ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: MARCH 31 – APRIL 7, 2022

ISHM LOGO

Key Takeaways:

  • Sadr Offers Rivals 40 Days To Form Government; Tension Rises Between Speaker Halbousi And His Sadrist Deputy – On March 31, Muqtada al-Sadr gave his rivals in the coordination framework for Shia parties (CF) 40 days to negotiate with any other political bloc to form a government, and instructed his followers to not interfere “neither positively nor negatively.” On the following day, the KDP and Siyada coalition said they were committed to their partnership with Sadr. CF responded to Sadr’s move with a statement calling for forming the “largest bloc” from both sides of the political divide, then creating a joint CF-Sadris committee to select the next PM. On April 4, Speaker Halbousi issued instructions to lawmakers banning the use of the term “Parliament leadership committee” and requiring that administrative orders relating to staff be signed exclusively by him. The move reflects escalating competition between Halbousi and his first deputy, Sadrist representative Hakim al-Zamili, who called the instructions unconstitutional and demanded the withdrawal of the notice containing Halbousi’s instructions. In other developments, on April 4, Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court rejected a case filed against the government demanding the reversal of the December 2020 currency devaluation decision. more…
  • Suicide Bomber Injures 8 Iraqis; Rockets Target Erbil Oil Refinery And Turkish Military Base – Between April 3 – 5, the explosions of six IEDs and one suicide vest in Diyala, Salah ad-Din, Ninewa, Baghdad, and Najaf wounded nine Iraqis. Eight of the injuries occurred when a suicide bomber detonated his device near Iraqi troops in a tunnel in the Nwegeit mountains, southwest of Mosul. On April 6, three rockets struck near an oil refinery owned by the local KAR Group in the Khabat district, on the border between Erbil and Ninewa. The rocket fire originated from the Hamdaniyah district, east of Mosul, and landed in an empty space, without causing casualties. Earlier, on April 3 – 4, unidentified militants fired rockets three times at a base occupied by Turkish military forces in the Zelikan subdistrict of Ninewa. In other developments, on April 3, authorities ordered a curfew in 12 villages near Zakho due to recurring Turkish airstrikes and clashes between Turkish forces and the PKK. On April 7, ISIS militants abducted five civilians from a village between Salah ad-Din and Kirkuk. more…
  • Jedaa Camp Almost Empty As More IDPs Return Home; COVID-19 Infections And Vaccinations Slow Down – On April 7, Iraq’s Ministry of Migration and Displacement said that 130 households of internally displaced persons (IDPs) returned from the Jedaa IDP camp in Ninewa to their home districts in Anbar and Salah ad-Din this week. With these returns, only 320 IDP households remain at Jedaa. On April 7, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 2,321,369, an increase of just 1,819 in cases from the 2,319,550 reported on March 31. Hospitalizations decreased from 12,119 to 9,271, and the daily average for new cases during the last 7-day period decreased to 260/day from 346/day during the 7-day period ending March 31. The number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 10,401,691, including 16,394 who received their shots on April 7. more…
  • March Oil Revenue Reaches Record High; KRG Seeks Talks As Baghdad Prepares To Take Over Its Oil Contracts – On April 1, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said that crude oil exports in March averaged 3.244 million bpd, and generated $11.07 billion in revenue, about $2.5 billion higher than February. This is the highest monthly export revenue Iraq has ever generated since 1972. During the first week of April, Iraq’s Oil Ministry and National Oil Company hosted multiple meetings with international consultants to discuss “mechanisms for managing the Kurdistan region’s oil industry in accordance with constitutional principles.” The consultations are part of Baghdad’s preparations to implement the Federal Supreme Court’s decision that declared the KRG oil and gas law to be unconstitutional and required the federal government to take over KRG oil production. Meanwhile, the KRG said it would dispatch a high level delegation to Baghdad next week to discuss “increased coordination in the oil and energy sectors.” In other developments, on April 4, Iraq’s Water Resources Ministry said that the KRG had signed a memorandum of understanding with PowerChina to build four new dams without the knowledge or approval of the federal government. 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.


Sadr Offers Rivals 40 Days To Form Government; Tension Rises Between Speaker Halbousi And His Sadrist Deputy

On March 31, Muqtada al-Sadr said he was offering his rivals in the coordination framework for Shia parties (CF) 40 days to negotiate with other political blocs to form a government. Sadr said the CF may negotiate with any political party during that period, with the exception of his own followers, whom he instructed to not interfere “neither positively nor negatively”. Sadr and his allies in the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Siyada coalition of Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi have failed so far to establish the required quorum to elect a president and prime minister as CF and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) repeatedly boycotted Parliament sessions. On the following day, the KDP and Siyada coalition issued a joint statement in which they were committed to their partnership with the Sadrist bloc, which they said was necessary for forming a strong government. The statement added that Siyada and the KDP are keen to continue “constructive dialogue with all parties away from foreign interference,” and emphasized the need for “understandings with the Shia house on endorsing Sadr’s candidate for the premiership.” On April 1, CF responded to Sadr’s move with a statement describing its vision for ending the political deadlock. The statement called on Sadr and his allies to “stop insisting on imposing” their will, “which complicates the situation and produces nothing.” The statement summarized CF’s vision in four points that centered around forming the “largest bloc” from both sides of the political divide, then selecting the next prime minister through a joint CF-Sadris committee to form a government within the constitutional timelines. 

On April 3, Iraq’s Integrity Commission reported that a magistrate court in Baghdad had summoned the governor of Salah ad-Din, Ammar Jabr, for questioning over allegations of extortion. According to the Commission, Jabr is accused of soliciting bribes from a contractor in exchange for approving funds for a project the contractor was implementing in Salah ad-Din. If convicted, the governor may face up to ten years in prison.

On April 4, Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi issued instructions to all members of Parliament banning the use of the term “Parliament leadership committee.” Halbousi cited two articles of the constitution, Federal Supreme Court decisions, and articles from the Parliament bylaws that he said render this term unconstitutional. Leaked parliamentary correspondences also showed that Halbousi instructed that administrative orders relating to staff must be exclusively signed by the Speaker. The move appears to reflect escalating competition between Halbousi and his first deputy, Sadrist representative Hakim al-Zamili, who called the instructions unconstitutional. Zamili’s office sent a letter to the general secretariat of Parliament demanding the withdrawal of an official notice the secretariat had issued to relay Halbousi’s instructions. Mishan al-Jubouri, a lawmaker from Halbousi’s Siyad coalition, urged Muqtada al-Sadr to intervene to defuse the tension between Halbousi and Zamili, warning that conflict between them could fracture the alliance between the two blocs.   

On April 4, Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court decided to reject a case filed against the prime minister, finance minister, and central bank governor, demanding the reversal of the December 2020 decision by the government to adjust the exchange rate of the Iraqi dinar against the dollar. 


Suicide Bomber Injures 8 Iraqis; Rockets Target Erbil Oil Refinery And Turkish Military Base

On April 1, the Security Media Cell reported that an Iraqi air force strike killed three ISIS militants when it hit their position in the Himrin mountains, in Kirkuk province. The statement mentioned that the three militants were members of “a dangerous cell,” adding that their names and positions would be revealed in later communications.  

On April 2, security sources in Diyala said that ISIS militants attacked a police checkpoint near the village of Chalabi, northeast of Baquba. There were no casualties in the attack, which damaged a thermal surveillance camera. 

On April 3, police sources in Najaf said that an attack with an improvised explosive device (IED) targeted the home of local activist Mustafa al-Fadhli in the Kufa district. There were no reports of casualties in the attack, which is the second against al-Fadhli, according to the police. 

On April 3 – 4, unidentified militants fired rockets three times at a base occupied by Turkish military forces in the Zelikan subdistrict of Ninewa province. The three volleys occurred between 8PM local time on April 3 and 2 AM on April 4 and involved up to seven rockets in total. There were no reports of casualties from the attacks, but local residents said some of the rockets landed in their farms, damaging equipment and starting fires.

On April 3, security sources said that an IED explosion targeted a convoy transporting supplies for the International Coalition forces as it was passing through Salah ad-Din province. On April 5, an IED explosion targeted another logistical convoy on a main highway west of Baghdad. There were no reports of casualties in either incident.

On April 3, the mayor of the Batifa region near Zakho said that authorities have ordered a curfew in 12 villages in the area due to recurring Turkish airstrikes and clashes between Turkish forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The official said the curfew is meant to avoid casualties among civilians caught in the crossfire, without providing a timeline for the movement restrictions. 

On April 4, the Security Media Cell said that a suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest around Iraqi troops who had surrounded him and another ISIS militant inside a tunnel in the Nwegeit mountains, southwest of Mosul. According to the Cell, the explosion wounded two soldiers and two officers from the force, which belongs to the Iraqi army’s 16th division. The Iraqi troops killed the other militant, while a subsequent airstrike targeted at other nearby tunnels killed two more ISIS militants. Ninewa police sources said the suicide bomber wounded six soldiers and two officers. 

On April 5, the Iraqi Engineers Association said that the home of its Diyala branch director was attacked with an IED, and accused parties that “disagreed with the outcome of the association’s election” of planning the attack. Footage posted on social media appeared to show two individuals placing the IED in front of the victim’s house, and a sizable explosion moments later. 

On April 5, security sources in Salah ad-Din province said that an under-vehicle IED detonated targeting an official in the municipality of the city of Tikrit. The sources said the targeted individual survived the attack, without providing further details. 

On April 5, security sources in Ninewa said that an IED explosion struck a local police patrol at the al-Hadhar road junction, some 55 miles south of Mosul. The explosion seriously injured one policeman. 

On April 6, security sources in Erbil said that three rockets struck near an oil refinery in the Khabat district, on the border between Erbil and Ninewa provinces. A statement by the Security Media Cell added that the rocket fire originated from the Hamdaniyah district, east of Mosul, and landed in an empty space. There were no reports of casualties or damage in the attack. The refinery in question is owned by the KAR Group. The residence of KAR’s chief executive, Baz Karim, was the main target in last month’s an Iranian ballistic missile attack on Erbil.  

On April 7, ISIS militants abducted five sheep herders from the village of Tamour, on the borders between Salah ad-Din and Kirkuk provinces. Local security officials said the militants later released one of the abductees, and took the other four with them into a rugged area in the Himrim mountains. 


Jedaa Camp Almost Empty As More IDPs Return Home; COVID-19 Infections And Vaccinations Slow Down

On April 7, Iraq’s Ministry of Migration and Displacement said that 130 households of internally displaced persons (IDPs) returned from the Jedaa IDP camp in Ninewa to their home districts this week. According to a ministry spokesman, most of the returnees were from Anbar province followed by Salah ad-Din province. The spokesman added that the latest returns leave approximately 320 IDP households at Jedaa. 

On April 7, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 2,321,369, an increase of just 1,819 in cases from the 2,319,550 reported on March 31. Of these cases, 9,271 are currently under treatment, including 39 being treated in ICUs. These numbers represent a decrease of 2,848 in hospitalizations and 10 in ICU admissions since March 31. Ministry data indicated that there were 17 new COVID-19 deaths since March 31, bringing the total from 25,164 to 25,181. Total recoveries increased from 2,277,125 to 2,282,267. The average number of new cases during the last 7-day period decreased to 260 per day from 346 per day during the 7-day period ending March 31. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Baghdad with 66 cases, and Sulaymaniyah and Babylon with 32 cases each. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 18,379,613 samples for COVID-19. The number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 10,401,691, including 16,394 who received their shots on April 7. 


March Oil Revenue Reaches Record High; KRG Seeks Talks As Baghdad Prepares To Take Over Its Oil Contracts

On April 1, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil said that crude oil exports during March totaled 100.56 million barrels, for an average of 3.244 million barrels per day (bpd), about 70,000 bpd higher than February’s average of 3.314 million bpd. The March exports generated a record $11.07 billion in revenue, about $2.5 billion higher than February’s $8.54 billion. Iraq sold its crude oil at an average price of approximately $110 per barrel, about $18 above the previous month’s average of $92 per barrel, as the Russian war in Ukraine pushed prices up. According to the ministry, this is the highest monthly export revenue Iraq has ever generated since 1972. Shipped exports from fields in southern and central Iraq averaged 3.197 million bpd in March, while average exports from the northern fields in Kirkuk, which were exported through the Turkish port of Ceyhan, increased to just over 104,600 bpd. 

On April 2, Iraq’s Oil Ministry and National Oil Company (INOC) hosted the third in a series of meetings that began on March 29 with international industry consultants to discuss “mechanisms for managing the Kurdistan region’s oil industry in accordance with constitutional principles.” A statement by the Ministry said a specialized team from the Financial Audit Council attended the meeting to  discuss Kurdistan’s existing oil contracts and the region’s oil revenue stream. The Ministry and INOC had a fourth workshop on April 7 that focused on comparing Iraq’s technical service contracts and the KRG production sharing contracts. The consultations are part of the federal government’s preparations to implement the Supreme Federal Court’s decision that declared the KRG’s oil and gas legislation to be unconstitutional and required the federal government to take over oil production in the region.

On April 4, a spokesperson for Iraq’s Water Resources Ministry said that the KRG had signed a memorandum of understanding with PowerChina to build four new dams without the knowledge or approval of the federal government. The spokesperson, Ali Radhi, warned that the new dams could have detrimental effects on water levels in the Tigris river, stressing that the KRG dam plans must conform with the national water strategy that covers the period until 2035. The director for dams in the KRG, Rahman Khani, denied the allegations, insisting that there’s “full coordination” on dam projects between the regional and federal water authorities. 

On April 5, Iraq’s Central Bank said that a newly created mechanism to issue letters of credit through an electronic platform has proven successful. The bank said the platform processed “more than 30,000” letters of credit worth more than IQD9 billion during 2021, and has contributed to protecting government agencies from shell and fraudulent companies seeking government contracts.  

On April 6, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said it decided to send a high level delegation to Baghdad next week to discuss “increased coordination in the oil and energy sectors” with the federal government. The KRG said the talks would be “based on the constitution, taking into consideration the region’s constitutional powers in this regard.” 


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs from March 31, 2022 - April 7, 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
4/3/22 Kufa, Najaf province00
4/3/22 Salah ad-Din province00
4/4/22 Nwegeit mountains, Ninewa province08
4/5/22 Main highway west of Baghdad00
4/5/22 Diyala province00
4/5/22 Tikrit, Salah ad-Din province00
4/5/22 Al-Hadhar, Ninewa province01

 

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