- Tensions Rise As U.S. Plans To Close Its Embassy, Exchanges Threats With Pro-Iran Militias; Election Law Vote Postponed – On September 25, Moqtada al-Sadr called for an investigation into attacks on diplomatic missions, saying they damage Iraq’s reputation. PM Kadhimi endorsed the proposal, saying that “the coalition of corruption and outlawed weapons has no place in Iraq.” On September 25, Kataib Hezbollah threatened the U.S. in response to American threats to strike the group, which the U.S. accuses of attacking its interests. On September 26, Mike Pompeo told PM Kadhimi that Washington will evacuate its embassy if Baghdad failed to stop rocket attacks against Americans. Pompeo reportedly threatened to “kill every Kataib Hezbollah member” in the event of a withdrawal. On September 27, Kadhimi met with Speaker Halbousi, President Salih, and and judicial authority chief Faiq Zaidan to discuss “outlaw groups” threatening Iraq’s stability, and called for “concerted efforts…to confront this escalation.” On September 26, Iraq’s FM visited Iran and met with Javad Zarif and Ali Shamkhani, who called the U.S. killing of Qassim Soleimani death a “major crime” for which the “minimum penalty” was to leave the region and Iraq. On September 27, Qais al-Khazali claimed that there was no threat to any diplomatic missions, except the U.S. embassy, which he accused of being a military and intelligence base that threatens Baghdad. Meanwhile, the Fatah Coalition accused “terrorist cells” of using rocket attacks to “muddy the waters and frame the patriotic factions.” On September 29, Kadhimi’s spokesman responded to Washington’s threat to close its embassy, saying that “the withdrawal or closure of any diplomatic mission will have catastrophic repercussions on the entire region.” FM Fuad Hussein said that “the withdrawal of the U.S. embassy gives the wrong signals to the Iraqi people” and that “the targeting of diplomatic missions is a direct targeting of Iraq.” On September 26, Parliament postponed a vote on the election law to October 10. On October 1, KRG President Nechirvan Barzani condemned a rocket attack near Erbil, calling it “an attack on the people of Kurdistan and their allies in the fight against terrorism.” more…
- New Militia Attacks target Coalition Contractors; Rocket Attack Kills Three Children In Baghdad; Kadhimi Appoints New Green Zone Security Chief; Six Rockets Strike Near Erbil Airport – Between September 25 – 30, five IEDs killed at least four Iraqis wounded at least six more in Diyala, Salah ad-Din and Babylon, while ISIS militants in Kirkuk killed one ISF member and kidnapped another. Between September 25 – October 1, at least four IEDs and one rocket attack targeted civilian contractors transporting supplies for the U.S.-led Coalition in Babylon, Diwaniyah and Dhi-Qar. On September 27, an unidentified assailant killed Dr. Ronald Santos, an employee of the UN field office in Kirkuk. On September 28, a rocket struck a house near Baghdad Airport, killing five of its inhabitants, including three children. On September 29, a government spokesman said security forces arrested a number of suspects involved in the attack and seven ISF members for failure to perform their duties. On September 29, PM Kadhimi tasked the Iraqi Special Operations Forces with security operations in the Green Zone in central Baghdad under the command of Major General Hamid al-Zuhairi, a highly respected general. On September 30, six rockets struck near Erbil International Airport, the site of a contingent of International Coalition troops. KRG security forces said the rockets were fired from a small truck in the Sheikh Amir village, an area east of Mosul within the jurisdiction of the PMF Brigade 30. A spokesman for the Joint Operations Command said the ISF arrested the perpetrators of this attack and earlier rocket attacks on diplomatic facilities in Baghdad, promising further information when the investigation is completed. more…
- Displacements Reported In Diyala Villages; Iraq Restricts Number Of Foreign Visitors For Arbaeen; Iraq Reports 30,000 New COVID-19 Cases – On September 27, a security source reported that at least 30 villages in the Khanaqin area of Diyala province have been abandoned due to recent ISIS attacks targeting the Kakai community. On September 28, another security source reported that more than 30 families have been displaced from the Hitaween village in Diyala province due to ISIS attacks in the area. On September 30, PM Kadhimi announced that Iraq would admit up to 1,500 pilgrims per country to take part in this year’s Arbaeen pilgrimage to reduce the possibility of mass spreading of the coronavirus. On October 1, the Ministry of Health reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 367,474. Deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 9,231 while a total of 295,882 patients have recovered. To date, Iraq has tested 2,289,877 samples for COVID-19. The continuing spread of COVID-19 prompted Médecins Sans Frontières to warn that the current state of Baghdad’s COVID-19 outbreak as “alarming,” noting the growing number of cases in the capital is quickly overwhelming its hospitals. more…
- Parliament Votes To Create National Telecom Firm; Iraq To Import Electricity From Jordan; Cabinet Prepares New Borrowing Law; Oil Revenue Drops; Iraq Signs Refinery Deal With Japan – On September 24, Parliament passed a resolution ordering the establishment of a national telecommunications company. On September 24, the head of the Iraqi Commission for the Control of Radioactive Material said the government issued orders to form a committee to study building a research nuclear reactor. On September 27, Iraq and Jordan signed an agreement that allows Iraq to import 150 MW of electricity in two years. On September 29, Iraq’s Cabinet approved a new borrowing law and sent it to the Iraqi Parliament for a vote. On October 1, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil announced that crude oil exports during September decreased to an average of 2.613 million bpd, 16,000 bpd higher than August’s average. The exports generated $3.167 billion in revenue, $350 million lower than August. On October 1, the Oil Ministry said Iraq signed a $4 billion deal with Japan’s JGC Corporation to build a 55,000 bpd facility that will utilize byproducts at Iraq’s southern refineries to provide more high-quality refined fuels. 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.
Tensions Rise As U.S. Threatens To Close Its Embassy And Attack Pro-Iran Militias; Election Law Vote Postponed –
On September 25, Saeroun Alliance leader Moqtada al-Sadr called for an investigation into rocket attacks against diplomatic missions, adding that these attacks damage Iraq’s reputation. Prime Minister Kadhimi expressed support for Sadr’s proposed investigation, saying that “the coalition of corruption and outlawed weapons has no place in Iraq.” On September 28, Sadr released a statement expressing concern that “suspicious parties” are dragging Iraq into “civil war, Shia-Shia confrontation, or sectarianism.” Earlier on September 24, the Fatah Coalition condemned attacks on “diplomatic missions,” while calling on all Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) factions to adhere to the law. But on September 29, Fatah issued a more equivocal statement, accusing “terrorist cells” of using rocket attacks to “muddy the waters and frame the patriotic factions” for the attacks. Fatah representative Abu Mithaq al-Masari went farther, offering remarks in which he argued that the U.S. embassy has no evidence that the culprits of the rocket attacks are Iraqis or resistance fighters. Masari further alleged that “parties affiliated with the U.S. Embassy” target the US Embassy to “distort the image of the Islamic Resistance.”
On September 25, Kataib Hezbollah (KH) spokesperson Abu Ali al-Askary threatened the U.S. in response to the American threats to take “strong and violent” action against the group, which the U.S. accuses of repeatedly attacking its interests in Iraq. Addressing Pompeo on Twitter, Askary said that KH will “rub your nose and your soldiers’ [noses] in the dirt without mercy.” On September 27, the leader of Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, Akram al-Kaabi called the U.S. embassy “a military barracks” that violates Iraqi sovereignty and designed to “sow corruption and sabotage Iraq.” Kaabi said that if Iraqi officials “remain silent,” the “resistance” will hold its ground, “especially since precision weapons entered service.”
On September 26, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi that Washington will evacuate its embassy in Baghdad if the Iraqi government failed to stop rocket attacks against Americans in the country. According to The Washington Post, closing the U.S. embassy would take about 90 days should the U.S. carry out the threat. Unnamed Iraqi officials said that the U.S. government is using the threat to close the embassy to pressure Baghdad to take action against militias that continue to target the U.S. diplomatic and military facilities. In a September 22 conversation with President Barham Salih, Pompeo also threatened “strong and violent” action against the likely Iranian-backed militias carrying out the attacks on U.S. interests in Iraq. One U.S. official told The New York Times that Pompeo told the Iraqi government that American forces “would kill every Kataib Hezbollah member” in the event of a withdrawal. According to AP, an unnamed senior Iraqi official said the U.S. “will observe what measures the Iraqi government takes over the next two months” to determine its next steps in Iraq. The official added that if the Iraqi government failed to adequately rein in militias targeting U.S. facilities, the United States was prepared to take “aggressive” action. This two-month timeline coincides with the 60-day sanctions waiver Washington granted Iraq on September 23 to continue importing energy from Iran, as well as the U.S. presidential election. According to unnamed U.S. officials, the State Department’s review process to close the embassy has already begun and the final decision should be “expected” before the U.S. Presidential election. Anonymous former and current U.S. officials told Associated Press that the pressure placed on Iraq by the Trump Administration may be due in part to Pompeo’s fear of a repeat of the September 11, 2012 Benghazi consulate takeover. Pompeo was a harsh critic of the Obama Administration’s handling of Benghazi.
On September 26, Prime Minister Kadhimi convened an emergency meeting of Iraq’s National Security Councilto discuss protecting peaceful demonstrators, diplomatic missions, and coordination between various security forces. Kadhimi said that “mistakes should not be tolerated…. in the body of the security services,” and ordered the security services to “observe the principles of human rights in protecting demonstrations” ahead of expected protests marking the first anniversary of last year’s popular protests across Iraq. Kadhimi also addressed recent tensions with tribes in Dhi-Qar in connection with search for a kidnapped activist, reiterating the government’s respect for Iraqi tribes, thanking them for their support in the war against terrorism and adding that “there is no targeting of our clans.”
On September 26, Iraq’s Parliament postponed the vote on Iraq’s election law to October 10. Prior to the planned vote, Parliament was delayed by four hours for lack of quorum due to continued disagreements over the distribution of electoral districts. The same day, the Parliamentary Legal Committee released a proposal for the creation of electoral districts. The new proposal divides provinces into multiple electoral districts so that the number of districts, multiplied by four, results in the total allocated seats for the province based on its population. For example, with 69 allocated seats, Baghdad would have 17 districts (69/4=17.25, while Salah ad-Din, with 12 allocated seats gets just three districts. A province’s population is divided by its total number of allocated seats to determine the electoral coefficient. A district’s share of seats is calculated by dividing its population by that coefficient. In Salah ad-Din, the most populous electoral district has a coefficient of 4.2, automatically granting it four seats. The other two districts whose coefficients are 3.9 and 3.7, receive a compensatory seat each, starting with the district with the highest coefficient, to bring the total to 12. That day, State of Law member of Parliament Abdul Hadi Mohan al-Saadawi said that the June 6, 2021 election date set by Kadhimi is a “fantasy,” because of a lack of security in the provinces, the absence of a Federal Court Law, and disagreements over the Elections Law. The Federal Court is required to approve the election results. On September 26, an anonymous source within the Fatah Coalition told Al-Sumaria that Fatah Coalition leader Hadi al-Ameri wanted to use the 2010 Central Bureau of Statistics information in order to create electoral districts. On September 27, Yazidi member of Parliament Saeb Khadr and Shabak member of Parliament Qusay Abbas called for “fair and correct” representation of Yazidis and Shabak when electoral districts are created.
On September 26, Fuad Hussein visited Iran and met with Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif to, according to Zarif, discuss bilateral relations, the killing of General Qassim Soleimani, and “the importance of protecting diplomatic centers.” On September 27, Hussein met with the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran Ali Shamkhani. Shamkhani called for the Iraqi government to take serious action against the killing of Soleimani in “international forums” and added that this is “the minimum” Iran expects of the Iraqi government. Shamkhani also called Soleimani’s death a “major crime” and that the “minimum penalty [was] for those behind [the killing]” to leave the region and Iraq. An unnamed Iraqi official told The New York Times that Hussein also discussed U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo’s warnings about attacks on American interests .
On September 27, Kadhimi met with Speaker of Parliament Mouhammead al-Halbousi, President Barham Salih, and judicial authority chief Faiq Zaidan to discuss security and political issues. Kadhimi, Halbousi, Salih, and Zaidan discussed “outlaw groups” who are threatening Iraq’s stability. The meeting called for “concerted efforts at all levels” to “confront this escalation” while supporting the Iraqi government in protecting Iraqi security and sovereignty.
On September 30, Kadhimi met with the ambassadors of 25 Arab, European and East Asian countries to discuss the security of diplomatic missions in Iraq. Kadhimi argued in a statement after the meeting that recent attacks are a mutual concern because they have targeted both diplomatic missions and innocent civilians. Kadhimi added that “Iraq will confront [the perpetrators]” so that Iraq can start to address economic and social challenges. The Ambassadors released a parallel statement, stating that they were extremely concerned about the increase in rocket and bombing attacks, adding that the attacks do not only pose a threat to the foreign embassies but also to normal Iraqis, which they said was evidenced by the September 28 rocket attack which killed five Iraqis in the Radwaniyah district [details below].
On September 27, Asaib Ahl al-Haq leader Qais al-Khazali issued a “nine-point” statement arguing that there were no attacks or threats to any foreign diplomatic missions in Iraq, except the U.S. embassy, which Khazali accused of being a military and intelligence base of an “occupying state” whose presence “endangers the security of the capital.” Khazali also argued that the embassy is destroying Iraqi customs and values while damaging the Iraqi youth. Khazali added that despite these qualities, attacks on the U.S. embassy were not “expedient” at the moment. Khazali also rejected calls for public investigations into recent attacks on diplomatic missions in Iraq, denouncing them as “beneficial to the occupier.”
On September 29, Kadhimi’s spokesman Ahmad Mulla Talal responded to Washington’s threat to close its Baghdad embassy, saying that “the withdrawal or closure of any diplomatic mission of any country [in Iraq] will have catastrophic repercussions on the entire region.” Talal also said that Kadhimi refused to turn Iraq “into a battleground between America and Iran” and that both Iran and the U.S. support Kadhimi’s position. Talal also said that “there is no occupation,” reminding that the Iraqi government invited the Coalition to be in Iraq . The same day, Kadhimi gave a brief statement during a Cabinet meeting in which he noted that the closure of embassies would lead to “non-cooperation” from foreign partners, despite ongoing challenges that Iraq faces. On September 30, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said that “the withdrawal of the U.S. embassy gives the wrong signals to the Iraqi people” and that “the targeting of diplomatic missions is a direct targeting of Iraq.” Hussein added that the Iraqi government is attempting to take measures to improve security in Baghdad, but cautioned that “reorganizing the security situation in Baghdad will take time.”
On September 28, Kadhimi met with the visiting Italian Minister of Defense, Guerini Lorenzo and discussed Italy’s role in training Iraqi Security Forces and security cooperation. Kadhimi noted to Lorenzo that Iraq still faces challenges from “outlaw groups” and ISIS “sleeper cells,” adding that Iraq faces a “dangerous challenge in rogue armed factions.” Kadhimi sought to reassure the visiting minister that government forces were “working forcefully” to enforce law and protect diplomatic missions.
On October 1, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Nechirvan Barzani condemned the September 30 rocket attack near Erbil International Airport, where U.S. forces are stationed, calling it “an attack on the people of Kurdistan and their allies in the fight against terrorism.” KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani wrote on his Twitter account that the KRG “will not tolerate attempts” to destabilize Kurdistan, and that its security response to the rocket attacks will be “robust.” On October 1, State of Law Coalition leader Nouri al-Maliki called the attack, calling it a “complication,” adding that it could intensify conflict in Iraq. Maliki also met with UNAMI head Jenin Hennis-Plasschaert to discuss Iraq’s security and political issues. Maliki said that he supported a “national dialogue supported by the United Nations” that would allow for the government to reach an agreement with political forces on “contentious issues,” a reference to Iraq’s ongoing security crisis. On September 30, former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s Nasr Coalition condemned “non-state forces” for continued attacks against diplomatic missions. A Nasr Coalition spokesperson said that the attacks on embassies “embarrassed the Iraqi government” and gave foreign countries “a justification… to directly intervene,” and threaten to violate Iraqi sovereignty.
New Militia Attacks Target Coalition Contractors; Rocket Attack Kills Three Children In Baghdad; Kadhimi Appoints New Green Zone Security Chief; Six Rockets Strike Near Erbil Airport
On September 25, ISIS militants attacked the village of Bajwan, south of Kirkuk City, killing one member of the security forces (ISF) and kidnapping another. The village is home to many ISF personnel and is located near a military base for the Federal Police, Kirkuk Counter-Terrorism Regiment, and brigade 61 of the Special Division The following day, ISIS militants kidnapped and killed an employee of Kirkuk’s Department of Agriculture.
On September 25, an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded in an orchard northeast of Baqubah, Diyala province, killing a civilian and wounding two others from the same family. On September 26, a grenade exploded in al-Khalis, north of Baquba, wounding two civilians.
On September 26, unidentified gunmen attacked a school in the village of al-Qahtaniyah, Sinjar district, killing the school’s security officer.
On September 27, an IED targeting an Iraqi-operated contractor convoy transporting equipment for the International Coalition exploded in the al-Batha district, Dhi-Qar province. The explosion caused no casualties and only minor damage to one of the convoy’s vehicles. The same day, another IED targeting a similar convoy exploded on the main highway near Hilla in Babylon province, causing no casualties and minor damage to a vehicle. On September 29, an IED exploded on the Hilla International Road targeting a contractor convoy, causing no casualties and limited damage to a convoy vehicle. On October 1, an IED exploded against another Coalition contractor convoy on the highway in Diwaniyah province, causing no casualties. The same day, unknown gunmen fired a “guided rocket” at a similar convoy travelling near the subdistrict of Shomali, Babylon province. The rocket hit a convoy vehicle without exploding, causing no casualties and minor damage to the vehicle.
On September 27, an unidentified assailant killed Dr. Ronald Santos, an employee of the United Nations’ field office in Kirkuk City, in a secure area of Kirkuk International Airport. Dr. Santos, a native of the Philippines working in a consultory role with UNAMI, was stabbed repeatedly and was discovered by security personnel in a bathroom at the airport. A source within the federal police stated the motive for the attack remains unknown, and that an investigation is underway. Neither UNAMI nor the Iraqi government commented on the incident. Dr. Santos’ death follows several direct threats made by Iraqi militias against the UN mission.
On September 28, an under-vehicle IED (UVIED) exploded in the Nazran area in central Basra, causing no casualties. On September 30, an IED exploded against a PMF patrol in Jurf al-Sakhr, in northern Babylon province, wounding three PMF fighters. The same day, another IED exploded on the main road between Baghdad Airport and the Green Zone in Baghdad, damaging a vehicle driven by a PMF member. The explosion did not cause any casualties.
On September 28, unidentified gunmen killed a federal government employee and wounded his son in an armed attack on the village of Abu Tamr, north of Baquba.
On September 28, elements of the PMF, Peshmerga, and the Ministry of Interior killed three ISIS militants in a joint operation on the Qadir Karam road, south of Kirkuk City. On September 30, Federal Police forces killed an ISIS militant and wounded another during a search operation in the area of Wadi Abu Shahama, Kirkuk province.
On September 28, a Katyusha rocket struck a house in the Radwaniyah district, near Baghdad International Airport. The Security Media Cell said the rocket was launched from the Hayy al-Jihad neighborhood in Baghdad and destroyed the house and killed five of its inhabitants, including three children. Prime Minister Kadhimi ordered the security personnel responsible for Hayy al-Jihad arrested for negligence, and ordered an investigation into the incident. On September 29, Kadhimi’s spokesman Ahmad Mulla Talal said that security forces had arrested an unspecified number of suspects involved in the rocket attack along with seven members of the ISF for failure to perform their duties. On September 29, Kataib Hezbollah released a statement claiming that the September 28 rocket attack “bears the fingerprints of the CIA and their assistants.” KH demanded that “a joint specialized committee between the PMF and the ministry of Interior” be formed to investigate the attack. On September 29, Kaabi blamed the United States for the Katyusha attack that hit a family home in Albu Amir and killed five Iraqi civilians, calling for a “clear and transparent investigation so that Iraqis… know the role [of] sinister hostile parties.”
On September 29, Prime Minister Kadhimi tasked the Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) with security operations in the Green Zone in central Baghdad under the command of Major General Hamid al-Zuhairi. Zuhairi is a highly respected commander who graduated from the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in the UK and served as Commandant of Iraq’s Military Academy at Rustamiyah. Mohammed al-Baldawi, a representative of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, stated the group had no issue with ISOF’s assumption of command in the Green Zone, but said Asaib “categorically rejects any foreign military presence within the area under the pretext of protecting diplomatic missions, as they violate Iraqi sovereignty,” a likely reference to the U.S. embassy’s security.
On September 29, Turkish aircraft conducted a series of airstrikes against suspected Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) positions in the mountainous Metina region of Duhok province. Turkey’s defense ministry said the strikes “neutralized” four suspected PKK militants.
On September 30, ISIS militants attacked the village of al-Majid, west of Kirkuk City with mortars and light arms without causing casualties.
On September 30, an IED exploded against an ISF vehicle during a search operation in the Wadi Tharthar area in Salah ad-Din province, killing the commander of the 12th Emergency Response Regiment two other members of the unit.
On September 30, six rockets struck near Erbil International Airport, the site of a contingent of International Coalition troops. The KRG Counter Terrorism Directorate reported that the rockets didn’t reach the airport and caused no casualties. Four rockets impacted in the nearby Gazna village, while two failed to detonate. An unnamed U.S. official reported no damage to the Coalition base at Erbil International Airport and that the Counter Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar (C-RAM) system located near the airport was not activated to intercept the rockets. The KRG Ministry of the Interior said the rockets were fired from a small truck in the Sheikh Amir village, Ninewa province, within the jurisdiction of the 30th Brigade of the PMF. The Ninewa Operations Command of the PMF denied any connection to the incident and claimed the attack originated from “no-man’s land” between units of the ISF and the Peshmerga. The ISF issued a statement confirming the rockets’ launch and origin and reporting that the prime minister’s office had directed to arrest the commanders of the security forces responsible for the Sheikh Amir area. A spokesman for the ISF Joint Operations Command reported that the ISF arrested the perpetrators of this attack in Erbil and earlier rocket attacks on diplomatic facilities in Baghdad. The spokesman did not provide any detail on the perpetrators’ identities or affiliation, but promised further information after the investigation is completed.
Displacements Reported In Diyala Villages; Iraq Restricts Number Of Foreign Visitors For Arbaeen; Iraq Reports 30,000 New COVID-19 Cases
On September 27, a Peshmerga source reported that at least 30 Kurdish-majority villages in the Khanaqin area, Diyala province have been abandoned due to recent ISIS attacks. Most Kurds in the Khanaqin area belong to the Kalhor tribe, a mix of Shia Muslims and followers of the Kakai faith. ISIS has targeted the Kakais for their religious beliefs since 2014. In June, ISIS militants killed six Kakais and wounded several others in the area. On September 28, a source within the Tribal Mobilization Forces reported that more than 30 families have been displaced from the Hitaween village in Diyala province due to ISIS attacks in the area. The displacement follows an attack on the village by ISIS militants in August that killed four civilians.
On September 30, Prime Minister Kadhimi announced that Iraq would admit up to 1,500 pilgrims per country to take part in this year’s Arbaeen pilgrimage. The cap on pilgrims is intended to reduce the possibility of mass spreading of the coronavirus at the yearly event, one of the world’s largest public gatherings. The Iraqi government has said in prior years that 10-20 million Arbaeen pilgrims descend upon Karbala each year to visit the tomb of Imam Hussein.
On October 1, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Iraq rose to 367,474, representing a weekly increase of 30,368 cases from the 337,106 cases reported on September 24. Of these cases, 62,361 patients are currently in Iraqi hospitals, including 537 in the intensive care unit (ICU). This represents an increase of 2,815 patients in Iraqi hospitals from last week, and a 10 patient increase in ICU patients. Ministry data indicated that there were a total of 432 new COVID-related deaths this week, bringing the total from 8,799 to 9,231. The total number of recoveries increased from 268,761 to 295,882. The daily average for new cases rose slightly from last week, with a daily average of 4,338 cases, up from 4,245 cases. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Baghdad with 1,617 cases, Dhi-Qar with 427 cases, Wasit with 375 cases, Dohuk with 337 cases, and Basra with 295 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 2,289,877 samples for COVID-19. On September 24, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) described the current state of Baghdad’s COVID-19 outbreak as “alarming,” and noted that space in the city’s hospitals is becoming sparse. MSF is currently working with Iraqi doctors in Baghdad’s al-Kindy hospital to assist in developing the facility’s respiratory care capabilities. While efforts to tackle the virus’ spread are underway, MSF said the growing number of cases in the capital is quickly overwhelming the city’s hospitals and that without greater public understanding of the gravity of the pandemic, the disease will continue to spread, potentially at an uncontrollable rate.
Parliament Votes To Create National Telecom Firm; Iraq To Import Electricity From Jordan; Cabinet Prepares New Borrowing Law; Oil Exports Rise; Iraq Signs Refinery Deal With Japan
On September 24, Iraq’s Parliament passed a resolution ordering the establishment of a national telecommunications company. The resolution orders the government “to establish a national joint stock company for telecommunications and grant it a license for mobile cellular services.” The company will be placed under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Communications. The resolution says that the new company will seek to “maximize financial revenues for the annual budget.” On August 25, an Iraqi court ordered a suspension of the license renewal for major mobile network operators in Iraq after the Parliamentary Services Committee objected to the renewals, citing “legal and constitutional violations,” and damages “to public interest.”
On September 24, the head of the Iraqi Commission for the Control of Radioactive Material Kamal Hussein Latif said that the government issued orders to form a committee to study building nuclear reactors for research purposes. Latif said Prime Minister Kadhimi issued the order following discussions with France, adding that construction of a 10 megawatt (MW) research reactor would contribute to a variety of fields, including medical, agricultural, and industrial applications.
On September 27, Iraqi Minister of Electricity Majid al-Emara and Jordanian Minister of Electricity Hala Zawati signed an agreement that allows Iraq to import 150 MW of electricity from Jordan in its first phase, with imports set to begin in late 2022. The agreement comes on the heels of the September 23 announcement that the United States would only grant Iraq a 60-day sanctions waiver to import electricity from Iran. Iraq imports at least 1,100 megawatts of electricity from Iran in addition to 25 million cubic meters/day of natural gas to feed several of Iraq’s power plants. Iraq suffers from endemic electricity shortage, which often results in major protests during Iraq’s hot summers.
On September 28, the Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers Hamid al-Ghazi met with the French Ambassador to Baghdad Jean-Noel. Ghazi said that Kadhimi, during an anticipated visit to Paris, will discuss the Baghdad train project, the development and reconstruction of Mosul International Airport, and energy and electronic government projects.
On September 29, Iraq’s Cabinet approved a new borrowing law and sent it to the Iraqi Parliament for a vote. Finance Minister Ali Allawi asked the Cabinet to fast-track the law, which is the second borrowing bill produced this year to allow the government to approach foreign and domestic lenders to help pay for government expenses. The government needs the new borrowing law in order to cover public sector salaries through the end of 2020. On September 30, Sadiqoun representative and member of Parliament’s Government Program and Strategic Planning Committee Mohammed al-Baldawi said that Parliament will not pass a new borrowing law in an effort to avoid further debts. Parliamentary Finance Committee member Jamal Koujar said on September 12 that Allawi would submit the first draft of a financial reform paper, which is expected to contain austerity measures, before the end of September.
On October 1, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil announced that crude oil exports during September decreased to 78.388 million barrels, for an average of 2.613 million barrels per day (bpd), which is 16,000 bpd higher than August’s average of 2.597 million bpd. In July, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said the country will reduce its oil production by an additional 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) in August and September to compensate for exceeding the production limits Iraq had agreed to as part of the OPEC+ deal signed in April. The September exports generated $3.167 billion in revenue, $350 million lower than August’s $3.517 billion. Iraq sold its crude oil at an average price of $40.40 per barrel, compared to August’s average of $43.69. Exports from the southern ports of Basra were unchanged from August at 2.5 million bpd, while exports from northern fields in Kirkuk increased slightly to an average of 104,000 bpd exported through the Turkish port of Ceyhan. Iraq’s oil exports in September are more than 825,000 bpd lower than they were in April, indicating that it has met 76% of its pledge to reduce exports by 1.06 million bpd under the OPEC+ deal. This is down from 80% compliance in August.
On October 1, Iraq’s Ministry of Oil announced that the Iraqi government had signed a deal with the Japanese JGC Corporation to build a facility that will utilize oil refining byproducts at Iraq’s southern refineries to improve the production rates of high-quality refined fuels. The Ministry said that the 55,000 bpd project requires four years to complete and will convert refining byproducts into high-octane gasoline, gas oil, mixed naphtha, and fuel oil. Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar said the project, expected to cost $4 billion, will employ 7,000 Iraqis in its first phase, and another 70,000 in later stages.
IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties
|09/25/20||Northeast of Baqubah||1||2|
|09/27/20||al-Batha district, Dhi-Qar||0||0|
|09/27/20||Highway near Hilla, Babylon||0||0|
|09/28/20||Nazran area, Basra City||0||0|
|09/29/20||Hilla International Road, Babylon||0||0|
|09/30/20||Jurf al-Sakhr, Babylon||0||3|
|09/30/20||Airport Road, Baghdad||0||0|
|09/30/20||Wadi Tharthar, Salah ad-Din||3||0|
|10/01/20||On the highway near Diwaniyah, Qadissiyah||0||0|
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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