ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM 49: February 5 – 11, 2016

ISHM LOGO

Key Takeaways:

  • Iraqi military spokesperson announced this week that the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), Popular Mobilization United (PMU), and Anbar’s tribal forces are now in full control of the city of Ramadi, in eastern Anbar province, after weeks of fierce battles against fragments of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). ISF units also announced the reopening of the Baghdad – Ramadi road. It is crucial to monitor the situation in Ramadi as the security forces continue to sweep the city in efforts to clear it of boobytraps and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
  • 4,500 ISF troops have deployed to a military base in al-Makhmour, the southernmost district of Iraqi Kurdistan’s Erbil governorate. The deployment is seen as a step towards an expected major military offensive to retake the city of Mosul. Also this week in al-Makhmour, ISF troops fought alongside Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga with U.S-led air support, forcing ISIS to abandon an area near the city of Makhmour and retreat back to Tal Afar. Twenty ISIS-owned vehicles were destroyed and 150 militants were reportedly killed in the fighting. Meanwhile, two senior ISIS commanders, Abul Laila al-Halbulsi and Ahmad Najam Abdulah in eastern Fallujah, in Anbar, were reportedly killed as ISF, PMU, and tribal forces continue to engage ISIS in and around Fallujah.
  • As Iraq’s economic crisis intensifies, Speaker of the Council of Representatives Salim al-Jubouri stressed during a conference in Babil that diversifying the country’s economy is the only way out of the financial crisis. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Commerce announced the suspension of eight commercial attaché offices due to financial insecurity, including those in Australia, Bulgaria, Damascus, Istanbul, Kenya, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Tunisia.
  • In the Kurdistan Region of Iraq where Peshmerga and civil servants have gone months without their salaries, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced a new austerity plan to put payroll back on schedule by reducing the salaries of all public employees. Some political leaders, including officials with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), said they would seek to ensure that members of the Peshmerga and police (Asaish) are exempt from the salary reduction.
  • World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that the leading causes of morbidity in internally displaced persons (IDP) and refugee camps are Acute Respiratory Infections (ARI) (n=13,185), skin diseases (n=944), and Acute Diarrhea (AD) (n=887). Meanwhile, as the kidnapping of doctors, pharmacists, and dentists continue to rise in the province of Diyala, the Public Health Committee warned of the collapse of medical services in the province.
  • The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) revealed in a new humanitarian snapshot of Iraq that the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has nearly doubled within the past year, reaching 10 million people, or one-third of Iraq’s population. The international community continues to respond with modest commitments. This week, Canada pledged to provide $1.1 billion in emergency humanitarian aid and development assistance to Iraq over the next three years with an emphasis on vulnerable populations in the hardest hit areas.
  • This week, there was a report that ISIS executed hundreds of people in Mosul, most of whom were former members of the ISF, former police officers, journalists, and civil rights activists. This suggests that ISIS is seeking to tighten its grip on Mosul’s residents (as well as its own followers) in anticipation of a military offensive to retake the city, and may also be acting on fear that some residents may already be communicating with Iraqi and Kurdish security forces.
  • Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi addressed the nation this past Tuesday and indicated his intention to reshuffle his cabinet, replacing a number of politically-appointed ministers with technocrats. He added that over the past year and a half, the government had successfully eased Iraq through a precipitous drop in oil revenues and averted total economic collapse. Also this week, PM al-Abadi met with Pope Francis in Rome and discussed the humanitarian situation in Iraq and the plight of Christians and other religious minorities.

Liberation of Ramadi:

On February 5, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) cleared the al-Sijariah district, 17 kilometers east of Ramadi, of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants. ISF soldiers raised the Iraqi national flag over the buildings of the district.

On February 6, the commander of the Anbar Operations Major General Ismail Mahlawi reported that Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) repelled an attack by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in the Thar Thar area north of Ramadi. The ISF destroyed three vehicle-born improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) before they could reach their targets.

On February 8, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) cleared al-Jwaiba area, 17 kilometers east of Ramadi, of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants. ISF soldiers killed 34 ISIS militants in the clash.

On February 9, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) cleared the area of East Husaybah of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants and have managed to open a road link between Ramadi and Khalidiya. The head of the Khalidiya Local Council Ali Dawood reported that the ISF soldiers “killed dozens” of ISIS militants and are still discovering and disabling improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and booby-trapped houses.

On February 9, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) announced that the city of Ramadi in Anbar province is completely clear of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants. The announcement comes as ISF and Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) entered Husaybah and cleared the road connecting Baghdad and Ramadi.

Battles against ISIS

On February 5, the Commander of the Popular Mobilization Unit (PMU) forces in Garma Colonel Juma Faza al-Jumaili announced the killing of eight Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) forces. The ISF was further successful in destroying a booby-trapped vehicle, a missile launcher, and three tunnels.

On February 5, Governor of Salah ad-Din province Raed Ibrahim al-Jubouri reported that 30 Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants were killed in clashes with federal police at the Alas and Ajil oilfields east of Tikrit. The police also destroyed five vehicles and a booby-trapped excavator.

On February 6, Popular Mobilization Unit (PMU) Colonel Mahmoud Mudhi al-Jumaili announced that his tribal forces had killed Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) Commander Ahmed Najam Abdullah along with four of his aides in the city of Garma, east of Fallujah. Abdullah had reportedly controlled a sniper battalion active in the area.

On February 6, a firefight injured three British Special Air Service (SAS) soldiers during a clandestine operation in southern Mosul. The three elite soldiers’ vehicle was ambushed by 30 Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants with guns and grenade launchers who were all killed in the 15-minute clash. The SAS soldiers were then airlifted out of the area and are now back in the United Kingdom.

On February 6, Peshmerga forces shelled an Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) base in the town square of the village of Khor Sabat. The attack killed 12 Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants.

On February 7, Popular Mobilization Unit (PMU) Colonel Khami Bar Halbusi reported that PMU soldiers had killed Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) Garma Commander Abu Laila Halbusi and three of his aides. The clash in Garma, a city 19 kilometers east of Fallujah, also saw the destruction of three ISIS-owned vehicles.

On February 8, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) deployed 4,500 soldiers at a military base near the city of Makhmour, 68 kilometers southwest of Erbil. An ISF brigadier who wished to remain anonymous reported that the ISF will first move to isolate Mosul from other Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) territory.

On February 8, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in conjunction with Peshmerga forces and the International Coalition killed 150 Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) members in the area of the city of Makhmour, 68 kilometers southwest of Erbil. 20 ISIS-owned vehicles were also destroyed in the fighting and ISIS militants are beginning to fall back to the city of Tal Afar.

On February 10, the International Coalition bombed a headquarter of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in central Mosul. The strike killed 20 militants and destroyed five vehicles.

Deteriorating Economic Conditions in Iraq

On February 5, the Parliamentary Finance Committee denied claims over the government’s intention to reduce employee salaries. Member of the committee Masoud Haider confirmed by saying, “no official statement has been issued from the government on its intentions to reduce staff salaries”.

On February 5, the Iraqi Stock Exchange registered a decline in the value and number of shares traded for the month of January, with over 32 billion shares that valued nearly 31 billion Iraqi dinars.

On February 5, Speaker of the House of Representatives Salim al-Jubouri confirmed that there is no way to overcome the current financial crisis without finding alternative sources of revenue aside from oil, adding that he discussed in depth with World Bank and U.S officials various mechanisms for supporting Iraq in facing these challenges.

On February 9, the Ministry of Commerce announced the suspension of eight commercial attache offices due to financial insecurity, as well as weak commerce and poor financial cooperation with the represented countries. The offices closed include Australia, Bulgaria, Damascus, Istanbul, Kenya, Malaysia, Sarlinka, and Tunisia.

On February 9, Minister of Trade Mohamed Shia Sudani denied allegations that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is pressuring the government to cancel its ration card system. He reiterated that the government has already allocated $2.8 billion to support the ration card system, although this amount is roughly half of ration expenses in previous years.

KRG Government Announces New Austerity Plan

On February 9, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) announced that the KRG government has reduced salaries across the board for all public employees, except for the Peshmerga forces.However, Peshmerga forces have not received their salaries in over 3 months. The reduction in salaries, as well as not paying security forces their salaries in months, causes many protests, resignations, and general unrest in the KRG region.Media official for the PUK, Ghyath Alsurja, denied that Peshmerga forces are refusing to fight as a result of the delayed payments.

Doctors in Iraq are in danger and WHO releases report on morbidity in IDP camps

On February 5, the Public Health Committee of Diyala warned of the collapse of medical services in the province due to the kidnapping of doctors and called for their immediate protection. Chairperson of the Committee Najat al-Taie added that “Diyala has lost more than 200 doctors, pharmacists and dentists in recent years because of the security concerns”.

On February 9, a report from the Iraqi government and the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that the leading causes of morbidity in internally displaced persons (IDP) and refugee camps are Acute Respiratory Tract Infections (ARI) (n=13,185), skin diseases (n=944), and Acute Diarrhea (AD) (n=887). The proportions of AD in IDP camps have slightly decreased compared to last week’s report, and the proportion of skin diseases has shown a steady trend since week 23 of reporting (6%) due to the health and hygiene sessions by the health cluster partners and Departments of Health.

New Humanitarian Update Reveals that the Number of People in Need has nearly doubled in Iraq

On February 6, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) revealed in its humanitarian snapshot of Iraq that the number of people in need has nearly doubled within the past year with the humanitarian disaster affecting 10 million people, one-third of the Iraqi population. About 4,000 people have been displaced from Ramadi following escalated military operations in late December and are now in camps established by authorities in Habbaniya Tourist City and Ameriyat al Fallujah in Anbar province. Humanitarian partners continue to provide humanitarian assistance and protection monitoring for approximately 75,600 displaced people in Ameriyat al Fallujah and about 38,600 in Habbaniya Tourist City. The humanitarian community is appealing for US$861 million in 2016 in order to provide assistance for 7.3 million Iraqis.

On February 9, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) distributed relief materials and more than 250 food parcels for displaced families from Anbar province to Ameriyat al-Fallujah and Salah ad Din. The IRCS teams received more than 90 displaced families from the Joaibah area because of the security situation, and assisted more than 90 families in Al-Salam camp in Anbar. In Salad ad Din, IRCS teams distributed food parcels and blankets to more than 160 displaced families from Anbar in the al-Isaqi camp.

On February 9, the Ministry of Displacement and Migration distributed aid to internally displaced persons (IDP) in Taji, a city north of Baghdad. The Inspector General of the Ministry of Displacement and Migration, Adnan Karim Salman, added that, “the Ministry is working continuously to provide for the needs of displaced families and facilitate their transactions”.

On February 9, the Canadian government pledged to provide $1.1 billion in assistance to Iraq in over the next three years while also increase its number of  troops in Iraq from 669 to up to 830. $840 million of that assistance will go towards basic needs such as food, shelter, water, and hygiene in areas that were hit the hardest. Assistance will also target the most vulnerable, including children and survivors of sexual violence. $270 million will be used to provide education, sanitation and help rebuild public infrastructure, especially in places like Ramadi which was recaptured by the Iraqi forces from the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in December 2015.

On February 9, the Provincial Council of Wasit approved 138 million dinars ($125,000) to support provincial services. Major allocations included 75 million dinars to expand delivery of potable water, 20 million dinars to agricultural irrigation and counter-desertification projects, and 7 million dinars to renovate three schools. In addition, the allocation of 35 million dinars to the NUMANIYA General Hospital will allow doctors to resume providing medical services.

On February 10, The Iraqi Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) agreed on a two-year plan for health security in Iraq. The WHO has allocated $85 million to provide relief for displaced persons in Iraq in 2016. During the meeting, WHO said it had distributed 500,000 cholera vaccines in 62 displacement camps. They also confirmed that measures are being taken to prevent the Zika virus from entering the country and that the species of mosquito which transmits the virus is not native to Iraq.

On February 10, the Displacement and Migration Department of Dhi Qar announced 1,500 displaced families will return to their homes following the province’s liberation from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. This figure represents more than half of the total 2,553 families displaced in the province.

ISIS Continued Human Rights Crimes

On February 7, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) executed 300 people in Mosul. Most of those killed were members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) or were civilian activists.

Political

On February 6, the European Parliament voted to recognize the mass killings of Yazidis and Christians in Iraq as genocide. The vote was unanimous and was sponsored by the Kurdistan Friendship Group.

On February 9, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced in a televised speech addressing the nation that he would reshuffle his cabinet to replace his current ministers with new ones on the basis of political affiliations with technocrats and academic figures. Abadi called on the parliament and all political blocs to cooperate with him on the initiative. Prime Minister al-Abadi added that over the past year and a half the government had successfully eased Iraq through the major decline in oil revenues and averted total economic collapse.

On February 10, Prime Minister Abadi met with Pope Francis to discuss humanitarian issues in Iraq. Their conversation focused on the conditions of Christians and other religious minorities living in Iraq, “with particular reference to the importance of their presence and the need to protect their rights.” The discussion emphasized “role of interreligious dialogue and the responsibility of religious communities in promoting tolerance and peace.”

On February 11, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi stressed in a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that independence would not be the best thing for the Kurdistan region, and that the development of the region depends on its survival within Iraq. Abadi added that he is surprised by the “non-distribution of salaries to the staff of the Kurdistan region and to the Peshmerga forces, in spite of the region exporting 621,000 barrels of oil per day,which accounts for 15% of Iraq’s oil output”, and called for,” more transparency in the region and better control of its financial resources and distribution”.

DateLocation DeathsInjuries
02/05/16Sha'ab District,
North of Baghdad
27
02/05/16Sabaa al-Bour,
North of Baghdad
18
02/05/16Al-Turath,
Southwestern Baghdad
26
02/05/16Abu Ghraib,
West of Baghdad
24
02/05/16Husseiniya,
North of Baghdad
18
02/05/16Al-Wihda,
Southern Baghdad
15
02/06/16Nahrawan District,
Southeast of Baghdad
29
02/06/16al-Shula,
Northwestern Baghdad
15
02/06/16Palestine Street,
Eastern Baghdad
10
02/06/16Abu Ghraib,
West of Baghdad
20
02/06/16Abu Dashir,
Southern Baghdad
17
02/07/16Arab Jabour,
Southern Baghdad
14
02/07/16Abu Dashir,
Southern Baghdad
28
02/07/16Furat,
Western Baghdad
27
02/07/16Al-Seha,
Southern Baghdad
19
02/08/16al-Amin,
Eastern Baghdad
26
02/08/16Nairiyah,
Eastern Baghdad
17
02/09/16Taji District,
Northern Baghdad
28
02/09/16al-Bakria,
Western Baghdad
16
02/09/16al-Mahdia District,
South of Baghdad
15
02/10/16Baladiyat,
Eastern Baghdad
12
02/10/16Arab Jabour,
Southern Baghdad
25
02/10/16Taiji District,
North of Baghdad
39
02/10/16Baiyaa,
Western Baghdad
16
02/10/16Hay Al-Sihah,
Southern Baghdad
27
02/10/16Nahrawan District,
Southeast of Baghdad
18
02/11/16Latifiyah,
South of Baghdad
27
02/11/16Sheikh Omar,
Central Baghdad
15
02/11/16Bab al-Moatham,
Central Baghdad
20
02/11/16al-Mada'in District,
South of Baghdad
17
02/11/16Jisr Diyala,
Southeast Baghdad
27


Derived from firsthand accounts and Iraq-based Arabic and Kurdish news sources, the Iraq Security and Humanitarian Monitor (ISHM) was developed by EPIC’s Senior Visiting Fellow Ahmed Ali (@IraqShamel). This week’s final report was compiled and authored by EPIC Program Manager Taif Jany (@TaifJany).


Subscribe to our weekly Iraq Security and Humanitarian Monitor (ISHM) and have the latest developments in Iraq sent straight to your inbox every week.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email