ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: SEPTEMBER 30 – OCTOBER 7, 2021

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Key Takeaways:

  • Final Preparations Underway For Sunday Election; PMF Excluded From Special Voting; PM Launches Reconstruction Fund For Dhi-Qar – On October 1, Iraqis gathered at Tahrir Square to mark the second anniversary of the anti-government protests that began on October 1, 2019 and demand justice for the hundreds of protesters killed by government forces and militias. On October 2, IHEC revealed that PMF fighters won’t be able to vote during the special voting process that precedes the general election day because the PMF Commission failed to share personnel records with IHEC. On October 4, PM Kadhimi announced the launch of a reconstruction fund for Dhi-Qar province worth IQD1.3 trillion (approximately $900 million), along with plans to expand 20 of Dhi-Qar’s towns. On October 4, Masrour Barzani addressed Iraqis outside Kurdistan in a rare message in Arabic in which he asked them to vote for KDP candidates everywhere to “bring Kurdistan’s successful experience to the rest of Iraq.” On October 5, UNAMI’s chief affirmed that “the technical aspects of the electoral process are fully on track,” adding that the “large UN electoral presence [of 900 people] is fully deployed” ahead of the October 10 vote. On October 5, IHEC said it has begun logistical preparations at 8,273 voting centers to allow special and general voting to commence as planned on October 8 and 10, respectively. Meanwhile, IHEC conducted a final election day simulation and disqualified at least two candidates from different parties. On October 6, Speaker Halbousi announced that Parliament will dissolve itself on October 7, thereby ending the fourth legislative term ahead of the October 10 general vote. more…
  • Rare Suicide Bombing Strikes Ramadi; Turkey Intensifies Anti-PKK Operations Inside Iraq; Election Rally Attack Kills A Child – Between September 30 – October 6, eight militant attacks killed at least seven Iraqi civilians and members of the security forces and wounded eight others. Between October 1 – 5, Iraqi security forces killed at least 12 ISIS militants in operations in Kirkuk, Diyala, and Ninewa. On October 1, unidentified gunmen attacked the home of a local activist with several hand grenades. Between October 2 – 6, Turkey said its forces killed 15 PKK members in the Kurdistan region and seized a camp used by the group. On October 3, a suicide bomber detonated his vehicle-borne IED near a police station in Ramadi. Iraqi sources said the attack didn’t cause casualties, but ISIS claimed it killed or wounded eight policemen. Between October 2 – 4, the explosions of three other IEDs injured at least two Iraqi soldiers and four civilians. On October 7, a grenade attack on an election rally killed one person and injured five more. more…
  • COVID-19 Spread Slows Down, But Vaccination Rates Drop Too – On October 7, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 2,018,667. Deaths from confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 22,473 while hospitalizations decreased to 60,923. The daily average for new cases during the last 7-day period dropped to 2,195/day from 2,279/day during the previous reporting period. The total number vaccinated people reached 4,951,021 including 41,088 who received their shots on October 7. more…
  • Oil Exports And Revenue Edge Up; Iraq Eyes Hydrocarbon Exploration Deals In Anbar And Dhi-Qar; Train Service To Mosul Resumes – On October 1, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said that September oil exports averaged 3.081 million bpd, which is 33,000 bpd higher than in August. The September exports generated $6.711 billion in revenue, about $180 million more than August. On October 4, Reuters reported that Iraq is pursuing negotiations with Chevron to develop four hydrocarbon exploration blocks in Dhi-Qar province. On the following day, Iraq’s Oil Minister revealed that Iraq is talking to “one of the largest international companies” about exploring for natural gas in Anbar province. On October 4, Iraq’s Transportation Ministry reported that a freight train has arrived in Mosul for the first time in a decade after the railroad company repaired the war-damaged Baghdad-Mosul line. On October 5, Argus, citing sources in the oil trade industry, reported that Iraq may stop offering its Basra Light grade of crude oil next year. 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.


Final Preparations Underway For Sunday Election; PMF Excluded From Special Voting; PM Launches Reconstruction Fund For Dhi-Qar

On October 1, several hundred Iraqis gathered at Tahrir and Firdaws Squares in central Baghdad to mark the second anniversary of the popular anti-government protests that began on October 1, 2019. The demonstrators on Friday demanded justice for the hundreds of protesters and activists who were killed by government forces and militias since the protests began, and held signs denouncing the widespread corruption of the political establishment. On October 3, similar demonstrations took place at Haboubi Square in Nasiriyah, the capital of Dhi-Qar province. There, demonstrators demanded that authorities investigate the forced disappearance of activist Sajjad al-Iraqi, who was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen a year ago. Security forces fired their weapons in the air to disperse the protesters. 

On October 2, Iraq’s High Electoral Commission (IHEC) revealed that members of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) won’t be able to cast their ballots during the special voting process that precedes the general election day. Special voting is designed to accommodate the special circumstances of certain eligible voters like members of the security forces, hospital workers, and patients in hospitals and allow them to vote outside of the general voting period. IHEC explained that it had to make this decision because the Popular Mobilization Commission in charge of the PMF failed to share the PMF personnel records with IHEC. A spokesperson for IHEC said PMF fighters will still be able to vote during general voting on election day. Politicians and militia figures affiliated with PMF factions condemned IHEC’s decision, which they claimed will deny thousands of fighters who are on duty their right to vote. 

On October 4, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi announced the launch of a reconstruction fund for Dhi-Qar province worth IQD1.3 trillion (approximately $900 million). Kadhimi said the fund will support the implementation of various key service projects in the southern province, with a focus on electricity. During the event, Kadhimi claimed that his government has succeeded in restarting and completing a large number of projects in the province that had come to a halt due to corruption, including a new bridge, a new hospital that was under construction for ten years, and 28 schools. He added that future projects include plans to expand 20 of Dhi-Qar’s towns to help mitigate its housing shortage. 

On October 4, a spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry said that Tehran can no longer tolerate the presence of “terrorist factions” in the Kurdistan region of Iraq (KRI). The spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, appeared to be referring to Iranian Kurdish opposition groups that have presence in Iraqi Kurdistan. Khatibzadeh said these groups must be disarmed and evicted from the region. Recently, the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, Mohammed Hussein Baqeri, threatened to expand Tehran’s military operations inside the KRI against the presence of Iranian Kurdish opposition groups.

On October 4, deputy speaker of Parliament and senior KDP member Bashir al-Haddad called on Prime Minister Kadhimi to intervene “immediately” to prevent “outlaw” armed factions in Sinjar from interfering with election campaigns in the disputed district. Haddad criticized security forces in Sinjar for failing to provide security for KDP candidates who are running for election in Sinjar. Haddad made his remarks after armed supporters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) reportedly prevented KDP candidates from entering Sinjar, where they had planned to hold a campaign rally. 

On October 4, Masrour Barzani, the prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) addressed Iraqis outside Kurdistan in a rare message in Arabic in which he asked them to vote for the candidates of his Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Barzani said the KDP wants Iraq to “return to true partnership, consensus, and balance,” adding that the party wants to work with all Iraqis to “bring Kurdistan’s successful experience to the rest of Iraq’s provinces.” 

On October 5, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the chief of the UN Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI), said at a press conference in Baghdad that UNAMI’s help was focused on the credibility of the upcoming election. The UNAMI chief stressed that “it is essential that these elections are different from the elections in 2018.” The UN envoy affirmed that “the technical aspects of the electoral process are fully on track,” adding that the “large UN electoral presence is fully deployed” ahead of the October 10 vote. Hennis-Plasschaert sought to remind Iraqis that democracy “is always a work in progress. It can be messy. It can be tedious.” She added that “if people feel included, if they feel they can slowly but surely help shape their own futures, then the compromises and investments are worth it.”

On October 5, a spokesperson for IHEC said the election commission has begun the logistical preparations at voting centers so that special and general voting can commence as planned on October 8 and 10, respectively. The spokesperson said that IHEC’s focus has shifted from distributing the biometric voter cards, which stopped on October 5, to delivering voting equipment to the 8,273 centers in coordination with security forces. A day earlier, Prime Minister Kadhimi visited IHEC headquarters and attended a final election day simulation, which he said was  successful. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Iraq’s Joint Operations Command (JOC) said that the air force and army aviation will be tasked with transporting ballot boxes to secure storage facilities inside army bases.  

On October 5, the election court of the Supreme Judicial Council confirmed a decision by IHEC to disqualify Haider al-Mulla, a former member of Parliament and a candidate from Speaker Halbousi’s Taqaddum Coalition, from the upcoming October 10 election. Recently, IHEC had disqualified another Taqaddum candidate, Salan Abuld-Jabbar Ali, but the latter successfully appealed the decision. On October 6, IHEC decided to disqualify yet another candidate, Hussein Ali Abdul-Ridha Habib, who is a member of an electoral coalition called Qadimun. IHEC cited an existing arrest warrant and travel ban that authorities had issued against Habin in June. An IHEC spokesman said that a total of seven candidates have now been disqualified since the commission finalized the list of approved candidates in July. 

On October 6, Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi announced that Parliament will dissolve itself on October 7, thereby ending the fourth legislative term ahead of the October 10 general vote to elect a new legislature.


Rare Suicide Bombing Strikes Ramadi; Turkey Intensifies Anti-PKK Operations Inside Iraq; Election Rally Attack Kills A Child

On September 30, a security source in Salah ad-Din province said that unidentified gunmen killed three people in an attack on a house in the Qasr al-Ashiq area of Samarra. 

On October 1, an Iraqi military spokesman said a force from the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) backed by Iraqi army helicopters killed eight ISIS militants during operations in Kirkuk province. To the south, another Iraqi airstrike on October 5 killed another ISIS militant in the Wadi Thlab area of Diyala province. The following day, an Iraqi military spokesman said a force for the army’s 16th division killed three ISIS militants near Hammam al-Alil, south of Mosul.  

On October 1, security sources said an explosion that struck a truck carrying a power generator injured two people at Tahrir Square in Baghdad. The major square saw hundreds of people arrive that morning to commemorate the second anniversary of the October 2019 protests. A statement by Iraq’s Interior Ministry attributed the explosion to an electrical accident. 

On October 1, ISIS militants attacked a Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) checkpoint near Khanaqin in northeastern Diyala. The attack, which employed sniper fire, destroyed a thermal surveillance camera. 

On October 1, security sources in Muthanna province said that unidentified militants attacked the home of Ayham al-Ni’aymi, a local activist, with several hand grenades. The attack damaged the house’s roof without leaving casualties. 

On October 2, the Turkish military said that its warplanes killed three members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) during an airstrike that targeted suspected PKK positions in the Gara area of the Kurdistan region of Iraq. In a subsequent statement, the Turkish military said it killed 12 more members of the PKK and took control of what it called the groups “eastern headquarters” in an unspecified location in northern Iraq. On October 6, Turkey said its forces killed a senior PKK operative in an intelligence operation inside Iraq. Turkey didn’t specify the operation’s location, but said the target oversaw PKK operations in the Gara region.   

On October 2, security sources in Salah ad-Din province said that the explosion of a legacy improvised explosive device (IED) injured four farmers near al-Alam subdistrict east of Tikrit. 

On October 3, a security source said ISIS militants attacked an Iraqi army checkpoint on the border between Salah ad-Din and Diyala provinces using sniper fire. The attack killed an Iraqi soldier and injured two other soldiers and an officer. The following day, another sniper attack targeted athletes at a local stadium in the Muqdadiyah district of Diyala, killing one person and injuring two others. 

On October 3, the Security Media Cell reported that Iraqi security forces in Ramadi chased a suicide bomber driving a vehicle-borne IED in the city of Ramadi in Anbar province. The statement said the vehicle detonated when security forces opened fire on the driver, claiming the explosion did not cause casualties or material damages. ISIS, however, claimed in a statement analyzed by SITE that the bombing, which happened near a police station, caused eight casualties and destroyed eight police vehicles. 

On October 3, security sources said that suspected ISIS militants killed an elderly man by beheading and then burned his vehicle. The attack occurred in the Tarmiyah district north of Baghdad. 

On October 3, Ninewa police said a roadside IED exploded against an Iraqi army patrol near Tal Afar, west of Mosul. The explosion wounded two Iraqi soldiers.  

On October 4, security forces in the Kenaan subdistrict of Diyala discovered the dead body of a fisherman who had gone missing after unidentified gunmen abducted him a day earlier. The body had signs of multiple gunshot wounds. 

On October 4, an IED exploded targeting a store in the Ur neighborhood of Nasiriyah, in Dhi-Qar province. The explosion caused material damage but no casualties.  

On October 4, security sources said ISIS militants attacked PMF fighters in the Riyadh subdistrict of Kirkuk province. The attack injured two PMF fighters from the PMF 56th brigade. 

On October 5, a security source in Kirkuk said that ISIS militants attacked federal police forces in the village of Sadouniyah. The attack wounded two members of the federal police’s mechanical division.  

On October 6, a security source in Diyala said that ISIS snipers attacked an Iraqi army checkpoint near the Safra area northeast of Baquba. The attack killed an Iraqi soldier and wounded another. 

On October 7, a security source in Salah ad-Din said that unidentified attackers lobbed a hand grenade at an election rally in the Baiji district. The attack killed a child and injured five other people. 


COVID-19 Spread Slows Down, But Vaccination Rates Drop Too

On October 7, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 2,018,667. This is an increase of 15,364 in cases from the 2,003,303 reported on September 30. Of these cases, 60,923 are currently under treatment, including 379 being treated in ICUs. These numbers represent a decrease of 9,212 in hospitalizations and 103 in ICU admissions since September 30. Ministry data indicated that there were 213 new COVID-19 deaths since September 30, bringing the total from 22,260 to 22,473. 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 2,195 per day, down from 2,279 per day during the 7-day period ending September 30. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Sulaymaniyah with 461 cases, Erbil with 438, Duhok with 306, and Baghdad with 221 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 4,951,021 including 41,088 who received their shots on October 7. The current rate of vaccinations represents a 65% drop from a peak of more than 12,0000/day reported in early September. 


Oil Exports And Revenue Edge Up; Iraq Eyes Hydrocarbon Exploration Deals In Anbar And Dhi-Qar; Train Service To Mosul Resumes

On October 1, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil said that crude oil exports during September totaled 92.422 million barrels, for an average of 3.081 million bpd, which is 33,000 bpd higher than August’s average of 3.054 million bpd. The September exports generated $6.711 billion in revenue, slightly more than August’s $6.533 billion. Iraq sold its crude oil at an average price of $72.6 per barrel, more than $2.5 higher than the previous month’s average of $69 per barrel. Shipped exports from fields in southern and central Iraq averaged 2.974 million bpd in September, while average exports from the northern fields in Kirkuk, which were exported through the Turkish port of Ceyhan, stood at 97,428 bpd. During September, Iraq also exported 9,175 bpd by truck to Jordan.

On October 4, Reuters reported that the Iraqi government has given the Oil Ministry the greenlight to open discussions with Chevron about developing four hydrocarbon exploration blocks in Dhi-Qar province. On the following day, Iraq’s Oil Minister, Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar Ismael, revealed that Iraq is talking to “one of the largest international companies” about exploring for natural gas in the western desert in Anbar province. Ismael said his ministry will announce the name of that company once an agreement has been reached. 

On October 4, Iraq’s Transportation Ministry reported that a freight train has arrived in Mosul for the first time in a decade. The trip was made possible after the railroad company repaired the war-damaged Baghdad-Mosul line and prepared an alternate station in Mosul. 

On October 5, Iraq Oil Report mentioned that the Qayyarah oil field south of Mosul has suffered a disruption to its operations. The field, which is operated by the Angolan oil company, Sonangol, had previously been shut down for more than a year when protests in Basra prevented the trucking of Qayyarah’s oil to export terminals in the south. It is unclear what caused the new outage at the field, which produces approximately 10,000 bpd of heavy crude oil. 

On October 5, Argus, citing sources in the oil trade industry, reported that Iraq may stop offering its Basra Light grade of crude oil next year, limiting Iraq’s offerings to the Kirkuk Blend, Basra Medium, and Basra Heavy. 

On October 6, the Emirati Minister for Energy and Infrastructure arrived in Baghdad for talks with Iraqi officials, including Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar Ismael. The Iraqi minister said the visit will address bilateral cooperation in the oil and energy sectors. In particular, the minister mentioned the “signing of a renewable energy contract…with Emirati Masdar to generate 1,000 megawatts” of electricity. In a later statement, the chief of Iraq’s National Investment Commission said Iraq has indeed signed deals with Masdar to build five solar power facilities to generate a combined 1,000 megawatts. Two of the facilities will be in Anbar, while Dhi-Qar, Maysan, and Ninewa will each get one solar power facility. It is unclear how this contract relates to an earlier deal that Iraq and Masdar signed in June of this year to produce 2,000 megawatts of renewable energy. 


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs from September 30, 2021 - October 7, 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
10/2/21 Al-Alam, Salah ad-Din province04
10/3/21 Ramadi, Anbar province0 (excluding the suicide bomber. ISIS claimed 8 casualties)0
10/3/21Tal Afar, Ninewa province02
10/4/21Nasiriyah, Dhi-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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