ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: OCTOBER 21 – OCTOBER 28, 2021

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Key Takeaways:

  • UNSC Praises “Technically Sound” Election; Sadr And Rivals Name Potential PM Candidates; IHEC Begins Recount Of Ballots From 2,000 Stations – On October 22, the UN Security Council congratulated Iraq on conducting a “technically sound election” and condemned threats of violence against IHEC and UNAMI staff. On October 24, political parties that rejected the election results reiterated their position while their supporters attempted to break into the Green Zone. On October 25, PM Kadhimi met with his visiting Lebanese counterpart and discussed “strengthening the bonds of economic cooperation and commercial exchanges.” On October 25, Kadhimi received a phone call from his Spanish counterpart and discussed economic cooperation, counter-terrorism, and counter-extremism. On October 25, Imtidad said its priority in Parliament will be to “expose the killers of protesters.” On October 27, an independent election winner from Wasit claimed that big political parties were using huge financial incentives to persuade independent lawmakers to join them. On October 27, political sources said the Sadrists and their rivals in the “coordination framework for Shia powers” are discussing seven potential candidates for the premiership. The Sadrists reportedly presented Mustafa al-Kadhimi, Faeq Zeidan, Nassar al-Rubaie, and Hamid al-Ghazi, while the other side presented Mohammed al-Sudani, Asaad al-Idani, and Tareq Najm. On October 27, IHEC began a manual recount of ballots from 2,000 voting stations where there have been objections to results. On October 28, UNAMI condemned the “heinous attacks” that killed at least 18 people in Diyala, urging Iraqi authorities to conduct a thorough investigation and take necessary measures to protect civilians. more…
  • Deadly Attacks In Diyala Kill At Least 18 And Displace Hundreds Amid Fear Of More violence – On October 26, ISIS militants attacked a group of civilians in the village of Rashad in Diyala province, killing 11 people and wounding several. After the attack, a group of gunmen believed to be related to the victims reportedly attacked the nearby village of Nahr al-Imam, where they killed seven people and set homes, farms, and vehicles on fire in what appears to be an act of revenge. On October 28, the Minister of Migration and Displacement confirmed that 227 families from Nahr al-Imam abandoned their village amid fear of more violence. Between October 23 – 27, seven other militant attacks killed at least eight people and wounded six more. Between October 23 – 28, the explosions of seven IEDs and one remnant of war killed at least five Iraqis and wounded seven others. Another IED explosion killed a Turkish soldier and wounded another in the Kurdistan region. Between October 21 – 27, Iraqi security forces killed four ISIS militants in Rutba, Kahmour, and Tarmiyah. Between October 22 – 26, Turkey said that its military forces killed 11 members of the PKK in various locations in the Kurdistan region. more…
  • Study Reveals Hardships Of Climate-Induced Migration; “Unprecedented” Water Shortage Threatens Diyala; Health Officials Warn Of New COVID-19 Wave – On October 21, IOM released a study on the effects of climate-induced migration in southern Iraq, which says that worsening environmental conditions have rendered the agricultural sector unable to sustain livelihoods, accelerating migrations from rural to urban areas with inadequate resources and opportunities. On October 25, officials in Udheim-Diyala urged the Iraqi government to reconsider a decision to cancel the winter farming plan in the area, warning that it would “starve 50,000 people.” On October 26, Iraqi officials expressed growing concern about an “unprecedented” decline in water levels at the Serwan river, which flows from Iran into the Diyala river. On October 28, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 2,052,123. Deaths from confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 23,083 while hospitalizations decreased to 32,914. The daily average for new cases during the last 7-day period dropped to 1,429/day from 1,660/day during the previous reporting period. The total number of vaccinated people reached 5,792,162 including 81,803 who received their shots on October 28. Earlier, the Ministry warned that a “fourth wave” of COVID-19 was likely as an increase in cases in several countries point to the possible emergence of a new viral strain. The Ministry said that poor compliance with preventive guidelines and low vaccination rates expose Iraq to a new spike in infections that could challenge the health system. more…
  • Baghdad Pursues New Energy Deals With Riyadh; Iraq Aims To End Gas Flaring By 2025 – On October 23, Iraq’s Planning Ministry reported that inflation levels in September were up 7.3% from the same month in 2020. On October 24, the Iraqi-Saudi committee for energy and industries held a meeting in Riyadh to discuss power grid connections, gas field development projects, and potential Saudi participation in the Nibras Petrochemicals project, which Iraq is pursuing with Shell. Iraq’s acting Electricity Minister also said that Iraq was close to signing a contract with a Saudi firm to build a 1,000 megawatt solar farm. On October 25, Iraq’s Finance Minister said the country plans to stop flaring associated gas by the year 2025. The effort requires $3 billion in annual investments over the next four years. On October 25, Iran’s ambassador to Baghdad announced that Iranian visitors can now travel to Iraq by air without having to obtain an entry visa in advance. 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.


UNSC Praises “Technically Sound” Election; Sadr And Rivals Name Potential PM Candidates; IHEC Begins Recount Of Ballots From 2,000 Stations

On October 22, the UN Security Council issued a statement congratulating Iraq on the conclusion of the October 10 election. The statement praised Iraq’s High Electoral Commission (IHEC) for organizing a “technically sound election.” In the statement, the Security Council members also condemned the threats of violence that some of the groups that rejected the election results have made against IHEC and UNAMI staff. In response, the Fatah coalition said it was “surprised” by the Security Council statement that “congratulated Iraq on a successful election before legal objections could be resolved.’ Fatah said the statement makes the UN no longer impartial and “raises questions about its role in what has happened.”

On October 24, security sources said that supporters of political parties that have rejected the election results attempted to break into the Green Zone in Baghdad. The demonstrators, who were reacting to IHEC’s decision to reject calls for full manual recount or results, were blocked by security forces from entering the area. Another security source estimated the number of Fatah supporters who had gathered near the Green Zone since IHEC announced the election results to be between 1,500 and 1,700. 

On October 24, the political parties that rejected the election results issued a statement in which they reiterated their “rejection of the results and the selective manner in which the [electoral] Commission dealt with legal objections.” The parties insisted that IHEC must perform a full manual recount of all voting stations. The parties, which reportedly had a meeting earlier that day to discuss their next steps, called on President Salih to “intervene, being the protector of the constitution, and prevent the matter from moving in a more dangerous direction.”

On October 25, political sources said that the “coordination framework for Shia powers,” which represents several political groups that lost the election, was fragmenting due to disagreements among its members over proposals to nominate Nouri al-Maliki as their candidate for the premiership. The sources added that the Najaf clergy has also sent a message to the political parties rejecting the idea of nominating anyone who had served as prime minister in the past. This “veto” from Najaf has reportedly prompted the members of the coordination framework, who met on October 24 at Maliki’s residence, to consider several other names that could be presented as “compromise candidates” during future negotiations with Muqtada al-Sadr. 

On October 25, Muqtada al-Sadr’s representative in Dhi-Qar, Ibrahim al-Jabiri, said that Sadr does not seek monopoly over power and political decisions. Jabiri argued that Sadr wants instead to create a ruling coalition based on the principle of “partners in the homeland,” adding that other parties have no reason to fear a government led by the Sadrists. 

On October 25, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi met with his visiting Lebanese counterpart, Najib Mikati in Baghdad. A statement by Kadhimi’s office said the prime minister expressed Iraq’s interest in “strengthening the bonds of economic cooperation and commercial exchanges with Lebanon.” Kadhimi and Mikato also discussed security cooperation, counter-terrorism, and cooridnating their coiuntries’ bilateral approach to regional issues, according to the statement.  

On October 25, Prime Minister Kadhimi received a phone call from his Spanish counterpart, Pedro Sanchez. A statement by Kadhimi’s office said the two premiers discussed cooperation between Iraq and Spain on several issues, including the economy, industries and investment, cultural exchanges, and security, counter-terrorism, and counter-extremism.  

On October 25, a spokesperson for the Imtidad Movement said the priority of the group’s representatives in Parliament will be to “expose the killers of protesters” and bring the entities that were “directly or indirectly” responsible for the abuses to justice. The spokesperson, Manar al-Obeidi, said the other priorities include reducing the excessive entitlements of lawmakers, and working to recover stolen public funds that had been smuggled out of the country. 

On October 27, NRT reported citing political sources that the Sadrist bloc gained an additional seat in Diyala province following manual recount of some of the province’s voting stations. The additional seat brings the total number of seats won by Sadrist candidates nationwide to 74.

On October 27, Azm representative, Mohammed Nouri Abd-Rabba, said that the two main Sunni parties, Azm and Taqaddum, were waiting for Shia parties to resolve their disputes over election results before approaching the question of their respective shares in the next government. Abd-Rabba said the Sunni parties were not taking sides and were instead working “to build consensus” among all stakeholders. Earlier, Kurdish member of Parliament Jamal Kojar said the Kurdish parties too were waiting for the Shia major parties to “resolve the crisis of deciding the largest bloc within the Shia house.” Imad Bajlan, a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), affirmed that Kurdish parties will “go united to Baghdad,” to negotiate for the “constitutional, legal and electoral entitlements, of the Kurdisn region. Bajlan added that they will not get involved in the disputes between major powers in Baghdad. 

On October 27, an independent election winner from Wasit province claimed that big political parties were using huge financial incentives to persuade independent incoming lawmakers to join them. The independent winner, Sajjad Salim, claimed during a televised interview that some parties were offering up to $5 million to win over independents. 

On October 27, Rudaw reported citing informed political sources that the Sadrists and their rivals in the “coordination framework for Shia powers,” which represents several political groups that lost the election, are discussing seven potential candidates for the premiership. The source, who are close to the “coordination framework for Shia powers” said that the Sadrists have floated the names of Mustafa al-Kadhimi, Faeq Zeidan, Nassar al-Rubaie, and Hamid al-Ghazi. Meanwhile, the other side has presented Mohammed Shya al-Sudai, Asaad al-Idani, and Tareq Najm as potential candidates. The source added that “the coordination framework is absolutely convinced that a government cannot be formed by one party,” asserting that the next government will be formed through consensus.  

On October 27, Iraq’s High Electoral Commission (IHEC) began a manual recount of ballots from voting stations  where there have been objections by candidates. The representatives of concerned political parties and candidates, along with Iraqi and international observers were present as the recount began. IHEC earlier said that it had finished looking into all of the objections submitted by political parties and candidates and decided that the manual recount will involve 2,000 voting stations from various provinces. IHEC explained that the recount will take place on a rolling basis, starting with stations from Ninewa on October 27, followed by Babylon on October 28 and Baghdad’s Rasafa district on Friday, and so on. An IHEC official said earlier that the recount process for all provinces will take place at one location in Baghdad, adding that there was no set deadline for completing the process. IHEC said it had received a total of 1,400 objections from political parties and candidates by the end of the objection submission deadline on October 19.

On October 28, the UN Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) issued a statement condemning the “heinous attacks” that struck villages in Diyala province on October 26 and killed at least 18 people (details below). UNAMI urged Iraqi authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of the events and take all necessary measures to protect civilians. 


Deadly Attacks In Diyala Kill At Least 18 And Displace Hundreds Amid Fear Of More violence

On October 21, security sources said that Iraqi security forces (ISF) killed an ISIS militant who was part of a group that attacked an ISF checkpoint near the Rutba district of Anbar province. On the following day, units from the Iraqi army’s 14th division killed another ISIS militant and destroyed a hideout used by ISIS in the Qara Chogh mountains near Makhmour. 

On October 22, police in the Tal Afar district of Ninewa said that the explosion of a legacy improvised explosive device (IED) killed two children and injured a third while they were herding animals on the outskirts of Tal Afar. 

On October 22, Turkish military sources said that Turkish forces killed three members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) near Mount Gara in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. On October 24, the Turkish Defense Ministry said its forces killed three more PKK members in an airstrike on an unspecified location in northern Iraq. Two day later, Turkey said that a roadside IED struck a Turkish military vehicle in an unspecified location in northern Iraq. The explosion killed a Turkish soldier and wounded another. On October 26, the Turkish Defense Ministry said its forces killed five more PKK fighters in the Zab area of the Kurdistan region. 

On October 23, security sources said that ISIS militants killed a civilian and injured his mother in an attack in the Tarmiyah district, north of Baghdad. On the following day, militants injured another civilian when they attacked his vehicle with small arms fire in Tarmiyah. To the west, in Anbar province, security sources said on October 24 that ISIS militants executed a young man after abducting him and robbing his possessions. Police found the victim’s body in the desert outside Ramadi.  

On October 23, security sources in Basra said that a homemade IED exploded in front of a house in the Shatt al-Arab district east of Basra City. The explosion caused material damage without casualties. 

On October 24, an IED attached to the vehicle of a police officer exploded in the Shula neighborhood of northwest Baghdad. The attack damaged the vehicle without causing casualties. 

On October 24, security sources in Najaf said that an explosive remnant of war (ERW) exploded in the Sea of Najaf area, west of Najaf City, wounding two children. 

On October 26, security sources in Diyala said that ISIS militants attacked Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) fighters near the Sadiyah subdistrict, northeast of Baquba. The attack killed one PMF fighter and injured two others. 

On October 25, security sources in Diyala said that an IED explosion struck at the entrance of the courthouse in the Abu Saida subdistrict. The explosion wounded two civilians and a policeman, who reportedly died later as a result of his injuries. Elsewhere in Diyala, an IED exploded at a construction site in Baquba, killing a construction worker. 

On October 26, security sources in Ninewa said that a roadside IED struck an Iraqi army patrol in al-Hadhar district, south of Mosul. The explosion killed one soldier and wounded two others. 

On October 26, ISIS militants attacked a group of civilians in the village of Rashad, near the Muqdadiyah district of Diyala province. Eyewitnesses told reporters that the attackers opened fire from small arms and machine guns, inflicting heavy casualties before fleeing the scene. Iraq’s Joint Operations Command (JOC) said the attack left 11 people dead and several others wounded. Some reports indicated that the victims had gathered at the scene to deliver ransom money to secure the release of relatives who had been kidnapped by gunmen when the attackers ambushed them. Security sources said that after the attack, a group of gunmen believed to be related to the victims attacked the nearby village of Nahr al-Imam, where they killed seven people and set several homes on fire in what appears to be an act of revenge. Other reports indicated that the attack on Nahr al-Imam (which was described as a Sunni village) involved vehicles marked with PMF insignia, and that the attackers burned the village’s clinic, mosque, several farms, and dozens of vehicles. Prime Minister Kadhimi convened a meeting of the ministerial council for national security on October 28 to discuss the events in Muqdadiyah and reports by a security committee the commander in chief had dispatched to the province. Kadhimi commended the ISF for their “quick response” which he said denied ISIS the chance to establish a foothold in Diyala. On October 28, security sources reported that dozens of families from Nahr al-Imam abandoned their village amid fear of more violence. The Minister of Migration and Displacement confirmed that 227 families left their village, adding that authorities have placed them in temporary homes and paid their rent. The Minister added that the government will pay IQD10 million to the family of each victim and IQD1 million to each family displaced by the violence. 

On October 27, ISIS militants attacked four ISF checkpoints near the town of Siniyah in Salah ad-Din province, killing two Iraqi soldiers and wounding two more. To the east, an ISIS sniper attack killed another Iraqi soldier near Daquq, south of Kirkuk. In Diyala, another militant attack killed two Iraqi policemen near the village of Barwana in the Muqdadiyah district.  

On October 27, the Security Media Cell said that Iraqi army helicopters killed two ISIS militants while they were trying to cross the Tigris between the Tarmiyah and Rashdiyah areas north of Baghdad. 

On October 28, security sources said that an IED struck a convoy transporting supplies for the International Coalition along a major highway near the town of Mashahdah, north of Baghdad. There were no reports of casualties. 


Study Reveals Hardships Of Climate-Induced Migration; “Unprecedented” Water Shortage Threatens Diyala; Health Officials Warn Of New COVID-19 Wave

On October 21, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) released a new study on the conditions and effects of climate-induced migration in Iraq’s southern provinces. The study explains how worsening environmental conditions have undermined agriculture in Iraq over the past decade, rendering the sector unable to sustain livelihoods, and accelerating the migration of people from rural to urban areas with inadequate resources and opportunities. The study involved a survey of several hundred respondents in Basra to identify the obstacles that prevent the integration of new climate migrants. The study found that more than 50% of migrant families said they couldn’t afford food or other necessities in sufficient amounts. Migrants surveyed in the study also reported limited access to public services “which may include employment support, policing and formal dispute resolution and guarantees on property rights.”

On October 25, local officials in the Udheim subdistrict in Diyala pleaded with the Iraqi government to reconsider a recent decision to cancel the winter farming plan in the area due to water shortages. The subdistrict manager said the decision was “unjustified and catastrophic,” warning that banning winter farming would “starve 50,000 people.”

On October 25, Iraq’s Ministry of Health warned that a “fourth wave” of COVID-19 was likely as the recent increase in cases in several countries around the world point to the possible emergence of a new strain of the virus. The Ministry said that poor compliance with preventive guidelines and low vaccination rates mean that Iraq will be vulnerable to a new spike in infections that could challenge the health system. Meanwhile, a Ministry spokesman said authorities have launched a new campaign to encourage people to take the vaccine. The spokesman said that the latest statistics indicate that 5.621 million Iraqis have received at least one dose of the vaccine, of whom 3.5 million have received two doses. Later, on October 27, the Health Ministry said it received two new batches from Pfizer and COVAX containing more than 780,000 doses. The shipments arrived on October 26 via Baghdad’s airport. 

On October 26, the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIS (UNITAD) said that the German government will provide a new contribution of €1 million to help UNITAD investigate financial transactions related to the crimes committed by ISIS.

On October 26, Iraqi officials expressed growing concern about an “unprecedented” decline in water levels at the Serwan river, which flows from Iran into the Diyala river in Iraq. According to officials at the Darbandikhan dam, the water level has dropped by more than 7.5 meters compared to the same time last year, representing the lowest level since the dam was built in 1961. The officials explained that water flows into the dam declined to 900 million cubic meters, down from 4.7 billion cubic meters in recent years. 

On October 27, a spokesman for Iraq’s Foreign Ministry said that Baghdad has handed over 38 children with family connections to ISIS fighters to the government of Azerbaijan to be reunited with their relatives. The spokesman said the children had been held in prison with their mothers who were sentenced to prison by Iraqi courts on terrorism charges. 

On October 28, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 2,052,123, an increase of 10,006 in cases from the 2,042,117 reported on October 21. Of these cases, 32,914 are currently under treatment, including 226 being treated in ICUs. These numbers represent a decrease of 6,765 in hospitalizations and 21 in ICU admissions since October 21. Ministry data indicated that there were 208 new COVID-19 deaths since October 21, bringing the total from 22,875 to 23,083. The total number of recoveries increased from 1,979,563 to 1,996,126. The average number of new cases during the last 7-day period was 1,429 per day, down from 1,660 per day during the 7-day period ending October 21. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Duhok with 300 cases, Sulaymaniyah with 280, Erbil with 264, and Ninewa with 160 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 15,760,869 samples for COVID-19. The total number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 5,792,162 including 81,803 who received their shots on October 28.


Baghdad Pursues New Energy Deals With Riyadh; Iraq Aims To End Gas Flaring By 2025

On October 23, Iraq’s Planning Ministry reported that inflation in Iraq dropped by 0.7% in September compared to the month of August. The Ministry noted that inflation levels in September were up 7.3% when compared with the same month in 2020. The Ministry says it bases its estimates on changes in the prices of 333 different goods and services representing 88% of average family spending. 

On October 24, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said that the Iraqi-Saudi committee for energy and industries held a new meeting in Riyadh to discuss power grid connections, gas field development projects, and potential Saudi participation in the Nibras Petrochemicals project, which Iraq is pursuing with Shell. Meanwhile, Iraq’s acting Electricity Minister, Adil Karim, said that Iraq was close to signing a contract with Saudi firm Aqua Power to build a 1,000 megawatt solar power project in Najaf.  

On October 25, Iraq’s Finance Minister Ali Allawi said that his country plans to put a stop to the flaring of associated gas by the year 2025. Allawi said that meeting this goal requires that the government allocates $3 billion in annual investments over the next four years. The Minister explained that the captured gas would replace diesel and fuel oil at power plants and cut Iraq’s CO2 emissions, which he estimated at ten million tons a year. 

On October 25, Iran’s ambassador to Baghdad, Iraj Masjidi, announced that Iranian visitors can now travel to Iraq by air without having to obtain an entry visa in advance. During his September visit to Tehran, Prime Minister Kadhimi had agreed to allow Iranian visitors traveling by air to enter Iraq without a visa. 


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs from October 21, 2021 - October 28, 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
10/22/21 Tal Afar, Ninewa province21
10/23/21 Shatt al-Arab district, Basra province0 0
10/24/21 Shula, Baghdad0 0
10/25/21 Abu Saida, Diyala province12
10/25/21 Baquba, Diyala province10
10/26/21 Unspecified location, Kurdistan region11
10/26/21 Al-Hadhar, Ninewa province12
10/28/21 Mashahdah, north of Baghdad00

 

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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