ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: MARCH 3 – 10, 2022

ISHM LOGO

Key Takeaways:

  • Parliament Solicits New Presidential Candidates; Oil Ministry Wants Lawmaker Arrested; Top Court Summons Finance Minister Over Dinar Devaluation; Lawmaker’s Guards Shoot Prominent Activist – On March 5, Iraq’s Parliament voted to begin accepting new candidacy statements from individuals seeking to run for the office of president of Iraq. On March 8, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said it asked the Joint Operations Command to execute a warrant for the arrest of a Basra member of Parliament accused of involvement in “flagrant extortion and misinformation” against the Basra Oil Company. On March 8, Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court summoned the Finance Minister and Central Bank of Iraq governor to attend a hearing on March 14 in a case seeking to reverse the 2020 government decision to devalue the dinar. On March 8, the guards of Suha al-Sultani, a Sadrist lawmaker from Babylon province used batons, stones, and live fire to disperse protesters gathered outside the Sultani’s residence, seriously injuring prominent activist Dhurgham Majid and several others. In other developments, on March 9, a criminal court in Salah ad-Din sentenced the mayor of the Samarra district to seven years in prison after finding him guilty of embezzling public funds. more…
  • Lack Of Funds Impedes Formation Of Joint Army-Peshmerga Units – On March 9, the Ministry of Peshmerga said that lack of financial allocations was impeding the implementation of an agreement reached last year to form joint military brigades with the federal Ministry of Defense. The Peshmerga has recently made its 20th brigade available to the Defense Ministry for the purpose of creating two joint brigades to control gaps between their respective lines of control, but the Finance Ministry said that there were no authorized funds to support this plan. In other developments, between March 3 – 10, the explosions of three IEDs and two remnants of war in Salah ad-Din, Dhi-Qar, Kirkuk, and Baghdad killed a child and injured a civilian. Between March 8 – 10, clashes between Iraqi security forces and ISIS militants in Salah ad-Din, Kirkuk, and Diyala killed seven ISIS militants. The fighting also killed one member of the security forces and injured two soldiers and two civilians. more…
  • Iraq Relaxes COVID-19 Restrictions; WHO To Help Review Iraq’s Health Sector – On March 7, the Iraqi government revised the country’s COVID-19 policies in light of declining infection rates. As of April 1, Iraq will no longer require visitors to present negative PCR tests, and all public and private universities will revert to in-person classes during the school year 2022-2023. On March 7, the regional director of the WHO met with PM Kadhimi in Baghdad and informed him that the WHO has selected Iraq and four other nations for a program to conduct a comprehensive review of their health systems and help develop them. In other developments, on March 10, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 2,311,238, an increase of 5,146 in cases from the 2,306,092 reported on March 3. Hospitalizations decreased from 30,160 to 24,026, and the daily average for new cases during the last 7-day period dropped to 735/day from 1,133/day during the 7-day period ending March 3. Total vaccinations reached 10,084,782 including 40,637 who received their shots on March 10. more…
  • Government Initiates Emergency Measures To Address Food Security; Baghdad Expects $20 Billion Revenue Increase In 2022 – On March 6 and 8, the Iraqi government held emergency meetings to address food security amid a steep increase in prices. To this end, the government decided to raise the price at which it buys wheat from farmers, allocated $100 million to import three million tons of wheat, froze customs duties on several key food items, and decided to issue a one-time cash assistance payment to low income Iraqis. Meanwhile, authorities arrested 31 individuals in various provinces who are accused of price gouging. On March 10, a financial advisor to PM Kadhimi said the government expects $20 billion in additional revenue this year, aided by high oil prices. Officials think the higher revenue means that Iraq will not need to borrow money to cover its expenses. In other developments, on March 3, Iraq’s Transportation Ministry said that Iraqi railroad officials and their Syrian counterparts discussed plans to extend a railroad connection from al-Qaim in Anbar province to the Syrian port of Tartus on the Mediterranean. 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.


Parliament Solicits New Presidential Candidates; Oil Ministry Wants Lawmaker Arrested; Top Courts Summons Finance Minister Over Dinar Devaluation; Lawmaker’s Guards Shoot Prominent Activist

On March 5, Iraq’s Parliament voted to begin accepting new candidacy statements from individuals seeking to run for the office of president of Iraq. The motion was approved by 203 lawmakers out of 265 who attended the session. On the following day, Parliament officially announced that it began accepting new candidates for one “non-renewable” period. Last week, Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court (SFC) ruled that the February 8 decision by the Speaker and his deputies to reopen the window for accepting new presidential candidates was not supported by law, saying the process required a vote by Parliament as a whole. 

On March 7, a member of the executive office of the Emtidad Movement and a former parliamentary candidate said she resigned from the party. The former senior Emtidad member, Nour Nafi al-Jleihawi, said her decision was a reaction to the party representatives’ vote in favor of electing Mohammed al-Halbousi as Speaker of Parliament. Jleihawi argued that anyone who was in a position of authority during the 2019 protests and failed to support the protesters is considered a “partner of those who oppressed the protesting youths.” Jleihawi’s resignation is the latest in a series of recent defections from Emtidad. 

On March 8, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said it asked the Joint Operations Command to execute a warrant issued by the Appellate Court of Basra for the arrest of a Basra member of Parliament accused of involvement in “flagrant extortion and misinformation” against the Basra Oil Company. The Ministry said the lawmaker in question, Zahra al-Bichari, “deliberately undermined [the company’s] work, projects, and officials, leading to direct and indirect damage to several important energy projects and delaying their implementation.” The Oil Ministry did not specify the projects allegedly affected by the accused lawmaker’s actions.    

On March 8, Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court (SFC) summoned Finance Minister Ali Alliawi and Central Bank of Iraq governor Mustafa Ghalib to attend a hearing on March 14 in a case concerning the 2020 government decision to devalue the dinar. The case filed before the SFC seeks to compel the government to revert to the exchange rate that existed prior to the devaluation (approximately IQD1,120: $1). News reports did not clarify who filed the case, but the exchange rate has been a point of contention between the Finance Minister and lawmakers affiliated with Muqtada al-Sadr. 

On March 8, several activists were injured while they were protesting outside the residence of Suha al-Sultani, a Sadrist member of Parliament in Babylon province. According to a statement by the provincial police command, the lawmaker’s guards used batons, stones, and live fire against the protesters. Five of the protesters were injured with blunt objects, while a sixth person, a prominent activist, was injured by a live bullet. The injured activist, Dhurgham Majid, is reportedly in a stable condition in the hospital. Footage from the incident posted on social media appeared to show a chaotic scene and images of protesters being treated for head injuries while sounds of gunfire could be heard. On March 9, a police source said a Babylon court issued arrest warrants for five of the lawmaker’s guards. A sixth guard is already in custody. 

On March 9, a group of Emtidad party lawmakers and independent lawmakers from Babylon province began a sit-in at the site where activit Durgham Majid was shot by the guards of Sadrist lawmaker Suha al-Sultani (see above). The protesting members of Parliament are demanding the arrest and prosecution of the culprits, and gave Sultani 48 hours to make a public apology.

On March 9, Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council said that a criminal court in Salah ad-Din had sentenced the mayor of the Samarra district to seven years in prison. The court found the official, Mahmoud Khalaf Ahmed, guilty of embezzling public funds. On the same day, Iraq’s Integrity Commission said that a magistrate court in Baghdad summoned the former director of Iraq’s Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) for questioning. According to the Commission, the official abused his position by allocating public land in a residential complex belonging to Baghdad International Airport to benefit individuals not affiliated with ICAA.

On March 9, Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court rejected a case filed against Prime Minister Kadhimi over his appointment of Majid al-Waeli as governor of Najaf. Kadhimi had appointed Waeli to  replace Luay al-Yasiri, who had resigned in December 2021.  

On March 10, Iraq’s Council of Ministers approved a recommendation presented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in favor of a request by France to open a French consulate in Ninewa province. 


Lack Of Funds Impedes Formation Of Joint Army-Peshmerga Units

On March 3, security sources in Salah ad-Din province said that an improvised explosive device (IED) targeted a convoy transporting supplies for the International Coalition forces on a main highway in a specified location within the province. On March 8, another IED exploded targeting a second supply convoy on the main highway between Baghdad and Basra in the al-Batha region of Dhi-Qar province. The explosion damaged the cargo of one of the convoy’s trucks but there were no reports of casualties associated with either attack. 

On March 5, security sources in Dhi-Qar province said that a homemade IED detonated next to the home of an employee in the Dhi-Qar Oil Company in the city of Nasiriyah. The explosion resulted in material damage to the building and civilian vehicles nearby without causing casualties.  

On March 5, security sources in Kirkuk province said that an unexploded remnant of war (ERW) killed a child when it detonated in the Yarmouk neighborhood of the Hawija district. On March 10, another ERW explosion injured a civilian in the Tarmiyah district, north of Baghdad. 

On March 8, the Security Media Cell reported that a unit from the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) backed by army helicopters killed two ISIS militants in a “preemptive operation” in the western Jazeera region near Samarra in Salah ad-Din province. 

On March 8, security sources in Kirkuk said that ISIS militants attacked PMF positions in the Taza subdistrict, south of Kirkuk. The attack injured one PMF fighter and disabled a thermal surveillance camera. To the south, in Diyala, security sources said ISIS sniper fire injured a civilian and a member of the security forces in the Abbar subdistrict, northeast of Baquba. The wounded service member later died as a result of his injury.   

On March 9, the Ministry of Peshmerga said that lack of financial allocations was impeding the implementation of an agreement to form joint military brigades with the federal Ministry of Defense. The Peshmerga Ministry, according to its secretary general, has recently made its 20th brigade available to the federal Defense Ministry for the purpose of creating two joint brigades to control the gaps between their respective lines of control. The federal Finance Ministry, however, said that there were no authorized funds for the purpose of standing up new military units. 

On March 9, Iraqi army soldiers killed an ISIS militant who attacked an army vehicle that was delivering supplies to checkpoints in western Salah ad-Din province, on the road leading to Haditha.  On the following day, ISIS militants attacked Iraqi army checkpoints on the outskirts of the Sayniyah subdistrict in northern Salah ad-Din province. The fighting killed four of the attackers and injured two soldiers from the Iraqi army’s 91st brigade, according to security sources.


Iraq Relaxes COVID-19 Restrictions; WHO To Help Review Iraq’s Health Sector

On March 7, Iraq’s High Committee for Health and National Safety revised the country’s COVID-19 policies in light of recent changes in infection rates and severity. As of April 1, Iraq will no longer require visitors to present a negative PCR test result upon arrival or departure, but will continue to ask for proof of vaccination. The Committee also decided that all public and private universities should revert back to in-person classes during the school year 2022-2023.

On March 7, the regional director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Ahmed al-Madhari, met with Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Baghdad. According to a statement by Kadhimi’s office, Mandhari informed the prime minister that the WHO has selected Iraq and four other nations for a program to conduct a comprehensive review of their health systems and help develop them. According to the statement, the program will be a joint effort with the Ministries of Health and Agriculture, Baghdad University, and other entities. 

On March 10, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 2,311,238, an increase of 5,146 in cases from the 2,306,092 reported on March 3. Of these cases, 24,026 are currently under treatment, including 89 being treated in ICUs. These numbers represent a decrease of 6,134 in hospitalizations and 22 in ICU admissions since March 3. Ministry data indicated that there were 62 new COVID-19 deaths since March 3, bringing the total from 25,028 to 25,090. Total recoveries increased from 2,250,904 to 2,262,122. The average number of new cases during the last 7-day period dropped to 735 per day from 1,133 per day during the 7-day period ending March 3. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Baghdad with 131 cases, Sulaymaniyah with 123, Basra with 109, and Ninewa with 54 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 18,113,388 samples for COVID-19. The number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 10,084,782 including 40,637 who received their shots on March 10. 


Government Initiates Emergency Measures To Address Food Security; Baghdad Expects $20 Billion Revenue Increase In 2022

On March 3, Iraq’s Transportation Ministry said that Iraqi railroad officials and their Syrian counterparts discussed plans to extend a railroad connection from al-Qaim in Iraq’s Anbar province to the Syrian port of Tartus on the Mediterranean. In addition to discussing the technical requirements of the 270 kilometer railroad connection, the Iraqi and Syrian officials discussed joint training and development initiatives. 

On March 6 and 8, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimii convened emergency Cabinet meetings to discuss food security amid a steep increase in the prices of food and other consumer goods. At the meeting, Kadhimi instructed his ministers to ensure that the country builds and maintains a strategic reserve of key food staples, according to a statement by Kadhimi’s office. To this end, the government decided to raise the price at which it buys wheat from local farmers to IQD725,000 ($500) per ton, with potential for further increase, depending on global prices. Baghdad also authorized the Trade Ministry to spend $100 million to import up to three million tons of wheat. In addition, the government decided to reduce customs duties on several key food items to zero for a period of two months. The items include rice, sugar, cooking oils, legumes, milk, flour, wheat, and barley. Finally, the government decided to issue a one-time cash assistance payment of IQD100,000 (approximately $70) to support low income government employees and retirees, as well as Iraqis without income and those dependent on social security. Iraqis are experiencing shortages in certain goods, especially flour and cooking oil, whose prices have recently skyrocketed, in part as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which exports large amounts of wheat, construction materials, and other goods to Iraq. 

On March 7, Iraq’s Planning Ministry reported that inflation during the month of January 2022 increased by 0.9% compared to December of 2021. The Ministry noted that inflation levels in January were up 5.3% when compared with the same month in 2021. 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 March 8, the Security Media Cell reported that the Interior Ministry’s intelligence and investigations agency arrested 31 individuals in various provinces who are accused of price gouging. The Cell said the arrests were part of a campaign to prevent merchants from exploiting shortages to raise the prices of groceries. In a statement, the intelligence agency said its chief, Ahmed Abu Ragheef, issued “strict orders to the economic security [department] to monitor markets…to prevent greed and price manipulation.”

On March 10, a financial advisor to Prime Minister Kadhimi said that the government expects to generate $20 billion in additional revenue this year, aided by high oil prices. The advisor, Mudhar Mohammed Salih, said average oil prices in 2020 will likely stay above $100 per barrel, compared to less than $70 per barrel in 2021. Salih added that the higher revenue means that Iraq will not need to borrow money to cover its expenses, so long as those remain at the same level as last year’s. 


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs from March 3, 2022 - March 10, 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
3/3/22 Salah ad-Din province00
3/5/22 Nasiriyah, Dhi-Qar province 00
3/8/22 Al-Batha, Dhi-Qar province00

 

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.


Subscribe to our weekly ISHM and have the latest developments in Iraq sent straight to your inbox every Thursday and follow EPIC on Twitter to receive updates throughout the week.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email