ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: SEPTEMBER 15 – 22, 2022

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Key Takeaways:

  • PMF Arrests Scrutinized After Suspected Torture-Caused Death; Oil Minister Faces Mounting Pressure – On September 15, independent lawmakers called on the judiciary and PM Kadhimi to hold the head of the Popular Mobilization Commission accountable for a wave of recent arrests deemed extrajudicial. The call came after a tribal leader in Diwaniyah, who had criticized PMF leaders, died shortly after he was detained, and allegedly tortured, by the paramilitary force. On September 22, an Iraqi court in Baghdad summoned Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar Ismail for questioning on charges of illegal takeover and sale of public. The beleaguered minister was ousted this week from his position as head of Iraq’s National Oil Company, and parliament seeks to overturn his appointment by Kadhimi as acting finance minister. In other developments, on September 19, Rudaw reported that the Coordination Framework plans to nominate Muhsin al-Mandalawi, an independent lawmaker from Diyala, for the position of first deputy speaker of parliament, replacing resigned Sadrist representative Hakim al-Zamili. On September 20, PM Kadhimi arrived in New York to attend the UN General Assembly meetings. Kadhimi also met with the leaders of several countries and international organizations, including France, Spain, the Arab League, Jordan, Lebanon, Austria, and Kuwait. more…
  • New MoU Promises Continued U.S. Support For The Peshmerga And KRG Security Reforms – On September 21, the KRG Peshmerga ministry signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Department of Defense for continued cooperation in the fight against ISIS. KRG president Nechirvan Barzani said the document covers U.S. provision of assistance to the Peshmerga and support for security sector reforms and the reorganization of the Peshmerga forces. In other developments, between September 15 – 22, ten attacks by ISIS militants and unidentified gunmen in Baghdad, Diyala, Ninewa, Babylon, and Kirkuk, killed at least six Iraqis and wounded 13. Between September 18 – 22, Iraqi security forces killed at least ten ISIS militants in operations in Ninewa and the Himrin mountains. The fighting also killed two PMF fighters and wounded five. Between September 16 – 18, the explosions of an IED in Kirkuk and a remnant of war in Dhi-Qar wounded two members of the security forces and one civilian. more…
  • Mandate Extended For ISIS Crimes Investigators; Data Shows Courts Received 60 Cases Of Domestic Abuse Each Day – On September 15, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to extend the mandate of the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Daesh (UNITAD) for another year based on a request by the Iraqi government. On September 22, Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council released statistics about domestic violence showing that there were 1,141 reported cases of child abuse and 18,602 reported cases of violence against women during 2021. In the first half of 2022, Iraqi courts handled 10,143 cases of domestic violence, of which 500 were against children, 7,947 against women, and 1,696 involved violence against the elderly. The numbers imply that in 2021-2022, there were 60 reported cases of domestic violence each day across Iraq, not accounting for unreported cases. Analysts and activists frequently attribute the increase in domestic violence to the economic impact of the pandemic and the proliferation of drug use in the country. In other developments, on September 19, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that donors have provided $130 million in funding for the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan, only a third of the $400 million needed to reach nearly a million people with acute humanitarian needs. more…
  • Oil Leak Disrupts Southern Exports; Top Court Rules National Oil Co. Formation Illegal – On September 16, the Basra Oil Company reported a crude oil leak at the storage systems of al-Basra Oil Terminal (ABOT) that disrupted exports at the country’s primary loading platform. Footage from the site showed crews attempting to contain a large oil spill under the aging platform, but its unclear how much oil spilled into the gulf. Loading operations resumed at normal levels after emergency repairs were completed on the following day. On September 21, Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court ruled to void two Council of Ministers’ orders that authorized new steps in the formation of the Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC) and appointed the oil minister as its chief executive. The Court argued that INOC could not be legally formed since some articles in a 2018 law that authorized the company’s formation had been previously struck down as unconstitutional. In other developments, on September 20, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq met with Iraq’s top judicial official to discuss legal proceedings in an Iraqi commercial court against foreign oil companies operating in the Kurdistan region. The intervention came amid reports the region’s exports dropped to about 355,000 bpd due in part to legal efforts by Baghdad. 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.


PMF Arrests Scrutinized After Suspected Torture-Caused Death; Oil Minister Faces Mounting Pressure

On September 15, independent lawmakers called on the judiciary and Prime Minister Kadhimi to hold the head of the Popular Mobilization Commission (PMC), Falih al-Fayadh, accountable for a wave of recent arrests deemed extrajudicial. The call came after Iqbal Dohan, a tribal leader in Diwaniyah who made statements criticizing PMF leaders, died shortly after he was detained by Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). Footage from the hospital where Dohan was taken for treatment showed signs of injuries that suggested he was tortured while in cuustody. Lawmaker Sajjad Salim said the arrests, which the PMC claimed targeted a Baath Party plot, were a cover for cracking down on activists and critics of the paramilitary organization, adding that no laws of Iraq grant the PMC authority to undertake judicial investigation.  Nour Nafi, another independent lawmaker, said he and colleagues will push to form an investigation committee to look into the arrests. Last week, the PMC said it arrested 44 individuals involved in “deviant religious groups” across seven provinces for allegedly spreading material attacking religious rites and marjiyas (senior clergy), and “threatening social peace and the security of the Arbaeen pilgrimage.”

On September 19, Iraq’s Integrity Commission said that an investigation court in Baghdad has issued an order to lift the parliamentary immunity of a current lawmaker who had previously served as the governor of Salah ad-Din. The Commission said the court order was related to suspected abuse of power by the politician who allegedly hired people on the provincial health department’s payroll without the department’s approval. Although the Commission did not name the politician in question, he is understood to be Ahmed al-Jubouri (aka Abu Mazin) since he’s the only current lawmaker who was previously Salah ad-Din’s governor.  

On September 19, Rudaw reported that the Coordination Framework plans to nominate Muhsin al-Mandalawi, an independent lawmaker from Diyaa, for the position of first deputy speaker of parliament. If confirmed, Mandalawi would fill the position that has been vacant since the resignation of the former deputy speaker, Sadrist lawmaker Hakim al-Zamili, and his 72 colleagues back in June. According to Rudaw, the Framework had discussed Mandalawi’s nomination with the major Sunni and Kurdish parties, who offered their preliminary support. 

On September 19, a senior official from Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) said the party and its leader, Bafel Talabani, have decided that entering into negotiations over the Iraqi presidency and future parliamentary elections in the Kurdistan region is contingent on receiving assurances that the next governor of Kirkuk would be chosen by the PUK. Meanwhile, a member of the negotiating team of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) said the “atmosphere” between the KDP and PUK was “very good,” adding that they could reach an agreement on a mutually acceptable presidential candidate. The negotiator, Bengin Raykai, said that Bafel Talabani told the KDP that “we will agree on one candidate, and we will go to the parliament meeting with one candidate,” without offering specifics about who that candidate may be. 

On September 19, Iraq’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Fuad Hussein, met in New York with his French and Jordanian counterparts to discuss plans to hold the second edition of the Baghdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership, which Iraq hosted last year. The next meeting of the Paris-backed regional summit will be held in the Jordaian capital, Amman. Preparations for the next summit were also discussed by Prime Minister Kadhimi and President Emmanuel Macron who met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting.

On September 19, the Coordination Framework renewed its endorsement of Mohammed Shya al-Sudani as its sole candidate for the premiership. The Framework made the announcement in a statement issued following a meeting involving “its entire leadership,” signifying consensus in this regard. The statement added that the Framework discussed ongoing preparations to resume parliament meetings (for which no date is set yet) and government formation. In related news underscoring the momentum behind his nomination, Sudani held informal discussions with a group of 60 lawmakers at the parliament building to brief them on his vision for the next government.  

On September 20, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi arrived in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly meetings, which commenced on the following day. According to his press office, Kadhimi met with the leaders of several countries and international organizations, including France, Spain, the Arab League, Jordan, Lebanon, Austria, Kuwait, and the European Council.

On September 22, an Iraqi court in Baghdad summoned Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar Ismail for questioning on charges of illegal takeover and sale of land owned by Iraq’s Midland Oil Company. This week, the beleaguered oil minister was ousted from his position as chief executive of Iraq’s National Oil Company (INOC) by the country’s top court (details below). Parliament is also seeking to overturn Ismail’s appointment by prime Minister Kadhimi as acting finance minister.  

Sources cited in this section include: Rudaw, Nas News, al-Sumaria, Iraqi Prime Minister’s office, Shafaq, social media, ISHM archives, INA.


New MoU Promises Continued U.S. Support For The Peshmerga And KRG Security Reforms

On September 15, a colonel in the Peshmerga Ministry was killed after he was shot by an unidentified gunman in the Akre district, east of Duhok, according to a statement by the ministry. The attacker also wounded the wife and daughter of the targeted officer. 

On September 16, security sources in Kirkuk said that the explosion of a legacy improvised explosive device (IED) wounded two federal police personnel after it struck their vehicle during security operations in the Wadi Zghaytoun region. In the nearby southern district of Daquq, two mortar rounds struck near a religious shrine, without causing casualties. 

On September 16, security sources in Baghdad said that suspected ISIS militants opened fire from small and medium weapons on civilians near a mosque in the Tarmiyah district, north of the city, killing one person.

On September 18, the Security Media Cell reported that a joint force of the army and Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) killed eight ISIS militants in an assault on their hideout in the Jazeerat al-Hadhar region in southern Ninewa. Two fighters from the PMF 44th brigade were also killed in the fighting, and five were wounded.  

On September 18, security sources in Diyala said that ISIS militants attacked an Iraqi army checkpoint in the al-Tabaj area, northeast of Baquba, wounding two soldiers.

On September 18, security sources in Dhi-Qar said that a woman was injured when an unidentified object, possibly a remnant of war, exploded in a landfill south of the city of Nasiriyah. 

On September 19, security sources in Baghdad said that unidentified gunmen wounded two people in an attack in the al-Obeidi neighborhood of east Baghdad. Meanwhile, one person was killed in an attack by gunmen in the al-Shaab neighborhood of north Baghdad and another person was killed in an attack by gunmen in the al-Baaj district of Ninewa province. 

On September 20, security sources in Babylon said that a couple were seriously wounded while working on their farm in the al-Mahaweel district when unidentified gunmen opened fire on them. To the north, security sources in Baghdad said that unidentified gunmen seriously wounded two people in an attack with small arms in the al-Mashtal neighborhood of east Baghdad.

On September 20, security sources in Diyala said that ISIS militants attacked a local soccer field in the village of Najm al-Abdullah near the al-Mansouriyah subdistrict, northeast of Baquba. The attack killed one person and injured three others. 

On September 21, security sources in Kirkuk said that two unidentified gunmen armed with silenced weapons assassinated a young man inside his vehicle near the Azadi hospital in central Kirkuk. 

On September 21, the Peshmerga ministry of the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. department of defense for continued cooperation in the fight against ISIS. Speaking at the signing ceremony in Erbil, KRG president Nechirvan Barzani said the document covers U.S. provision of assistance to the Peshmerga and support for security sector reforms and the reorganization of the Peshmerga forces. The memorandum was signed during a visit to Erbil by Celeste Wallander, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. 

On September 22, an Iraqi military spokesman said that counterterrorism service troops backed by military aircraft killed two ISIS militants and destroyed their hideout in an operation in the Himrin mountains in north central Iraq. 

Sources cited in this section include: NINA, Shafaq, Rudaw, INA, al-Sumaria. 


Mandate Extended For ISIS Crimes Investigators; Data Shows Courts Received 60 Cases Of Domestic Abuse Each Day

On September 15, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to extend the mandate of the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Daesh (UNITAD) for another year. Since 2017, UNITAD has worked alongside Iraqi institutions to investigate ISIS crimes and hold members of the terrorist organization accountable for their actions. The new resolution, based on a request by the Iraqi government, extends the mandate until September 17, 2023. 

On September 18, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported that there were 327 new infections with COVID-19, one new fatality, and 23,695 people received their vaccines during the period between September 12 – 18. Cumulatively, the ministry reported 2,459,249 infections, 25,352 deaths, and 11,143,802 vaccinations. The average number of new cases during the last 7-day reporting period decreased to 47 per day, down from 59 per day during the 7-day period ending September 12. 

On September 19, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) provided an update on the state of funding for the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), which points to a large gap between requirements and available resources. OCHA said that donors have provided $130 million in funding through the month of August, which represents just one third of the $400 million needed to fully implement the 2022 HRP. The 2022 HRP had identified a population of 2.5 million who need assistance, of whom 961,000 are considered to be in acute need reaching “extreme or catastrophic levels.” The HRP aims to help 991,000 people from this population. These include 180,000 IDPs living in camps, 234,000 IDPs staying in places other than camps, and 577,000 returnees “with life-saving and life-sustaining assistance to meet their most critical humanitarian needs.” The update indicates the HRP reached all of that target population. 

On September 22, Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council released statistics about domestic violence incidents in 2021-2022 that pointed to a high level of incidents since the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the statistics, there were 1,141 reported cases of child abuse and 18,602 reported cases of violence against women during 2021. In the first half of 2022, Iraqi courts handled a total of 10,143 cases of domestic violence; 500 against children, 7,947 against women, and 1,696 involving violence against the elderly. These numbers imply that in 2021-2022, there were 60 reported cases of domestic violence each day across Iraq. The numbers do not account for all incidents of domestic violence that go unreported. Analysts and activists frequently attribute the increase in domestic violence to the economic impact of the pandemic and the proliferation of drug use in the country.

Sources cited in this section include: Reliefweb, ISHM archives, INA.


Oil Leak Disrupts Southern Exports; Top Court Rules National Oil Co. Formation Illegal

On September 16, Iraq’s State-owned Basra Oil Company said that its crews were responding to a crude oil leak that affected storage systems at the al-Basra Oil Terminal (ABOT), Iraq’s primary oil export platform on the gulf. The company said the leak did not disrupt loading operations at the nearby single point mooring (SPM) export terminals. On the following, day, the company said that normal loading operations resumed at ABOT at their usual levels after the leak was repaired. The company added that it would export additional volumes in the near future to compensate for lost exports during the repairs. Footage from ABOT posted on September 17 showed crews attempting to contain a large oil spill under the aging export platform. It is unclear how much crude oil leaked into the gulf as a result of the leak. 

On September 16, Iraq’s water resources minister and acting minister of the environment traveled to Damascus for a meeting with the Syrian prime minister and minister of water resources to discuss the ongoing water scarcity affecting both countries. The officials discussed data exchanges, establishing joint water monitoring stations, and unifying their countries’ messaging in demanding their water rights from upstream countries.

On September 20, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Alina Romanowski, met with Faeq Zaidan, the president of Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council to discuss legal proceedings in an Iraqi commercial court targeting foreign oil companies operating in the Kurdistan region. There were no further details about the meeting, which probably focused on the July 4 ruling by an Iraqi court that voided the contracts of four foreign oil companies operating in Kurdistan. The ruling affected Western Zagros, DNO, HKN Energy, and Genel Energy, which the court said were in violation of the February 15 ruling by the Federal Supreme Court against the Kurdistan region’s oil law and contracts signed under it. This week, the head of Iraq’s federal oil marketing company (SOMO) said that the threat of legal action against the buyers of crude oil from Kurdistan has reduced the region’s exports from 420,000 barrels per day (bpd) last year to about 355,000 bpd now.

On September 21, Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court issued a ruling that dealt a major blow to the government’s effort to establish the Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC). Specifically, the Court decided to void the Council of Ministers’s orders number 109 of 2020 and 211 of 2021, which authorized the completion of INOC’s formation and appointed Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar Ismail as its chief executive. The Court explained in a statement that it made this decision in order to protect public funds from mismanagement. The Court further argued that INOC could not be legally formed since some of the articles in law number 4 of 2018, which had authorized the company’s formation, had been previously struck down by the Court as unconstitutional, and could not be replaced due to the finality of the Court’s decision.

Sources cited in this section include: Iraq’s Oil Ministry, social media, al-Sumaria, ISHM archives, Nas News. 


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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