- MPs Prepare Anti-Gay Rights Bill; Iraqi, Turkish Officials Spar Over Water Rights; Kadhimi To Attend Saudi Arabia Summit; KDP Says PUK Must Accept New Balance Of Power – On July 8, a member of Parliament’s legal committee said a group of MPs were collecting signatures in support of a bill that would outlaw homosexuality in Iraq. On July 12, Iraq’s Water Resources Minister urged the Foreign Ministry to summon Ankara’s ambassador and deliver an official objection letter over recent remarks in which he said Iraq must modernize its outdated and wasteful irrigation systems instead of demanding more water from Turkey. On July 14, the office of PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi said the Iraqi leader will travel to Saudi Arabia early next week to participate in a summit that will be attended by the leaders of Arab Gulf countries, as well as Jordan, Egypt, and U.S. President Joe Biden. On July 14, a KDP lawmaker said the party’s “final decision” was to “move forward with the nomination of Reber Ahmed” for the presidency. The KDP lawmaker said the rival PUK “must stop and respect the election results,” insisting that “the old Kurdish equations are over.” more…
- Unidentified Helicopters Attack Homes In Bashiqa; Explosion Hits PMF Weapons Depot – On July 13, two unidentified helicopters opened fire from their machine guns on two houses in the Bashiqa subdistrict, north of Mosul. Iraqi security forces are investigating the incident, which did not leave casualties. On July 14, a Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) weapons depot in the al-Qaim region near the Syrian border suffered an explosion that destroyed weapons and ammunitions stored in the facility. It is unclear whether the explosion was accidental or the result of hostile action. In other developments, between July 7 – 12, militant attacks in Sinjar and Tarmiyah killed two Iraqis and wounded two more, while an attack with explosives targeted a civilian selling alcohol in Najaf, and two Katyusha-type rockets struck near a PMF base in Diyala. more…
- Polluted Water Sickens Hundreds Of Children; Iran And Iraq Seek Cooperation On Sandstorm Prevention – On July 12, health officials in Anbar reported a large increase of gastrointestinal infections among children. The director of Fallujah’s general hospital said that 30-50 children are coming to his hospital each day with symptoms including diarrhea and vomiting, which he blamed on polluted drinking water amid rising temperatures and dwindling water supplies. On July 14, Iraq and Iran signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation to combat sandstorms. The memorandum appears to revolve around Iran’s alleged success in manufacturing “environmentally friendly soil covers” that can be used to stabilize soil. In other developments, on July 14, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 2,396,707, an increase of 22,661 from the 2,374,046 reported on July 7. Hospitalizations increased from 31,925 to 35,998, but the daily average for new cases decreased to 3,237/day during the last seven days from 3,626/day during the previous reporting period. The number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 10,913,004 including 1,219 who received their shots on July 14. more…
- Baghdad Wants to Take Over 17 Of Kurdistan’s Oil Deals; Half Of Foreign Labor In Iraq Is Unauthorized – On July 7, Iraq’s Oil Minister said his government was serious about enforcing a recent court decision against four foreign oil companies operating in the Kurdistan region, adding that Baghdad’s plans to bring the region’s oil operations under its control will target a total of 17 companies. On July 11, Iraq’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs said that most of the foreign workers who are currently in the country represent unauthorized labor, adding that it had issued only 100,000 work authorizations to foreigners since 2012, at most half the total size of foreign labor in Iraq. In other developments, on July 13, Reuters reported that delays in a project to expand crude oil pumping capacity at the Basra ports will deny Iraq up to 150,000 bpd in additional exports it was trying to reach in the second quarter of this year. 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 July 8, a member of the legal committee in Iraq’s Parliament said that a group of lawmakers were collecting signatures in support of a proposed bill that would outlaw homosexuality in the country. The news follows a number of messages by Muqtada al-Sadr in which he attacked homosexuality and same-sex marriage and called for “a special day against homosexuality and its repugnant sins.”
On July 8, protesters in the al-Qasim district of Babylon province gathered near the offices of a lawmaker affiliated with Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia to demand the removal of their mayor, who is believed to be backed by the Asaib. Local sources said one protester and one of lawmaker Ali Turki’s guards were killed when protesters attempted to storm the building and its guards responded with gunfire.
On July 11, Fatah Coalition leader Hadi al-Amiri issued a statement in which he insisted that he was not competing with other members of the Coordination Framework (CF) to be the group’s candidate for the prime minister position. Amiri also said that he would lend his support to “any candidate the brothers in the Framework agree on,” adding that “preserving the Framework’s unity” remains his top priority. Last week, news reports said that Nouri al-Maliki was working to become the CF’s prime minister candidate amid opposition from other CF factions and leaders, including Amiri, who had reportedly stressed that CF’s candidate must be acceptable to Sunni and Kurdish parties, “and especially to the Sadrists.”
On Jul11, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) said that a Baghdad court had rejected a case filed by the party’s former co-president, Lahur Talabani against party leader Bafel Talabani. In the case, Lahur accused Bafel of violating the party bylaws and demanded the court revoke actions taken against him in the aftermath of a fallout between them that came to the surface last year.
On July 12, Iraq’s Water Resources Minister, Mahdi Rasheed al-Hamdani, urged the Foreign Ministry to summon the Turkish ambassador and deliver an official objection letter over recent remarks in which he said Iraq’s water crisis was self-inflicted. Earlier that day, the Turkish envoy said that drought was a regional problem affecting Turkey too. He added that to solve Iraq’s water problem, Baghdad should take immediate action to modernize its outdated and wasteful irrigation systems instead of demanding more water from Turkey. Hamadani said the remarks about waste were “inaccurate, aggravate public opinion, and threaten social peace in Iraq.”
On July 14, the office of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said that the Iraqi leader will travel to Saudi Arabia early next week to participate in a summit meeting hosted by Riyadh. Leaders from the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council, Jordan, and Egypt are expected to attend the summit, along with U.S. President Joe Biden. Kadhimi’s office said the meeting will discuss energy, food security, climate change, and regional cooperation on other matters. (Note: Kadhimi wrote a piece for Foreign Policy about the state of U.S.-Iraq relations ahead of Biden’s trip to the region. You can read the article here.)
On July 14, a member of Parliament from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) said the party’s “final decision” was to “move forward with the nomination of Reber Ahmed” for the presidency. The KDP lawmaker, Sherwan Doberdani, said the candidate of the rival PUK, the incumbent Barham Salih, did not have the full support of the Coordination Framework “especially after [Muqtada] al-Sadr’s tweet about him.” Doberdani added that the KDP has “the numerical superiority” among Kurdish parties, and that the PUK “must stop and respect the election results,” insisting that “the old Kurdish equations are over.” Doberdani was referring to a recent message by Sadr in which he attacked Salih for allegedly refusing to sign a law criminalizing ties with Israel that was recently passed by Parliament.
Sources cited above include: INA, Shafaq, al-Mirbad, ISHM archives, al-Sumaria, Nas News.
On July 7, security sources in Baghdad said that a suspected ISIS sniper opened fire on an Iraqi army position in the al-Mishahda subdistrict near Tarmiyah, north of the capital. The attack injured one Iraqi soldier. On July 12, a similar sniper attack wounded another Iraqi soldier in the Abayachi area of Tarmiyah. On the same day, a civilian woman was killed in Tarmiyah when a group of suspected ISIS militants broke into a house in the area.
On July 8, security sources in Diyala province said that two Katyusha-type rockets struck near a base for the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in the al-Mansouriyah subdistrict, northeast of Baquba. The impact of the rockets, which security forces believe were launched from the Himrin mountains, did not cause casualties or material damages.
On July 9, security sources in Baghdad said that unidentified individuals attacked a house in the a-Shaab area of east Baghdad with a hand grenade. The attack caused material damage to the building but there were no casualties.
On July 11, a senior member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) said that unidentified gunmen attacked his residence in Erbil with small arms fire. The attack injured one of the building’s guards, according to the targeted PUK official, Haji Masifi.
On July 11, Ninewa police said that unidentified gunmen shot and killed a young man in the al-Qahtaniyah area of the Sinjar district, northwest of Mosul.
On July 12, local sources in Najaf said that an attack with an improvised explosive device (IED) targeted the home of an alcoholic beverages salesman in the al-Kufa district. There were no reports of casualties in the attack, which caused structural damage to the building.
On July 13, security sources in Ninewa said that two unidentified helicopters opened fire from their machine guns on two houses in the Bashiqa subdistrict, north of Mosul. The sources said that Iraqi security forces are investigating the incident, which did not result in casualties.
On July 14, security sources in Anbar province said that a PMF weapons depot in the al-Qaim region near the Syrian border suffered an explosion that destroyed weapons and ammunition stores in the facility. It is unclear whether the explosion was accidental or the result of hostile action.
Sources cited above include: Shafaq, Rudaw, al-Sumaria, NINA, Shafaq.
On July 12, health officials in Anbar province reported a large increase of gastrointestinal infections among children. The director of Fallujah’s general hospital said that 30-50 children are coming to his hospital each day with symptoms including diarrhea and vomiting, which the official blamed on polluted drinking water amid rising temperatures and dwindling water supplies. Lab testing has ruled out a cholera outbreak, the official added. Water shortages are impacting the quality and quantity of municipal water supplies in several provinces. This week, water officials in Diyala said that decreased water levels in rivers and reservoirs have resulted in a 40% decline in available drinking water supplies in the province. Last month, health officials reported cholera outbreaks in at least three provinces.
On July 14, Iraq and Iran signed a memorandum of understanding regarding cooperation to combat sandstorms. The memorandum was signed in Iran by Iraq’s Minister of the Environment, Jasim Hummadi, and the head of Iran’s environmental protection organization, Ali Salajqa. At the signing, Salajqa highlighted Iran’s ability to produce “many kinds of environmentally friendly soil covers…that have achieved good results” in soil stabilization in various temperatures and conditions. The Iranian official had visited Baghdad in May to discuss bilateral cooperation on preventing sandstorms with Iraqi leaders.
On July 14, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 2,396,707, an increase of 22,661 in cases from the 2,374,046 reported on July 7. Of these cases, 35,998 are currently under treatment, including 30 treated in ICUs. These numbers represent an increase of 4,076 in hospitalizations, and six in ICU admissions since July 7. Ministry data indicated that there were eight new COVID-19 deaths since July 7, bringing the total to 25,261. The average number of new cases during the last 7-day period decreased slightly to 3,237 per day, down from 3,626 during the 7-day period ending July 7. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Baghdad with 928 cases, Basra with 323, Duhok with 220, and Erbil with 201 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 18,912,241 samples for COVID-19. The number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 10,913,004 including 1,219 who received their shots on July 14.
Sources cited above include: Iraq’s Health Ministry, ISHM archives, al-Mirbad, Rudaw.
On July 7, Iraq’s Oil Minister, Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar Ismail, said that his government was serious about enforcing a recent court decision against four foreign oil companies operating in the Kurdistan region. The day before, news reports said that an Iraqi court in Baghdad ruled that the contracts between the Kurdistan region’s government and Western Zagros, DNO, HKN Energy, and Genel Energy were void. The court reportedly found the contracts in question to be in violation of the February 15 ruling by the Federal Supreme Court against oil operations in the Kurdistan region. The Iraqi minister said that Baghdad’s plans to bring Kurdistan’s oil operations under its control will expand to reach a total of 17 companies. In an exclusive interview with AP, Ismail said he would present the companies with three options: canceling the contracts, requesting waivers from Baghdad, or agreeing to transfer the deals from the KRG Natural Resources Ministry to Iraq’s federal Oil Ministry. Ismail said his approach first involves giving the companies a warning that they are “working in the smuggling of oil,” and “If they are a respectful company they will listen to us.” Should the companies refuse to cooperate, the minister said Baghdad would seek to enforce the court decisions through “the law and banks.”
On July 8, officials in Diyala province said that Iran has resumed supplying the province with electricity through the Diyala-Mirsad high voltage transmission line. The officials said the supplies, which had been suspended for nearly seven months due to financial issues, resumed at a capacity of 300 megawatts, adding that the move will allow for the provision of 18-20 hours of electricity in the province through the national grid.
On July 11, Iraq’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs said that most of the foreign workers who are currently in the country represent unauthorized labor that competes with Iraqis for scarce job opportunities. A ministry official explained that authorities have issued only 100,000 work authorizations to foreigners since 2012, representing at most half the total size of foreign labor in Iraq, which in 2018 was estimated at 200,000.
On July 13, Reuters reported, citing oil industry sources, that delays in a project to expand crude pumping capacity at Iraq’s Basra ports mean that export capacity would remain capped at 3.3 million barrels per day (bpd) during the third quarter of this year. The delay would therefore deny Iraq the ability to realize up to 150,000 bpd in additional exports it was trying to reach in the second quarter of this year. In June, oil exports from Iraq’s southern ports averaged 3.26 million bpd.
Sources cited above include: AP, ISHM archives, Shafaq, Reuters, al-Mirbad, Amwaj Media.
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.