ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: SEPTEMBER 3 – SEPTEMBER 10, 2020

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Key Takeaways:

  • Parliament Reconvenes, May Vote On 2020 Budget Next Week; Disagreements Continue Over Electoral Districts; Finance Minister Outlines Economic Problems Before Parliament; Kadhimi Removes Sect From Government Forms – On September 5, Parliament held its first session of the legislative season with only 169 members in attendance, and conducted a first reading of the Federal Supreme Court Law. On September 5, the head of Parliament’s Legal Committee blamed the political blocs’ failure to submit their positions on a districting mechanism was delaying the finalization of the Election Law, saying that only the Saeroun Alliance submitted a formal position. On September 10, Nouri al-Maliki and the KDP issued a joint statement in support of treating provinces as individual electoral districts and adopting the Sainte Lague system of proportional representation. On September 7, Parliament’s Finance Committee accused Finance Minister Ali Allawi of failure to develop financial reform plans. On September 8, Allawi appeared before Parliament and sought to explain the magnitude of Iraq’s economic problems, telling lawmakers that Iraq’s problems are the legacy of cumulative bad policies “dating back to the 1950s,” promising to present a white paper on reform within the month. On September 8, a spokesman for PM Kadhimi said the Cabinet will hold a special session next week to approve the delayed 2020 budget before sending it to Parliament for ratification. On September 9, PM Kadhimi ordered sect data removed from staff lists at all state institutions after leaked documents with the names of military cadets showed the forms to contain their sectarian identities, sparking wide-spread criticism. more…
  • KRG President Makes Controversial Ankara Visit; Kadhimi Visits Erbil To Discuss Elections, Security, Oil, Customs And Budget – On September 4, KRG President Nechirvan Barzani visited Ankara to discuss security, economic, and political cooperation with Turkish leaders, including President Erdoğan. The visit generated criticism in Turkey and the Kurdistan region of Iraq (KRI) amid ongoing Turkish military operations inside the KRI. On September 9, Turkey’s Foreign Minister argued that the PKK was turning the KRI into its stronghold, claiming the group’s goal was to extend its control over both Sulaymaniyah and Erbil. On September 6, a delegation from the KRG headed by Qubad Talabani arrived in Baghdad to continue negotiations with the federal government over the KRI’s disputed share of the national budget, oil revenue-sharing, and control of border crossings. On September 10, PM Kadhimi visited Erbil and met with KDP leader Masoud Barzani and KRG PM Masrour Barzani. Kadhimi called for stronger cooperation between Baghdad and Erbil, including preparing the country for early elections, underlined the need for harmony in policies and positions between the center and the region, and stressed that “dialogue and the constitution are the tent that secures the future of a unified and stable Iraq,” – a reference to the many disputes between the two side. The KRG PM acknowledged that Erbil and Baghdad face very tough financial conditions “therefore we are ready to solve all outstanding problems.” Kadhimi also made a rare visit to the Ibrahim al-Khalil border crossing to inspect customs operations – the first by an Iraqi PM in many years. more…
  • Attacks On Coalition Contractors Claim Iraqi Lives; Iraq Establishes New Regional Command; U.S. To Withdraw 2,200 Troops In September – Between September 3 – 8, at least four IEDs targeted civilian contractors transporting supplies for the U.S.-led Coalition near Baghdad, Dhi-Qar and Babylon, killing one Iraqi and injuring six others. Between September 5 – 6, three militant attacks killed five Iraqis and wounded a sixth in Diyala, Kirkuk and Ninewa. On September 5, the Iraqi military established a new regional operations command in charge of Dhi-Qar, Muthanna and Maysan province. Interior Minister Othman al-Ghanimi said the new new “Sumer Operations Command” will unify intelligence and security efforts by various security forces to fight organized crime and establish rule of law. Between September 6 – 10, four rockets targeted Baghdad Airport without causing casualties. Between September 7 – 8, the ISF launched large-scale operations in parts of Maysan and Basra searching for illegal weapons and wanted individuals. Initial reports indicate the operations resulted in scores of arrests and seizure of modest amounts of small arms. On September 8, three ISIS militants detonated explosive vests after ISF units cornered them south of Kirkuk, killing themselves and wounding two ISF members. On September 9, the top U.S. general in the Middle East announced that the U.S. plans to shrink its military forces in Iraq “from about 5,200 to 3,000 troops during the month of September.” more…

  • Iraq Relaxes Restrictions On Movement And Business Despite Growing COVID-19 Cases; Humanitarian Response Faces 60% Funding Gap – On September 7, President Salih met with the Minister of Displacement to discuss expediting the return of IDPs, especially Yazidis and other communities displaced from the Ninewa Plains to their home districts. On September 7, the National Health and Safety Committee issued relaxed COVID-19 guidelines for businesses and government offices that will take effect on September 12. The new guidelines will reopen all border crossings for commercial traffic, allow restaurants to reopen for diners, and increase staffing at all public institutions from 25% to 50%. The new instructions also permit sporting events without spectators. The orders came despite the unabating increase in COVID-19 cases and fresh warnings from top health officials that the spike in infections might overwhelm hospitals and cause them to “lose control” over the pandemic. On September 10, the Ministry of Health reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 278,418. More than 5,030 cases were reported on September 4 alone – a new daily record. Deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 7,814 while a total of 213,817 patients have recovered. To date, Iraq has tested 1,840,913 samples for COVID-19. On September 8, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that donors provided $261.3 million of the $662.2 million funding requirement for Iraq’s 2020 Humanitarian Relief Plan and COVID-19 response, representing only 39.5% of funding required to address the needs of just 44% of Iraq’s total population in need. more…

  • Iraq To Upgrade Qayyara Refinery; Funding Authorized For Basra Water Project; Iraq And Saudi Arabia to Expand Transport Links – On September 6, Iraq’s Oil Minister said his the ministry plans to build new refining units at Qayyara refinery to expand its processing capacity by 70,000 bpd. On September 6, PM Kadhimi directed his Cabinet to appropriate funds for the construction of the al-Bada’a canal in Basra from the 2020 budget. Kadhimi also gave instructions to allocate funds for the water project associated with the canal from the 2021 budget. On September 6, the Ministry of Transport said it assigned a special team tasked with expediting the opening of the Arar border crossing with Saudi Arabia. Iraqi and Saudi officials also discussed establishing maritime shipping lanes, as well as air routes between Iraqi airports and Saudi Arabia’s Dammam Airport. On September 7, Jordanian energy officials announced the resumption of crude oil shipments from Iraq at a rate of 10,000 bpd. 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.


Parliament Reconvenes, May Vote On 2020 Budget Next Week; Disagreements Continue Over Electoral Districts; Finance Minister Outlines Economic Problems Before Parliament; Kadhimi Removes Sectarian Identity From Government Forms

On September 5, Iraq’s Parliament held its first session of the legislative season with only 169 members of Parliament, barely more than half of the 329 lawmakers in attendance. To mark the occasion, President Salih issued a statement urging Parliament to finalize the Election Law and pass other important legislations needed to address Iraq’s economic, security and health crises amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Lawmakers tackled several bills during the September 5 session, conducting a first reading of the proposed Law of the Cabinet and Ministries, and a first reading of the proposed Federal Supreme Court law.

On September 5, the head of the Parliamentary Legal Committee indicated in a letter that the political blocs’ failure to submit their official positions on a districting mechanism was delaying the finalization of Iraq’s Election Law. According to the letter, only the Saeroun Alliance of Moqtada al-Sadr submitted its formal position. The Committee established September 17 as the deadline to submit districting proposals. Parliament passed the Election Law in December 2019, but deadlock continues over unfinished annexes concerning the borders of electoral districts. There were multiple meetings among senior Iraqi leaders about the law this week. On September 6, Parliament Speaker Mohammad al-Halbousi met with KDP leader Masoud Barzani in Erbil and discussed obstacles facing next year’s elections, especially disagreements over the borders of electoral districts. On September 7, President Salih met with Prime Minister Kadhimi to discuss preparations for early elections and procedures necessary to ensure their safety and credibility. On September 8, representative Ahmed al-Jubouri of the Iraqi Forces Alliance claimed political parties were leaning towards accepting a system that splits major provinces (Baghdad, Basra and Ninewa) into two districts each, while treating other provinces as individual districts. On September 10, State of Law leader Nouri al-Maliki met with Khasro Gorran of the KDP to discuss the districting issue. They issued a joint statement in support of treating provinces as individual electoral districts, adopting the Sainte Lague system of proportional representation, and using biometric IDs in lieu of electronic IDs for voter identification. On September 10, PUK representative Rizan Sheikh Dleir said the PUK accepts the creation of multiple districts within each province within the KRI while insisting that disputed provinces (such as Ninewa and Kirkuk) must be individual districts. Last week UNAMI issued its first report on election preparedness in Iraq. The report pointed to the formation of several technical bodies under the supervision of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) to insure the election’s proceedings. The IHEC, in conjunction with the Cabinet and Ministry of the Interior, will reopen voter registry centers and oversee the distribution of biometric voter registration cards, independently audit election software and equipment, establish a voter security committee under the purview of the Ministry of the Interior, and set mechanisms to ensure the registration of and counting of votes from Iraqis abroad.

On September 7, Ahmed Mudher al-Jubouri, a member of the Parliamentary Finance Committee, announced the committee’s intention to question Finance Minister Ali Allawi over perceived failure to cooperate with Parliament and the committee on financial reform and allegedly making contradictory statements about the prospect of borrowing further funds to provide salaries. On September 8, Finance Minister Allawi appeared before Parliament and sought to explain the magnitude of Iraq’s economic problems to lawmakers, telling Parliament that Iraq’s debt now equals 80-90% of its GDP, that its economy requires a five-year reform effort to generate alternative revenue sources, and that he will present a white paper on reform to Parliament within the month. Allawi sought to remind lawmakers that Iraq’s economic problems are the legacy of cumulative bad policies “dating back to  the 1950s,” adding that  Iraq’s foreign debt was more than $130 billion, including $40 billion in war reparations. 

On September 8, a spokesman for the prime minister’s office said the Cabinet will hold a special session next week to approve the long-delayed 2020 budget before sending the bill to Parliament for ratification. The following day, representative Mohammad al-Daraji, a member of the Parliamentary Finance Committee, revealed the size of the 2020 budget to be ID 148 trillion (approximately $123 billion), assuming a constant oil price of $40/barrel. Darraji explained that government revenue through the end of 2020 and based on the same oil price is expected to total ID 67 trillion (approximately $59 billion), implying a deficit of ID 81 trillion (approximately $64 billion). Daraji confirmed that the budget will primarily pay government salaries and “necessary operational expenses,” implying no allocations for capital projects. 

On September 9, Prime Minister Kadhimi ordered the removal of sectarian classification from the lists of staff members from all state institutions, including the military. The prime minister stated that “state agencies, and security agencies in particular, [ought to] keep away from anything that might provoke division.” The order came after leaked documents with the lists of cadets admitted to the military academy showed the forms to contain the sectarian identities of the future military officers, sparking widespread criticism on social media. 


KRG President Makes Controversial Ankara Visit; Kadhimi Visits Erbil To Discuss Elections, Security, Oil, Customs And Budget

On September 4, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Nechirvan Barzani visited Ankara to discuss security, economic, and political cooperation with Turkish leaders, including President Erdoğan. The visit generated criticism in Turkey and the Kurdistan region of Iraq (KRI). A lawmaker representing Turkey’s HDP opposition party, asked that Barzani’s visit addresses Turkey’s “Kurdish issue” – Turkey’s decades-old conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), instead of economic interests. Hoshyar Abdullah, a Kurdish lawmaker in the Iraqi Parliament from  the Gorran Movement argued that “people are killed in the daily [Turkish] bombings. With this visit it is pretended that nothing happened. This is a great disrespect to the victims.” Meanwhile, lawmaker Sarkawt Shamsulddin said he will ask the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs to explain the purpose of Barzani’s visit amid Turkey’s continued military presence in northern Iraq and its continued military operations against the PKK, which have recently killed Iraqi civilians and security forces inside the KRI. On September 9, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu argued that the PKK was turning the KRI into its stronghold, claiming that the PKK “has almost controlled Sulaimani, its cities and 1,000 of its villages. Actually, the PKK’s aim is to control the Erbil administration [too].” The remarks, which implicitly accused the Sulaymaniyah-based Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Gorran Movement of harboring the PKK, drew rebuke from the two parties, whose representatives expressed indignation with Cavusoglu’s statement and reaffirmed their support for Kurdish self-determination outside the KRI. On Tuesday, September 8, in response to criticism of Nechirvan Barzani’s trip to Ankara, former KRG president and leader of the Erbil-based Kurdistan Democrtic Party (KDP) Masoud Barzani  described the PKK as a “headache,” condemning the group’s seizure of property both within Iraq and without.

On September 6, a delegation from the KRG headed by Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani arrived in Baghdad to continue negotiations with the federal government. Talabani met with Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and discussed the long-standing issues of the region’s disputed share of the national budget, revenue-sharing from oil and gas extraction, control of border crossings in the northern provinces, and infrastructure development. On September 8, a spokesman for Talabani said the KRG views the day’s dialogue as a starting point for an agreement on funding and other outstanding issues, citing Erbil’s willingness to work with Baghdad on a multitude of shared issues as proof of the negotiations’ potential. An unnamed KRG senior official who was party to the negotiations said Baghdad had agreed to continue providing Erbil with ID 320 billion monthly for public salaries until Parliament approves the 2021 federal budget, building upon last month’s ad-hoc deal under which Baghdad agreed to provide the KRG with funding for the remaining three months of the year in exchange for Erbil’s acceptance of a unified management system for customs at its ports of entry. Kadhimi’s Cabinet plans to finalize the 2020 budget early next week to prepare for its ratification by Parliament. 

On September 10, Prime Minister Kadhimi visited Erbil and met with KDP leader Masoud Barzani. According to Kadhimi’s office, Kadhimi praised the cooperation between Iraqi federal forces and KRG Peshmerga in defeating ISIS and expressed his interest in stronger cooperation between Baghdad and Erbil, including preparing the country for early elections. Kadhimi also underlined the need for harmony in policies and positions between the center and the region, stressing that “dialogue and the constitution are the tent that secures the future of a unified and stable Iraq,” – a reference to the many disputes between the two side. Kadhimi also met with KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani for talks addressing the same issues, and later inspected operations at the Ibrahim al-Khalil border crossing on the border with Turkey. A spokesman for Kadhimi said the visit to the border was the first for an Iraqi prime minister in 17 years. It follows an agreement made in August to normalize customs procedures and revenue management between Baghdad and Erbil. Commenting on his talks with Kadhimi, Masrour Barzani said in a statement that disputes between Baghdad and Erbil extend beyond the KRG’s share of the budget and the salaries of the region’s public servants, citing disputes over oil, disputed territories, and Peshmerga entitlements. Barzani defended the KRG position on public servants salaries, saying they represent “a right, whether they were in the region or any part of Iraq.” Barzani acknowledged that the KRI and rest of Iraq face very tough financial conditions “therefore we are ready to solve all outstanding problems.”


Attacks On Coalition Contractors Claim Iraqi Lives; Iraq Establishes New Regional Command; U.S. To Withdraw 2,200 Troops In September

On September 3, an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded targeting trucks belonging to civilian contractors transporting supplies for the U.S.-led International Coalition against ISIS. The explosion occurred on the main highway passing through Dhi-Qar province. Iraqi security forces (ISF) arrested two suspects in connection with the attack. On September 5, a similar attack targeted Coalition contractors in Shula, in northwestern Baghdad, injuring a policeman and a civilian bystander. On September 7, security sources reported another explosion on the main highway passing through Yusufiyah, south of Baghdad, saying the bombing likely targeted coalition contractors without providing further details. The following day, another IED exploded while Coalition contractors passed through the main highway between Babylon and Diwaniya provinces. The explosion killed one member of the police SWAT force who was part of the convoy’s security escort and wounded two others. An additional IED later on September 8 injured a civilian truck driver and a member of the ISF on the highway along the Nibaie area north of Baghdad. 

On September 5, ISIS militants launched a complex attack on the Qala village near Jalawla in Diyala province. The attack involved targeting the village with mortar and sniper fire, followed by a direct assault on a security post outside the village. The attack killed two Iraqi soldiers and wounded one night guard.  

On September 5, security sources reported that the Iraqi military has decided to establish a new regional operations command in charge of Dhi-Qar, Muthanna and Maysan province. The new “Sumer Operations Command” will involve Defense and Interior Ministries units and report to the Iraqi Ground Forces Command. The new command will be headquartered at the Imam Ali air base near Nasiriyah. Speaking from Maysan on September 9, Interior Minister Othman al-Ghanimi said the new command will serve to unify intelligence and security efforts by different formations of the security forces to fight organized crime and establish rule of law. 

On September 6, mortar fire struck a soccer field in the Basheer village near Taza, south of Kirkuk.The attack killed one civilian whom local security sources identified as the son of a local representative of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. 

On September 6, Iraqi security sources said three rockets struck areas inside Baghdad International Airport. One of the rockets hit a parking lot, damaging several civilian vehicles, but there were no reports of casualties. The rockets reportedly originated from the Zaytoun area in Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad. Another rocket targeted the airport on September 10 without causing casualties. An ISF statement said the attack originated from the Furat neighborhood in western Baghdad. A spokesman for Prime Minister Kadhimi had said on September 8 that the ISF had uncovered significant information about the groups behind the rocket fire, which he claimed enabled the ISF to prevent “many” attacks, adding that the government may reveal some investigations results in the coming days. 

On September 6, Ninewa police sources said unidentified gunmen killed a policeman and a member of the tribal mobilization forces in an attack on their vehicle in the Wardiyah village west of Sinjar. 

On September 7, a member of the parliamentary security and defense committee said Prime Minister Kadhimi relieved Major General Ghassan al-Izzi from duty as commander of the Diyala Operations Command. Major General Raad al-Jubouri, current commander of the Iraqi Army’s 7th Division will replace Izzi, according to the lawmaker, Abdul-Khaliq al-Azzawi. 

On September 7, an Iraqi military spokesman said troops from the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) killed two ISIS militants and captured two others during operations in Daquq, south of Kirkuk City. The spokesman said the CTS also captured two other “dangerous” ISIS militants in another operation near Fallujah in Anbar province.  

On September 7, ISF units launched large-scale operations in parts of Maysan province searching for illegal weapons and wanted individuals. The operations coincided with similar efforts that focused on the northern districts of Basra and appear to be the first stage of a government plan announced in late August targeting areas affected by violent tribal clashes and widespread lawlessness. Initial reports released by the ISF indicate the operations in Basra and Maysan resulted in scores of arrests and seizure of modest amounts of small arms. At least one Iraqi officer and one suspected drugs smuggler died during related clashes in Qalat Salih in northeastern Maysan.

On September 8, ISF units clashed with two ISIS militants wearing explosive vests during search operations near Rashad, southwest of Kirkuk City. The two militants detonated their explosive charges after the ISF cornered them, resulting in two injuries among the ISF. The ISF subsequently reported that a third militant killed himself in a similar operation in the same area. The ISF also discovered and destroyed at least seven hideouts containing explosives and logistical supplies.

On September 8, the mayor of Kani Masi in Duhok province said the Turkish military bombarded the border area with artillery while Turkish airplanes launched at least four airstrikes. The mayor said the attacks, which damaged a house without causing casualties, happened although the Turkish military announced a halt to anti-PKK operations inside Iraq.

On September 9, the top U.S. general in the Middle East announced that the U.S. plans to shrink its military forces in Iraq “from about 5,200 to 3,000 troops during the month of September.” The announcement by CENTCOM chief General Kenneth McKenzie is the first official articulation of the general force reduction plansPresident Trump and Prime minister Kadhimi revealed after their meeting in Washington last month. McKenzie’s remarks also point to deeper and faster cuts than other U.S. officials anonymously suggested in August, who at the time alluded to a reduction of 1,700 troops by November.

On September 10, an under-vehicle IED (UVIED) exploded targeting a police officer in the Mafraq area in Diyala province. The attack did not cause casualties. 


Iraq Relaxes Restrictions On Movement And Business Despite Growing COVID-19 Cases; Humanitarian Response Faces 60% Funding Gap

On September 7, President Barham Salih met with the Minister of Displacement and Migration Evan Faiek Yaqub to emphasize the need to expedite and facilitate the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their home districts. The discussion focused on the return of Yazidi IDPs and other communities displaced from the Ninewa Plains and the required resources to create proper living conditions post-return. The president and minister also talked about the ministry’s prevention and treatment measures to deal with COVID-19 in IDP camps. 

On September 7, the National Health and Safety Committee in Iraq issued new relaxed COVID-19 guidelines for businesses and government offices that will take effect on September 12. The new guidelines will reopen all border crossings for commercial traffic, allow restaurants to reopen for diners, and increase staffing at all public institutions from 25% to 50%. The new government instructions also permit sporting events and other “youth activities” without spectators. The government issued the relaxed measures despite the unabating increase in COVID-19 cases and fresh warnings from top health officials attributing the accelerating increase in new cases to poor compliance with social distancing and large gathering events. The Health Ministry warned that the spike in infections might overwhelm hospitals and cause them to “lose control” over the pandemic, expecting this to “lead to an increase in the number of deaths, after we made headway in reducing them over the past few weeks.”

On September 8, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that international donors have provided $261.3 million of the $662.2 million funding requirement for Iraq’s 2020 Humanitarian Relief Plan (HRP) and COVID-19 response, representing only 39.5% of funding needs. The COVID-19 response funds represent $264.8 of the total required funds. Of this amount, $86.8 million has been funded, leaving a gap of $178 million. Combined with the deficit in HRP funding, the total funding gap for 2020 stands at $400.8 million, or just over 60% of all needed funds. 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 September 10, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country has risen to 278,418, representing a record weekly increase of 31,379 cases from the 247,039 reported a week earlier. Of these cases, 56,787 are in the hospital, including 542  in the intensive care unit (ICU). According to the ministry’s data, there were 539 new COVID-related deaths during the same period, bringing total fatalities from 7,275 to 7,814. Meanwhile, the total number of recoveries has increased from 187,757 to 213,817. This week saw continued growth in new cases in Iraq, with a new peak of 5,031 new cases reported on September 4 alone. The areas reporting the most new cases during the last 24 hours were Baghdad with 1,321 cases, followed by Diwaniyah with 333, Basra with 319 cases, Wasit, which reported 301 cases, and Dhi-Qar, with 284 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 1,840,913 samples for COVID-19. 


Iraq To Upgrade Qayyara Refinery; Funding Authorized For Basra Water Project; Iraq And Saudi Arabia to Expand Transport Links

On September 6, Iraq’s Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar announced the ministry’s plans to build new refining units at Qayyara refinery south of Mosul. The plan to expand Qayyara is a part of Baghdad’s larger efforts to increase the country’s refining capabilities to 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd). Qayyara’s current processing capacity is  30,000 bpd and planners seek to increase that to 100,000 bpd. The minister’s announcement follows a days-long fire at the refinery complex earlier this week that has since been extinguished.

On September 6, Prime Minister Kadhimi, in a meeting with the Ministers of Oil, Construction and Housing, Water Resources and the Governor of Basra, directed his Cabinet to appropriate funds for the construction of the al-Bada’a canal in Basra from  the 2020 budget. Kadhimi also gave instructions to allocate funds for the water project associated with the canal from the 2021 budget. The canal is one of several in Basra province that supply the city with fresh drinking water from Tigris. The city, located in Iraq’s hottest and one of its most polluted provinces, is currently in the throes of a water distribution crisis that necessitates restrictive rationing, and  enhanced funding for the al-Bada’a project seeks to relieve some of the challenges Basra faces. On September 8, Basra governor Asaad al-Eidani stated that Kadhimi had made a “courageous and practical decision” by appropriating further funding for the project’s completion.

On September 6, a spokesman for Iraq’s Ministry of Transport said the ministry had put together a special team tasked with expediting the opening of the Arar border crossing between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The spokesman also said Transport Minister Nasser Hussein al-Shibli and the Saudi ambassador to Iraq Abdulaziz bin Khalid Al-Shamroukhi discussed the possibility of establishing maritime shipping lanes between the two countries as well as air routes between Iraqi airports and Saudi Arabia’s Dammam Airport. On September 9 the head of the Border Ports Authority met the Saudi ambassador and confirmed that Iraqi border crossings would be opening to Saudi commercial traffic in the coming days, adding that the two nations would work to develop infrastructure and personnel at Iraqi ports to facilitate increased commerce.

On September 7, the director of the oil and natural gas department at the Jordanian Ministry of Energy announced the resumption of crude oil shipments from Iraq, which were halted in August as a result of the pandemic. The Jordanian official said trucking of the agreed-upon 10,000 bpd will restart this month and continue through November, after which the two countries will discuss potential renewal for a further year.


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

DateLocationDeathsInjuries
09/3/20Highway through Dhi-Qar province00
09/05/20Shula, Baghdad02
09/08/20Highway between Babylon and Diwaniya12
09/08/20Nibaie, north of Baghdad02
09/08/20Rashad, west of Kirkuk02
09/10/20Mafraq, Diyala00

 

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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