- Command Changes Raise Tension Between Kadhimi And Militias; Erdogan Threatens Action In Sinjar; 113 Lawmakers Demand Changes To 2021 Budget; Jordan’s PM In Baghdad For Trade Talks – On January 21, PM Kadhimi replaced five senior security officials following the deadly January 21 suicide bombings. Kataib Hezbollah condemned Kadhimi’s orders as political score settling, calling for Kadhimi’s dismissal. On January 22, Turkey’s president warned that Ankara might launch a sudden military operation against the PKK to expel its fighters from Sinjar. On January 24, Deputy Speaker Hassan al-Kaabi instructed two parliamentary committees to summon the Oil and Electricity Ministers, threatening to sack the ministers if the electricity situation continued to deteriorate. On January 25, Speaker al-Halbousi visited Kuwait and met with Kuwait’s Emir and PM to discuss reconstruction aid. On January 25, an Iraqi court sentenced a former director of the Trade Bank of Iraq in absentia to five years in prison for loan fraud and wasting public funds. On January 25, KRG deputy PM Qubad Talabani led a delegation to Baghdad to discuss the KRG’s share of the 2021 budget. On January 26, 113 lawmakers demanded several changes to the 2021 budget. The amendments seek reduced spending and borrowing, and require the KRG to deliver a minimum of 460,000 bpd to the federal government. On January 28, Jordanian PM Bishr al-Khasawneh visited Baghdad and met with PM Kadhimi to discuss trade and economic cooperation. They agreed, among other things, to simplify transit procedures at the border, extend Iraqi crude exports to Jordan, and build a 300 kilometer electric transmission line Iraq’s and Jordan’s grids. more…
- ISIS Increases Attacks On The Electric Grid; Deadly ISIS Attack Kills 11 Militiamen; New Rockets Target Baghdad Airport – Between January 21 – 28, the explosions of 16 IEDs and a remnant of war in various provinces killed one Iraqi and injured at least eight more. Six of the explosions targeted power lines and repair crews in and around Ninewa and Kirkuk, causing widespread disruptions to power supplies. Another two devices targeted civilian contractors transporting supplies for the International Coalition, while one IED and one grenade attack targeted activists in Dhi-Qar and Najaf, respectively. On January 22, Turkish airstrikes targeting the PKK injured three civilians in Duhok province. On January 23, the U.S. announced $20 million in new security aid to Baghdad to enhance security measures at the Green Zone. On January 23, three rockets targeted Baghdad’s Airport, landing outside the airport and damaging a civilian residence. On January 24, ISIS militants killed 11 PMF fighters, including the commander of a PMF regiment, in a major attack in Salah ad-Din province. The attack also injured at least eight PMF fighters. On January 26, gunmen assassinated the campaign manager of a Diyala member of Parliament and another civilian near Baquba. Between January 23 – 27, International Coalition airstrikes killed at least 17 ISIS militants in the Qara Chogh mountains and the Kirkuk area. more…
- Report Says 3.2 Million Kids Didn’t Get Formal Education In 2020; Calls to Expedite Executions Raise Concerns About Due Process; COVID-19 Infections Slightly Up – On January 24, UNAMI published a report about the difficulties that Iraqi girls face in receiving adequate education. The report points out that 3.2 million Iraqi kids did not enjoy “formal public education” in 2020, and warns that security concerns disproportionately affect girls’ ability to access education. On January 25, Iraqi authorities executed three Iraqis convicted on terrorism charges after a January 21 double suicide bombing provoked new calls for carrying out executions of inmates on death row. A disputed statement attributed to Iraq’s presidency said Iraq approved the executions of 340 inmates convicted on terrorism charges. On January 28, Iraq’s Health Ministry reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 617,202. Deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 13,024 while the number of patients currently in hospitals decreased to 15,918. To date, 588,260 patients have recovered from the virus, and Iraq has tested 5,520,056 samples for COVID-19. The daily average for new cases increased from 809/day during the 7-day period ending January 21 to 943/day over the last 7-day period. more…
- Iraq Signs MoU For New Refinery; Baghdad Seeks Up To $6 Billion From IMF; French Firm To Rebuild Mosul Airport; EU, World Bank Support Public Financial Management Initiative – On January 21, Iraq signed an initial agreement with an international consortium to build a 100,000 bpd refinery in Dhi-Qar. On January 23, Iraq’s Oil Marketing Company (SOMO) said Iraq exported 1,096,345,000 barrels of oil in 2020 at an average price of $38.86 per barrel, generating $41.755 billion in revenue. On January 25, Iraq’s Finance Minister announced talks with the IMF to secure an aid package totaling $6 billion. On January 25, Iraqi officials said Iraq signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Aeroports de Paris Ingenierie (ADPI) of France to rebuild the Mosul International Airport. On January 25, Iraq signed an agreement with the World Bank and the EU for a $12.5 million public financial management grant to promote financial oversight. The project aims to optimize state institution payroll through IT programs, increase transparency in the oil sector, and strengthen anti-corruption measures in state-owned enterprises. On January 25, officials from the Dhi-Qar Oil Company claimed that demonstrations threaten to disrupt 80,000 bpd in oil production. On January 27, Zain al-Iraq Telecom Company said it has launched test 4G-LTE services across all of Iraq’s provinces. On January 27, Iraq’s Ministry of Oil said it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with French Oil Company Total to develop new projects in the oil and natural gas sectors. 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.
On January 21, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi replaced five senior officials from several security services top leadership, in the aftermath of the January 21 double suicide bomb attack that killed at least 32 people in Baghdad. Kadhimi removed Deputy Minister of Interior for Intelligence Affairs, Lieutenant General Amer Saddam, and replaced him with Lieutenant General Ahmed Abu Ragheef. Next, the prime minister dismissed the Interior Ministry’s Intelligence and Combating Terrorism chief, Abdul Karim Abd Fadel (aka Abul Ali al-Basri), replacing him with the current deputy head of the National Security Service Hamid al-Shatri. Kadhimi also assigned Major General Ahmed Salim as commander of Baghdad Operations and Lieutenant General Raed Shaker Jawdat as Federal Police Commander. Lastly, Kadhimi dismissed the Director of Intelligence and Security of Baghdad Operations, Major General Bassem Majeed. On January 22, Kataib Hezbollah commander Abu Ali al-Askari condemned Kadhimi’s orders as political score settling, calling for the prime minister’s dismissal. Askari also threatened that the militia group would “take its role” in maintaining security if the government failed to prevent further attacks.
On January 22, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that his government might launch a military operation against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey considers a terrorist organization, to expel the group from the Sinjar district in Iraq’s Ninewa province. Responding to questions from journalists, Erdogan added that Turkish forces “may come by surprise one night.” Erdogan made his remarks a few days after Turkey’s Defense Minister and Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi discussed security cooperation and implementing the Sinjar Agreement.
On January 22, hundreds of protesters demonstrated in Nasiriyah’s al-Haboubi Square, demanding the release of activist Sajjad al-Iraqi, who was kidnapped in September by gunmen believed to belong to factions affiliated with the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). Activists condemned the poor security situation in Nasiriyah, saying it was no longer safe for protesters. Activist Dhafer Odeh Sultan told Shafaq News, that militias continue to target the homes of prominent activists, through kidnappings and bombings, and that the state is too weak to stop the militia violence. In response, the governor of Dhi-Qar province, Nazem al-Waeli, claimed that the security situation in Nasiriyah was “100%” secure. At least three attacks with small arms fire attacks and one bombing have targeted Dhi-Qar activists in the last three weeks.
On January 24, First Deputy Speaker of Parliament Hassan al-Kaabi instructed the parliamentary committees on Oil and Energy and Services and Reconstruction to set up an emergency meeting with the Ministers of Oil and Electricity to address electricity shortages. According to Rudaw, Kaabi threatened to sack the two ministers if the electricity situation continued to deteriorate. On January 26, Ministry of Electricity spokesman Ahmed Musa blamed declining Iranian gas supplies for power shortages in Baghdad and the mid-Euphrates region. Musa also blamed the worsening electricity production on budget delays and recent terrorist attacks targeting the grid in the northern provinces that caused widespread outages in Ninewa, Kirkuk, Diyala and Salah ad-Din.
On January 25, Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi visited Kuwait and met with the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmed al-Sabah. Halbousi and Sabah discussed strengthening bilateral relations and implementing the projects discussed during the International Donors Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq in 2018. In a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Sabah, Halbousi also discussed the status of Iraq’s debts to Kuwait, requesting a postponement of payment due to Iraq’s current economic crisis.
On January 25, the al-Karkh Court in Baghdad sentenced former Director General of the Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI), Hamdiya al-Jaf, in absentia to five years in prison for loan fraud and wasting public funds. A statement by the Integrity Commission reportedly said that the court found Jaf guilty of mismanagement of public funds, after she authorized a $40 million loan to a bank with unsubstantiated assets and credit worthiness. The ruling also targeted Jaf’s properties in Iraq and restricted her travel, as her whereabouts in the country are currently unknown. According to Al-Qurtas News, Hamdiya al-Jaf played a critical role in high-level corruption after her appointment as TBI president by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in 2011.
On January 25, Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani of the Kurdistan Region Government (KRG) led a delegation to meet with the Parliament Finance Committee in Baghdad. The two sides discussed the KRG’s share of the draft 2021 federal budget. On January 26, the delegation met with First Deputy Speaker of Parliament Hassan al-Kaabi, who reportedly said that budget discussions “should be separated from political infighting,” because the budget “impacts people’s livelihoods.” Kaabi made his remarks after members of Parliament pushed for changing the draft budget to further scrutinize KRG finances and require the region deliver at least 460,000 bpd of its produced oil (more details below).
On January 26, 113 members of Parliament presented a list of proposed changes to the 2021 federal draft budget. The proposed amendments largely target the size of the budget, seeking to reduce total expenditures to IQD90 trillion, with IQD82 trillion allocated to operating expenses and IQD8 trillion for investment. The lawmakers also suggested reducing the exchange rate to 1300 dinars per dollar, prohibiting further financing of the deficit by borrowing from the Central Bank, and canceling new investment loans. The amendments also apply more pressure on the KRG’s share of the federal budget, prohibiting the government from paying the balance of KRG’s share from 2014 to 2019 on the account that the KRG did not deliver any of its oil to the federal government during that period. The list also demands that the KRG delivers a minimum of 460,000 bpd (as well as any surplus) to the Oil Marketing Company (SOMO).
On January 28, Jordanian Prime Minister Bishr al-Khasawneh visited Baghdad and met with Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to discuss enhancing bilateral trade and economic cooperation. The two premiers agreed to simplify transit procedures at the border and expedite the Joint Economic City Project. They also agreed to strengthen trade in local raw materials and products, signing an agreement to facilitate registration procedures for Jordanian goods. In the energy field, Iraq and Jordan agreed to renew a Memorandum of Understanding regarding Iraqi crude oil exports to Jordan for another year, and agreed to build a 300 kilometer electric transmission line linking the Risha power station in Jordan with the al-Qaim substation in Iraq. Iraq and Jordan also agreed to resume discussions concerning a project to build a pipeline to export Iraqi oil through Jordan.
On January 28, protesters gathered in the streets of Kut, the provincial capital of Wasit province, after authorities issued arrest warrants against two local activists. According to Shafaq News, the demonstrators blocked off the streets with burning tires to stop traffic.
On January 21, an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded near a checkpoint manned by Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) fighters in the Jurf al-Sakhr area, north of Babylon. According to a security source, the explosion injured two PMF fighters.
On January 22, security sources reported that Turkish warplanes bombed suspected Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) positions in the Jumanki subdistrict, near Amadiya, in Duhok province. The raids injured three civilians and damaged several homes, according to the mayor of Jumanki. Another strike on the Iranian border did not lead to any injuries.
On January 22, a security source reported that an IED exploded on the main highway through Babylon province. The explosion damaged a truck carrying logistical supplies for the International Coalition without causing injuries. On January 25, a security source said another IED explosion targeted another convoy carrying logistical supplies for the International Coalition on the highway in Dhi-Qar province.
On January 23, the Security Media Cell said that aircraft from the International Coalition performed two airstrikes, one in the Qara Chogh mountain range and the other in the Kirkuk area. The report said the airstrikes killed seven ISIS militants and destroyed four of their tunnels in Kirkuk. On January 26, Security Media Cell reported an additional airstrike in the mountains of Kirkuk province killed four ISIS militants in addition to damaging their weapons and supplies. In another statement on January 27, the Iraqi military said Coalition airstrikes based on Iraqi intelligence killed ten more ISIS militants in the Tamour region of Kirkuk province.
On January 23, the Security Media Cell said that three rockets targeted Baghdad’s International Airport. Two rockets landed outside the airport while the third hit a civilian’s house in the al-Jihad neighborhood. The attack caused material damages but no casualties, according to the Iraqi military. A security source said the U.S. air defense system deployed near the airport complex, which houses Iraqi military and International Coalition personnel, responded to the rockets.
On January 24, a security source stated that ISIS militants fired two mortar shells at the Hod 18 village near Riyadh, west of Kirkuk. The attack did not cause injuries.
On January 23, the U.S. embassy in Iraq announced $20 million in new security aid to the Iraqi government to enhance security measures at the Green Zone. This amount will pay, among other things, for a team of engineers to examine all “entry points…and design new gates.”
On January 24, the Ministry of Electricity reported that militants sabotaged four power lines in the Ninewa, Kirkuk, and Salah ad-Din provinces. The militants attacked the Mosul Dam-East Mosul, Mosul Dam-Qayyara, and the Kirkuk-Qayyara 400KV lines, destroying several towers. Another attack destroyed a transmission tower near Tel al-Rumman, south of Mosul. These attacks have led to significant power outages across the provinces. Later in the day, two IEDs exploded near workers trying to fix the damaged power lines along the Mosul Dam-Qayyara and Kirkuk-Qayyara lines. The attacks led to minor injuries and damage to construction equipment.
On January 24, the PMF said in a statement that ISIS militants killed 11 PMF fighters, including the commander of the 6th regiment in the 22nd PMF brigade, in an attack near al-Eith, east of Tikrit in Salah ad-Din province. The attack also injured at least eight other PMF fighters. According to one source, PMF and federal police forces killed 18 ISIS militants during the clashes.
On January 24, security sources reported that an IED exploded in Salah al-Din near the site of the previous day’s deadly attack on PMF forces by ISIS militants. The explosion injured one PMF fighter.
On January 24, a security source reported that an IED exploded near a liquor store in Baghdad’s al-Adl district, without causing injuries. The next day, an IED exploded near another liquor store in the Mahdia area in Dora. The explosion damaged the building but caused no injuries. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks so far.
On January 26, a security source said unidentified gunmen assassinated the campaign manager of Diyala member of Parliament Raad al-Dahlaki, along with his brother. The attack on the victim, Abdul Qadir Jassam Al-Dulaimi, and his brother occurred in the al-Mouradia area, on the outskirts of Baquba.
On January 26, two IEDs exploded against the vehicles of Iraqi security forces while they were conducting a joint security operation in the al-Eith region in eastern Salah al-Din. There were no reports of casualties from the IED explosions.
On January 27, the Najaf police announced that the explosion of a cluster bomb submunition killed one child and injured three more people while they were working on a landfill.
On January 27, an IED leftover from ISIS militants exploded in the al-Zahraa area of eastern Mosul. The explosion injured two sisters who were walking near an abandoned housing complex.
On January 28, an IED exploded targeting the home of civil activist Ali Awaid in the city of Nasiriyah in Dhi-Qar province. A security source said the explosion caused extensive damage to Awaid’s home and vehicle. The same day, unidentified assailants attacked a house in the al-Kufa district of Najaf with a hand grenade. A security source said the owner stated that he believes he was targeted because he criticized a religious figure during a demonstration a few days before the attack.
On January 24, UNAMI published the second part of its report detailing the difficulties that Iraqi girls face in receiving adequate education after the fall of ISIS. The report points out that 3.2 million Iraqi kids did not enjoy “formal public education” in 2020 and that around 1.2 million children did not receive any education. The report states that girls have significant challenges accessing education and that security problems have exacerbated these difficulties. During the ISIS occupation of certain regions, many girls were forced to drop out of school and have not had the opportunity to pick up their education. According to the report, boys have a higher rate of enrollment in all levels of education and a higher literacy rate of 91.9%, compared with just over 82% of girls.The UNAMI report states that girls are particularly vulnerable to being pulled out of school and subjected to early marriages because of cultural and religious values and these security concerns. UNAMI calls on the government to increase the capacity of the educational system and promotes gender-sensitive education including girls’ schools and more female teachers.
On January 25, the Iraqi government executed three Iraqis convicted on terrorism charges at the Nasiriyah Central Prison in southern Iraq. The executions followed the double suicide bombings that killed more than 30 Iraqis in Baghdad on January 21. The attacks provoked new calls for carrying out executions of inmates on death row. The executions also followed a statement attributed to Iraq’s presidency saying that the president has approved the execution of 340 inmates convicted on terrorism charges under a 2005 law that permits the death penality in terrorism cases. Human rights groups have accused the government of expediting the executions for political reasons and rushing through trials of suspected terrorists without due process. On January 24, the office of Iraqi President Barham Salih issued a statement clarifying that the 340 convictions were ratified by Salih’s predecessor and prior to Salih’s term.
On January 28, the Iraqi Ministry of Health said the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 617,202. This is an increase of 5,795 from last week’s number of 611,407 reported on January 21. Of these cases,15,918 are currently in Iraqi hospitals, including 166 currently being treated in the intensive care unit (ICU). These numbers represent a decrease of 5,787 hospitalizations and an increase of 33 people currently in the ICU since January 21. Ministry data indicated that there were 47 new COVID-19 deaths since January 21, bringing the total from 12,977 to 13,024. The total number of recoveries increased from 576,725 to 588,260. The average number of new cases increased to 943 per day, compared to an average of 809 per day during the seven day period ending January 21. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Baghdad with 365 cases, Najaf with 105, Karbala with 96, Wasit with 69, and Kirkuk with 61 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 5,520,056 samples for COVID 19.
On January 21, Iraq’s Southern Refineries Company signed a memorandum of initial agreement with a consortium of international companies for the Dhi-Qar refinery investment project. The agreement between Iraq and NORINCO, Power China, CNEC, and a UAE company called al-Awsat Services Ltd., describes a facility with an ultimate capacity of 100,000 bpd based on “Euro 5” standards. South Refineries director Husam Wali said the parties expect to sign the final project agreement within three months. Ministry spokesman Asim Jihad added that the construction and operation of the refinery will create up to 3,000 new jobs.
On January 23, Iraq’s Oil Marketing Company (SOMO) announced that Iraq exported 1,096,345,000 barrels of oil in 2020. China, India, and the United States purchased most of the oil, which generated $41.755 billion in revenues. SOMO statistics showed that the oil fields in and around Basra and central Iraq contributed 1,060,454,000 barrels to exports, while fields around Kirkuk exported 33,008,000 barrels, and the Qayyarah field exported 617,894 barrels. Iraq sold its oil in 2020 at an average price of $38.86 per barrel.
On January 25, Iraqi Finance Minister Ali Allawi announced talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to secure an aid package totaling $6 billion. According to Bloomberg, Allawi stated that once the 2021 federal budget is approved, Iraq can apply for $2 billion through the IMF Rapid Financing Instrument mechanism, which offers grants to countries whose economies are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Allawi added that Iraq could qualify for an additional $4 billion through the IMF to support governmental reforms.
On January 25, the secretary general of the Council of Ministers, Hamid al-Ghazi said Iraq signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a French company to rebuild the Mosul International Airport, which had suffered damage during the campaign against ISIS. According to al-Sumaria, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi discussed the project with French officials during his trip to Paris last October. French company Aeroports de Paris Ingenierie (ADPI) will reportedly be performing the reconstruction works.
On January 25, Iraq signed an agreement with the World Bank and the European Union (EU) for a $12.5 million public financial management grant to support government institutions and promote financial oversight. The project, part of a technical assistance program signed in 2018, aims to optimize state institution payroll through IT programs, increase transparency in the oil sector, and strengthen anti-corruption measures in state-owned enterprises. According to the World Bank, the project will work in tandem with the Prime Minister’s office and target reforms in the federal government and the KRG.
On January 25, officials from the Dhi-Qar Oil Company claimed that demonstrations in Dhi-Qar province threaten to disrupt 80,000 bpd of the company’s 110,000 bpd in oil production. According to the officials, protesters blocking the entrances of the Dhi-Qar Oil Company for three weeks in a row are preventing workers from accessing the oil fields, delaying work, and causing significant financial losses.
On January 27, Zain al-Iraq Telecom Company said it has launched test 4G-LTE services across all of Iraq’s provinces. Zain al-Iraq CEO Ali al-Zahid stated that the new 4G-LTE service is the first of its kind in Iraq. A company statement said Zain worked with Nokia, Ericson and Huawei to develop the new service in Iraq, and said users can now obtain new SIM cards to enable 4G-LTE connections.
On January 27, Iraq’s Ministry of Oil said it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with French Oil Company Total to develop new projects in the oil and natural gas sectors. Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar said that the new understanding came to fruition after six months of negotiations, and that talks will continue to develop specific contracts, without providing more details. Total CEO Patrick Poyanne, who toured several oil and gas fields with the Iraqi minister, added that the company hopes to help Iraq harness its natural gas resources to help solve the country’s energy crisis.
IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties
Casualties Due To IEDs from January 21, 2021- January 28, 2021The following table includes both civilian and security forces who were either injured or killed due to improvised explosive devices (IEDs), vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), or suicide attacks.
|01/21/21||Jurf al-Sakhr, north of Babylon||0||2|
|01/22/21||Main highway Babylon province||0||0|
|01/24/21||Mosul Dam-East Mosul power line ||0||0|
|01/24/21||Mosul Dam-Qayyara power line||0||0|
|01/24/21||Kirkuk-Qayyara power line||0||0|
|01/24/21||Tel al-Rumman, south of Mosul||0||0|
|01/24/21||Mosul Dam-Qayyara power line||0||0|
|01/24/21||Kirkuk-Qayyara power line||0||0|
|01/24/20||East of Tikrit, Salah ad-Din||0||1|
|01/24/21||Al-Adl, west of Baghdad||0||0|
|01/25/21||International highway, Dhi-Qar province||0||0|
|01/26/21||Al-Eith, eastern Salah ad-DIn||0||0|
|01/26/21||Al-Eith, eastern Salah ad-DIn||0||0|
|01/27/21||Al-Zahraa, east of Mosul||0||2|
|01/28/21||Nasiriyah, Dhi-Qar province||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.