ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: JUNE 9 – 16, 2022

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Key Takeaways:

  • Sadr’s 73 Representatives Resign From Parliament; KRG Says Federal Court Has No Power To Invalidate Oil Legislation – On June 12, Muqtada al-Sadr instructed the members of his 73-strong bloc in Parliament to submit their resignations, describing the move as “a sacrifice for the homeland and the people to save them from the unknown.” Speaker Halbousi said he “reluctantly accepted” the resignations, adding that he “made a sincere effort to dissuade Sadr” from taking this step. Sadr insisted on June 16 that his decision to withdraw from Parliament was final and irreversible. The leaders of the Coordination Framework (CF) said they “respected” Sadr’s decision, adding that they would “move forward with dialogue with all political powers to…form a government.” But news reports pointed to a divergence between key CF leaders Nouri al-Maliki, who wants to see the Sadrists stay out of the picture, and Hadi al-Amiri, who reportedly wants to convince Sadr to reverse his decision, believing that a government cannot survive without Sadr’s support. On June 14, the KRG Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) condemned recent legal action by federal authorities against oil companies operating in Kurdistan as an illegal act of “intimidation.” The MNR statement insisted that the current Federal Supreme Court was not formed properly as required in article 92 of the constitution, and therefore lacks the authority to invalidate the KRG Oil and Gas Law. more…
  • Iraqi Forces Kill Senior ISIS Militants; Child Killed In Turkish Airstrikes On Sinjar – Between June 14 – 16, Iraqi counter-terrorism troops and airstrikes killed at least 12 ISIS militants during operations in Salah ad-Din, Kirkuk, and Ninewa provinces. Iraq’s Joint Operations Command described eight of the slain militants as “very important terrorist leaders.” On June 15, Turkish aircraft attacked a building occupied by the YBS militia and the local council’s building in the Sinuni subdistrict of Sinjar. The airstrikes killed two people and injured at least seven. According to UNICEF, a 12 year old boy was one of the victims. In other developments, on June 9, two Katyusha-type rockets struck near the Turkish military base at Zelikan, north of Mosul. Between June 10 – 16, the explosions of five IEDs in Diyala, Anbar, Ninewa, Salah ad-Din, and Dhi-Qar, killed one Iraqi and injured at least seven. more…
  • Declining Water Flow Threatens Drinking Water Supplies; Possible Cholera Outbreak Threatens Sulaymaniyah; Iraq Reports New Rise In COVID-19 Cases – On June 12, officials in al-Shatra district of Dhi-Qar warned that water flow in the Gharraf river has decreased to dangerously low levels that could soon prevent water treatment plants in the districts from providing drinking water. On June 16, the health directorate in Sulaymaniyah said it was concerned about a possible Cholera outbreak in the province after large numbers of people arrived in hospitals in recent days with symptoms including diarrhea and vomiting, overwhelming available hospital bed capacity. Officials sent samples to the central laboratory in Baghdad to confirm whether the illness is indeed Cholera. On June 16, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 2,331,148, an increase of 1,835 from the 2,329,313 reported on June 9. Hospitalizations increased sharply from 1,237 to 2,146 and the daily average for new cases nearly doubled to 262/day (up from 135/day) during the last 7-day period. The number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 10,779,426 including 12,235 who received their shots on June 16. more…
  • Iraq Imports More Wheat As Harvest Shrinks; Oil Ministry To Blacklist Companies Operating In Kurdistan; Baghdad Pays Natural Gas Arrears To Iran – On June 12, Iraq’s state-owned grain trade company said that farmers are expected to deliver only 1.9 million tons of wheat this season (down from 4.2 million in 2021) adding that the government will import an additional 1.5 million tons from Australia and the U.S. to meet domestic needs. On June 16, Iran’s Oil Minister confirmed that Tehran has received $1.6 billion from Iraq for arrears of past natural gas exports. On June 15, Iraq’s Oil Ministry instructed the National Oil Company (INOC) to inform all companies involved in oil operations in Iraq to provide a commitment that they will not undertake work in the Kurdistan region and to terminate any such work currently underway. Companies that do not comply risk being placed on INOC’s blacklist. In other developments, on June 16, Iraqi oil officials acknowledged that high demand due to power shortages during the summer months was causing crowding at gas stations in Baghdad and several other provinces. Officials affirmed that the Oil Ministry was providing enough fuel to allow gas stations to operate nonstop to meet demand, estimated to be at 32 million liters per day. more…

Attention readers: ISHM will take a break next week, but we will be back the following week with the same comprehensive coverage that you have come to expect from your friends at EPIC!

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’s 73 Representatives Resign From Parliament; KRG Says Federal Court Has No Power To Invalidate Oil Legislation

On June 12, Muqtada al-Sadr instructed the head of his bloc in Parliament to submit the resignations of the 73 members of Parliament who are loyal to him to Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi. In a brief written note, Sadr described his move as “a sacrifice for the homeland and the people to save them from the unknown.” He also thanked his allies, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Siyada coalition, for their “patriotism and steadfastness,” adding that they were no longer bound to him. Last week, Sadr had told the members of his bloc in Parliament to “write their resignations…in preparation to submit them,” insisting that his followers must either form a majority government, or become an opposition power. On Monday, Speaker Halbousi said he “reluctantly accepted” the resignations of the Sadrist lawmakers, adding he “made a sincere effort to dissuade Sadr” from taking this step. Halbousi, who was on visiting Jordan, affirmed that a lawmaker’s membership in Parliament “ends upon the submission of resignations and does not require a vote.” Sadr’s other key ally, KDP leader Masoud Barzani, made a very brief comment on Sadr’s move, saying he “respected Mr. Sadr’s decision and will track the developments that follow.” Immediately after Muqtada Sadr ordered the resignations on June 12, his cousin, Jafar al-Sadr, who had been the prime ministerial candidate of the Sadrists and their allies, also announced that he withdrew his candidacy.  A few days later, on June 16, Muqtada al-Sadr met with his resigning members of Parliament in Najaf and told them that his decision to withdraw from Parliament was final and irreversible, according to Sadrist sources who attended the meeting. Sadr also told his followers that he would not participate in future elections while “the corrupt” were still present. 

On June 13, the leaders of the Coordination Framework (CF) met to discuss their response to Muqtada al-Sadr’s decision to order the resignation of the members of his bloc in Parliament. After the meeting, CF issued a statement saying it “respected” Sadr’s decision, adding that it would “move forward with its dialogue with all political powers to fulfill constitutional provisions and form a government.” On the following day, a report by Shafaq News citing informed political sources, described a divergence in positions within CF regarding Sadr’s move. According to the report, Nouri al-Maliki, a longtime rival of Sadr, wants to see the Sadrists stay out of the picture. Badr leader Hadi al-Amiri reportedly disagrees with this view and wants to convince Sadr to reverse his decision because he believes that a government cannot survive long without Sadr’s support. 

On June 13, a spokesman for Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) said that the Commission had previously provided Parliament with a list of all candidates in the October 2021 election who had come in second place in their districts. The spokesman said the legislature has all the information it needs to determine the substitutes who would replace resigning lawmakers. Under the law, when a seat in parliament becomes vacant, the candidate who won the second highest number of votes in the same district as the original winner fills the vacant seat. This provision is expected to apply to the 73 seats vacated by the resignations of lawmakers loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr. According to a list compiled by al-Mada, the majority of the replacements would be divided as follows:

  • 5 seats would go to other followers of Muqtada al-Sadr (likely to resign too)
  • 11 seats would go to the Fatah Coalition
  • 11 seats would go to independent candidates
  • 9 seats would go to the State Forces Alliance (Ammar al-Hakim and Haider al-Abadi)
  • 7 seats would go to the State of Law Coalition
  • 7 seats would go to the Emtidad party
  • 5 seats would go to the Huqooq Movement (Kataib Hezbollah)
  • 3 seats would go to the Tasmim alliance
  • 3 seats would go to the al-Aqd al-Watani (Falih al-Fayyadh)
  • 2 seats would go to the Furatain Trend (another CF faction)
  • 2 seats would go to the al-Nahj al-Watani (Fadheela party)
  • 2 seats would go to Halbousi’s Taqaddum coalition
  • 2 seats would go to the party of former Najaf governor Adnan al-Zurfi
  • 2 seats would go to the party of former Communications Minister Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi

Editor’s note: Although replacements are required by law, the benefiting political parties are likely to approach the process with much caution given the impact on the balance of power within the legislature and fear of Sadrist retaliation. In any case, the resignations came at the end of the current legislative term, as Parliament went into recess, meaning any replacement procedures would have to wait until Parliament reconvenes in a month. 

On June 13, the Emtidad party announced that its general secretariat had decided to relieve the party’s founder, Ala’ al-Rikabi, from his position as secretary general. The statement added that the party also decided to terminate the assignment of the current head of its executive office, and to reconsider the organizational structure of that office. The decisions appear to be part of an attempt at internal reforms after the party suffered several defections that took place amid criticism of Rikabi’s management.

On June 14, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) in the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) condemned legal action by federal authorities against oil companies operating in the Kurdistan region as an illegal act of “intimidation” based on a ruling from a court that lacks legitimacy. The MNR statement said the companies targeted by the action were DNO, Genel Energy, HKN, Shamaran, Addax Petroleum, Western Zagros, and Gulf Keystone Petroleum. Earlier this month, news reports indicated that a number of oil companies operating in the Kurdistan region were summoned “to appear at the Commercial Court in Baghdad on June 5.” The summons are part of a legal effort by the federal Ministry of Oil to take control of Kurdistan’s oil operations and implement the February 15 ruling by Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court to invalidate the Oil and Gas Law adopted by the KRG in 2007. In its statement, the MNR dismissed the move as “illegal practices based on a politicized ruling” issued by a “self described federal supreme court  in Baghdad,” stressing that “no court in Baghdad has the power to issue such ruling.” The statement argued that the current Federal Supreme Court was not formed properly as required in article 92 of the constitution, and therefore lacks the authority to invalidate the KRG Oil and Gas Law. 

Sources cited above include: INA, al-Sumaria, ISHM archives, Rudaw, al-Hurra, Nas News, Shafaq News, and al-Mada. 


Iraqi Forces Kill Senior ISIS Militants; Child Killed In Turkish Airstrikes On Sinjar

On June 9, security sources in Ninewa province said that two Katyusha-type rockets struck near the perimeter of the Turkish military base at Zelikan, north of Mosul. There were no reports of damage or casualties as a result of the attack.  

On June 10, security sources in Diyala province said that ISIS militants attacked an Iraqi military outpost near the Jalawla subdistrict, northeast of Baquba. The attack, which involved sniper fire, injured two Iraqi soldiers. 

On June 10, security sources in Diyala province said that a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) struck a tractor that was transporting civilians  in the village of Umm al-Hunta, north of the Jalawla subdistrict. The explosion killed one person and injured four others, all from the same family. 

On June 11, Babylon police said that unidentified assailants threw a hand grenade at a liquor store in the historical Babylon resort area, causing extensive damage to the building and setting it on fire. 

On June 11, security sources in Ninewa province said that an IED struck a vehicle transporting a team of Oil Ministry seismic surveyors in the Ayadhiyah area near Tal-Afar, west of Mosul. The explosion injured two security personnel who were escorting the team and destroyed their vehicle.  

On June 12, security sources said that an IED struck an Iraqi army patrol in the remote desert of Nukaib in Anbar province, wounding one Iraqi soldier. 

On June 12, security sources in Salah ad-Din province said that an IED explosion targeted a convoy transporting supplies for the International Coalition forces in the southern parts of the province. There were no reports of casualties. 

On June 14, Iraq’s Joint Operations Command (JOC) said that security forces backed by the Iraqi air force and army helicopters attacked a group of eight ISIS militants in the Tharthar region in western Salah ad-Din province. The operation, which involved three airstrikes, resulted in killing all the militants, which JOC described as “very important terrorist leaders,” and the recovery of weapons and logistical supplies at the militants’ hideout. On the following day, a senior Iraqi military spokesman said that counter-terrorism service troops killed three ISIS militants in the Sargaran subdistrict of Kirkuk and a fourth militant in the Makhmour mountains in southeastern Ninewa. Finally, on June 16, the Security Media Cell reported that Iraqi air force F-16 jets tracked and struck a group of ISIS militants into a hideout in the Wadi al-Gour region of Kirkuk province, destroying the hideout and killing a yet to be determined number of the militants.   

On June 15, security sources in Sinjar said that Turkish aircraft attacked a building occupied by the YBS militia in the Sinuni subdistrict. Initial reports said the attack involved at least four strikes, and damaged several houses and the local council’s building, in addition to the YBS position. The airstrikes, according to Reuters, killed two people and injured at least seven. According to UNICEF, a 12 year old boy was one of the victims. 

On June 16, Ninewa police said that security forces discovered the body of a sheep herder who was killed by gunshots to the head. The victim was found in the Hammam al-Alil junction south of Mosul.

On June 16, security sources in Dhi-Qar province said that an IED exploded under a vehicle belonging to an employee of a state-owned bank in central Nasiriyah. The explosion destroyed the targeted vehicle without causing casualties. 

Sources cited above include: al-Sumaria, NINA, Shafaq News, INA, Security Media Cell, and Reuters.


Declining Water Flow Threatens Drinking Water Supplies; Possible Cholera Outbreak Threatens Sulaymaniyah; Iraq Reports New Rise In COVID-19 Cases

On June 12, the mayor of the al-Shatra district in Dhi-Qar province warned that water flow in the Gharraf river has decreased to dangerously low levels due to limited releases from the Kut dam upstream. The official warned that further decrease in water levels could soon prevent water treatment plants in the districts from being able to provide drinking water for the district’s residents. According to the official, the district is receiving 25% less water than in previous years, with flow rates dropping from 160 cubic meters per second to just 110 cubic meters per hour.

On June 14, a spokesman for Iraq’s Ministry of Health said the number of confirmed hemorrhagic fever cases recorded in the country since the beginning of the recent outbreak had increased to 170. According to the official, 31 of those infected died as a result of the disease. These numbers indicate there were 28 new cases and seven new fatalities since the previous week. 

On June 16, the health directorate in Sulaymaniyah province said it was concerned about a possible Cholera outbreak in the province. Health officials said that large numbers of people have arrived in hospitals in recent days with symptoms including diarrhea and vomiting. According to the Sulaymaniyah health director, the number of patients has already exceeded available hospital bed capacity. The directorate has sent samples to be tested at the central laboratory in Baghdad to confirm whether the illness is indeed Cholera.   

On June 16, UNICEF said it was “shocked at the killing of a 12-year-old boy” during a suspected Turkish airstrike that struck targets in the Sinjar district of Ninewa province (details of incident above). The UN organization said it “condemns all acts of violence against children, stressing that ”being a victim of, witnessing or fearing violence should never be part of any child’s experience.” UNICEF urged all concerned parties “to fulfill their obligation, under international law, to protect children at all times and without delay,” notion that more than 500 children died or were seriously injured in the past five years as a result of the “continued usage of explosive weapons in populated areas.” 

On June 16, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 2,331,148, an increase of 1,835 in cases from the 2,329,313 reported on June 9. Of these cases, 2,146 are currently under treatment, including 11 treated in ICUs. These numbers represent an increase of 909 in hospitalizations and a decrease of one in ICU admissions since June 9. Ministry data indicated that there were four new COVID-19 deaths since June 9, bringing the total to 25,225. The average number of new cases during the last 7-day period increased sharply to 262 per day from 135 per day during the 7-day period ending June 9. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Baghdad with 193 cases, Erbil with 57 cases, and Dhi-Qar with 24 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 18,666,580 samples for COVID-19. The number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 10,779,426 including 12,235 who received their shots on June 16.

Sources cited above include: Rudaw, ISHM archives, Nas News, and Iraq’s Ministry of Health. 


Iraq Imports More Wheat As Harvest Shrinks; Oil Ministry To Blacklist Companies Operating In Kurdistan; Baghdad Pays Natural Gas Arrears To Iran

On June 12, the director of Iraq’s state-owned grain trade company said that Iraqi farmers had delivered 1.7 million tons of wheat since the beginning of the current harvest season on April 9. The official said that nation-wide deliveries are expected to reach a total of 1.9 million tons for the season, adding that the government will sign contracts with Australia and the U.S. to import an additional 1.5 million tons, enough to cover the food ration system for eight months. Iraq’s wheat production has shrunk significantly due to water shortages. In 2021, the country produced 4.2 million tons, and the year before that, it produced 6.2 million tons, according to official figures.

On June 14, Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity said that it expects amounts owed to Iran in connection with Baghdad’s purchase of natural gas from its eastern neighbor during 2020 to be paid “within two days.” Two weeks earlier, the Ministry said that power generation and hours supplied through the national grid suffered reduction due to the loss of five million cubic meters of daily natural gas imports from Iran. The ministry attributed the drop in gas supplies to delays in passing a budget for 2022 and Iraq’s inability to pay about $1.7 billion in arrears owed to Iran for previous imports. On June 16, Iran’s Oil Minister Javad Owji confirmed that his country has indeed received $1.6 billion from Iraq for arrears of past gas exports.   

On June 15, a document circulating on local media showed that Iraq’s Oil Ministry had issued instructions to the Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC) to initiate steps to take control of Kurdistan’s oil operations based on the February 15 ruling by Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court to invalidate the Oil and Gas Law. Specifically, the document instructs INOC to “inform all companies” involved in “technical, logistical, advisory, service, and other” sectors concerning “all fields and oil projects” in Iraq to provide a commitment that they will not undertake work in “contracts or oil and gas sector projects in the Kurdistan region of Iraq in violation of the Federal Court ruling.” The document also instructs INOC to require companies to “terminate” any current projects or contracts within three months of being informed. Finally, the letter instructs INOC to place companies that do not comply with these requirements on “the blacklist.”

On June 16, the director of oil products distribution in Iraq’s Oil Ministry acknowledged that high demand due to power shortages during the summer months was causing crowding at gas stations in Baghdad and several other provinces. The official affirmed that the Ministry was providing enough fuel to allow gas stations to operate 24 hours a day to meet demand, which he estimated to be at 32 million liters per day. To deal with rising demand, the Ministry said it recently launched fuel ration card systems in Ninewa and Kirkuk provinces. 

Sources cited above include: NINA, AP, INA, ISHM archives, Shafaq News, Iraq’s Oil Ministry, and al-Mirbad.


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs from June 9, 2022 - June 16, 2022

DateLocationDeathsInjuries
6/10/22 Jalawla, Diyala province14
6/11/22 Tal-Afar, Ninewa province02
6/12/22 Nukhaib desert, Anbar province01
6/12/22 Salah ad-Din province 00
6/16/22 Nasiriyah, 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, Kurdish and English news sources, the Iraq Security and Humanitarian Monitor (ISHM) is a free publication of Enabling Peace in Iraq Center.


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