ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: JANUARY 6 – 13, 2022

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Key Takeaways:

  • New Parliament Convenes, Electing Halbousi As Speaker; Sadr’s Rivals Say Session Was Illegal; Top Court Suspends The New Parliamentary Leadership – On January 9, Iraq’s new Parliament held its inaugural session, which ran into trouble as the Sadrists and the coordination framework for Shia parties struggled to assert primacy in the legislature. The meeting, which was briefly disrupted, resumed without the representatives of the coordination framework, and the remaining lawmakers elected Mohammed al-Halbousi as speaker, and Hakim al-Zamili and Shakhwan Abdullah as his deputies. The coordination framework said that it “does not recognize” the outcome of session, arguing that the vote was illegal. On January 13, Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court decided to temporarily suspend the parliamentary leadership committee (the speaker and his deputies) after two independent lawmakers filed a case in which they argue that parliament’s first session violated the constitution and the legislature’s own bylaws. In other developments, On January 10, a senior member of the PUK announced that the party has decided to present Barham Salih as its “sole candidate” for president. The KDP rejected Salih’s nomination, amid news that the KDP was going to present Hoshyar Zebari as its own candidate for the presidency. On January 12, Iraq’s Integrity Commission said that it had issued a total of 77 summons and 21 arrest warrants during the month of December, most of which against current and former ministers, governors, and other senior officials. more…
  • IED Attacks On Military Supply Convoys Continue; Gunmen Attack Oil Workers In Maysan – Between January 6 – 12, the explosions of 11 IEDs and two remnants of war in Anbar, Baghdad, Muthanna, Babylon, Najaf, Diwaniyah, Salah ad-Din, and Dhi-Qar provinces killed at least two Iraqis and wounded eight. Six of these IEDs reported this week targeted convoys transporting supplies for the Iraqi military or International Coalition forces, while security forces found and disposed of six additional bombs. On January 12, unidentified gunmen opened fire at a vehicle transporting foreign staff working for Chinese oil company CNOOC in Maysan province, injuring two Sudanese nationals. In other developments, on January 7, several Katyusha-type rockets struck Altun-Kupri in Kirkuk province, ostensibly targeting Peshmerga forces, without causing casualties. more…
  • KRG Closes Border With Syria To Stop Refugees; Iraq Braces For The Omicron Wave As Cases Rise Again – On January 12, authorities in the Kurdistan region shut down a vital border crossing with northeast Syria to prevent more refugees from entering the region. The decision followed an increase in the flow of refugees, after more than 1,500 refugees crossed into Iraqi Kurdistan since December 29. On January 13, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 2,104,940, an increase of 9,092 in cases from the 2,095,848 reported on January 6. Hospitalizations increased sharply from under 5,000 to 11,984. The daily average for new cases during the last 7-day period jumped to 1,298/day from just 344/day during the 7-day period ending January 6. The total number of vaccinated people reached 8,801,915 including 63,997 who received their shots on January 13. Earlier this week, the Health Ministry warned that the new wave of the pandemic may be worse for the country than the preceding spikes, urging Iraqis to wear their masks and get vaccinated. In other developments, on January 8, the Ninewa police said that 100 households with perceived affiliation to ISIS had arrived at al-Jadaa camp for IDPs coming from al-Hol IDP camp in Syria. more…
  • EU Hails Iraq’s Anti-Money Laundering Measures; Oil Ministry And CNOOC To Jointly Explore Offshore Block – On January 9, Iraq’s Foriegn Ministry announced that the European Union’s mission to Iraq delivered a letter to PM Kadhimi informing him that Iraq has been removed from the list of countries that are considered at high risk of money laundering and terrorism financing. On January 11, Iraq’s Oil Ministry signed an agreement with China’s CNOOC to conduct a joint study of an offshore hydrocarbon exploration bloc, involving 2D seismic surveys followed by drilling two exploration wells. In other developments, on January 9, Iraq and Lebanon signed a memorandum of understanding for industrial cooperation focusing on mineral extraction and pharmaceuticals. On January 11, PM Kadhimi said the government has distributed nearly 186,000 land deeds to beneficiaries under the “Dari” housing initiative, with 300,000 additional lots awaiting distribution. 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.


New Parliament Convenes, Electing Halbousi As Speaker; Sadr’s Rivals Say Session Was Illegal; Top Court Suspends The New Parliamentary Leadership

On January 9, Iraq’s new Parliament held its inaugural session, and elected a new speaker and two deputies, three months after the contested October 10 general election. The meeting, initially attended by 325 lawmakers, ran into trouble as the two rival Shia groups–the Sadrists and the coordination framework for Shia parties–struggled to assert primacy in the legislature. The session was temporarily suspended when a heated exchange erupted after the coordination framework representatives presented a document with the signatures of 88 lawmakers to claim they were the largest parliamentary bloc, and thus the right to name the next prime minister. The Sadrists, who won 73 seats in the election, presented a similar document. Amidst the quarrel, the eldest lawmaker who presided over the meeting, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, fell ill and was taken to the hospital. The meeting soon resumed, chaired by lawmaker Khalid al-Darraji, and without the representatives of the coordination framework. Remaining lawmakers then began casting their votes to elect a new speaker and two deputies. Mohammed al-Halbousi, who was the speaker in the previous parliament, secured 200 votes against his competitor’s 14, winning a second term in the position. Lawmakers later elected Sadrist representative Hakim al-Zamili as first deputy speaker, and voted in favor of Shakhwan Abdullah of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) as second deputy. After the voting concluded, the new speaker announced the beginning of the 15-day window for presidential hopefuls to present their candidacy, then adjourned the session.

On January 9, the coordination framework for Shia parties said that it “does not recognize” the outcome of Sunday’s parliamentary session in which lawmakers elected a new speaker and two deputies. The group, whose members had rejected the October 10 election results, said the voting that took place was illegal because it happened “without the presence” of the eldest lawmaker tasked with presiding over the session and the election of a new speaker. The statement argued that the “assault” on the eldest lawmaker, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, sent him to the hospital and disrupted the meeting. “Unfortunately,” the statement continued, “some blocs resumed the session’s proceedings without any legal standing.” The statement added that the coordination framework “holds the political parties that were behind this escalation fully responsible for the repercussions” of this “unilateralism and use of violence and chaos to force their will.” Earlier, the Badr bloc in parliament, a leading part of the coordination framework, called the outcomes of the parliament’s first session “illegal.” Badr representative Humam al-Temimi repeated the argument that the elections were “fraudulent” and accused the judiciary of mishandling his party’s objections to the results. Temimi added that the events of the January 9 session were the result of “some parties forcing their will,” warning that there would be “very dangerous consequences for the country…and a national schism.” On January 12, the coordination framework for Shia parties said that it would take its objections regarding the January 9 session to the country’s Supreme Federal Court. In a statement, the coordination framework added that the “pathways used to fulfill constitutional milestones are incorrect and will feed a political and communal crisis that might preclude the success of any governmental or parliamentary effort.”

On January 9, Basra governor and elected lawmaker Asaad al-Idani submitted his resignation from Parliament, preferring to remain in his gubernatorial position. Independent candidate Alaa al-Haidari, who was a runner up in Idani’s first Basra district, will replace the Basra governor in Parliament. 

On January 10, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad said that Washington “welcomes the convening” of Iraq’s new Parliament and the election of a new speaker and two deputy speakers. The statement expressed hope that the new parliament would “swiftly undertake the process of forming a new government,” and that this government would be one that “reflects the will of the Iraqi people and will work to address Iraq’s governance, human rights, security, and economic challenges.”

On January 10, a senior member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) announced that the party has decided to present Barham Salih as its “sole candidate for president of the republic of Iraq.” On the following day, political sources said that the PUK was planning to send a delegation led by Bafel Talabani to Baghdad to persuade other parties to support the incumbent Salih’s bid for a second term in office. On January 12, a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) said the party objects to Salih’s nomination, implying that the PUK acted without the KDP’s consent. There were also news reports indicating that the KDP was going to present Hoshyar Zebari as its own candidate for the presidency, suggesting a breakdown in the nascent agreement between the two parties on approaching government formation as a unified front. Furthermore, on January 13, another senior PUK member, Latif Rashid, said he was running for president too.  

On January 11, Muqtada al-Sadr said that he would continue to work towards forming a majority government, insisting that he would “not allow anyone to threaten our partners or threaten communal peace…there will be no going back to sectarian war.” Sadr’s statement came a day after a spokesman for Kataib Hezbollah implicitly accused Sadr and his allies in Parliament of “hijacking the rights of the majority” and suggested that Iraq will face “tough times…based on security assessments.” The militia spokesman claimed that there was a “British and Emirati” conspiracy behind the sidelining of Sadr’s rivals in Parliament. 

On January 11, the office of the parliamentary leadership said that it referred Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, the eldest lawmaker who briefly chaired the chaotic first parliamentary session on January 9, to a parliamentary disciplinary committee. The statement said Mashhadani “violated the constitution and the bylaws of Parliament,” without providing more detail. 

On January 12, Iraq’s Integrity Commission said that it had issued a total of 77 summons and 21 arrest warrants during the month of December, of which 85 in total were against current and former senior officials. These officials include one current minister, four former ministers, nine former members of parliament, 15 governors (two current and 13 former), and 12 former members of provincial councils. In addition, the warrants and summons targeted 21 current and 22 former director generals. 

On January 13, Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court decided to suspend the parliamentary leadership committee (the speaker and his deputies) that was elected on January 9. A Court document says the suspension is temporary, and will last until the Court decides on a case filed by two independent lawmakers, in which they argue that parliament’s first session violated the constitution and the legislature’s own bylaws. 

On January 13, the local government in Najaf announced that Majid al-Waeli has officially assumed his position as the new governor of the province. The previous governor, Luay al-Yasiri, had submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Kadhimi on December 24, two days after Muqtada al-Sadr had called for Yasiri to be sacked amid fresh protests demanding better services in the province.   


IED Attacks On Military Supply Convoys Continue; Gunmen Attack Oil Workers In Maysan

On January 6, a security source in Dhi-Qar province said that an improvised explosive device (IED) struck a religious shrine in the Rifaie district north of Nasiriyah. The explosion destroyed the small building but did not lead to casualties. 

On January 7, security sources in Diyala said that unidentified gunmen shot and killed a farmer as he exited his home in the village of al-Kubba, in the Waqf basin area northeast of Baquba. Later, on January 12, unidentified gunmen shot and killed a former fighter in the Tribal Mobilization Forces in the village of Bayat, near Muqdadiyah. 

On January 7, security sources in the Kurdistan region said that eight Katyusha-type rockets struck the Altun-Kupri region of Kirkuk province, without causing casualties. Subsequently, the Security Media Cell said that seven rockets were fired from an area south of Altun-Kupri in the direction of Peshmerga positions on the opposing hills. The statement added that Iraqi army forces discovered eight rocket platforms at the launch space. 

On January 7, police sources in the Sinuni subdistrict near Sinjar said they discovered the body of a local official of the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) office in Khanasor who had been kidnapped by unidentified gunmen the night before. Police said they found the victim’s body on a road north of Sinjar, bearing signs of gunshot wounds. 

On January 8, security sources in Najaf said that an unexploded remnant of war (ERW) detonated in the Haideriyah subdistrict, injuring a local man and his son. To the south, in Muthanna province, security sources said that an ERW explosion on January 12 killed a local sheep herder in the Bsayyah region, near the Saudi border. 

On January 8, the Security Media Cell said that Iraqi army forces killed an ISIS militant who was wearing a suicide vest during a raid on suspected ISIS hideouts in an unspecified location north of Baghdad. In a subsequent statement, security sources said that five army soldiers were injured during clashes with ISIS militants in the Tarmiyah district, north of Baghdad.

On January 8, security sources in Baghdad said that an under-vehicle IED (UVIED) exploded in the Dawoodi neighborhood of west Baghdad. The explosion damaged the targeted vehicle without causing casualties. 

On January 8, security sources in Diyala said that ISIS militants attacked army and tribal mobilization fighters checkpoints near the Udheim subdistrict, on the border with Salah ad-Din province. The attacks wounded two army soldiers and damaged a thermal surveillance camera.  

On January 9, the Security Media Cell said that a roadside IED exploded targeting a convoy transporting equipment for the Iraqi army in the Nibaie area, north of the capital. The explosion damaged a civilian vehicle that happened to be near the explosion and injured a woman and two children who were inside that vehicle. On the same day, another IED targeted a convoy transporting supplies for the International Coalition forces on a main highway in Muthanna province. There were no reports of casualties. On January 11, two more IEDs targeted another convoy transporting supplies for the Coalition in quick succession between Yusufiyah and Mahmouidyah, south of Baghdad. Meanwhile, a third IED struck a supply convoy while it was moving through Diwaniyah. Neither explosion resulted in casualties.  On January 12, a new IED targeted a convoy transporting supplies for the Coalition in Babylon. During this reporting period, security forces found and defused at least six IEDs that were prepared to target other convoys along highways in Baghdad, Muthana, Diwaniyah, Dhi-Qar, and Babylon.

On January 10, security sources in Salah ad-Din said that a UVIED exploded in Tikrit, targeting the vehicle of a local doctor. The explosion seriously injured the targeted individual. 

On January 10, security sources in Kirkuk said that ISIS militants kidnapped a farmer from the village of Dalas Pasha, near Daquq, taking him to an unknown location. 

On January 11, eyewitnesses in Maysan reported that members of the Saraya al-Salam militia of Muqtada al-Sadr deployed on the streets of Amara, the provincial capital, a day after a senior militia figure was shot to death. The victim, Muslim abu al-Rish,  is said to be a main suspect in the October 2019 killing of Wisam al-Ilayawi, a senior member of the rival Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia.  

On January 11, security sources said that an IED exploded next to the home of an Iraqi army soldier in the Hussainiyah district, north of Baghdad. The explosion caused material damage to the building but did not result in casualties. 

On January 11, security sources in Anbar said that four unidentified gunmen infiltrated the residence of the tribal sheik of the anti-ISIS Albu-Nimr tribe near the Hit district. The apparent assassination attempt failed when one the sheik’s guards intercepted the gunmen, who escaped after a gunfight in which one othe sheik’s relatives was injured. 

On January 12, the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) said that a roadside IED exploded against a PMF patrol in the Akashat district in Anbar province. The explosion killed one PMF fighter and wounded two, all from the PMF 18th brigade. 

On January 12, security sources said that unidentified gunmen opened fire from small arms at a vehicle that was transporting foreign staff working for CNOOC, a Chinese oil company operating an oil field in southern Maysan. The attack injured two Sudanese nationals working for CNOOC.


KRG Closes Border With Syria To Stop Refugees; Iraq Braces For The Omicron Wave As Cases Rise Again

On January 8, the Ninewa police said that one hundred households with perceived affiliations with ISIS fighters had arrived at al-Jadaa camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) coming from al-Hol IDP camp in Syria. The police source said the movement happened under tight security, adding that security forces deployed along the transit route from Rabia to Qayyara, where al-Jadaa is located.

On January 12, authorities in the Kurdistan region decided to shut down a vital border crossing with northeast Syria to prevent more refugees from entering the region. Security sources said the decision was in response to an increase in the flow of refugees from Syria, some of whom are thought to be supporters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). According to the sources, more than 1,500 refugees have crossed into the Kurdistan region since December 29, 2021, arguing that the numbers “exceed the region’s capacity.” The border closure is also expected to impact oil trade, which represents a major source of income for the local administration in northeast Syria, according to Iraq Oil Report. On January 10, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provided an update on the numbers of Syrian refugees who have entered Iraq since the escalation of Turkish military operations in northeast Syria in 2019. The data shows a slow but steady increase in the number of Syrian refugees in Iraq over the course of 2021, from 234,121 individuals in January, to 254,561 (comprising 77,144 households) in December. The vast majority of these refugees are in the Kurdistan region, with nearly half of the total living in Erbil province.

On January 13, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 2,104,940, an increase of 9,092 in cases from the 2,095,848 reported on January 6. Of these cases, 11,984 are currently under treatment, including 61 being treated in ICUs. These numbers represent a massive increase of 7,043 in hospitalizations since January 6, but a decrease of 7 in ICU admissions. Ministry data indicated that there were 35 new COVID-19 deaths since January 6, bringing the total from 24,194 to 24,229. Total recoveries increased from 2,066,713 to 2,068,727. The average number of new cases during the last 7-day period saw a sharp jump to 1,298 per day from just 344  per day during the 7-day period ending January 6. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Baghdad with 552 cases, Kirkuk with 404, Sulaymaniyah with 371, and Erbil with341 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 16,989,616 samples for COVID-19. The number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 8,801,915 including 63,997 who received their shots on January 13. Earlier this week, the Health Ministry warned that the new wave of the pandemic may be worse for the country than the preceding spikes, urging Iraqis to wear their masks and get vaccinated. Iraq reported its first Omicron cases on January 6.


EU Hails Iraq’s Anti-Money Laundering Measures; Oil Ministry And CNOOC To Jointly Explore Offshore Block

On January 9, Iraq’s Foriegn Ministry announced that the European Union’s mission to Iraq delivered a letter to Prime Minister Kadhimi informing him that Iraq has been removed from the list of countries that are consideredat at high risk of money laundering and terrorism financing. The letter, according to the ministry, recognized Iraq’s “great efforts” to improve its systems for countering money laundering and terrorism financing. Kadhimi hailed the news as proof of Baghdad’s “effective diplomacy.” 

On January 9, Iraq and Lebanon signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for industrial cooperation between the two countries. The signing of the MoU followed discussions between Iraq’s Minister of Industry, Manhal al-Khabaz, and his Lebanese counterpart, George Boshkyan, in Baghdad. The discussion focused in particular on cooperation with regard to mineral extraction and pharmaceuticals, utilizing the potential of Iraq’s Samarra and Ninewa pharmaceutical companies.   

On January 11, Prime Minister Kadhimi said the Iraqi government has distributed nearly 186,000 land deeds to Iraqis who are to receive land under the “Dari” housing initiative. According to a government statement, 84,000 people who had registered for the program, which the government started in July, received deeds as a first stage, followed by another 101,000 who received deeds during the last two weeks. According to the prime minister, the program will deliver more than 300,000 additional lots to eligible beneficiaries. 

On January 11, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said that it signed an agreement with CNOOC to conduct a joint study of an exploration bloc that includes offshore and onshore parts. Iraqi officials explained that the agreement involves 2D seismic surveys followed by drilling two exploration wells, one by the Chinese company in the 530 square kilometer offshore portion of the bloc, located in the Persian Gulf, and the other by Iraq’s Oil Exploration Co. in the 120 square kilometer onshore portion. 


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs from January 6, 2022 - January 13, 2022

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
1/6/22 Rifaie, Dhi-Qar province00
1/8/22 Dawoodi, west Baghdad00
1/9/22 Nibaie, north of Baghdad03
1/9/22 Muthanna province00
1/10/22 Tikrit, Salah ad-Din province01
1/11/22 Hussainiyah, north of Baghdad00
1/11/22 Between Yusufiyah and Mahmouidyah, south of Baghdad00
1/11/22 Diwaniyah province00
1/12/22 Babylon province00
1/12/22 Akashat, Anbar province12

 

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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