- UNSC Defends Iraq’s Elections; Hakim Presents Proposal To Address Political Impasse; Sadr Calls On Militias To Hand Over Weapons – On November 15, the UN Security Council issued a statement urging all Iraqi parties to respcet the “legally defined process and to facilitate a peaceful and independent judicial review of electoral appeals.” The statement affirmed that the UN will “monitor any unlawful attempts to undermine the election.” On November 16, Ammar al-Hakim presented a proposal to resolve political tensions in the aftermath of the October election. Political sources said Hakim’s proposal raised seven points that include canceling the current election law, disbanding the current IHEC, and holding early election within two years. On November 18, Muqtada al-Sadr told parties that rejected the election results that they “must hold their members who are suspected of corruption accountable…and purify the Hashed of undisciplined individuals,” if they want to be part of the next government. He stressed that armed factions must disband and hand over their weapons. In other developments, on November 12, supporters of the Fatah coalition and affiliated militias gathered near entrances to the Green Zone in renewed demonstrations to express their rejection of the October 10 election results. On November 18, a group of activists and mothers of protesters and activists who had been killed or disappeared since October 2019 organized a protest at Tahrir Square in Baghdad to demand ending impunity for violence against activists, journalists, and thought leaders. more…
- IEDs and Militant Attacks Leave Five Dead As ISF Pursue ISIS In Diyala And Kirkuk – Between November 11 – 18, five militant attacks killed three Iraqis and wounded three others in Diyala and Basra. Between November 12 – 14, the explosions of six IEDs and one remnant of war killed two Iraqis and injured eight in Ninewa, Dhi-Qar, Babylon, Kirkuk, and Diyala. Between November 12 – 18, Iraqi security forces killed at least nine ISIS militants, including the leader of a snipers cell, during operations in Kirkuk and Diyala. In other developments, on November 16, three rockets struck near a Turkish military near the Shaikhan district. Meanwhile, the Turkish Defense Ministry said that Turkish airstrikes killed eight PKK fighters in the Metina and Hakurk areas in Iraqi Kurdistan. more…
- Iraq Repatriates Hundreds Stranded On The Polish Border; COVID-19 Infections Continue To Decline – On November 12, Iraq’s Foreign Ministry said that Baghdad has decided to halt direct flights to Belarus to protect Iraqi migrants from “human smuggling networks” that have been taking them to Europe via Belarus, adding that Iraq’s embassies in Moscow and Warsaw were working to organize a voluntary return of Iraqis stranded under difficult humanitarian conditions on the Polish-Belarusian border. The first repatriation flight took off from Minsk on November 18 with 430 Iraqis on board. On November 18, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 2,072,478. Deaths from confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 23,607 while hospitalizations decreased to 18,783. The daily average for new cases during the last 7-day period dropped to 796/day from 977/day during the previous reporting period. The total number of vaccinated people reached 6,876,232 including 122,239 who received their shots on November 18. In other developments, on November 14, Iraq’s Planning Ministry said that poverty rates in Iraq have dropped slightly, from nearly 32% recorded in 2020 to 29% during the first half of 2021. more…
- Iraq To Develop Akkaz Gas Field With National Effort; Flights From Kirkuk Airport May Begin Soon; Oil Exports To Rise In Q1 2022 – On November 13, Iraqi oil officials discussed plans to commence development works at the Akkaz gas field in Anbar province relying on domestic efforts as “a first step towards boosting gas supplies, and to prepare to attract international investments.” On November 15, the director of the new international airport in Kirkuk said that flight operations at the airport will commence “very soon,” noting that the airport acquired its operational license on September 22. On November 16, Iraq’s Oil Minister said that Iraq aims to increase its crude oil exports in the first quarter of 2022, targeting 3.2 million bpd in exports from its southern oil fields. In other developments, on November 13, a financial adviser to Prime Minister Kadhimi said that Iraq’s external debt has been gradually shrinking and currently stands at around $20 billion. On November 15, Iraq’s Finance Ministry said that the sales of “Bina” certificates of deposit generated more than IQD1 trillion dinars (approximately $700 million) within 45 days of their launch. more…
Attention readers! ISHM will take a break for Thanksgiving, but it will be back the week after, with comprehensive coverage of the week we missed!
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.
On November 12, large numbers of Fatah coalition and affiliated militia supporters gathered near entrances to the Green Zone in Baghdad in renewed demonstrations to express their rejection of the October 10 election results. The Friday protest, which took place a week after deadly clashes between Fatah supporters and security forces and a drone attack that targeted the prime minister, was peaceful and did not involve violence this time. The crowds gathered outside the Green Zone said their protest was open-ended and would continue until election results are canceled.
On November 15, Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) said that a manual recount of ballots from 108 stations from Baghdad’s Rasafa district produced matching results to the initial count, except in eight stations. IHEC said the recount, which was ordered by the election judicial committee, showed that eight stations had ballots that were initially marked as invalid but proved to be correct upon visual inspection. An IHEC spokesman said on November 16 that the Commission expects to do a manual recount of ballots from more stations, pending decisions from the judicial committee, which began the process of reviewing objections last week. A member of the Fatah coalition, which has rejected the election outcomes, said the judicial committee’s decision to order a manual recount indicated the existence of election fraud and manipulation.
On November 15, Iraq’s Federal Integrity Commission disclosed details about an arrest warrant that an Iraqi court in Babylon issued against a former governor of the province, without naming the former official in question. The Commission’s investigators said the governor had signed a problematic executive order in 2019 directing the local health department to hire a large number of day laborers as contractors. The order included two violations, according to investigators: it included 2,700 “ghost” names of fictitious laborers, and the governor did not have legal authority to sign it in the first place. In April 2021, authorities had arrested the current governor of Babylon on corruption charges, but he was later released on bond.
On November 15, a senior aide to Muqtada al-Sadr said that the Sadrist trend will accept applications for all grades of government jobs during a five-day window, from November 16 to November 20, 2021. The aide, known as Salih Mohammed al-Iraqi, released an application form and document listing application and vetting terms on social media. The document says that applications for “special grade” jobs would be presented to the “highest parties” within the Sadrist trend for reviews and interviews. It added that the political committee in the Sarist trend would present the names of qualified candidates to the Federal Service Council for further processing.
On November 15, the UN Security Council issued a statement acknowledging the report submitted by the UN Secretary General about the Iraqi elections and urging all Iraqi parties to respect the “legally defined process and to facilitate a peaceful and independent judicial review of electoral appeals.” The statement said the members of the Security Council “deplored the use of violence to settle election-related grievances” and affirmed that UN personnel “will continue to monitor any unlawful attempts to undermine the election process.”
On November 16, speaking at the Middle East Peace and Security Conference in Duhok, Ammar al-Hakim presented a proposal that he said could resolve political tensions in the aftermath of the October election. Hakim said that Iraq needs agreements on three issues: to form “a strong and stable government,” to perform a “serious review of the election law and commission,” and to restore trust “between the people, the democratic system, government institutions, and the political powers.” Hakim, whose Hikam party won only two seats in the election, described his proposal as a “national, broad-based initiative” that brings together the winning parties as measured by “seats or votes” to “restore balance” to the political process. Political sources said that Hakim’s proposal for a political compromise between winners and losers in the election includes seven points that Hakim has presented to the coordination committee for Shia parties for endorsement before presenting to the other parties. The seven points are: canceling the current election law, disbanding the current IHEC, replacing electronic ballot counters with manual counting, holding early election within two years, appointing a consensus prime minister, preserving the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and their law, and establishing a consultative council in charge of political decision-making.
On November 18, Muqtada al-Sadr held a press conference in Najaf in which he addressed the parties that have rejected the October election results, and set a number of conditions he said they must meet if they wanted to be part of the next government. Sadr told losing parties that their electoral defeat “must not be a harbinger of destruction for the democratic process in Iraq.” These parties “must hold their members who are suspected of corruption accountable…and purify the Hashed of undisciplined individuals,” if they want to be part of the next government, Sadr said. He stressed that armed factions must be disbanded, “all of them, in one group, and hand over their weapons to the Hashed through the commander in chief.” Sadr also demanded that “all foreign connections be severed, except through official diplomatic channels, to preserve Iraq’s dignity and independence.” Sadr reiterated that his goal is to form a government based on “national majority.”
On November 18, a group of activists and mothers of protesters and activists who had been killed or disappeared since October 2019 organized a protest at Tahrir Square in Baghdad to demand ending impunity for violence against activists, journalists, and thought leaders. The protesters demanded that authorities bring the culprits to justice and pass legislation to recognize the crimes, address the cases of “opinion prisoners” through the law, and protect the victims’ families. The demonstrators also demanded that Iraq join the International Criminal Court system so that Iraqis can “resort to international courts and sue any brutal authority that threatens their life, security, and future.”
On November 11, security sources in Basra said that unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire from small arms at a member of the security forces in the town of Zubair, killing him instantly. The victim reportedly worked for the Interior Ministry’s intelligence office.
On November 12, Iraq’s Defense Ministry said that Iraqi army forces in Kirkuk killed the leader of an ISIS sniper cell during operations in the Wadi al-Shay area. In a later statement on November 15, the Iraqi military said its force killed a total of four ISIS militants during ambush operations in the same area over the previous 72 hours.
On November 12, security sources in Ninewa said that a legacy improvised explosive device (IED) exploded in the village of al-Mahatta, in the Baaj district west of Mosul, killing a local shepherd.
On November 13, local officials in the Diyala subdistrict of Qara Tappa said that four mortar rounds struck a village and an uninhabited area north of the subdistrict. The impacts injured two children and damaged two homes.
On November 13, a security source in Diyala said that a police officer died during a firefight with wanted gunmen during a raid to arrest them in the subdistrict of Abu Saida, northeast of Baquba.
On November 13, a security source in Dhi-Qar province said that an IED exploded targeting the home of a local policeman in Nasiriyah. The explosion caused material damage to the building and parked cars without leaving casualties. On the following day, another IED exploded under a civilian truck in the 20th street area of Nasiriyah, injuring three people. A security source said the bomb was planted by two unidentified individuals riding a motorcycle.
On November 14, security sources in Babylon province said that an IED exploded next to a checkpoint for the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in the Jurf al-Sakhr subdistrict. The explosion destroyed a PMF vehicle without inflicting casualties.
On November 14, a security source in Kirkuk said that a roadside IED exploded against an Iraqi army vehicle in the Wadi al-Say area in the Daquq district. The explosion killed an Iraqi soldier from the 45th brigade, 8th division, and wounded another soldier.
On November 14, security sources in Diyala said that the explosion of a remnant of war injured three children in the district of al-Khalis, northeast of Baquba. To the north, the explosion of a legacy IED wounded another civilian in the Tal Afar district of Ninewa province.
On November 16, local officials in the Shaikhan district, east of Duhok, said that three rockets struck near a village in the Kasrouk subdistrict, close to the Zelikan base, which is used by the Turkish military. There were no reports of casualties. On the following day, the Turkish Defense Ministry said that Turkish airstrikes killed three members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Metina and Hakurk areas in Iraqi Kurdistan. Turkish airstrikes on November 18 reportedly killed five more PKK members in the Hakurk area.
On November 18, the Security Media Cell said that Iraqi army helicopters killed five ISIS militants during reconnaissance operations in Diyala province.
On November 18, security sources in Diyala said that unidentified gunmen assassinated an Iraqi soldier near his home in the Abu Saida subdistrict, northeast of Baquba. To the northeast, another soldier was injured when ISIS militants attacked his checkpoint on the outskirts of Jalawla.
On November 12, Iraq’s Foreign Ministry said that Baghdad has decided to halt direct flights to Belarus in an effort to protect Iraqi migrants from falling victim to “human smuggling networks” that have been taking them to Europe via Belarus. A spokesman said the Ministry also suspended the authorization of the Belarusian Consul in Baghdad, adding that Iraq’s embassies in Moscow and Warsaw were working to organize a voluntary return of Iraqis stranded under very difficult humanitarian conditions on the Polish-Belarusian border. As of November 16, Iraqi officials estimated the number of Iraqis stuck on the border to be 571 people, divided among eight separate camps. The first repatriation flight took off from Minsk on November 18. According to a Foreign Ministry spokesman, 430 Iraqis were recorded to be on board that flight.
On November 14, Iraq’s Planning Ministry said that poverty rates in Iraq have dropped slightly, from nearly 32% recorded in 2020 to 29% during the first half of 2021. A ministry spokesman attributed the change to the improvement in oil prices and the resumption of many business activities that had been halted by the pandemic. The spokesman said the ministry expects the poverty rate to decline further by the end of this year.
On November 18, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 2,072,478, an increase of 5,573 in cases from the 2,066,905 reported on November 11. Of these cases, 18,783 are currently under treatment, including 139 being treated in ICUs. These numbers represent a decrease of 3,821 in hospitalizations and 15 in ICU admissions since November 11. Ministry data indicated that there were 162 new COVID-19 deaths since November 11, bringing the total from 23,445 to 23,607. The total number of recoveries increased from 2,020,856 to 2,030,088. The average number of new cases during the last 7-day period was 796 per day, down from 977 per day during the 7-day period ending November 11. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Duhik with 181 cases, Erbil with 177, Baghdad with 112, and Sulaymaniyah with 106 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 16,134,285 samples for COVID-19. The total number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 6,876,232 including 122,239 who received their shots on November 18.
On November 13, Iraq’s Oil Minister, Ihasn Abdul-Jabbar, chaired a meeting of the National Oil Company to discuss plans to update the national energy strategy document that was developed in 2015. At the meeting, Iraqi oil officials also discussed plans to commence development works at the Akkaz gas field in Anbar province relying on domestic efforts. A ministry statement described the plans as “a first step towards boosting gas supplies, and to prepare to attract international investments.” The initial efforts to develop Akkaz, which began in 2011 under a contract with Korea’s Kogas, were halted in 2013 due to the conflict with ISIS.
On November 13, a financial adviser to Prime Minister Kadhimi said that Iraq’s external debt has been gradually shrinking and currently stands at around $20 billion. The adviser, Mudhar Mohammed Salih, explained that internal debt is three times as large as external debt, noting that it is mostly restricted to intra-government space and “does not concern the public.” Salih also said that Iraq expects to see a financial recovery in 2021 “with no financial shortages.” He attributed this anticipated recovery to higher oil prices and the gradual increase in Iraqi oil exports by up to 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) from previous lows in 2020.
On November 15, Iraq’s Finance Ministry said that the sales of “Bina” certificates of deposit generated more than IQD1 trillion dinars (approximately $700 million) within 45 days of their launch. In late September, the Ministry began offering certificates of deposits with a goal to generate IQD1 trillion to help reduce the budget deficit.
On November 15, the director of the new international airport in Kirkuk, Ziyad al-Jubouri, said that flight operations at the airport will commence “very soon,” without offering a specific date. Jubouri explained that the airport acquired its operational license on September 22, pointing to delays in establishing offices of non-flight related government agencies, like customs and security, as the reasons behind the delay in initiating flight operations.
On November 16, Iraq’s Oil Minister, Ihasn Abdul-Jabbar, said that Iraq aims to increase its crude oil exports in the first quarter of 2022, as allowed by OPEC’s plans to boost output by 400,000 bpd each month. The Minister explained that Iraqi will target 3.2 million bpd in exports from its southern oil fields, and an additional 250,000 bpd representing the “assigned quota” of the Kurdistan region. In October, Iraq’s oil exports from fields operated by the federal government totaled 3.119 million bpd.
IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties
Casualties Due To IEDs from November 11, 2021 - November 18, 2021The 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.
|11/12/21||Baaj, Ninewa province||1||0|
|11/13/21||Nasiriyah, Dhi-Qar province||0||0|
|11/14/21||Nasiriyah, Dhi-Qar province||0||3|
|11/14/21||Jurf al-Sakhr, Babylon province||0||0|
|11/14/21||Daquq, Kirkuk province||1||1|
|11/14/21||Tal Afar, Ninewa province||0||1|
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.