ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: OCTOBER 8 – OCTOBER 15, 2020

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Key Takeaways:

  • Kadhimi Announces Deal On Normalization In Sinjar; Parliament Holds Controversial Vote On Districting; Militias Announce Conditional Truce; Economic Reform White Paper Released – On October 9, PM Kadhimi announced an agreement with the KRG to “restore stability and normalize conditions” in Sinjar. The deal assigns security responsibility to the federal government “in coordination with” the KRG, while a “joint commission” would oversee services. On October 10, lawmakers voted on an electoral districting plan that bases the number of districts per province on the respective number of women quota seats–typically one quarter of the total. A group of 50 representatives rejected the vote, saying it lacked quorum. On October 11, a Kataib Hezbollah spokesperson said that anti-U.S. militia groups Iraq were offered a ceasefire conditional on U.S. military withdrawal. On October 11, a new borrowing bill arrived in Parliament, seeking authorization to borrow from domestic and foreign lenders to plug a budget deficit amounting to $34 billion for the final four months of 2020. On October 11, Federal Supreme Court Justice Aboud al-Tamimi died, casting doubt over the Court’s ability to ratify future election results. On October 12, Iraq’s Cabinet released a long-awaited white paper on its intended efforts to reform Iraq’s economy. The paper identifies Iraq’s great dependence on oil revenues to finance a bloated, underproductive public sector and other government spending as the primary causes of economic weakness. It describes a three-to-five-year program to overhaul Iraq’s economy, and outlines nearly 200 legislative, technical, and financial reform measures organized into five categories, starting with immediate measures to stop the financial “bleeding.” more…
  • String Of IED Attacks Hit Ninewa, Diyala And Baghdad While Unexploded Ordnance Continues To Claim Lives; ISF And Peshmerga Open Two Security Coordination Centers – On October 9, Maj. Gen. Adnan Salman al-Anzi took command of the 5th Iraqi Army division in Diyala province, replacing Maj. Gen. Saleh Harz Nasser, who assumed command of the 8th division. Between October 9 – 15, nine IEDs and explosions involving unexploded ordnance killed at least four Iraqis and wounded 13 others in Ninewa, Diyala, Anbar and Baghdad. One additional attack targeted contractors transporting supplies for the International Coalition in Samawa, without causing casualties. Between October 9 – 14, three other ISIS attacks in Diyala and Ninewa killed two Iraqis and wounded a third. On October 13, Iraq’s Joint Operations Command announced the opening of two joint security coordination centers with KRG security forces in Erbil and Baghdad. Top ISF and Peshmerga commanders also discussed opening another center in Diyala and “sealing the gaps” along the line separating areas under their respective control. more…

  • Arrests Target Journalists And Activists; Health Workers On Strike Over Poor Work Conditions As COVID-19 Deaths Pass 10,000 – On October 7, KRG security forces arrested journalist Sherwan Amin Sherwani, who covers human rights abuses in the KRI. On October 12, police arrested political activist Hamad al-Sayed al-Sumada’i in Salah ad-Din province after he criticized local government officials on Facebook. On October 10, the WHO warned that Iraq’s healthcare system can’t meet growing needs for adequate mental healthcare, noting that there are fewer than two mental healthcare workers for every 100,000 Iraqis, well below the global average of nine per 100,000 people. On October 11, members of five healthcare workers unions began a countrywide strike to demand higher pay, better work conditions, and replacing the minister of health. On October 14, the West Mosul Local Peace Committee signed an agreement to encourage over 1,100 displaced families with perceived links to ISIS to return to their homes in the Muhalabiya subdistrict. On October 15, the Ministry of Health reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 416,802. Deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 10,086 while the number of patients currently in hospitals decreased to 55,964. To date, 350,752 patients have recovered from the virus and Iraq has tested 2,568,776 samples for COVID-19. more…

  • Flights To Iran And Turkey Resume; Iraq Looks To China To Build New Airport and 1,000 Schools; Iraq, Jordan And Egypt Discuss Oil Pipeline Project; Telecom Company Sues Iraq – On October 11, Baghdad sent a new payment of IQD 320 billion to the KRG as part of a budget deal agreed to on August 15. On October 11 and 15, Iraqi authorities announced the resumption of flights to Iran and Turkey, respectively. On October 11, Iraqi officials discussed the development of an airport in Nasiriyah and a project to build 1,000 schools with China’s Ambassador. On October 12, Iraq agreed to a deal allowing Iran access to funds frozen in Iraqi banks that represent outstanding dues owed to Iran for Iraqi energy purchases and are to be used by Iran to purchase Iraqi goods. On October 13, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq discussed implementing an oil pipeline originally agreed to between Jordan and Iraq in 2013 to connect Basra to the Jordanian port of Aqaba. Jordan’s Foreign Minister said the project was part of the three countries’ desire for “integration.” On October 13, Iraq’s Oil Minister proposed the creation of a new oil company to handle operations in the Kurdistan region similar to other state-owned entities operating in other Iraqi provinces. On October 13, French telecommunications company Orange, sued the Iraqi government for more than $400 million in damages in connection with Orange’s investments in Iraqi telecom operator, Korek. On October 14, the Chief Executive of Petronas said the company is considering ending its operations at the Gharraf oil field due to pressure from low oil prices. 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.


Kadhimi Announces Deal On Normalization In Sinjar; Parliament Holds Controversial Vote On Districting; Militias Announce Conditional Truce; Economic Reform White Paper Released

On October 9, Prime Minister Kadhimi announced an agreement with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) designed to “restore stability and normalize conditions” in Sinjar. A statement by Kadhimi’s office said the agreement involves assigning responsibility for security to the federal government “in coordination with” the KRG, while a “joint commission” representing the KRG, federal and local governments would be in charge of services in the district. The governor of Ninewa said the agreement involves the appointment of a new administration for the district allowing for shared management of Sinjar between federal and KRG authorities. Commenting on the agreement, Kadhimi said his government was determined to make “Sinjar free from armed factions, whether local or coming from beyond the borders.” Leaked documents indicate the agreement also places local police, the Iraqi National Intelligence Service, and the National Security Agency in charge of security and calls for the expulsion of  the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and “all armed groups and illegal groups” from the district. As part of the agreement, authorities will also recruit 1,000 residents and 1,500 displaced locals into new local security forces.

On October 9, UNAMI head Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert endorsed the new agreement between Baghdad and Erbil on normalizing conditions in Sinjar, saying it will “help displaced people return to their homes, accelerate construction, and improve public service delivery. KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani hailed the agreement as “the beginning of the implementation of Article 140” of the Constitution, which calls for a popular referendum on the status of the disputed territories between Iraq and the KRG. KRG President Nechirvan Barzani said the deal will help build trust between Baghdad and Erbil while facilitating the return of displaced persons, reconstruction, and stability in Sinjar. On October 10, the U.S. Department of State welcomed the agreement and hoped that it would lead to “the revival of Sinjar.” Ninewa Governor Najm al-Jubouri commended the agreement, stating that it would contribute to the reconstruction of Sinjar and the return of displaced Yazidis. The only critical reactions came from pro-Iran militias. On October 11, Asaib Ahl al-Haq leader, Qais al-Khazali said the attempt to remove the PMF from Sinjar was a political trade “at the expense of Yazidis…who stand to suffer more from this agreement.” A member of Parliament affiliated with Khazali claimed Kadhimi signed the agreement under pressure from the U.S. and KRG, accusing UNAMI of carrying out  “an American mission,” by facilitating the agreement.

On October 10,  209 members of Parliament voted on an electoral districting plan that bases the number of districts per province on the respective number of women quota seats–typically one quarter of the total. The bill does not create a system for drawing the district boundaries. For example, in Baghdad the women quota is 17 seats out of the capital’s 69 seats. Therefore, Baghdad would have 17 districts. A group of reportedly more than 50 Iraqi MPs requested a re-vote on the plan, arguing that the vote took place without the legal quorum of 165 representatives. Saeroun representative Rami al-Sukaini said that some political blocs walked out of the meeting out of “fear they will not be” elected in the coming elections if the new plan goes forward. On October 12, second Deputy Speaker of Parliament Bashir al-Haddad said that the 11th Parliamentary Session will continue until lawmakers agree on a districting plan. The Parliamentary Legal Committee meanwhile held a closed-door meeting with the heads of political blocs to negotiate details of the districting plan. 

On October 11, Kataib Hezbollah (KH) spokesperson Mohammad Mohie announced that militia groups that have been targeting U.S. interests in Iraq were offering a “conditional ceasefire.” Mohie said the condition is that “we will accept [a U.S.] retreat.” Mohie admitted that the militias offered the ceasefire because the U.S. threat to withdraw from its embassy in Baghdad “complicated” the political situation and created additional tension in Iraq. Mohie said he was speaking for the “Iraqi Resistance Coordination Commission,” a newly announced umbrella group that claims to include all anti-U.S. militias in Iraq. The following day, Abu Ali al-Askary, another KH figure, issued a statement saying that the truce will end if any member of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) or “resistance” are targeted by the U.S. or “the treacherous Kadhimi government.” Askari urged the “brave mujahideen” to continue to “reconnoiter and aim their direct and indirect weapons at the enemy,” and to “be fully prepared” for action.  Meanwhile, a Western diplomat told UAE-based The National that there was “some doubt” the ceasefire would hold due to a “lack of discipline… among armed groups.” On October 9, head of U.S. Central Command Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said the United States has “no intention” to withdraw from Iraq or the region and that the U.S. presence in Iraq will be “long-term” to defeat ISIS. 

On October 11, a new borrowing bill arrived in Parliament, seeking authorization for the Iraqi government to borrow from domestic and foreign lenders to plug a growing budget deficit. The new bill indicated that the deficit for the final four months of 2020 is close to IQD41 trillion ($34 billion). On October 10, a member of the Parliamentary Finance Committee announced that salaries would be distributed in the remainder of 2020 while suggesting that the Committee would block any borrowing unless the government submitted an anticipated economic reform white paper. That paper reached Parliament on October 12. [See below]

On October 11, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein met with British Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Hickey to discuss an upcoming visit by Prime Minister Kadhimi to London. Hussein reaffirmed that Iraq had taken a series of measures to create a more secure environment for diplomatic missions in Baghdad. In a separate meeting, Hussein discussed bilateral cooperation with Russian Ambassador to Iraq M.K. Maksimov. Hussein told Maksimov that Baghdad was seeking more support in building the capacity of Iraqi forces in dealing with security challenges. Maksimov invited Hussein to visit Moscow to “hold discussions with senior officials.” On October 14, Turkish Ambassador Fateh Yildiz met with Prime Minister Kadhimi and extended an invitation from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Kadhimi to visit Ankara.

On October 11, Federal Supreme Court Justice Aboud al-Tamimi died of illness. Tamimi’s passing further complicates the legal status of the Court, which has been in question following the retirement of Justice Farouq al-Sami and his controversial replacement in January 2020 by Judge Mohammed al-Kubaisi. The loss of one (arguably two) members means the court now lacks the proper quorum to convene and issue decisions, including the ratification of election results.

On October 12, the Iraqi Cabinet released a long-awaited white paper on its intended efforts to reform Iraq’s economy and financial systems. The paper identifies Iraq’s great dependence on oil revenues to finance a bloated, underproductive public sector and other government spending as the primary causes of economic and fiscal weakness. Moreover, the document describes a three-to-five-year reform program to overhaul Iraq’s economy. The document outlines nearly 200 legislative, technical, and financial reform measures organized into five categories: achieving sustainable financial stability “to slow down the financial bleeding”, prioritizing productive economic sectors besides oil to create sustainable jobs, improving financial and physical infrastructure necessary to growing the economy and “redrawing its strategic direction”, providing consistent basic services and rationalized social security services, and finally, developing a legal and governmental environment that fosters reforms and allows for private sector development. In terms of immediate cost-cutting policies, the paper sets 3% of GDP as the target yearly deficit and proposes several measures to reduce spending: cutting public sector salary spending by half over a three year period, reducing budgetary allocations for the state pension system, reducing total subsidies to 5% of GDP, and reducing financial support allocated to state-owned companies by 30% per year. The paper states these reforms are intended to modernize Iraq’s economy to a comparable point of development to its neighbors and the rest of the world, improving the living standards of Iraqis through the creation of new opportunities for growth and security in service provision. Prime Minister Kadhimi said the paper will provide a solution to Iraq’s economic crises and praised parliament for its positive feedback. Finance Minister Ali Allawi said that the paper’s proposals will serve as a “roadmap” to reforming budgetary allocation, as the government must reduce its overall fiscal deficit and transition from its near-total dependence on oil revenues.

On October 12, Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo, where he also held a trilateral meeting with the foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan. On October 13, Hussein and his counterparts, Egypt’s Sameh Shoukry and Jordan’s Ayman al-Safadi discussed trilateral cooperation and activating the memorandums of understanding the three countries had previously signed. Shoukry said that “Arab water security” was a priority in the discussions, while Safadi called for greater cooperation toward Arab security, underlining protecting Iraq from conflict and “rebuilding and preserving Iraqi sovereignty.” This meeting follows a trilateral summit between the respective heads of states in Amman, Jordan, on August 25. 

On October 12, Iraqi President Barham Salih met with the president, premier, and parliament speaker of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Erbil, where they discussed early elections, the disputed territories, the KRG’s support for the Sinjar agreement, and the provision of a secure environment for diplomatic missions in Iraq. During the meeting, the KRG officials called on the federal government to find a mechanism to achieve “security and peace” in the disputed areas while rejecting any attempts at “demographic change.”   

On October 14, Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein signed a memorandum of understanding with visiting Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias. The ministers discussed expanding bilateral relations, including Greek medical and energy investment in Iraq. Hussein announced that Dendias, who also met with Iraqi President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Kadhimi, would later travel to Erbil to open Greece’s consulate there.   

On October 15, Prime Minister Kadhimi fired State Minister for Provincial Affairs Torhan Mufti. Mufti is also the Iraqi cabinet’s representative to Parliament. He previously served as advisor to former Iraqi President Fuad Musam in 2014-15.


String Of IED Attacks Hit Ninewa, Diyala And Baghdad While Unexploded Ordnance Continues To Claim Lives; ISF And Peshmerga Open Two Security Coordination Centers

On October 9, the Ministry of Defense transferred command of the 5th division of the Iraqi Army stationed in Diyala province to Maj. Gen. Adnan Salman al-Anzi. Al-Anzi replaced Maj. Gen. Saleh Harz Nasser, who was transferred to command of the 8th division.

On October 9, an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded against a civilian vehicle travelling south of Mosul, killing a child and wounding her parents. On October 11, an IED targeting an ISF vehicle exploded in the al-Shoura district south of Mosul, wounding two ISF soldiers and an officer. To the west, another IED exploded against a civilian vehicle near the entrance to the Tal Afar district on October 14, wounding three civilians.

On October 9, ISIS gunmen killed the son of the village mukhtar of al-Deir village, Ninewa province. On October 12, an armed attack targeting a civilian vehicle wounded a sheikh of the Shammar tribe near the Abu Saida subdistrict, north of Baquba. On October 14, ISIS militants attacked a security post northeast of Baquba, killing a member of the tribal mobilization forces.

On October 9, the Ministry of the Interior opened an investigation into the death of Park Chul-Ho, a senior project manager for Daewoo, who was found hanging in the company’s offices in Basra. Daewoo is currently constructing portions of the “Grand Faw Port” project in Basra province. The following day, the Ministry of the Interior revealed that its investigation concluded that Park had committed suicide, but that the investigation would continue pending new information. On October 12, the South Korean Foreign Ministry demanded that Iraqi authorities continue the investigation into Park’s death. A legal consultant for Daewoo cast doubt on the ministry’s assessment, arguing that the circumstances of Park’s death appeared suspicious. Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Karim al-Kaabi also voiced suspicion and called for further inquiry into Park’s death.

On October 10, an IED (possibly legacy) planted in a house exploded in the Rawa district, Anbar province, killing a civilian who entered the building.

On October 10, an IED struck a convoy of vehicles providing logistical support to the International Coalition in Iraq on the highway between Samawa and Diwaniyah. The explosion resulted in no casualties and caused minor damage to one of the convoy’s vehicles. 

On October 13, Turkish aircraft conducted an airstrike against suspected PKK positions in the mountainous Metina region of northern Duhok province. Turkey said the strike killed two suspected PKK militants.

On October 13, an IED targeting a liquor store exploded in the Karrada district of central Baghdad, resulting in one injury. Several hours later, security forces defused a second IED near the site of the earlier explosion. To the north of the capital, an IED targeting an Iraqi Army Humvee exploded in Tarmiyah, wounding at least one army officer.

On October 13, Iraq’s Joint Operations Command announced the opening of two joint security coordination centers with KRG security forces in Erbil and Baghdad. The announcement followed a meeting in Baghdad between top ISF and Peshmerga commanders who discussed “sealing the gaps” along the line separating areas under the control of  the ISF and Peshmerga. The two sides also discussed establishing a new coordination center for Diyala to create a mechanism for operating checkpoints, and plan joint security operations “against ISIS and criminal activity.”

On October 14, unexploded ordnance (UXO) detonated in a cemetery in western Mosul, killing a child and critically injuring three others. Residents of the area report that this is the fourth UXO incident and third civilian death that has occurred in the cemetery in recent months. On October 13, the head of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Iraq reported nearly 3,000 sq. km. of Iraqi land still contain mines and live munitions remnants left from previous conflicts within the country. UNMAS stated that Basra province is the most contaminated part of the country, followed by Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninewa and Salah ad-Din. 

On October 15, two IEDs exploded in separate farms in the Abbara subdistrict northeast of Baquba, killing one farmer and injuring another.


Arrests Target Journalists And Activists; Health Workers On Strike Over Poor Work Conditions As COVID-19 Deaths Pass 10,000

On October 8, a local press freedom group reported that KRG security forces arrested journalist Sherwan Amin Sherwani at his home in Erbil. The KRG has not disclosed the charges against Sherwani, a reporter for the independent news service Kirwan who covers Turkey’s military presence and human rights abuses within the region. Elsewhere in Iraq, police arrested political activist Hamad al-Sayed al-Sumada’i on October 12, in Salah ad-Din province. Authorities arrested Sumada’i, a well-known activist who participated in demonstrations last year in Baghdad, after he posted criticism of a local government official on Facebook. Local activists have begun an online campaign demanding his release. Activists in Iraq have faced an increased threat of physical and legal retaliation from security forces following last year’s October demonstrations.

On October 10, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Iraq country office warned that Iraq’s healthcare system is unable to fulfill the considerable need for adequate and accessible mental healthcare. The WHO report indicated that there are fewer than two mental healthcare workers for every 100,000 Iraqis, well below the global average of nine per 100,000 people. Moreover, only two thirds of mental health workers in Iraq are professionally trained as psychologists or psychiatrists. WHO also states Iraqis pay an average out-of-pocket deductible of 20% for mental health services, a prohibitively expensive price point for low-income individuals. The health organization says it is working with the Iraqi government to address the shortage in professional personnel by training existing healthcare professionals to manage common mental illnesses.

On October 10, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) released its report detailing the shortcomings in Iraq’s remote education efforts. NRC found that when Iraq made the transition to online learning in April, children in vulnerable and hard-to-reach environments faced increased difficulties accessing instruction, mainly due to a lack of reliable connectivity and the cost of necessary technology. NRC surveys showed that nearly one-third of households across Ninewa, Dohuk, Kirkuk, Anbar, and Salah ad-Din provinces did not have regular internet access and/or a smartphone. In 2019, over half of internally displaced children in Iraq were already out of school, while in 2020 NRC found that 83% of the 6,305 children it surveyed in internally displaced person (IDP) camps across Iraq couldn’t receive online instruction in April. NRC warned that an entire generation of students in vulnerable environments faces risk of undereducation due to access problems, urging the federal and KRG Education Ministries to increase access to safe, socially-distant offline schooling options and develop student retention efforts to avoid long-term disparities in access to education.

On October 11, members of five healthcare workers unions began a countrywide strike to demand an increase in pay, improvements in conditions in healthcare facilities, and the dismissal of the Minister of Health. The strikers, consisting of elements of the nurses, dentists, hospital administrators, chemists, and pharmacists unions, threatened to escalate the strike to include all hospitals if authorities didn’t meet their demands. Any larger strike will reportedly exclude workers in critical medical departments: emergency room, dialysis, intensive care, and postoperative recovery. The Ministry of Health declared the strike “unacceptable,” claiming it “harms patients and threatens them with death,” while the Parliamentary Health Committee expressed support for the strikers’ demands and stated it would be open to meeting with their leaders to reach a solution. The current strike has not caused a reported impact on healthcare facilities. In September, doctors in Karbala province went on strike to demand higher wages and improved conditions in healthcare facilities, causing a significant disruption in work.

On October 12, the UN World Food Program (WFP) announced it has expanded its programs in southern Iraq to support an additional 35,000 economically vulnerable people in response to increased humanitarian needs brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. WFP began a program intended to provide short-term jobs and incomes to urban workers that lost their jobs during the pandemic that will also renovate schools and medical centers, clean streets, and plant trees in Basra City. Additionally, WFP began a program to improve food security in Basra and Dhi-Qar provinces through the construction of irrigation infrastructure with the support of the German, French, and other partner governments. The organization will also continue its daily meals for students program into the 2020-21 school year and will provide additional services to increase hygiene awareness and nutrition in schools in Basra, Dhi-Qar, Muthanna, and Maysan provinces.

On October 13, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) announced the opening of a 20-bed isolation ward for patients with COVID-19 in Dohuk province. The facility, funded in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is one of thirteen planned isolation wards that UNDP will contribute across Iraq. The ward will serve roughly 325,000 residents across Duhok province.

On October 14, the West Mosul Local Peace Committee, an entity comprising consist of local security personnel, government officials, civil society representatives, and tribal sheikhs signed an agreement to formally encourage over 1,100 displaced families with perceived links to ISIS to return to their homes in the Muhalabiya subdistrict, Ninewa province. The agreement, sponsored by the Ninewa provincial government and the UNDP, allows families of ISIS fighters to return to their places of origin without repercussions. In 2017, UNDP established local peace committees across Iraq to promote community-level peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts in areas liberated from ISIS. The Committee is one of two dozen operating in Anbar, Ninewa and Salah ad-Din with the support of the UNDP and the government of Denmark.

On October 15, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Iraq rose to 416,802, representing a weekly increase of 22,236 cases from the 394,566 cases reported on October 8. Of these cases, 55,964 patients are currently in Iraqi hospitals, including 474 in the intensive care unit (ICU). This represents a decrease of 5,104 patients in Iraqi hospitals from last week, and a 50 patient decrease in ICU patients. Ministry data indicated that there were a total of 403 new COVID-related deaths this week, bringing the total from 9,683 to 10,086. The total number of recoveries increased from 323,815 to 350,752. The daily average for new cases dropped from last week, with a daily average of 3,177 new cases, down from an average of 3,870 new cases per day last week. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Baghdad with 1,045 cases, Sulaymaniyah with 323 cases, Erbil with 322 cases, Duhok with 320 cases, and Wasit with 218 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 2,568,776 samples for COVID-19.


Flights To Iran And Turkey Resume; Iraq Looks To China To Build New Airport and 1,000 Schools; Iraq, Jordan And Egypt Discuss Oil Pipeline Project; Telecom Company Sues Iraq

On October 11, Baghdad sent a second payment of IQD 320 billion to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) as part of a budget deal agreed to on August 15. The agreement stipulates that Baghdad contribute IQD 320 billion to the KRG budget in return for its adoption of unified customs procedures and fee management with the federal authorities at the region’s border crossings. On October 13, the KRG announced that it would reduce pay cuts to its civil servants salaries, which were introduced in June from 21% to 18%. 

On October 11, the Iraqi Transportation Ministry announced flights between Iraq and Iran would resume to and from Tehran, Mashhad, Baghdad, and Najaf. Flights previously ceased on September 25 at the request of the Iran’s Aviation Authority. On October 15, the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority announced that flights to and from Turkey also resumed. 

On October 11, the Secretary-General of the Cabinet, Hamid al-Ghazi discussed the development of Nasiriyah International Airport with Chinese Ambassador Zhang Tao. Ghazi said Iraq has prepared “the basic designs and plans” for the airport and was ready to have “the concerned Chinese company” commence construction as soon as possible. In addition, Ghazi added that Iraq was interested in contracting Chinese companies  to work with Iraqi companies to build 1,000 schools across Iraq. 

On October 12, Iraq agreed to a deal allowing Iran access to funds frozen in Iraqi banks. These funds represent outstanding dues owed to Iran for Iraqi energy purchases and are to be used by Iran to purchase Iraqi goods. As part of the agreement, Iraq will export medicine and other “staples” to Iran. Iran exports around $4 billion in energy to Iraq annually.

On October 13, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq discussed implementing an oil pipeline project originally agreed to between Jordan and Iraq in 2013 to connect Basra to the Jordanian port of Aqaba. During talks between Amman and Baghdad  in July 2019, the Iraqi Oil Ministry announced that the pipeline would be split into two phases. The first phase would run from Rumaila in Basra to Haditha in Anbar province and carry 2.25 million bpd. The second phase would run from Haditha to Aqaba, Jordan and carry 1 million bpd. It is unclear whether the new talks explored an alternative path for the pipeline that involves Egyptian territory. Though originally due for completion in 2017, the emergence of ISIS made construction impossible and the project was not implemented. Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi said the project was part of the countries’ desire for “integration,” adding that the meeting aimed at “creating the political horizon … it will be the private sector in our three countries and in the region that will start working on many of these projects.”  

On October 13, Iraqi Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar proposed the creation of a new oil company to handle operations in the Kurdistan region similar to other government oil companies operating in other Iraqi provinces. Jabbar said that talks between the federal and regional governments were positive, and that the company would be jointly managed by the federal Oil Ministry and KRG authorities. On October 14, a KRG spokesperson responded to the news, saying that the KRG’s focus “remains on finding practical and legal solutions concerning the oil and gas sector that preserve the rights of the people of the Kurdistan region and Iraq.” The spokesperson added that “such solutions must be within the framework of the constitution [and allow] for a fair and equitable distribution of oil and gas imports in Iraq.”

On October 13, the French telecommunications company Orange, which is owned in part by the French government, sued the Iraqi government for more than $400 million in damages through a World Bank dispute settlement mechanism. In 2011, Orange and Agility, a Kuwaiti company, invested $810 million into the KRI-based telecommunications company Korek, owned by Sirwan Barzani. In 2013, a “local communications regulator” warned Orange and Agility that it failed to meet certain operational and regulatory requirements and in March 2019 gave “local investors full control of [Korek] with no compensation paid.”

On October 14, the Chief Executive of Malaysia’s state-owned energy company Petronas announced the company is considering ending its operations at the Gharraf oil field in Iraq’s Dhi-Qar province. The executive stated that oil prices under $40 per barrel forced Petronas to reevaluate its presence at Gharraf. He added that the field would also need to be more “resilient” and “cleaner and greener” to address the needs of all involved parties. However, the executive said that if “the field’s economics can be improved,” the company may stay at Gharraf, which was producing 50,000 bpd in July–half of its pre-pandemic levels. Petronas holds a 45% stake in Gharraf, Japan’s Japex owns a 30% stake, and the Iraqi state-owned North Oil holds the remaining 25%. 


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

DateLocationDeathsInjuries
10/9/20South of Mosul, Ninewa12
10/10/20Rawa, Anbar10
10/10/20Highway between Samawah and Diwaniyah, Muthanna00
10/11/20al-Shoura district, south of Mosul, Ninewa03
10/13/20Karrada district, Baghdad01
10/14/20Tal Afar district, Ninewa03
10/14/20Tarmiyah, Baghdad01
10/15/20Abbara, Diyala10
10/15/20Abbara, Diyala01

 

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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