- Preparations Continue For August 28 Regional Conference; Kadhimi Visits Kuwait; Sadrists Say Early Election “Unconstitutional”; UNAMI Lauds IHEC’s Preparations – On August 21, Turkey’s Erdogan defended the August 16-17 deadly Turkish airstrikes in Sinjar during a phone call with PM Kadhimi. On August 21, Japan’s Foreign Minister arrived in Baghdad for meetings with Iraqi officials, and received an invitation from Kadhimi to attend the regional conference Baghdad will host on August 28. On August 22, PM Kadhimi visited Kuwait to discuss bilateral relations. Kadhimi highlighted his government’s desire to make Iraq a “meeting point for dialogue” and invited Kuwait to attend the August 28 regional conference. On August 22, the Saeroun Alliance said the plan to hold early elections in October violated Article 56 of the Constitution. On August 25, KDP leader Masoud Barzani and Dawa Party leader Nouri al-Maliki issued a joint statement from Erbil in which they stressed that the next election must take place as scheduled on October 10. On August 25, the head of the UN Mission for Iraq briefed the UN Security Council on current conditions in the country, with a focus on electoral preparations. The UN envoy lauded the efforts by IHEC to prepare for the early election, but warned that IHEC preparations alone won’t guarantee that elections will be successful and credible, calling on Iraqi parties to do their part. more…
- ISIS Attack, PMF Retaliation Raise Tensions In Tarmiyah; Turkish Shelling Kills Two Iraqis; Six IEDs Target Military Supply Convoys – On August 20, ISIS militants attacked PMF fighters in Tarmiyah, north of Baghdad, killing four of them and wounding several. Tensions increased in the area after PMF fighters demolished five houses that ISIS allegedly used to attack them. PM Kadhimi visited Tarmiyah to meet with security commanders and community leaders to mitigate the tensions. On August 22, Turkish artillery shelling struck near Zahko, killing two Iraqi tourists from Mosul. On August 24, Turkey bombed 28 suspected PKK positions in the Penjwen district of Sulaymaniyah province. On August 24, mortar shells struck near villages in the Qosh Tappa subdistrict, south of Erbil. Between August 24 – 25, nine IED explosions killed three Iraqis and wounded a fourth person. Six of the explosions targeted convoys transporting supplies for Iraqi and Coalition forces. On August 24, unidentified gunmen attacked al-Rafidain Center for Dialogue in Najaf using a rocket-propelled grenade. Between August 23 – 24, three Iraqi airstrikes in Salah ad-Din, Anbar and Diyala killed five ISIS militants and injured three others. more…
- Aid Organizations Say Water Crisis Impacts Millions; New Human Trafficking Reports Points To Lingering Risks; New COVID-19 Cases Decline As Vaccinations Pass the 3 Million Mark – On August 23, 13 humanitarian organizations warned in a joint statement that water scarcity poses a severe risk to the wellbeing of 12 million people in Iraq and Syria. The statement warned that drought will reduce electricity generation at dams, cause widespread disruptions to agriculture, and create new challenges for displaced persons. On August 23, Iraq’s Foreign Ministry said it will begin providing temporary passports to hundreds of Iraqis who have been stranded on the Lithuanian-Belarussian border to enable them to return home. On August 23, a new U.S. Department of State report said that women and children are the most vulnerable groups to human trafficking, especially those living in regions liberated from ISIS. The report also warned that nearly 1.2 million IDPs are at an increased risk of being exploited, and that Yazidi survivors remain at risk of being “re-trafficked.” On August 26, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 1,855,781. Deaths from confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 20,480 while hospitalizations decreased to 140,060. The daily average for new cases decreased from 8,314/day over the 7-day period ending August 19 to 6,629/day during the last 7-day period. The rate of vaccination continued to increase this week, with the total number of vaccinated people reaching 3,192,127, including 131,262 who received their shots on August 26. more…
- KRG Terminates Major Gas Development Contract; Iraq Inks Solar Power Deal With PowerChina – On August 21, Rudaw reported that British energy firm, Genel Energy, received a notice from the KRG’s Natural Resources Ministry terminating Genel’s contract to develop the Miran and Bina Bawi gas fields. Genel denounced the Ministry’s decision, arguing that “Genel believes that the KRG has no grounds for issuing its notices of intention to terminate.” On August 24, the Iraqi Cabinet approved a proposal presented by BP in June to move its stake in the Rumaila oil field to a new, stand alone company. On August 25, the Iraqi government said it has signed a preliminary deal with PowerChina to install solar power plants capable of producing 2 gigawatts of electricity. 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 August 21, Turkish President Receb Tayyip Erdogan spoke on the phone with Iraq’s prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi to discuss the aftermath of Turkish airstrikes that killed several people in Sinjar. According to a report by Shafaq News, Erdogan denied allegations that the airstrikes targeted a hospital in Sinjar. Instead, Erdogan claimed that the airstrikes hit a building that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) uses as a base for its fighters. Earlier, Erdogna’s Defense Minister, Hulusi Akar, told his visiting Iraqi counterpart, Juma Inad in Istanbul that the PKK posed a mutual threat to both nations, adding that Turkey respects Iraqi sovereignty while stressing that it will continue its operations to “protect its borders.”
On August 21, Iraq’s Foreign Ministry said that Japan’s Foreign Minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, arrived in Baghdad for meetings with his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein and Iraqi leaders. During his visit, Motegi met with Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who invited Japan to attend the regional conference Baghdad plans to host on August 28 as an “observer.” During their meeting, Kadhimi and Motegi talked about opportunities for Japan’s companies to invest in Iraq’s energy sector. Motegi also expressed Japan’s support for implementing the economic reforms outlined in “white paper” Kadhimi’s government prepared last year.
On August 21, a security source in Dhi-Qar said that security forces raided several homes of protesters who had participated in demonstrations outside the buildings of the local government and Dhi-Qar Oil Co. to demand jobs. The source explained that authorities have arrested three individuals so far and took them to “a special interrogation center,” adding that the arrest orders targeted “wanted individuals who organized protests to destabilize the province and burn its streets.”
On August 22, Prime Minister Kadhimi visited Kuwait to discuss bilateral relations with Kuwaiti leaders, including the Emir, Sheikh Nawaf al-Sabah. According to a statement by Kadhimi’s office, the premier highlighted his government’s desire to make Iraq a “meeting point for dialogue” in the region. Kadhimi invited Kuwait to attend the regional conference it plans to host on August 28, and Kuwait’s ruler accepted the invitation, offering to dispatch his prime minister to Baghdad. During his visit, Kadhimi and his Kuwaiti counterpart, Sabah al-Sabah co-chaired a joint meeting of senior Iraqi and Kuwaiti officials to discuss “increasing cooperation…in health, economy, commerce, energy and transportation.” The two sides also agreed to form a high-level political committee to negotiate outstanding issues between the two countries. Kadhimi later met with the chairman of Kuwait’s chamber of commerce and a group of Kuwaiti business and industry leaders, where he outlined investment opportunities for Kuwaiti firms in Iraq, called for simplifying visa procedures to enhance partnerships between Iraqi and Kuwaiti business people, and expressed Iraq’s interest in establishing a joint industrial and commercial zone.
On August 22, a senior member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) said that the Iraqi presidency “belongs to the Kurdish component, but could not be monopolized by a specific party.” The statement, by KDP member Shwan Mohammed Taha, appears to refer to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the KDP’s main rival, which has controlled the presidency post since 2005. According to Taha, post-election negotiations “shall determine who gets the presidency.”
On August 22, the Saeroun Alliance said the plan to hold the early elections scheduled for October 10 involved “constitutional violations.” Saeroun representative Riyadh al-Masoudi argued that scheduling early elections violated Article 56 of the Constitution, which describes the conditions and requirements for dissolving Parliament. It’s worth noting that Saeroun’s leader, Muqtada al-Sadr, had announced in July that his followers will not participate in the upcoming election.
On August 23, Iraq’s Foreign Minister, Fuad Hussein, arrived in Moscow on an official visit that will last several days, according to Iraq’s Foreign Ministry. Hussien and his delegation will meet with Russian officials and participate in a meeting of the Iraqi-Russian Joint Committee, which held its last meeting in Baghdad in April. Iraq’s Defense Minister, Juma Inad, is also in Moscow to attend an international military fair in the Russian capital.
On August 25, Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader Masoud Barzani and Dawa Party leader Nouri al-Maliki issued a joint statement from Erbil in which they stressed that the next parliamentary election must take place as scheduled on October 10, 2021.
On August 25, the head of the UN Mission for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, briefed the UN Security Council on current conditions in the country, with a focus on preparations for the upcoming parliamentary election. The UN envoy lauded the efforts by Iraq’s High Electoral Commission (IHEC) to prepare for the early election, and praised IHEC for “applying lessons learned” from previous elections. The UN official also said that the UN was in the process of deploying a “preparatory team” to Baghdad to prepare the ground for the subsequent deployment of UN election monitoring experts. Hennis-Plasschaert warned that IHEC preparations alone won’t guarantee that elections will be successful and credible, warning about the damage that spreading misinformation can cause, and noting that Iraq’s political parties “are the ones who can make or break these elections.” The UNAMI chief went on to caution that: “No matter how many technical measures are put in place, it is up to them collectively to refrain from any attempt to force or distort election results. It is up to them to stop the buying of loyalties, voter suppression and/or other intentional, illegal actions. It is they who must lead by example, collectively.” The UNAMI chief also had a message to Iraqis advocating for boycotting the elections for various reasons: “by not voting, you place yourself outside the electoral process. Events that affect you will only be shaped by others…by not casting your vote, you are gifting your silence to those you may disagree with.”
On August 20, ISIS militants attacked fighters from the Popular Mobilization Forces’ (PMF) 12th Brigade in the Tarmiyah district, north of Baghdad. A security source said the complex attack employed small arms fire, followed by the detonation of an improvised explosive device (IED) and sniper fire.The Security Media Cell said the attack killed four fighters from the 12th Brigade and injured a fifth. Later reports indicated that four PMF fighters died, and as many as six were wounded. On August 21, the PMF said its fighters “blew up five houses and two guesthouses” that ISIS allegedly used to attack the PMF, during a subsequent security operation. Some locals accused the PMF of demolishing the homes as a form of retaliation against their community. Later that day, the Parliamentary Security and Defense Committee called for “bold decisions…to uproot the strongholds of terrorism and to reassure the people of Tarmiyah.” On August 23, Prime Minister Kadhimi visited Tarmiyah to meet with security commanders and community leaders to mitigate tensions between the locals and government forces. Kadhimi urged community leaders to cooperate and communicate with security forces as they tackle ISIS cells in their region, stressing that ISIS must not be given a safe haven. Kadhimi also announced that reinforcements will arrive in Tarmiyah to support existing forces as they launch a new operation to root out ISIS cells.
On August 20, an ISIS militant shot and injured a PMF fighter while Iraqi security forces and the PMF were carrying out an operation in the Kanuous Island, between Salah ad-Din and Ninewa provinces. Later, ISIS sniper fire injured a brigadier general working for the Iraqi military intelligence in Salah ad-Din province during operations on August 23.
On August 21, ISIS militants released a civilian they had earlier kidnapped from Makhmour district, southeast of Mosul, after his family paid a ransom. Two other civilians taken from the nearby Qayyarah district in Ninewa province remain missing.
On August 22, Peshmerga engineers defused a bomb they found in the Zini Warte region of Erbil province. The Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Peshmerga accused the PKK of planting the bomb.
On August 22, Turkish artillery shelling struck the Zahko district of Duhok province, killing two Iraqi tourists from Mosul. According to a local official, the victims unknowingly entered an area that was restricted due to frequent Turkish bombardments. On August 24, Turkey bombed the Penjwen district of Sulaymaniyah province. According to Turkey’s Ministry of Defense, 20 warplanes “targeted 28 sites allegedly belonging to the PKK…in the Asos region.” The attack did not cause any casualties, but it damaged surrounding farms.
On August 23, the Iraqi Air Force carried out an airstrike against an ISIS hideout in Salah ad-Din, killing three ISIS members. Two soldiers were injured during the operation. On August 24, Iraqi Army Aviation helicopters carried out another airstrike against ISIS in Anbar province, injuring three ISIS militants and destroying two of their vehicles. The following day, an Iraqi military spokesman said another Iraqi airstrike killed two more ISIS militants in Diyala province.
On August 23, an ISIS fighter fired at a police patrol passing through the Abu Saidi subdistrict near Baquba. The attack injured a police man who was in the vehicle.
On August 24, unidentified gunmen attacked the al-Rafidain Center for Dialogue headquarters in Najaf using a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG). The attack damaged the building but did not cause casualties. No entity claimed responsibility for the attack. The Center’s management issued a statement condemning the attack, which is the third to target the building in two years.
On August 24, an IED targeted a convoy transporting equipment for the Iraqi security forces between Samawah and Diwaniyah. The explosion caused minor damage to one of the vehicles. Another IED detonated near a convoy transporting supplies for the International Coalition as it passed through Dhi-Qar province. Soon after, another IED targeted a similar convoy in Babylon, damaging one of the vehicles. A few hours later, a fourth IED exploded as another convoy passed south of Baghdad. Also on August 24, there was a report about another IED attack targeting a supply convoy in the Taji area north of Baghdad. On August 25, another IED targeted a Coalition convoy passing through Diwaniyah. On August 20, the Sumar Operations Command said it will install thermal cameras and to deploy additional patrols along highways to prevent new IED attacks in its area of responsibility.
On August 24, an explosion killed a civilian near the Qayyara subdistrict of Ninewa province. A local source said it was unclear whether the explosion was deliberate or caused by a legacy IED.
On August 25, a legacy IED exploded on Tikrit island in Salah ad-Din province, killing one civilian and injuring another. To the southeast, another IED explosion killed an 11 year old boy in the Khan Bani Saad subdistrict of Diyala province.
On August 19, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) released a statement condemning the Turkish bombings airstrikes that caused several fatalities in Sinjar on August 16 and 17. The statement emphasized that, “Necessary precautions must be taken during military operations, including airstrikes, to protect and minimize harm to civilians who often suffer the consequences of such attacks.”
On August 19, the South Korean International Cooperation Agency announced that it will donate nearly $3 million to help implement aid programs for women in Iraq. The programs, in cooperation with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), will focus on providing assistance to victims of sexual and gender-based violence . The Agency plans to establish two centers to provide psychological and legal services to benefit an estimated 93,000 women. The programs also involve offering training programs for government officials to prevent discrimination against women.
On August 22, the Iraqi Ministry of Health announced the arrival of a new shipment containing 415,000 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines.
On August 23, 13 humanitarian organizations warned in a joint statement that water scarcity poses a severe risk to the wellbeing of 12 million people in Iraq and Syria. The statement warned that drought will reduce electricity generation at hydroelectric dams and disrupt agriculture in Iraq, potentially decreasing wheat production by 70% and 50% in Ninewa province and the Kurdistan Region, respectively. On August 9, Iraqi Trade Ministry data was already showing a 90% decline in Ninewa province’s harvest compared to last summer. The statement also emphasized the effect the water and food shortages will have on displacement in Iraq, where there are 1,191,470 internally displaced persons (IDP) according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The Regional Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council, one of the participating organizations, predicted that, “The unfolding water crisis will soon become an unprecedented catastrophe pushing more into displacement.” The aid groups emphasized the need for sustainable solutions to combat the crises caused by drought in Iraq and neighboring Syria.
On August 23, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said it will begin providing temporary passports to hundreds of Iraqi nationals who have been stranded on the Lithuanian-Belarussian border to enable them to return home. The Ministry also said it dispatched an Iraqi consular delegation to Lithuania to help these Iraqis travel safely back to Iraq.
On August 23, the U.S. Department of State released its 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report: Iraq. According to the report, human traffickers within Iraq target both Iraqi citizens and foreign nationals, while traffickers also victimize Iraqis living internationally. Women and children are the most vulnerable groups to trafficking, especially those living in regions liberated from ISIS in 2017. The report also noted that the nearly 1.2 million IDPs are at an increased risk of being exploited, especially the “80% [who] have been displaced for more than three years.” The report warns that thousands of Yazidis who escaped ISIS captivity since its territorial defeat remain at risk of being “re-trafficked,” reminding that 2,872 Yazidis are still missing, many of whom are believed to be outside Iraq. The report also listed children as being very vulnerable to forced recruitment by multiple armed grounds, including “ISIS, the PMF, tribal forces, the PKK, and Iran-backed militias.” Other vulnerable groups include refugees, LGBTQ+ individuals, and foreign workers. The State Department included several recommendations to combat human trafficking, such as preventing the recruitment of child soldiers for all armed groups, increasing access for trafficking victims to protection services, and amending the Iraqi anti-trafficking law to be in accordance with the UN Palermo Protocol.
On August 26, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 1,855,781. This is an increase of 46,405 in cases from the 1,809,376 reported on August 19. Of these cases, 140,060 are currently in hospitals, including 907 being treated in ICUs. These numbers represent a decrease of 16,712 in hospitalizations and 27 in ICU admissions since August 19. Ministry data indicated that there were 522 new COVID-19 deaths since August 19, bringing the total from 19,958 to 20,480. The total number of recoveries increased from 1,632,646 to 1,695,241. The average number of new cases decreased to 6,629 per day during the last 7-day period, from an average of 8,314 per day during the 7-day period ending August 19. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Baghdad with 1,581 cases, Basra with 922 cases, Sulaymaniyah with 746, Ninewa with 467 cases, and Maysan with 465 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 14,168,599 samples for COVID-19. The total number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 3,192,127, including 131,262 who received their shots on August 26.
On August 21, Rudaw reported that British energy firm, Genel Energy, said it received a notice from the Natural Resources Ministry in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) terminating Genel’s contract to develop two gas fields in the Kurdistan region. According to a statement Genel released on August 20, the termination affects the company’s operations at the Miran and Bina Bawi gas fields, which Genel has been operating since 2012 and 2015, respectively, when it acquired them from former operators Heritage Oil and OMV. In its statement, Genel denounced the Ministry’s decision, arguing that “Genel believes that the KRG has no grounds for issuing its notices of intention to terminate.”
On August 24, the Iraqi Cabinet approved a proposal presented by BP in June to move its stake in the Rumaila oil field -the largest field in Iraq and one of the world’s largest- to a new, stand alone company, as it seeks to divert investments away from oil and gas and into low-carbon energy.
On August 25, the Iraqi government said it has signed a preliminary deal with PowerChina to install solar power plants capable of producing 2 gigawatts of electricity. The project involves multiple stages, with the first one involving 750 megawatts of generation capacity. In June, Iraq’s Oil Minister announced that Iraq was also pursuing 2 gigawatts of solar power projects through a deal with UAE-based renewable energy company Masdar.
IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties
Casualties Due To IEDs from August 19, 2021 - August 26, 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.
|08/25/21||Tikrit island, Salah ad-Din province||1||1|
|08/25/21||Khan Bani subdistrict, Diyala province||1||0|
|08/24/21||Qayyara subdistrict, Ninewa province||1||0|
|08/25/21||Diwaniyah, Qadisiyyaah province||0||0|
|08/24/21||Taji, Baghdad province||0||0|
|08/24/21||Baghdad, Baghdad province||0||0|
|08/24/21||Samawah, Muthanna province||0||0|
|08/20/21||Tarmiyah district, Salah ad-Din province||4||6|
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.