ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: February 29 – March 7, 2024

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Key Takeaways:

  • Kurdistan To Hold Elections In June; PMF Chief Under Fire After Controversial Anbar Meeting; Sudani To Visit Washington In April – On March 3, KRG President Nechirvan Barzani signed a decree designating June 10, 2024 as the date for the next parliamentary election in the Kurdistan region. The decision comes days after Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court issued a ruling that made significant changes to the region’s electoral system. Notably, it reduced the regional legislature’s size from 111 members to 100 by eliminating the minority quota seats, and divided the region into four electoral districts. On March 3, multiple lawmakers affiliated with Asaib Ahl al-Haq called for the resignation of the Popular Mobilization Commission’s chairman, Falih al-Fayyadh. The calls for Fayyadh’s resignation came after he was seen publicly embracing controversial Anbar politician and tribal figure, Ali Hatem al-Soleiman, who once faced terrorism charges over his alleged involvement in supporting anti-government militants. On March 4, Iraq’s Deputy Foreign Minister said that PM Mohammed al-Sudani plans to visit Washington in April for talks that will focus on ending U.S. military presence. In other developments, on March 5, an Iraqi court sentenced Hadi al-Salamy, an independent lawmaker from Najaf, to six months in jail after it found him guilty of using fake government correspondences to defame Iraq’s Trade Ministry. Salamy had accused the Trade Ministry of corruption in its management of a government food aid program. He was released on Thursday after the charges were dropped. more…
  • Militias Claim New Drone Attacks On Israel; Violent Tribal Clashes Erupt In Dhi-Qar – Between March 3 – 6, the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq,” a front group for Iran-backed Iraqi militias, claimed to have launched multiple attacks with explosive drones against targets in Israel, including the Mediterranean port of Haifa, a power station in Haifa’s airport, and another airport at Kiryat Shmona. The group did not say whether the drones were successful in reaching their targets. On March 3, armed clashes erupted again between two tribes with a history of exchanged violence in al-Islah district of the province. The Interior Ministry’s top intelligence officer in the province was killed as he and security forces attempted to intervene. At least ten other people, including six members of the security forces, were also injured in the violent clashes. Security forces arrested more than 100 suspects in their effort to pacify the area. In other developments, on March 1, an IED explosion struck Iraqi army troops in the Tarmiyah district, north of Baghdad, killing one soldier and wounding four. more…
  • Oil Ministry Withholds Revenue Data For February; Iraq Launches New Residential City; Census Plans Revived – On March 3, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said that February oil exports averaged 3.434 million bpd, about 96,000 bpd higher than January. In a departure from tradition, the ministry did not publish the total revenue generated by the February exports, nor the average price at which the oil was sold. Exports from Kirkuk and the Kurdistan region remained suspended for the eleventh month. On March 4, Iraq launched a project to build a new residential city near Mosul. Al-Ghizlani City covers 4,800 dunams in area and includes 28,000 homes. In related news, a lawmaker filed a lawsuit to block a contract signed in January to build another new residential city near Baghdad, accusing the investor of supporting normalization with Israel and insulting the Popular Mobilization Forces. On March 6, Iraq’s Planning Ministry said it decided to hold a much-delayed national population census on November 20, 2024. The actual census will be preceded by a test run scheduled for May 2024. 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.


Kurdistan To Hold Elections In June; PMF Chief Under Fire After Controversial Anbar Meeting; Sudani To Visit Washington In April

On March 3, Nechirvan Barzani, President of the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) signed a decree designating June 10, 2024 as the date for the next parliamentary election in the Kurdistan region. The decision comes less than a week after Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court issued a ruling that struck down several articles of the Kurdistan region’s election law and made significant changes to the region’s electoral system. Notably, the ruling reduced the number of representatives in the regional parliament from 111 to 100 by eliminating the minority quota seats, and divided the region into “no fewer than four” electoral districts. The Court’s ruling, made in response to a suit filed in May 2023 by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), also tasks Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) with administering much-delayed legislative elections in the region, which were originally scheduled to take place in the fall of 2022.  

On March 3, news reports said that multiple lawmakers from the Coordination Framework, especially those affiliated with Asaib Ahl al-Haq, have called for sacking the chairman of the Popular Mobilization Commission, Falih al-Fayyadh. The attacks on Fayyadh came after he was seen publicly embracing a controversial Anbar politician and tribal figure, Ali Hatem al-Soleiman, who once faced terrorism charges over his alleged involvement in supporting anti-government militants in the period leading to the rise of ISIS in 2014. Soleiman returned to Iraq in 2022 after the charges were dropped, amid unconfirmed reports that his return was facilitated by Nouri al-Maliki who wanted Soleiman to compete against then Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi for political prominence in Anbar. News of the meeting between Fayyadh and Soleiman sparked angry reactions, with one Asaib lawmaker accusing Fayyadh of betraying the sacrifices of “thousands of Hashed and security forces martyrs.”

On March 4, Iraq’s Deputy Foreign Minister said that Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani plans to visit Washington in April for talks that he said will focus on ending U.S. military presence and improving bilateral relations. Sudani was invited to visit the White House for talks with President Biden in the fall of 2023, but the visit was canceled for undisclosed reasons. 

On March 4, Iraq’s National Security Adviser, Qasim al-Araji, visited Ankara, where he met with the Secretary General of Turkey’s National Security Council, Seyfullah Hacımüftüoğlu. Their talks focused on border security, counter-terrorism cooperation, intelligence sharing, and water, a statement by Araji’s office said. On the following day, Araji met with Turkey’s Defense Minister, Yaşar Güler, for talks that also involved cooperation on Iraq’s Development Road project.

On March 5, an Iraqi court sentenced Hadi al-Salamy, an independent lawmaker from Najaf, to six months in jail and ordered him to pay a fine of IQD 1 million. The court found Salamy guilty of fabricating and presenting fake government correspondences in an attempt to defame Iraq’s Trade Ministry and its leadership, the Trade Ministry said in a statement. In September of 2022, Salamy had accused the Trade Ministry of corruption and misuse of public funds in its management of the government’s Food Basket aid program, and filed a case against the Ministry with the general prosecution. Parliament will appeal the sentence, a document signed by acting speaker Mohsin al-Mandalawi suggested. By March 7, however, the Trade Ministry decided to drop the charges against Salamy to “preserve its relationship with the honorable Council of Representatives.”

Sources cited in this section include: Rudaw, ISHM archives, PUKMedia, Kurdistan24, al-Mada, Mawazin, INA, NRT, al-Arabiya, Ultra Iraq.


Militias Claim New Drone Attacks On Israel; Violent Tribal Clashes Erupt In Dhi-Qar

On February 29, security sources in Baghdad said that unidentified gunmen fired two rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) at the residence of a tribal chief in the Tarmiyah district, north of Baghdad. There were no reports of casualties.

On March 1, Iraqi F-16 jets struck a hideout used by ISIS militants in Wadi al-Shay region, south of Kirkuk, Iraqi military sources said. The airstrike killed three ISIS militants and destroyed weapons and equipment stored in the targeted hideout. 

On March 1, the Baghdad Operations Command said that an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated while Iraqi army troops were conducting search operations in the Tarmiyah district, north of Baghdad. The explosion killed one soldier and wounded four. 

On March 1, Sulaymaniyah police said that an armed drone fired a rocket that struck a house in the Kalar district of the province, used as an office by the Freedom Movement party. The attack killed one of the building’s occupants.

On March 2, security sources in Baghdad said that five civilians working at a scrap yard were injured when an unexploded remnant of war detonated near them in the Abu Ghraib district, west of the Iraqi capital.

On March 3, the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq,” a front group for Iran-backed Iraqi militias, claimed in a statement that it had conducted an attack with explosive drones on March 1 that targeted a warehouse for chemicals at the Israeli port of Haifa. Two days later, the group claimed to have also launched explosive drones against a power station at the airport in the city of Haifa. Then on March 6, the militia group said it attacked the Kiryat Shmona airport in northern Israel with explosive drones. The group did not say whether the drones used in the attacks were successful in reaching their targets. 

On March 3, security sources in Dhi-Qar province said that new armed clashes erupted again between the al-Omar and al-Rumeidh tribes in al-Islah district of the province. The Interior Ministry’s top intelligence officer in the province, brigadier general Aziz Shalal Jahal, was killed as he and security forces attempted to intervene. At least ten other people, including six members of the security forces, were also injured in the violent clashes. Additional security forces were deployed to the area on March 4 and conducted search and seizure operations targeting those involved in the fighting, arresting more than 100 individuals and confiscating various weapons, the provincial police chief said. The police chief claimed that security forces have regained control of the area. Violence between the two tribes has flared up in the past, most recently in September 2023, resulting in serious disruptions to public life in the district. At the time, local sources said the conflict was exacerbated by a political standoff over the appointment of a member of one of the tribes as district mayor.

On March 5, security sources in Kirkuk said that two gunmen on motorcycles attempted to assassinate a colonel in Kirkuk police force in al-Qadisiyah neighborhood of the city. After the gunmen failed to hit the targeted officer, they moved on to attack his brother, wounding him and another person who was accompanying him in a different part of the city, the sources added. 

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


Oil Ministry Withholds Revenue Data For February; Iraq Launches New Residential City; Census Plans Revived

On March 3, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said that crude oil exports during February totaled more than 99.59 million barrels, for an average of 3.434 million barrels per day (bpd), which is about 96,000 bpd above exports in January. In its statement, the Ministry of Oil neglected to mention the total revenue generated by the February exports, or the average price at which the oil was sold. The vast majority of the February exports were shipped from fields in southern and central Iraq through the ports of Basra, while small amounts averaging about 15,000 bpd bpd were exported to Jordan by trucks. Meanwhile, exports from the northern fields in Kirkuk, as well as fields under the control of the Kurdistan regional government (KRG), remained suspended for the eleventh month. In related news, the Oil Ministry said that the voluntary output cuts of 220,000 bpd it announced in November will continue through the end of June 2024.

On March 4, Iraq launched a project to build a new residential city south of Mosul in Ninewa province. The new city, named al-Ghizlani, will be built on the site of a former army camp with the same name. The city design covers 4,800 dunams in area and includes 28,000 homes. It’s the third of five projects across Iraq meant to address Iraq’s housing crisis. In related news, lawmaker Mustafa Sanad said that he filed a lawsuit to block a contract signed in January between the Iraqi government and a development company owned by Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris to build another major new residential city southeast of Baghdad. Sanad, an independent with ties to the Coordination Framework, accused Sawiris of supporting normalization with Israel and insulting the Popular Mobilization Forces.

On March 5, a delegation from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani in Baghdad. During the talks, Sudani asked IFC to help establish a training institute in Iraq to support the development of Iraq’s banking sector, a statement by Sudani’s office said. The prime minister also asked IFC to support his government’s programs to redevelop Baghdad’s airport and expand the country’s construction materials manufacturing, the statement added.

On March 6, Iraq’s Planning Ministry said it decided to hold a national population census on November 20, 2024. The actual census, which has been delayed many times in the past, will be preceded by a test run scheduled for May 2024, a statement by the Planning Ministry said. In May of 2022, the Planning Ministry had set October 2023 as a tentative time frame for conducting a long-delayed nationwide population census. That plan was scrubbed a year later, as the Ministry claimed that a population census was not possible due to delays in approving the federal budget. The last time Iraq conducted a census was in 1997, and that census excluded the three provinces of the Kurdsitan region. 

Sources cited in this section include: Iraq’s Oil Ministry, ISHM archive, UTV, Iraqi PM’s office, Iraq’s Investment Commission, Ultra Iraq, al-Sumaria.


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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