ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: OCTOBER 7 – OCTOBER 14, 2021

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Key Takeaways:

  • Early Results Show Sadrists Winning 70+ Seats; KDP, Halbousi, Imtidad Gain Seats; Fatah, Militias Reject Results As IHEC Fumbles Data – On October 10, millions of Iraqi voters participated in the country’s early election. IHEC data showed that 8,377,382 Iraqis voted out of 22,118,368 registered voters, reflecting low turnout at just 38%. UNAMI said the election “proceeded smoothly” and showcased “significant technical and procedural improvements.” On October 13, early results showed that candidates backed by Muqtada al-Sadr won at least 71 seats while the Taqaddum party of Speaker Halbousi won 37, State of Law won 36, and the KDP won 33. Results indicated that Imtidad, which represents the Tishreen protest movement, won 9 seats. On October 12, Fatah Coalition leader Hadi al-Amiri said that he does not accept the election results, which he called “fabricated.” Kataib Hezbollah rejected the results too, calling on PMF fighters to “be ready to defend their sacred organization.” On October 11, Sadr described his bloc as the “largest” and said it will fight corruption. Sadr said that “all embassies are welcome” so long as the didn’t interfere with government formation, adding that weapons “must be exclusively in the hands of the state.” Between October 11 – 13, IHEC officials issued conflicting statements about progress towards counting all ballots and the number of voting stations that required manual counting. IHEC also published and retracted partial results on its website, raising questions about its competence. On October 14, Fatah said it demanded that IHEC conducts a manual recount of results, arguing that electoral fraud was “visible to the naked eye.” On October 14, the leadership of the Gorran Movement announced its resignation following the party’s failure to win any seats. more…
  • Election Week Passes With Relatively Few Security Incidents; Iraq Captures The Deputy Leader Of ISIS – Between October 8 – 13, nine militant attacks, including three with mortars, killed at least two Iraqis and wounded five more people. On October 11, PM Kadhimi said Iraqi security forces arrested a senior ISIS operative named Sami Jasim, who was the head of ISIS finances and a deputy of its deceased leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Between October 7 – 14, security sources reported five IED explosions in different parts of Iraq. One of the attacks targeted a PMF commander and injured two people. more…
  • China Sends Iraq 1 Million Vaccine Doses; COVID-19 Cases Continue To Decline – On October 9, a Ninewa police spokesman said that 50 households from the province’s Christian community have returned to their home districts in Mosul City after spending more than five years in displacement. On October 13, Iraq’s ambassador to China said that the Chinese government will donate another batch containing 1 million doses of its Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine to Iraq. On October 14, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 2,030,498. Deaths from confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 22,681 while hospitalizations decreased to 49,350. The daily average for new cases during the last 7-day period dropped to 1,690/day from 2,195/day during the previous reporting period. The total number of vaccinated people reached 5,154,861 including the 82,348 who received their shots on October 14. more…
  • Iraq Signs New Contracts For Solar, Fuel Oil Power Plants As Iran Cuts Gas Supplies Again – On October 12, Chinese construction company CITIC said it won a contract to build a 3,200 megawatt power plant in Karbala that will cost $2.85 billion. On October 13, Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity said Baghdad has singed a contract with a consortium of Norwegian and Egyptian companies to build and operate two solar power stations with a combined generation capacity of 525 megawatts. On October 12, officials in Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity reported that Iran has once again halted the flow of natural gas supplies to power plants in central and southern Iraq, saying the disruption will to lead to reduced supply hours. 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.


Early Results Show Sadrists Winning 70+ Seats; KDP, Halbousi, Imtidad Gain Seats; Fatah, Militias Reject Results As IHEC Fumbles Data

On October 8, special voting commenced in Iraq. During that day, members of the country’s security forces, the incarcerated, those in hospitals, and Iraqis living in displacement were able to participate in the parliamentary election two days of the general voting day. According to statistics released by Iraq’s High Electoral Commission (IHEC), a total of 821,800 people cast their votes on Friday out of 1,196,524 registered voters, representing a turnout rate of 69%. On the following day, an IHEC spokesperson said that manual counting of ballots at a set of randomly selected stations matched the numbers produced by the electronic ballot counting machines 100% of the time. There were few reports of violations, such as in Diwaniyah, where elections monitors said the representatives of political parties were seen handling ballots after they were filled and before they reached IHEC staff. 

On October 10, millions of Iraqi voters headed to thousands of voting centers across the country to cast their ballots in the early parliamentary elections. After casting his ballot, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi urged Iraqis to participate in great numbers and “not miss the chance” to create change in Iraq. Voting took place at 8,962 centers containing more than 57,900 stations, according to IHEC data. An IHEC spokesperson said that 1,249 international and 147,152 local monitors observed the vote. By the time polls closed at 6pm local time, it appeared clear that turnout was low. IHEC data as of October 13 showed that 8,377,382 Iraqis voted out of 22,118,368 registered voters, representing a turnout rate of 38%. This is even lower than the 44.5% turnout in the 2018 election, which was the lowest in any Iraqi election until then. The percentage would be lower if the votes cast were to be measured against the number of eligible voters, which exceeds 25 million. Iraqi security chiefs said the security plan for the election day, which passed with few, if any, was a success. There were, however, reports of technical glitches that disrupted or delayed voting in some places, such as in Dhi-Qar, where 80 voting stations temporarily shut down due to voting machine malfunctions, most of which were later repaired.  

On October 11, the UN Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) commended IHEC and Iraq’s security force for organizing and protecting the October 10 election. In a statement, UNAMI said the election “proceeded smoothly” and showcased “significant technical and procedural improvements” compared to previous elections. UNAMI, however, described the low voter turnout in the early election as “disappointing.”

On October 11, early election results compiled by al-Sumaria and based on IHEC statements showed that candidates backed by Muqtada al-Sadr won as many as 73 seats in the new Parliament, a 19 seat increase from the Sadrists’ current holdings. The results also indicated that the Taqaddum party of Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi won 38 seats, and the State of Law bloc of former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki won 37. These frontrunners were followed by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) with 32 seats, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) with 17, the Azm party of Khamis al-Khanjar with 15, and the Fatah Coalition with 14. Results also indicated that the Imtidad Movement, which represents the Tishreen protest movement, won 9 seats, as did the New Generation party of Shaswar Abdul-Wahid. The largest losses impacted the parties led by Ammar al-Hakim and former prime minister Haider al-Abadi, which got a mere 2 seats each. Additional results compiled by analysts suggested that the Ishraqat Kanoon party (believed to be associated with the Najaf clergy) won 6 seats, and that independent candidates won as many as 20 seats across Iraq. Female candidates performed very well in the election, winning a total of 97 seats of Parliament’s 329, that’s 14 seats more than the 25% quota reserved for women by law. Updated early results that IHEC released and the local press compiled on October 13 put the seat distribution as follows: 

  • Muqtada al-Sadr’s bloc: 71
  • Taqaddum (Halbousi): 37
  • Nour al-Maliki’s State of Law: 36
  • KDP: 33
  • Fatah Coalition: 18
  • PUK: 16
  • Azm (Khamis al-Khanjar): 12
  • New Generation: 9
  • Imtidad: 9
  • Ishraqat Kanoon (affiliated with the Najaf clergy): 6
  • National State Forces Alliance (Hakim/Abadi): 5
  • Al-aqd al-Watani (Fayyadh): 5
  • Babylioun: 5
  • Tasmim: 4
  • Independents: 17

On October 11, and after emerging as the likely biggest winner in parliamentary election, Muqtada al-Sadr made a speech in which he described his bloc as the “largest” one dedicated to enacting reforms. Sadr pledged to fight corruption “with our blood if necessary,” and called for an agreement on a reform agenda in which there’s “no power sharing at the expense of the people.” Addressing Iraq’s relations with other countries, Sadr said that “all embassies are welcome” so long as the didn’t interfere with government formation. He added that the next government will lean “neither east nor west” in a reference to Iran and United States, respectively. In an apparent jab directed at his rivals in the Iran-backed militias and Fatah Coalition, Sadr said that weapons “must be exclusively in the hands of the state.”

On October 11, NRT reported, citing an unnamed Sadrist source, that Muqtada al-Sadr plans to form to ruling coalition with the Taqaddum party of Mohammed al-Halbousi and the Kurdish parties, without clarifying whether that meant the KDP, PUK, or both. The source said Sadr was determined to have the next prime minister be from the Sadrist bloc. The source added that Sadr also wants to exclude parties that are “loyal to external agendas,” a clear reference to Iran-backed militias and the Fatah Coalition. Meanwhile, Hoshyar Zebari, a senior KDP member, said the party is forming a negotiating team that will travel to Baghdad to negotiate post-election alliances with the winning parties. Zebari added that the KDP has begun identifying candidates for the presidency, which he described as the entitlement of Kurdish parties. 

On October 12, IHEC chief commissioner, Jalil Adnan, said that IHEC will conduct a manual count of ballots from 3,100 voting stations, representing 60,000 votes in the 6% of stations that encountered technical malfunctions on election day. On the same day, however, IHEC released an infographic that shows the commission has selected 8,547 stations for manual count, while stating that data electronically transferred from the other 45,716 stations matched the data recorded on memory sticks. The infographic also labeled 3,681 stations as “sanctioned,” without clarifying what that meant. IHEC also said it has received more than 325 complaints submitted by parties and individual candidates concerning the special and general vote, combined. An IHEC press conference on October 13 provided information that contradicts previous data. IHEC official Dawood Salman said the manual count will include only 140 stations, adding that the process would take a week. These 140 stations, Salman explained, did not transmit their data to IHEC via satellite link, nor did they store the data on memory sticks. Salman said that a total of 3,037 stations did not transmit their data via satellite links on time, while another 504 stations transmitted their data but didn’t send the corresponding memory sticks to the national election center. IHEC will deal with the latter two groups based on the memory stick data. Throughout the week, IHEC appeared to be struggling with data management issues, resulting in the publication and retraction of data sets that wildly deviated from the facts on the ground, such as one that put the number of voters at more than 50 million.

On October 12, Fatah Coalition leader Hadi al-Amiri said that Fatah does not accept the election results, which he called “fabricated,” adding that Fatah will “defend our voters and candidates with all our strength” and will reject the result “no matter the cost.” Other members and allies of Fatah, which has performed poorly in the election, echoed Amiri’s sentiment. Salim al-Abadi, a spokesman for Asaib Ahl al-Haq in Karbala, said the results were part of a foreign-backed  conspiracy against the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) seeking to weaken it and place it under the control of other security agencies. An entity called the “coordination committee for Iraqi resistance,” or Tanseeqiyah for short, said the election results were manipulated and invalid, accusing IHEC of  being unfit to manage elections. The statement, which made implicit attacks on Sadr, reiterated the argument that there was a foreign conspiracy trying to dismantle the PMF. A Kataib Hezbollah spokesman issued a more threatening statement, calling on PMF fighters to “be ready to defend their sacred organization.” The statement by Abul Ali al-Askari compared the election results to the referendums that Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship organized to claim legitimacy before its overthrow in 2003. Responding to the rising tension, Muqtada al-Sadr sent a conciliatory message on October 13, writing on Twitter that he too is part of the “resistance to occupation, terrorism, and normalization [with Israel].” Sadr called on other parties to exercise restraint, pledging that he wouldn’t cause harm to any Iraqi. But on the same day, the Tanseeqiyah reiterated its rejection of the election results, citing “chaos and confusion” in the release of data. The statement added a warning that “proceeding with these results jeopardizes societal peace.”  

On October 12, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department said Washington was pleased that the early elections in Iraq proceeded peacefully. The spokesman said the U.S. administration awaits the release of the final results and looks forward to working with the next Iraqi government when it has been formed.  

On October 13, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, Esmael Qaani, reportedly arrived in Baghdad on a secret trip to mitigate the impact of Muqtada al-Sadr’s electoral gains and the losses of the Fatah Coalition on Iran’s interests in Iraq. According to the unnamed diplomats, Qaani is trying to coordinate efforts by Iraqi political parties close to Iran to form the largest bloc in Parliament and gain the initiative with regard to forming the next government.

On October 13, the head of the Imtidad Movement, Alaa al-Rikabi, said his party, which is slated to win up to ten seats in the new parliament, will not participate in a government based on the ethno-sectarian power sharing system known as muhasasa. Rikabi said Imtidad will instead opt to form a political opposition bloc, stressing it would only consider alliances with other independent emerging parties across Iraq, including the Kurdistan region. 

On October 14, a member of the Fatah Coalition said the group had submitted official complaints to IHEC demanding a manual recount of early results, which showed Fatah candidates winning fewer than 20 seats. The member, Faris al-Bdairi, argued that electoral fraud was “visible to the naked eye” citing the changes in results that occurred since IHEC had released the first results on October 11. Bdairi went on to accuse IHEC of showing bias towards some parties he didn’t name. On October 14, the supporters of at least two Fatah Coalition candidates who lost the election held demonstrations denouncing the results in Ninewa. In Tal Afar, the Fatah supporters demanded a manual recount of ballots. In the Ninewa Plain to the east, Fatah supporters blocked the road between Mosul and Erbil with concrete barriers in protest of their candidate’s defeat.  

On October 14, the leadership of the Gorran (Change) Movement announced its resignation following the party’s failure to win any seats in the October 10 election. Gorran had formed an electoral coalition with the PUK in June, but all the coalition’s estimated 16 seats went to PUK candidates. 

On October 14, a senior member of the State of Law coalition that won approximately 36 seats in Parliament said the group has initiated talks with like minded parties to create the largest bloc in Parliament and form the next government. Alya Nsayif, another State of Law member, said the intended bloc would include the Fatah Coalition and other smaller parties and may reach 85 lawmakers in strength. 


Election Week Passes With Relatively Few Security Incidents; Iraq Captures The Deputy Leader Of ISIS

On October 7, a security source in Diyala province said that an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated near a poultry farm near the town of Khalis, north of Baquba. The explosion caused material damage but no casualties.  

On October 8, unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle reportedly attempted to assassinate Sadeer Jasim al-Khafaji, an election candidate in the Karrada district of Baghdad. A source close to the candidate said the attackers fired multiple bullets at his vehicle but missed their target.  

On October 8, a security source in Kirkuk province said that ISIS militants attacked a federal police armored personnel carrier with a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) near the Riyadh subdistrict. The attack injured a battalion commander in the federal police’s mechanized division’s 2nd brigade.  

On October 9, the Security Media Cell said that F-16 jets from the Iraqi air force struck a hideout used by ISIS militants in the Wadi Thalab area, south of Khanaqin in Diyala province. The airstrike destroyed the target and killed an unspecified number of militants who were inside at the time. 

On October 9, the Turkish Defense Ministry said its military forces killed three members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in an airstrike in the Afashin area inside Iraq’s Kurdistan region (KRI). 

On October 10, a security source in Ninewa said that four mortar rounds struck an open area in the Hatra district. To the south, security sources reported another attack with mortars on the outskirts of Baijin in Salah ad-Din province. Later on October 12, a third mortar attack targeted a police checkpoint near the village of al-Irayj south of Mosul. None of the attacks caused casualties. 

On October 10, a security source said ISIS militants attacked a federal police checkpoint near the village of Hamraniya in the Riyadh subdistrict, injuring a captain in the federal police. Nearby in the Rashad subdistrict, ISIS militants attacked an election center in the village of Steih with sniper fire, killing a police major and injuring two policemen. 

On October 10, a security source in Diyala said that ISIS militants attacked a checkpoint manned by tribal mobilization fighters with sniper fire. The attack occurred in the village of al-Ali, north of Muqdadiyah, and injured one tribal fighter. 

On October 11, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said Iraqi security forces arrested a senior ISIS operative named Sami Jasim. Kadhimi described Jasim as the head of ISIS finances and a deputy of its deceased leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Kadhimi said the arrest was a “tough intelligence operation” that took place “beyond the borders.” subsequent news reports said that Jasim was hiding in northwest Syria, and that the Turkish intelligence services helped their Iraqi counterparts reach their target.

On October 11, a security source in Kirkuk said that an under vehicle IED (UVIED) exploded in the Nida neighborhood of Kirkuk city without causing any serious injuries. 

On October 12, PMF sources said that a homemade IED (hand grenade according to another source) targeted the home of Haqi Ismael Amin, the commander of the 33rd PMF brigade in the Shula neighborhood in northern Baghdad. The attack caused minor injuries to two of Amin’s relatives. 

On October 13, security sources in Basra said that an IED explosion targeted a convoy transporting supplies for the International Coalition that was passing along a major highway through the province. The attack didn’t lead to casualties. 

On October 13, police sources in Ninewa said that unidentified gunmen opened fire from small arms on a policeman at a checkpoint in the Zumar subdistrict northwest of Mosul, killing him instantly. 

On October 14, security sources in Dhi-Qar said that a homemade IED exploded near a shop in the Fattahiyah neighborhood of the Shatra district. The attack caused material damage but no casualties.  


China Sends Iraq 1 Million Vaccine Doses; COVID-19 Cases Continue To Decline

On October 9, a Ninewa police spokesman said that 50 households from the province’s Christian community have returned to their home districts in Mosul City after spending more than five years in displacement. The official said the families returned under the protection of security forces. 

On October 13, Iraq’s ambassador to China, Shorish Khalid Saeed, said that the Chinese government has decided to donate another batch of its Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine to Iraq. According to the diplomat, the batch included 1 million doses and is expected to arrive before the end of the week. The donation would bring the number of vaccines that China has donated to Iraq to 1.75 million.  

On October 14, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 2,030,498. This is an increase of 11,831 in cases from the 2,018,667 reported on October 7. Of these cases, 49,350 are currently under treatment, including 270 being treated in ICUs. These numbers represent a decrease of 11,527 in hospitalizations and 109 in ICU admissions since October 7. Ministry data indicated that there were 208 new COVID-19 deaths since October 7, bringing the total from 22,473 to 22,681. The total number of recoveries increased from 1,910,908 to 1,958,467. The average number of new cases during the last 7-day period was 1,690 per day, down from 2,195 per day during the 7-day period ending October 7. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Sulaymaniyah with 583 cases, Erbil with 541, Duhok with 285, and Baghdad with 210 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 15,479,855 samples for COVID-19. The total number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 5,154,861 including 82,348 who received their shots on October 14. 


Iraq Signs New Contracts For Solar, Fuel Oil Power Plants As Iran Cuts Gas Supplies Again

On October 12, Chinese construction company CITIC said it has won a contract in Iraq to build a 2-stage major power plant in Karbala. According to the company, the Khairat power plant will have four 400 megawatt generation units in each stage, meaning the facility will ultimately provide up to 3,200 megawatts of electricity. The power plant, which will utilize heavy fuel oil in its units, will cost $2.85 billion to build. 

On October 12, officials in Iraq’s Electricity Ministry reported that Iran has halted the flow of natural gas supplies to power plants in central and southern Iraq. The officials said the disruption will lead to reduced supply hours in southern and central provinces, as the country depends on Iranian gas and electricity imports to meet nearly a third of its needs. This is the second time Iran halted gas exports to Iraq in as many months. In September, a sharp drop in gas exports denied Iraq 5,500 megawatts of power.

On October 13, a spokesman for Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity said Baghdad has singed a contract with Scatec, a consortium of Norwegian and Egyptian companies, to build and operate two solar power stations in Karbala and Babylon provinces. According to the spokesman, the two facilities will cost $500 million and have a generation capacity of 525 megawatts. Under the contract, the consortium is expected to build the power stations within 24 months, after which Iraq will purchase the electricity they generate for 25 years according to global energy prices. 


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs from October 7, 2021 - October 14, 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
10/7/21 Khalis, Diyala province00
10/11/21 Kirkuk city0 0
10/12/21 Shula, Baghdad0 2
10/13/21Basra00
10/14/21Shatra, 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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