ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: SEPTEMBER 2 – SEPTEMBER 9, 2021

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Key Takeaways:

  • Baghdad And Riyadh Discuss Security Cooperation; UNAMI Outlines Measures To Prevent Electoral Fraud; CENTCOM And Kadhimi Discuss Ending U.S. Combat Presence – On September 4, the Saudi Interior Minister met with PM Kadhimi in Baghdad to discuss security cooperation, especially in counter terrorism, border security, and exchanging expertise. On September 6, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, met with PM Kadhimi in Baghdad and expressed the EU’s commitment to support Baghdad’s reform efforts and the upcoming elections. Borrell later visited Erbil for meetings with Iraqi Kurdish leaders. On September 6, Kataib Hezbollah accused the Peshmerga forces of facilitating the movement and operations of ISIS militants in Kirkuk and Ninewa. On September 7, a Ninewa court sentenced former governor Atheel al-Nujaifi to seven years in prison. On September 7, UNAMI chief, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, said the UN continues to provide advice and technical assistance to IHEC in a range of areas, including paper ballot printing and security planning. She highlighted measures to prevent fraud, such as plans to destroy unclaimed voter cards, and banning cell phones and cameras at voting centers. On September 8, IHEC said it has destroyed 4,670,000 temporary voter cards that were not claimed by their owners since 2013. On September 9, dozens of engineering graduates demanding jobs in Maysan province were injured in clashes with security forces. On September 9, CENTCOM chief, General Kenneth McKenzie met with PM Kadhimi in Baghdad and agreed to hold another meeting of the U.S. and Iraqi technical military committees to finalize plans to end U.S. combat presence by the end of the year. more…
  • ISIS Launches A String Of Deadly Complex Attacks In Kirkuk And Diyala; Turkey And Iran Bomb Sinjar And Border Villages – Between September 5 – 7, ISIS militants launched three complex attacks against Iraqi security forces in Kirkuk and Diyala, using direct fire and IEDs. The attacks killed eight Iraqis and wounded 14 others, including civilians. Between September 4 – 6, the explosions of six other IEDs killed at least one Iraqi and wounded four others. Two of the attacks targeted convoys transporting supplies for the International Coalition. Between September 4 – 8, four other militant attacks against civilians and security forces killed seven Iraqis and wounded seven others. Between September 2 – 9, Turkish and Iranian forces bombarded Sinjar and border villages in Erbil province, targeting PKK affiliates and Iranian Kurdish opposition groups, respectively. On September 7, Iraqi counter terrorism forces backed by International Coalition airstrikes killed eight suspected ISIS members in several operations in Kirkuk province. more…
  • Iraq To Build A Water Desalination Plant In Basra; COVID-19 Spread Slows Down – On September 5, the Iraqi government decided to place previous plans to purchase the Sputnic-7 vaccine on hold, citing the availability of sufficient amounts of other vaccines, and lack of WHO approval for the Russian drug. On September 7, the Iraqi government authorized the Ministry of Construction and Public Works to sign a contract with a consortium of three companies to build a seawater desalination plant in Basra. On September 9, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 1,939,408. Deaths from confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 21,333 while hospitalizations decreased to 116,681. The daily average for new cases during the last 7-day period dropped to 5,285/day from 6,660/day during the previous reporting period. The total number of vaccinated people reached 3,955,734, including 101,388 who received their shots on September 9. more…
  • Iraq Signs Multi-Project Energy Deal With TotalEnergies – On September 5, Iraq’s Oil Ministry and TotalEnergies signed $27 billion worth of contracts for major energy projects in southern Iraq. The deal involves building a gas collection hub, developing an oil field, establishing a seawater pumping network, and developing a large-scale solar farm. On September 8, Pearl Petroleum said it reached a $250 million financing agreement with the U.S. International Development Financing Corporation (DFC) to expand production at the Khor Mor gas field in the Kurdistan region. 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.


Baghdad And Riyadh Discuss Security Cooperation; UNAMI Outlines Measures To Prevent Electoral Fraud; CENTCOM And Kadhimi Discuss Ending U.S. Combat Presence

On September 4, the Saudi Interior Minister,Abdulaziz Bin Saud, met with Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Baghdad. They discussed greater security cooperation between Baghdad and Riyadh, especially concerning counter terrorism, border security, and exchanging expertise, according to a statement by Kadhimi’s office. Fatah Coalition leader Hadi al-Amiri responded to the meeting with a statement in which he rejected what he described as a decision by Iraq’s Interior Ministry to share vehicle registration data with an unnamed Saudi security firm. Amiri called the alleged plan an “unacceptable security breach.”

On September 6, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, met with Prime Minister Kadhimi in Baghdad. Kadhimi stressed that Iraq wants to learn from Europe’s success in turning cultural diversity into a source of strength, according to a statement by his office. Borell expressed the EU’s commitment to support the Iraqi government’s reform efforts, especially initiatives concerning clean and renewable energy. The EU official also reiterated Europe’s support for the upcoming elections, and lauded Baghdad’s emerging role as a regional meeting point in the aftermath of the Partnership and Cooperation Conference Baghdad hosted last month. Borrell later visited Erbil for meetings with Iraqi Kurdish leaders. At a joint press conference, Borrell and Nechirvan Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) said they discussed counter terrorism cooperation, efforts to resettle displaced communities, the upcoming election, and disputes between the federal and regional administrations.

On September 6, Rudaw reported that a senior figure in the Kataib Hezbollah militia accused the Peshmerga forces of facilitating the movement and operations of ISIS militants in Kirkuk, Ninewa, and other disputed territories. The militia spokesman also alleged in a message posted on his Telegram channel that the Saudi and Emirati intelligence agencies directly manage the ISIS cells that operate in those areas. A Peshmerga spokesman condemned the “unfair and unsubstantiated accusations,” against the Peshmerga, highlighting the Kurdish forces role in the war against ISIS. 

On September 7, NRT reported that the Ninewa criminal court sentenced former Ninewa governor, Atheel al-Nujaifi to seven years in prison. It is unclear what charges the court found Nujaifi guilty of. He was governor until the province fell to ISIS in June 2014.

On September 7, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the chief of the UN Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI), provided an update about efforts to support Iraq’s preparations to hold elections in October. The UNAMI chief said the world was watching the upcoming elections closely, adding that no one wants to repeat the problems that accompanied the 2018 election. The UN official noted that the upcoming elections have the potential to be different, in part because the electoral system and district sizes are different and may allow voters to scrutinize their representatives. Hennis-Plasschaert said the UN continues to provide advice and technical assistance to Iraq’s High Electoral Commission (IHEC) in a range of areas, from paper ballot printing to COVID-19 and security planning, among other areas. She added that the overall goal is to have credible elections, highlighting a number of measures to prevent the sale of votes, such as plans to destroy old unclaimed voter cards, and banning cell phones and cameras at voting centers. The UN envoy also said UNAMI was working with civil society to help monitor and report violence and hate speech against female candidates, and to encourage participation by marginalized demographics, especially women and youth.

On September 7, al-Mada reported about an increase in acts of vandalism targeting the campaign posters of election candidates in several provinces. The report says that local activists who are against elections have called on fellow activists in Dhi-Qar, Babylon, Wasit, Najaf and Diwaniyah to rid their streets of these posters. These activists, the report adds, argue that most of the candidates are known to be corrupt and cannot be allowed to represent these provinces. Some of the vandalism, however, may be the result of competition among politicl parties. This week, Hanan al-Fatlawi, a member of Parliament and candidate representing the State of Law coalition, sent a letter to Muqtada al-Sadr in which she complained that Sadr’s followers were using threats to prevent her from campaigning in her province, Babylon. According to Fatlawi, some of Sadr’s followers have threatened the owners of buildings and businesses that fly her campaign posters to remove them or else have their buildings burned. 

On September 8, IHEC said it has destroyed 4,670,000 temporary voter cards it had issued in the past but were not claimed by their owners since 2013. IHEC added that UNAMI representatives witnessed the destruction process. UNAMI chief Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert had listed the plans to destroy these cards among IHEC’s measures to enhance the credibility of the upcoming election.

On September 9, dozens of engineering graduates in Maysan province demonstrated at the provincial government building and blocked roads with burning tires to demand employment. Security forces clashed with the demonstrators and used batons and water cannons to disperse them, leading to many injuries among protesters, some of whom were taken to the hospital for treatment. 

On September 9, the head of the U.S. Central Command, General Kenneth McKenzie met with Prime Minister Kadhimi in Baghdad. The two sides agreed to hold another meeting of the U.S. and Iraqi technical military committees to finalize plans for ending U.S. combat presence by the end of the year. According to a statement by Kadhimi’s office, McKenzie affirmed that the reduction in U.S. military presence “will not weaken Washington’s commitment to the broader strategic relationship with Iraq,” especially in the economic, cultural, and political fields. 


ISIS Launches A String Of Deadly Complex Attacks In Kirkuk And Diyala; Turkey And Iran Bomb Sinjar And Border Villages

On September 2, local security sources in Sinjar said that Turkish military aircraft conducted airstrikes in the village of Parayee, which the sources described as a stronghold of the Sinjar Protection Units (YBS). On the following day, the Turkish military said it killed three members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), of which the YBS is an affiliate, in separate operations near Gara, Qandil, and Sinjar. 

On September 4, security sources in Diyala said that unknown gunmen attacked the bodyguards of former speaker of parliament, Salim al-Jubouri, with small arms fire, while they were driving through Muqdadiyah, northeast of Baquba. The attack wounded two of the bodyguards. 

On September 4, security sources said that a senior commander in the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in Baquba survived an attack with an under-vehicle improvised explosive device (UVIED) that was attached to his vehicle. On the following day, the PMF said that an IED explosion near Jurf al-Sakhr in Babylon province killed the deputy chief of PMF operations in the area and wounded two PMF fighters from the 47th brigade.  

On September 5, the Iraqi federal police reported that its forces suffered an unspecified number of casualties during clashes with ISIS militants in the Rashad subdistrict of Kirkuk province. Subsequent reports pointed to a complex attack by ISIS militants. The militants initially assaulted a federal police checkpoint, killing two of its members, and later detonated three IEDs to intercept a federal police force that was responding to the initial assault. The explosions killed six more federal police members and injured five. 

On September 5, police sources in Ninewa said that ISIS militants attacked an Iraqi army checkpoint in the Qaraj subdistrict near Makhmour. The attack killed three soldiers and severely wounded another. To the west, a roadside IED explosion struck a police patrol near Qayyara, south of Mosul. The explosion severely wounded two policemen.   

On September 5, security sources in Diyala said that suspected ISIS militants wounded five members of the security forces and a civilian in a complex attack in the Abbara subdistrict. According to the source, the militants first attacked a checkpoint, injuring five of its personnel, then detonated an IED when civilians rushed to rescue the wounded, injuring a civilian. Locals later blocked a main road leading into the town to protest repeated security breaches in their area. 

On September 6, security sources in Diyala said that ISIS militants attacked a joint security checkpoint in the village of Shaqraq, north of Muqdadiyah. The attack, which involved sniper fire, injured a member of the security forces and damaged a thermal surveillance camera.

On September 6, an IED exploded targeting a liquor store in the Baghdad al-Jadida area of eastern Baghdad. The attack caused material damages only. 

On September 6, a roadside IED exploded targeting a convoy transporting supplies for the International Coalition in Babylon province. The attack did not result in casualties. On September 8, another IED targeted a similar convoy along a main highway in Diwaniyah province, damaging one of the convoy’s vehicles. 

On September 7, security sources reported that Iraqi counter terrorism forces backed by International Coalition airstrikes killed eight suspected ISIS members in several operations in Kirkuk province. According to a senior military spokesman, counter terrorism force snipers killed several of the ISIS members near Altun-Kopri, while Coalition airstrikes killed the remainder.

On September 7, a security source said ISIS militants injured three members of Iraq’s security forces, including a lieutenant colonel, in a complex attack on a checkpoint near Khanaqin, in northeast Diyala. After a direct assault on the checkpoint, the attackers detonated an IED to intercept a force that arrived to reinforce the checkpoint, causing the three injuries.

On September 8, security sources in Diyala said that unidentified gunmen killed four civilians and injured a fifth when they opened fire on a civilian vehicle near the Khan Bani Saad subdistrict, south of Baquba.  

On September 9, local sources in Erbil said that Iranian artillery shelled border villages in the provinces where members of Iranian Kurdish opposition groups are thought to exist. The shelling targeted the villages of Tlan, Beni-Rashganin, and Barbazin. There were no immediate reports of casualties. Subsequent footage suggested the bombardment involved explosive-laden drones.


Iraq To Build A Water Desalination Plant In Basra; COVID-19 Spread Slows Down

On September 5, the Iraqi government issued new decisions and regulations for dealing with the COVID-19 health crisis. Regarding vaccines, the government decided to place previous plans to purchase the Sputnic-7 vaccine on hold, citing the availability of sufficient amounts of other vaccines, and lack of WHO approval for the Russian drug. The government also decided that college students and staff must show proof of vaccination or weekly negative test results to be allowed to attend classes. 

On September 7, the Iraqi government authorized the Ministry of Construction and Public Works to sign a contract with a consortium of three companies (Biwater, Samsun Makinasinaya, and al-Redha Group) to build a seawater desalination plant in Basra. The government tasked the Trade Bank of Iraq with coordinating project finances with the UK Export Finance Agency (UKEF), which is providing the loan to fund the project. 

On September 9, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 1,939,408. This is an increase of 37,001 in cases from the 1,902,407 reported on September 2. Of these cases, 116,681 are currently in hospitals, including 736 being treated in ICUs. These numbers represent a decrease of 16,034 in hospitalizations and160 in ICU admissions since September 2. Ministry data indicated that there were 399 new COVID-19 deaths since September 2, bringing the total from 20,934 to 21,333. The total number of recoveries increased from 1,748,758 to 1,801,394. The average number of new cases during the last 7-day period was 5,285 per day, significantly lower than the 6,660 per day average reported during the 7-day period ending September 2. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Baghdad with 788 cases, Sulaymaniyah with 689, Basra with 617, Duhok with 411 cases, and Erbil with 391 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 14,676,410 samples for COVID-19. The total number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 3,955,734, including 101,388 who received their shots on September 9.


Iraq Signs Multi-Project Energy Deal With TotalEnergies

On September 5, Iraq’s Oil Ministry and TotalEnergies signed an umbrella agreement encompassing three contracts for major energy projects in southern Iraq. The deal, which Total and Iraq initially announced in April, involves a project to harness gas at the Ratawi, West Qurna 2, Majnoon, Tuba, and Luhais oil fields with a capacity of 600 million cubic feet per day. Total also plans to increase oil production at Ratawi from its current capacity of 85,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) to 210,000 bpd, build a 7.5 million bpd seawater reprocessing plant with related distributions pipelines, and develop a 1,000 megawatt solar energy plant. Total expects to invest a total of $27 billion in the projects over a period of 25 years, with initial investments estimated at $10 billion.  

On September 8, Pearl Petroleum said it reached a $250 million financing agreement with the U.S. International Development Financing Corporation (DFC) to expand production at the Khor Mor gas field in the Kurdistan region. The 7-year financing agreement will allow the operating consortium of Khor Mor to increase natural gas production by 50% to reach 690 million cubic feet per day. 


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs from September 2, 2021 - September 9, 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
09/04/21 Baquba, Diyala00
09/05/21Jurf al-Sakhr, Babylon12
09/05/21Rashad, Kirkuk65
09/05/21Qayyara, Ninewa02
09/05/21Abbara, Diyala01
09/06/21Baghdad al-Jadida, Baghdad00
09/06/21Babylon00
09/07/21Khanaqin, Diyala03
09/08/21Diwaniyah00

 

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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