ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: JULY 14 – 21, 2022

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Key Takeaways:

  • Sadr Tells Maliki To Leave Politics As Leaked Recordings Reveal Civil War Threats; Baghdad Demands Turkish Withdrawal After Deadly Shelling – On July 17, Nouri al-Maliki said that audio recordings posted by an Iraqi commentator on Twitter, in which Maliki allegedly attacked other political leaders and threatened violence, were “fabrications.” The five clips were allegedly recorded at a meeting between Maliki and an obscure militia group called Kataib A’immat al-Baqi’. In the tapes, a voice that appears to be Maliki’s talks about an imminent civil war for which he must prepare armed groups, accuses PMF commanders of stealing, accuses Muqtada al-Sadr of being a murderer, thief, and a coward, and mentions a British conspiracy against the Shia in Iraq. On July 18, Muqtada al-Sadr responded with strongly worder message saying that Maliki must give up politics and “surrender himself and the corrupt people he shelters to the legal authorities.” Sadr also challenged Maliki’s political allies to publicly condemn him “to extinguish the strife.” Maliki’s Daw Party described the recordings as a “harbinger of strife,” adding that their release was planned by “secret agencies…that seek to turn Iraq into a battlefield.” On July 19, an Iraqi court opened an investigation about the recordings. On July 21, Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs delivered a letter to the Turkish ambassador condemning the “heinous crime by Turkish forces” and demanded that the withdrawal of Turkish forces after Turkish artillery killed and injured dozens of civilians near Zakho. Meanwhile, demonstrators in several provinces demanded retaliatory action and burned Turkish flags. In other developments, on July 16, PM Kadhimi met with President Biden in Jeddah while the two leaders were attending a regional summit hosted by Saudi Arabia. more…
  • Turkish Attack On A Resort Near Zakho Kills Nine Civilians; ISIS Attack Kills Six Federal Police Members – On July 20, several Turkish artillery shells hit Barakh, a tourist resort near the Zakho district of Duhok, killing nine civilians and wounding 23, including many women and children. The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its embassy in Baghdad blamed the attack on the PKK. PM Kadhimi called the attack “a blatant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty,” adding that Iraq “reserves the full right to respond…and will take all necessary measures to protect its people.” On July 20, ISIS militants attacked an Iraqi federal police outpost in the al-Jilam region of Salah ad-Din. Security sources said the attack, which lasted nearly an hour, killed six members of the federal police and wounded another seven. In other developments, on July 17, a Turkish armed drone killed five suspected PKK members when it attacked a vehicle near Mosul. Between July 18 – 21, the explosions of four IEDs and one remnant of war in Diyala, Dhi-Qar, Babylon, and Salah ad-Din wounded at least seven Iraqis. On July 19, unidentified gunmen fired on the Dhi-Qar residence of a lawmaker affiliated with Nouri al-Maliki. more…
  • FAO Urges Action To Support Marsh Communities Amid Water Scarcity; Latest COVID-19 Wave Tapers Off – On July 14, the FAO in Iraq warned that Iraqi authorities must take urgent action to support vulnerable communities in the southern marshes after a recent mission highlighted “unprecedented low water levels…threatening their livelihoods and communal existence.” FAO called for immediate but “consistent support” to these communities, especially buffalo producers, in the form of water storage solutions, animal feed, and fuel for their boats, without which, “the farmers who lived there for generations will ultimately have to abandon their lands forever.” On July 21, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 2,421,716, an increase of 25,009 from the 2,396,707 reported on July 14. Hospitalization levels were relatively unchanged, and the daily average for new cases increased slightly to 3,573/day during the last seven days from 3,237/day during the previous reporting period. The number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 10,946,529 including 14,852 who received their shots on July 21. more…
  • Iraq Signs Deals To Import Electricity From Neighbors; The New Karbala Refinery To Begin Testing Operations In October – On July 15, Iraq and Saudi Arabia signed two agreements to provide Iraq with electricity from Saudi Arabia and from other Gulf states through the kingdom. Iraq’s Minister of Electricity said the grid connections would initially provide 500 megawatts. On July 18, Iraq’s Oil Minister said that Iraq will start sending crude oil to the new Karbala refinery by October to commence testing operations at the facility, which is built to process 140,000 bpd of oil. In other developments, on July 18, a new report by Deloitte about the Kurdistan region’s oil exports said the region sold just over 39 million barrels during the first quarter of 2022, generating gross revenue of $3.02 billion at an average price of $86.7 per barrel. On July 19, a new UNICEF report indicated that almost 60% of the young people between the ages of 15 and 24 in Iraq lack the digital skills needed “to perform basic computer-related activities.” The report also found that these young people can’t easily access other “entrepreneurial skills” they need to enter the labor market. 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 Tells Maliki To Leave Politics As Leaked Recordings Reveal Civil War Threats; Baghdad Demands Turkish Withdrawal After Deadly Shelling

On July 15, large crowds of Muqtada al-Sadr’s followers from various provinces assembled in the Baghdad district of Sadr City for a prayer ceremony and political rally called for by the powerful cleric and political leader. A representative of Sadr read a message to the crowd, estimated to include as many as a million people, on behalf of Sadr, that highlighted 13 points. The message warned against the return of the Baath party and terrorist groups, as well as normalization with Israel. He also called for the disarming of militias, and insisted his main rival, Nouri al-Maliki, should not be allowed to become prime minister again. Sadr also said the government and parliament must work to end the presence of “what remains of occupation.”  

On July 16, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi met with U.S. President Joe Biden in Jeddah while the two leaders were attending a regional summit hosted by Saudi Arabia. A joint statement issued after the meeting said Biden and Kadhimi “reaffirmed their shared commitment to the strong bilateral partnership…under the Strategic Framework Agreement and their determination to continue security coordination to ensure that ISIS can never resurge.” During the meeting, Biden lauded Kadhimi’s “significant diplomatic efforts…to foster a more stable, prosperous, and interconnected region” citing Baghdad’s new agreements with the GCC Interconnection Authority to supply Iraq with affordable electricity. Biden also commended Kadhimi’s initiative to mediate talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Baghdad, and offered to support the “unique relationship” between Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt. During the meeting, which was attended by Iraq’s foreign, finance, and oil ministers, Biden and Kadhimi talked about “efforts to collectively advance sustainable development of the region’s resources, to address the impacts of climate change including water insecurity, and to expand U.S.-Iraq coordination on energy modernization and economic reform.” (The final statement issued at the conclusion of the summit meetings can be found here.) 

On July 16, Turkish officials promised Iraqi counterparts that they would instruct their country’s water and dams authority to increase the amounts of water released downstream to Iraq “within days, based on available reserves.” The commitment was made during a meeting between Iraq’s Minister of Water Resources, Mahdi al-Hamdani, and the special representative of the Turkish president for Iraq affairs, during which Hamdani asked that Turkey reconsider water levels released to Iraq in light of its water scarcity crisis. The two sides also agreed to dispatch a technical Iraqi delegation to observe the status of water reservoirs at Turkish dams.

On July 17, former prime minister and leader of the State of Law coalition, Nouri al-Maliki, said that a series of audio recordings that allegedly show him attacking other political leaders and threatening violence, were “fabrications.” In particular, Maliki distanced himself from remarks he allegedly made in those recordings that accused the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and their commanders of being cowards and Iranian proxies. In his response, Maliki insisted that he supported the PMF from its inception, calling the force “a nation of holy warriors, martyrs and free people.” Starting July 13, an Iraqi commentator on Twitter released a series of at least five audio clips that allegedly were recorded at a meeting between Maliki and representatives of an obscure militia group called Kataib A’immat al-Baqi’ (the Imams of al-Baqi’ Battalions). In the tapes, a voice that appears to be of Maliki makes several incendiary remarks. In one of them, Maliki allegedly talks about an imminent civil war for which he must prepare armed groups. Another recording accuses PMF commanders of stealing their units salaries and mentions a British-led conspiracy to overthrow Shia rule in Iraq and restore Sunni Arab dominance. In one of the recordings Muqtada al-Sadr is accused of being a murderer, thief, and a coward, while another clip allegedly shows the representatives of the militia group promise support to Maliki to power and make references to a messianic quest to “spill blood” and mention a fatwa by their religious guide, who is only referred to as “Ayatollah the Mirza.” 

On July 18, Parliament said that Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi and his deputy Shakhwan Abdullah met with the leaders of the parliamentary blocs to discuss legislative priorities for the next legislative term. The speaker and the political blocs also agreed that the next legislative term would commence next week and is to include eight sessions per month. The first of these sessions, scheduled for Saturday July 23, will host the ministers of defense and foreign affairs, along with the army chief of staff, to discuss the July 20 Turkish shelling on a tourist resort in Duhok that killed and injured dozens of civilians.

On July 18, Muqtada al-Sadr responded with strongly worder message to the leaked audio recordings in which his rival, Nouri al-Maliki, allegedly accused Sadr of being a thief, murderer, and an unwitting participant in foreign conspiracies against Iraq’s Shia community. Sadr said that Maliki must give up politics and “surrender himself and the corrupt people he shelters to the legal authorities,” declaring that Maliki can no longer lead Iraq in any manner “after [expressing] these destructive ideas.” Sadr also challenged Maliki’s tribe and the political leaders aligned with Maliki in the Coordination Framework to publicly condemn him “to extinguish the strife.”

On July 19, Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council said that the Karkh investigation court in Baghdad received a request that was presented to the prosecutor general to look into the leaked audio recordings attributed to Nouri al-Maliki and take the appropriate legal measures. The Council did not reveal the identity of the individual or entity that submitted the request.

On July 19, the leader of the Kataib A’immat al-Baqi’ militia, Saad al-Temimi, said the audio recordings that were allegedly leaked from a meeting between members of his group and Nouri al-Maliki were “fabrications made with advanced technology.” Temimi said that the call to fight the Sadrists that was mentioned in the recordings was a lie meant to “ignite strife among those of the same blood and tear up the [Shia] lines.” Meanwhile, Nouri al-Maliki’s Daw Party described the recordings as a “harbinger of strife that pours oil on fire,” adding that their release  was planned by “secret agencies at home and abroad that seek to turn Iraq into a battlefield.” The party called the recordings a product of “leaks and electronic eavesdropping manipulated by forgery and counterfeiting,” and insisted that it won’t be dragged into conflict with the Sadrists. For its part, the Coordination Framework (CF) issued a statement expressing its “rejection and condemnation of the methods of espionage and leaks,” which CF said constituted “cheap methods that are divorced from the values and ethics of the Iraqi society.” The statement also said that CF opposes attacks on “any religious, national, or political figure or security institutions,” and called on political powers to “spare the public from unnecessary conflicts.” 

On July 19, Nas News reported that the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) has rejected two proposals presented by the Kurdistan Democratic Party regarding their dispute over who should nominate Iraq’s next president. The report, citing party sources, says KDP negotiator Fuad Hussein gave the PUK’s Bafel Talabani two options: allow the KDP to nominate the president in exchange for the PUK getting all the cabinet appointments allocated to the Kurdish parties, or, withdraw the nomination of the PUK’s Barham Salih and agree to select a joint compromise candidate for the presidency. Talabani reportedly informed Hussein that the PUK is determined to have Barham Salih stay in office for a second term. On the following day, KDP leader Masoud Barzani hosted Talabani at his office in Erbil for a meeting that Rudaw described as potentially “decisive” in settling the dispute over the presidency.  

On July 21, Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs delivered a “strongly worded objection letter” to the Turkish ambassador to Baghdad following the Turkish shelling on a tourist resort in Duhok that killed and injured dozens of civilians. The ministry condemned the “heinous crime by Turkish forces” and demanded that Turkey withdraw all of its military forces from Iraqi soil. Meanwhile, demonstrators gathered near the Turkish embassy in Baghdad and Turkish consular offices in several provinces demanding retaliatory action against Turkey. Protesters burned Turkish flags and called for a boycott of Turkish products and the expulsion of Turkey’s ambassador.      

Sources cited above include: al-Hurra, Shafaq, The Hite House, AP, INA, Iraq Ultra, Rudaw, Nas News, Twitter, al-Sumaria. 


Turkish Attack On A Resort Near Zakho Kills Nine Civilians; ISIS Attack Kills Six Federal Police Members

On July 16, security sources in Diyala province said that an old landmine dating back to the Iraq-Iran war of the 1980s detonated in an area near the Iranian border in the Qazanyah subdistrict. The explosion seriously injured a 15-year old boy who was herding sheep in the area.  

On July 17, the Security Media Cell reported that Iraqi security forces killed a suspected ISIS militant, who was wearing an explosive vest, during an ambush in the Tarmiyah district, north of Baghdad. On July 20, the Cell said that Iraqi forces killed another ISIS militant during operations in the Qara-Chogh mountains near Makhmour. 

On July 18, security sources in Diyala province said that an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated near a group of fishermen near lake Himrin, northeast of Baquba. The explosion wounded four of the fishermen, one of them critically.

On July 17, the counter-terrorism service of the Kurdistan region said that a Turkish armed drone attacked a vehicle near the western outskirts of Mosul. The airstrike killed the vehicle’s five occupants, who were fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), according to the Kurdish officials.  

On July 17, security sources in Salah ad-Din province said that unidentified gunmen opened fire from small on two civilians driving their vehicle on a main highway west of Samarra, killing both of them. On the following day, unidentified gunmen killed a civilian in a drive-by shooting in the Sinuni subdistrict of Ninewa province.  

On July 18, Dhi-Qar police said that an IED exploded in the Rifani district, north of Nasiriyah, targeting the residence of an Iraqi engineer working for a Chinese construction company contracted to build schools in the area. The explosion damaged a vehicle parked in front of the building without causing casualties. 

On July 19, 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. On July 21, a similar attack targeted another supply convoy in the same area. Neither explosion resulted in casualties or damages. 

On July 19, security sources in Dhi-Qar province said that unidentified gunmen opened fire from small arms on the residence of Mahmoud al-Salami, a member of Parliament from the State of Law coalition, led by Nouri al-Maliki. The attack did not result in casualties or damage. 

On July 20, ISIS militants attacked an Iraqi federal police outpost in the al-Jilam region of Salah ad-Din province. Security sources said the attack, which involved 10-15 militants and lasted nearly an hour, killed six members of the federal police and wounded another seven. This is the highest casualty attack by ISIS militants against Iraqi forces since January 21, when an attack in Diyala left 11 soldiers dead.

On July 20, several Turkish artillery shells hit Barakh, a tourist resort near the Zakho district of Duhok province, killing nine civilians and wounding 23, including many women and children. Iraqi officials said all of the casualties were tourists, and most had arrived from central and southern Iraq. The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ankara’s embassy in Baghdad issued statements expressing condolences to the Iraqi people, blaming the attack on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and insisting that Turkey “carries out its fight against terrorism in accordance with international law, with utmost sensitivity to the protection of civilians.”  Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi condemned the Turkish shelling, calling it “a blatant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and the lives of Iraqi citizens.” Kadhimi added that this “wanton aggression proves that the Turkish side ignored Iraq’s constant demands to end military violations of Iraqi territory and lives,” stressing that Iraq “reserves the full right to respond…and will take all necessary measures to protect its people.” Earlier, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Kadhimi tasked Minister Fuad Hussein and several senior military commanders with finding out the details of the bombardment and its intended target to prepare for “maximum diplomatic response, starting with going to the Security Council.” The UN Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) and the U.S. embassy in Baghdad both condemned the attack, without naming Turkey as the culprit.   

On July 21, the PMF said that an IED exploded among a group of its fighters while they were conducting routine search operations in the Jurf al-Sakhr subdistrict of Babylon province. The explosion injured two fighters from the PMF 47th brigade.  

On July 21, security sources in Basra said that unidentified gunmen opened fire from small arms on the vehicle of the al-Shafi subdistrict manager, north of Basra, wounding him seriously. To the north, in Diyala province, unidentified gunmen opened fire from small arms on the owner of a private electricity generator in the Kenaan subdistrict, northeast of Baquba, killing him instantly.  

Sources cited above include: Shafaq, INA, Security Media Cell, NINA, Kurdistan24, al-Mirbad, al-Hurra, al-Sumaria, Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 


FAO Urges Action To Support Marsh Communities Amid Water Scarcity; Latest COVID-19 Wave Tapers Off

On July 14, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Iraq mission warned that Iraqi authorities must take urgent action to support communities impacted by water scarcity and climate change in the marshes of southern Iraq. According to the FAO statement, a mission to the marshes in July revealed very difficult conditions facing rural communities, especially buffalo producers who are facing a crisis due to “unprecedented low water levels…threatening their livelihoods and communal existence.” FAO Iraq underscored that the worsening water scarcity and climate change were “causing disastrous impact on livelihoods for more than 6000 rural families since they are losing their buffalos, their unique living asset.” To address the crisis, the organization called for immediate but “consistent support to buffalo producers,” particularly water storage solutions, animal feed, and fuel for their boats, without which, “the farmers who lived there for generations will ultimately have to abandon their lands forever.” The organization also called on the international community to provide more resources to help the marsh communities and to pursue more cooperation with the Iraqi government to mitigate the crisis.

On July 19, a spokesman for Iraq’s Ministry of Health said the number of confirmed cholera cases in the country reached 310 (up 150 from the 160 reported on July 3), including three fatalities. Most of the infections were reported in Kirkuk province, according to the official. The spokesman added that the spread of hemorrhagic fever has slowed down, with only two new fatalities reported since July 3. 

On July 21, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 2,421,716, an increase of 25,009 in cases from the  2,396,707 reported on July 14. Of these cases, 36,016 are currently under treatment, including 24 treated in ICUs. These numbers represent an increase of just 18 in hospitalizations, and a decrease of six in ICU admissions since July 14. Ministry data indicated that there were 19 new COVID-19 deaths since July 14, bringing the total to 25,280. The average number of new cases during the last 7-day period increased slightly to 3,573 per day, from 3,237 per day during the 7-day period ending July 14. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Baghdad with 968 cases, Basra with 618, and Duhok with 319 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 18,985,439 samples for COVID-19. The number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 10,946,529 including 14,852 who received their shots on July 21. 

Sources cited above include: FAO, Iraq’s Health Ministry, ISHM archives, Rudaw.


Iraq Signs Deals To Import Electricity From Neighbors; The New Karbala Refinery To Begin Testing Operations In October

On July 15, Iraq and Saudi Arabia signed two agreements to provide Iraq with electricity from Saudi Arabia and from other Gulf states through the kingdom, according to a statement by Prime Minister Mustaf al-Kadhimi’s office. In subsequent remarks, Iraq’s Minister of Electricity, Adil Karim, said the grid connections would initially provide 500 megawatts through two 300 kilometer lines.   

On July 18, a new report by Deloitte about the Kurdistan region’s oil exports showed that the region sold a total of just over 39 million barrels of oil during the first quarter of 2022, including 36.4 million barrels in exports via pipeline and 2.6 million barrels in sales to domestic refineries. The sales generated gross revenue of $3.02 billion at an average price of $86.7 per barrel. Net revenue to the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) was $1.343 billion, after deducting payments to oil companies, pipeline tariffs, and other export and financing costs.  

On July 18, Iraq’s Oil Minister, Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar Esmail, said that Iraq will start sending crude oil to the new Karbala refinery by October to commence testing operations at the facility, which is built to process 140,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil. The deputy minister for refining, Hamid Younis, added that production operations will proceed in two stages, with the first starting before the end of the year, and the second beginning in early 2023. 

On July 19, a new UNICEF report indicated that almost 60% of the young people between the ages of 15 and 24 in Iraq lack the digital skills needed “to perform basic computer-related activities.” The report also found that these young people can’t easily access “life-skills-based education, employability, and entrepreneurial skills that will enable their smooth transition into the labor market.” The report looked into 92 low-income countries and found that overall, almost 75% of people between the ages of 15 and 24 were “off-track to acquiring the skills needed for employment.” Because of these findings, the report warns that countries are “facing a skills crisis, with the majority of youth unprepared to take part in today’s workforce.”

Sources cited above include: Iraqi prime minister’s office, Rudaw, Kurdistan24, Iraq’s Oil Ministry, UNICEF. 


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs from July 14, 2022 - July 21, 2022

DateLocationDeathsInjuries
7/18/22 Lake Himrin, Diyala province04
7/18/22 Rifai, Dhi-Qar province00
7/19/22 Southern Salah ad-Din province00
7/21/22 Southern Salah ad-Din province00
7/21/22 Jurf al-Sakhr, Babylon province 02

 

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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