ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: JUNE 24 – JULY 1, 2021

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Key Takeaways:

  • PMF Show Off Weapons Arsenal; Leaders Of Egypt, Jordan Discuss Strategic Cooperation With Iraq; Airstrikes Intensify Calls To Withdraw U.S. Troops – On June 26, the PMF organized a show-of-force parade featuring tanks, armored personnel carriers, rocket launchers, and drones, marking the organization’s 7th anniversary. On June 27, Baghdad hosted a trilateral summit in which the leaders of Iraq, Jordan and Egypt discussed strategic cooperation, and regional political and security issues. On June 28, Foreign Ministers of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS met in Rome and discussed ongoing operations to prevent the group’s resurgence. On June 28, Iraq condemned U.S. airstrikes on a facility used by Iran-backed militia groups in Anbar, calling the attack a “violation of national sovereignty.” The PMF and allied political parties called for an immediate withdrawal of foreign troops. On June 29, the Iraqi Electricity Minister submitted his resignation following a sharp decline in generation capacity and rising temperatures. On June 30, PM Kadhimi met with NATO officials in Brussels, and asked them to continue their assistance in training and advising the Iraqi security forces. more…
  • Attacks Target Power Infrastructure Amid Scorching Heat; Drones Strike Erbil; U.S. Airstrikes Target Structures Used By Iran-Backed Militias – Between June 24 – 29, ISIS militants targeted several Federal Police checkpoints in southern Kirkuk and Salah ad-Din, killing at least six policemen and injuring nine others. Between June 26 – July 1, at least six IED explosions and a rocket attack toppled power towers and damaged other electricity infrastructure, causing major service disruptions in Kirkuk, Salah ad-Din and Diyala. On June 26, four drones struck a residential area in Erbil. KRG authorities said that recovered drone parts had verbiage referencing Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Iranian General Qasim Soleimani. On June 28, U.S. airstrikes targeted structures near the borders with Syria used by Iran-backed militias to launch drone attacks on U.S. facilities in Iraq. The strikes killed four militiamen from Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada. On June 30, an IED exploded in the busy Mredi market in Sadr City, injuring 15 people. more…

  • Kurdistan Court Rejects Another Appeal To Free Jailed Journalists; Iraq Reports Sharp Increase In COVID-19 Infections – On June 27, Iraq said that it received $50 million in donations to preserve ISIS-destroyed archaeological sites in Ninewa, Anbar, and Diyala. On June 27, Kurdistan’s Court of Cassation denied a request to consider the appeal of five journalists and activists sentenced to six years in prison. UNAMI condemned the court’s decision, and called for judicial and institutional reform in the KRI. On June 28, Iraq’s Education Ministry and the WFP agreed to expand Iraq’s nationwide school-meal program to reach 3.6 million children by 2025. On June 28, the U.S. Supreme Court declined an appeal from defense contractor CACI in a torture lawsuit filed by three Iraqi ex-detainees of Abu Ghraib prison, upholding a lower court ruling in favor of the victims. On July 1, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 1,353,458. The average number of new cases jumped to 6,052 per day during the last 7-day period, up from an average of 5,209 per day during the 7-day period ending June 24. The number of vaccinated people reached 910,641. more…

  • Iraq, Egypt and Jordan To Increase Economic Cooperation; Basra Gas Co. Eyes Higher Production, Reduced Flaring And Emissions; June Oil Exports Generate $6.1 Billion – On June 24, Iraq signed a contract with the UAE-based renewable energy company Masdar to generate 2,000 megawatts of solar power. The project will provide over 2,000 jobs. On June 27, leaders of Iraq, Jordan and Egypt discussed economic cooperation during a summit in Baghdad, and agreed to jumpstart and initiate several energy projects, ease non-tariff barriers to trade, and establish joint e-commerce channels. On June 29, Iraq’s Basra Gas Company signed a five-year, $360 million loan agreement with the International Finance Corporation to reduce gas flaring in southern Iraq and expand production by 40%. On July 1, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil said that crude oil exports during June totaled 86.765 million barrels, for an average of 2.892 bpd. The June exports generated $6.141 billion in revenue. 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.


PMF Show Off Weapons Arsenal; Leaders Of Egypt, Jordan Discuss Strategic Cooperation With Iraq; Airstrikes Intensify Calls To Withdraw U.S. Troops

On June 26, thousands of Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) members participated in a parade at a military base in Diyala to mark the seventh anniversary of the PMF’s formation. During the parade, the PMF displayed tanks, armored personnel carriers, rocket launchers, drones, and other heavy military equipment. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, accompanied by top national security and military officials, attended the event. Notably, the four PMF units affiliated with the shrines of Najaf and Karbala–which have distanced themselves from the pro-Iran factions–didn’t participate in the parade.

On June 26, the Iraqi Justice Ministry announced that it would not extradite foreigners convicted on terrorism charges to their countries of origin until after they had served their sentences in Iraq. The ministry also said it would allow foreign ambassadors to visit the prisoners of their countries to ensure that Iraqi authorities are upholding the prisoners’ human rights. 

On June 27, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordanian King Abdullah II met with Prime Minister al-Kadhimi for a trilateral summit in Baghdad. During the summit, the leaders discussed strategic cooperation between the three states, regional political and security issues, as well as a number of economic initiatives (more details below). Iraqi President Barham Salih also met with President al-Sisi and King Abdullah. This is the third summit that gathered the leaders of Iraq, Egypt and Jordan to discuss issues of common interest. Kadhimi, Abdullah and Sisi met last August in Amman. A year before that, Salih met with Sisi and Abdullah in New York City.

On June 27, Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) power authority employees organized a strike to protest a decision to cut their salaries, and extend their working hours. Elsewhere in Kurdistan, residents in Penjwen district blocked a main road on the Iraq-Iran borders to protest poor public and electricity services. On June 28, dozens of protestors also blocked a major provisional highway with burning tires south of Nasiriyah in Dhi-Qar province, due to a lack of potable water in the area. 

On June 27, the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court (FSC) rejected a request by the KRG to create a court to try ISIS militants. The Supreme Court said that it rejected the claim to maintain Iraqi soveriengty because KRG’s proposal included “authority to appoint non-Iraqi judges and prosecutors and the authority to impose the death penalty, in addition to its juridiciton over Iraqi citizens and foreigners.” ِArticle 95 of Iraq’s Constitution prohibits the creation of special or extraordinary courts. 

On June 28, Foreign Ministers of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS met in Rome and discussed the ongoing operations to prevent the group’s resurgence in Iraq and Syria by curbing its ability to raise money and denying it space on social media platforms, as well as by sharing intelligence among Coalition members. The Ministers also condemned the attacks on the coalition’s personnel, convoys and facilities, reminding the Iraqi Government of its responsibility to protect coalition assets in the country.  

On June 28, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry condemned the U.S. airstrikes on a facility used by Iran-backed militia groups in Anbar province, calling the attack a “violation of national sovereignty and a clear departure from international norms and covenants.” The Iraqi military spokesperson Yehia Rasool also condemned the strikes on Twitter, adding that Iraq refuses to be an arena for settling conflicts between the U.S. and Iran. The Ministerial Council for National Security, headed by al-Kadhimi, issued similar statements denouncing the strikes. The council also said that ongoing discussions about the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq have reached advanced stages. The PMF and allied political parties condemned the strikes, and called for an immediate withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq. On the other hand, The U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called the strikes necessary in order to send a “clear and unambiguous deterrent message” to Iran-backed militias. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on all sides to use restraint to prevent escalation.

On June 29, the Iraqi Parliament leadership implemented a salary freeze on lawmakers who miss legislative sessions without an approved excuse. The decision followed several attempts to hold a session, only to fail due to lack of quorum. 

On June 29, Iraqi Electricity Minister Majid Hantoush submitted his resignation to Prime Minister al-Kadhimi, following a sharp decline in generation capacity and rising temperatures throughout Iraq. Earlier that day, the complete shutdown of a power plant in Nasiriyah caused blackouts in Basra, Maysan, Muthanna and Dhi-Qar provinces. Iran also halted power supplies to Iraq due to arrears totaling $4 billion for energy imports. 

On June 30, Prime Minister al-Kadhimi and his foreign minister met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels and discussed security developments, the upcoming elections, and NATO’s mission progress in Iraq. Kadhimi also participated in a meeting for NATO’s Mission Iraq Operational Partners, and asked the Alliance to continue its mission to train and advise Iraqi security forces.


Attacks Target Power Infrastructure Amid Scorching Heat; Drones Strike Erbil; U.S. Airstrikes Target Structures Used By Iran-Backed Militias

On June 24, ISIS militants attacked a Federal Police checkpoint in the Daquq district in southern  Kirkuk province. A security source said the attack didn’t cause casualties, but damaged a thermal surveillance camera. Hours later, ISIS militants targeted another Federal Police checkpoint in the same area, killing five members of the force and injuring three others. On June 27, a security source said that ISIS militants attacked a third Federal Police checkpoint in the al-Hawija district, then detonated an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) near it. The twin attack killed an officer and injured two policemen. On June 29, ISIS militants attacked two Federal Police barracks on the outskirts of Samarra in Salah ad-Din province, injuring two policemen and damaging a thermal surveillance camera. On June 30, ISIS militants attacked Iraqi security forces with machine guns in the village of Hassan Shallal in the Daquq district in southern Kirkuk. A security source said the attack injured at least two civilians and an unspecified number of security personnel.

On June 24, Turkish warplanes and artillery bombarded several areas in the Amadiyah district in Duhok province. On June 27, a security source said that the Turkish forces shelled the Khatmir Mountain top in Zakho district. The sources added that the artillery shells landed near an Iraqi Border Guards’ checkpoint. Meanwhile, Turkish warplanes targeted an area in the Sheikhan district in Ninewa province. On June 28, Turkish forces shelled seven villages in the Batifa subdistrict in northern Duhok. There were no reports of casualties in these attacks. On June 30, Turkish artillery again shelled the mountains around the Kani Masi subdistrict in Duhok province, without causing casualties. Turkish forces have been waging a large-scale operation against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters in northern Iraq since late April. 

On June 26, an IED exploded near a crew dispatched to repair a toppled power tower in the al-Rashad subdistrict  in Kirkuk province. The blast damaged equipment but didn’t cause casualties. On June 27, Katyusha rockets struck a thermal power production plant in Salah ad-Din’s Samarra district, damaging the plant’s boiler. On the same day, the Electricity Ministry said that “attacks and sabotage incidents” targeted power towers in Khan Bani Sa’ad in Diyala province, causing a power disruption. On June 28, IED explosions toppled two power towers in western Diyala, causing widespread power outages throughout the province and in parts of Baghdad. On July 1, a local official said that IED explosions toppled three power towers in the al-Shirqat district in northern Salah ad-Din province. The attacks caused a power disruption in the region.      

On June 26, an IED exploded near an International Coalition supply convoy traveling through Salah ad-Din province. A security source said the attack didn’t cause casualties or damage.  

On June 26, Kurdistan’s Counter Terrorism Group (CTG) said that three drones struck a home in the village of Bragh in northern Erbil province. CTG added that two of the drones “exploded” as they struck the home, causing material damage. A fourth drone crashed into an empty area in Mount Tarin. There were no reports of casualties. CTG said that recovered drone parts from the crash sites had verbiage referencing the late Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Iranian General Qasim Soleimani.   

On June 27, an IED exploded near an Iraqi army patrol in the Abu Saida subdistrict in Diyala province. A security source said the blast killed a soldier and injured another.   

On June 28, the Pentagon said that the U.S. carried out several “defensive precision airstrikes” along the Iraq-Syria borders, targeting facilities used by Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada militias to launch drone attacks on U.S. facilities. The Pentagon added that the strikes targeted two facilities in Syria and another in Iraq. The Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) said that the strikes targeted three checkpoints in the al-Qaem district in Anbar province, and killed four militiamen from Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada. 

On June 27, an IED explosion killed a child in the village of Tel Azer in the al-Qahtaniya subdistrict in western Ninewa province. On June 28, a security source said that a legacy IED exploded in the same area, injuring three Iraqi army soldiers. 

On June 29, gunmen detonated an IED in front of a judge’s home in Amara, the capital of Maysan province. A security source said the attack damaged vehicles parked outside the home, but didn’t cause casualties. 

On June 30, a security source said that gunmen threw a live grenade at a soldier in eastern Kirkuk city. The attack injured the soldier.  

On June 30, the Security Media Cell said that an IED exploded in the Mredi market in the Sadr City district of Baghdad. The blast injured 15 people.


Kurdistan Court Rejects Another Appeal To Free Jailed Journalists; Iraq Reports Sharp Increase In COVID-19 Infections

On June 26, the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) held a two-day consultative workshop with Iraq’s Health and Environment Ministry, and other relevant ministries, to strengthen climate-resilient agriculture within Iraq’s rural communities. The workshop was part of Iraq’s Green Climate Fund (GCF)-sponsored project that will improve upon Iraq’s response to water shortages produced by climate changes in provinces like Najaf, Karbala, and Muthanna. The workshop introduced new methods and techniques to foster greater food and water security. 

On June 27, Iraq’s Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Ministry said that countries including Italy, the United States, France, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have donated a total of $50 million towards preserving ISIS-destroyed archaeological sites in Ninewa, Anbar, and Diyala provinces. Spokesperson of the Antiquities and Heritage Authority Hakim al-Shammari said that rehabilitation of these sites was in progress, as an Italian archaeological maintenance team has already finished the rehabilitation of the ancient city of Hatra.

On June 27, The UN’s Development Program (UNDP) said that Italy’s Agency for Development Cooperation donated $2.4 million to its Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS) program. FFS will use the additional funds to implement initiatives in Iraq’s liberated areas, such as improving conditions and assisting Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) on their return home. 

On June 27, the UN’s United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and Iraq’s Trade Ministry launched a smartphone application to enable 1.6 million people in Najaf province to update their food rations records. The “Tamwini” app is part of the effort to digitize Iraq’s Public Distribution for Food Rations (PDS) in light of COVID-19 restrictions. The application is only available through the Google Play Store, but the joint statement by WFP and the Trade Ministry said it will soon be available via the iOS App Store. 

On June 27, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq’s (KRI) Court of Cassation denied a request to consider the appeal of five journalists and activists sentenced to six years in prison for “crimes” that included meeting with U.S. and German diplomats. The sentences can now only be overturned by a presidential pardon from Kurdistan Region’s President Nechirvan Barzani. On June 28, the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) condemned the court’s decision, and called for judicial and institutional reform in the KRI. The EU Ambassador to Iraq Martin Huth and Canadian Ambassador to Iraq Ulric Shannon also condemned the decision. Both the U.S. and UK consulates pointed to earlier statements that emphasized the importance of freedom of the press. The court’s denial followed the sentencing of another journalist to a year in prison by a Duhok court for “disobeying an order by a public official” and for violating “communication devices misuse” law. On Monday, several lawyers and civil society leaders gathered in Sulaymaniyah province to protest the decision and demand a presidential pardon for the journalists and activists. 

On June 28, the Iraqi Education Ministry (MoE) and WFP agreed to expand Iraq’s nationwide school-meal program to reach 3.6 million children by 2025. The school meal will include water, bread, cheese and fruit to provide a balanced meal for students, and support efforts to increase student retention and attendance rates in schools. In the past year, the program supported 264,000 children in 11 school districts across Iraq. 

On June 28, the U.S. Supreme Court declined an appeal from defense contractor CACI International Inc. in a torture lawsuit filed by three Iraqi ex-detainees of Abu Ghraib prison, upholding a lower court ruling in favor of the victims. The three former detainees accused CACI employees of administering their torture and committing human rights abuses, including physical and sexual abuse, mock executions, and electric shocks. 

On July 01, the Iraqi Ministry of Health said the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 1,353,458. This is an increase of 42,365 in cases from the 1,311,093 reported on June 24. Of these cases, 86,121 are currently in hospitals, including 633 being treated in ICUs. These numbers represent an increase of 10,009 in hospitalizations and an increase of 115 in ICU admissions since June 24. Ministry data indicated that there were 217 new COVID-19 deaths since June 24, bringing the total from 16,999 to 17,216. The total number of recoveries increased from 1,217,982 to 1,250,121. The average number of new cases was 6,052 per day during the last 7-day period, compared to an average of 5,209 per day during the 7-day period ending June 24. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Baghdad with 2,080 cases, Basra with 851 cases, Wasit with 617 cases, Dhi-Qar with 580 cases, and Najaf with 423 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 11,771,294 samples for COVID-19. The total number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 910,641, including 28,365 who received their shots on July 01.


Iraq, Egypt and Jordan To Increase Economic Cooperation; Basra Gas Co. Eyes Higher Production, Reduced Flaring And Emissions; June Oil Exports Generate $6.1 Billion

On June 24, Iraq’s Electricity Ministry signed a contract with the UAE-based renewable energy company Masdar to generate 2,000 megawatts of solar power through solar photovoltaic projects in central and southern Iraq. Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar said that the contract will further Iraq’s plan to generate 20-25% of the country’s projected energy demand (roughly 10-12 gigawatts) from clean renewable sources. Suha al-Najar, president of the National Investment Commission of Iraq, said that the project will provide over 2,000 jobs in the energy sector. 

On June 26, authorities in Diyala province said that the water shortage crisis has dried rivers, streams, and reserves, and threatened fisheries in the province. Diyala’s Livestock Department Director Yassin Kadhim-Jabbar said that the drought suspended 80% of fisheries. Director of Diyala’s veterinary hospital Mahmoud al-Shammari, said that the province could lose over 75% of its fish supply as a result of drought and water scarcity.

On June 27, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt leaders met for a trilateral summit in Baghdad that focused heavily on economic cooperation. During the summit, Kadhimi and Abdullah II agreed to jumpstart the implementation of the joint Iraqi-Jordanian economic city project. The two leaders and their Egyptian counterpart also agreed to cooperate on electric power and energy initiatives, including strengthening a project to connect the power grids of the three countries, and exporting Iraqi oil to Jordan and Egypt through completing the Arab gas and Basra-Aqaba crude oil pipelines. The leaders stressed the need to establish industrial cooperation and integration between the three countries, such as by adopting Jordan’s proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to help facilitate joint industrial projects, reduce non-tariff technical barriers to trade, and establish a joint e-commerce gateway. Additionally, the leaders agreed to improve upon agricultural cooperation by forming a regional company to market agricultural products from Iraq, Egypt and Jordan. 

On June 29, Iraq’s Basra Gas Company (BGC) signed a five-year, $360 million loan agreement with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to finance projects to reduce gas flaring in southern Iraq. According to Iraq’s Oil Ministry, the loan will help increase BGC’s natural gas processing capacity by 40%, or by an additional 400 million standard cubic feet per day of natural gas. Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar Ismail explained that such expansion would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 10 million tons annually. He added that the IFC loan would help finance the construction of a new gas processing plant to reduce gas flaring and help Iraq meet its Paris Agreement commitments.

On July 1, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil said that crude oil exports during June totaled 86.765 million barrels, for an average of 2.892 million barrels per day (bpd), which is 7,000 less than May’s average of 2.899 million bpd. The June exports generated $6.141 billion in revenue, slightly more than May’s 5.882 billion. Iraq sold its crude oil at an average price of $70.77 per barrel, approximately $5 up from May’s average of $65.46 per barrel. Shipped exports from fields in southern and central Iraq averaged 2.789 million bpd in June, while average exports from the northern fields in Kirkuk, which were exported through the Turkish port of Ceyhan, stood at 125,000 bpd. 


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs from June 24, 2021 - July 01, 2021

The 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.
DateLocationDeathsInjuries
06/26/21al-Rashad district, Kirkuk Province00
06/26/21Salah ad-Din province00
06/27/21al-Hawija district, Kirkuk province12
06/27/21Abu Saida subdistrict, Diyala Province11
06/27/21al-Qahtaniya subdistrict, Ninewa province10
06/28/21Diyala Province00
06/28/21Diyala Province00
06/28/21al-Qahtaniya subdistrict, Ninewa province03
06/29/21Amara district, Maysan province00
06/30/21Sadr City district, Baghdad province015
07/01/21al-Shirqat district, Salah ad-Din province00
07/01/21al-Shirqat district, Salah ad-Din province00
07/01/21al-Shirqat district, Salah ad-Din province00

 

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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