ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: APRIL 28 – MAY 5, 2022

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Key Takeaways:

  • Sadr And Coordination Framework Present Competing Government Formation Proposals Involving Independents – On May 4, the Coordination Framework (CF) presented a proposal aimed at resolving the political deadlock over government formation. The nine-point statement urged the KDP and PUK to reach consensus on a candidate for the presidency, called for the formation of the “largest bloc” from among the Shia parties to “preserve the rights of the largest societal component,” and invited independent lawmakers to present a “neutral” candidate for the premiership. CF stressed that the president, PM, and speaker of parliament must be decided through “understandings among the members of each [respective ethno-sectarian] component.” On May 5, Muqtada al-Sadr encouraged independent lawmakers to come together and create a bloc of some 40 members to join his trilateral alliance and form a government that excludes CF. Sadr gave the independents 15 days to take action. In other developments, on May 2, KRG PM Masrour Barzani asked PM Kadhimi to form a “joint commission” to control the areas that are being used to launch attacks against the Kurdistan region. On May 3, the YBS militia accused the Iraqi government of attacking it in Sinjar “on orders from the Turkish state,” and with help from the KDP. On May 3, a press freedom watchdog in Iraq said it documented 280 violations against journalists, including arrests, threats, and assaults, during the past 12 months. Baghdad and Erbil had the highest number of reported violations, with 56 each. more…
  • Rockets Target Military Base, Refinery, And A Top Intelligence Officer; Army Fights The YBS Militia In Sinjar – On April 30, a rocket attack targeted the Ain al-Asad Iraqi air force base, which also hosts International Coalition personnel. Coalition sources said one rocket struck outside the base without causing casualties. On May 1, six rockets targeted an oil refinery outside Erbil. At least one rocket struck an oil tank, setting it on fire. Security forces said the attack originated in the al-Fadhliyah area near Bashiqa. On May 4, a rocket struck a residential area in central Baghdad without causing casualties. The intelligence arm of Iraq’s Interior Ministry said the attack targeted the residence of its chief, lieutenant general Ahmed Abu Ragheef. Between May 1 – 2, fighting erupted between the YBS militia and Iraqi army in Sinuni, near Sinjar, after the former reportedly attempted to block army forces from entering the contested district. At least two militiamen were killed as Iraqi helicopters struck YBS-occupied buildings. At least one Iraqi soldier was also killed in the fighting, and two were injured. As of May 4, the West Ninewa Operations Command described the situation in Sinjar as “stable.” In other developments, between April 28 – May 2, the explosions of two IEDs, one VBIED, and one remnant of war in Anbar, Ninewa and Dhi-Qar killed two Iraqis and wounded six. Between April 28 – May 4, ten attacks by ISIS militants in Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, and Baghdad killed at least two Iraqis, wounded 14, and destroyed two thermal surveillance cameras. more…
  • Thousands Displaced By Fighting In Sinjar; Severe Sandstorm Sends Many To The Hospitals – On May 3, officials in the Kurdistan region said that fighting in Sinjar has displaced more than 4,000 people, mostly Yazidis, who have sought refuge in neighboring Duhok. Migration Ministry officials said they expect the displacement to be “temporary,” as the fighting, which started May 1, appeared to subside. Meanwhile, UNAMI said it was “deeply concerned” about the violence, warning that it risks “grave consequences for civilians.” On May 5, medical sources said that as many as 5,000 people in several provinces sought medical help for breathing problems amid an intense sandstorm that engulfed large parts of southern, central, and western Iraq. This is the seventh sandstorm to hit Iraq in the span of a month, as the country deals with worsening water scarcity and growing desertification. In other developments, on May 5, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 2,325,397, an increase of just 550 in cases from the 2,324,847 reported on April 28. Hospitalizations decreased from 2,335 to 1,468, and the daily average for new cases during the last 7-day period decreased to 79/day from 138/day during the 7-day period ending April 28. The number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 10,536,966, including 1,052 who received their shots on May 5. more…
  • April Oil Exports Brought $10 Billion In Revenue – On May 1, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said that crude oil exports in April averaged 3.38 million bpd, about 136,000 bpd higher than March’s average of 3.244 million bpd. The April exports generated $10.55 billion in revenue, about $520 million lower than March’s record revenue of $11.07 billion. Iraq sold its crude at an average price of $104 per barrel. In other developments, on May 2, Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity said it completed the restoration of an important 400kv transmission line between Baghdad and Haditha that had been inoperable since 2014. The repaired line will allow flexibility in supplying the towns of western Anbar, which largely depend on unsteady hydroelectric generation from the Haditha dam, with power from the national grid. 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 And Coordination Framework Present Competing Government Formation Proposals Involving Independents

On May 2, Masrour Barzani, the prime minister of the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) condemned the rocket attack that targeted an important oil refinery near Erbil on May 1. In a statement, Barzani asked Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to form a “joint commission to take the necessary measures” to control the areas that are being used to launch attacks against the Kurdistan region. Barzani stressed that “these attacks must not [be allowed to] happen again,” saying that there must be serious action to stop them. For his part, Kadhimi spoke with Masoud Barzani, the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) after the attack, and pledged that Iraq’s security forces would “pursue the perpetrators of the cowardly act of aggression.” Meanwhile, the UN Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) said the “reckless” attack was an “alarming development,” and called on Iraqi leaders to “work as one to counter such acts of aggression.” The U.S. embassy in Baghdad condemned the attack too, calling it an “assault on the sovereignty of Iraq.”

On May 3, the YBS militia, a faction affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) accused the Iraqi government of attacking the group “on orders from the Turkish state, and with help from the Kurdistan Democratic Party.” In a statement, the group,  which has been fighting the Iraqi army in Sinjar [details below], said Baghdad ignored three attempts to negotiate an end to tensions in Sinjar and sent military forces to “attack our forces, take over our possessions, and destroy our power.” Addressing the events that precipitated the fighting, the YBS said it was forced to block some roads to prevent the Iraqi army from massing more forces and heavy weapons in Sinjar. The YBS argued that the military escalation was a conspiracy meant to “pave the road for [Turkish] occupation of Iraqi land.”

On May 3, a press freedom watchdog organization in Iraq said it documented 280 violations committed against journalists and other members of the press between May 3, 2021 and May 2, 2022. According to the Association for the Defense of Press Freedom in Iraq, Baghdad and Erbil had the highest number of reported violations, with 56 each, followed by Kirkuk (37), Ninewa, (27) and Basra (23). Physical assault and prevention of coverage were the most common forms of documented violations (192), followed by unfair lawsuits and arrest warrants (45), and detentions and arrests without warrant (36). During the 12 months period, there were ten incidents involving death threats, one kidnapping, and one attempted assassination.

On May 4, the Coordination Framework (CF) presented what it said was an initiative aimed at advancing government formation and resolving the political deadlock that has persisted since the October 2021 election. The nine-point statement included several core proposals:

  • It urged the two leading Kurdish parties to reach consensus on a mutually acceptable candidate for the presidency. 
  • It called for the formation of the “largest bloc” from among the Shia parties to “preserve the rights of the largest societal component.” That bloc would evaluate candidates for the premiership and agree on a choice based on his political program and other criteria.
  • CF invites independent lawmakers to present a candidate for the premiership who has “integrity, competence, acceptability, and neutrality.” That candidate who meets these conditions would then receive the support of “all the parties representing the largest component that had formed the largest bloc.”
  • The top three government positions of president, prime minister, and speaker of parliament must be decided through “understandings among the members of each [respective ethno-sectarian] component.”
  • The ruling majority shall protect parliamentary opposition and independents allow them to monitor government performance through parliamentary commissions and government oversight bodies. 
  • Participating in government or being part of the opposition must be “open choices available to everyone, without imposition.” 

On May 5, Muqtada al-Sadr encouraged independent lawmakers to come together and create a bloc of some 40 members to join his trilateral alliance and form a government that excludes the Coordination Framework, which he said had failed to use the 4o days offered to them to form a consensus government. Sadr said his own party would not seek ministerial appointments in the majority government he’s inviting the independents to form by joining his trilateral alliance. Sadr gave the independents 15 days to take action. A group of five independent lawmakers, called the “independent Iraq Alliance” said it accepted Sadr’s initiative.


Rockets Target Military Base, Refinery, And A Top Intelligence Officer; Army Fights The YBS Militia In Sinjar

On April 28, security sources in Salah ad-Din province said that ISIS militants attacked Iraqi army troops in an area between the al-Dor and Samarra districts. The attack employed sniper fire and injured two soldiers from the army’s 95th brigade. 

On April 28, the Security Media Cell reported that a car exploded in a commercial area in central Mosul, destroying the vehicle and injuring up to three civilians. Subsequent reports said that one of the injured civilians died later as a result of his injuries. Security sources said investigations suggested the explosion was a terrorist attack and not accidental. On May 2, the counter-terrorism service of the Kurdistan region said they arrested the suspected perpetrator after he crossed from Ninewa to Duhok. 

On April 30, security sources in Diyala province said that two mortar rounds struck near a government building in the Qara Tappa subdistrict, northeast of Baquba. The impacts wounded one civilian who was in the area during the attack. Hours later, three mortar rounds struck in the Khirnabat area, northwest of Baquba. One woman was injured in the attack. 

On April 30, security sources in Anbar province said that a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) struck an Iraqi army vehicle at the Trebiel junction in western Anbar. The sources said the explosion killed one Iraqi soldier and wounded two. On the same day, ISIS militants attacked an army outpost near Rutba, in western Anbar, injuring two army soldiers. 

On April 30, local and police sources in the Hit district of Anbar province said that an attack with two rockets targeted the Ain al-Asad Iraqi air force base, which also hosts International Coalition personnel. According to the mayor of Hit, the attack originated in the town’s industrial district and did not result in casualties. Iraq’s official news agency quoted Coalition sources as saying that only one rocket impacted at a distance of about two miles outside the base, without causing casualties.

On May 1, the Security Media Cell reported that a new rocket attack targeted an oil refinery in the Khabat district, west of Erbil. According to the Cell, at least one rocket struck an oil tank at the refinery, which is operated by the KAR Group, causing a large fire. Security officials in the Kurdistan region said the attack involved a total of six rockets, adding that there were no reports of casualties. Security forces later discovered and disposed of rocket launchers loaded with four additional rockets in the al-Fadhliyah area near Bashiqa, about 20 miles northeast of Khabat. The same refinery was the target of an earlier rocket attack on April 6. 

On May 1, security sources in Diyala province said that ISIS militants attacked the village of Albu-Taraz near al-Udheim subdistrict, northeast of Baquba. The attack killed one civilian and injured two others. 

On May 1, security sources in Ninewa province said that a legacy IED detonated in the town of Badush, northwest of Mosul. The explosion caused serious injuries to one civilian. 

On May 2, security sources in Diyala province said that ISIS militants attacked an Iraqi military outpost at the al-Hitaween junction between Diyala and Salah ad-Din. The attack, which used sniper fire, destroyed a thermal surveillance camera. The sources said this was the fourth attack in a week in which ISIS militants attempted to destroy surveillance cameras in Diyala. On the same day, ISIS militants attacked an army outpost in the Kenaan subdistrict, southeast of Baquba, killing one army soldier with sniper fire. 

On May 1, security sources in Kirkuk said that ISIS militants attacked federal police forces near Wadi Shay, outside Daquq, in southern Kirkuk. The attack injured five federal police personnel. On the following day, ISIS militants attacked federal police forces in Kirkuk again. This second occurred near the Rashad subdistrict, and resulted in damage to a thermal surveillance camera.  

On May 2, the police in Dhi-Qar province said that a 17 year old girl herding animal was injured when an unexploded remnant of war detonated near her in the al-Hashash region, south of Nasiriyah. 

On May 2, the police in Ninewa province said that YBS militiamen, a group affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), opened fire on an Iraqi military convoy in the Sinuni subdistrict, near Sinjar. Two Iraqi soldiers from the army’s 20th division were seriously injured in the attack, which came amid an escalation in tension between the YBS and Iraqi government forces. Later on the same day, Iraqi helicopters struck a building the YBS used as a communications center in the area, reportedly killing two militiamen. According to Rudaw, at least one Iraqi soldier was also killed in the fighting that reportedly first erupted late on May 1. Footage posted online showed several Iraqi armored vehicles from the army’s 9th division apparently advancing into Sinuni to reinforce army troops there. On May 3, a spokesman for Iraq’s Joint Operations Command said that the situation in Sinjar was stable and that only the army and local police were present inside Sinjar. Commenting on the clashes with the YBS, the spokesman, Tahsin al-Khafaji, said the group attempted to block major roads in the district but the army intervened to “remove these violations.” As of May 4, the chief of the West Ninewa Operations Command described the situation in Sinjar as “stable,” claiming that there had been “no militant activity” during the last two days.  

On May 4, security sources in Baghdad said that ISIS militants attacked army troops in the Tarmiyah district, north of Baghdad. The attack injured one Iraqi soldier. 

On May 4, local medical sources in Maysan province said that tribal clashes in the town of al-Uzeir had killed eight people. Local security sources described the fighting as fierce, saying it involved the use of small and medium weapons. Security forces reportedly clashed with the tribal gunmen as the former attempted to arrest them and restore order. There were no reports of further casualties. 

On May 4, the Security Media Cell reported that a rocket launched from east Baghdad by “an outlaw group” struck a residential area in the Karrada district in central Baghdad, without causing casualties. The intelligence arm of Iraq’s Interior Ministry said the attack targeted the residence of its chief, lieutenant general Ahmed Abu Ragheef, adding that the rocket impact damaged the house’s outer wall. The intelligence agency said security forces located the launch site and recovered the launcher. 


Thousands Displaced By Fighting In Sinjar; Severe Sandstorm Sends Many To The Hospitals

On May 3, officials in the Kurdistan region of Iraq said that fighting in the Sinjar district has displaced more than 4,000 people who have sought refuge in the neighboring Duhok province. Officials in Iraq’s Migration Ministry said they expect the displacement to be “temporary,” as the fighting, which started May 1, appeared to subside. A spokesman for the ministry described the situation in Sinjar as “under control.” Most of the displaced people are members of Iraq’s Yazidi community, who survived the ISIS genocide in 2014 and were displaced from their home district for years. As the fighting erupted in the disputed district, UNAMI said it was “deeply concerned” about the fighting between the YBS and Iraqi army in Sinjar, warning that it risks “grave consequences for civilians.” The UNAMI statement sought to remind all parties to the violence that the safety and security of the people of Sinjar “should be front and center. They’ve suffered enormously in the past and deserve peace under state authority.” The statement stressed that “domestic and external spoilers have no place in Sinjar,” without explicitly blaming the YBS or other parties for the violence.

On May 5, medical sources said that more than 1,850 people across six provinces sought medical help for breathing problems amid an intense sandstorm that engulfed large parts of southern, central, and western Iraq. Most cases were reported by hospitals in Anbar and Najaf (more than 600 each), followed by Salah ad-Din (378). Other cases were reported in Baghdad, Diwaniyah, and Diyala. Hours later, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health said the number of people who suffered suffocation and breathing problems reached 5,000, and included one fatality, without providing more details. This is the seventh sandstorm to hit Iraq in the span of a month, as the country deals with worsening water scarcity and growing desertification. 

On May 5, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 2,325,397, an increase of just 550 in cases from the 2,324,847 reported on April 28. Of these cases, 1,468 are currently under treatment, including 13 being treated in ICUs. These numbers represent a decrease of 856 in hospitalizations and seven in ICU admissions since April 28. Ministry data indicated that there were three new COVID-19 deaths since April 28, bringing the total from 25,209 to 25,212. The average number of new cases during the last 7-day period decreased to 79 per day from 138 per day during the 7-day period ending April 28. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Baghdad with 12 cases and Sulaymaniyah with six cases, as case numbers continued their decline across the country. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 18,489,800 samples for COVID-19. The number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 10,536,966, including 1,052 who received their shots on May 5.


April Oil Exports Brought $10 Billion In Revenue

On May 1, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil said that crude oil exports during April totaled 101.39 million barrels, for an average of 3.38 million barrels per day (bpd), about 136,000 bpd higher than March’s average of 3.244 million bpd. The April exports generated $10.55 billion in revenue, about $520 million lower than March’s record revenue of $11.07 billion. Iraq sold its crude oil at an average price of approximately $104 per barrel, about $6 below the previous month’s average of $110 per barrel. Shipped exports from fields in southern and central Iraq averaged 3.27 million bpd in April, while average exports from the northern fields in Kirkuk, which were exported through the Turkish port of Ceyhan, increased to just over 99,700 bpd. Earlier in April, Iraq had resumed oil exports to Jordan by trucks, which had traditionally averaged 10,000 bpd. 

On May 2, Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity said it had completed the restoration of an important high voltage transmission line between Baghdad and the Anbar town of Haditha. The 400kv line was rendered inoperable in 2014 when it was sabotaged by ISIS militants, and remained out of service for nearly eight years. According to the ministry, the work involved rebuilding 63 destroyed or damaged pylons, and rewiring “tens of kilometers” of the 223 km line. The repaired line will allow flexibility in supplying the towns of western Anbar, which largely depend on unsteady hydroelectric generation from the Haditha dam, with power from the national grid.


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs from April 28, 2022 - May 5, 2022

DateLocationDeathsInjuries
4/28/22 Central Mosul, Ninewa province12
4/30/22 Trebiel junction, Anbar province12
5/1/22 Badush, 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.


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