- Tehran And Riyadh Hold New Talks In Baghdad; Halbousi, Threatened By Returning Political Rivals, Seeks New Understanding With Iran – On April 23, Iran’s foreign ministry said that Iran and Saudi Arabia recently held a “fifth round” of diplomatic talks in Baghdad. Iranians said the talks were “positive,” and raised hopes for “steps on the path of resumption of ties.” On April 26, Speaker Halbousi threatened to withdraw from the political process in response to the “dominance and manipulation” by armed factions. Halbousi was apparently responding to the recent returns of several Sunni political and tribal figures from Anbar, who had been exiled on terrorism or corruption charges since Nouri al-Maliki’s second term (2010-2014). The returns are viewed as maneuvers by the Coordination Framework for Shia parties (CF) to apply pressure on Halbousi to reconsider his alliance with Muqtada al-Sadr. The next day, Halbousi went to Tehran and met with President Raisi, foreign minister Abdullahian, and national security chief Shamkhani. Speaking at a press conference, Halbousi alluded to U.S.-Iran relations, and the militia problem in Iraq, saying that “sanctions should not be imposed on people, just as there should be no terror through empowering armed gangs,” noting that he “looks forward to improved relations” with Iran. In other developments, on April 24, the trilateral “Save the Homeland” alliance of the Sadrist bloc, KDP and the Siyada coalition of Speaker Halbousi, announced that it will present a bill to criminalize normalization with the state of Israel. more…
- Militants Launch New Series Of Attacks Across Several Provinces; Tension Rises Between Iraqi Army And Militias In Sinjar – Between April 21 – 28, the explosions of ten IEDs, three remnants of war, and one suicide bomber vest in Babylon, Muthanna, Diwaniyah, Najaf, Ninewa, Basra, Anbar, Diyala, and Salah ad-Din provinces killed at least nine Iraqis and wounded another ten. Between April 21 – 27, clashes between ISIS militants and Iraqi forces in Anbar, Kirkuk, Diyala, and Salah ad-Din provinces killed at least four Iraqi civilians and members of the security forces, and wounded 12. At least eight ISIS militants were also killed. On April 23, Iraqi army troops raided a building occupied by the PKK-affiliated YBS militia in Sinjar, confiscating various weapons and arresting several militiamen. Meanwhile, army forces in the Sinjar area received reinforcements in preparation for possible escalation. Between April 22 – 24, Turkish military bases in Duhok and Ninewa provinces were attacked twice with rockets as Turkish forces continued their military campaign against PKK presence in the Kurdistan region. more…
- Humanitarian Responses Face Large Funding Gaps; More Than Half A Million Returnees Remain In “High Severity” Conditions – On April 24, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) has reached a third of nearly 1 million people targeted by the plan. So far, donors have provided $41 million in funding, just over 10% of the $400 million needed to implement the 2022 HRP. On April 25, UNICEF said its 2021 appeal to fund humanitarian assistance in Iraq, which requested $65.9 million to address “critical and acute humanitarian needs” of children and families, ended with a funding gap of 57%. On April 26, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) provided new data on the patterns of return among internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their home districts during the first quarter of 2022. The update shows that more than 581,00 returnees are living in “high severity” conditions relating to housing, livelihoods, basic services, security, and social cohesion. Another 1.94 million are experiencing “medium severity” conditions. In other developments, on April 28, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 2,324,847, an increase of just 969 from the 2,323,878 reported on April 21. Hospitalizations decreased from 3,604 to 2,335, and the daily average for new cases during the last 7-day period decreased to 138/day from 163/day during the 7-day period ending April 21. The number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 10,524,458, including 17,292 who received their shots on April 28. more…
- Iraq And Iran Agree On Energy Supply Terms Throughout 2022; Twenty New Wells To Boost Oil Production At The Nasiriyah Field – On April 27, Iraq’s Minister of Electricity met with Iran’s Oil Minister in Tehran to discuss gas and electricity supplies to Iraq and $1.69 billion in related arrears. The two sides reached “mutually satisfactory solutions” regarding prices, contractual obligations, and payments of arrears to “guarantee streamlined supplies throughout 2022.” On April 27, the director general of Iraq’s Dhi-Qar Oil Company said that a project to expand production capacity at the 80,000 bpd Nasiriyah oil field has commenced with the drilling of the first of 20 new oil wells. In other developments, on April 24, Iraq’s Border Ports Commission said that Iraqi authorities have started implementing electronic receipt mechanisms at several ports of entry to prevent fraud in the collection of customs fees. 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 23, a spokesperson for Iran’s foreign ministry said that Iran and Saudi Arabia recently held a “fifth round” of diplomatic talks in Baghdad. The official said Omani efforts also played a role in facilitating the talks, which he said were “positive and moving forward.” According to a report by AP, citing Iranian news websites, the talks raised hopes for “steps on the path of resumption of ties” between Tehran and Riyadh, including a meeting between their respective foreign ministers. Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said the talks involved Iranian and Saudi security officials, along with Iraqi counterparts. Hussein said he expects the next round of talks to be on a higher diplomatic level, adding that the discussion could become public.
On April 24, the trilateral “Save the Homeland” alliance of the Sadrist bloc, Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Siyada coalition of Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi, announced that it will present a bill to criminalize normalization with the state of Israel. The head of the Sadrist bloc, Hassan al-Ithari, said at a joint press conference with other members of the alliance that the bill “to criminalize normalization with the Zionist entity aims to preserve the Islamic and national principles of Iraq.” Ithari added that the bill will be presented at the next meeting of Parliament.
On April 26, local officials in Diwaniyah province said that a court issued a warrant for the arrest of the mayor of the al-Shafiyah district on charges of assaulting a member of Parliament. A day earlier, lawmaker Mohammed Nouri from the Emtidad party said he was attacked by the mayor and his security while inspecting a road construction project between Diwaniyah and Najaf. Images posted by the lawmaker showed that he sustained injuries to the head.
On April 26, Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi threatened to withdraw from the political process in response to what he described as the “dominance and manipulation” by armed factions he did not name. In a statement posted on Twitter, Halbousi said that political work “must be governed by ethics and principles,” adding that “undermining security and sowing discord cannot be justified as political maneuvers.” Halbousi was apparently responding to the recent returns of several Sunni political and tribal figures from Anbar, who had been exiled on terrorism or corruption charges since Nouri al-Maliki’s second term (2010-2014). These include former finance minister Rafi al-Issawi, and controversial Dulaim tribe leader Ali Hatem al-Suleiman. The return of ambitious political Sunni figures are viewed as maneuvers by the Coordination Framework for Shia parties (CF) designed to apply pressure on Halbousi to reconsider his alliance with Muqtada al-Sadr by threatening his power in his home province of Anbar. Nouri al-Maliki, the senior CF leader who has been accused of orchestrating these moves, played down the returns (as did a Kataib Hezbollah spokesperson), saying they were legal decisions, with no political motives. Maliki also denied reports that he had met with Suleiman.
On April 26, a spokesperson for the local government in Ninewa province said that Prime Minister Mustfa al-Kadhimi issued an order to appoint governor Najm al-Jubouri as mayor of the Sinjar district, in addition to his duties. But within hours, news reports said that the prime minister retracted the order. There is no available information yet about the reasons behind the alleged retraction. The administration of Sinjar has been contested between the federal government and the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) since the ISIS occupation of Ninewa in 2014 sent the local government into exile. In October 2020, the federal government and KRG agreed to jointly appoint a new local administration in the district.
On April 27, Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi led a parliamentary delegation on a visit to Tehran on an invitation from his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf. Halbousi met with senior Iranian leaders, including President Ibrahim Raisi, foreign minister Hussein Abdullahian, and national security chief Ali Shamkhani. Speaking at a joint press conference with Qalibaf, Halbous called for continuing cooperation between the countries, underscoring that “stability in Iran is positive for Iraq, and vice versa.” Halbousi stressed that “sovereignty, neighborly relations, and protecting the rights of the people,” must be the guiding principles in relations. Alluding to U.S.-Iran relations, and the militia problem in Iraq, Halbousi added that “sanctions should not be imposed on people, just as there should be no terror through empowering armed gangs,” noting that he “looks forward to improved relations” with Iran.
On April 21, the intelligence directorate in Iraq’s Ministry of Interior said that it provided targeting information that allowed Iraqi F-16 jets to conduct an airstrike against an ISIS cell in the al-Eith region of Salah ad-Din province. The airstrike killed four senior ISIS militants in this sector.
On April 21, security sources said that two improvised explosive device (IED) explosions targeted convoys transporting supplies for the International Coalition forces. The first attack occurred in Diwaniyah, province, and it was followed hours later by an attack at Yusufiyah, south of Baghdad. On April 23, a third IED explosion targeted another logistical convoy on a main highway through al-Muthanna province. The following day security sources said a fourth IED had targeted a similar convoy in Anbar province. There were no reports of casualties in either incident.
On April 21, ISIS militants attacked a Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) patrol in the Rashad subdistrict of Kirkuk province. The attack damaged one of the PMF vehicles without causing casualties. On the following day, security sources in Kirkuk said that ISIS militants attacked a federal police checkpoint in Rashad, killing one federal police member. A few days later, on April 27, ISIS militants attacked another federal police checkpoint in the Wadi Zghaytoun area south of Kirkuk, wounding one policeman.
On April 22, security sources in Diyala said that ISIS militants attacked an Iraqi army position in the village of Quolie near Khanaqin, northeast of Baquba. The attack killed one Iraqi soldier and wounded four.
On April 22, security sources in Diyala province said that a roadside IED explosion struck a civilian vehicle in the town of Khanaqin, northwest of Baquba. The explosion killed two people and wounded three. On the following day, another roadside IED hit a truck carrying agricultural equipment outside the al-Udheim subdistrict, northeast of Baquba. The explosion caused material damage but there were no casualties.
On April 22, security sources in Duhok said that two rockets struck a Turkish military base at the Siri area, north of Duhok city. The sources said one of the rockets struck military vehicles. Two days later, KRG security officials said another attack with six rockets targeted another Turkish military base at Zelikan, north of Mosul. There were no reports of casualties in either incident. Meanwhile, security sources in Ninewa said that a vehicle that was involved in the attack at Zelikan and was carrying rockets exploded due to unknown reasons. The Kurdistan region has been seeing an escalation in violence between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) since April 18, when Turkey launched a new military campaign against PKK presence in the region.
On April 22, security sources in Basra said that two civilians died in the explosion of a remnant of war (ERW) in the Shalamcheh region east of Basra. The victims were reportedly attempting to dismantle an artillery shell to acquire its copper casing when it detonated. To the north, in Salah ad-Din province, another ERW detonated outside the city of Tikrit on April 26, killing a sheep herder. On the same day, a third ERW detonated in the Mwelhah region of Babylon province, injuring three children who were playing near the object.
On April 23, Iraqi army troops raided a building occupied by the PKK-affiliated YBS militia in the Sinjar district. The Iraqi troops confiscated various weapons, including rifles and rocket propelled grenade launchers, and were seen arresting an unspecified number of YBS militiamen. On April 26, the West Ninewa operations command said that army forces in the Sinjar area received reinforcements, including more artillery, to be prepared for possible escalation. The incident came amidst rising tensions and episodes of violence between the Iraqi army and YBS that coincided with the new anti-PKK Turkish operations in the Kurdistan region.
On April 23, security sources in Salah ad-Din province said that an IED explosion struck a federal police unit as its members were conducting search operations in the Dhuloiyah subdistrict. The explosion killed two federal police members and injured two more.
On April 24, security sources in Anbar said that an IED explosion killed the deputy commander of a brigade in the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and wounded an unspecified number of other PMF fighters. The incident occurred during security operations in the western desert of Anbar province.
On April 24, Anbar police said that ISIS militants attacked a police checkpoint on the international highway connecting Iraq to Jordan near the remote Rutba district. The attack wounded four people, including two policemen.
On April 24, security sources in Kirkuk said that three mortar shells struck a village in the Daquq district, south of Kirkuk city. To the south, security sources said on April 25 that two mortar rounds struck inside the perimeter of the Taji army base north of Baghdad. There were no reports of casualties in either attack.
On April 24, the Security Media Cell said that Iraqi security forces intercepted two ISIS militants during operations in the Dijail district of Salah ad-Din province. Ground forces engaged and killed one of the militants, who was wearing a suicide vest, while an Iraqi air force Cessna Caravan killed the other militant. Two days later, Iraqi forces engaged a group of ISIS militants in an orchard in the nearby Tarmiyah district, killing two of them. One of the militants was wearing a suicide vest, which exploded, killing an Iraqi soldier and wounded an army officer.
On April 25, PMF sources said that ISIS militants attacked two PMF checkpoints in Diyala province. The first attack occurred near Khanaqin, and damaged a thermal security camera. The second attack took place near the residential complex of the Himrin dam, and wounded two PMF fighters.
On April 26, security sources in Anbar province said that ISIS militants attacked an Iraqi army checkpoint near the town of Kubeisa in the Hit district. The attack killed two Iraqi soldiers and seriously injured a third soldier.
On April 28, the Najaf police chief said that a homemade IED detonated inside a shopping mall in the city during the early morning hours. The explosion caused extensive damage to several shops in the area but did not result in casualties.
On April 24, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released an update on the state of the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) through the month of March. The update noted that the HRP has reached approximately 368,000 of just over 990,000 people the plan is intended to help in 2022. The population reached by the HRP included 180,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) residing in camps, another 88,000 IDPs living outside of camps, and 100,000 former IDPs who had returned to their home districts. OCHA said that donors have provided $41 million in funding, which represents just over 10% of the $400 million needed to fully implement the 2022 HRP.
On April 25, UNICEF said its 2021 appeal for funding for humanitarian assistance in Iraq, which requested $65.9 million to address “critical and acute humanitarian needs” of children and families, had a funding gap of 57%. In 2021, UNICEF had identified 4.1 million people who needed humanitarian assistance, including 1 million children who faced “acute humanitarian needs.” UNICEF said the funding shortage greatly impacted programs for child protection (preventing the delivery of 67% of planned assistance), water, sanitation and hygiene (at 62%), and health and nutrition (at 45%).
On April 26, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) provided new data on the patterns of return among internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their home districts during the first three months of 2022. The update shows that a total of 8,922 individuals returned to their districts between January and March 2022. The update, based on a survey of 2,165 locations across eight provinces, estimates that more than 581,00 returnees (12%) are living in what qualifies as “high severity” conditions, which represents a decrease of some 20,000 people since the last estime, conducted in December. The survey also found that 2.43 million (just under half the total) live in “low severity” conditions, and the remaining 1.94 million (39%) were experiencing “medium severity” conditions. Most of the returnees living in high severity areas are located in Ninewa (260,256), Salah ad-Din (206,814), followed by Anbar (71,904), and Diyala (34,602). Severity is measured using 16 indicators covering various conditions relating to housing, livelihoods, basic services, security, and social cohesion.
On April 28, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 2,324,847, an increase of just 969 in cases from the 2,323,878 reported on April 21. Of these cases, 2,335 are currently under treatment, including 20 being treated in ICUs. These numbers represent a decrease of 1,269 in hospitalizations and four in ICU admissions since April 21. Ministry data indicated that there were eight new COVID-19 deaths since April 21, bringing the total from 25,201 to 25,209. The average number of new cases during the last 7-day period decreased to 138 per day from 163 per day during the 7-day period ending April 21. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Baghdad with 60 cases, Basra and Babylon with 14 each, and Sulaymaniyah with 13 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 18,470,495 samples for COVID-19. The number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 10,524,458, including 17,292 who received their shots on April 28.
On April 24, a spokesperson for Iraq’s Border Ports Commission said that Iraqi authorities have started implementing electronic receipt mechanisms at several ports of entry to prevent fraud in the collection of customs fees. The spokesperson said the new mechanism has already began to replace paper receipts at the Munthiriyah, Shalamcheh, Safwan, Umm Qasr, and Mandili ports of entry, adding that the mechanism will be employed in all remaining ports of entry “in the near future.”
On April 27, Iraq’s acting Minister of Electricity, Adil Karim, met with Iran’s Oil Minister Javad Owji in Tehran to discuss Iran’s gas and electricity supplies to Iraq and the amounts owed to Iran as a result of them. A ministry statement said the two sides reached “mutually satisfactory solutions” regarding prices, contractual obligations, and payments of arrears to “guarantee streamlined supplies throughout 2022.” The Iraqi official explained that Iraq owes Iran $1.69 billion for past sales, and could not make payments directly to Iran due to U.S. sanctions on the country.
On April 27, the director general of Iraq’s Dhi-Qar Oil Company said that a project to expand production capacity at the Nasiriyah oil field has commenced with the drilling of the first of 20 new oil wells on the field. According to the official, drilling operations by the Iraqi Drilling Company, under a contract with oil services company Weatherford, will be completed within 18 months. The field produces an average of 80,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil.
IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties
Casualties Due To IEDs from April 21, 2022 - April 28, 2022
|4/21/22||Yusufiyah, south of Baghdad||0||0|
|4/22/22||Khanaqin, Diyala province||2||3|
|4/23/22||Al-Udheim, Diyala province||0||0|
|4/23/22||Dhuloiyah, Salah ad-Din province||2||2|
|4/24/22||Western Anbar province||1||Unknown|
|4/24/22||Qahtaniyah, near Sinjar||0||1|
|4/26/22||Tarmiyah, north of Baghdad||1||1|
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.