- Court Postpones Hearing In Fatah’s Demand To Annul Elections; Imtidad, New Generation, Independents Form Opposition Coalition; Khanjar And Halbousi Join Forces – On December 13, Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court decided to postpone hearings in the case filed by the Fatah Coalition demanding the annulment of the October election results until December 22. On December 15, Imtidad, New Generation, and a group of independent election winners formed a new parliamentary alliance called “For the People.” The new alliance of 28 lawmakers said it will act as parliamentary opposition and will not join a government based on ethno-sectarian power-sharing. On December 15, the Taqaddum Coalition of Mohammed al-Halbousi and Azm Coalition of Khamis al-Khanjar agreed to form a joint negotiating delegation and joint policy positions before entering government formation talks with other parties. In other developments, on December 9, the leader of Harakat al-Nujaba militia said that “resistance” factions would keep their weapons and continue to operate inside Iraq and abroad despite the ending of the International Coalition’s combat role. On December 13, six independent election winners reportedly join Halbousi’s Taqaddum Coalition. more…
- New IEDs Target Supply Convoys; Turkish Strikes Raise Tension In Sinjar; France To Train CTS Fighters; Attemped Bombing Of Gas Pipeline Foiled – Between December 11 – 16, the explosions of seven IEDs and one remnant of war in Ninewa, Babylon, Dhi-Qar, and Diwaniyah killed at least two Iraqis and wounded seven others, most of whom were children. Four of these IEDs were targeting convoys transporting supplies for the International Coalition or security forces. On December 12, security forces opened an investigation into an attack with gunfire and Molotov cocktails on an Iraqi army vehicle in the Sinuny area of Sinjar. The vehicle was part of an army force providing protection for demonstrators protesting recent Turkish airstrikes in the area. On December 12, senior Iraqi and French generals discussed creating special operations training programs for CTS fighters in France. On December 15, security forces foiled an attempt to sabotage a pipeline that carries natural gas from Basra to Baghdad with explosives in the Jarbouiyah region of Muthanna province. In other developments, on December 12, Peshmerga officials and Iraq’s Defense Minister discussed joint development of military teaching courses and holding joint military exercises. On December 13, ISIS militants kidnapped four civilians from Lake Himrin in Diyala. The Diyala police chief said that this was the fifth such kidnapping within the past 45 days. Between December 10 – 15, the Turkish military said that its forces killed 20 PKK fighters in operations in the Kurdistan region. more…
- New Data Highlights Drought-Induced Displacement, Hunger; Iraq Shuts Down Last IDP Camp In Ninewa; Kadhimi Signs Contracts To Build 1,000 Schools – On December 9, new IOM data on climate-induced displacement in southern Iraq showed that more than 3,000 families were experiencing displacement due to drought conditions in five provinces. Almost half of the displaced are from Dhi-Qar. Meanwhile, new survey data released by the Norwegian Refugee Council shows that half the families in areas impacted by drought need food assistance, and 20% of families don’t have enough to feed all their members. The data also showed that losses due to crop failures have resulted in average monthly incomes dropping below “survival threshold” in six provinces. On December 15, Iraq’s Migration Ministry said that it will close down al-Jadaa, the last remaining IDP camp in Ninewa province (and last IDP camp outside the Kurdistan region) before the end of the month. On December 16, PM Kadhimi signed contracts with two Chinese companies to build 1,000 schools across Iraq. On December 16, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 2,089,669. Deaths from confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 24,030 while hospitalizations decreased to 7,333. The daily average for new cases during the last 7-day period was 424/day, down from 561/day during the 7-day period ending December 9. The total number of vaccinated people reached 8,157,221 including 89,253 who received their shots on December 16. more…
- KRG Faces Arbitration Over Gas Field Dispute; Iraq Negotiates Electricity Prices With Riyadh; Foreign Currency Reserves Rise – On December 10, UK energy firm Genel Energy said that it will seek international arbitration in London, seeking compensation from the KRG over a decision in August to terminate Genel’s development of the Miran and Bina Bawi gas prospects. On December 12, Iraq’s Electricity Minister said that Baghdad entered negotiations with Saudi Arabia over the prices at which the country will purchase electricity from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries under a grid connection deal. On December 14, Iraq’s Central Bank said that the country’s foreign currency reserves had increased by as much as $16 billion over the last 12 months as a result of better oil prices and currency devalutation. In other developments, on December 11, Iraq’s Oil Minister said that construction will begin on new 155 million cubic feet/day gas processing facility at the Majnoon oil field, and inaugurated new gas separation and water injection facilities at the Bazurgan and Fakka oil fields. more…
Attention readers! ISHM will take a break for the holidays next week, 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 December 9, the leader of the Harakat al-Nujaba militia, Akram al-Kabi, said that “resistance” factions would keep their weapons and continue to operate “until the American occupation is out of Iraq politically and militarily.” Kabi added that the military capabilities of the “resistance factions” have “multiple purposes inside Iraq and abroad.” He insisted that the future of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and “the resistance” must not be subjected to the debates and quarrels of political powers in Iraq.
On December 12, a spokesperson for the State of Law bloc, Baha ad-Din al-Nouri, said that forming a consensus government was “the only solution” to the post-election political deadlock. Nouri argued that government formation negotiations will move towards consensus because “all Sunni and Kurdish parties want to participate in government and no one wants to be in the opposition,” adding that it was “unreasonable to isolate part of the Shia house as opposition.” Nouri argued that a majority-based government would last “a year or two at best.” Meanwhile, Ammar al-Hakim, whose party is another member of the coordination framework for Shia parties, said during a meeting with the Taqaddum Coalition leader, Mohammed al-Halbousi, that the current political crisis could be solved “if everyone made concessions for Iraq…and met the other parties in the middle.” Hakim called for “preserving the [political] balance in the country” and for treating the parties that rejected election results “fairly” by having the Supreme Federal Court “seriously consider their complaints.” On the following day, the Sadrist bloc reiterated its earlier position, which calls for forming a majority government. At a meeting with a visiting delegation from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the head of the Sadrist bloc stressed the need to “change the course of the political process away from muhasasa and the division of power and treasure among the parties.”
On December 13, Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court decided to postpone hearings in the case filed by the Fatah Coalition leader, Hadi al-Amiri, demanding the annulment of the October 10 election results. The Court will be looking into the case next week on December 22. This week, during a meeting with a delegation from the KDP, Amiri reiterated that he had presented the Court with “sufficient evidence” to justify voiding the election results. The visiting KDP delegation emphasized that the party would not “side with any one party against another.”
On December 13, the White House said that Brett McGurk, the National Security Council’s Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett visited Baghdad and Erbil and held meetings over two days with Prime Minister Kadhimi, President Salih, former Speaker Halbousi, and KRG president Nechirvan Barzani. According to the statement, McGurk confirmed Washington’s “commitment to the results of the Strategic Dialogue” with Baghdad, highlighting the end of the combat role of U.S. forces serving in Iraq. The U.S. envoy attributed this transition to the “tremendous progress achieved by Iraqi Security Forces, including the Peshmerga, in leading the fight against ISIS.” McGurk also noted that International Coalition personnel who remain in Iraq will be present at Iraq’s invitation with a mission “limited to advising, assisting and enabling the Iraqi Security Forces to ensure ISIS can never resurge.”
On December 13, political sources reported that six independent election winners have decided to join the Taqaddum Coalition of Mohammed al-Halbousi. The six representatives are reported to be Adnan al-Jeheishi, Jamil Abd Sabak, Ahmed Rashid al-Salmani, Mohammed Muhannad al-Mohammadi, Azhar al-Sadran, and Asma al-Ani. The addition of these incoming members of parliament raised the number of Taqaddum’s seats from 37 to 43. Six other election winners who had competed as independent candidates have recently joined the Azm Coalition of Khamis al-Khanjar, according to a report by al-Mada.
On December 15, Imtidad, New Generation, and a group of independent election winners announced the formation of a new parliamentary alliance called “For the People.” The new alliance, which reportedly includes 28 lawmakers, said it will not join a government based on the principles of muhasasa (ethno-sectarian power-sharing). Speaking at the alliance’s inaugural press conference, Imtidad’s leader Ala’ al-Rikabi described the alliance as the first successful attempt to form a coalition that transcends ethnic and sectarian lines and brings together Arab and Kurdish Iraqis. Rikabi said that he expects more independent election winners to join the alliance “and reach 40 parliamentary seats.” He emphasized that the alliance’s “foundational principle is to form true political opposition in order to cement democracy.” The new alliance issued an “honor code” for its members that highlights three principles: that they would work for the common good instead of personal or partisan interests; that they would not be part of a muhasasa government; and that they would not leave the alliance before the end of the parliamentary cycle.
On December 15, the Taqaddum Coalition of Mohammed al-Halbousi and Azm Coalition of Khamis al-Khanjar issued a joint statement after holding a meeting to discuss their plans for entering government formation negotiations with other parties. The statement said the two parties would draft a joint paper that includes “a unified vision” regarding “partnership in decision-making” and principles for addressing several “strategic issues, including forced disappearances, the return of displaced persons,” and financial allocations for the reconstruction of provinces liberated from ISIS. The statement also said that Azm and Taqaddum would form a “joint negotiating delegation” to manage communications with other political parties, and “hold regular weekly meetings” to discuss political developments.
On December 9, the International Coalition confirmed an earlier statement by Iraq’s National Security Adviser, Qasim al-Araji, in which he announced the conclusion of the Coalition’s combat mission in Iraq. In a statement on social media, the Coalition said it will continue to provide “advice, assistance, and enabling capabilities to our Iraqi partners” to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS, emphasizing that the remaining Coalition personnel are “guests invited by the Republic of Iraq.”
On December 10, the Turkish military said that its forces killed three members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Zab region in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. Three days later, the Turkish military said its forces killed nine more PKK members during operations in the Gara region in Iraqi Kurdistan. A subsequent statement on December 14 said that Turkish forces killed two more PKK fighters during an operation in the Qandi Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan. The following day, the Turkish military said its forces killed six more PKK members during further operations in the Gara region in Iraqi Kurdistan.
On December 11, security sources in Ninewa said that a legacy improvised explosive device (IED) exploded in the Sultan Abdulla village, near Qayyara, south of Mosul, killing a child and wounding another. Later, another legacy IED exploded in the village of Athba, near the Shora subdistrict, south of Mosul. The explosion wounded an elderly man who was passing by.
On December 11, Ninewa police sources said that an airstrike hit a building in the Khanasor subdistrict in Sinjar. The source said the airstrike, suspected to have been carried out by Turkish aircraft, did not cause casualties.
On December 12, security sources in southern Iraq said that an IED struck a convoy transporting supplies for the International Coalition forces while it was driving along a main highway in Babylon. On the same day, a second IED struck a similar supply convoy that was traveling through Dhi-Qar province, and a third device targeted a convoy passing through Diwaniyah. None of the attacks resulted in casualties. On December 16, security forces in Diwaniyah said a fourth IED exploded right after a supply convoy passed a section of the main highway through the province, without causing damage or casualties. Security forces later said they defused another roadside IED that was prepared to target security forces supply convoys along a section of a main highway in the Hamza district.
On December 12, the Security Media Cell said that security forces opened an investigation into an incident in which an Iraqi army vehicle was attacked with gunfire and Molotov cocktails in the Sinuny area of Sinjar. One Iraqi soldier was injured during the incident. The vehicle in question was part of an army force providing protection for demonstrators protesting recent (December 7) Turkish airstrikes in the area, according to the statement by the Security Media Cell.
On December 12, Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) said that Iraq and France discussed creating training programs for CTS fighters in France to learn various aspects of special operations tactics. The discussions took place during a meeting between the CTS commander, General Abdul-Wahab al-Saidi, and the visiting Chief of the Defense Staff of France, General Thierry Burkhard.
On December 12, a delegation from the Peshmerga Ministry met with Iraq’s Defense Minister, Juma Inad, in Baghdad to discuss joint development of military teaching courses and holding joint military exercises between the Peshmerga and Iraqi army. A ministry statement said the delegation will meet with the army’s deputy chief of staff for training, and visit the Defense, Staff, and Command colleges in Baghdad.
On December 13, security sources in Diwaniyah province said that five elementary school children were seriously injured when an unexploded remnant of war detonated on a road near their school.
On December 13, the Security Media Cell said that ISIS militants kidnapped four civilians from Lake Himrin, near the Sadiyah subdistrict of Diyala province, adding that security forces have commenced search operations to try to locate the missing individuals. The Diyala police chief said that this was the fifth kidnapping that took place in remote areas of the province within the past 45 days, urging hunters and fishermen to avoid entering dangerous areas where security areas don’t have a presence.
On December 15, the Security Media Cell said that Interior Ministry intelligence units foiled an attempt to sabotage a pipeline that carries natural gas from Basra to Baghdad with explosives. According to the statement, security forces discovered and defused an IED that was prepared for detonation next to the pipeline in the Jarbouiyah region of Muthanna province.
On December 9, the International Organization for Migration published new data on the patterns of climate-induced displacement affecting communities in southern Iraq. The data shows that as of mid-November, more than 18,000 individuals (comprising 3,031 families) were experiencing displacement from their areas due to “drought conditions” spanning five provinces. Of these families, nearly two thirds were in displacement within their home districts. Most of the displaced (more than 7 in 10) had relocated to urban areas because reduced water scarcity and rising salinity undermined agriculture, rendering many families “unable to guarantee sufficient and sustainable livelihoods in rural areas.” Almost half the displaced families are from Dhi-Qar province, followed by Maysan (728 families), Qadisiyah (245 families) and Basrah (with 230 families). The worst affected district is al-Shatra in Dhi-Qar province, which reported 1,374 families displaced. Meanwhile, new survey data released on December 16 by the Norwegian Refugee Council shows that half the families in areas impacted by drought need food assistance, and 20% of families don’t have enough to feed all their members. The data, based on input from 2,800 families in areas impacted by drought across Iraq also showed that approximately a third of wheat and barley formers have suffered “crop failure of at least 90% of expected harvest” or have lost “cattle, sheep or goats in the last six months, mainly due to insufficient water, inadequate feed or disease.” These losses have resulted in average monthly incomes dropping below “ monthly survival threshold” in six of the seven provinces included in the survey.
On December 15, Iraq’s Ministry of Migration and Displacement said that it will close down al-Jadaa, the last remaining camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ninewa province before the end of the month. The Ministry said the imminent closure of Jadaa marks the closure of the last IDP camp outside the provinces of the Kurdistan region. The Minister of Migration, Ivan Faeq Jabro, added that implementing the Sinjar Normalization Agreement was a necessary prerequisite to closing the IDP camps in Kurdistan because Sinjar “is not ready” for the return of its people. The Minister argued that the Kurdistan region “does not have the real will to resolve the issue of displacement.”
On December 16, Prime Minister Kadhimi’s office said in a statement that Kadhimi has signed multiple contracts with Chinese companies to build 1,000 schools across Iraq. According to the statement, Chinese company Sinotech will build 679 school buildings, while PowerChina has been contracted to build another 321 schools. The statement added that the contracts are signed under the framework of an agreement with China that covers other major construction projects, including an airport in Nasiriyah, 90,000 housing units, and other energy and infrastructure projects. The statement did not specify the cost or timeline of the school construction projects.
On December 16, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 2,089,669, an increase of 2,967 in cases from the 2,086,702 reported on December 9. Of these cases, 7,333 are currently under treatment, including 97 being treated in ICUs. These numbers represent a decrease of 2,008 in hospitalizations and 3 in ICU admissions since December 9. Ministry data indicated that there were 87 new COVID-19 deaths since December 9, bringing the total from 23,943 to 24,030. The total number of recoveries increased from 2,053,418 to 2,058,306. The average number of new cases during the last 7-day period was 424 per day, down from 561 per day during the 7-day period ending December 9. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Baghdad with 74 cases, Erbil with 69, Sulaymaniyah with 62, and Duhok with 42 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 16,625,478 samples for COVID-19. The total number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 8,157,221 including 89,253 who received their shots on December 16.
On December 10, UK energy firm Genel Energy said that it will seek international arbitration in London in its dispute with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) over the KRG’s decision in August to terminate Genel’s development of two oil and gas prospects in Kurdistan. In a statement, the company said it has made its decision to pursue legal action for its “substantial” claims after exhausting “every effort to engage with the KRG on the development of the Bina Bawi and Miran fields.” Genel, which reportedly spent $1.4 billion on the two projects, has not revealed the size of compensation it plans to seek through the arbitration proceedings.
On December 11, Iraq’s Oil Minister laid a foundation stone for a facility designed to process and produce 155 million cubic feet per day of “sour gas” at the Majnoon oil field in Basra province. The Minister, Ihsan Ismael, said that domestic efforts to develop the field (formerly operated by Shell) have succeeded in reaching production targets and reducing development costs by 30%. On the same day, the Minister attended a ceremony to inaugurate a new gas separation facility and a 68,000 barrels per day (bpd) water injection facility at the Bazurgan and Fakka fields in Maysan province.
On December 12, Iraq’s Electricity Minister, Ihsan Ismael, said that Baghdad was in the stage of negotiating with Saudi Arabia over the prices at which the country will purchase electricity from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries under a grid connection deal initially negotiated in 2019. Since early in the year, Iraqi officials have been saying that the project was facing delays despite the majority of its required infrastructure being in place or close to completion.
On December 13, footage and reports on social media indicated that tomato farmers in southern Iraq were incurring huge losses amid a supply glut and lack of import controls. Footage showed long lines of trucks loaded with tomatoes as farmers reportedly struggled to sell their ample produce and compete with cheaper imports from neighboring countries, with the wholesale price dropping to as little as IQD160 per kilo (5 cents per lb). Tomato farmers in the Kurdistan region and southern Iraq have perennially protested the damage that cheap imported produce causes to their livelihoods and demanded stricter import controls.
On December 14, the governor of Iraq’s Central Bank, Mustafa Ghalib, said that the country’s reserves of foreign currency had increased by as much as $16 billion over the last 12 months, from $48 to $64 billion. Ghalib attributed the recovery in foreign reserves to Baghdad’s decision to devalue the Iraqi dinar in December of last year, and to better oil prices compared with the early stages of the global pandemic slowdown. without the devaluation, “reserves might have decreased in the 30s of billions of dollars,” Ghalib noted. Earlier this week, a report by Fitch Rating predicted the financial recovery to continue into 2022, and that Iraq’s economy will grow as much 8% next year “as oil prices remain strong…and oil production increases broadly in line with the Opec+ agreement.”
IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties
Casualties Due To IEDs from December 9, 2021 - December 16, 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.
|12/11/21||Qayyara, Ninewa province||1||1|
|12/11/21||Shora, Ninewa province||0||1|
|12/11/21||Jurf al-Sakhr, Babylon province||1||0|
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.