- Protests Return As Political Deadlock Continues; Baghdad Demands Withdrawal Of Turkish Forces Amid New Cross-Border Operation – On April 15, several hundred Iraqis gathered in central Baghdad to protest the political deadlock that has prevented government formation for more than six months after the October 2021 election. Organizers said more protests may take place across several provinces during the next few weeks to increase the pressure on politicians. On April 19, Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it summoned the Turkish ambassador to Baghdad to deliver “a strongly worded letter of protest” concerning the new Turkish military operations against the PKK inside Iraqi territory. The ministry said that it “reiterated the demand for a complete withdrawal of Turkish forces” from Iraqi territory. In other developments, on April 19, during a visit to the UK, KRG PM Masrour Barzani gave a talk at Chatham House in which he argued in favor of a “confederal system” in Iraq that distributes “power and authority” among the major communities. On April 21, Iraq’s Finance Minister said he was in Washington for talks with U.S officials to secure technical assistance and diplomatic support to help Baghdad advance its economic reforms agenda as outlined in the government’s White Paper. more…
- ISIS Escalates Attacks After Relative Calm; Turkey Launches New Offensive Inside Iraq; Tribal Conflict Kills Senior Officer – Between April 14 – 21, the explosions of ten IEDs and one remnant of war in Babylon, Diwaniyah, Salah ad-Din, Diyala, Ninewa, and Baghdad, killed at least seven Iraqis and wounded 18. The deadliest incident involved a complex ISIS attack with an IED and small arms fire in Qara-Tappa, resulting in three fatalities and nine injuries. Between April 16 – 18, three other attacks by ISIS militants in Salah ad-Din and Anbar killed at least two Iraqis and wounded seven. On April 18, Turkish military forces began a new air and ground operation targeting suspected PKK positions inside the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Turkey said the operation, dubbed “Claw-Lock,” killed at least 19 suspected PKK militants during the first day. On April 20, a senior Iraqi intelligence officer was killed while attempting to stop an armed tribal conflict in the Shatra district of Dhi-Qar province. The incident prompted a group of Dhi-Qar lawmakers to urge PM Kadhimi to “use exceptional measures to address an exceptional situation” in their province. In other developments, between April 18 – 20, there were reports of clashes between the PKK-affiliated YBS militia and Iraqi army in Sinjar, in which at least three people were injured. more…
- Iraq’s School Building Plans Dwarfed By Deficit – On April 17, Iraq’s Minister of Education said that the country needs to build 8,000 – 9,000 new schools in order to address the current deficit in school buildings. The minister explained that while Iraq has 26,000 registered schools, there are only 16,600 buildings, resulting in thousands of schools sharing buildings. The country’s existing school-building projects account for slightly more than 10% of this deficit. In other developments, on April 21, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 2,323,878, an increase of just 1,144 in cases from the 2,322,734 reported on April 14. Hospitalizations decreased from 6,467 to 3,604, and the daily average for new cases during the last 7-day period decreased to 163/day from 195/day during the 7-day period ending April 14. The number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 10,479,819, including 13,739 who received their shots on April 21. more…
- Basra-Aqaba Pipeline Project Under Attack; Malfunction Shuts Down Oil Export Terminal – On April 17, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said the government decided to leave contracts concerning the planned Basra-Aqaba oil pipeline to the next government to award. Ministry officials sought to defend the project and counter disinformation about it after influential politicians and militia leaders attacked the project, calling it an expensive scheme meant to deliver Iraq’s oil cheaply to Israel. On April 18, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said that a pipeline malfunction has suspended loading operations from the Khor al-Amaya oil terminal which exports part of Iraq’s crude oil through the Persian Gulf. Officials said exports from the terminal could resume by the end of 2022. In other developments, on April 18, Central Bank of Iraq officials said the bank approved a plan to offer up to IQD1 trillion (approximately $690 million) in loans to support solar energy projects. On April 20, Iraq’s Minister of Environment said he was preparing a proposal for the government to establish a national waste recycling management system. 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.
On April 15, several hundred Iraqis gathered in central Baghdad to protest the political deadlock that has prevented government formation for more than six months after the October 2021 election. The protesters raised slogans demanding the formation of a government not based on ethno sectarian power sharing, and denouncing the two competing blocs in Parliament, the one led by Muqtada al-Sadr, and his rivals in the coordination framework for Shia parties. Mushariq al-Freiji, who leads Nazil Akhoth Haqi, a political party formed following the 2019 protests, told Rudaw that more protests may take place during the next few weeks to increase the pressure on politicians. According to Freiji, the protest plans are being coordinated across several provinces: Baghdad, Karbala, Diwaniya, Babylon, Najaf, Dhi-Qar, Wasit, and Sulaymaniyah.
On April 15, the prime minister of the Kurdistan regional government (KRG), Masrour Barzani, traveled to Ankara and met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to a brief statement report by Kurdistan24, Barzani and Erdogan discussed bilateral relations and expanding economic ties during their talks, which took place days before Turkey launched a new military operation against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) inside the Kurdistan region. On the 19th, Barzani arrived in London, where he met with senior British officials, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and discussed counter-terrorism, emigration, economic cooperation, and disputes between the KRG and the federal Iraqi government. Barzani also had meetings with the British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss, and the ministers for energy and business affairs and defense affairs. While in the UK, Barzani gave a talk at Chatham House, where he argued in favor of a “confederal system” in Iraq that distributes “power and authority” among the major communities.
On April 19, Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it summoned the Turkish ambassador to Baghdad, Ali Riza Guney, to deliver “a strongly worded letter of protest” concerning the new Turkish military operations against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) inside Iraqi territory. The ministry said that it “reiterated the demand for a complete withdrawal of Turkish forces from Iraqi territory in a manner that reflects respect for [Iraq’s] sovereignty.” The ministry’s statement “reminded” Turkey that the presence of PKK members in Iraq “was the result of an agreement between Turkey and that party” that happened despite Iraq’s “rejection for Turkey’s exportation of its internal challenges to Iraq.” However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that the federal Iraqi government and KRG both supported the Turkish military campaign. Addressing members of his own party, Erdogan said he “thanks” Baghdad and Erbil “for supporting our battle against terrorism,” adding that the operation was proceeding “in close coordination” with the Iraqi government and KRG. The Peshmerga Ministry denied that its forces participated “in any manner” in the ongoing Turkish operation, but stopped short of condemning Turkey’s actions. Meanwhile, Iraq’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said that Ankara’s claims about coordination with Baghdad were “untrue.”
On April 21, Iraq’s Finance Minister, Ali Allawi, said he arrived in Washington with a delegation of senior ministry and banking officials for a series of meetings with American counterparts and international financial institutions. Allawi said the talks with the U.S Treasury Department will focus on technical assistance and diplomatic support to help Baghdad advance its economic reforms agenda as outlined in the government’s White Paper.
On April 14, security sources said that an IED explosion targeted a convoy transporting supplies for the International Coalition forces as it was passing through Babylon province. On April 17, a second IED explosion targeted another logistical convoy on a main highway between Babylon and Diwaniyah provinces. There were no reports of casualties in either incident.
On April 15, security sources in Salah ad-Din province said that a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) detonated in a village outside the Baiji district. The explosion killed a sheep herder who was passing by and wounded another civilian.
On April 15, security sources in Ninewa province said that a roadside IED explosion struck a local police patrol in the town of Badush, northwest of Mosul, wounding one police officer.
On April 16, Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) sources said ISIS militants attempted to infiltrate the positions of a PMF unit (PMF 22nd brigade) in the al-Eith region of Salah ad-Din province. Two PMF fighters were killed while intercepting the attackers. Elsewhere in Salah ad-Din, ISIS militants attacked an Iraqi army outpost in the Tuzkhormatu district, wounding a soldier from the army’s 8th division. Later, on April 21, the Security Media Cell said security forces clashed with a group of ISIS militants outside Tuzkhormatu, killing one of the militants.
On April 16, security sources in Diyala said that an IED explosion in the Qara-Tappa subdistrict, northeast of Baquba, killed two Iraqi soldiers and wounded a third soldier. Later, on April 20, security sources in Diyala said that ISIS militants killed at least three people (all PMF fighters) and wounded nine others in a complex attack near Qara-Tappa. According to the sources, ISIS militants first attacked a PMF positions north of Qara-Tappa with small arms and sniper fire. The militants later detonated an IED that struck a PMF unit that attempted to reinforce the position that was under fire.
On April 18, Shafaq News reported that a group of ISIS militants attacked security forces in the Abbara subdistrict of Diyala province with small arms and mortar fire. The militants later used explosives to demolish a local religious shrine. A spokesman for the Diyala police denied the reports, but footage provided by Shafaq appeared to show the ruins of the site in question.
On April 18, Turkish military forces began a new military operation involving air and ground attacks targeting suspected positions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) inside the Kurdistan region of Iraq. According to Rudaw, the operations involved air assaults and helicopter gunships and targeted the Metina, Basyan, Zab, and Avashin areas. According to the Turkish defense ministry, the operations, dubbed “Claw-Lock,” also involved strikes with fighter jets, and had resulted in the death of “at least 19” suspected PKK militants during the first day. Meanwhile, the PKK claimed on April 21 that its fighters had killed at least 41 Turkish soldiers in the Avashin region.
On April 18, security sources in Sinjar said that the PKK-affiliated YBS militia evacuated a building it had used as an outpost in the contested district after Iraqi army forces opened fire on the building. Clashes between the two sides reportedly injured two of the militiamen, an Iraqi soldier, and a civilian. On April 20, there were reports of more violence, as YBS fighters reportedly opened fire on an Iraqi border guard patrol near Khansour, wounding one of its members. Tensions have been high between the YBS and Iraqi military, which has been trying to push the militia out of Sinjar. In January, the army arrested a number of YBS members and confiscated their weapons to pressure the group to leave Sinjar.
On April 18, local officials in the Rutba district of Anbar province said that ISIS militants attacked civilians and security forces in drive-by shootings in the Akashat region. According to the officials, the attacks wounded four members of the security forces and two civilians, one of whom is a Jordanian truck driver. Meanwhile, Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) officials in the same area said the PMF repelled an “incursion by four pickup trucks” carrying ISIS militants, killing two of them.
On April 20, the deputy chief of staff of Iraq’s army said that a senior intelligence officer with the Sumer Operations Command, brigadier general Ali Jamil, was killed while attempting to stop an armed tribal conflict in the Shatra district of Dhi-Qar province. Fighting between the tribes began after the guesthouse of one of them was attacked with an IED on April 19. The incident prompted a group of Dhi-Qar lawmakers to urge Prime Minister Kadhimi to “use exceptional measures to address an exceptional situation” in their province. The lawmakers described the security situation in the province as “miserable,” noting that “some of the tribes possess heavy weapons.” On the following day, the Security Media Cell said that security forces launched an operation to restore security in Shatra, adding that they arrested 22 wanted individuals and confiscated “many small and medium weapons” from the parties to the tribal conflict.
On April 20, security sources in Baghdad said that an IED explosion struck an Iraqi army vehicle in the Tarmiyah district, north of the capital. The explosion severely wounded one Iraqi soldier. In another incident near Baghdad, the explosion of a remnant of war killed a civilian who attempted to remove the object while working on his farm on the outskirts of al-Kadhimiyah district.
On April 20, security sources in Diyala said that a roadside IED struck an Iraq army vehicle near the Abu Sayda subdistrict, northeast of Baquba. The explosion wounded two members of the targeted army patrol.
On April 21, the PMF said that a roadside IED explosion struck one of its vehicles in Jurf al-Sakhr in Babylon province. According to the PMF statement, the detonation was followed by heavy small arms fire directed at the vehicle, resulting in injuries among three PMF fighters.
On April 17, Iraq’s Minister of Education said that the country needs to build 8,000 – 9,000 new schools in order to address the current deficit in school buildings. The minister, Ali al-Duleimi, explained that while Iraq has 26,000 registered schools, there are only 16,600 buildings, resulting in thousands of schools sharing buildings to operate on a two or three shift schedule. The minister pointed out that the government’s largest school-building project is a deal signed last year with Chinese companies to build 1,000 schools, which is slightly more than 10% of the current deficit.
On April 19, the International Organization for Migration released data from a survey conducted in February to understand “the experiences, motivation and needs of Iraqis who returned from Belarus” and other European countries during the 2021 Belarusian migration crisis. The majority of the 234 respondents were under 35 years old, male, and unmarried. For more than 80%, the goal was to seek employment abroad, and half, mostly from the Baghdad area, said they were seeking asylum. Almost 6 in 10 said family or friends helped them migrate. Among destinations, Germany was sought by the most (35%), followed by the UK and Lithuania. The vast majority of respondents (97%) said the areas where they live need better job and economic opportunities, and almost 60% said there was a need to reduce corruption, improve basic services, and easier access to credit. The study concluded that despite the “many difficulties experienced by respondents during their attempted emigration and upon return, underlying economic and socio-political pressures will likely continue to drive emigration, particularly among un- and underemployed men.”
On April 21, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 2,323,878, an increase of just 1,144 in cases from the 2,322,734 reported on April 14. Of these cases, 3,604 are currently under treatment, including 24 being treated in ICUs. These numbers represent a decrease of 2,863 in hospitalizations and 5 in ICU admissions since April 14. Ministry data indicated that there were nine new COVID-19 deaths since April 14, bringing the total from 25,192 to 25,201. The average number of new cases during the last 7-day period decreased to 163 per day from 195 per day during the 7-day period ending April 14. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Baghdad with 59 cases, Basra with 21, and Sulaymaniyah with 16 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 18,443,454 samples for COVID-19. The number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 10,479,819, including 13,739 who received their shots on April 21.
On April 17, Iraq’s Oil Ministry revealed that the Iraqi government had decided at an April 5 meeting to change the contracting model for the planned Basra-Aqaba oil pipeline from build, own, operate and transfer (Boot) to engineering, procurement, construction and finance (EPCF). Ministry officials said the project will have a maximum cost of $8.5 billion, and would carry up to 2 million barrels per day (bpd) for the section from Basra to Haditha, and up to 1 million bpd for the section from Haditha to Aqaba. The officials added the project contracts would be left to the next government to award. The press conference sought to defend the project and counter disinformation about it after it had been attacked by influential politicians and militia leaders, including Nouri al-Maliki and Qais al-Khazali. Pipeline critics argue that the current government lacks the authority to execute a major project, which they say would waste billions of Iraq’s funds, and deliver Iraq’s oil cheaply to Israel.
On April 18, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said that a pipeline malfunction has suspended loading operations from the Khor al-Amaya Oil Terminal (KAAOT) which exports part of Iraq’s crude oil through the Persian Gulf. A Basra Oil Company official said the pipeline that serves KAAOT was nearing the end of its expected operational life and requires repairs, adding that exports from the terminal could resume by the end of 2022. The official added that Iraq is planning to award a contract to extend an additional pipeline to KAAOT by the end of 2023 to boost its export capacity, without providing details about the pipeline’s cost or capacity.
On April 18, the deputy governor of the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) said the bank has approved a plan to offer up to IQD1 trillion (approximately $690 million) in loans to support solar energy projects in the country. The CBI official said the loans would charge only a small administrative fee and would be available to both residential and business users.
On April 19, Iraq’s Transportation Minister, Nassir al-Shibli, said that the national carrier, Iraqi Airways, will add four new passenger planes to its fleet during 2022. Shibli explained that the new planes will expand the size of the airline’s fleet from 33 to 37 “modern aircraft.” The minister did not specify the make or model of the new aircraft.
On April 20, Iraq’s Minister of Environment, Jasim al-Falahi, said that his ministry was preparing to present a proposal for establishing a national waste material recycling management system to the rest of the cabinet for approval and referral to Parliament for ratification. According to Falahi, the proposal involves establishing recycling facilities to process waste material to produce organic fertilizers and capture gasses that can be used in power generation, anticipating the program to provide thousands of job opportunities. Falahi did not say when his ministry would present its proposal to the government.
IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties
Casualties Due To IEDs from April 14, 2022 - April 21, 2022
|4/15/22||Baiji, Salah ad-Din province||1||1|
|4/15/22||Badush, Ninewa province||0||1|
|4/16/22||Qara Tappa, Diyala province||2||1|
|4/19/22||Shatra, Dhi-Qar province||0||0|
|4/20/22||Tarmiyah, north of Baghdad||0||1|
|4/20/22||Abu Saida, Diyala province||0||2|
|4/20/22||Qara Tappa, Diyala province||3||9|
|4/21/22||Jurf al-Sakhr, Babylon province||0||3|
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.