ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: SEPTEMBER 23 – SEPTEMBER 30, 2021

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Key Takeaways:

  • Calls For Normalization With Israel Cause Backlash; Sistani Encourages Iraqis To Vote – On September 24, a senior KDP member said the party reached an agreement with the federal government to reopen its offices in Kirkuk for the first time in four years. On September 25, a group of Iraqi political and tribal figures organized a conference in Erbil in which they called for normalization of relations with Israel. News of the conference created strong backlash from Iraq’s leaders, with PM Kadhimi calling it illegal, and the KRG vowing to arrest the organizers. On September 29, unnamed Iraqi officials revealed that Iran and Saudi Arabia had a new round of diplomatic talks in Baghdad. On September 29, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a statement in which he encouraged Iraqis to be “responsible and informed” voters when they participate in the upcoming elections. Sistani said that elections, despite “some shortcomings” remain the “safest path” towards a better future for Iraq. more…
  • Complex Attack Kills 5 In Diyala; Iraq May Buy Pakistani-Made Jets; Army On High Alert Ahead Of Election Day – Between September 23 – 28, seven militant attacks killed at least 11 Iraqis and wounded five more. Most casualties occurred during a complex ISIS attack involving an IED and sniper fire in Diyala. Between September 23 – 25, the explosions of six other IEDs and explosive remnants of war killed two Iraqis and wounded two more people. On September 24, Ninewa police said that three rockets targeted a camp occupied by Turkish military forces near Bashiqa. On September 26, news reports said Iraq is considering a deal to purchase 12 JF-17 fighter jets from Pakistan. On September 30, the general staff of the Iraqi army issued orders to put all army units on high alert for ten days, starting October 2, to provide additional security for the upcoming election. more…
  • UNICEF Says 4 in 5 Children Face Violence; World Bank Funds $100 Million Vaccination Project – On September 24, UNICEF issued a statement expressing “grave concern” about violence against children in Iraq after footage circulating on social media showed a young boy suffering from cruel and violent mistreatment by his family. The statement warned that violence against children remains widespread, with nearly 80% of children experiencing violence in school or at the hands of relatives. On September 28, the World Bank said it will support a project worth $100 million to enhance Iraq’s ability to provide and distribute COVID-19 vaccines to its people. On September 30, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 2,003,303. Deaths from confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 22,260 while hospitalizations decreased to 70,135. The daily average for new cases during the last 7-day period dropped to 2,279/day from 2,880/day during the previous reporting period. The total number vaccinated people reached 4,763,718 including 64,373 who received their shots on September 30. more…
  • Federal Service Council Seeks Accurate Count Of Public Servants; Federal Court Upholds Cabinet Objections To 2021 Budget Law – On September 26, the chairman of Iraq’s Federal Service Council said the council plans to issue biometric identification cards for all government employees to have an accurate count of their numbers, revealing that most government institutions have not presented their personnel records. On September 29, Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court ruled to approve several objections the Iraqi government raised about the final version of the 2021 budget, including an objection to Parliament’s vote to strike down a provision to impose taxes on fuel. more…

Attention readers! EPIC is excited to announce the release of its latest study: The Long Game: Iraq’s “Tishreen” Movement and the Struggle for Reform. The report is the product of a year of research that included focus group discussions with Tishreen and Kurdish activists, a nationally representative survey of public opinion, an analysis of social media, and dozens of in-depth interviews. CLICK HERE to read the executive summary and download the full report.

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.


Calls For Normalization With Israel Cause Backlash; Sistani Encourages Iraqis To Vote

On September 24, Hoshyar Zebari, a senior member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) said the party reached an agreement with the federal government to reopen its offices in the disputed province of Kirkuk. The agreement will allow the KDP to campaign in Kirkuk, from which it was evicted when federal government forces took control of Kirkuk in the aftermath of the September 2017 independence referendum in the Kurdistan region. Zebari added that the agreement does not provide for the return of the KDP Peshmerga forces to Kirkuk or other disputed territories. 

On September 25, a senior member of al-Bayt al-Watani, one of the political parties formed by protesters who plan to boycott the election, said the party has instructed its members against campaigning for any parties or candidates, including those affiliated with the “Tishreen” (October) protest movement. The spokesman said the party believes that “armed factions and parties entrenched since 2003 control the stage” and that participation in the election “won’t result in anything new.”

On September 25, a group of Iraqi political and tribal figures organized a conference in Erbil in which they called for normalization of relations with Israel. Wisam al-Hardan, one of the organizers and a prominent figure in the Sahwah tribal movement that fought al-Qaeda in 2006-2007, called in a statement for the restoration of “full diplomatic relations with the State of Israel…and a new policy of normalization based on people-to-people relations with the citizens of that country.” Hardan also authored an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal in which he argued that Iraq “should join the Abraham accords,”a U.S. diplomatic initiative that Israel and some Arab states signed last year. News of the conference created strong backlash from Iraq’s leaders. President Salih said that Iraq “absolutely rejects normalization with Israel,” stressing that Iraq stands with the Palestinian people. Prime Minister Kadhimi’s office denounced the conference as “illegal…and does not represent the cities for which these people pretend to speak for.” The statement added that normalization with Israel is “rejected constitutionally, legally, and politically in the state of Iraq.” The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) also distanced itself from the conference, vowing to arrest its organizers for “diverting the meeting” from its declared title of “Peace and Recovery.” A New York Times report, however, claimed the KRG had prior knowledge of the event’s content and agenda. After the conference, the Sahwa leadership distanced itself from Hardan too, informing the prime minister in a letter that they have removed Hardan and will appoint a replacement soon. Meanwhile, Muqtada al-Sadr threatened to take “strict” measures against the organizers if the government did not arrest them.

On September 27, Prime Minister Kadhimi’s adviser for electoral affairs, Abdul-Hussein al-Hindawi, said the government was considering offering rewards to encourage voters to pick up their biometric voter cards ahead of the October 10 election. Hindawi said the reward might come in the form of cellphone credit or bonus items in the Public Distribution System. Hindawi explained that an estimated two million voters have not claimed their biometric cards yet out of 17 million for whom IHEC issued the cards.

On September 27, Iraq’s High Electoral Commission (IHEC) decided to disqualify an election candidate from Salah ad-Din’s first electoral district. An IHEC statement said it disqualified the candidate, Shalan Abdul-Jabbar Ali, because he violated campaigning rules by using state-owned equipment to resurface roads in his district. According to Shafaq, the disqualified candidate is affiliated with the Taqaddum coalition led by Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi. The election court of the Supreme Judicial Council, however, overruled IHEC’s decision, arguing that the rule regarding abuse of state assets didn’t apply to the candidate because he was not a government employee. Earlier, on September 24, Prime Minister Kadhimi had warned Iraqis of candidates seeking to “buy votes” with promises of jobs, land and cash, urging voters to use their votes to “displace” such candidates.  

On September 29, unnamed Iraqi officials revealed that Iran and Saudi Arabia had a new round of diplomatic talks in Baghdad. A spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry reportedly said the discussions with the Saudis have yielded “serious progress” with regard to security in the Persian Gulf region. Iranian officials had announced plans for the talks during the Baghdad Conference for Partnership and Cooperation in August. 

On September 29, Iraq’s most senior Shia cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued a statement in which he encouraged Iraqis to be “responsible and informed” voters when they participate in the upcoming elections. The statement said that elections, despite “some shortcomings” remain the “safest path” towards a better future for Iraq. Sistani also urged Iraqis to learn from the lessons of past elections and “recognize their votes’ value” and their role in deciding the country’s future. The senior cleric stressed that the Najaf clergy “does not support any candidate or electoral list at all.”


Complex Attack Kills 5 In Diyala; Iraq May Buy Pakistani-Made Jets; Army On High Alert Ahead Of Election Day

On September 23, security sources said that ISIS militants attacked Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in the Sayyid Gharib area of Salah ad-Din province. The attack killed one PMF fighter from the PMF 42nd brigade. 

On September 23, security sources in Ninewa said that an improvised explosive device (IED) killed a shepherd in the village of Khalidiyah near Makhmour. To the northwest, an incident involving an explosive remnant of war (ERW) killed a child near the Zumar subdistrict. 

On September 24, security sources in Wasit province said a legacy landmine exploded and injured an Iranian pilgrim who was entering Iraq illegally near the border town of Zurbatya. To the south, another ERW incident injured a child in Najaf. Both incidents resulted in amputations. 

On September 24, security sources in Diyala said that a mortar round struck a residential area in the Himrin area, northeast of Baquba. The explosion killed a child and wounded another. 

On September 24, Ninewa police sources said that three rockets targeted Camp Zelikan, which is occupied by Turkish military forces near Bashiqa, northeast of Mosul. The sources said one of the rockets struck inside the camp while the other two landed nearby in the Bartella subdistrict. There were no reports of casualties.

On September 25, Diyala police sources said that ISIS militants conducted a complex attack in the Abbara subdistrict that killed and wounded several Iraqis. The militants began by detonating an IED against a truck carrying farming supplies. They subsequently opened fire on civilians and security forces who arrived at the bombing site, killing three civilians and wounding a police colonel, according to initial reports. Subsequent reports indicated that casualties were higher, five killed and four wounded, and that dozens of families were preparing to leave the area due to deteriorating security. 

On September 25, an IED exploded targeting a convoy transporting supplies for the International Coalition along a main highway in Dhi-Qar province. The explosion caused only material damage. Elsewhere in Dhi-Qar, a small IED exploded near the home of a parliamentary candidate in the Sayyid Dakhil district without causing casualties.  

On September 26, security sources said that four mortar rounds struck farms in the Qara Tappa subdistrict in Diyala province. The attack did not result in casualties. 

On September 26, security sources in Diyala said that ISIS militants attacked a police checkpoint in the Muqdadiyah district. The attack killed a police captain and another policeman. Other resorts added that two other policemen were missing after the attack, suggesting the attackers may have captured them during the assault. 

On September 26, al-Mada, citing Pakistani news sources, reported that Iraq is considering a deal to purchase 12 JF-17 fighter jets from Pakistan. According to the reports, Iraq could sign the $600 million deal, which developed during a visit by the commander of Iraq’s air force to Pakistan, as soon as next month. 

On September 27, PMF sources said a unit from PMF brigade 12 killed an ISIS militant who was trying to “infiltrate” the Tel Tasa region of Tarmiyah, north of Baghdad. Later on September 29, Iraq’s National Security Service said its forces killed two more ISIS militants in an ambush in the Tarmiyah district. The statement said the militants had arrived from Kirkuk with plans to conduct attacks in the capital.  

On September 27, the Samarra Operations Command said its forces killed a senior ISIS militant during clashes with a group of three militants who were attempting to rob shops west of Samarra. 

On September 28, security sources said ISIS militants killed an Iraqi soldier during an attack in the Baaj district southwest of Mosul. To the southeast, security sources said ISIS militants attacked an Iraqi army outpost near Tuzkhormatu in Salah ad-Din province with small arms fire, killing another Iraqi soldier.  

On September 29, security sources in Salah ad-Din province said a rocket launcher parked near the Hajaj subdistrict exploded as it launched a rocket that fell in an empty lot nearby. There were no reports of casualties in the incident. 

On September 30, the general staff of the Iraqi army issued orders to put all army units on high alert for ten days, starting October 2, to provide additional security for the upcoming election. The general staff also canceled all leave and training courses during the 10-day period, ordering all personnel to report to their units.


UNICEF Says 4 in 5 Children Face Violence; World Bank Funds $100 Vaccination Project

On September 24, UNICEF issued a statement expressing “grave concern” about violence against children in Iraq after footage circulating on social media showed a young boy suffering from cruel and violent mistreatment by his family. The statement warned that violence against children remains widespread in Iraq, with nearly 80% of children experiencing violence in school or at the hands of relatives. UNICEF called on the government to strengthen law enforcement against abusers, and urged anyone who encounters evidence of child maltreatment to report the incident to the Community Police hotline at 479. 

On September 26, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released a factsheet with updated data on IDPs in Iraq for September 2021. UNHCR said that 6,409,612 people represent the “population of concern” in Iraq. This number includes 1,191,470 IDPs, 4,884,612 returnees, 247,712 Syrian refugees, 37,798 refugees from other nationalities, and 47,000 stateless individuals. According to the UNHCR, as of August 31, 2021, 27 camps in Iraq hosted over 182,755 IDPs. Most of the camps are in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, with only two operating in federal Iraq. An additional 74,000 are living in “informal sites.” As of September 7, 2021, UNHCR had secured only 39% of nearly $421 million needed to sustain its operations in Iraq this year.

On September 29, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that aid organizations operating in Iraq encountered 21 cases of access restrictions in a dozen different locales during the month of August. The cases represent a 60% decline in access restrictions when compared to the same reporting period of last year. OCHA reported that 85% of August’s access incidents involved administrative restrictions. The report points out that the access issues last month impacted the timely delivery of aid to 41,000 recipients in Baghdad, Kirkuk, Ninewa, Diyala, and Anbar. 

On September 28, the World Bank said it will support a project worth $100 million to enhance Iraq’s ability to provide and distribute COVID-19 vaccines to its people. The effort, dubbed the “Iraq COVID-19 Vaccination Project” aims to help Iraq purchase the vaccines, deal with waste at health care facilities, and educate the Iraqi public about how vaccinations can help fight the pandemic.

On September 30, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 2,003,303. This is an increase of 15,951 in cases from the 1,987,352 reported on September 23. Of these cases, 70,135 are currently under treatment, including 482 being treated in ICUs. These numbers represent a decrease of 12,628 in hospitalizations and 98 in ICU admissions since September 23. Ministry data indicated that there were 267 new COVID-19 deaths since September 23, bringing the total from 21,993 to 22,260. The total number of recoveries increased from 1,882,596 to 1,910,908. The average number of new cases during the last 7-day period was 2,279 per day,  down from 2,880 per day during the 7-day period ending September 23. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Sulaymaniyah with 715 cases, Erbil with 408, Baghdad with 286, and Duhok with 230 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 15,211,577 samples for COVID-19. The total number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 4,763,718 including 64,373 who received their shots on September 30.


Federal Service Council Seeks Accurate Count Of Public Servants; Federal Court Upholds Cabinet Objections To 2021 Budget Law

On September 26, the chairman of Iraq’s Federal Service Council, Mahmoud al-Tamimi, said the council’s first priority is to evaluate the personnel structures of government institutions to identify overstaffing and other mistakes. So far, Tamimi explained, some 80% of government institutions have not presented their personnel structures to the council. Tamimi added that Iraq has a plan to issue biometric identification cards for all government employees to have an accurate count of their numbers. 

On September 26, Iraq’s central bank said it began offering two denominations of certificates of deposits called “Bina”; a 2-year version worth IQD 500,000 with an annual yield of 6%, and a 4-year version worth IQD 1 million with an annual yield of 7%.

On September 29, Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court ruled to approve several objections the Iraqi government raised about the final version of the 2021 budget, which Parliament passed in March. The court ruled in favor of the government’s appeal of Parliament’s vote to strike down a provision to impose a 15% tax on fuels. The court also ruled in favor of government objections concerning provisions for financial compensation for certain contract workers, as well as provisions concerning cost recovery for the technical service contracts between Iraq and foreign oil companies. 


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs from September 23, 2021 - September 30, 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
09/23/21Makhmour, southeast of Mosul10
09/25/21 Abbara, Diyala54
09/25/21Dhi-Qar province00
09/25/21Dhi-Qar 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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