ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: August 17 – 24, 2023

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Key Takeaways:

  • Turkey’s Foreign Minister In Iraq To Discuss Oil, Water, And PKK Presence – On August 23, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan visited Baghdad for talks with Iraqi leaders that focused on Ankara’s conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), resuming oil exports from the Kurdistan region, and Iraq’s water crisis. During his meeting with Fidan, PM Mohammed al-Sudani said his government was ready to cooperate with Turkey to prevent attacks originating from its territory but called on Turkey to avoid unilateral military action. For his part, Fidan urged Iraqi leaders to “not allow our mutual enemy, the PKK terrorist organization, to poison our bilateral relations.” He further argued that The PKK was challenging Iraq’s sovereignty by “occupying” Iraqi territory in Sinjar, Makhmour, Qandil, and Sulaymaniyah and working to create a “terror corridor” that links these districts with eastern Syria. A statement by Sudani’s office said the PM urged Ankara to release more water downstream to the Euphrates River, adding that the two sides have agreed to establish a permanent bilateral committee on water. During a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart, Fidan said the two sides discussed boosting bilateral trade and investment, adding that his government supports Baghdad’s vision for the Development Road project. In related remarks, Iraq’s Foreign Minister said the two sides discussed resuming oil exports through the Iraq-Turkey Pipeline, which have been halted since March, saying they “hope to find a solution to this problem,” without adding further details. Fidan also traveled to Erbil, where he had talks with the president and PM of the KRG. During a press conference, Fidan said Ankara was determined to “remove the PKK terror from Iraqi territory,” calling the separatist group “a virus” that must be eradicated with the help of “either Baghdad or Erbil.” Fidan’s visit is part of preparations for an anticipated visit, tentatively next month, by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Baghdad. In other developments, at least three parties, the Wataniyah coalition of Iyad Allawi, the Emtidad party, and the Gorran (Change) said they won’t participate in Iraq’s next provincial council elections, which are scheduled for December 2023. more…
  • Explosive Remnants Of War Kill Three Iraqis; New Turkish Strikes Hit Kurdistan – Between August 17 – 22, the explosions of three remnants of war in Diwaniyah, Ninewa, and Maysan killed at least three Iraqis, including a child, and wounded five civilians. On August 20, two Turkish shells struck a residential area in the Deraluk subdistrict of Duhok province, damaging homes and civilian vehicles. Then on August 24, a Turkish military drone struck a vehicle transporting members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Sedikan subdistrict of Erbil province, killing a senior PKK official and two PKK militants who were also in the targeted vehicle. In other developments, on August 20, Iraq’s Interior Ministry said it decided to create a committee tasked with investigating and preventing cases of illegal land grab after a number of high profile incidents in which landowners accused powerful armed groups of using intimidation and force to illegally evict them from their properties in high-value parts of Baghdad. more…
  • Baghdad’s Oil Minister In Ankara To Discuss Resuming Exports Through Turkey; Iraq To Import Gas From Turkmenistan – On August 21, Iraq’s Oil Minister visited Ankara to to discuss resuming oil exports from Kirkuk and the Kurdistan region through the Iraq-Turkey Pipeline, which have been halted since March. A joint statement released after the talks said the two sides stressed the importance” of “resuming crude oil flow after completing maintenance and testing operations that became necessary after the February 6, 2023 earthquake.” Other obstacles appear to be delaying a breakthrough in talks, according to an Iraqi oil official who said that it was not “an easy job to reach an agreement soon and we have a lot of thorny issues. Turkey has demands and conditions that require further talks.” In related development, the Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources began a visit to Erbil on August 24, where he is expected to discuss the issue with KRG officials. On August 24, Iraq’s deputy oil minister for gas said that a delegation of senior Iraqi oil and electricity officials visited Turkmenistan to discuss importing natural gas from the central Asian gas producer to help meet Iraq’s power generation needs. The talks produced a “preliminary agreement,” and a memorandum detailing the specific volumes and mechanisms is to be signed before the end of this year. In other developments, on August 22, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said it received a newly-built oil tanker with a capacity to transport 31,000 tons. 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.


Turkey’s Foreign Minister In Iraq To Discuss Oil, Water, And PKK Presence

On August 20, the Wataniyah coalition of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said it won’t participate in Iraq’s next provincial council elections, which are scheduled for December 2023. In a statement, Wataniyah described provincial councils as an “appendage” that is exploited by corrupt entities to seize the public resources, arguing that “the time is not right to revive [the councils],” which were disbanded under pressure from pro-reform protests in October 2019. On the following day, the Emtidad party said it too had decided against participation in the elections. The party, which emerged as a result of the pro-reform protests of October 2019, said it made the decision because of delays in organizing a general conference to elect new leadership. Emtidad, which won 9 parliamentary seats in the October 2021 election, has suffered internal divisions and defections due to disagreements about decision making. The Gorran (Change) movement has also declared that it won’t participate in the elections. 

On August 23, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan visited Baghdad for discussions with Iraqi leaders that focused on security and the conflict between Turkey and  the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), resuming oil exports from the Kurdistan region, and Iraq’s water crisis. During his meeting with Fidan, Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani said his government was ready to cooperate with Turkey to prevent attacks originating from its territory, in reference to actions by the PKK, but called on Turkey to avoid unilateral [military] action. Addressing Iraq’s water challenges, Sudani urged the Turkish government to release more water downstream to the Euphrates River, as it had recently done with the Tigris. A statement by Sudani’s office said the two sides have agreed to establish a permanent bilateral committee on water. Fidan’s meeting with President Abdul-Latif also discussed water sharing, with the Iraqi president stressing the necessity to “reach an understanding about a fair and sufficient share of water that covers the essential needs of our people.” During a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart, Fidan said the two sides discussed boosting bilateral trade and investment, adding that his government supports Baghdad’s vision for the Development Road project. In related remarks, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said the two sides discussed resuming oil exports through the Iraq-Turkey Pipeline, which have been halted since March, saying they “hope to find a solution to this problem,” without adding further details. Turning to security and the PKK presence in Iraq, the Turkish minister urged Iraqi officials to “not allow our mutual enemy, the PKK terrorist organization, to poison our bilateral relations.” He further argued that The PKK was challenging Iraq’s sovereignty by “occupying” Iraqi territory in Sinjar, Makhmour, Qandil, and Sulaymaniyah and working to create a “terror corridor” that links these districts with eastern Syria. After his meetings in Baghdad, Fidan went to Erbil, where he had talks with the president and prime minister of the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) that focused on oil, security, water, and trade. During a joint press conference with KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, Fidan said his government was determined to “remove the PKK terror from Iraqi territory,” calling the separatist group “a virus” that must be eradicated with the help of “either Baghdad or Erbil.” The visit by Hakan Fidan is seen as part of preparations for an anticipated visit, tentatively happening next month, by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Baghdad.  

On August 24, the foreign minister of Malaysia, Zambry Abdul-Qadir, visited Baghdad for talks with Iraqi leaders that focused on plans to reopen Kuala Lumpur’s embassy in Baghdad. Speaking at a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart, Abdul-Qadir said his prime minister supports efforts to develop bilateral relations with Iraq. For his part, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said the two sides also discussed Malaysia’s energy needs and Iraq’s access to Malaysia’s oil market. Hussein said he also discussed opportunities for cooperation with Malaysian companies that have experience in airport management. 

Sources cited in this section include: Rudaw, Ultra Iraq, ISHM archives, al-Mada, Iraqi PM’s office, Iraq’s Foreign Ministry, al-Sumaria, AP, Shafaq, al-Hurra, NINA, INA.


Explosive Remnants Of War Kill Three Iraqis; New Turkish Strikes Hit Kurdistan

On August 17, security sources in Diwaniyah province said that an explosive remnant of war (ERW) detonated in a village near the Shafiyah subdistrict, south of the provincial capital. The ERW explosion killed one person and wounded five, all from the same family. Two days later, on August 19, another ERW detonated when a garbage dump caught fire in the al-Samah neighborhood of the northern city of Mosul. That explosion killed one child and wounded another child who was nearby. Then on August 22, a young man was killed in Maysan province when a third ERW detonated in al-Teeb, near the border with Iran.

On August 20, Rudaw reported that two Turkish shells struck a residential area in the Deraluk subdistrict of Duhok province. The shells’ impact damaged two houses and a number of vehicles, but there were no reports of casualties. 

On August 20, Iraq’s Interior Ministry said that it has decided to create a committee tasked with investigating and preventing cases of illegal land grab. The move comes after a number of high profile incidents in which landowners said that powerful armed groups were using intimidation and force to illegally evict them from their properties in high-value parts of Baghdad.   

On August 23, ISIS militants attacked an outpost of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in al-Mutasim region of Salah ad-Din province. The attack wounded one PMF fighter from the PMF 88th brigade. 

On August 23, Iraqi Interior Minister Abdul-Amir al-Shamari, said during a visit to the Jordanian capital, Amman, that he signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with his Jordanian counterpart for security cooperation. According to Shamari, the MoU deals with border security, countering drug trafficking, and experience sharing. The MoU also deals with facilitating visa issuance and residency procedures for Iraqi and Jordanian citizens. Iraq is dealing with a worsening drug crisis as the usage and trafficking of illicit drugs spread across the country. official figures indicate that authorities have arrested more than 12,000 people for dealing or possessing drugs, up from 7,500 for the whole of 2020

On August 23, Iraq’s National Intelligence Service (INIS) said that an airstrike based on INIS information targeted “one of ISIS most important hideouts” in Salah ad-Din province. The airstrike was followed by an air assault by Iraq’s counter-terrorism service troops near the hideout, which is located in a mountainous area near Tuzkhormatu. The combined operation led to the killing of all militants who were inside the target, and the confiscation of “important documents and equipment,” the INIS statement said, without providing further details.

On August 24, the counter-terrorism service of the Kurdistan region said that an armed Turkish drone struck a vehicle that was transporting members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Sedikan subdistrict of Erbil province. The airstrike killed a senior PKK official and two PKK militants who were also in the targeted vehicle. 

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


Baghdad’s Oil Minister In Ankara To Discuss Resuming Exports Through Turkey; Iraq To Import Gas From Turkmenistan

On August 19, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said test operations had commenced at a new power plant at the Gharraf oil field that will be fed with associated gas captured from oil operations on site. The new gas-fired power plant, located in Dhi-Qar province, will provide 70 megawatts of electricity to meet the needs of oil operations at the field, according to a ministry statement, freeing up power that used to come from the national grid to supply civilian customers.  

On August 21, Iraq’s Oil Minister, Hayan Abdul-Ghani, visited Ankara for meetings with Turkish officials to discuss resuming oil exports from Kirkuk and the Kurdistan region through the Iraq-Turkey Pipeline, which have been halted since March. A joint press statement released after talks between the Iraqi minister and his Turkish counterpart said the two sides stressed the importance of “resuming crude oil flow after completing maintenance and testing operations that became necessary after the February 6, 2023 earthquake.” An Iraqi oil official told Reuters that Turkey informed Iraqi authorities last month that it needed more time to make sure the pipeline and related storage tanks at the port of Ceyhan could be safely operated. Other obstacles appear to be delaying an agreement on the resumption of exports, according to another Iraqi oil official familiar with the talks. The official told Ruters that  it was not “an easy job to reach an agreement soon and we have a lot of thorny issues. Turkey has demands and conditions that require further talks.” In related development, the Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Alparslan Bayraktar, began a visit to Erbil on August 24, where he is expected to discuss the resumption of exports with officials in the Kurdistan region.

On August 22, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said its crews had officially taken possession of a newly-built oil tanker with a capacity to transport 31,000 tons. The ship, named Sumer, is now enroute to Iraq from Chinese ports, where it underwent final tests. The new tanker appears to be the first to be delivered of two vessels ordered three years ago. Back in August 2020, Iraq’s Oil Minister said his ministry signed a contract with Norwegian ship builder Batservice Mandal to build two oil tankers. The two 30,000 ton (as reported then) capacity tankers were to be delivered within 18 months.The deal is part of the ministry’s plans to rebuild Iraq’s tanker fleet, which has suffered severe losses during repeated wars.

On August 24, Iraq’s deputy oil minister for gas, Izzat Sabir, said that a delegation of senior Iraqi oil and electricity officials visited Turkmenistan to discuss the possibility of importing natural gas from the central Asian gas producer to help meet Iraq’s power generation needs. Sabr said the talks produced a “preliminary agreement” to import gas from Turkmenistan, adding that a memorandum detailing the specific volumes and mechanisms was being developed to be signed before the end of this year. In July, Iraqi officials said they were exploring new sources of natural gas, including Qatar, Venezuela, the Kurdistan region, and Turkmenistan, as the country seeks to find alternatives to unreliable imports from Iran.

Sources cited in this section include: Mawazin, Reuters, Iraq’s Oil Ministry, Rudaw, INA, ISHM archives, Nas News. 


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs and ERWs from August 17, 2023 - August 24, 2023

DateLocationDeathsInjuries
8/17/23 Shafiyah, Diwaniyah province15
8/19/23 Al-Samah, Mosul11
8/22/23 Al-Teeb, Maysan province10

 

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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