- Coordination Framework To Resume Government Formation Efforts Following Sadr’s Chaotic “Retirement” From Politics; Kadhimi Threatens To Step Down – On August 29, Muqtada al-Sadr announced his “final retirement” from politics and the closing of “all institutions” associated with his movement. The move came hours after a senior Iran-based cleric, who is considered a religious mentor for the Sadrists, accused Sadr of dividing the Shia community and questioned his eligibility to lead. Sadr’s followers reacted by storming government buildings, sparking deadly clashes that killed dozens and wounded hundreds (more details below). After the violence, the Coordination Framework called for parliament to resume meetings to expedite the formation of a new government that includes “all the political powers that wish to participate.” The statement called for “dialogue to reach an understanding to the country from strife and chaos,” indirectly blaming Sadr’s “thoughtless” decisions for the violence. On August 30, PM Kadhimi addressed the deadly clashes that swept the Green Zone on August 29 – 30, thanking government forces for not taking sides in a fight between “rogue weapons” and other “rogue weapons,” implying that Sadr’s militias and their rivals were equally guilty. Kadhimi insisted that all security forces must answer to the formal chain of command and urged all political stakeholders to make concessions to prevent further escalation that could kill more Iraqis. Importantly, Kadhimi threatened to resign if the quarreling blocs continued to provoke fights and refused to listen to reason. In other developments, on September 1, Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court said it will issue its verdict in a case filed by the Sadrists demanding the dissolution of parliament in a future session scheduled for next Wednesday, September 7. more…
- Violent Green Zone, Basra Clashes Kill At Least 34 As Rival Militias Face Off – On August 29, Muqtada al-Sadr’s followers stormed the Republican Palace in Baghdad, sparking clashes with government forces and Iran-backed PMF elements, resulting in casualties on both sides. Despite a nationwide curfew being in place, the violence escalated as armed elements of Sadr’s Saraya al-Salam militia joined the fight at the Green Zone. Over the following hours and into the next day, heavy fighting raged in which rockets, mortars, and RPGs were used, killing at least 30 people and wounding nearly 400. The fighting, which raised fear of an all-out war, began to wind down around midday on August 30, after Sadr told his supporters to withdraw. On August 31, clashes erupted between the Sadr’s militia and Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) in Basra, killing four people from the two sides. The clashes, and a threatening message from the Sadrists, prompted AAH leader Qais al-Khazali to close AAH offices to avoid further escalation. In other developments, between August 26 – 31, the explosions of two IEDs in Baghdad and Diyala killed two Iraqis and wounded six. A third IED during the same period targeted Australian diplomats in Baghdad but did not result in casualties. more…
- KRG Defies Baghdad’s Threat To Punish Its Oil Buyers; KRG Oil Exports May Shrink By Half In Five Years; Iraq’s Oil Exports Generated $9.78 Billion In August – On August 26, the KRG Ministry of Natural Resources dismissed a threat by Iraq’s oil marketing company (SOMO) to take legal action against entities buying its crude oil as politicized and “misleading,” and insisted that it will continue to produce and export crude oil despite the threat. On August 30, a report by Reuters raised the alarm about the future of the Kurdistan region’s oil and gas industry amid uncertainty and dwindling investment in reservoir development. The report suggests that the region’s reserves were no more than 2% of Iraq’s total and predicts that, without major investments in new wells to compensate for natural decline, exports could drop by almost half to just 240,000 bpd by 2027. On September 1, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said that August crude oil exports averaged 3.286 million bpd, and generated $9.784 billion in revenue, about $800 million lower than the $10.6 billion achieved in July. Iraq sold its crude oil at an average price of $96.05 per barrel, about $7.5 below previous month’s average of $103.6 per barrel. 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.
Coordination Framework To Resume Government Formation Efforts Following Sadr’s Chaotic “Retirement” From Politics; Kadhimi Threatens To Step Down
On August 27, political parties representing Iraq’s Chaldean and Assyrian community issued a joint statement demanding their inclusion in discussions concerning changes to the electoral law and rules in the Kurdistan region. The parties complained that the major parties in the Kurdistan region had several meetings with the head of the UN mission to Iraq (UNAMI) to discuss the region’s next parliamentary election to which they were not invited. The parties said that their exclusion marginalizes their community and undermines its right to representation, considering that the meetings discussed the “quota” parliamentary seats allocated to ethnic and religious minorities. The statement raised several demands to amend the election law to increase the quota seats, establish a special voter record for Chaldeans and Assyrians, limit voting for quota seats to members of the community, and hold quota elections before the general election.
On August 29, Iraq’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Fuad Hussein, visited Tehran, where he delivered a verbal message from Prime Minister Kadhimi to President Raisi, and had meetings with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and Iran’s national security chief, Ali Shamkhani. According to a statement by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the discussions focused on bilateral relations, the political and security situation unfolding in Iraq, and efforts to build bridges between Iran and the rest of Iraq’s neighbors. After the visit, the Iraqi minister received a phone call from his Saudi counterpart, Feisal bin Farhan, and briefed him on the outcome of his meetings in Tehran.
On August 29, Muqtada al-Sadr announced his “final retirement” from politics and the shutting down of “all institutions” associated with his movement. Sadr’s statement came hours after the Iran-based Ayatollah Kadhim al-Haeri, who had long been a religious mentor for the Sadrists, said he was giving up his religious duties, citing age and health problems. Haeri’s statement contained a snub to Sadr, accusing him of dividing the Shia community, and questioning his credential and eligibility to lead the Sadrist institution and carry the legacy of the late Ayatollahs, Mohmmed Baqir al-Sadr and Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr. Haeri also instructed his emulators, some of whom are Sadr’s followers, to give their allegiance to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. Sadr, in his announcement, questioned whether Haeri decided to retire of his own volition. Sadr also attempted to downplay Haeri’s role in his rise to power, and stressed that Najaf, not Iran, is the center of the Shia religious leadership. After the announcement, Sadr’s private office issued instructions to his followers banning interference in government, political, and social affairs in the name of the Sadrist movement. It also banned media networks and social media platforms from speaking in the name of the Sadrist movement.
On August 30, after Muqtada al-Sadr made a speech in which he apologized to the Iraqi people for the violent events of the previous 24 hours that killed at least 30 people (see below for details of the violence) and gave his supporters one hour to withdraw from the Green Zone. A weary-looking Sadr said that “regardless of who started” yesterday’s fighting, “the killers and those killed are both in hell.” Sadr said he was hoping to see peaceful protests instead of his followers “running towards mortars and [RPG] launchers,” declaring that the Iraqi people were the only losers in the conflict, stressing that a revolution tainted by violence “is not a revolution in the first place.” A senior aide to Sadr later walked back Sadr’s condemnation of everyone who was part of the fighting, arguing that the statement condemning “the killers and those killed” excluded those who were unarmed.
On August 30, the committee organizing demonstrations by Coordination Framework supporters announced a decision to end the sit-in by the suspension bridge outside the Green Zone, which had been in place since the beginning of August.
On August 30, the Coordination Framework issued a statement calling for parliament to resume meetings to expedite the formation of a new government that includes “all the political powers that wish to participate.” The statement, read by the head of the Framework’s bloc in parliament, Atwan al-Atwani, stressed that “weapons cannot decide political rivalries” and called for “dialogue to reach an understanding that saves the country from strife and chaos.” The Framework’s statement also blamed the “thoughtless” decisions of Muqtada al-Sadr (without explicitly naming him) for the deadly clashes of August 29 – 30. In a strongly-worded message, the so-called Sadr’s vizier condemned the Framework’s statement about resuming the stalled government formation process, calling it an “insolent” move that “challenges the whole nation, its leaderships and communities.” Meanwhile, President Barham Salih invited the Framework leaders to reach out to Muqtada al-Sadr to mend fences and discuss a solution to the crisis, including the possibility of “early elections, government formation, and administration during the next stage.”
On August 30, Prime Minister Kadhimi gave a speech addressing the deadly clashes that swept the Green Zone on August 29 – 30. He began by thanking government forces for not taking sides in a fight between “rogue weapons” and other “rogue weapons,” implying that Muqtada al-Sadr’s militias and those of his rivals were equally guilty in the bloodshed that claimed nearly 30 lives and wounded hundreds. Kadhimi said he ordered an investigation to determine which side opened fire on the protesters, and which side launched rockets and mortars at the government complex. The prime minister insisted that all security forces must answer to the formal chain of command and serve to protect Iraq instead of being tools in power struggles, condemning the wasting of “blood, treasure, and opportunity” in this week’s clashes. He urged all political stakeholders to make concessions and engage in dialogue to prevent further political escalation that could turn violent and kill more Iraqis. Importantly, Kadhimi threatened to resign if the quarreling blocs continued to provoke fights and refused to listen to reason. Under article 81 of the constitution, the president takes over the duties of the prime minister, should the latter position become vacant. The president would then have 15 days to nominate a new prime minister.
On September 1, Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court said it will issue its verdict in a case filed by senior aides of Muqtada al-Sadr demanding the dissolution of parliament in a future session scheduled for next Wednesday, September 7. Previously, on August 14, Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council had declared it did not possess the authority to dissolve parliament. That statement was in response to the August 10 remarks by Muqtada al-Sadr in which he demanded the judiciary’s intervention to dissolve the legislature within a week.
Sources cited in this section include: NRT, Nas News, social media, Rudaw, AP, Iraqi prime minister’s office, Shafaq, INA, al-Hurra, al-Sumaria, Shafaq, ISHM archives, al-Mirbad.
Violent Green Zone, Basra Clashes Kill At Least 34 As Rival Militias Face Off
On August 26, security sources in Baghdad said that an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded on a road leading into the Green Zone. The explosion, which appeared to target a vehicle belonging to the Australian embassy in Baghdad, did not result in casualties. Iraq’s Foreign Affairs Ministry condemned the attack, reaffirming its commitment to protecting diplomatic missions.
On August 26, the Security Media Cell reported that Iraqi F-16 jets conducted two airstrikes against “an important hideout” of ISIS militants north of the Jabab region in the al-Jazeera sector. The Cell said the strikes destroyed the site and killed the militants who had been inside, without specifying their numbers. On August 30, the Cell said that two more airstrikes by F-16s targeted a tunnel and cave used by ISIS militants north of the town of Rawa, in the same sector.
On August 26, security sources in Diyala said that an IED explosion struck an Iraqi army patrol in the al-Beyjat region, southwest of Baquba. The explosion killed one Iraqi soldier and wounded two. Two days later, ISIS militants attacked security forces at a checkpoint in the al-Abbara subdistrict northeast of Baquba. The attack involved sniper fire and injured one member of the security forces.
On August 27, the Security Media Cell said that Iraqi soldiers from the army’s 1st division killed four ISIS militants and wounded several when the militants attempted to attack the main surveillance cameras used by the security forces in the region near the Himrin mountains and lake Himrin. On the following day, fighters from the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) killed five ISIS militants, including a local commander, in an ambush and follow up operations in the Albu Saif region in Ninewa province. Then on August 28, Iraqi security forces in Kirkuk said they killed an ISIS militant and wounded another in the Dolan mountains near the Daquq district.
On August 28, security forces in the Kurdistan region found a rocket launcher in the Qadir Karam subdistrict, east of Kirkuk, in a gap between the areas controlled by the Peshmerga and Iraqi government forces. Authorities suspect the rocket was intended to be used in an attack on the Khor-Mor gas field, which had been attacked on multiple occasions in recent months.
On August 28, local sources in Maysan provinces said that an attack with small arms fire targeted the residence of Raed al-Maliki, an independent lawmaker from the province, in the city of Amara. The gunfire caused some damage to the front of the building but there were no reports of casualties.
On August 28, local sources in Makhmour said that an armed drone struck a building inside the Makhmour refugee camp, which is home to thousands of people affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The attack injured four people who were inside the targeted building.
On August 29, local sources in Kirkuk said that ISIS militants kidnapped two men during an attack on the road between Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah. One of the victims, who was a member of the security forces, was reportedly found dead outside the Leelan subdistrict, southeast of Kirkuk. The other kidnap victim remains missing. To the southwest, in the Tarmiyah district, security sources said that suspected ISIS militants killed a farmer in his seventies after the victim reportedly refused to pay taxes demanded by the militant group.
On August 29, large numbers of Muqtada al-Sadr’s followers stormed the Republican Palace in Baghdad’s Green Zone after their leader announced his resignation from political life, setting the stage for 24 hours of bloody confrontations. In southern provinces including Basra, Wasit, Babylon, Diwaniyah, and Dhi-Qar, Sadr’s followers moved to storm or shut down provincial government buildings, and blocked roads leading to vital oil installations. The Sadrists also attacked and burned offices belonging to rival factions, like Badr and Asaib Ahl al-Haq. The deeper thrust into the Green Zone sparked clashes with government security forces, Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) security elements, and the guards of political figures. Footage from the Green Zone showed live fire being used to disperse the Sadrists and prevent them from entering sensitive locations, such as the Defense Ministry complex, resulting in casualties. The tactical situation was complicated, though. Analysis of footage emerging from the scene suggested that sniper fire directed at Sadrist protestors and Iraqi security forces alike came from Iran-backed PMF elements in the area around the palace. As the situation escalated, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi suspended government meetings until further notice, and issued an address in which he urged Muqtada al-Sadr to order his supporters to withdraw. The UN Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) warned that the escalation was “extremely dangerous” and called on protesters to leave the Green Zone and go home. Throughout the day, and despite a nationwide curfew being in place, the escalation continued. Armed elements of Sadr’s Saraya al-Salam militia were seen gathering at Tahrir square enroute to the Green Zone. Over the following hours and into the next day, heavy fighting raged between Sadr’s militia, PMF elements, and some units from government security forces. Rockets, mortars, and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) were used during the fighting, which ultimately killed at least 30 people, including members of government forces, and wounded nearly 400. The fighting, which raised fear of an all-out war, began to wind down around midday on August 30, after Muqtada al-Sadr made a speech in which he gave his supporters one hour to withdraw from the Green Zone, with which they complied. Soon after that, authorities decided to lift the curfew that was imposed on Monday and began reopening shuttered streets in the capital’s center, and crews could be seen clearing debris in front of the parliament building.
On August 31, clashes erupted between the Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) militia of Qais al-Khazali and Saraya al-Salam militia of Muqtada al-Sadr in the city of Basra, killing four people form the two sides. Reports indicate the fighting began after AAH gunmen fired on the vehicle of a local Saraya al-Salam commander, killing him and one of his associates. Two AAH members died in the fighting that followed. After the clashes, Khazali ordered the closure of all AAH offices until further notice. Khazali urged his followers to show restraint and avoid reacting to provocations to prevent further escalation with his Sadrist rivals. The orders came after an aide to Sadr issued a strongly worded warning to Khazali, telling him to “curb your insolent militias” or face the consequences.
On August 31, PMF sources said that an IED explosion struck a PMF patrol (12th brigade) in the Tarmiyah district, north of Baghdad. The explosion killed one PMF officer and injured four other members of the patrol.
Sources cited in this section include: the Security Media Cell, INA, NINA, Iraq’s Foreign Ministry, Nas News, Shafaq, Kurdistan24, al-Sumaira, Rudaw, social media, AP, al-Hurra, ISHM archives, Iraq Ultra.
KRG Defies Baghdad’s Threat To Punish Its Oil Buyers; KRG Oil Exports May Shrink By Half In Five Years; Iraq’s Oil Exports Generated $9.78 Billion In August
On August 26, the Ministry of Natural Resources in the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) dismissed a threat by Iraq’s oil marketing company (SOMO) on August 25 to take legal action against entities buying crude oil from the KRG. The ministry said the threat contained “misleading information” and had political motivations related to the ongoing political deadlock in the country. The ministry said SOMO’s actions threaten to undermine negotiations between the KRG and federal government, insisting that it will continue to produce and export crude oil despite the threat.
On August 28, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported that there were 1,316 new infections with COVID-19, three new fatalities, and 52,300 people received their vaccines during the period between August 22 – 28. Cumulatively, the ministry reported 2,457,871 infections, 25,346 deaths, and 11,088,314 vaccinations. The average number of new cases during the last 7-day reporting period decreased to 188 per day, down from 335 per day during the 7-day period ending August 22.
On August 30, Reuters published a report that raised the alarm about the future of the Kurdistan region’s oil and gas industry amid uncertainty and dwindling investment in reservoir development. The report, based on interviews with Kurdish energy officials, diplomats, and experts, predicts that without major investments in new wells and new fields to compensate for decline, exports could drop from recent levels of about 434,000 barrels per day (bpd), to just 240,000 bpd) by 2027. Current exports already represent a drop of nearly 8% from 2019, when they averaged 468,000 bpd. According to a source in the regional government, production has been declining “due to the inability…to bring timely additional investment online to overcome the natural decline of 15% to 20% each year in production for each well.” Decreased production at the key fields of Tawke, Khurmala and Taq Taq is the cause of decline, government data shows, according to the report. The source cited by Reuters estimated current proven oil reserves to be no more than three billion barrels, just over 2% of Iraq’s reserves of some 140 billion barrels.
On September 1, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil said that crude oil exports during August totaled 101.85 million barrels, for an average of 3.286 million bpd, about 14,000 bpd lower than in July. The August exports generated $9.784 billion in revenue, more than $800 million lower than the $10.6 billion achieved in July. Iraq sold its crude oil at an average price of approximately $96.05 per barrel, about $7.5 below previous month’s average of $103.6 per barrel. Shipped exports from fields in southern and central Iraq averaged 3.25 million bpd in August, while average exports from the northern fields in Kirkuk, which were exported through the Turkish port of Ceyhan, dropped more by than half to just over 35,750 bpd.
Sources cited in this section include: Reuters, Iraq’s Health Ministry, ISHM archives, Iraq’s Oil Ministry.
IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties
Casualties Due To IEDs from August 25, 2022 - September 1, 2022
|8/26/22||Near the Green Zone, Baghdad||0||0|
|8/26/22||Southwest of Baquba, Diyala province||1||2|
|8/31/22||Tarmiyah, north of Baghdad||1||4|
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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