligent about social distancing to reduce transmissions. The organization assesses that wearing face masks and avoiding crowds (combined with adhering to social distancing guidelines and washing hands frequently) can “reduce the rate of transmission of COVID-19 by at least 57 percent and 30 percent respectively.” 

On August 19, Iraq’s Health Ministry warned of a spike in COVID-19 transmission during the Ashura observance, the holiest day on the Shia Muslim calendar during which large crowds of Iraqis flock to the shrine city of Karbala. Deputy Health Minister Hazim al-Jumaili urged Iraqis to heed the recommendations of top cleric Ali al-Sistani, who encouraged Iraqis to observe religious ceremonies remotely. Juamili warned that Iraq’s hospitals were not in a condition that allows them to handle a large increase in cases. 

On August 19, the U.S. said it was providing more than $203 million in new humanitarian aid to support Iraq in dealing with various pressing needs. The aid package includes $133 million provided by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration in the U.S. State Department and another $71 million from the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance at USAID. According to the U.S. State Department, the new funding will provide “critical shelter, essential healthcare, emergency food assistance, and water, sanitation, and hygiene services across Iraq. It will also improve access to civil documentation and legal services, the capacity of health care facilities and increase access to education and livelihoods opportunities.” According to the U.S. State Department, the new contribution raises the total U.S. humanitarian response in FY 2019 to more than $706 million. Washington has also given $49.5 million to aid COVID-19 response in Iraq and another $22 million to help Syrian refugees in the country. Prior to this announcement, data by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) showed that only $248.6 million (37.5%) of the $662.2 million funding requirement for Iraq’s 2020 Humanitarian Relief Plan have been received to date. With the rapid spread of COVID-19 around the world, the UN released a Global Humanitarian Relief Plan (HRP) for COVID-19 in late March, calling for an additional $10.2 billion globally in humanitarian settings for pandemic response. Of that total, only $2.22 billion (21.5%) has been received to date. Iraq’s portion of that funding was $265 million, of which only $76.3 million (28.8%) have received. Combined, the UN’s 2020 HRP for Iraq and Iraq’s COVID-19 response require $927.2 million. Of that amount, only $324.9 million has been received (about 35%). Even if fully funded by year’s end, the aid would reach only 44% of Iraq’s total population in need. In January, the UN OCHA reported that 4.1 million Iraqis were in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. OCHA’s 2020 Humanitarian Relief Plan (HRP) for Iraq, however, seeks to assist only 1.8 million of those in need.

On August 20, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country has risen to 192,797, representing a new record weekly increase of 28,520.cases from the 164,277 reported a week earlier. Of these cases, 49,389 are in the hospital, including 614 in the intensive care unit (ICU). According to the ministry’s data, there were 567 new COVID-related deaths during the same period, bringing total fatalities from 5,641 to 6,208 Meanwhile, the total number of recoveries has increased from 117,208 to 137,200. This week saw continued growth in new cases in Iraq, with a new peak of 4,576 new cases reported on August 18 alone. The areas reporting the most new cases during the last 24 hours were Baghdad with 836 cases, followed by Basra with 467 cases, and Ninewa, which reported 363 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 1,368,727 samples for COVID-19.


Iraq Needs Seven Million More Jobs By 2025; Customs Revenue Rises; KRG To Pay March Salaries; Iraq Signs Energy Deals With Five U.S. Firms

On August 17, Iraq’s Planning Ministry said it estimates that the country’s population will exceed 47 million by the year 2025. The ministry’s data indicates the projected population growth will mean that Iraq will need to generate between five and seven million additional jobs to accommodate the expanding workforce. Ministry spokesman Abdul-Zahra al-Hindawi explained that the need for jobs could be “much higher” if women participate more heavily in the workforce. 

On August 17, Iraq’s Joint Operations Command announced that the Iraqi Army was now responsible for security in all of Iraq’s ports of entry. The announcement followed a meeting between senior military commanders and the chief of the Border Ports Authority to discuss implementing the prime minister’s campaign seeking to assert government control at the ports of entry. The chief of the Border Ports Authority, Omar al-Waili remarked that the Army deployment has created a safe environment at the border, which he said was reflected in improved customs revenue, which reached ID 500 billion (about $400 million) in one month. Waili added that army presence also prevented more than 1,070 violations at ports of entry. The Border Ports Authority recently began reporting daily revenue data from Iraq’s ports and various border crossings. For example, the Trebeel border crossing with Jordan generated ID 2.38 billion (approximately $2 million) from customs on August 14 alone, while the Umm Qasr ports generated ID 4.19 billion (approximately $3.5 million) on August 17 alone. 

On August 17, the KRG Finance Ministry said the region’s Cabinet issued instructions to pay pensions and civil servant salaries for March after the KRG and Iraqi government reached a new deal to resume budget payments to the KRG (details above). According to the Ministry, it will pay March salaries relying on ID 730 billion (approximately $610 million) from the following sources: Federal Government (ID 320 billion); oil sales (ID 270 billion); other internal revenue (ID 120 billion); International Coalition aid (ID 20 billion).

On August 18, Iraq’s Oil Minister said his ministry has signed a contract with Norweigian ship builder Batservice Mandal to build two oil tankers. According to Oil Minister, Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar, the two 30,000 ton capacity tankers will be delivered within 18 months. Abdul-Jabbar added that the contract is part of the ministry’s plans to rebuild Iraq’s tanker fleet, which has suffered severe losses during repeated wars.

On August 19, Reuters reported that Iraq signed deals worth a total $8 billion with five major American firms in a bid to strengthen Iraq’s energy sector and reduce Baghdad’s reliance on energy imports from Iran. Specifically, Iraq signed two deals worth $1.2 billion with General Electric to service and maintain major power stations and important elements of Iraq’s power grid. One of the deals, worth $500 million, involves maintaining and upgrading several power plants to secure 6,000 megawatts of generated power. The other deal, valued at $727, involves grid improvements and stabilization work, as well as linking Iraq’s grid with neighboring Jordan’s. Iraq reportedly signed other deals with Honeywell International, Baker Hughes, Stellar Energy and Chevron. Earlier in the week, Bloomberg reported that U.S. oil giant Chevron was seeking a deal with Iraq to develop the Nasiriyah oil field, located in Dhi-Qar province. The idea seems to have the support of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who this week instructed the Oil Ministry to “resolve obstacles” to prepare for implementing the “Nasiriyah refinery investment project.” For several years, Iraq sought investors to develop the Nasiriyah oil field and build a new refinery in one package as an integrated project.


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

DateLocationDeathsInjuries
08/14/20On the highway in Diwaniyah00
08/15/20On the highway between Basra and Dhi-Qar00
08/15/20On the highway in Dhi-Qar00
08/15/20Hannana, Najaf00
08/16/20Riyadh, Kirkuk01
08/16/20Riyadh, Kirkuk12
08/18/20Nasiriyah, Dhi-Qar01
08/19/20Shora, south of Mosul01

 

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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