ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: AUGUST 11 – 18, 2022

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Key Takeaways:

  • Judiciary Rejects Sadr’s Demand To Dissolve Parliament; Finance Minister Allawi Resigns; Sadr Dismisses Calls For Dialogue Even As Rivals Show Flexibility On Early Elections – On August 14, Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council said it lacks the authority to dissolve parliament after Muqtada al-Sadr demanded its intervention to dissolve the legislature within a week. On August 16, Iraq’s Finance Minister, Ali Allawi, submitted his resignation to PM Kadhimi to protest the political deadlock that has gripped the country since last year’s election. Kadhimi accepted the resignation and appointed his Oil Minister as acting Finance Minister. On August 17, Kadhimi convened a meeting of Iraq’s political leaders to discuss possible solutions to the country’s deepening political deadlock. The discussions, boycotted by Muqtada al-Sadr, produced an agreement on five points, most notably: to work in good faith to resolve the crisis and preserve the constitutional system; that early elections can be an option when political crises reach a dead-end; to invite the Sadrists to join the dialogue to devise mechanisms for a solution; and to end “all forms of escalation.” A senior aide to Sadr dismissed the meeting’s outcomes as useless. In other developments, on August 16, Sadr said he decided to postpone a mass demonstration initially planned for Saturday August 21 until further notice, citing plots by his rivals to provoke “civil war.” more…
  • Lawmaker Says Sadr’s Militia Planned To Assassinate Him; Bombings Target The Power Grid – On August 14, independent lawmaker Basim Khashan claimed he was assaulted by armed members of Muqtada al-Sadr’s Saraya al-Salam militia in Diwaniyah province. Khashan, who represents Muthanna province, said the militiamen, armed with machine guns, intercepted his vehicle in an attempt to “assassinate or cause serious harm.” Between August 13 – 18, the explosions of five IEDs in Kirkuk, Diyala, Ninewa, and Salah ad-Din wounded eight Iraqis and destroyed a high-voltage transmission power between Salah ad-Din and Kirkuk. Security forces also defused more bombs that were planted under another transmission line in the area. In other developments, on August 15, a young man died and two others were wounded when armed protesters seeking employment clashed with the guards at the Akri Bijeel oil field east of Erbil. more…
  • More Iraqis Return Home From Al-Hol Camp – On August 12, Ninewa police said that Iraqi security forces escorted 150 households of Iraqis with perceived ties to ISIS from the al-Hol camp in Syria across the border to the Jedaa IDP camp in Ninewa. The group included 620 returnees, mostly women and children, and is part of 500 households Iraq plans to repatriate this year. In other developments, on August 14, Iraq’s Health Ministry shifted to providing weekly, instead of daily, updates on the COVID-19 pandemic. During the August 8 – 14 reporting period, there were 3,035 new infections and 12 deaths, and 41,766 people received their vaccines. The average number of new cases during the last reporting period dropped to 434 per day, compared to 1,289 per day during the 7-day period ending August 4. more…
  • Currency Reserves Recover To Pre-ISIS Levels; Corruption, Neglect Ground Most Of Iraqi Airways Planes – On August 11, Iraq’s Central Bank said its foreign currency reserves increased to $82 billion, the level they were at before the beginning of the 2014-2017 war with ISIS. This figure is up from $70 billion in April, suggesting that high oil prices allowed Iraq to add $4 billion/month to reserves during the last three months. On August 18, a correspondence between Iraq’s Transport Minister and the country’s national carrier, Iraqi Airways, pointed to serious deficiencies in the company’s aircraft maintenance programs. The letter, sent by the minister on August 15, accused the airlines of incompetence and corruption, resulting in 20 of its 31 aircraft being inoperable. In other developments, on August 16, Iraq’s Integrity Commission said that a committee formed in 2019 to recover government real estate lost since 2003 has so far succeeded in returning 1,376 properties to government ownership out of 10,393 properties identified as illegally taken over by violators. 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.


Judiciary Rejects Sadr’s Demand To Dissolve Parliament; Finance Minister Allawi Resigns; Sadr Dismisses Calls For Dialogue Even As Rivals Show Flexibility On Early Elections

On August 12, supporters of the Coordination Framework held a large demonstration outside the Green Zone. The Framework planned the demonstration last week to show their opposition to their Sadrist rivals, who had briefly occupied the parliament building last month and have since been holding a sit-in outside the building in the Green Zone. The Framework supporters remained outside the Green Zone, where the followers of Muqtada al-Sadr continued their sit-in in large numbers. Ahead of the Friday demonstration, authorities had blocked entrances into the Green Zone with concrete barriers. At the end of the demonstration, the Framework announced an open-ended sit-in until their demands were met. Those demands included the resumption of parliament meetings, an agreement on a presidential candidate by the Kurdish parties, and expediting the formation of a new government. A report by Shafaq, citing unnamed sources with the Framework, said the Friday event represented only three Framework factions: Nouri al-Maliki’s supporters, Qais al-Khazali’s Asaib Ahl al-Haq, and Ammar al-Hakim’s Hikma Movement. Meanwhile, followers of Muqtada al-Sadr held counter-rallies in ten provinces across the country calling for the dissolution of parliament. 

On August 12, supporters of the Tishreen (October 2019) protest movement organized a protest in central Baghdad. The protesters called for dissolving parliament and holding new elections–a demand shared by Sadr–but differed from the Sadrists in that they added a condition for enforcing the political parties law, which scrutinizes party finances and involvement in armed organizations. The event was organized by nine anti-establishment groups, including the Nazil Akhoth Haqi movement and the Community party.

On August 14, Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council said it did not possess the authority to dissolve parliament, in response to remarks by Muqtada al-Sadr demanding the judiciary’s intervention to dissolve the legislature within a week. In its statement, the judiciary said the principle of separation of powers does not allow it to interfere with matters that lie within the jurisdictions of the executive or legislative branches. The statement added that the Supreme Judicial Council judiciary asks politicians and the media to refrain from dragging the judiciary into political rivalries. To back Sadr’s demand with legal action, the leader of the resigned Sadrist bloc in parliament filed a lawsuit with the Federal Supreme Court demanding the dissolution of parliament. The lawsuit also asked the court to order President Salih to call for early elections. On August 17, the Court said it decided to postpone looking into the case until August 30.

On August 15, Iraq’s Integrity Commission said that a Baghdad court summoned the head of one of the religious endowment offices and several of his senior aides for questioning in connection with the unlawful purchase of a hotel in the Kurdistan region. The court has also issued a travel ban and asset freeze against the suspects in the corruption charges surrounding the IQD47 billion hotel. The Commission did not reveal the identity of the official targeted by the investigation. 

On August 16, Muqtada al-Sadr said he decided to postpone a mass demonstration initially planned for Saturday August 21 until further notice. The aborted demonstration was to take place in central Baghdad to denounce his rivals in the Coordination Framework, and it was meant to be “unprecedented” in its size, according to a senior aide to Sadr. Sadr accused his rivals of attempting to provoke “civil war” and said his decision to cancel the event was motivated by his desire to “preserve peace.”

On August 16, Iraq’s Finance Minister, Ali Allawi, submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Kadhimi during a cabinet meeting to protest the political deadlock that has gripped the country since last year’s election. The veteran politician and academic had served as Finance Minister during the transitional cabinet of Ibrahim al-Jafari in 2005-2006 before returning to the same post again in 2020. In a 10-page long resignation letter, Allawi detailed his frustrations with his heavy responsibility and the obstacles he faced during his tenure, especially the politically-enabled endemic corruption, which he said permeated through the whole of government. Allawi said he had to resign because the protracted caretaker state of Kadhimi’s government and its limited powers made it impossible to enact new policies necessary for reforms, or stop harmful policies that had to be stopped. Kadhimi accepted Allawi’s resignation and appointed his Oil Minister, Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar Ismail, as acting Finance Minister.   

On August 17, Prime Minister Kadhimi convened a meeting of Iraq’s political leaders at the government complex to discuss possible solutions to the country’s deepening political deadlock. The discussions, which were boycotted by representatives of Muqtada al-Sadr, were attended by the leaders of major political blocs, as well as Iraq’s president, speaker, head of the judiciary, and the UN envoy to Iraq. The meeting produced an agreement on five points, according to Kadhimi’s office. The points include: 

  • An agreement to work together in good faith to resolve the crisis and preserve the constitutional system of government.
  • They agreed that early elections do not represent an uncommon option in democracies when political crises reach a dead-end. 
  • They invited the Sadrists to join the dialogue to devise mechanisms for a solution
  • They agreed to continue the discussion to develop a legal and constitutional roadmap for a way out of the crisis.
  • They called for an end to “all forms of escalation” whether political, via the media, or “on the field.” 

On the following day, a senior aide to Muqtada al-Sadr said the meeting’s proceedings should have been made public. The aide dismissed the meeting’s outcomes as useless and “of no concern to the people,” arguing that most of the attendees “care only about remaining in office.” 

Sources cited in this section include: INA, AP, ISHM archives, al-Hurra, Rudaw, Shafaq, Iraq Ultra, Nas News, al-Sumaria. 


Lawmaker Says Sadr’s Militia Planned To Assassinate Him; Bombings Target The Power Grid

On August 12, security sources in Basra said that unidentified militants attacked the offices of the al-Rafidain state-owned dam construction company with grenades. The attack, which occurred in the al-Jazair area in central Basra did not result in casualties. 

On August 12, security sources in Salah ad-Din province said that a mortar round struck the outskirts of the town of Amerli, in the eastern parts of the province. The impact did not result in casualties. 

On August 13, security sources in Kirkuk province said that ISIS militants raided the village of al-Sumoud in the Daquq district. The militants used explosives to demolish the home of the village mukhtar, then kidnapped the 12 year old son of the local school’s principal, before withdrawing from the area. There were no casualties in the bombing, which happened while the house was empty. 

On August 14, security sources in Diyala province said that an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded near a group of workers who were clearing brush around the site of Camp Ashraf, north of Baquba. The explosion wounded four of the workers.  

On August 14, independent lawmaker Basim Khashan claimed in a video message that he was assaulted by armed members of Muqtada al-Sadr’s Saraya al-Salam militia in the Afak district of Diwaniyah province. Khashan, who represents Muthanna province, said the militiamen, armed with machine guns, intercepted his vehicle in an attempt to “assassinate or cause serious harm.” The lawmaker said he managed to escape after his guard exchanged fire with the militiamen. Hundreds of armed men from Khashan’s tribe gathered after hearing the news to show solidarity with the lawmaker, threatening to take revenge for the assault. 

On August 15, the counter-terrorism service of the Kurdistan region said that two rockets targeted the Turkish military base at Zelikan, northeast of Mosul. One of the rockets struck inside the base while the other fell near the village of Godad, to the south of the camp. According to the sources, the rocket fire originated from the Kokajli area in Mosul. There were no reports of casualties. On the following day, there were reports that another Turkish base at Bamerni, in Duhok province, was targeted by an unspecified number of rockets.  

On August 15, a young man died and two others were wounded when armed protesters seeking employment clashed with the guards at the Akri Bijeel oil field east of Erbil, according to Iraq Oil Report.

On August 16, Ninewa police said that a legacy IED exploded in the al-Hadhar district, south of Mosul, injuring two civilians.

On August 18, Iraq’s Electricity Ministry said that an explosion brought down a pylon on a power transmission line in Kirkuk province. The attack targeted a branch of the 132 kilovolt line stretching between Mulla Abdullah-North Samarra-Dur at the village of Brima in the al-Multaqa subdistrict. The Security Media Cell said security forces prevented a similar attack against another pylon in the Kirkuk area. 

On August 18, the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) said that two of its fighters (PMF 52nd brigade) were injured when an IED exploded during security operations in the eastern part of the Tuzkhormatu district of Salah ad-Din province. 

Sources cited in this section include: NINA, INA, Shafaq, Rudaw, al-Hurra, Iraq Oil Report, Nas News. 


More Iraqis Return Home From Al-Hol Camp

On August 12, Ninewa police said that Iraqi security forces escorted 150 households of Iraqis with perceived ties to ISIS from the al-Hol camp in Syria across the border to the Jedaa camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ninewa. The group included 620 returnees, mostly women and children, according to the police sources.  Last week, Iraq’s Ministry for Migration and the Displaced said the repatriated Iraqis would spend up to six months at Jedaa to undergo security checks and receive social and psychological rehabilitation services before returning to their home districts. In total, the ministry plans to repatriate 500 households from al-Hol this year. 

On August 14, the Iraqi Ministry of Health shifted to providing weekly, instead of daily, updates on the COVID-19 pandemic in Iraq. During the August 8 – 14 reporting period, there were 3,035 new infections, 12 deaths, and 41,766 people received their vaccines. Cumulatively, the ministry reported 2,454,213 infections, 25,338 deaths, and 11,029,360 vaccinations. The average number of new cases during the last 7-day reporting period decreased to 434 per day, from 1,289 per day during the 7-day period ending August 4. 

Sources cited in this section include: NINA, ISHM archives, Iraq’s Health Ministry.


Currency Reserves Recover To Pre-ISIS Levels; Corruption, Neglect Ground Most Of Iraqi Airways Planes

On August 11, Iraq’s Central Bank (CBI) said its foreign currency reserves had increased to $82 billion, the level they were at before the beginning of the 2014-2017 war with ISIS. During the peak of Iraq’s financial crisis after the war, the reserves dropped to nearly $38 billion, as the government had to make withdrawals to pay its bills. The CBI has seen its foreign currency reserves recover rapidly as oil prices spiked in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In April, the CBI reserves were at $70 billion, suggesting that Iraq added $4 billion to its reserves each month during the past three months.

On August 16, Iraq’s Integrity Commission said that a committee formed in 2019 to recover government real estate lost since 2003 has so far succeeded in returning 1,376 properties to government ownership. The committee had identified a total of 10,393 properties that had been illegally taken over by violators, and is working with the real estate registry departments to restore an additional 6,000 properties to the government entities to which they rightfully belong. The committee has so far reviewed the files of 60% of 119,000 properties that belong to the Finance Ministry, and is searching for nearly 28,000 properties that belong to the Defense Ministry. In a related update, the Integrity Commission also reported that it was getting close to recovering $2 billion of Iraq’s money abroad through the cooperation of a member of Saddam Hussein’s regime. 

On August 18, a correspondence between Iraq’s Transport Minister and the country’s national carrier, Iraqi Airways, pointed to serious deficiencies in the company’s aircraft maintenance programs. The letter, sent by the minister to the company on August 15, accused the airlines of incompetence and corruption, resulting in 20 of its aircraft being inoperable. This represents almost two thirds of the airlines’ fleet of 32 aircraft. The letter, which cites critical assessment by the safety department of the civil aviation authority, talks about failures to procure spare parts, and mentions aircraft being left “carelessly” on the tarmac for months. The letter instructs the airlines to address the problems, and concludes with a warning that the ministry would otherwise take unspecified action to preserve public property.  

Sources cited in this section include: Rudaw, al-Hurra, ISHM archives, Nas News.


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs from August 11, 2022 - August 18, 2022

DateLocationDeathsInjuries
8/13/22 Daquq, Kirkuk province00
8/15/22 Near Camp Ashraf, Diyala province04
8/16/22 Al-Hadhar, Ninewa province02
8/18/22 Al-Multaqa subdistrict, Kirkuk province00
8/18/22 Tuzkhormatu, Salah ad-Din province02

 

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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