ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: July 27 – August 10, 2023

ISHM LOGO

Key Takeaways:

  • Coordination Framework Factions To Compete In Elections Separately; Baghdad Seeks Extradition Of Senior Kadhimi Aides; Iraq, U.S. Discuss Future Of Security Cooperation – On August 3, the leaders of the Coordination Framework (CF) said that their parties plan to compete in the country’s next provincial elections separately and through different lists, with the understanding that they would come together to reconstitute their alliance after the elections. One such electoral list will comprise the political wings of Asaib Ahl al-Haq and other militias affiliated with CF. Meanwhile, PM Sudani’s political party said it would not be competing in the elections. On August 6, Iraq’s Integrity Commission called on the U.S. and U.K. to extradite to Iraq a number of senior officials in the government of former PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi over their alleged involvement in theft of more than $2.5 billion from the country’s Tax Commission. The wanted individuals include former Finance Minister Ali Allawi, as well as Kadhimi’s political adviser, his office director, and private secretary. In related developments, on August 2, an anti-corruption criminal court in Baghdad issued summons ordering the oil minister in Kadhimi’s government to appear in court to face charges of abusing his office to take possession of lands and apartments worth millions of dollars. On August 8, Iraq’s Defense Minister and other senior military officials met with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Washington to discuss joint security cooperation that “looks beyond the Defeat-ISIS engagement.” The dialogue, according to Austin, reflects Washington and Baghdad’s “maturing strategic partnership building on the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Dialogue in July 2021.” U.S. officials said the goal of the dialogue is to create a “360-degree relationship” that encompasses a “whole-of-government strategic partnership for years.” more…
  • Multiple Turkish Drone Strikes Hit Deep In The Kurdistan Region; Wave Of Bombings Target The Power Grid – Between July 28 – August 9, at least four airstrikes by Turkish military drones struck vehicles across the Kurdistan region targeting members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The strikes in Sharbazher, Chemchemal, Amadiyah, and Dokan, killed at least six suspected PKK members and wounded four people. Between July 30 – August 4, three separate attacks involving several IEDs targeted high voltage transmission lines in central Iraq, knocking down at least five pylons and causing power outages. In other developments, between July 31 – August 7, the explosions of three IEDs and two remnants of war in Diwaniyah, Basra, Babylon, Kirkuk, and Duhok, killed two civilians and wounded five members of the security forces. One of the IEDs was targeting a convoy transporting supplies for the anti-ISIS International Coalition on a major highway. On August 3, news reports said that ISIS issued a statement acknowledging the death of its leader, known as Abu al-Hussein al-Quraishi, during clashes in the Syrian province of Idlib. The terrorist group also announced that an individual named Abu Hafs al-Hashimi al-Quraishi has assumed command of the group. more…
  • Iraq Media Regulator Bans Use of “Homosexuality” and “Gender” In Media – On August 9, the Communications and Media Commission of Iraq, the country’s main media regulator, issued instructions to all media and telecommunications networks licensed by it to stop using the Arabic term for “homosexuality” and use “sexual deviance” instead. The Commission also banned the use of the term “gender,” saying its move aims to “protect society and its values from invasive terms that carry meanings that violate public order and decency.” In other development, on August 1, the government of the United Kingdom said it formally recognized the crimes committed by ISIS against the Yazidi community in Iraq as acts of genocide. On August 8, Iraq’s Ministry for Migration and the Displaced said that a new group of 100 IDPs from the Yazidi community had returned to Sinjar. This brings the number of Yazidi IDPs who had returned to Sinjar this year to approximately 4,000 people. more…
  • World Bank Expects Iraq’s GDP To Shrink Due To Stagnant Non-Oil Sectors; Oil Exports And Revenue Rise In July; Iraq Blocks Telegram – On July 31, the World Bank warned that continued lack of economic reforms could wipe out recent economic growth in Iraq’s oil-dependent economy and currency reserves. The latest edition of the Bank’s Iraq Economic Monitor warned that Iraq’s 2023-2025 budget “signals a significant expansionary fiscal stance that could lead to a rapid depletion of the oil windfall and renewed fiscal pressures.” Further, it expects Iraq’s overall GDP to shrink by 1.1% this year as a result of OPEC+ oil quota restrictions. On August 1, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said that exports during July averaged 3.444 million bpd, about 100,000 bpd higher than June. These exports generated $8.29 billion in revenue, a jump of more than $1.1 billion from the previous month. The vast majority of exports were shipped from fields in southern and central Iraq through the ports of Basra, while exports from the northern fields in Kirkuk and the Kurdsitan region through Turkey remained suspended. On August 6, Iraq’s Ministry of Telecommunications said it had decided to block access to the Telegram social media application citing “guidance from high authorities concerning national security consideration.” The ban raised objections from politicians and networks affiliated with pro-Iran factions, which have relied heavily on Telegram to escape the scrutiny associated with more mainstream platforms. In other developments, on August 3, the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) issued new guidelines for private banks requiring them to increase their capital to a minimum of IQD 400 billion before the end of 2024. Banks that fail to meet the requirement must either merge, be acquired by other banks, or face liquidation. 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 Factions To Compete In Elections Separately; Baghdad Seeks Extradition Of Senior Kadhimi Aides; Iraq, U.S. Discuss Future Of Security Cooperation

On July 30, the foreign minister of Kuwait, Salim al-Abdullah al-Jabir al-Sabah, visited Baghdad for talks with Iraqi officials, including his counterpart, Fuad Hussein, President Abdul-Latif Rashid, and Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani. Speaking at a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart, the Kuwaiti minister said his discussions focused on issues related to the use of shared oil fields, and the demarcation of land and maritime borders. According to al-Sabah, the talks were “fruitful,” adding that a delegation from the Kuwaiti oil ministry will visit Baghdad on September 10 to resume the discussions about the oil fields that straddle the border between Iraq and Kuwait. He added that he and Iraqi officials also discussed issues related to entry visa procedures and the rights of fishermen operating near the maritime border.  

On August 1, lawmaker Sarwa Abdul-Wahid of the New Generation party announced the dissolution of her party’s alliance with the Emtidad party. In her statement, Abdul-Wahid said her party had to dissolve the alliance because of the internal challenges that have plagued Emtidad, which were “bigger and more powerful” than what Emtidad’s leadership could handle. Emtidad and New Generation, joined by a number of independent lawmakers, had formed a parliamentary alliance called “For the People” following the October 2021 election. At the time, the alliance was said to include 28 lawmakers.

On August 3, the leaders of the Coordination Framework said after a meeting that their parties plan to compete in the country’s next provincial elections separately and through different lists, with the understanding that they would come together to reconstitute their alliance after the elections, which are scheduled for December 18. One such electoral list that has been announced will comprise the political wings of the militia factions affiliated with the Coordination Framework. This electoral list, called al-Safwa (meaning Elites), will feature Asaib Ahl al-Haq and the political wings of other “Islamic resistance” factions, a senior member in the Asaib said. Meanwhile, sources within the Framework expect three other lists to emerge, with one formed by the Hikma and Nasr factions, a second one by Badr and Falih al-Fayyadh, and a third by Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law group. As for Prime Minister Sudani, his al-Furatain party announced on August 9 that it would not be competing in the elections. 

On August 6, the chief of Iraq’s Integrity Commission called on the United States and United Kingdom to extradite to Iraq a number of senior officials in the government of former Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi over their alleged involvement in theft of more than $2.5 billion from the country’s Tax Commission. The Commission’s chief, Haider Hanoun, said the wanted former officials include former Finance Minister Ali Allawi, a British national, as well as Kadhimi’s political adviser, his office director (and former head of the intelligence service), and Kadhimi’s private secretary. Hanoun added that Iraqi authorities were working to issue so-called Interpol Red Notices for the arrest of these officials. In related developments, on August 2, an anti-corruption criminal court in Baghdad issued summons ordering the oil minister in Kadhimi’s government, Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar Ismael, to appear in court. The former minister is accused of abusing his office to take possession of lands and apartments worth millions of dollars in Baghdad and Basra. 

On August 7, Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court ruled that two phrases in the 2023-2025 budget law that had raised objections by the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) were unconstitutional and to be struck from the law. The Court’s ruling says that a phrase in Article 11.1st that requires the approval of the federal prime minister for the disbursement of funds to the KRG was unconstitutional. The Court decided that a phrase in article 13.7th that allows parliament to intervene to resolve disagreements between Baghdad and Erbil over the implementation of the budget was also unconstitutional. The Court rejected other objections presented by the KRG regarding articles 2.1st.5.b, 11.2nd, 12.2nd, and 13.8th.b.

On August 7, a senior Iraqi delegation involving Defense Minister Thabit al-Abbasi, counter-terrorism chief General Abdul-Wahab al-Saidi, army chief of staff General Abdu-Amir Yarallah, and other senior officials, began a visit to Washington for security talks with U.S. officials. Minister Abbasi met with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on August 8 to discuss joint security cooperation that “looks beyond the Defeat-ISIS engagement,” a statement by the Pentagon said. The dialogue, according to Secretary Austin, is a reflection of Washington and Baghdad’s “maturing strategic partnership building on the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Dialogue in July 2021 when the U.S. forces with a combat role, ended their mission.” U.S. officials, the Pentagon statement added, say the goal of the dialogue is to create a “360-degree relationship” that encompasses a “whole-of-government strategic partnership for years.” This Joint Security Cooperation Dialogue (JSCD) explores ways to “normalize” U.S.-Iraq relations, including through “exercises, military training, exchange programs for officers and NCOs.” 

On August 9, Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) provided guidelines for political parties in which it set limits for what they can spend on campaigns. According to IHEC spokeswoman Jumana al-Ghalai, the spending ceiling is set to IQD 250 per candidate for each voter in that candidate’s electoral district. Parties and candidates are required to appoint accountants to prepare detailed reports of campaign finances to be submitted to IHEC within 15 days after election day.  

Sources cited in this section include: al-Mada, Rudaw, ISHM archives, Shafaq, Ultra Iraq, NRT, al-Sumaria, INA, Iraq’s parliament, the Pentagon, Mawazin. 


Multiple Turkish Drone Strikes Hit Deep In The Kurdistan Region; Wave Of Bombings Target The Power Grid

On July 28, security sources in Kirkuk said that an unidentified gunman opened fire from a moving motorcycle on a police officer in an unspecified location in the northern parts of Kirkuk City. The targeted officer was wounded in his leg, according to the sources. On August 6, a similar attack by gunmen on motorcycles targeted a police patrol in the Rashidiyah district of Baghdad, killing one policeman and injuring another.  

On July 28, local officials in the Sharbazher district of Sulaymaniyah province said that four people were killed when their vehicle was hit by an airstrike near the village of Rangina. The four victims of the attack, which was reportedly conducted by a Turkish armed drone,  are believed to be members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Later, on August 6, security sources in the Kurdistan region reported two more strikes by Turkish drones against PKK militants. One of the strikes hit a car in the town of Chemchemal in Sulaymaniyah province, killing one PKK member and injuring another. The second strike hit a car near the town of Amadiyah, in Duhok province, killing one more PKK member and injuring his colleague. This was followed by another drone strike on August 9, which targeted a vehicle on a road outside Dokan in Sulaymaniyah province. The strike injured two individuals, one of them is said to be a Syrian national.

On July 30, Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity said that three high voltage transmission pylons were destroyed by several IED explosions that targeted the 400 kilovolt line between the Salah ad-Din thermal power plant and Haditha in al-Qanatir region. Security forces defused an additional 15 IEDs that were planted near the line before they could be detonated, the ministry added. The same transmission line was attacked with explosives again on August 3, causing a fourth pylon to collapse. On the following day, the ministry said that another transmission line, the 400 kilovolt east-Baghdad-Diyala line, was attacked in the Khan Bani Saad region with an IED, causing at least one pylons to collapse. 

On July 31, Iraqi security sources said that an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded targeting a convoy transporting supplies for the anti-ISIS International Coalition on a major highway in the southern province of Diwaniyah. There were no reports of casualties or serious damage as a result of the attack. 

On July 31, security sources in Salah ad-Din province said that ISIS militants attacked a police checkpoint in the al-Dur district. The attack wounded two policemen and destroyed a thermal surveillance camera. Later, on August 7, ISIS militants attacked a position manned by Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) fighters in al-Fatha region of Salah ad-Din using rocket propelled grenades, killing one PMF fighter and wounding another.

On August 3, news reports said that ISIS issued a statement in which the group acknowledged the death of its leader, known as Abu al-Hussein al-Quraishi, during clashes in the Syrian province of Idlib. The terrorist group also announced that an individual named Abu Hafs al-Hashimi al-Quraishi has assumed command of the group.

On August 3, security sources in Kirkuk said that an IED exploded near an Iraqi army patrol during security operations in the Wadi al-Shay region, in the southern parts of the province. The explosion injured four Iraqi soldiers, according to the sources.  

On August 3, security sources in Babylon province said that a civilian man was killed when he struck an explosive remnant of war (ERW) while digging outside his residence in the Iskandariyah subdistrict, north of Hilla. To the south, near the borders with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, a 15 year old boy who was herding sheep was killed on August 6 when another ERW detonated near him.

On August 7, Peshmerga sources in Duhok said that an IED exploded on a road outside the Deraluk subdistrict in the province injuring one Peshmerga fighter. The IED was planted by militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in response to the erection of new Peshmerga checkpoints in the area, the Peshmerga sources added.   

On August 8, the Joint Operations Command of the Iraqi military said that army helicopters struck a vehicle and a hideout used by ISIS militants in the Himrin mountains. The statement said the strike killed several ISIS militants, without providing an exact number. 

On August 9, KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani issued orders to form three Peshmerga brigades to be under the control of the KRG’s Ministry of Peshmerga. The formation of brigades 26, 28, and 30 is practically a redesignation of existing units within “Force 70,” the military unit that operates under the control of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. The move is part of the KRG’s effort to reorganize the region’s security forces, a government statement said, according to a report by Kurdistan24

Sources cited in this section include: NINA, Shafaq, Rudaw, al-Hurra, AP, Mawazin, INA, al-Sumaria, Kurdistan24. 


Iraq Media Regulator Bans Use of “Homosexuality” and “Gender” In Media

On August 1, the government of the United Kingdom said it formally recognized the crimes committed by ISIS against the Yazidi community in Iraq as acts of genocide. Commenting on the decision, Tariq Ahmad, minister of state for the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and UN said that Yazidis had “suffered immensely at the hands of Daesh nine years ago, and the repercussions are still felt to this day,” adding that “justice and accountability are key for those whose lives have been devastated.”

On August 8, the Iraqi Ministry for Migration and the Displaced said that a new group of 100 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Iraq’s Yazidi community had returned voluntarily from IDP camps in Duhok to their districts of origin in Sinjar. This brings the number of Yazidi IDPs who had returned to Sinjar to date this year to approximately 4,000 people in 800 households, according to officials in Duhok.

On August 9, the Communications and Media Commission of Iraq, the country’s main media regulator, issued instructions to all media and telecommunications networks licensed by it to stop using the Arabic term for “homosexuality” and use “sexual deviance” instead. The Commission also banned the use of the term “gender.”  In a statement, the Commission said its move aims to “protect society and its values from invasive terms that carry meanings that violate public order and decency.”

Sources cited in this section include: AP, Kurdistan24, Rudaw, Reuters.


World Bank Expects Iraq’s GDP To Shrink Due To Stagnant Non-Oil Sectors; Oil Exports And Revenue Rise In July; Iraq Blocks Telegram

On July 31, the World Bank warned that continued lack of economic reforms was threatening to wipe out recent economic growth in Iraq’s oil-dependent economy and currency reserves. The latest edition of the Bank’s Iraq Economic Monitor revealed that Iraq’s GDP growth fell to 2.6% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2023 as a result of stagnation in non-oil sectors of the economy, down from a healthy 7% growth in 2022 driven by oil revenue. The publication warned that Iraq’s newly approved 2023-2025 budget “signals a significant expansionary fiscal stance that could lead to a rapid depletion of the oil windfall and renewed fiscal pressures.” Further, the World Bank expects Iraq’s overall GDP to shrink by 1.1% this year as a result of a projected 4.4% decline in the oil sector because of OPEC+ production quota restrictions. Looking ahead, the report says Iraq “remains at risk of missing the opportunity to push ahead overdue reforms that are critical to boost private sector growth and create the millions of jobs needed in the next decade.” 

On August 1, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said that crude oil exports during July totaled more than 106.7 million barrels, for an average of 3.444 million barrels per day (bpd), which is some 100,000 bpd higher than exports in June. The July exports generated $8.29 billion in revenue, a jump of more than $1.1 billion from the $7.115 billion achieved in June. Iraq sold its crude oil at an average price of approximately $77.69 per barrel, about $6.58 above the previous month’s average of $71.11 per barrel. The vast majority of the July exports were shipped from fields in southern and central Iraq through the ports of Basra, while small amounts averaging 11,000 bpd were exported to Jordan by trucks. These trucked exports to Jordan are set to rise to 15,000 bpd in August. The Qayyarah oil field in Ninewa, which resumed operations in May, contributed about 30,000 bpd to exports. Meanwhile, exports from the northern fields in Kirkuk, as well as fields under the control of the Kurdsitan regional government (KRG), remained suspended. 

On August 3, the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) issued new guidelines for private banks requiring them to increase their capital to a minimum of IQD 400 billion before the end of 2024. Banks can boost their capital in up to three tranches of at least IQD 50 billion per tranche. Banks must make the first tranche no later than December 31, 2023. Banks that fail to meet the new requirement must either merge with or be acquired by other banks, or face liquidation, the CBI document said.

On August 6, Iraq’s Ministry of Telecommunications said it had decided to block access to the Telegram social media application in Iraq, citing “guidance from high authorities concerning national security consideration.” The ministry added that its decision aims to protect the personal information of users, which it said was being violated by Telegram. News reports indicate that the ban raised objections from politicians, users, and networks affiliated with pro-Iran factions, which have relied heavily on Telegram to escape the scrutiny associated with more mainstream platforms, such as Facebook. 

On August 6, Iraq’s Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) said that it has removed a total of 2,965 fish farms established illegally across the Tigris and Euphrates river basins as part of its campaign against unfair use of water resources. According to the MoWR statement, 2,212 of those fish farms, which drain large quantities of water, were established illegally on the Tigris, while another 753 were established on the Euphrates. The statement explained that after draining these farms, authorities are taking action to block their access to water and power in order to prevent violators from attempting to refill the farms. 

On August 10, Iraq inaugurated two combined cycle generation units at the Amara gas-fed power plant in Maysan province. The new units will add 250 megawatts to the country’s power generation capacity without using additional fuel. According to Iraq’s Electricity Ministry, Baghdad seeks to add up to 4,000 megawatts in generation capacity from combined cycle units, with contracts for a first phase involving 1,140 megawatts of that already in place. 

Sources cited in this section include: Iraq’s Oil Ministry, the World Bank, ISHM archives, Shafaq, Mawazin, al-Sumaria, INA, Ultra Iraq, Iraq’s Electricity Ministry. 


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs from July 27, 2023 - August 10, 2023

DateLocationDeathsInjuries
7/30/23 Al-Qanatir, between Salah ad-Din and Haditha00
7/31/23 Unspecified location, Diwaniyah province00
8/3/23 Al-Qanatir, between Salah ad-Din and Haditha00
8/3/23 Wadi al-Shay, Kirkuk province04
8/3/23 Iskandariyah, Babylon province10
8/4/23 Khan Bani Saad, Diyala province00
8/6/23 Iraqi, Saudi, Kuwaiti border10
8/7/23 Deraluk, Duhok province01

 

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.


Subscribe to our weekly ISHM and have the latest developments in Iraq sent straight to your inbox every Thursday and follow EPIC on Twitter to receive updates throughout the week.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email