ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: March 28 – April 4, 2024

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Key Takeaways:

  • Candidate Registration For Kurdistan Election Ends; Finance Ministry To Release Delayed Salaries For Kurdistan Region’s Civil Servants – On April 1, Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission confirmed that the Kurdistan Democratic Party, which said it was boycotting regional legislative elections in June, had not presented its lists of candidates by the deadline that expired at midnight on March 31. On April 4, Iraq’s Finance Ministry said it has released the funds necessary to pay the March salaries of civil servants in the Kurdistan region on instructions from PM Sudani. The Ministry said it has informed the Supreme Federal Court and the Federal Board of Supreme Audit of the move since making the arrangements to base the salaries in accounts with state-owned banks, a requirement imposed by the Court in February, requires additional time. The apparent breakthrough comes after KRG PM Masrour Barzani said that he and Sudani have reached “a suitable solution” for the issue. In other developments, on April 1, Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court dismissed a case filed by two Sunni Arab lawmakers demanding the nullification of the results of the January 13, 2024 parliamentary session which involved an inconclusive vote to elect a new speaker. The Court also decided to postpone until April 29 a ruling in a related case in which three Coordination Framework lawmakers demanded the removal of lawmaker (and frontrunner for the speaker positions) Shalan al-Karim from parliament. On April 1, PM Sudani received an invitation from the Saudi Crown Prince to attend the Special Meeting of the World Economic Forum on April 28-29. more…
  • Militias Claim Responsibility For Drone Attack On Israel; Kataib Hezbollah Threatens To Arm Militants In Jordan – On April 1, the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq,” a front group for Iran-backed Iraqi militias, claimed that it conducted a new attack against “a vital target” in Israel. The claim came as the Israeli military reported that a building in the port of Eilat was struck by aerial munition that approached Israel from the east. In subsequent statements, the militia claimed to have launched two other attacks with explosive drones against Israel. On April 1, a senior commander of Kataib Hezbollah said that the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq,” has prepared to supply up to 12,000 fighters in Jordan with weapons to join the fight against Israel. The list includes small arms, anti-tank weapons, tactical rockets, and “tons of explosives,” the militia commander claimed, adding that distribution was awaiting referrals by Hamas or the Islamic Jihad organization. In other developments, between March 28 – April 1, the explosions of two IEDs and two remnants of war occurred in Ninewa, Basra, Najaf, and Dhi-Qar, killing two Iraqis and wounding at least three more, including a child. On March 30, a member of the federal police was killed and two people were wounded in clashes between security forces and individuals affiliated with the Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) militia in eastern Baghdad. On March 31, an armed drone dropped an explosive device that killed the chief of the al-Bayat Turkmen tribe in the disputed district of Kifri in Iraq’s Diyala province. A senior Turkmen lawmaker accused the PKK of planning the assassination. On April 2, a Turkish airstrike near Sinjar killed a senior PKK commander and seriously wounded two of his companions. more…
  • Ministry Claims Big Reduction In Gas Flaring; Iraq Expects Good Wheat Harvest – On March 30, Iraq’s Deputy Oil Minister for Gas claimed that Iraq is now utilizing 61% of associated natural gas, with utilization reaching 1,916 million cubic feet/day (cf/d) from a total generated volume of 3,120 million cf/d. The official did not explain how the significant reduction in flaring was achieved. On April 4, Iraq’s General Company for Grain Trade said that wheat production for the current season is expected to reach six million tons, an increase of 800,000 tons from the previous season. The anticipated harvest, along with 1.8 million tons left over from the previous season, is expected to exceed the country’s grain storage capacity, requiring the construction of new storage bunkers. In other developments, on March 30, Iraq and Jordan inaugurated a power grid interconnection to supply 50 megawatts of power from Jordan to Iraq’s Anbar province. On March 31, Iraq’s Oil Ministry Oil signed a memorandum of understanding with both Siemens and Schlumberger that deals with capturing associated natural gas and utilizing it for power generation. Finally, as of writing, Iraq’s Oil Ministry has yet to release the monthly export and revenue statistics for March. 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.


Candidate Registration For Kurdistan Election Ends; Finance Ministry To Release Delayed Salaries For Kurdistan Region’s Civil Servants

On April 1, Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) confirmed that the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) had not presented its lists of candidates for the regional legislative election, scheduled for June 10, by the established deadline, which expired at midnight on March 31. Last week, IHEC extended the deadline from March 28 to March 31, after the KDP announced that it will not participate in the next Kurdistan parliamentary elections in response to what the KDP considers “unconstitutional” interference in Kurdistan’s electoral system by Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court. according to an IHEC spokesperson, two coalitions and ten parties had presented lists of candidates by the deadline, along with 54 candidates running individually. 

On April 1, Iraqi court sources said that the Federal Supreme Court dismissed a case filed by two lawmakers demanding the nullification of the results of the January 13, 2024 parliamentary session which involved an inconclusive vote to elect a new speaker. The case in question was filed by lawmakers Haybat al-Halbousi and Ahmed Mudhhir al-Jubouri. Meanwhile, the Court also decided to postpone, until April 29, ruling in a related case filed by lawmakers Hussein Moanes, Falih al-Khazali, and Yousuf al-Kilabi, in which they demanded the removal of lawmaker Shalan al-Karim from parliament. Al-Karim, a member of former speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi’s Taqaddum party, was the frontrunner in the January 13 vote, in which he received 152 votes to Shalan al-Karim. The second vote getter was Salim al-Issawi, backed by Khamis al-Khanjar and some factions from the Coordination Framework, who received 97 votes. Karim and Issaw would compete against each other if parliament moves ahead to schedule a runoff election.

On April 1, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani received an official invitation from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to attend the Special Meeting of the upcoming World Economic Forum that Saudi Arabia will host on April 28-29. 

On April 4, Iraq’s Finance Ministry said that it has released the funds necessary to pay the March salaries of civil servants, pensioners, and other social security beneficiaries in the Kurdistan region. In a statement, the Ministry said the move was based on the instructions of Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani and the approval of Finance Minister Taif Sami. The Ministry has informed the Supreme Federal Court and the Federal Board of Supreme Audit since making the arrangements to base the salaries of these payees in accounts with state-owned banks, a requirement imposed by the Court in February, requires additional time. The apparent breakthrough comes after the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan regional government (KRG), Masrour Barzani, said that he and Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani have reached “a suitable solution” for the issue.  

Sources cited in this section include: Rudaw, ISHM archive, Mawazin, al-Sumaria, Shafaq, Iraqi PM’s office, INA. 


Militias Claim Responsibility For Drone Attack On Israel; Kataib Hezbollah Threatens To Arm Militants In Jordan

On March 28, security sources in Basra said that an explosive remnant of war (ERW) detonated at a quarry in al-Zubeir district, southwest of Basra. The explosion killed one civilian and wounded another. To the north, Ninewa police said on March 31 that a legacy improvised explosive device (IED) detonated in the Zumar subdistrict, northwest of Mosul. The explosion wounded two civilians, including a six year old child. In Najaf, security sources said on April 1 that a young man was killed when another ERW exploded in the Um Mugheitha region, south of Najaf. 

On March 29, security sources in Kirkuk said that ISIS militants attacked an Iraqi army outpost in the Wadi al-Shay region of the Daquq district, south of Kirkuk. The attack killed one soldier from the army’s 44th brigade, 11th division. 

On March 30, Iraqi police sources said that a member of the federal police was killed and two people were wounded in clashes between security forces and individuals affiliated with the Asaib Ahl al-Haq AAH militia in Kasra wa’ Atash in eastern Baghdad. The two sides exchanged fire as security forces attempted to seize vehicles lacking proper registration from the AAH militiamen.

On March 31, security sources in Dhi-Qar province said that unidentified individuals placed and detonated an IED outside the residence of a director in the municipality of Nasiriyah. The late night explosion caused damage to the building but there were no reports of casualties.  

On March 31, security sources in the disputed district of Kifri (between Diyala, Salah ad-Din, and Sulaymaniyah) said that an armed drone dropped an explosive device that killed Hussein Alwash, the chief of the al-Bayat Turkmen tribe in an attack near his residence in the district. A senior Turkmen lawmaker in the Iraqi parliament accused the PKK of planning Alwash’s assassinaton.

On March 31, Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani ordered the removal of the head of the Ninewa Operations Command, major general Abdullah Ramadan, from his position after the officer appeared in a TV game show in his military uniform. Sudani appointed major general Kamil Salih al-Azzawi to be the new head of the Ninewa Operations Command.

On April 1, the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq,” a front group for Iran-backed Iraqi militias, claimed in a statement that it conducted a new attack against “a vital target” in Israel using “the suitable weapons,” without providing further details. Meanwhile, the Israeli military reported that a building in the port of Eilat was struck by aerial munition that approached Israel from the east. There were no reports of casualties. In subsequent statements, the militia claimed to have launched two other attacks with explosive drones against Israel. The first, on April 2, allegedly targeted the Tel Nof airbase, while the second, on April 3, is said to have targeted the Haifa airport. there were no reports confirming actual attacks hitting the latter two facilities. 

On April 1, a senior commander of Kataib Hezbollah known by the alias Abu Ali al-Askari said that the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq,” has prepared to supply up to 12,000 fighters in Jordan with enough weapons to join the fight against Israel. The list of weapons includes small arms, anti-tank weapons, tactical rockets, and “tons of explosives,” Askar claimed. He added that the provision of weapons was only awaiting referrals by Hamas or the Islamic Jihad organization, adding that the first mission of those alleged fighters would be to cut the road connecting Jordan to Israel.

On April 2, Kurdistan24 reported that a Turkish airstrike targeted a vehicle carrying members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Sardasht Camp area near the Sinjar district of Ninewa. The airstrike killed a senior PKK commander and seriously wounded two of his companions, the Kurdsitan region’s counter-terrorism service said in a statement. 

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


Ministry Claims Big Reduction In Gas Flaring; Iraq Expects Good Wheat Harvest

On March 30, Iraq’s Deputy Oil Minister for Gas, Izzat Sabir, claimed that Iraq is now utilizing 61% of associated natural gas generated by oil operations, with utilized volumes reaching 1,916 million cubic feet/day (cf/d) compared to total generated volumes of 3,120 million cf/d. The official added in a statement posted on the Oil Ministry’s website that this increase in production is allowing the Ministry to supply 1,450 million cf/d of processed gas to power plants and other industrial users, while generating 6,675 tons/day of liquified petroleum gas (LPG). Sabir did not explain the reasons behind the increase in utilization, nor did he point to specific new gas capture projects that may have recently come online. These figures have raised questions in the media, with some networks questioning their veracity. A report by al-Sumaria noted that gas utilization was recently 1,500 million cf/d out of a total volume of 2,800 million cf/d, arguing that the increased utilization could not be explained in the absence of new projects, while the increase in total volume was inconsistent with the fact that Iraq is producing less oil now than in 2022. 

On March 30, Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity inaugurated a new power grid interconnection between Iraq and Jordan. As a first phase, the newly established link will allow Jordan to supply 50 megawatts of power from al-Risha station via a 132 kilovolt transmission line to Iraq’s Rutba region in the western Anbar province. The second and third phases of the project are designed to allow the transfer of an additional 350 megawatts and will extend the grid interconnection to reach Egypt. The project is several months behind schedule. In October, a spokesman for the Electricity Ministry said the connection was scheduled to become operational in November of 2023.

On March 31, Iraq’s Ministry of Oil signed a memorandum of understanding with both Siemens and Schlumberger that deals with capturing associated natural gas and utilizing it for power generation. Oil Minister Hayan Abdul-Ghani said that signing the memorandum is part of raq’s accelerated plan to end flaring at oil fields and turn it into feedstock for power generation. On March 20, Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity had signed a related deal with Siemens to utilize natural gas that is currently being flared as fuel for power generation at a 2,000 megawatt power plant. This agreement involves using 120 million cubic feet per day within six months and an additional 120 million cubic feet per day within 12 months, a statement by the Electricity Ministry said. 

On April 2, a spokesman for Iraq’s Transportation Ministry said that the Iraqi Airways has succeeded in recent months in bringing seven previously inoperable aircraft back to service. The spokesman added that the national carrier’s plan for 2024 involves bringing another ten inoperable aircraft back into service, noting that the first of those would rejoin the fleet in May. A year ago, on April 5, 2023, the director of Iraqi Airways revealed that 16 of the national carrier’s 38 aircraft at the time were out of service due to engine problems. According to the official, the company had signed a contract with engine manufacturer GE to send the broken engines for repairs, expecting the process to begin next week and take “two to three months.”

On April 3, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for experience sharing in the management of transportation sector projects, a statement by Iraq’s Transportation Ministry said. The MoU was signed in Baghdad by Iraq’s General Ports Management Company and the Abu Dhabi Ports Group during a visit by Emirati officials to Iraq. The MoU deals with “identifying investment opportunities and conducting feasibility studies…for the management and operation of ports and economic zones” in Iraq.

On April 4, Iraq’s General Company for Grain Trade said that wheat production for the current season is expected to reach six million tons, an increase of 800,000 tons from the previous harvest season. The anticipated harvest, along with 1.8 million tons left over from the previous season, is expected to exceed the country’s grain storage capacity, which stands at six million tons, the company’s director, Haider al-Garawi, said. The official added that the Trade Ministry is working with several provinces to establish new storage bunkers to absorb the surplus grain. 

On April 4, Iraq’s Oil Minister, Hayan Abdul-Ghani, said that his ministry was moving towards creating a new state-owned oil company dedicated to the management of oil fields in Wasit province. Speaking after meeting with the governor and other local officials in the province, Abdul-Ghani noted that Iraq has invited international oil companies to develop three fields and one exploration block in Wasit as part of the annex to the country’s fifth petroleum licensing round announced last year. He added that the Oil Ministry is also seeking investors to build an oil refinery in Wasit.

As of writing, Iraq’s Oil Ministry had yet to release the monthly export and revenue statistics for March. Typically, the export figures for a previous month are released by the ministry on or shortly after the first day of the following month. The delay in publishing the export figure may be part of a new trend. Last month, in a break from standard procedure, 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.

Sources cited in this section include: Iraq’s Oil Ministry, ISHM archive, al-Sumaria, Shafaq, INA, Mawzin, Rudaw.


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs and ERWs from March 28, 2024 - April 4, 2024

DateLocationDeathsInjuries
3/28/24 Al-Zubeir, Basra province11
3/31/24 Zumar, Ninewa province02
3/31/24 Nasiriyah, Dhi-Qar province00
4/1/24 Um Mugheitha, Najaf 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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