- Sudani Shakes Up Iraq’s Integrity Committee; Qaani Advises Against Purging Sadrists From Government – On November 13, PM Mohammed al-Sudani removed judge Alaa Jawad al-Saidi from his position as head of the Integrity Commission and appointed judge Haider Hanoun as acting head of the country’s anti-corruption body. Sudani also created a sub-division within the Commission to investigate major corruption cases. This new body will be backed by a “support team” headed by lieutenant general Abdul-Karim Abed Fadhil (aka Abu Ali al-Basri) of the Interior Ministry. On November 15, news reports said that Ismael Qaani, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, had made an unannounced visit to Baghdad. Qaani reportedly advised PM Sudani and the Coordination Framework against purging the followers of Muqtada al-Sadr from their government positions to avoid provoking a new confrontation with Sadr. The news came amid reports that government officials affiliated with Sadr have been facing pressure and threats from Coordination Framework factions to resign their positions. In other developments, on November 15, the Council of Ministers decided to withdraw several bills that had been submitted to parliament for discussion and voting. The bills include the controversial Flag Service conscription bill, the Federal Civil Service bill, a proposed amendment to the Iraqi National Oil Company law, and a list of ambassadorial appointments. more…
- Iran Launches New Missile And Drone Attacks On The Kurdistan Region – On November 14, Iran fired missiles and suicide drones that struck offices of two Iranian Kurdish opposition groups in the towns of Koy Sanjaq and Zargawez, located in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah provinces, respectively. Health officials said the attacks killed one person and injured at least eight. Iran claimed responsibility for the attacks, and a spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry said Tehran holds the Iraqi side responsible for the escalation, arguing that the Kurdistan region had failed to uphold its promise to control the border and prevent “terrorist groups” from threatening Iran. The president of the Kurdistan region called the attack “unjustified,” and urged Baghdad to deal with the situation as a threat to national sovereignty. In other developments, between November 13 – 17, the explosions of two IEDs in Salah ad-Din and Ninewa injured six Iraqis. On November 15, a criminal court in Baghdad issued a 15-year prison sentence against a militant who was found guilty of a rocket attack in Baghdad last year. The identity and affiliation of the convicted militant remain unknown. more…
- Iran Unilaterally Opens New Border Crossing With Diyala; Sudani Sacks Baghdad Airport Officials After Suspicious Fires – On November 13, Iraqi officials said that Iranian authorities have unilaterally begun construction on a new border crossing between Iran and Iraq near the town of Qazaniyah in Diyala province. A conflict over the passage of goods through the new border crossing reportedly sparked a deadly clash among unidentified groups, killing three people. On November 17, PM Sudani removed the head of Iraq’s Civil Aviation Authority, the director of Baghdad International Airport, and the airport’s security chief, after two fires broke out at the facility in as many days. The fires quickly sparked demands from Coordination Framework factions to sack the airport’s management, which has been repeatedly accused of allegedly hiring an incompetent airport security firm. In other developments, on November 16, Iraq’s Finance Ministry said it had completed administrative preparations to create 66,438 new jobs within the Ministry of Health to hire recent graduates. more…
Attention readers! ISHM will take a break next week for Thanksgiving, but it will be back the week after, with comprehensive coverage of the week we missed!
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 November 13, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani removed judge Alaa Jawad al-Saidi from his position as head of the Integrity Commission and appointed judge Haider Hanoun as acting head of the country’s key anti-corruption body. According to a statement by the Supreme Judicial Council, Hanoun had served as the president of the appellate court of Maysan before Sudani selected him to head the Integrity Commission. On November 16, judge Hanoun issued orders to create the “High Commission for Combating Corruption,” which will be responsible for investigating major corruption cases. This new body will be backed by a “support team with extensive powers” to help investigate difficult cases. This support team will be headed by lieutenant general Abdul-Karim ِAbed Fadhil (aka Abu Ali al-Basri) of the Interior Ministry, according to a statement by Sudani’s office. In related news, the Council of Ministers announced a plan to retain the services of an international auditing firm to scrutinize government accounts where tax deposits are held. The decision aims to prevent illegal withdrawals from these accounts, which had been targeted by a major embezzlement scheme in which $2.5 billion was stolen from the state.
On November 13, large numbers of college students held demonstrations in the city of Sulaymaniyah and blocked the main highway between Sulaymaniyah and Kirkuk. The students were reportedly demanding financial aid and lower tuition fees.
On November 15, the Iraqi Council of Ministers decided to withdraw several bills that had been submitted to parliament for discussion and voting. The withdrawn bills include the controversial Flag Service conscription bill, the Federal Civil Service bill, a proposed amendment to the Iraqi National Oil Company law, and a bill concerning informal residential areas. The Council of Ministers also decided to withdraw a list of proposed ambassadorial appointments. According to a report by al-Mada, the government intends to close 20 of Iraq’s embassies around the world that are located in countries where very few Iraqis expats live.
On November 15, Shafaq reported, citing unnamed informed political sources, that Ismael Qaani, the chief of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had made an unannounced visit to Baghdad for talks with Iraqi leaders. According to the report, Qaani has met with President Abdul-Latif Rashid, Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani, and several militia commanders and political leaders from the Coordination Framework. Qaani reportedly advised Sudnai and the Coordination Framework leaders against purging the followers of Muqtada al-Sadr from their government positions to avoid provoking a new confrontation with Sadr. The news came as a report by al-Mada said that government officials affiliated with Muqtada al-Sadr have been facing pressure from factions within the Coordination Framework to resign their positions. The report, which cites a former Sadrist lawmaker, says the campaign to push Sadrists out of important positions employs various tactics, including threats of violence, legal action, and directed social media attacks. According to the unnamed lawmaker, the alleged campaign has already resulted in changes in senior positions at the ministries of interior, health, education, and culture. The lawmaker added that the oil ministry, which has come under the control of Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition, will soon see similar changes at key leadership positions.
Sources cited in this section include: INA, ISHM archives, al-Sumaria, Shafaq, Iraqi PM office, al-Mirbad, Nas News, al-Mada.
On November 12, the Security Media Cell said that an airstrike by Iraqi F-16 jets had killed five ISIS militants during joint security operations in the Bir Ahmed region of the Tuzkhormatu district in Salah ad-Din province. Later, on November 16, a senior Iraqi military commander said that security forces killed two ISIS militants during operations in the Wadi al-Shay region of Kirkuk province. On the following day, an Iraqi military spokesman said counter-terrrorism troops killed an ISIS militant during an operation in the Humeira desert near Ramadi. The spokesman described the slain militant as the top ISIS bomb maker in the Anbar sector.
On November 13, the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) said that an improvised explosive device (IED) struck one of its vehicles in the Jazeera region of Salah ad-Din province. The explosion injured four PMF fighters from the PMF 51st brigade who were conducting a security operation in the area.
On November 14, security sources in the Kurdistan region said that Iran fired at least two missiles that struck buildings belonging to the dissident Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDP-I) in the town of Koy Sanjaq in Erbil province. Shortly after the missile attack in Koy Sanjaq, Iraq used explosive drones to attack buildings belonging to the Kurdistan Toilers Group, another Iranian Kurdish opposition group, in the Zargawez region, east of Sulaymaniyah. The regional health minister said the attacks had killed one person and injured at least eight. Iran claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they were a response to the threat of separatist groups operating from Iraqi Kurdistan. A spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry said Tehran holds the Iraqi side responsible for the situation, arguing that the Kurdistan region had failed to uphold its promise to control the border and prevent “terrorist groups” from threatening Iran. In remarks delivered after the attacks, the president of the Kurdistan region, Nechirvan Barzani, said the use of missiles and drones against the region was “unjustified,” and urged the federal Iraqi government to deal with the situation as a threat to the nation’s sovereignty. Meanwhile, Iraq’s Foreign Minister, Fuad Hussein, said he received a call from his Iranian counterpart in which he condemned the attack and called for dialogue to put an end to this “unjustified hostile escalation.” For its part, the U.S. State Department condemned the attacks, calling on Iran to “refrain from further threats against Iraq’s territorial integrity.” The latest missile and drone strikes ended six weeks of calm since September 28, when Iran had launched a wave of missiles, drones, and artillery fire against three Kurdish Iranian opposition groups, killing at least 13 people and wounding dozens more.
On November 15, a criminal court in Baghdad issued a 15-year prison sentence against a militant who was found guilty of launching a rocket attack on Baghdad last year. The judiciary’s statement did not mention the identity nor affiliation of the convicted militant. The attack in question involved three rockets that struck the upscale al-Mansour and al-Harthiyah neighborhoods of west Baghdad. It was unclear at the time whether the attack was targeting the United States embassy in the Green Zone, or the headquarters of Iraq’s National Intelligence Service, where former Prime Minister Kadhimi was reportedly having a meeting at the time of the attacks.
On November 17, security sources in Ninewa said that an IED exploded at a marketplace in the Rashidiyah subdistrict, north of Mosul. The explosion wounded two civilians.
Sources cited in this section include: INA, al-Sumaria, Shafaq, Rudaw, NINA, State Department, ISHM archives.
On November 13, NINA reported, citing an unnamed Iraqi government official, that Iranian authorities have unilaterally begun construction on a new border crossing between Iran and Iraq. According to the official, the new border crossing is located near the town of Qazaniyah in Diyala province. In an earlier report on November 12, security sources in Diyala told Shafaq that three people were killed during a fight that erupted near the location of the planned border crossing. The sources said a conflict over the passage of goods through the new border crossing had sparked the deadly clash, without specifying the groups involved in the incident.
On November 15, Iraq’s federal financial oversight agency said it had uncovered financial improprieties while auditing the expense accounts of the Maysan Oil Company. The agency estimated the loss at IQD3.5 billion.
On November 16, Iraq’s new Finance Minister, Tayf Sami, said that he ministry had completed administrative preparations to create 66,438 new jobs within the Ministry of Health. According to Sami, this will allow the Health Ministry to hire doctors, dentists, pharmacists, and other health workers and science degree holders who graduated in 2019-2020.
On November 16, Iraq’s Planning Ministry said that the country’s population is expected to reach 42 million by the end of the year. Abdul-Zahra al-Hindawi, a ministry spokesman, said the population of the capital, Baghdad, will reach nine million, with Ninewa province coming being the second most populous with four million inhabitants. According to Hindawi, ministry data show that the rate of population growth had dropped to 2.6% compared to 3.3% a decade earlier.
On November 17, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani issued orders to remove three senior aviation officials after two fire incidents occurred at Baghdad International Airport within as many days. Sudani, who visited the airport on Thursday to inspect the damage, sacked the head of the Civil Aviation Authority, the director of Baghdad International Airport, and the airport’s security chief. The two fire incidents on November 15 and early on November 17, did not result in any deaths. The incidents, however, sparked demands from Coordination Framework factions to sack the airport’s management which has been repeatedly accused of allegedly hiring an incompetent airport security firm.
Sources cited in this section include: NINA, Nas News, INA, al-Sumaria, Iraqi PM office.
IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties
Casualties Due To IEDs from November 10, 2022 - November 17, 2022
|11/13/22||Jazeera region, Salah ad-Din province||0||4|
|11/17/22||Rashidiyah subdistrict, Ninewa province||0||2|
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.