ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: OCTOBER 14 – 21, 2021

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Key Takeaways:

  • Updated Election Results Show Few Changes; Militias Indirectly Threaten Violence To Stop Alleged Fraud – On October 15, President Salih and the chief of the Supreme Judicial Council issued a joint statement calling for calm amid escalating tensions following the release of election results, which were met with fierce objections from the Fatah coalition and affiliated militias. On October 16, IHEC published the full preliminary results of the October 10 election, including votes from 3,681 voting stations that required a manual count. The updated results upgraded the turnout level to 43% but otherwise revealed slight changes from the initial results released earlier. On October 17, a journalist affiliated with the Fatah Coalition said he had information that “military measures” including rocket attacks against neighboring countries, may be taken should peaceful measures fail to address the “stealing of votes.” On October 19, Imtidad leader Alaa al-Rikabi said that his group will try to create an alliance of all independent lawmakers to form the next government. On October 20, security forces blocked roads leading into the Green Zone as Fatah coalition supporters gathered for a second day to denounce election results and demand full manual recount of ballots. On October 20, IHEC officials said they have begun looking into 1,400 objections that political parties had submitted to contest election results. more…
  • Turkey Extends Iraq Operations Until 2023; Iraq Captures ISIS Militant Behind Baghdad’s Deadliest Bombing – Between October 15 – 21, the Turkish military said its forces had killed 20 members of the PKK in various locations in northern Iraq. On October 20, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked his parliament to extend an authorization to conduct military operations inside Iraq and Syria until October 30, 2023. Between October 16 – 21, five militant attacks killed at least three Iraqis and wounded three others. Between October 17 – 20, security sources reported four IED explosions in Ninewa and Dhi-Qar resulting in one civilian injury. On October 18, PM Kadhimi said that Iraq’s security forces captured an ISIS militant named Ghazwan al-Zobaie, who is the suspected mastermind behind several major bombing that struck Baghdad in the past, including a suicide bombing that killed more than 300 people at a shopping mall in the capital’s busy Karrada district in 2016. more…
  • UN Agencies Warn Of Climate Change Impact On Vulnerable Communities As Water Shortage Shuts Down Agriculture – On October 16, three UN aid organizations issued a joint statement warning about the effects of climate change on vulnerable communities in Iraq that rely mostly on farming, fishing, and raising animals. The statement noted that in hard-hit Ninewa and Salah ad-Din, families were forced to borrow or eat less food at “almost double the national average.” On October 19, Iraqi officials said that that country will have to cut the area of cultivated land that is irrigated by surface water by half due to water scarcity. On October 21, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 2,042,117. Deaths from confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 22,875 while hospitalizations decreased to 39,679. The daily average for new cases during the last 7-day period dropped slightly to 1,660/day from 1,690/day during the previous reporting period. The total number of vaccinated people reached 5,456,847 including 72,642 who received their shots on October 21. more…
  • Iraq And UAE Sign Investment Protection Treaty; Schlumberger To Drill 96 Wells At West Qurna – On October 18, the chief of Iraq’s National Investment Commission and the Deputy Finance Minister of the UAE signed a bilateral treaty for the promotion and protection of investments. On October 21, Iraq signed a new contract with oil service company Schlumberger to drill 96 wells at the West Qurna-1 oil field to boost production capacity by 200,000 bpd. 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.


Updated Election Results Show Few Changes; Militias Indirectly Threaten Violence To Stop Alleged Fraud

On October 14, Muqtada al-Sadr said he authorized four of his senior aides to negotiate arrangements for parliamentary alliances with other parties. According to al-Sumaria, Sadr appointed incoming member of Parliament Hassan al-Ithari as head of the team. He also appointed veteran Sadrist representative Nassar al-Rubaie and Nabil al-Tarfi as Ithari’s deputies, with Hakim al-Zamili, another longtime aide of Sadr, “in support” of the negotiating team.

On October 15, President Barham Salih and the chief of the Supreme Judicial Council, Faeq Zeidan, issued a joint statement addressing the recent tension that followed the release of election results, which were met with fierce objections from the Fatah coalition and affiliated militias. The statement said that objections that are made “within legal frameworks” were acceptable and must be dealt with “according to the law and constitution,” adding that the president and judiciary will support IHEC efforts to look into objections “with utmost seriousness…high professionalism, and total neutrality.” Salih and Zeidan urged all parties to remain calm and “avoid any escalation that could undermine peace and security.”

On October 16, the “coordination framework for Shia powers” which represents several political groups that lost the election, reiterated its rejection of the election results IHEC had released. The group said it had hope that IHEC would “correct the major violations it had committed during and after the count” adding that with IHEC’s “insistence on questionable results, we announce our total rejection of these results.” The statement held IHEC “responsible for the failure and mismanagement” of the election” adding that this will have “negative consequences for democracy and society.”

On October 16, IHEC published the full preliminary results of the October 10 election. The updated results include votes from 3,681 voting stations that had failed to transmit their results via the satellite data link on election day and therefore required a manual count. The updated results upgraded the turnout level in the election to 43% but otherwise revealed slight changes from the initial results released earlier, as the table below shows. One important exception is that the number of winners among candidates who ran as independents increased to as many as 40, according to results compiled by NINA. 

  • Muqtada al-Sadr’s bloc: 73
  • Taqaddum (Halbousi): 37
  • Nour al-Maliki’s State of Law: 34
  • KDP: 32
  • Fatah Coalition: 17
  • PUK: 16
  • Azm (Khamis al-Khanjar): 12
  • New Generation: 9
  • Imtidad: 9
  • Ishraqat Kanoon (affiliated with the Najaf clergy): 6
  • Al-aqd al-Watani (Fayyadh): 5
  • Babylioun: 5
  • Tasmim: 5
  • National State Forces Alliance (Hakim/Abadi): 4
  • Independents: 40

On October 17, a journalist with links to the Fatah Coalition said he had information that “military measures” including rocket attacks, may be used in the near future should popular, legal and political measures fail to address the “stealing of votes” that resulted in Fatah winning only about 17 seats in the election. The journalist, Ahmed Abdul-Sada, said the military action would target the United Arab Emirates, whom he accused of orchestrating electoral fraud through the manipulation of IHEC data servers located there. Responding to the threat, a spokesman for Iraq’s Joint Operations Command (JOC) said the Iraqi military “will not allow Iraq to be used as a launchpad” for attacks on other countries. 

On October 17, the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Nechirvan Barzani, visited the Qatari capital, Doha, for meetings with Qatari leaders, including the ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. According to Rudaw, Barzani’s talks with the Qatari leaders addressed the outcome of the October 10 election and government formation options, Qatari investments in the Kurdistan region, and Qatar’s plans to open a consulate in Erbil. 

On October 19, a member of the State of Law coalition, which is led by Nouri al-Maliki, claimed that the group has succeeded in creating an alliance of nearly 95 members of Parliament. The member, Bahaa al-Nouri, said that Nouri al-Maliki will be their candidate for the premiership once the Supreme Federal Court ratifies the results and post-election coalitions can be officially announced. 

On October 19, Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the National State Forces coalition, met with a delegation of Sadrist politicians, led by newly appointed negotiator, Hassan al-Ithari. Hakim reportedly urged the Sadrists, who won more seats than any other group, to send “messages of reassurance” to other political parties. Hakim also stressed that the objections and appeals submitted by losing parties must be properly addressed in order to build confidence in the electoral process. 

On October 19, Alaa al-Rikabi, the leader of the Imtidad party said that his group will try to create an alliance of all independent candidates who won in the election with the ultimate goal of putting together a coalition capable of forming the next government. Should this effort fail, Rikabi added, Imtidad would then opt to establish a parliamentary opposition bloc. Rikabi reiterated that Imtidad would not join traditional parties in forming another “muhasasa government” in reference to Iraq’s ethno-sectarian power-sharing arrangements.  

On October 20, security forces blocked roads leading into the Green Zone in Baghdad as crowds of demonstrators gathered for a second day to denounce election results and demand full manual recount of ballots. The demonstrators are supporters of the Fatah Coalition and allied militias, who have raised claims of electoral fraud following their humble showing in the October 10 election. The demonstrators, who started arriving in larger numbers on October 19, had set up tents, indicating that they plan to have an extended sit-in. Smaller similar protests were reported since October 16 in southern provinces, including Basra, Karbala, and Diwaniyah. On October 20, Fatah Coalition leader, Hadi al-Amiri, encouraged those election fraud protesters to persist peacefully and avoid using other methods like burning tires or blocking roads.

On October 20, Iraq’s chief election commissioner, Jalil Khalaf, said that the country’s High Electoral Commission (IHEC) has begun looking into all the objections that political parties had submitted. According to Khalaf, IHEC received nearly 1,400 objections by the end of the objection submission deadline on October 19. Khalaf explained that IHEC would look into the evidence submitted by objecting parties, and if those supported the validity of the objections, IHEC would then open the ballot boxes in question and conduct a manual recount in the presence of representatives of the competing parties or candidates. 

On October 21, the Sadrist bloc said it rejected the calls for a complete manual recount of ballots. Sadrist representative Riyadh al-Masoudi said that a full recount is an unacceptable measure that was never adopted in any previous election. Masoudi said the demands for a full recount were an attempt by populist parties to muddy the waters and create chaos.


Turkey Extends Iraq Operations Until 2023; Iraq Captures ISIS Militant Behind Baghdad’s Deadliest Bombing

On October 15, the Turkish military said its forces had killed 13 members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq during operations extending over the previous 48 hours. In another statement on October 17, Turkey’s defense ministry said its forces killed three other PKK members in the Qandil mountains of Iraq’s Kurdistan region. Then on October 19 and 21, Turkey said it killed four more PKK fighters in two separate operations, the first an unspecified location in northern Iraq, and the other in the Zab region..

On October 16, a security source in Kirkuk said that ISIS militants attacked a group of civilians collecting lumber in the Wadi Shay area and burned three trucks that belonged to the civilians before leaving the area. 

On October 16, Ninewa police said that unidentified gunmen opened fire from small arms at a local generator operator in the Hammam al-Alil subdistrict killing him instantly.

On October 17, security sources in Nasiriyah said that unidentified gunmen placed an improvised explosive device (IED) in front of the house of Dhi-Qar’s health director. The explosion set a car on fire and caused material damage without casualties. Later on the same day, another IED attack targeted the home of a university professor in the al-Tar subdistrict, south of Nasiriyah. The explosion caused material damage without casualties. 

On October 18, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said that Iraq’s security forces captured an ISIS militant named Ghazwan al-Zobaie, who is the suspected mastermind behind several major bombing that struck Baghdad in the past. The most bloody of these attacks is a suicide bombing that killed more than 300 people at a shopping mall in the capital’s busy Karrada district in 2016. According to Kadhimi, the arrest was the culmination of a “complex intelligence operation” that Iraq’s National Intelligence Service (INIS) performed beyond Iraq’s borders.

On October 18, a security source in Diyala province said that ISIS militants attacked a police checkpoint in the village of Abu Khamis in the Buhruz subdistrict. The attack wounded two policemen and destroyed a police vehicle. 

On October 19, security sources reported that three mortar rounds struck an outpost for the Popular Mobilization forces in the Latifiyah district south of Baghdad. There were no reports of casualties. 

On October 19, Turkish defense industries company, Otonom Teknoloji, said that it has won a contract to supply Iraq with aerostat surveillance systems. According to the company, the deal also includes technology transfer and the option for joint production of the systems. There were no additional details about the cost or number of the systems Iraq plans to purchase. 

On October 19, security sources said that an IED struck a convoy transporting supplies for the International Coalition along a major highway through Dhi-Qar province. There were no reports of casualties. Later, on October 21, security forces in Babylon reported dismantling three more IEDs that were emplaced to target logistical convoys along a major highway in the province. 

On October 20, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked the Turkish parliament to extend its authorization for the Turkish military to conduct military operations inside Iraq and Syria until October 30, 2023. The request argued that “the existence of PKK and Daesh in Iraq poses a direct threat to regional peace, stability, and the security of our country.”

On October 20, security sources in Ninewa said that a legacy IED exploded in the Amu Baqal area of Mosul’s Old CIty. The explosion injured one civilian.

On October 21, security sources said that ISIS militants attacked a police checkpoint near the town of Badush, northwest of Mosul. The attack killed one civilian and injured another. 


UN Agencies Warn Of Climate Change Impact On Vulnerable Communities As Water Shortage Shuts Down Agriculture

On October 16, three UN aid organizations issued a joint statement warning about the effects of climate change on vulnerable communities in Iraq that “contribute the least to the climate crisis” but “bear the brunt of the impacts.” In their statement, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) urged action to address water scarcity and other adverse effects of climate change on communities that rely mostly on farming, fishing, and raising animals. The statement noted that in the provinces of Ninewa and Salah ad-Din, where low rainfall reduced the grain harvest by as much as 90%, families were forced to borrow or eat less food at “almost double the national average.” The UN organization called for introducing improvements to the food ration system to help these communities “withstand future shocks” pointing out that “resilient, modern food systems are important for long term food security and the sustainable economic growth of Iraq.” On a national level, FAO expects wheat production this year to be “70% lower and barley production negligible.” 

On October 19, Iraqi officials said that that country will have to cut the area of cultivated land that is irrigated by surface water in the next growing season by half due to water scarcity, except in Diyala, where the whole grain growing season is canceled due to severe water scarcity. 

On October 21, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 2,042,117. This is an increase of 11,619 in cases from the 2,030,498 reported on October 14. Of these cases, 39,679 are currently under treatment, including 247 being treated in ICUs. These numbers represent a decrease of 9,671 in hospitalizations and 23 in ICU admissions since October 14. Ministry data indicated that there were 194 new COVID-19 deaths since October 14, bringing the total from 22,681 to 22,875. The total number of recoveries increased from 1,958,467 to 1,979,563. The average number of new cases during the last 7-day period was 1,660 per day, nearly unchanged from 1,690 per day during the 7-day period ending October 14. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Erbil with 501, Sulaymaniyah with 335 cases, Duhok with 240, and Ninewa with 176 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 15,622,446 samples for COVID-19. The total number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 5,456,847 including 72,642 who received their shots on October 21.


Iraq And UAE Sign Investment Protection Treaty; Schlumberger To Drill 96 Wells At West Qurna

On October 14, Iraq’s Council of Ministers instructed the Planning Ministry to reallocate $281.6 million from funds earmarked to cover the costs of foreign oil companies developing Iraq’s oil fields to make late payments to Boeing related to Iraq’s purchase of new aircraft. 

On October 18, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates signed a bilateral treaty for the promotion and protection of investments. The Iraqi official news agency said the agreement was signed by the chief of Iraq’s National Investment Commission and the deputy finance minister of the UAE during a meeting in Abu Dhabi.

On October 21, Iraq signed a new contract with oil service company Schlumberger to drill 96 wells at the West Qurna-1 oil field in Basra. Iraqi oil officials said the contract will involve horizontal drilling to maximize production and reduce the water level in the wells. A Schlumberger said the 96 new wells will allow the field to produce an additional 200,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd), which Iraqi officials say will bring total production capacity to 800,000 bpd by the year 2027.


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs from October 14, 2021 - October 21, 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
10/17/21 Nasiriyah, Dhi-Qar province00
10/17/21 Al-Tar, Dhi-Qar province0 0
10/19/21 Dhi-Qar province0 0
10/20/21 Old City, Mosul01

 

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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