ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: August 10 – 17, 2023

ISHM LOGO

Key Takeaways:

  • Former Ministers, Kadhimi Aides Face New Legal Action; Sudani Sacks More Directors General – On August 13, a court in Baghdad issued an order to freeze the assets belonging to the oil minister in former PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s government, Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar Ismael, who is facing charges in cases involving alleged bribes and abuse of office. On August 15, court documents appeared to show Iraqi authorities asking the Interpol to help extradite four senior officials in Kadhimi’s government, most notably former Finance Minister Ali Allawi. The former officials are being targeted by Iraqi authorities over their alleged involvement in theft of more than $2.5 billion from the country’s Tax Commission. On August 15, Iraq’s Council of Ministers said it had voted to dismiss, transfer, or send into retirement 19 senior government officials with the rank of director general after evaluating their performance. The move is part of an ongoing effort by PM Sudani to reshuffle the leadership of various government agencies and state-owned companies. In other developments, on August 16, a court in Baghdad issued a warrant for the arrest of former Transportation Minister, Kadhim al-Hamami on charges of abusing his office and public resources. On August 17, KDP sources said that a political and technical delegation from the KRG had arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday to discuss preparing a new draft hydrocarbon law. more…
  • UN Experts Say ISIS Still Has Up To 7,000 Militants In Iraq And Syria – On August 14, a report by UN security experts said that ISIS continues to maintain up to 7,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria, but noted that the group poses a particularly serious threat in Afghanistan and other conflict zones, while its threat is lower in “non-conflict areas.” The experts report cautioned that despite significant losses inflicted on ISIS leadership, there is still risk the group could mount a comeback as it was actively “rebuilding and recruiting” in northeast Syrian and “from vulnerable communities, including in neighboring countries.” In other developments, between August 13 – 17, the explosions of three IEDs in Diyala, Baghdad, and Kirkuk wounded at least seven members of the Iraqi security forces. On August 16, Iraqi F-16 jets destroyed an underground bunker used by ISIS militants in southern Kirkuk, killing four militants. Ground troops that inspected the site recovered intelligence material in the form of hand-written correspondences between militants. more…
  • Iraq To Rebuild Yazidi Village Devastated by ISIS; Parliament Introduces Bill Criminalizing Homosexuality – On August 15, PM Sudani said he issued instructions to government agencies to begin reconstruction works at Kojo, the Yazidi village near Sinjar where ISIS militants carried out a massacre in 2014 that killed hundreds of Yazidi men and abducted larger numbers of women and children. On August 15, the deputy speaker of Iraq’s parliament asked lawmakers to add an item to the legislature’s agenda to add a clause criminalizing homosexuality as part of proposed amendments to the country’s anti-prostitution law. Lawmakers approved the motion to discuss the clause, which seeks to “address legislative gaps with regard to criminalizing acts of sexual deviance and those who promote them and impose penalties for violators.” more…
  • Telegram Ban Reversed; Stolen Refinery Equipment Recovered; Kurdistan Oil Production Slowly Rebounds – On August 12, Iraq’s Telecommunications Ministry said that a ban that was recently imposed on the messaging platform Telegram would be lifted as of August 13, citing instructions from Iraqi PM Mohammed al-Sudani and the company’s cooperation in addressing Baghdad’s “national security” concerns. On August 16, PM Sudani said an unnamed citizen helped the government recover 60 truckloads of equipment that were once stolen from the Baiji refinery complex during the war with ISIS. Sudani said the find, made in the Kurdistan region, will save the treasury millions of dollars as the Oil Ministry works to rebuild the refinery complex. Sudani did not say whether the recovery of the equipment had revealed the parties behind the theft, which was widely thought to be the work of Asaib Ahl al-Haq. On August 17, DNO, one of the major oil field operators in the Kurdistan region, said it had partially resumed production after a long pause due to Turkey’s decision to halt all Iraqi oil exports through the Iraq-Turkey Pipeline in late March. DNO is now producing 40,000 bpd from its flagship Tawke field, delivering half to the KRG and selling the other half to local traders. In other developments, on August 17, Iraq’s Federal Board of Supreme Audit said that a review of the Electricity Ministry’s expenditure showed that the country paid $937 million between 2017 – 2022 for energy it did not receive because of its reliance on a “take or pay” system in dealing with independent power producers. 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.


Former Ministers, Kadhimi Aides Face New Legal Action; Sudani Sacks More Directors General

On August 13, Iraqi judiciary sources said that an Iraqi court in Baghdad issued an order to freeze the assets belonging to the oil minister in former Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s government, Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar Ismael, who is under investigation in cases involving alleged bribes and abuse of office. Earlier, on August 2, an anti-corruption criminal court in Baghdad issued a summons ordering the former minister to appear in court. The court order said 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 15, news sites circulated court documents that appear to show Iraqi authorities asking the Interpol to help extradite to Iraq four senior officials in the government of former Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. The former officials in question are former Finance Minister Ali Allawi, Kadhimi’s political adviser Mushriq Abbas, his office director and former head of the intelligence service Raed Johi, and Kadhimi’s private secretary, Ahmed Najati. The former officials are being targeted by Iraqi authorities over their alleged involvement in theft of more than $2.5 billion from the country’s Tax Commission. 

On August 15, the Iraqi Council of Ministers said it had voted to dismiss, transfer, or send into retirement 19 senior government officials with the rank of director general after evaluating their performance. The move is part of an ongoing effort by the government of Mohammed al-Sudani to reshuffle the leadership of various government agencies and state-owned companies. Back in May, government documents showed that Sudani had issued orders to sack 25 senior government officials serving as director generals in various ministries. Two weeks before that Sudani had demoted 57 director generals who were said to have failed to receive a positive performance evaluation At the time, Coordination Framework sources said that up to 150 directors could be replaced in the process. So far, the government has subjected 442 directors to performance evaluations, the August 15 government statement said.

On August 16, Iraq’s Integrity Commission said that a court in Baghdad had issued a warrant for the arrest of former Transportation Minister, Kadhim Finjan al-Hamami. The former minister, who belongs to the State of Law bloc, is accused of abusing public resources by appointing individuals to work at Iraqi Airways offices in Spain, Sweden, and Tunisia, despite the fact that the airline did not have offices in those countries. 

On August 17, a lawmaker from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) said that a political delegation from the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) and a technical team from the KRG’s Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) had arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday to discuss preparing a new draft hydrocarbon law. The KDP lawmaker, Jyay Teimour, said the key differences between the two sides revolve around different interpretations of articles 111 and 112 of the constitution, which deal with the ownership and management of oil and gas resources, respectively. Commenting on the discussions, a member of the parliamentary oil and gas committee provided an optimistic outlook for the process, saying that a new draft could be prepared for review by the Council of Ministers within two weeks, after which it could be forwarded to parliament for a vote. Previous drafts of the controversial bill were prepared in 2007 and again in 2011 but lack of political consensus prevented parliament from conducting a vote on either.

Sources cited in this section include: Rudaw, ISHM archives, Mawazin, Shafaq, al-Mada. 


UN Experts Say ISIS Still Has Up To 7,000 Militants In Iraq And Syria

On August 12, security sources in Baghdad said that unidentified gunmen attacked the residence of lawmaker Sardi al-Mihyawi (from the State of Law bloc) in a drive-by shooting in al-Kafa’at neighborhood of Baghdad. There were no reports of casualties as a result of the attack. 

On August 13, security sources in Diyala province said that an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated near an Iraqi army patrol in the village of al-Bijat, near the Buhruz subdistrict, south of Baquba. The explosion wounded two Iraqi soldiers. 

On August 14, a report by UN security experts said that ISIS continues to maintain up to 7,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria, but noted that the group poses a particularly serious threat in Afghanistan and other conflict zones, while its threat is lower in “non-conflict areas.” The experts report cautioned that despite significant losses inflicted on ISIS leadership, there is still risk the group could mount a comeback. “The group has adapted its strategy, embedding itself with local populations, and has exercised caution in choosing battles that are likely to result in limited losses, while rebuilding and recruiting from camps in the northeast of the Syrian Arab Republic and from vulnerable communities, including in neighboring countries,” the report noted. 

On August 15, security sources in Baghdad said that an explosion, believed to be caused by an under-vehicle IED struck a vehicle belonging to Iraqi politician Ghaith al-Tamimi. The explosion, which occurred on al-Ameerat street in western Baghdad’s al-Mansour district, did not result in casualties. 

On August 16, the Security Media Cell reported that Iraqi F-16 jets conducted an airstrike that destroyed an underground bunker used by ISIS militants in Wadi al-Shay region in southern Kirkuk. The Cell said the strike killed all of the militants that were present inside the targeted position. In a subsequent statement, the Iraqi military said that ground troops that inspected the site found the remains of four ISIS militants killed in the strike, along with various supplies and equipment, and a number of hand-written correspondences.  

On August 17, security sources in Kirkuk province said that an IED explosion struck an Iraqi army patrol in the Wadi al-Shay region in the Daquq district. The explosion injured five soldiers, two of whom were said to be in critical condition. 

Sources cited in this section include: Mawazin, Shafaq, AP, NRT, al-Sumaria, NINA.


Iraq To Rebuild Yazidi Village Devastated by ISIS; Parliament Introduces Bill Criminalizing Homosexuality

On August 15, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani said he issued instructions to government agencies to begin reconstruction works at Kojo, the Yazidi village near Sinjar where ISIS militants carried out a massacre in 2014 that killed hundreds of Yazidi civilian men and abducted larger numbers of women and children. The announcement, which came on the ninth anniversary of the ISIS genocide against the Yazidi community, did not provide details about the scope, timeline, or funding allocated to the effort. 

On August 15, the deputy speaker of Iraq’s parliament, Muhsin al-Mandalawi, asked lawmakers to add an item to the legislature’s agenda for that day’s meeting to add a clause criminalizing homosexuality as part of proposed amendments to the country’s anti-prostitution law. Lawmakers voted to approve Mandalawi’s motion to discuss adding the clause which seeks to “address legislative gaps with regard to criminalizing acts of sexual deviance and those who promote them and impose penalties for violators.” This comes after lawmakers from al-Sanad al-Watani bloc in parliament (led by Ahmed al-Asadi and part of the Coordination Framework) said back in July that they submitted a draft “homosexuality ban” bill to the speaker of parliament. In a letter to the speaker, representative Morthadha al-Saidi requested that the draft be presented for an initial reading after parliament returned from its legislative recess, which ended on July 13.

Sources cited in this section include: INA, NYT, NAS News, ISHM archives. 


Telegram Ban Reversed; Stolen Refinery Equipment Recovered; Kurdistan Oil Production Slowly Rebounds

On August 12, Iraq’s Telecommunications Ministry said that a ban that was recently imposed on the messaging platform Telegram would be lifted as of August 13, citing instructions from Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani. The ministry also said the ban was lifted after Telegram addressed the concerns of Iraqi security authorities and was cooperating to uncover the parties involved in violating users’ privacy and data. The ban in question was imposed by the ministry on August 6. At the time, the ministry cited “guidance from high authorities concerning national security consideration.” 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 16, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani said the government was able to recover 60 truck loads of equipment that were once stolen from the Baiji refinery complex several years ago during the war with ISIS. Speaking during a tour of energy installations in the Baiji district, Sudani said the recovery of this equipment was made possible with the help of an unnamed citizen who directed authorities to their location in the Kurdistan region. Sudani did not say whether the recovery of the equipment had revealed the parties behind the theft, which was widely thought to be the work of Asaib Ahl al-Haq. Sudani added that the find will save the treasury millions of dollars as the Oil Ministry started working to rebuild the refinery complex, which includes three separate refineries. According to Sudani and his oil minister, the rebuilding of the Shimal (North) refinery at Baiji will add 150,000 barrels per day to refining capacity by the end of 2024, when the work is scheduled to be completed.

On August 17, Norwegian oil company DNO, one of the major oil field operators in the Kurdistan region, said that it had partially resumed its operations in the region after a long pause due to Turkey’s decision to halt all Iraqi oil exports through the Iraq-Turkey Pipeline in late March. On Thursday, the company said it was producing 40,000 bpd from its flagship Tawke field, while production at its other field, Peshkabir, remained halted. DNO is delivering half of this oil volume to the Kurdish government and is selling the other half to local fuel traders. 

On August 17, Iraq’s Federal Board of Supreme Audit said that a review of the Electricity Ministry’s expenditure over the last five years (2017 – 2022) showed that the country paid $937 million for energy it did not receive. The Board said its report on the subject, completed in June, found that the Electricity Ministry was incurring a significant financial burden because of its reliance on a “take or pay” system in dealing with independent power producers. This system, the Board continued, obligates the ministry to pay for capacity even if actual energy was not delivered to customers due to any unexpected problems, such as fuel shortages or transmission line outages. 

Sources cited in this section include: Rudaw, al-Hurra, ISHM archives, Ultra Iraq, INA, Iraq’s Oil Ministry, DNO, al-Sabaah.


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs from August 10, 2023 - August 17, 2023

DateLocationDeathsInjuries
8/13/23 Near Buhruz, Diyala province02
8/15/23 Al-Mansour, Baghdad00
8/17/23 Wadi al-Shay, Kirkuk05

 

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