ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: JULY 1 – JULY 8, 2021

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Key Takeaways:

  • Kadhimi Seeks Stronger Economic Ties With Rome; Iraqis Protest Electricity Shortages; Militias Threaten More Strikes On U.S. Interests – On July 2, PM Kadhimi met with his Italian counterpart and Italian business executives and encouraged them to participate in Iraq’s major infrastructure projects, including the Faw Port. Throughout the week, Iraqis took to the streets in Baghdad and other provinces to protest the worsening electricity shortages. Most provinces experienced near-total power outages as temperatures approached 50C. On July 3, PM Kadhimi convened an emergency meeting to address the electricity shortages and issued several directives to protect the grid from attacks, ensure provinces comply with supply quotas, and provide more fuel for private generators. On July 6, militia leader Abu Alaa al-Walaie threatened new attacks against U.S. interests after an American strike killed four of his militiamen last week. On July 6, IHEC said that the final list of candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections includes 3,243 candidates. On July 8, Qais al-Khazali said his militia was not behind rocket attacks on the U.S. embassy, adding that his group would use “accurate weapons” should it decide to strike. more…
  • Bombings Batter Iraq’s Power Grid; String Of Rocket And Drone Attacks Target The Green Zone And Military Bases – Between July 2 – 6, six IEDs targeted convoys transporting supplies for the International Coalition, causing material damages. Between July 2 – 8, at least nine attacks with explosives damaged high voltage transmission towers in central and northern Iraq. A few of the attacks also targeted repair crews responding to the incidents. Iraqi military sources said the attacks damaged at least 44 towers as of July 5, contributing to Iraq’s worsening electricity shortages. Between July 2 – 4, two more ISIS attacks killed five civilians, injured two more, and left several civilians missing. Between July 4 – 7, five other IED attacks killed one Iraqi and injured eleven more. On July 6, a rocket struck an equipment yard belonging to Iraq’s North Gas Company near Kirkuk. On July 5, three rockets targeted Ain al-Assad base in Anbar province without causing casualties. On July 7, another attack involving at least 14 rockets targeted Ain al-Assad again, injuring two U.S. service personnel and damaging civilian buildings adjacent to the base. On July 6, explosives-laden drones targeted the American embassy in Baghdad and Erbil International Airport. On July 8, three rockets targeted the Green Zone in Baghdad. One of the rockets landed near the National Security Agency headquarters, and another struck a residential area across the river. more…

  • Authorities Resume Issuing Identification Documents For IDPs; Iraq Reports A New Spike In COVID-19 Infections – On July 5, Iraqi activists launched an online campaign to halt an amendment of Article 57 of Personal Status Law no. 188 (1959), which would impact mothers’ rights to child custody following divorce. On July 6, UNHCR announced that Iraq’s Interior Ministry processed 29,593 applications for civil identity cards and nationality certificates from 12 IDP camps in Duhok, ending a long hiatus due to the pandemic. On July 8, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 1,406,289. Deaths from confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 17,444 while hospitalizations increased to 100,942. To date, 1,287,903 patients have recovered from the virus, and Iraq has tested 12,088,184 samples for COVID-19. The daily average for new cases increased from 6,052/day over the 7-day period ending July 1 to 7,547/day during the last 7-day period. The total number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 1,001,180, including 37,979 who received their shots on July 08. The 9,189 new infections Iraq reported on Thursday represent a new daily high. more…

  • Lukoil May Exit West Qurna-2; Iraq Awards Refinery Project To Consortium Of UAE And Chinese Companies – On July 3, Iraq’s Oil Minister said that Lukoil informed the Ministry that it plans to sell its interest in Iraq’s West Qurna-2 field to Chinese companies. On July 3, the Oil Ministry confirmed that it has awarded the 100,000 barrels per day Dhi-Qar oil refinery project to a consortium of Emirati and Chinese companies. On July 4, the KRG authorized provinces and administrative units in the KRI to independently issue investment project licenses. On July 5, Iraq’s Planning Minister and Egypt’s Trade Minister met in Baghdad and agreed on a timeline to establish joint industrial and trade zones to boost trade in materials including textiles, leather, pesticides and pharmaceuticals. On July 6, UNDP launched a U.S.-funded, multi-year program that will work with Iraqi institutions to combat organized and financial crimes. On July 7, Iraq’s Central Bank said it will launch an initiative to encourage homeowners and residential complexes to install solar panels. 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 Seeks Stronger Economic Ties With Rome; Iraqis Protest Electricity Shortages; Militias Threaten More Strikes On U.S. Interests

On July 2, Iraq Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi met with several Italian business executives while visiting Rome as part of a European tour that also included Brussels. Kadhimi called on Italian companies and bank representatives to invest in Iraq and partner with Baghdad on endeavors like infrastructure projects and religious tourism to help Iraq integrate into the international economy. Kadhimi specifically voiced his interest in expanding Italy’s role in Iraqi projects like the Faw Port, the Basra-Turkey railway, dam maintenance, and other oil and power projects. The discussions addressed starting direct flights between Baghdad and Rome, and the potential for Italian tourism to the ancient city of Ur, building on Pope Francis’s visit to the site in March.

On July 2, Prime Minister Kadhimi met with Italy’s Prime Minister Maro Draghi in Rome to discuss bilateral relations. Kadhimi told his Italian counterpart that Iraq looks forward to Italy having a greater role in supporting Iraqi security forces. Kadhimi also asked Italy to help Iraq build its capacity in fighting organized crime and crack down on money laundering. On the same day, Kadhimi met with Pope Francis to discuss bilateral relations and cooperation on facilitating religious tourism to the city of Ur. Kadhimi affirmed his government’s commitment to help displaced Iraqi Christians and other minority communities return to their home districts and rebuild ancient churches destroyed by ISIS.

On July 2, hundreds of Iraqis took to the streets in Baghdad’s Sadr City district to protest the government’s apparent inability to provide power and water to citizens during a massive heatwave. As temperatures reached as high as 52 degrees Celsius (125 degrees Fahrenheit) across the country, most provinces experienced near-total power outages due to the failure of the country’s main service grids. Officials in the electricity sector said that Iraq usually produced between 19 and 21 thousand megawatts of power, while the actual need for the country exceeds 30 thousand megawatts. The suspension of Iran’s power supplies to Iraq and increasing attacks on power infrastructure worsened the electricity crisis and contributed to nationwide protests. Protests also erupted in Diyala province in response to the lack of electricity and water. Demonstrators there blocked roads, cut off bridges, and organized sit-ins until their demands were met. The following day, dozens of citizens in Najaf and Dhi-Qar provinces demonstrated to demand solutions for power shutdowns, blocking roads with burning tires and calling for the dismissal of electricity officials. Within the same week, dozens of demonstrators in Basra blocked roads and burned for the same motive. Online, Iraqis expressed their anger at the crisis using the hashtag #There’sNoElectricity on social media. 

On July 3, Prime Minister Kadhimi convened an emergency meeting with governors, ministers, and members of the electrical energy crisis cell to address Iraq’s worsening electricity shortages. The meeting produced seven decisions. First, each province shall recalculate its share of energy according to population, temperature, and economic activity, in coordination with the Electricity Ministry. Second, each province must not exceed its assigned share. Third, that governors and police commanders must prioritize protecting electricity infrastructure. Fourth, the Oil Ministry will provide fuel for private generators for the next three months. Fifth, fuel supplies to private generators will increase to 40 liters per KVA for the rest of the summer (up from 25 liters per KVA). Sixth, launch an information campaign to urge citizens to ration power consumption. Finally, the Joint Operations Command will task a special force with providing protection for transmission towers.

On July 4, Prime Minister Kadhimi, in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, urged the U.S. and Iran to refrain from using Iraq as an arena for “collision and conflict.” Kadhimi called for the two countries to engage in regional “political dialogue” to resolve differences and promote truce. Kadhimi added that he hoped the Vienna negotiations–the talks between Iran and global powers to restore the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action–would support regional cooperation and stabilize Iraq. 

On July 5, Prime Minister Kadhimi officially accepted the resignation of former Electricity Minister Majid Hantoush. Hantoush submitted his resignation on June 29 following an increase in public pressure for accountability due to worsening power outages amidst rising summer temperatures in Iraq.  

On July 6, in an interview with The Associated Press, Iraqi militia leader Abu Alaa al-Walaie threatened new attacks against U.S. interests. The threat by Walaie, who commands the Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada militia, came after a U.S. airstrike along the Iraq-Syria border killed four of his militiamen last week. Walaie suggested the attacks against future U.S. targets in the region may employ drones, adding that “We want an operation that befits those martyrs.”  

On July 6, Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) finalized the list of candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections in October. IHEC said it will soon publish the names on the list, which includes 3,243 candidates. Meanwhile, the Judicial Authority for Elections barred 155 candidates from participating in the elections, including former Interior Minister Yassin Taher al-Yasiri, for having ties to the former Baath party.

On July 7, First Deputy Speaker of Iraq’s Parliament Hassan al-Kaabi met with Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, in Amman to discuss security and military cooperation. The two officials also discussed facilitating entry procedures for Iraqis traveling to Jordan and establishing stronger relations in higher education, recognizing that 30,000 Iraqi students currently study at Jordanian universities. 

On July 8, Asaib Ahl al-Haq leader, Qais al-Khazali, distanced his militia from involvement in recent rocket attacks on the U.S. embassy (more information below) in Baghdad. Khazali argued that the “coordination committee for resistance factions” has yet to include the embassy in its  “retaliation calculus,” referring to the umbrella entity representing major Iran-backed militias in Iraq. Khazali added that his militia would not use inaccurate Katyusha rockets should it decide to target the embassy, citing the availability of “accurate weapons.”


Bombings Batter Iraq’s Power Grid; String Of Rocket And Drone Attacks Target The Green Zone And Military Bases

On July 2, ISIS militants attacked the village of Hassan al-Shalal, south of Kirkuk. A security source said the villagers joined security forces in responding to the attack, which injured two civilians. 

On July 2, a security source said that an IED exploded near a supply convoy for the International Coalition on a highway in Babylon, damaging one of the convoy’s vehicles. To the north, another IED targeted a similar convoy in Salah ad-Din province. On July 4, a third IED exploded along a highway near Taji, north of Baghdad, as another convoy passed by. On July 6, a security source said that three IEDs targeted another convoy near al-Saqlawiyah in Anbar province, damaging a vehicle. None of the incidents caused casualties. 

On July 2, a security source said that IEDs targeted two power lines near Mosul, adding that a third line, Mullah Abdullah, went offline for unknown reasons. The incidents caused a power outage in the Dibs district of Kirkuk province. On July 3, an IED targeted two transmission towers between the towns of Haditha and al-Qaim in Anbar province. On July 4, an IED explosion downed three more towers on the Mosul Dam-Qayyarah lines near al-Arbeed village south of Mosul. The same line lost another tower in an earlier attack the day before. On the same day, an IED targeted a maintenance team while they were restoring the Diyala-Mirsad line northest of Baquba in Diyala province, damaging their machinery. On July 5, the Ministry of Electricity said unknown militants targeted the Quds-Nasr power line near the village of Zimlat Hamdi that feeds the Karkh water project, which could cut water supplies to half of Baghdad’s inhabitants. On July 6, unknown militants sabotaged the Martyr Abdullah-North Samarra line in Kirkuk province, damaging three of its towers. On July 8, an IED targeted a maintenance team while they were repairing the Martyr Abdullah-al-Dur line north of Samarra. The explosion damaged the team’s machinery, but did not cause casualties. Unknown saboteurs also breached an irrigation canal to flood the area near the Qayyarah-Kirkuk line in the Hawija district of Kirkuk, making it difficult to bring the heavy machinery needed for repairs.

On July 4, a police source in Ninewa said that a legacy IED from the war with ISIS injured a civilian in the village of al-Safina, south of Mosul. 

On July 4, clashes between villagers and ISIS militants near Qara Tappa in Diyala province killed five of the civilians. The villagers were attempting to free two farmers whom ISIS militants had earlier kidnapped from the Jalawla subdistrict in northeastern Diyala. During the July 4 clashes, the ISIS militants reportedly kidnapped more civilians, though the exact number remains unclear. 

On July 4, a security source said ISIS militants attacked Iraqi security forces at a village on the border of Ninewa and Kirkuk provinces. Subsequently, an IED exploded near a vehicle carrying Iraqi soldiers who arrived to reinforce the position that was under attack, injuring three soldiers.  

On July 5, the Joint Operations Command said attacks have struck at least 44 transmission towers “over the last few days.” A spokesman for the Command said it established an operations cell comprising various branches of Iraq’s security forces to develop plans to protect Iraq’s electricity infrastructure. New security measures, including the deployment of drones and manned aircraft, helped foil several attacks, according to the spokesman.

On July 5, a security source confirmed that three rockets targeted Ain al-Assad base in Anbar province. In a statement, a spokesperson for the International Coalition said the attack didn’t result in casualties. The Iraqi Security Media Cell announced that Iraqi forces seized an abandoned vehicle that had launched the rockets in al-Hit district of Anbar. On July 7, another attack involving at least 14 rockets targeted Ain al-Assad again. International Coalition spokesperson, Wayne Marotto confirmed that the attack injured two U.S. service personnel. Footage circulating on social media showed what appeared to be rockets striking near civilian buildings adjacent to the base. Iraq’s Security Media Cell said the damage to civilian areas happened when the launch vehicle–disguised with a cargo of flour sacks–and remaining rockets on board exploded.

On July 5, a source in the Popular Mobilization Commission said that an IED exploded against a vehicle carrying PMF fighters, injuring two of them. The explosion occurred in a desert region near Akashat, in the western part of Anbar province. Elsewhere in Anbar, a legacy IED explosion killed an army officer while he attempted to defuse it near Kubiesa in the Hit district. 

On July 5, an IED targeted an Iraqi army patrol that was headed to secure power towers in the Tulul al-Baj district of Salah ad-Din province. The attack injured three soldiers. 

On July 6, an explosives-laden drone targeted the American embassy complex within the Green Zone in Baghdad. The embassy said in a statement that its defensive systems were activated and “eliminated an airborne threat.” The statement has said that the embassy would take all “all appropriate measures to protect the safety of our staff and facilities.” On the same day, security officials in the Kurdistan region said another drone loaded with explosives targeted the vicinity of the Erbil International Airport. The attack did not result in casualties.

On July 6, the Turkish military bombarded areas in the Chamnke subdistrict of Duhok province, causing fires, but there were no reports of casualties. Local officials said firefighters have been unable to control the fire, fearing new attacks. 

On July 6, a rocket struck an equipment yard belonging to Iraq’s North Gas Company, 12 miles southwest of Kirkuk. A security source said the attack did not cause any casualties or damage. 

On July 7, a police source said that an IED explosion injured two civilians in the village of Ain al-Bazoun in the Qayyarah subdistrict south of Mosul. 

On July 8, three rockets targeted the Green Zone in Baghdad in the early morning hours. One of the rockets landed near the National Security Agency headquarters, and another second landed in the Baghdad Parade Ground. The third rocket struck a vehicle in a residential area in the Sheikh Omar district, across the river from the Green Zone. 


Authorities Resume Issuing Identification Documents For IDPs; Iraq Reports A New Spike In COVID-19 Infections

On July 5, Iraqi non-governmental organizations and academics launched an online petition aiming to collect a million signatures to halt the amendment of Article 57 of Personal Status Law no. 188 (1959), which covers child custody following divorce. The amendment grants fathers default custody of the child after the age of seven, but requires them to have a “female caretaker” to look after the child. Mothers must remain unmarried post-divorce to maintain physical custody of the child before they turn seven. The amendment also stipulates that if the father dies after divorce, guardianship will default to the paternal grandfather if not deceased, otherwise the courts will determine an appropriate guardian. The law’s original text favors the mother as physical custodian, regardless of her marital status post-divorce or the child’s age.   

On July 6, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees announced that Iraq’s Interior Ministry processed 29,593 applications for civil identity cards and nationality certificates from 12 camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Duhok in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).  The COVID-19 pandemic had caused significant delays to processing since the spring of 2020.  Civil documents allow IDPs to have more mobility and access to public services within Iraq. In June, the UNHCR stated that Iraq has 1.2 million IDPs and 300,000 refugees who are mainly concentrated in the KRI.     

On July 8, the Iraqi Ministry of Health said the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 1,406,289. This is an increase of 52,831 in cases from the 1,353,458 reported on July 01. Of these cases, 100,942 are currently in hospitals, including 575 being treated in ICUs. These numbers represent an increase of 14,821 in hospitalizations and a decrease of 58 in ICU admissions since July 01. Ministry data indicated that there were 228 new COVID-19 deaths since July 01, bringing the total from 17,216 to 17,444. The total number of recoveries increased from 1,250,121 to 1,287,903. The average number of new cases was 7,547 per day during the last 7-day period, compared to an average of 6,052 per day during the 7-day period ending July 01. On July 08, Iraq recorded a new peak in daily cases when it reported 9,189 new infections. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Baghdad with 2,924 cases, Basra with 751 cases, Dhi-Qar with 690 cases, Karbala with 587 cases, and Wasit with 487 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 12,088,184 samples for COVID-19. The total number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 1,001,180, including 37,979 who received their shots on July 08. 


Lukoil May Exit West Qurna-2; Iraq Awards Refinery Project To Consortium Of UAE And Chinese Companies

On July 3, Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar said that Russian oil company Lukoil had officially informed the Ministry that it plans to sell its interest in Iraq’s West Qurna-2 field to Chinese companies. Abdul Jabar, who remarked that the “investment environment in Iraq was unsuitable for retaining major investors,” added that British Petroleum was looking to leave Iraq as well. Last month, BP revealed it was contemplating shifting its interest in the Rumaila oil-field to a stand-alone company, in an effort to divert investments into low-carbon energy. Also among companies seeking to exit Iraq is ExxonMobil, which attempted to sell its shares in the West Qurna-1 oil field in May. 

On July 3, the Oil Ministry confirmed that it has awarded the Dhi-Qar oil refinery project to a consortium involving UAE’s Al-Awsat Services Ltd., San China Company, NORINCO and Inspire Comp. Talks about the Dhi-Qar oil refinery investment project began in January, when Iraq’s South Refineries Company, NORINCO, Al-Awsat, Power China and CNEC signed a memorandum of initial agreement. The parties originally intended to reach a final agreement on the project in April. The facility is expected to have a capacity of 100,000 bpd, complying with “Euro 5” standards. Iraqi officials also expect it to create up to 3,000 jobs.  

On July 4, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Supreme Economic Council, headed by Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, convened to discuss ways to enhance the KRG’s economy, address concerns regarding public servants’ incomes, and improve the living conditions for residents. At the meeting, the KRG authorized provinces and administrative units in the KRI to independently issue investment project licenses, particularly for agricultural and industrial projects.  

On July 5, Iraqi Minister of Planning Khalid Battal al-Najm and Egyptian Minister of Industry and Trade Niveen Jameh met in Baghdad and agreed on a timeline to establish joint industrial and trade zones to boost trade in materials including  textiles, leather, pesticides and pharmaceuticals. The ministers also agreed to facilitate private sector involvement in industrial and investment projects, to establish permanent ‘trade showrooms’ for industrial and trade products, and to encourage vocational work. The agreements followed last week’s trilateral summit between the leaders of Iraq, Jordan and Egypt in Baghdad, which focused on expanding economic cooperation between the three states. 

On July 6, the Bahrain Association of Banks and the Iraqi Private Banks League signed a memorandum of understanding to encourage knowledge and experience exchange between the two parties. The memorandum also aims to enhance cooperation on training banking staff. 

On July 6, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Iraq launched a U.S.-funded, multi-year program that will work with Iraqi institutions such as the Supreme Judicial Council and other investigative agencies to combat organized and financial crimes. The program includes informational workshops on fighting financial crimes, developing a written guide on how to direct and conduct organized and financial crime investigations, and the creation of a roadmap to make improvements to policies and procedures regarding complex crimes. The American ambassador to Iraq, Matthew Tueller, commented that Iraq needs “efficient tools and policies to help investigate and prosecute financial crimes, because the motivation behind the majority of these criminal offenses is personal enrichment that hurts the Iraqi state and people.” 

On July 7, Iraq’s Central Bank said it will launch an initiative to encourage homeowners and residential complexes to install solar panels. The Central Bank plans to work with the Supreme Commission for Lending and the Industrial Bank to provide loans to finance the purchases and ensure that a portion of power used in residential projects comes from renewable sources. The Bank said that the initiative aims to honor Iraq’s commitments under the Paris Agreement to reduce global warming and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. 


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs from July 01, 2021 - July 08, 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
07/02/21Babylon province00
07/02/21Salah ad-Din province00
07/02/21Ninewa province00
07/03/21Haditha/al-Qaim districts, Anbar province00
07/03/21Hammam al-Alil subdistrict, Ninewa province00
07/04/21Hammam al-Alil subdistrict, Ninewa province00
07/04/21Taji district, Baghdad province00
07/04/21Muqdadiyah district, Diyala province00
07/04/21Qayarrah subdistrict, Ninewa province01
07/04/21Khazer village, Ninewa/Kirkuk provinces03
07/05/21Karkh district, Baghdad province00
07/05/21ar-Rutba district, Anbar province02
07/05/21Hit district, Anbar province10
07/05/21Tulul al-Baj district, Salah ad-Din province03
07/06/21al-Saqlawiyah district, Anbar province00
07/06/21Kirkuk province00
07/07/21Qayarrah subdistrict, Ninewa province02
07/08/21al-Dur 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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