ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM: August 19 – 25, 2016

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Key Takeaways:

  • On August 25, following an investigation into allegations of corruption, the Iraqi Parliament passed a vote of no confidence and ousted Minister of Defense Khaled al-Obeidi, 142 to 105 with 16 abstentions. Al-Obeidi has served in the role since October 2014. The vote follows several weeks of delayed votes and a secondary investigation into Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jabouri, who was oddly accused of corruption by the ousted Defense Minister during questioning. Al-Jabouri was cleared of any wrongdoing. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has previously said that he will assume the Defense Minister’s duties until a replacement can be confirmed. The Defense Minister’s ouster comes at an especially inconvenient time as Iraqi Security Forces and their allies prepare operations to clear Mosul of ISIS militants.
  • The UNHCR and humanitarian agencies are pressing ahead with preparations for a massive wave of displaced persons during and after military operations to clear Mosul of ISIS militants. Preparations for the estimated 1.3 million IDPs include camp enlargement and construction, negotiations for land allocation to build new camps, and the strategic placement of emergency relief supplies and shelter kits around Mosul proper. According to UNHCR Representative in Iraq, Bruno Geddo, despite “the best-laid plans, there will be insufficient camps for all families needing shelter.” As previously reported in ISHM, military advancements south of Mosul, particularly in Qayyarah and Sharqat, continue to outpace relief efforts to those displaced.
  • Iraqi Security Forces assisted by the U.S.-led international coalition successfully cleared ISIS militants from the strategically important city of Qayyarah, 60 kilometers south of Mosul in Ninewa Province. Qayyarah and its nearby air base are critical staging areas for the impending progression of forces toward Mosul itself. Meanwhile, in Anbar Province, Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) were assigned to control and secure Khalidiyah, between Fallujah and Ramadi, after forces encountered pockets of ISIS militants. Commander of Anbar Operations Major General Ismail al-Mahlawi said that after clearing Khalidiya, forces will return to Ramadi to secure that city which has seen the return of 70% of its citizens. U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones said on August 22 that the U.S. will continue to support PMUs only if they coordinate with the ISF.
  • On August 23, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi confirmed that President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Masoud Barzani said that Iraqi Peshmerga Forces have “no ambitions” of holding territory in Ninewa Province after it is cleared of ISIS militants. The confirmation came the day after U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones announced the allocation of US$ 415 million in aid to the Peshmerga to pay salaries, buy supplies, and continue their joint military operations against ISIS near Mosul.
  • 36 individuals convicted for their involvement in the Speicher Massacre of June 2014 were hanged at the Nasriyah Prison in Dhi Qar Province as hundreds of family members of victims watched and rejoiced on August 21. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have called on Iraqi authorities to halt executions and reinforce rights to due process and fair trials. Based on credible accounts of the mass trials which lasted no longer than a day, those rights were denied to those executed this week.
  • A final draft of the Government of Iraq’s 2017 fiscal year budget includes few changes from 2016, according to Mohammad Saleh, financial advisor to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Despite continuing outsized security and humanitarian needs, the budget represents, in Saleh’s words, a transition from a “war economy to a peace economy.” The budget draft will be introduced to Parliament in mid-September.

Parliament Declares ‘No Confidence’ in Defense Minister

On August 19, Head of Parliament’s Committee on Security and Defense and Member of Parliament, Saghloon Abdallah, spoke of the need to come up with replacements in the event that Minister of Defense Khaled al-Obeidi is voted out of office. The Iraqi Parliament is planned to vote on the minister’s ouster and Abdallah hopes they can resolve the leadership issue before efforts to clear Mosul of ISIS militants advances. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he would take over the responsibilities of the minister temporarily if al-Obeidi is removed from the office he has held since October 2014.

On August 19, representative of the Alliance of Iraqi Forces, Member of Parliament Ahmed al-Jabra, speculated that most Members of Parliament will likely vote to keep the Minister of Defense Khaled al-Obeidi because of the impending Mosul Operation and the ongoing operation to clear the Ninewa Province. Another reason al-Jabra mentioned for voting to keep the minister is due to the lack of consensus on an alternative candidate which will force Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to run the ministry for the foreseeable future.

On August 19, hundreds of protesters congregated in Horreya Square in the city of Hila to demand continued political reform. Civil rights activist Kazem Mohammad explained that the new technocratic ministerial appointments are a step in the right direction, but that the entire cabinet must be replaced with the same effective professionals. Protesters in the Babil Province also called for a reform of the judiciary, investigations into financial corruption, reduction of parliamentary representatives, the resignation of the Babel governor, an end to the quota system, and increased job opportunities for young people.

On August 19, dozens of people protested in Haboubi Square in the city of Nasriya to demand continued political reform. Civil rights activists Sahran Masir explained that people in the Dhi Qar Province are seeking to reform the three branches of government and that the recent ministerial appointments signal a comprehensive change in the legislative branch.

On August 21, Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, stated that the approval of the five technocrat ministerial candidates by Parliament was a major step in the right direction for political reform. The candidates were experts and specialists in their fields, rather than politicians, and that this technocratic approach to politics has proven to be successful.

On August 21, Chairman of the Integrity Commission, Hassan al-Yasri, appealed to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to accept the resignation request he submitted in early July. The Office of the Integrity Commission explained that al-Abadi’s choice not to accept the chairman’s resignation was due to the timing of the corruption investigation of Minister of Defense Khaled al-Obeidi and the release of the National Anti-Corruption Strategic Plan put forth by the commission.

On August 21, representative for the National Alliance, Member of Parliament Nayef al-Shamari, confirmed that the coalition has not put forward candidates to fill the Minister of Commerce or Minister of Trade positions to the Prime Minister. Al-Shamari did say that his coalition is ready to discuss filling this post and have numerous candidates in mind.

On August 22, an anonymous senior source in government revealed that the National Alliance bloc will meet today to discuss the vacant ministerial seats. The source confirmed that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi will nominate Hussein Tahan to be the Minister of Interior. Previous candidates either rejected their nominations or were ruled out due to their political allegiances. According to the same source, in return for consensus from the Turkmen political group for this position, Prime Minister al-Abadi is prepared to nominate Turkmen official Torhan Mufti, to be Minister of Commerce. Mufti was formerly a Member of the Kirkuk Provincial Council, acting Minister of Communication, and Minister of State for Provincial Affairs.

On August 23, the Parliament convened their 13th session under the leadership of Speaker of Parliament, Salim al-Jabouri, with 256 members in attendance. The session lasted only 30 minutes after Members of Parliament walked out of the session in protest of a no confidence vote on Minister of Defense Khaled al-Obeidi.

On August 23, Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jabouri was forced to postpone a no confidence vote on Minister of Defense Khaled al-Obeidi after representatives walked out of the session and the Parliament failed to reach a quorum. 57 representatives voted to postpone the vote to withdraw confidence from al-Obeidi and eventually walked out of the session when the postponement was not agreed upon.

On August 24, Minister of Finance Hoshair Zeibari expressed his willingness to be questioned in Parliament over corruption allegations made by Member of Parliament Haitham al-Jabouri. Zeibari warned that during his session he will reveal documents proving his innocence and al-Jabouri’s own involvement in corrupt dealings with other Gulf states. Zeibari said earlier that the investigation into his actions does not serve the public interest and only seeks to damage his reputation.

On August 24, Deputy for the Kurdish Alliance Ahmed al-Badri and Member of the Kurdish Alliance Majid al-Shenkali expressed their support for the process of parliamentary interrogations of state officials and institutions. Both believe that public questioning is not only the right of the Parliament but integral to keeping individuals and institutions accountable to the public and the political apparatus. Al-Badri added that the process allows for transparent proceedings and limits the ability of politicians to make back door agreements.

On August 25, during the 14th session of parliament, Minister of Finance Hoshair Zeibari, was questioned over corruption allegations made by Member of Parliament Haitham al-Jabouri.

On August 25, the vote to withdraw confidence from the Minister of Defense was chaired by Deputy Speaker of Parliament Aram Sheikh Mohammed after Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jabouri recused himself.

On August 25, the Iraqi Parliament voted to withdraw confidence from the Minister of Defense Khaled al-Obeidi with 142 representatives voting, ‘yes,’ and 105 voting, ‘no,’ and 16 abstentions.

On August 25, Minister of Defense Khaled al-Obeidi apologized to the Iraqi people and thanked those who stood behind him during investigations into allegations of corruption. Al-Obeidi maintained that he has diligently fought corruption, nepotism, and favoritism and will continue to be a “soldier in the fight against corruption.”


IDP Returns Hastened Amid More Displacements

On August 19, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced that it is planning to build a camp in Daquq in the Kirkuk Province in hopes of accommodating 1,000 families displaced from areas south of Mosul. The biggest formal camp in Kirkuk, the Nazrawah Displacement Camp, will also receive an additional 100 tents.

On August 19, the UNHCR reported that there are still people stranded in Sharqat City, unable to leave amid fighting between Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants. Those left are elderly or people with physical needs that make them unable to walk the four hours needed to reach safety.

On August 19, the UNHCR began construction on the new al-Allam camp across from the al-Hajaj Reception Center in the Tikrit District of the Salah ad-Din Province. Al-Hajaj Reception Center was built to conduct security screenings but now houses 24,000 people – five times its capacity.

On August 19, the Ministry of Migration and Displacement announced that 314,000 people have returned to Ramadi since August 1. Ramadi was cleared of ISIS militants in December, 2015.

On August 20-22, 8,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) participated in security screenings at the al-Hajaj Reception Center in the Salah ad-Din Province. The Ministry of Migration and Displacement reported that 83,000 people have passed through the transit security center since July, with most people moving on to Tikrit.

On August 21, Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga evacuated 645 people from Hawija and Riyadh, 45 kilometers west of Kirkuk City. Director of Displacement and Migration, Ammar al-Sabah, reported that the IDPs were taken to the Nazrawah Camp, 15 kilometers east of Kirkuk, adding to the camp’s overcrowding.

On August 21, sources from the Iraqi Joint Special Operations Center reported that Iraqi planes dropped millions of leaflets and Iraqi flags in cities west of Mosul such as Tal Afar, Baiji, and Hawija. The leaflets provided residents with exit instructions and asked residents to distance themselves from known ISIS strongholds.

On August 21, Governor of Salah ad-Din, Ahmed Abdullah al-Jabouri, met with Ninewa Operation commanders to discuss the state of displaced people in the overcrowded Debaga camps in the Erbil Province. Al-Jabouri hopes to evacuate some IDPs from the camp and host them in the Salah ad-Din Province after security forces fortify the area over the next two weeks. He also spoke with military leaders about providing safe corridors for civilians to exit areas undergoing military operations.

On August 21, ISF Commander in Fallujah, Juma al-Jumaili, identified a single point of entry for displaced people returning to Garma City, 27 kilometers northeast of Fallujah. The entry point will be patrolled by joint forces consisting of ISF, Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs), and local police officers who will also be screening young men to determine whether they could be ISIS sympathizers. Al-Jumaili explained that security forces will also be monitoring movement in the city and setting up checkpoints at main roads to prevent the reemergence of militants. 1,000 displaced families have already been approved to return back to Garma and the UNHCR expects continued returns.

On August 22, Member of the Anbar Provincial Council, Mohammad Yassin, informed the public that people displaced from Fallujah will be able to return in early October once services are restored. Yassin also spoke of the continued efforts of local departments and volunteers to restore services, rehabilitate the city infrastructure, and dismantle improvised explosive devices left by ISIS militants.

On August 22, Governor of Salah ad-Din, Ahmed Abdullah al-Jabouri, announced that public offices and services in the small town of Seena will reopen August 23, and that displaced residents will be returning next week. This comes after al-Jabouri launched the plan to rehabilitate the town last week.

On August 22, an anonymous security source reported that six IDPs were killed, and five others injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) while trying to flee Hawija, 65 kilometers west of Kirkuk City. Agence France Press claimed that cities south of Mosul are filled with IEDs planted by ISIS in order to prevent ISF military movements or a civilian exodus from their control.

On August 22, tribal leader in Hawija, Shiekh Mahmoud al-Asafi, called on Kurdish President Masoud Barzani to admit over 500 people, mainly women and children, who are stranded in the Dabs District, 40 kilometers northeast of Kirkuk city. Al-Asafi hopes that the IDPs who fled Hawija, 65 kilometers west of Kirkuk City, will be received by Peshmerga forces in Kirkuk and provided with relief. Earlier this week, Member of Parliament for Kirkuk, Mohammad Tamimi, condemned the silence of the local and international community over the humanitarian suffering witnessed by people in Hawija. Tamimi explained that despite readiness from the security forces to intervene, authorities refuse to lift a finger to help the people of Hawija.

On August 22, Diyala police spokesperson, Ghalib al-Attiyah, reported that a local police officer in Azeem City organized an initiative to restore electricity services to individual homes in preparation for IDP returns. Al-Attiyah said that the Diyala Police will form a volunteer team to design initiatives to support reconstruction for returnees.

On August 23, the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) revealed that many IDPs trying to flee Hawija are stranded around active military lines and unable to reach security checkpoints due to the lack of transportation and evacuation support. ECHO highlighted the importance of building the 1,000 tent camp in Daquq and adding 100 tents to the Nazrawah Camp, both in the Kirkuk Province.

On August 23, ECHO reported that 77,000 people have fled from Sharqat and Qayyarah, both south of Mosul, since June 2016. IDPs are traveling long distances, sometimes as much as 200 kilometers to Kirkuk City without water and food. UNHCR confirmed that many people are left stranded for days waiting to cross security checkpoints, reception centers, and military frontlines. The suspension of the scholarship process, which allows IDPs to relocate to other provinces, has also hampered the ability of IDPs to move freely to safety.

On August 23, the UNHCR outlined their ongoing preparation efforts for the high number of displacements expected during and after efforts to clear Mosul of ISIS militants. The UNHCR’s Representative in Iraq, Bruno Geddo, explained that “even with the best-laid plans, there will be insufficient camps for all families needing shelter.”

  • Completed two new camps in Debaga in the Erbil Province
  • Negotiating land allocation to build another camp in Debaga
  • Constructing two new camps north of Mosul (Zelekan in Sheikhan District, and Amalla, in Tel Afar District) to house 4,000 families
  • Constructing a camp in Tal al-Seebat in the Salah ad-Din Province to include 1,000 tents
  • Constructing a camp in Daquq and adding to Nasarawa and Laylan Camps in the Kirkuk Province to include 1,000 tents
  • Strategically placing 100,000 emergency relief and shelter kits around Mosul proper
  • Creating a contingency plan to provide shelter for 120,000, if needed

On August 23, the UNHCR explained that land procurement to build new camps has proven difficult for a variety of reasons. Many times landowners refuse to lease their land to the organization, and also because the UNHCR is taking serious geographical considerations into account like the proximity to military operations, landmines, topography problems, and social and demographic tensions in various regions.

On August 23, UNHCR spokesperson, Adrian Edwards, confirmed that 1.3 million people could be displaced from Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq. This came during a news briefing in Geneva were Edwards reported the displacement of 48,000 people from Mosul, 87,000 from Fallujah, and 78,000 from Sharqat and Qayyarah in recent months.

On August 24, Member of the Anbar Provincial Council, Barakat al-Ifan, said that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi approved the council’s request to return displaced people to Garma, Saqlawiyah, Nisaf, al-Bawifan, Fallujah, and al-Hisa beginning in mid-September. Al-Ifan said that the Minister of Planning, Governor of Anbar, and top security leaders also agreed to the request.

On August 24, an aide for the Jihadi Brigades of Imam Abukarrar al-Saadi confirmed the reception of 300 families from Sharqat in the village of Awja, 140 kilometers south of the city. Al-Saadi expressed the intention of the brigades to house the IDPs and provide them with relief and protection until they are able to go back to Sharqat.

On August 25, 20 civilians were killed and 45 others were kidnapped by ISIS militants while trying to flee Hawija, 65 kilometers west of Kirkuk City. An anonymous security source explained that militants began shooting civilians indiscriminately while they attempted to reach Peshmerga forces in the Dabs District, 71 kilometers northwest of Hawija.

On August 25, spokesperson for the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs), Ali al-Husseini, confirmed the reception of 30 civilians fleeing from Hawija, 65 kilometers west of Kirkuk City. Al-Husseini continued that the IDPs were taken to the al-Bashir District in the Taza Khurmatu area, 25 kilometers south of Kirkuk, where they will later be relocated to a displacement camp.


Iraqi and Coalition Forces Secure Qayyarah as ISIS Remains in Anbar

On August 19, an anonymous source reported that Iraqi Security Forces cleared Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants from a village near Qayyarah, 60 kilometers south of Mosul, and raised the Iraqi flag on buildings. A bomb squad reportedly began scanning the village for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) shortly after.

On August 20, nine ISIS militants were killed in a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike that targeted the group’s local headquarters in the Amil District, west of Mosul.

On August 20, six ISIS members were eliminated in a U.S. -led international coalition airstrike targeted a vehicle in Wadi Hajar, 4 kilometers northwest of the Mosul Airport.

On August 20, Commander of Anbar Operations Major General Ismail al-Mahlawi stated that the military operation to clear ISIS militants from Khalidiya is nearing an end as security forces found and eliminated the remaining pockets of ISIS militants. Al-Mahlawi continued that after they have officially cleared Khalidiya, they will return to Ramadi to eliminate any ISIS remnants and secure the city.

On August 20, 14 ISIS militants were killed in clashes with ISF in the Albu Obeid and Albu Bali neighborhoods of Khalidiya, 20 kilometers east of Ramadi. Head of the Security Committee in Khalidiya, Ibrahim Fahdawi, confirmed that ISF found pockets of ISIS militants and destroyed three weapon caches while inspecting the city’s tunnels, trenches, and agricultural land.

On August 21, Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend and the 18th Airborne assumed command of the Combined Joint Task Force of Operation Inherent Resolve. Townsend is tasked with supporting ISF efforts to defeat ISIS in Iraq and takes over from Lt. Gen. Sean Macfarland. Townsend explained that his predecessor’s increased ground and air efforts will be continued under his command.

On August 21, 16 ISIS militants were killed by a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike in the Hamam al-Alil village, 31 kilometers south of Mosul. Media spokesperson for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) also confirmed the death of ISIS “leader” Najm Abdullah al-Hadidi in the attack.

On August 21, ten ISIS militants were killed after an F-16 targeted a missile manufacturing factory in the al-Dindan neighborhood in central Mosul, according to an anonymous security source.

On August 21, five ISIS militants were killed when an airstrike destroyed a convoy of 12 trucks containing crude oil in Mosul. An Iraqi military spokesperson confirmed ISIS militants planned to set fire to the trucks to compromise air visibility.

On August 21, a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike killed an unidentified number of ISIS militants while they tried to attack the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga headquarters in the Ibrahim Khalil village in Nimrood, 38 kilometers southeast of Mosul.

On August 21, 12 ISIS militants were killed and 13 others injured after a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike targeted a gathering in the al-Safeena neighborhood in the al-Salamiyah area, 62 kilometers west of Kirkuk city.

On August 21, an anonymous security source revealed that a Peshmerga officer was killed by a sniper while attempting to aid displaced families in Hawija, 65 kilometers west of Kirkuk City.

On August 21, 12 ISIS militants were killed when a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike destroyed the ISIS local headquarters in the Kokija village on the left side of Baashiqa city, 23 kilometers northeast of Mosul.

On August 22, one policeman was killed and three others injured when a roadside bomb detonated in Khalidiya, 20 kilometers east of Ramadi. An anonymous source revealed that the policemen were there to inspect the area for improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

On August 22, a British contractor was killed and another injured while trying to dismantle an IED south of Ramadi. Mayor of Ramadi, Ibrahim al-Awsaj, confirmed that the contractor worked for the American demining company, Janus Global Operations, which signed a contract with the UNDP in April to support demining efforts.

On August 22, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones stated that the U.S. fully supports all troops working in tandem with the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) to clear cities of ISIS control. Jones continued that U.S. support will be given to Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) only if they continuously coordinate with the ISF. He also added that the U.S. built a costly bridge west of Qayyarah to facilitate the crossing of ISF to clear the city.

On August 22, ISIS militants fired homemade rockets filled with chlorine gas into the village of al-Awsajah, near Qayyarah. Ninewa Operations General Najim Abdullah al-Jabouri confirmed there were no civilian or military casualties and that the use of chemical weapons are a reflection of the desperation and cowardice of the militant group.

On August 23, joint forces of the Ninewa Operations began a comprehensive attempt to seize the city of Qayyarah from ISIS militants. An anonymous security source said that extensive military operations began at dawn and is expected to conclude later in the day when forces will begin to search the entire city for IEDs and any remaining ISIS militants.

On August 23, Member of the Qayyarah Municipal Council, Arkan al-Sabawi, confirmed that ISF raised the Iraqi flag on the Qayyarah hospital and the Council building, cleared the city’s main market, and is now in control of the city center.

On August 23, Major Amin Shikhani revealed that along with the control of the city center, joint forces have full control of the main road between Qayyarah and Hamam al-Ali, a town 31 kilometers south of Mosul. Shikhani continued that U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes have targeted ISIS vehicle-based IEDs in the area and that he would be able to declare liberation in the following hours.

On August 23, an anonymous military source confirmed that security forces destroyed five tunnels used by ISIS militants and identified ten IEDs left in homes in Khalidiyah, 23 kilometers east of Ramadi.

On August 23, the Municipal Board of Khalidiyah assigned two PMUs to control and secure Khalidiyah and create security checkpoints around the area. The PMUs tasked with securing Khalidiyah will also dismantle IEDs and deal with booby trapped houses.

On August 25, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the official clearing of the city of Qayyarah in the Ninewa Province after the city’s military base and main bridges were captured from ISIS militants. Al-Abadi said that this military victory is a major step in clearing and taking control of the city of Mosul, just north of Qayyarah.

On August 25, the Joint Special Operations Command declared control of the city of Qayyarah, 60 kilometers south of Mosul, and raised the Iraqi flag over main buildings. The operation was led by Major General Maan al-Saadi and the ninth armored division and enlisted the support of Iraq’s Counter Terrorism unit, Iraqi Air Force, Army Aviation, and  the U.S.-led international coalition.

On August 25, an anonymous source from the Anbar Operations Command reported the deaths of three ISIS militants who were killed while they attempted to flee Ramadi by crossing the Euphrates River. The source explained that militants are launching random attacks and infiltrating secured spaces in order to ease military operations on the remaining militant pockets in Ramadi and the Anbar Province.

On August 25, Governor of Salah ad-Din, Ahmed al-Jabouri, survived an assassination attempt after a bomb went off in one of his convoys while on the road between the Salah ad-Din Province and Baghdad near the area of Balad, 90 kilometers north of Baghdad. Al-Jabouri confirmed that no one was injured.


Barzani Says Peshmerga Will Not Remain in Ninewa After ISIS is Defeated

On August 22, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones announced the allocation of US$ 415 million in aid to the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga to pay salaries and buy fuel and food to continue their joint military operations against Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants.

On August 23, President of the Kurdistan Regional Government Masoud Barzani met with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, Turkey to discuss increased political and economic relations between the two governments, military operations in the fight against ISIS, and issues surrounding the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Sources in Erdogan’s office also revealed that the two leaders discussed potential steps to close schools in Iraqi Kurdistan that belong to Fethullah Gulen, the Islamic preacher and former imam that Erdogan believes is responsible for the attempted coup d’etat one month ago.

On August 23, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called on the Ninewa Provincial Council to cooperate with the Kurdistan Regional Government in reaching an understanding about the future of Mosul and resolve the question of future leadership after efforts to clear the city of ISIS militants is completed. The Peshmerga currently surround Mosul and are integral to the fight against the so-called Islamic State. However, there have been concerns from both sides about their involvement in the operation and their hopes of maintaining control of the city after it is cleared.

On August 23, Secretary General of the Daawa Party and Member of Parliament Nuri al-Maliki met with a delegation from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) led by Mullah Bakhtiar Ahmed, and expressed willingness to improve political relations between the federal government and the Kurdish movement for general consensus. Al-Maliki called for the continued support of the Peshmerga in the military operation to clear ISIS militants from Mosul.

On August 23, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi confirmed that Masoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Regional Government declared that the Kurdistan Regional Government and Iraqi Peshmerga Forces have “no ambitions” to hold territory in the Ninewa Province after it is cleared of ISIS militants. Al-Abadi renewed his calls for Iraqi Kurdistan to encourage the removal of Turkish troops from sovereign Iraqi territory.


Iraq Executes 36 Convicted of Involvement in the Speicher Massacre Despite Condemnation From International Community

On August 21, 36 individuals convicted for their involvement in the Speicher Massacre of June 2014, were hanged at the Nasriyah Prison in the Dhi Qar Province. Those executed were convicted of murdering 1,700 Shia military members in Camp Speicher near Tikrit, in the deadliest attack by the ISIS group. The executions were presided over by the Minister of Justice, Haider al-Zamili, Nasriyah Prison leadership, local Dhi Qar authorities, and attended by family members of the victims. A senior source in the prison confirmed that the death sentences were approved by the Federal Court of Cassation, as well as the President.

On August 21, according to the New York Times, the vast majority of family members of the Speicher Massacre victims praised the news of the execution of 36 individuals convicted for their involvement. Governor of Dhi Qar, Yehia al-Nasiri, stated that the executions were acts of “simple restitution” for the victims’ families. Other families place blame on the higher ranking military commanders who are believed to have abandoned the base when ISIS militants approached.

On August 22, Amnesty International condemned the 36 executions for what they considered a lack of due process given to the suspects. Amnesty reported that many suspects’ families were threatened in order to garner a confession. The organization called on the Iraqi Parliament to suspend the death penalty before it can be fully abolished. Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International’s MENA Office, argued that executions fail to address security issues in Iraq and only serve to continue the cycle of violence.

On August 22, Human Rights Watch criticized the Iraqi government for executing 36 individuals involved in the Speicher Massacre without what they considered a free and fair trial. Executive Director of HRW, Kenneth Roth, argued that association with ISIS or suspicion of a horrible crime should not be cause for execution without trial.

On August 23, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed deep concern over the 36 executions mainly because suspects were hanged due to information extracted by alleged torture of the defendants or from unknown informants. The suspects were appointed an attorney by the court who made only one three-minute statement throughout the entire proceedings, according to the OHCHR. The UN called on authorities to cease any executions of the 1,200 people currently sentenced to death and to conduct a full analysis of the criminal justice system.


Few Changes From 2016 in Proposed 2017 Budget

On August 23, the Information Office of the Prime Minister stated that the Council of Ministers is in the final stages of completing the fiscal budget for 2017 and will soon submit it to the Iraqi Parliament for approval. During the Council’s meeting, amendments and recommendations from the Minister of Finance were discussed extensively.

On August 23, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced that Iraq is running on a large budget deficit and that although oil production is up to 48 trillion dinars (approximately US$ 40.6 billion), the salaries and pensions of government employees alone requires 51 trillion dinars, (approximately US$ 43.1 billion).

On August 23, financial advisor to the Prime Minister, Mohammad Saleh, revealed that Minister of Finance Hoshyar Zebari, along with other heads of Ministries, will begin talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to discuss the details of a US$ 5.3 billion loan to support Iraq’s financial situation. The meeting is set to take place in September and could result in receiving the second and third installments of the loan by the end of 2016.

On August 23, head of Parliament’s Finance Committee and Member of Parliament Faleh al-Sari, said that financial allocations for the next fiscal year will mainly be directed to four ministries: Interior, Defense, Education, and Health. Al-Sari noted that very few changes were made from the 2016 annual budget.

On August 23, Member of the Anbar Provincial Council, Barakat al-Issawi, confirmed that the province does not have a budget to reconstruct areas destroyed during military operations. Al-Issawi explained that apart from the lack of basic services in major cities, 85 bridges, power plants, schools, and many roads have been destroyed and will require a large financial allocation.

On August 24, financial advisor to the Prime Minister, Mohammad Saleh, announced that the final draft of the budget for the 2017 fiscal year will be introduced to Parliament on September 15, and should be passed by the end of the year. Although Saleh says there are only minor differences in the budget proposal from last year, he explained that military expenditures will be transferred to reconstruction and stability in what he calls a move from a “war economy to a peace economy.”

 


DateLocationDeathsInjuries
08/25/16al-Shaab, Northeast Baghdad25
08/25/16Ur, Northeast Baghdad18
08/25/16al-Nairiya, Western Baghdad26
08/24/16al-Wishash, Northwest Baghdad25
08/24/16Tariq neighborhood, Sadr City, Eastern Baghdad12
08/24/16Suaib, Northwest Baghdad26
08/24/16Eastern Baghdad20
08/24/16Abu Ghraib, Eastern Baghdad29
08/23/16al-Mahmoudaya, Southern Baghdad29
08/23/16al-Ameen, Eastern Baghdad27
08/23/16al-Basateen, Shaab City, Northeast Baghdad 12
08/22/16al-Boaitha, Southwest Baghdad23
08/22/16al-Beyaa, Southwest Baghdad16
08/22/16Abu Ghraib, Eastern Baghdad110
08/22/16Horreya, Northeast Baghdad26
08/22/16Abu Dshir, Dorra, Southern Baghdad16
08/22/16Hawija, West of Kirkuk67
08/22/16Nasser neighborhood Sadr City, Eastern Baghdad22
08/21/16al-Baladiyat, Eastern Baghdad10
08/21/16al-Wasta, Kirkuk Province03
08/20/16Abu Bali, Khalidiyah33
08/19/16Tobiji, Western Baghdad10
08/19/16Abu Ghraib, Western Baghdad36
08/19/16Nahrawan, Southeast Baghdad211
08/19/16Yousifiyah, Southern Baghdad28

 

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 Education for Peace in Iraq Center. ISHM’s research methodology was developed by EPIC’s Senior Visiting Fellow Ahmed Ali. EPIC intern Hana El-Gamal was responsible for compiling this edition’s content.


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