ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: AUGUST 26 – SEPTEMBER 2, 2021

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Key Takeaways:

  • Muqtada Al-Sadr Reverses Decision To Boycott Elections; Baghdad Hosts “Successful” Regional Summit; Kadhimi Pushes Compulsory Service Bill – On August 27, Muqtada al-Sadr reversed his earlier decision to boycott the upcoming October election, citing a letter signed by several political leaders promising to work with him to advance reforms. On August 28, the leaders and top diplomats from nine nations arrived in Baghdad to attend the Baghdad Conference for Partnership and Cooperation. The final statement said participants “stand with Iraq,” stressed the need for “joint regional and international efforts” to support regional stability and security, and welcomed Iraq’s efforts to create political, economic and security partnerships. France called the event “historic,” while president Joe Biden congratulated Iraqi leaders on hosting a “ground-breaking regional summit.” On August 29, French President Emmanuel Macron visited Mosul and Erbil, where he said that France will remain in Iraq to fight terrorism so long as Iraqis needed help, regardless of whether Washington withdraw its military. On August 31, PM Kadhimi said his Cabinet approved a draft law to reinstate compulsory military service, which was abolished in 2003. On September 1, the Iraqi government said that security forces foiled “an attempt to commit election fraud,” and arrested several of the conspirators. more…
  • Iraq Seeks Weapons From Turkey And France; Explosion At IDP Camp Kills Two Children – On August 27, Iraq’s Defense Minister said Baghdad was in negotiations with Turkey to acquire advanced Turkish-made weapon systems, including a dozen T-129 helicopters and an undisclosed number of TB2 drones. On August 29, an Iraqi military spokesman said Iraq was close to signing new deals with France to procure air defense systems and armaments for Iraq’s air force planes. Between August 28 – 30, Iraqi security forces killed three ISIS militants, including a suspected suicide bomber that was preparing to attack them with a bomb-laden motorcycle, and injured three others in Anbar, Kirkuk and Diyala. Between August 26 – September 2, nine IED explosions killed at least three Iraqis and wounded 17 others. One of the deadly attacks struck a guard post at an IDP camp in Duhok. Two of the IEDs targeted convoys transporting supplies for the International Coalition. Between August 26 – September 2, six other attacks by ISIS militants killed at least seven Iraqis and wounded 16 others. more…

  • UNICEF Report Says Water Scarcity Threatens Millions Of Children; COVID-19 Cases Plateau – On August 29, UNICEF released a new report about how water scarcity is affecting children in countries in the MENA region, including Iraq. The report warns that almost 60% of Iraqi children are unable to get water that is safe to use, and that more than half of the country’s schools don’t have water at all, presenting risks to children’s “health, nutrition, cognitive development, and future livelihoods.” On September 2, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 1,902,407. Deaths from confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 20,934 while hospitalizations decreased to 132,715. The daily average for new cases during the last 7-day period was 6,660/day, almost unchanged from the previous reporting period. The total number of vaccinated people reached 3,571,321, including 120,830 who received their shots on September 2. more…

  • August Oil Revenue Stable At $6.5 Billion; Drop In Iranian Gas Supply Causes New Power Shortage – On August 28, Lukoil announced plans to increase production at the West Qurna-2 oil field it operates in Basra by 80,000 barrels per day (bpd), to reach 480,000 bpd next year. On August 31, the Iraqi government approved a plan proposed by the Ministry of Electricity to target up to 7.5 gigawatts of generation capacity from solar energy projects. On September 1, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said that oil exports during August averaged 3.054 million bpd, which is 136,000 higher than July’s average of 2.918 million bpd. The August exports generated $6.533 billion in revenue, slightly more than July’s $6.514 billion. On September 1, Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity said that Iranian gas supplies dropped from 49 million cubic meters per day to just 8 million cubic meters per day, resulting in the loss of 5,500 megawatts in generated electricity. On September 2, Iraq’s Integrity Commission said “recovered or prevented the squandering” of $4.9 billion and IQD253 billion during the first half of 2021. 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.


Muqtada Al-Sadr Reverses Decision To Boycott Elections; Baghdad Hosts “Successful” Regional Summit; Kadhimi Pushes Compulsory Service Bill

On August 27, Muqtada al-Sadr reversed his earlier decision to boycott the upcoming October election. In a statement, Sadr said that he will enter the October election “with unmatched determination to rescue Iraq from occupation, corruption, normalization [with Israel] and servitude.” Sadr said that changed his mind about the election after he received a letter signed by several political leaders he didn’t name, in which they promised to work with him to advance reforms. Sadr urged his followers to turn out to vote in large numbers “to prove that we’re the largest bloc.”

On August 28, the leaders and top diplomats from nine nations arrived in Baghdad to attend the Baghdad Conference for Partnership and Cooperation. Speaking to reporters before the conference, President Salih summarized the vision behind organizing the conference. He attributed regional “intractable crises” to the “collapse of security and cooperation systems” which, in turn, he linked to “Iraq’s absence from playing its natural role.” Participants included Iraq’s immediate neighbors: Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, as well as other regional states and organizations: Egypt, Qatar, the UAE, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Arab League, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. French President Emmanuel Macron, also attended. Last year, Macron championed “a process of sovereignty” to shield Iraq from the damaging effects of foreign interference. Addressing the conference, Prime Minister Kadhimi said Iraq aspires to become a “pillar of regional stability,” stressing that realizing this vision begins with “refusing to use Iraq as a battleground for regional or international conflicts.” Kadhimi also highlighted Iraq’s desire to expand economic ties and cooperation with all neighbors. In the final statement released by the Iraqi government, the participants said they “stand with Iraq,” spoke of the need for “joint regional and international efforts” to support regional stability and security, and welcomed Iraq’s efforts to create political, economic and security partnerships. Arab delegates voiced support for Iraqi sovereignty in their remarks. In his remarks, Turkey’s foreign minister insisted that Ankara doesn’t want Iraq to become a battleground for regional conflicts, but would not allow the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to establish a presence in Iraq. Iran’s foreign minister criticized the U.S. over the assassination of Qassim Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, arguing that U.S. presence in Iraq is destabilizing. He also touted the size of Iran’s exports to Iraq, reiterating Tehran’s desire to further increase its exports to Iraq. Iraqi officials involved in organizing the conference said that energy and transportation were central to the plan Baghdad presented at the conference. According to these officials, Baghdad’s proposal is to “connect everyone to everyone, via Iraq.” There were several bilateral meetings between delegations, including between Iran and Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE, and between Iran and Egypt. There were also reports that Iran and Saudi Arabia will hold a new round of talks facilitated by Baghdad soon. Participants called the event a success. President Macron described it as “historic,” while president Joe Biden congratulated Iraqi leaders on hosting a “ground-breaking regional summit.”

On August 28, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hussein Amir Abdullahian, who was attending the Baghdad Conference for Partnership and Cooperation in Baghdad, delivered an official invitation to President Barham Salih to visit Tehran. Salih and Abdullahian also discussed bilateral relations and the implementation of economic agreements between Iraq and Iran.  

On August 29, French President Emmanuel Macron visited Erbil, where he met with Iraqi Kurdish leaders. During a joint press conference with Nechirvan Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Regional government (KRG), Macron said that France will  remain in Iraq to fight terrorism so long as Iraqis needed help, and regardless of whether the United States decides to withdraw its military presence. Macron also visited Mosul, where he visited the Nuri Mosque and historic churches, and met with local officials. The French president also promised that France will open a consulate in the city, according to Ninewa’s governor, Najm al-Jubouri.

On August 31, Iraq’s Communications and Media Commission (CMC) issued orders to suspend the broadcast of “all political programming that can be exploited for electoral campaigns” 30 days before election day (October 10). The CMC said it will refrain from hosting politicians and executive officials who are running for election, but will allow everyone equal opportunity to appear in “designated programming to explain their electoral platforms over a full month.” The CMC said this arrangement is designed to “guarantee the highest levels of transparency and neutrality.”

On August 31, the government of Prime Minister Kadhimi approved a draft law to reinstate compulsory military service, which was abolished in 2003. The council of ministers has sent the draft bill to Parliament for discussion and approval. Commenting on the development, Kadhimi said the “flag service” bill will “reinforce patriotic values” among young Iraqis. A member of the parliamentary defense and security committee said on September 2 that the bill will officially reach parliament on Sunday, adding that lawmakers were unlikely to put it to a vote until the next parliament is seated after the election. 

On September 1, the Iraqi government said that security forces foiled “an attempt to commit election fraud,” and arrested several of the conspirators. According to a statement by the prime minister’s office, the alleged conspirators attempted to exploit their relationships with officials in Iraq’s electoral commission (IHEC) to spread misinformation through a website called “the green [zone] lady” and provoke conflicts among political parties. According to the statement, the plot was funded and aided by current and former parliamentarians and IHEC officials. 


Iraq Seeks Weapons From Turkey And France; Explosion At IDP Camp Kills Two Children

On August 26, an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded near the Qayyarah subdistrict, south of Mosul. The explosion severely injured a local shepherd. 

On August 27, a roadside IED exploded targeting a convoy transporting supplies for the International Coalition on a major highway passing through Basra. On August 31, a similar IED attack targeted another convoy near Diwaniyah. There were no reports of casualties or damages in either incident. 

On August 27, local sources said a homemade IED targeted the home of Hamdiyah al-Sadi, an activist in Nasiriyah, the capital of Dhi-Qar province. There were no reports of casualties. 

On August 27, Iraq’s Defense Minister, Juma Inad, revealed that Iraq was in negotiations with Turkey to acquire advanced Turkish-made weapon systems, including a dozen T-129 helicopters and an undisclosed number of TB2 drones capable of carrying guided missiles. Then on August 29, the military spokesman for Prime Minister Kadhimi, Yahya Rasoul, said that Iraq was close to signing new deals with France to procure air defense systems and armaments for Iraq’s air force planes. 

On August 28, government sources said an ISIS attack on a security checkpoint between Diyala and Salah ad-Din province killed two Iraqi policemen and injured six more. ISIS militants reportedly used sniper fire in the attack, which took place in the Sundouqiyah area, between northwestern Diyala and southwestern Salah ad-Din. 

On August 28, Iraqi security forces (ISF) killed a suspected suicide bomber that was preparing to attack their positions with a bomb-laden motorcycle in an unspecified location south of Kirkuk. To the south, the ISF killed two suspected ISIS militants during clearing operations in northeastern Diyala on August 30. On the same day, the Iraqi army’s helicopters struck a vehicle transporting suspected ISIS militants, injuring three individuals who were in it, during operations in Anbar province. 

On August 29, security sources said that ISIS militants attacked a federal police position near Hawijah, west of Kirkuk. The attack killed a police officer and damaged a surveillance camera and four vehicles. Two days later, ISIS militants attacked the village of Taza near Daquq, burning a house, destroying several vehicles and tractors, and killing livestock.

On August 30, security sources said a roadside IED exploded on a road linking two villages near Daquq, south of Kirkuk. The explosion killed a civilian and injured ten other individuals, including three members of the security forces. 

On August 30, security sources in Anbar said that a complex attack by ISIS militants in Anbar killed an Iraqi border guard, injured another, and left a third border guard missing. The attack, which took place in the Akashat region involved the detonation of an IED against a border guards vehicle, followed by small arms fire. Two days later, security forces retrieved the body of the missing soldier near the Syrian border. His captors reportedly decapitated him.

On August 31, a legacy IED explosion injured one Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) fighter at a checkpoint near Jurf al-Sakhr, in northern Babylon province.  

On September 1, security sources said that ISIS militants attacked the village of Islah, near Jalawla in Diyala province, using mortars and sniper fire overnight. The attack injured two civilians.

On September 1, officials in Duhok province said that an explosion occurred at a trailer occupied by a security guard at the Qadya camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs). The explosion killed two children and injured five members of the officer’s family, according to the officials, who said the cause of the explosion remains unknown, but suspect “terrorist” motives were behind it. 

On September 1, security sources said a suspected ISIS sniper attacked an Iraqi army checkpoint in Makhmour, southeast of Mosul. The attack killed one Iraqi soldier. 

On September 2, security sources in Kirkuk said that ISIS militants killed one civilian and injured seven others in an attack on the village of Sahal, near Sargaran in the Dibis district. The militants later detonated an IED targeting security forces that responded to the initial attack, without causing casualties. 


UNICEF Report Says Water Scarcity Threatens Millions Of Children; COVID-19 Cases Plateau

On August 29, UNICEF released a new report about how water scarcity is affecting children in countries in the MENA region, including Iraq. The report warns that almost 60% of Iraqi children are unable to get water that is safe to use, and that more than half of the country’s schools don’t have water at all, presenting risks to children’s “health, nutrition, cognitive development, and future livelihoods.“ Among the reasons for the water scarcity, the report notes that Iraq’s last rainy season was “among the driest in 40 years,” causing the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to lose 29% and 73% of their usual water flow rates, respectively.  

On July 29, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released a factsheet with updated data on IDPs in Iraq for August 2021. UNHCR said that 6,407,671 people represent the “population of concern” in Iraq. This number includes 1,191,470 IDPs, 4,884,612 returnees, 247,044 Syrian refugees, 37,545 state refugees from other nationalities, and 47,000 stateless individuals. According to the UNHCR, as of July 31, 2021, 27 camps in Iraq hosted over 182,400 IDPs. Most of the camps are in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, with only two operating in federal Iraq. As of August 24, 2021, UNHCR had secured only 38% of nearly $421 million needed to sustain its operations in Iraq this year.

On September 2, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 1,902,407. This is an increase of 46,626 in cases from the 1,855,781 reported on August 26. Of these cases, 132,715 are currently in hospitals, including 896 being treated in ICUs. These numbers represent a decrease of 7,345 in hospitalizations and 11 in ICU admissions since August 26. Ministry data indicated that there were 454 new COVID-19 deaths since August 26, bringing the total from 20,480 to 20,934. The total number of recoveries increased from 1,695,241 to 1,748,758. The average number of new cases during the last 7-day period was 6,660, relatively unchanged from an average of 6,629 per day during the 7-day period ending August 26. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Baghdad with 1,146 cases, Sulaymaniyah with 869, Basra with 798, Erbil with 539 cases, and Duhok with 463 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 14,432,571 samples for COVID-19. The total number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 3,571,321, including 120,830 who received their shots on September 2.


August Oil Revenue Stable At $6.5 Billion; Drop In Iranian Gas Supply Causes New Power Shortage

On August 28, Russian oil company, Lukoil, announced plans to increase production at the West Qurna-2 oil field it operates in Basra by 80,000 barrels per day (bpd) next year. According to a statement by a company executive, Lukoil will target a 50,000 bpd increase from the field’s Yamama formation, and 30,000 bpd from the Mishrif formation, to bring total production to 480,000 bpd, up for the current 400,000. 

On August 31, the Iraqi government approved a plan proposed by the Ministry of Electricity to target up to 7.5 gigawatts of generation capacity from solar energy projects. In other electricity sector news, Iraq’s Foreign Ministry said on August 27 that Iraqi and Russian officials met in Moscow and agreed to resume work on an unspecified number of halted power plant projects that Iraq had awarded to Russian firms.

On September 1, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil said that crude oil exports during August totaled 94.66 million barrels, for an average of 3.054 million bpd, which is 136,000 higher than July’s average of 2.918 million bpd. The August exports generated $6.533 billion in revenue, slightly more than July’s $6.514 billion. Iraq sold its crude oil at an average price of $69 per barrel, approximately $3 down from July’s average of $72 per barrel. Shipped exports from fields in southern and central Iraq averaged 2.956 million bpd in August, while average exports from the northern fields in Kirkuk, which were exported through the Turkish port of Ceyhan, stood at 96,900 bpd.  

On September 1, Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity said that Iranian gas supplies to Iraq dropped from 49 million cubic meters per day to just 8 million cubic meters per day, resulting in the loss of 5,500 megawatts in generated electricity in central and southern power plants. In a statement, the ministry said it was working with the Ministry of Oil to secure alternative fuels to compensate for the lost gas.

On September 2, Iraq’s Integrity Commission released a report outlining its achievements during the first half of 2021. According to Shafaq News, the report said the Commission “recovered or prevented the squandering” of $4.9 billion and IQD253 billion during that period. The report also said that the Commission looked into 25,490 reports and criminal cases, and referred 1,775 suspects to the specialized courts during the same period. 


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs from August 26, 2021 - September 2, 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
08/26/21 Qayyarah, Ninewa01
08/27/21 Basra00
08/27/21Nasiriyah, Dhi-Qar00
08/30/21Daquq, Kirkuk110
08/30/21Akashat, Anbar00
08/31/21Jurf al-Sakhr, Babylon01
08/31/21Diwaniyah00
09/01/21Qadya, Duhok25
09/02/21Dibis, Kirkuk00

 

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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