ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: May 30 – June 6, 2024

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Key Takeaways:

  • Security Council Votes To End UNAMI’s Work Next Year; Parliament Approves 2024 Budget Figures; IHEC Reopens Party Registration For Kurdistan Elections – On May 31, the UN Security Council unanimously voted to extend the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) for a “final 19 month-period” that will end on December 31, 2025. The Security Council also called on Baghdad to “cooperate fully with the UN during UNAMI’s transition, drawdown and liquidation.” The vote comes less than a month after it was revealed that Iraqi PM Mohammed al-Sudani sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General asking to end UNAMI’s work by the end of 2025. In related news, unconfirmed reports said that the permanent representative of Oman to the UN, Mohammed bin Awadh, has been nominated to become the next head of UNAMI, replacing Jennine Hennis-Plasschaert, whose term has just ended. On June 3, Iraq’s parliament voted to approve the revenue and spending tables for the 2024 federal budget that were submitted by the government last month. The budget includes total planned spending of IQD 211.9 trillion ($160 billion in the official exchange rate), based on expected revenue of IQD 147.8 trillion and a planned deficit of IQD 64 trillion. The majority of the budget, IQD 157, is allocated to pay operational expenses, including IQD 63.4 trillion (up from IQD 59.2 trillion in 2023) to cover the salaries of civil servants. On June 6, Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) said it reopened the window for coalitions, parties, and individual candidates to register to compete in the legislative elections in the Kurdistan region. Last week, IHEC proposed September 5 as the new date for holding the long-delayed elections. Importantly, the decision offers the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) a chance to reconsider its previous decision to boycott the election. In other developments, on June 6, eight members of parliament and two members of the Baghdad provincial council from the Taqaddum party of former speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi announced their separation from the party. The move will likely weaken Taqaddum’s ability to advance its candidate for the speaker position, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani. more…
  • Arrests Made As Attacks On Western Businesses Continue For A Second Week – Between June 3 – 5, several Western businesses were attacked in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, and the city of Diwaniyah in southern Iraq over allegations of supporting Israel’s war in Gaza. The targets included a KFC restaurant, a Proctor & Gamble store, and a British professional development institute. A mob also attacked an Iraqi private dairy factory claiming that the business too supported Israel’s war. The incidents, which followed a week of violence against Western interests, came as a senior Kataib Hezbollah commander issued a statement calling for the “expulsion of the occupier’s espionage assets that operate under civilian titles.” Iraq’s Interior Ministry said in two statements on June 4-5 that it arrested several of those involved in these attacks under Iraq’s counter-terrorism laws, adding that some of the suspects are members of Iraq’s security forces. In other developments, on June 2 – 3, the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq,” a front group for Iran-backed Iraqi militias, claimed that it attacked “vital targets” in the Israeli cities of Eilat and Haifa using explosive drones. more…
  • Water Shortage Prompts New Wave Of Displacement In Southern Iraq; Northern Oil Export Talks Resume Next Week- On June 3, officials in Najaf province said that nearly 750 families have migrated to the province from other provinces in southern and central Iraq because of water shortage and desertification impacting their home districts. Of the new arrivals, 664 families came from Diwaniyah province, 67 came from Muthanna province, and 12 came from Dhi-Qar province. The news comes as environmental experts in southern Iraq warned that water levels in the marshes began dropping three weeks ago as soaring summer temperatures significantly increased water loss to evaporation. On June 5, the KRG said that a delegation from its Natural Resources Ministry and international oil companies operating in the Kurdistan region will visit Baghdad early next week to discuss resuming oil exports via the Iraq-Turkey oil pipeline with the federal Ministry of Oil. Last week, Iraq’s Oil Ministry invited KRG officials and oil companies operating in the region to meet “as soon as possible” to reach a deal on resuming the exports, which have been halted since March of 2023. In other developments, on June 2, the Central Bank of Iraq issued a letter addressed to all licensed banks in Iraq informing them that the CBI has decided to ban 197 private companies from accessing the special platform used to buy and sell foreign currencies. 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.


Security Council Votes To End UNAMI’s Work Next Year; Parliament Approves 2024 Budget Figures; IHEC Reopens Party Registration For Kurdistan Elections

On May 31, the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted to extend the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) for a “final 19 month-period” that will end on December 31, 2025. After that date, UNAMI will “cease all work and operations except with respect to any remaining liquidation of the Mission,” a press statement by the Security Council said. The Security Council also called on the Baghdad government to “cooperate fully with the UN during UNAMI’s transition, drawdown and liquidation,” the statement added. The vote comes less than a month after it was revealed that Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani had sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asking to end UNAMI’s work by the end of 2025. In his letter, Sudani said Iraq remained interested in cooperation with various UN organizations but that it no longer needed UNAMI’s political work. In remarks made on June 4, Sudani said the Security Council’s vote reflected the international community’s recognition of the progress achieved in all fields as a result of the stability that Iraq enjoys today. In related news, unconfirmed reports said that the permanent representative of Oman to the UN, Mohammed bin Awadh, has been nominated to become the next head of UNAMI, replacing Jennine Hennis-Plasschaert, whose term has just ended.

On June 3, Iraq’s parliament voted to approve the revenue and spending tables for the 2024 federal budget that were prepared and submitted by the government of Prime Minister Sudani last month. The 2024 budget includes total planned spending of IQD 211.9 trillion ($160 billion in the official exchange rate), based on expected revenue of IQD 147.8 trillion and a planned deficit of IQD 64 trillion, a report by parliament’s financial committee said. The 2024 budget is more than IQD 12 trillion larger than the previous year’s bill. The majority of the budget, IQD 157, is allocated to pay operational expenses, including IQD 63.4 trillion (up from IQD 59.2 trillion in 2023) to cover the salaries of more than 4.07 million civil servants on the federal government’s payroll. Capital investment allocations dropped slightly, from IQD 55.5 trillion in 2023 to IQD 55 trillion in 2024. 

On June 5, Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani had a phone conversation with Syrian President Basha al-Asad, in which they discussed cooperation in counter-terrorism and bilateral economic relations, a statement by Sudani’s office said. Sudani and Asad also discussed the war in Gaza and the “continuing Zionist aggression,” against the Palestinian people, the statement added. 

On June 6, Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) announced that it reopened the window for coalitions, parties, and individual candidates to register to compete in the legislative elections in the Kurdistan region. Registration applications will be accepted from June 8 through June 13, a spokeswoman for IHEC said. While a date has not been confirmed for the election, last week, IHEC sent a letter to the president of the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) in which it proposed September 5 as the new date for holding the long-delayed elections. Importantly, the decision to accept new registrations offers the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) a chance to reconsider its decision in February to boycott the election after Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court (FSC) ruled to reduce the regional parliament from 111 to 100 representatives by eliminating the minority quota seats. The KDP protested the ruling as unconstitutional interference by the FSC. The deadlock was broken on May 7 when the Electoral Judiciary Commission, in an apparent compromise, ordered the reinstatement of five of the 11 minority quota seats that the FSC had eliminated in February.

On June 6, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Mohammed Mustafa, arrived in Baghdad for talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani. Mustafa, who was accompanied by the Palestinian Authority’s top energy official, discussed with Sudani the urgent humanitarian needs in the Gaza strip, a statement by Sudani’s office said. The Iraqi premier said that Iraq was ready to “deliver all forms of needed support” to the people of Palestine, particularly noting that Iraq was ready to send new shipments of fuel to the Palestinian Authority, the statement added.  

On June 6, a group of 8 members of parliament and 2 members of the Baghdad provincial council from the Taqaddum party of former speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi announced their separation from the party to form their own political bloc. In a brief statement, the defecting representatives said they were leaving Taqaddum in response to the “stagnation” in political life and parliament’s failure to elect a new speaker. The move will likely weaken Taqaddum’s ability to advance its candidate for the speaker position, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, who is in a tight race against Salim al-Issawi, who is backed by Taqaddum’s rival Sunni parties (Azm, Hasm, and Siyada). In the latest inconclusive vote to elect a speaker, which took place on May 18, 137 lawmakers voted for Mashhadani, while 158 voted for Issawi, meaning that neither secured the required majority of 166 votes. 

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


Arrests Made As Attacks On Western Businesses Continue For A Second Week

On May 31, local sources in Ninewa province said that unidentified gunmen kidnapped a sheep herder from the Jazira region, west of the Baaj district. The kidnappers have contacted the victim’s family to negotiate a ransom, the sources added. ISIS militants have frequently used kidnapping as a method of generating revenue through the extraction of ransom payments. 

On June 2, the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq,” a front group for Iran-backed Iraqi militias, claimed in a statement that it attacked an unspecified “vital target” in the Israeli city of Eilat using explosive drones. On the following day, the militia group said it also launched explosive drones against another unspecified “vital target” in the Israeli port city of Haifa, according to reports in the Iranian press. There were no reports confirming that the drones actually hit any targets inside Israel.

On June 2, Iraq’s Interior Ministry said that 19 members of the Dhi-Qar police force and four civilians were injured in clashes that erupted during protests that targeted the Dhi-Qar Oil company and two adjacent oil and gas facilities on June 1. News reports from Dhi-Qar said that a crowd of workers on temporary contracts had organized a protest demanding permanent employment by the oil company. Footage from the scene showed members of the riot police clashing with protesters, who reportedly attempted to block the entrance to the oil company’s building.

On June 3, dozens of young men attacked a KFC restaurant and another American-brand fast food restaurant in the Palestine Street area of east Baghdad, smashing windows and damaging contents. Security forces fired their guns into the air in an attempt to disperse the attackers, witnesses reported. On the following day, a Proctor & Gamble store was also attacked in a similar fashion in the Awarij neighborhood of south Baghdad. In another incident in the same area, a group of men driving a government vehicle attacked the Kanoon dairy factory claiming that the business supported Israel’s war in Gaza. Then on June 5, police sources said that unidentified gunmen attacked the British Cambridge Institute in Diwaniyah with a flashbang grenade, injuring one of the security guards. The incidents came as a senior Kataib Hezbollah commander known as Abu Ali al-Askari issued a statement calling for the “expulsion of the occupier’s espionage assets that operate under civilian titles.” Last week, several U.S. businesses and a cultural center came under attack in Baghdad in a series of incidents that were attributed to reactions to U.S. support for the ongoing Israeli war in Gaza. Iraq’s Interior Ministry said in two statements on June 4-5 that it arrested several of those involved in these attacks under Iraq’s counter-terrorism laws, adding that some of the suspects are members of Iraq’s security forces.

On June 4, local sources in Najaf province said that a cemetery worker in his twenties was killed when an explosive remnant of war detonated near him at the vast Wadi al-Salam cemetery in the province. 

On June 5, the Security Media Cell reported that Iraqi air force Cessna Caravan planes struck 10 hideouts used by ISIS militants in a series of airstrikes in Kirkuk and Diyala provinces. The Cell said that all targets were destroyed, without providing further information.

Sources cited in this section include: Shafaq, PressTV, al-Hurra, al-Sumaria, Iraq Observer, Mawazin, Ultra Iraq, ISHM archive INA. 


Water Shortage Prompts New Wave Of Displacement In Southern Iraq; Northern Oil Export Talks Resume Next Week

On June 2, the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) issued a letter addressed to all licensed banks in Iraq informing them that the CBI has decided to ban 197 private companies from accessing the special platform used to buy and sell foreign currencies. The letter did not explain the reasons behind the CBI decision. The full list of companies impacted by the decision can be found here

On June 3, officials in Najaf province said that nearly 750 families have migrated to the province from other provinces in southern and central Iraq because of water shortage and desertification impacting their home districts. Of the new arrivals, 664 families came from Diwaniyah province, 67 came from Muthanna province, and 12 came from Dhi-Qar province, according to the director of the Najaf Directorate for Migration and the Displaced. The news comes as environmental experts in southern Iraq warned that water levels in the marshes began dropping three weeks ago as soaring summer temperatures significantly increased water loss to evaporation. Recently released data by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) showed that as of mid-March, more than 140,000 individuals (comprising 23,364 families) were experiencing displacement due to water shortages impacting twelve Iraqi provinces. 

On June 3, Iraqi Electricity Ministry officials said that a new power grid connection linking Diyala province and the Kurdistan region of Iraq has become operational, allowing Diyala to receive 90 megawatts of electricity from the Kurdistan grid. The activation of the new connection (via a 132kv transmission line between Kalar in Sulaymaniyah and Sayyid Jabir in Diyala’s Jalawla subdistrict) will diversify power sources, enhance grid stability, and improve supply levels, a statement by the Midland Electricity Distribution Company said. 

On June 5, the Kurdistan regional government said that a delegation from its Natural Resources Ministry and international oil companies operating in the Kurdistan region will visit Baghdad early next week to discuss resuming oil exports via the Iraq-Turkey oil pipeline (ITP) with the federal Ministry of Oil. Last week, Iraq’s Oil Ministry invited KRG officials and oil companies operating in the region to meet “as soon as possible” in Baghdad to reach a deal on resuming the exports, which have been halted since March of 2023.

On June 5, the Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) signed an agreement with the German Export Credit Agency to support financing for private sector development projects in Iraq, a statement by Prime Minister Sudani’s office said. During the signing ceremony, which was attended by Sudani, the TBI also signed an agreement with two German banks to fund the construction of a glass factory in Najaf province at a value of up to €110 million. 

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


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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