ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: SEPTEMBER 9 – SEPTEMBER 16, 2021

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Key Takeaways:

  • Kadhimi Visits Tehran; PMF Reinstate 30,000 Discharged Fighters; Iraq Seeks Help In Recovering Billions In Stolen Funds; IHEC Cracks Down On Voter Card Trade – On September 12, PM Kadhimi arrived in Tehran and co-chaired a meeting with Iran’s Ibrahim Raisi to discuss expanding commerce, Iraq’s water rights to shared rivers, and navigation in the Shatt al-Arab waterway. Kadhimi also agreed to allow Iranian visitors traveling by air to enter Iraq without a visa. On September 12, a senior military official said that the commander in chief issued orders to arrest a number of officers for appearing with parliamentary candidates during their election campaigns. On September 13, the PMF commission said the Finance Ministry agreed to reinstate 30,000 discharged PMF fighters. On September 15, PM Kadhimi urged Iraq’s friends and allies to support Baghdad’s effort to recover billions of dollars in stolen and smuggled funds, stressing that “there must be no safe haven for plundered funds…in any country.” On September 15, IHEC said it has received reports of eligible voters trading their voter cards for money, and of political parties using threat to manipulate voters, but reassured that it “has set strict regulations and strict rules,” to counter voting fraud. On the same day, IHEC disqualified a candidate who faces criminal charges of buying voter cards. On September 15, KRG President Nechirvan Barzani met with the British Defense Minister in London to discuss unifying the Peshmerga forces and international support in countering the resurgent ISIS threat. more…
  • Drones Hit Erbil Airport; ISIS Intensifies IED And Complex Attacks; PMF Drain Tarmiyah Marshes To Expose Militants – Between September 10 – 15, security forces killed at least eight ISIS militants in operations in Anbar, Kirkuk, and Ninewa. Between September 9 – 16, 14 IED explosions killed at least eight Iraqis and wounded 14 more. Two of the explosions were part of complex attacks by ISIS militants near Makhmour and Khanaqin that inflicted two additional fatalities and eight injuries with small arms fire. Between September 11 – 15, seven additional militant attacks killed at least nine Iraqis and wounded 18 others in various provinces. On September 11, the PMF engineering chief said the PMF began work to drain a marsh area in Tarmiyah, north of Baghdad, to prevent ISIS militants from using the area as a safe haven. On September 11, explosives-laden drones struck Erbil International Airport without causing casualties. Security forces later found and disarmed eight rockets northeast of Mosul that had been prepared to launch further strikes. On September 14, unidentified drones struck PMF targets on the borders with Syria, destroying three PMF vehicles without inflicting casualties. more…
  • Humanitarian Aid Efforts Face Large Funding Gaps; New COVID-19 Cases Decline For Another Week – On September 13, UNICEF said that more than 4 million people in Iraq require humanitarian aid (including 1.8 million children), of whom 2.4 million face “acute humanitarian needs.” UNICEF added that its planned response in Iraq faces a 75% funding gap. Meanwhile, UNHCR reported that its operations in Iraq face a 67% funding gap. On September 16, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 1,967,187. Deaths from confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 21,683 while hospitalizations decreased to 99,346. The daily average for new cases during the last 7-day period dropped to 3,968/day from 5,285/day during the previous reporting period. The total number of vaccinated people reached 4,310,896 including 97,262 who received their shots on September 16. more…
  • Iraq Expects Dates Harvest To Hit 1 Million Tons; Swedish, Turkish Companies To Build 70,000 BPD Refinery At Qayyarah – On September 13, Iraq’s Agriculture Ministry said it expects the production of dates to reach 1 million tons this year, approximately 30% up from last year’s harvest, which stood at 735,000 tons. On September 15, Iraq’s Planning Minister said during a meeting with representatives of service ministries and the World Bank in Iraq that the government plans to reduce foreign borrowing to the smallest amounts possible. On September 16, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said it signed heads of agreement with SEAB of Sweden and Limak of Turkey to build a 70,000 barrels per day (bpd) oil refinery in Qayyarah. The refinery will be designed to process heavy crude oil. more…

Attention readers! On September 29, EPIC will host a virtual panel discussion marking the release a long report detailing the findings of a year-long study about the Tishreen (October) protest movement in Iraq. More details and registration information will follow soon.

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 Visits Tehran; PMF Reinstates 30,000 Discharged Fighters; Iraq Seeks Help In Recovering Billions In Stolen Funds; IHEC Cracks Down On Voter Card Trade

On September 9, the UN Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) released a new report on election preparations in Iraq. The report highlighted that Iraq’s High Electoral Commission (IHEC) has conducted a new simulation to evaluate its procedures and systems readiness before election day, and received the first shipment of ballots and “election kits,” which include supplies such as indelible ink, for use on election day. The report also noted that IHEC has made improvements to its plans for dealing with election complaints, and concluded related training for its legal personnel. The update also said that IHEC is working with other government agencies, including the Media and Communications Commission (CMC) to support voter education by distributing IHEC’s informational content.

On September 12, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi arrived in Tehran and met with Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi. Kadhimi and Raisi later co-chaired a meeting between senior officials from both countries to discuss various aspects of bilateral relations. According to a statement by Kadhumi’s office, the delegations discussed expanding commerce, Iraq’s water rights to shared rivers, and navigation in the Shatt al-Arab waterway. Kadhimi also agreed to allow Iranian visitors traveling by air to enter Iraq without a visa. While in Iran, Kadhimi also met with the speaker of Iran’s parliament, Mohammad Baqir Qalibaf. Kadhimi, who concluded his visit on September 13, also discussed with Iranian officials the idea of establishing a railroad connection between Basra and Shalamcheh in Iran. 

On September 12, the deputy chief of Iraq’s Joint Operations Command, Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir al-Shammari, said that the commander in chief issued orders to arrest a number of officers for appearing with parliamentary candidates during their election campaigns. Shammari did not provide details about the numbers and ranks of the officers in question, nor did he reveal the identity of the candidates they assisted. 

On September 13, Falih al-Fayyadh, chairman of the Popular Mobilization Commission, announced that the commission has secured approvals from the Finance Ministry for reinstating 30,000 discharged Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) fighters. Fayyadh asserted that funds to pay the salaries for the 30,000 fighters will come from the commission’s existing allocations. He accused Parliament of refusing to provide any funds for these fighters due to “political calculations.” Earlier, on September 9, there were reports of clashes between riot police and discharged PMF fighters who were demonstrating near the gates of the Green Zone to demand reinstatement. Three policemen were hit by rocks and five demonstrators were injured by batons.

On September 14, the secretary general of the Arab League, Ahmed Abu al-Gheit, visited Baghdad and met with Prime Minister Kadhimi. The meeting, according to a statement by Kadhimi’s office, addressed Iraq’s effort to regain its regional role, and the Arab League’s role in mitigating regional tensions and strengthening Iraq’s relations with other Arab states.  

On September 15, Prime Minister Kadhimi attended an international conference in Baghdad about the recovery of funds stolen or smuggled from Iraq. Kadhimi told the conference that “billions of dollars have been stolen and smuggled under the previous dictatorship regime,” lamenting that “since 2003, foundational mistakes allowed corruption to escalate in a more dangerous manner.” He argued that corruption was behind the attempts to “push society into a fake sectarian conflict, whose goal was first and foremost to steal.” Kadhimi declared that fighting corruption and recovering funds smuggled out of Iraq are priorities for his government. The Iraqi premier urged Iraq’s friends and allies to support Baghdad’s effort to recover stolen funds, stressing that “there must be no safe haven for plundered funds…in any country.”

On September 15, IHEC chairman, Judge Jaleel Khalaf, revealed that the commission has received reports of eligible voters trading their voter cards for money, and of political parties using the threat of violence to manipulate voters. In an interview with AP, Khalaf explained that “What we hear here and there is that citizens are selling their voter cards,” but reassured that IHEC “has set strict regulations and strict rules,” to counter voting fraud. On the same day, IHEC said in a statement that it has decided to disqualify an election candidate named Ashwaq Fahad al-Ghreiri and discount any votes he wins on election day. The candidate faces criminal charges of buying voter cards, IHEC explained. 

On September 15, Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi visited Cairo for meetings with Egyptian president, Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi, and other senior officials and figures, including the senior cleric at al-Azhar Mosque. 

On September 15, Nechirvan Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan regional government (KRG), visited London for meetings with British officials. During a meeting with British Defense Minister, Ban Wallace, Barzani discussed efforts to unify the Peshmerga forces, the resurgent ISIS threat, and the need for continued international support for Iraqi security forces and the Peshmerga in dealing with this challenge. 

On September 16, Iraq’s Foreign Minister, Fuad Hussein, arrived in Saudi Arabia on an invitation from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to attend a meeting of the GCC foreign ministers.


Drones Hit Erbil Airport; ISIS Intensifies IED And Complex Attacks; PMF Drain Tarmiyah Marshes To Expose Militants

On September 9, a security source said the detonation of an under-vehicle improvised explosive device (UVIED) injured one civilian in northern Salah ad-Din province.

On September 10, a spokesman for the Iraqi security forces (ISF) said the ISF killed an ISIS militant who was part of a group that attempted to attack ISF positions near the Qara Chogh mountains. On September 12, the Security Media Cell said that three airstrikes by the Iraqi air force killed six ISIS militants in Kirkuk province. The statement added that a federal police drone observed the militants then helped direct the airstrikes to their location. 

On September 10, a security source said that a roadside IED exploded near the Jadidat al-Shatt subdistrict, northwest of Baquba. The explosion killed two civilians who were passing by. To the northeast of Baquba, ISIS militants attacked a security checkpoint near Muqdadiyah, wounding an Iraqi soldier and a PMF fighter. 

On September 11, security sources in the Kurdistan region said that two explosives-laden drones struck Erbil International Airport. The attack didn’t cause casualties. Three days later, on September 14, Iraqi army forces in Ninewa said they found and disarmed eight Grad-type rockets and launchers in the Shalalat area, northeast of Mosul, which is reportedly under the control of the PMF 30th brigade. The rockets, according to security sources, had been prepared to target the Kurdistan region and a base for Turkish forces north of Mosul. 

On September 11, a security source in Babylon said that three roadside IEDs exploded in the Khanafsa area, near Jurf al-Sakhr. The first IED targeted a police patrol and injured two policemen, while the second struck a tractor and injured a civilian. The third explosion didn’t cause casualties. 

On September 11, a security source said that ISIS militants attacked federal police forces near Daquq, in Kirkuk province. The attack killed three federal police personnel and wounded a fourth. On the following day, security sources said an IED exploded targeting a federal police patrol near Daquq, injuring two more federal police personnel. 

On September 11, Ninewa police said that ISIS militants attacked the village of Khatab in the Qaraj subdistrict near Makhmour. The attackers killed four people, including a captain in the police, and wounded seven others. Three of the victims died in an IED explosion while attempting to respond to the initial attack.

On September 11, the PMF engineering chief said the PMF began work to drain a marsh area called Horat al-Zuhairi, in the Tarmiyah district north of Baghdad. The PMF official said “terrorists” have expanded the area submerged by water in recent years to use it as a safe haven. He added that the PMF engineers will dig a canal that bypasses the 10 square kilometer marsh area to redirect river water away from it. Tensions between PMF factions and the locals have been rising amid increasing ISIS attacks and harsh retaliatory measures by the PMF.

On September 11, a security source in Anbar said that ISIS militants attacked tribal mobilization fighters in the Amiriyah district using small arms fire and grenades. The attack severely wounded three tribal fighters. 

On September 12, security sources said that ISIS militants attacked two ISF checkpoints in al-Udheim subdistrict of Diyala province using small and medium weapons. One of the attacks killed three Iraqi soldiers and injured a fourth, while the second attack wounded another soldier and destroyed a thermal surveillance camera. The ISF said it launched a successful counterattack to retake one of the checkpoints, which had fallen into ISIS hands. 

On September 12, a security source said that an IED exploded targeting a convoy transporting supplies for the International Coalition on a highway near Samawa, in Muthanna province. The attack didn’t cause casualties. 

On September 13, a security source said that a legacy IED exploded in the Hammam al-Alil subdistrict south of Mosul, killing an Iraqi soldier. 

On September 13, a security source said that an explosives-laden motorcycle exploded targeting the convoy of a former member of parliament in the Kenaan subdistrict of Diyala province. The explosion wounded two civilians. 

On September 14, a security source said that suspected ISIS militants attacked the village of al-Mazarikh in Salah ad-Din province. The attack killed an Iraqi army officer. 

On September 14, Ninewa police said that ISIS militants attacked an Iraqi army checkpoint in the Khneifis region of al-Hadhar district, south of Mosul. The attack injured two soldiers from the army’s 43rd brigade, 20th division. 

On September 14, officials in western Anbar province said that unidentified drones struck PMF targets on the Syrian side of the border. The officials said that four strikes destroyed three vehicles belonging to the PMF, without inflicting casualties.  A spokesman for the International Coalition said the Coalition was not involved in any airstrikes in the area. The Fatah Coalition condemned the airstrikes, calling them “flagrant violations of Iraq’s sovereignty.”

On September 15, a security source in Babylon province said that an attack with sniper fire killed a PMF fighter in the Rway’iyah area, near the Jurf al-Sakhr subdistrict.

On September 15, a security source in Anbar province said that an IED exploded against a vehicle transporting a local commander in the tribal mobilization forces in a desert area near Ramadi. The explosion damaged the vehicle without causing casualties. Elsewhere in Anbar, PMF sources said that tribal mobilization fighters and PMF fighters killed one ISIS militant and wounded three others during operations near al-Qaim. Two PMF fighters were injured in the fighting. 

On September 15, KRG security sources said that an IED exploded against a Peshmerga vehicle in a border area within the Dinarta subdistrict of Duhok province. The explosion killed two Peshmerga fighters. Local officials suspect that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was behind the attack. 

On September 15, security sources in Diyala said that ISIS militants attacked an Iraqi army checkpoint near Khanaqin with small and medium arms fire, killing an Iraqi soldier and wounding another. The militants later detonated an IED targeting army vehicles that arrived to reinforce the checkpoint, wounding four more soldiers. 

On September 16, Ninewa police said that the explosion of a legacy IED in the Qayyarah subdistrict, south of Mosul, injured two civilians.


Humanitarian Aid Efforts Face Large Funding Gaps; New COVID-19 Cases Decline For Another Week

On September 13, UNICEF released its 2021 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) for Iraq, which highlighted that more than 4 million people in Iraq require humanitarian aid. Of those in need, 1.8 million are children. Of that population, UNICEF said that a total of 2.4 million, including more than 1 million children, face “acute humanitarian needs.” The document stated that UNICEF received less than $10 million during the first quarter of 2021 to augment $8 million carried over from 2020, while its response plan requires more than $ 70 million. As a result UNICEF’s planned response to assist people in need in Iraq was facing a 75% funding gap.

On September 13, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), released an update on the state of funding for its operations in response to the humanitarian situation in Iraq. The update showed that UNHCR operations in Iraq face a 67% funding gap. As of September 13, donor nations have contributed just over $130 million towards more than $391 million UNHCR needs for its 2021 Iraq operations. 

On September 16, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 1,967,187. This is an increase of 27,779 in cases from the 1,939,408 reported on September 9. Of these cases, 99,346 are currently in hospitals, including 626 being treated in ICUs. These numbers represent a decrease of 17,335 in hospitalizations and 110 in ICU admissions since September 9. Ministry data indicated that there were 350 new COVID-19 deaths since September 9, bringing the total from 21,333 to 21,683. The total number of recoveries increased from 1,801,394 to 1,846,158. The average number of new cases during the last 7-day period was 3,968 per day, significantly lower than the 5,285 per day average reported during the 7-day period ending September 9. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Baghdad with 635 cases, Sulaymaniyah with 567, Basra with 385, Duhok with 362 cases, and Erbil with 324 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 14,895,398 samples for COVID-19. The total number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 4,310,896 including 97,262 who received their shots on September 16.


Iraq Expects Dates Harvest To Hit 1 Million Tons; Swedish, Turkish Companies To Build 70,000 BPD Refinery At Qayyarah

On September 13, a spokesman for Iraq’s Agriculture Ministry said that Iraq expects a significant improvement in the production of dates this season. The spokesman explained that Iraq expects production to reach 1 million tons this year, approximately 30% up from last year’s harvest, which stood at 735,000 tons. The official attributed the improvement to the ministry’s efforts in controlling diseases that affect the palm trees, and to improved water and fertilizer supplies to date growers. 

On September 15, Iraq’s Planning Minister, Khalid Battal al-Najm, said during a meeting with representatives of service ministries and the World Bank in Iraq that the government plans to reduce foreign borrowing to the smallest amounts possible. Najm explained that the government will consider borrowing only for projects that are absolutely necessary and for which Iraq has no liquidity.

On September 16, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said it signed a heads of agreement (HOA) with two companies, SEAB of Sweden and Limak of Turkey, to build a 70,000 barrels per day (bpd) oil refinery in Qayyarah. The director of Iraq’s North Refineries Company, Qasim Abdul-Rahman, said the refinery will be designed to handle heavy crude oil and turn it into refined petroleum products, in accordance with “Euro 5” standards. A spokesman for SEAB said he expects to sign a final contract with the Ministry within three months. The Ministry statement did not mention the expected cost of the project, nor its execution timeline. 


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs from September 9, 2021 - September 16, 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
09/09/21 Northern Salah ad-Din province01
09/10/21 Jadidat al-Shatt, Diyala province20
09/11/21Jurf al-Sakhr, Babylon province03
09/11/21Qaraj, near Makhmour30
09/12/21Daquq, Kirkuk province02
09/12/21Muthanna province00
09/13/21Hammam al-Alil, Ninewa province10
09/13/21Kenaan, Diyala province02
09/15/21Ramadi desert, Anbar province00
09/15/21Dinarta, Duhok province 20
09/15/21Khanaqin, Diyala province04
09/16/21Qayyarah, Ninewa province02

 

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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