ISHM: June 23 – 29, 2017

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Key Takeaways:

  • Abadi Expected to Announce Victory in Mosul Despite Ongoing Violence – On June 29, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s office announced that he would deliver a speech declaring victory in Mosul. The announcement came after the ISF liberated the ruins of the al-Nuri Mosque in Old Mosul, a symbolic victory at the site where ISIS declared its caliphate three years ago. Yet, street-by-street fighting to dislodge ISIS from the last few neighborhoods under its control in Old Mosul remains intense, with the ISF making slow advances throughout the past week. Elsewhere in previously-cleared areas of the city, ISIS has stepped up suicide and insurgent attacks against security forces and civilian targets – including in some eastern Mosul neighborhoods that were liberated in January. According to the U.S.-led coalition, only approximately 200 ISIS fighters remain, mostly confined to the Old City, but the threat of militant sleeper cells in liberated areas is prevalent. more…
  • Safe Routes Opened from Mosul’s Old City, Though Thousands Remain Trapped – On June 24, the ISF successfully opened safe exit routes for civilians fleeing western Mosul. Conditions for civilians still trapped in the city’s last ISIS-held neighborhoods, however, remain dire. According to a UN assessment, tens of thousands of residents remain under ISIS control, and face severe shortages of food and water; the militants continue to execute civilians caught trying to flee the territory ISIS claims to hold. The UN estimates that between 100,000-150,000 civilians remain trapped inside the Old City. Meanwhile, civilians in recently-cleared neighborhoods remain primarily concerned about the lack of security from ISIS attacks. The Iraqi government estimates that 875,000 IDPs have fled Mosul since the start of military operations there in October 2016; yet, only 194,000 have returned back to their homes. To address the displacement and reconstruction challenge after Mosul’s liberation, the Iraqi government announced a 10-year US$ 100 billion reconstruction plan for the country that is set to begin next year – which will focus first on rebuilding areas of Mosul leveled as a result of fighting. more…
  • Barzani Presses Kurdish Independence Referendum – In a June 28 Washington Post op-ed, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani outlined his argument for Kurdish independence ahead of the planned referendum scheduled for September 25. Importantly, the article notes that if the referendum produces a “yes” vote in favor of independence, that outcome will guarantee negotiations with the Baghdad government will commence. Yet, as Barzani advocates for independence, the international community continues to push back against the decision. On June 24, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, and reiterated the U.S.’s opposition to the referendum. Retired U.S. General and former CIA Director, David Petraeus commented that he does not believe the Kurdistan Region of Iraq can “afford to be independent.” Politicians inside Iraq, too, have expressed opposition, with Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq Party (ISCI), denouncing the KRG’s decision. more…
  • Peshmerga Clash with ISIS in Kirkuk Province – On June 25, Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces repelled an ISIS attack in the Dibis District of Kirkuk Province, about 45 kilometers northwest of the city of Kirkuk. No Peshmerga were killed. The attack highlights ongoing ISIS presence in northern Iraq; importantly, the town of Hawija in Kirkuk Province remains under ISIS control. more…
  • ISF Thwart ISIS Attacks in Diyala, Salah ad-Din – As ISIS nears defeat in Mosul, its militants have attempted to launch attacks elsewhere in Diyala and Salah ad-Din Provinces. A spokesman for the Diyala police forces announced that, over the past week, his officers successfully thwarted eight terrorist attacks, and disrupted six more that were in the final planning stages. Local security forces claim that ISIS has turned to “banditry” and other “largely unsuccessful” raids against checkpoints as their power erodes. more…
  • UN Ambassador Haley Testifies Before Congress; State Department Plans to Remove Iraq from Child Soldier List – On June 27, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations about the Trump Administration’s proposed budget, which would cut about 40% in UN Peacekeeping funds. Haley justified these cuts by arguing that the UN has value, but needs to “trim the fat around the edges.” One day later, while testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ambassador Haley reiterated her support for these cuts, and acknowledged that the unpredictability of U.S. foreign policy was “a good thing….Keeping foreign governments guessing about U.S. intentions has served as a powerful negotiating lever.” Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced his plan to remove Iraq from the U.S. State Department’s list of governments using child soldiers. This move is highly opposed by senior diplomats in the Middle East and officials from the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy and Human Rights and Labor. more…
  • Deportation Orders of Many Christian Iraqis Delayed by Federal Judge – A U.S. federal judge halted the deportation of 1,444 Iraqi nationals who had been issued final deportation orders. Of these, 199 had been detained by immigration authorities near Detroit earlier this month during a nationwide immigration crackdown. The judge’s order will delay the deportation of the group until July 10. These developments come as U.S. immigration authorities attempt to remove a “backlog” of immigrants who have committed crimes in their past. 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.


Abadi Expected to Announce Victory in Mosul Despite Ongoing Violence

On June 23, Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants killed eight civilians and police officers and injured 19 more in a coordinated attack on the Muthanna market in eastern Mosul. The attack involved at least two fighters wielding guns, grenades, and suicide vests. This attack calls into question the success of local police forces in securing the area, as eastern Mosul was considered relatively secure and cleared of ISIS militants. As ISIS loses territory in the Old City, they are redoubling their efforts to destabilize the security situation elsewhere through suicide bombings and armed attacks. Security forces arrested a suicide bomber in eastern Mosul on June 29, without any casualties.

On June 24, Franco-Swiss journalist Véronique Robert succumbed to injuries from an improvised explosive device (IED) attack in western Mosul on June 19. The blast killed two other journalists and injured one more; her death makes her the 28th journalist to die in Iraq since the start of 2014, according to Reporters Without Borders. After emergency surgery in Iraq, she was airlifted to Paris for further treatment, where she passed away Saturday.

On June 25, ISIS militants launched a series of attacks on the Hay al-Tanak district and nearby Yarmuk neighborhood bordering Mosul’s Old City. The attacks were carried out with the intention of retaking formerly-held territory there. The commander of the Counter Terrorism Services (CTS) in Mosul, Lieutenant General Abdul Ghani al-Assadi, said the attacks had failed, though some ISIS militants remained under siege in the Hay al-Tanak district, where Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) were closing in on them.

On June 26, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition to clear Mosul of ISIS militants announced that roughly 200 fighters for the organization remained in the city, almost entirely in Mosul’s Old City. Col. Joseph Scrocca emphasized that despite their limited forces, a small number of militants can hold out for a long time in the maze of narrow streets and fragile houses of the Old City. Iraq’s CTS must strike a delicate balance between avoiding civilian casualties in combat and clearing the district quickly enough to avoid civilian deaths from starvation. Tens of thousands of civilians are still believed to be trapped in the Old City, with almost no access to food, water, or medical aid.

On June 26, Iraq’s Federal Police captured ISIS’s primary hospital in Mosul’s Old City, seizing medical supplies and opening up several new fronts against ISIS within the area. Just over one square kilometer of the Old City remains under ISIS control.

On June 27, Iraq’s CTS forces cleared the Mushaheda, Bayd, and Ras al-Jada neighborhoods in Mosul’s Old City of ISIS militants, raising the Iraqi flag over their newly captured territory and pushing closer to the remaining ISIS-held territory along the Tigris River. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced last week that Mosul would be completely free of ISIS control in “a couple of days,” but the CTS’s slow but steady progress through the Old City may stretch on longer.

On June 27, the ISF released an update on all captured territory in Mosul’s Old City, announcing that they had control of roughly 50% of the district, with an area of only 850 by 1700 meters still controlled by ISIS militants. By the time the statement was released, the ISF officially controlled the site of the Al-Nuri mosque, along with several major markets, hospitals, and historically significant buildings as they pushed farther towards the Tigris River, where militants remain entrenched in a booby-trapped labyrinth of buildings with tens of thousands of civilian hostages.

On June 27, an ISIS attack on Popular Mobilization Unit (PMU) forces in western Mosul left three dead and 13 more injured. ISIS fighters attacked members of the militia while they were unarmed, preparing to leave Mosul for a break from the fighting. The commander of that PMU called on the government to increase their security forces in Mosul and install local police forces to help establish control of the area. The ISIS militants who carried out the attack reportedly pretended to be IDPs before launching the attack. Humanitarian agencies have been taking in thousands of IDPs fleeing Mosul’s Old City, but have struggled to identify ISIS militants without resorting to sorting methods that put all members of ISIS-connected families into separate camps.

On June 28, the CTS cleared two more neighborhoods in Mosul’s Old City: Khidra Sada and al-Ahmadia. ISF forces have made steady progress in their advance through the ISIS stronghold, despite a limited use of airstrikes to avoid civilian casualties and an inability to use heavy vehicles on the territory’s narrow, winding streets.

On June 28, ISF soldiers thwarted an ISIS operation to infiltrate and attack eastern Mosul. Five armed militants reportedly swam across the Tigris River, but were spotted in the process and killed in an ensuing shootout on the eastern side of the river, in which the ISF did not report any casualties.

On June 29, the office of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced that he will deliver a victory speech in western Mosul: this announcement came after Iraqi forces cleared the site of the destroyed al-Nuri Mosque and al-Hadba Minaret. The mosque holds intense symbolism and meaning to the Iraqi community, and is where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared his so called caliphate on this day three years ago. Sabah al-Numan, a spokesperson for the U.S.-trained CTS stated that “there is no area in Mosul controlled by terrorists,” the remaining ISIS militants are hiding in “two areas, but I do not say they are in control.”


Safe Routes Opened from Mosul’s Old City, Though Thousands Remain Trapped

On June 23, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) published the results of an in-depth investigation of the numerous obstacles that internally displaced persons (IDPs) still face. According to the report, an estimated three million Iraqis remain displaced despite the fact that Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have successfully cleared much of Iraq of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) territory. The report released tracked and confirmed the location of more than 626,600 displaced individuals from Mosul, of whom, 432,700 remain displaced. An estimated 380,000 IDPs have fled to eastern Mosul due to military operations underway in the Old City. The IOM surveyed more than 1.7 million Iraqis who wish to return to their areas of origins, which raises questions regarding the factors that hinder them from doing so. The IOM’s Displacing Tracking Matrix surveyed eight recently retaken subdistricts of Mosul. Through interviews with IDPs, the IOM concluded that security concerns in the area topped all other factors preventing IDPs from returning back to their homes. Proximity to the frontlines and perceived instability of the region remain the most relevant concern to IDPs. 30% of all IDPs interviewed indicated that the fear of reprisal is a strong concern. The damage to housing did not appear to be an obstacle to those returning home. About 25% of those who wanted to return back to their homes, were unable to do so, due to delays in processing their documentation or by being stopped by checkpoints on their way back to their place of origin.

On June 23, it was reported that a missile hit a marketplace in western Mosul, leaving 10 civilians dead, and 40 wounded. The market is located in Mosul al-Jadida, the same area  where a U.S. airstrike in March killed more than 200 civilians.

On June 23, the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) issued an update regarding the humanitarian situation in Iraq: 432,726 Mosul residents have become internally displaced from Mosul as a result of the the ongoing campaign in the city, as families continue to flee the city. An estimated 20,000 civilians fled Mosul between June 14-June 21,12,000 of whom arrived at the Mosul Woods screening site, many with visible injuries. The Iraqi government estimates that 875,000 IDPs have fled Mosul since October 2016, yet only 194,000 have returned back to their homes.

On June 23, the UNHCR issued a report indicating growing concerns over the treatment of those suspected of supporting extremist, and the worsening protection environment for the families of suspects. This report was issued after the UNHCR reported their concerns regarding the procedure used at the Hammam al-Alil screening site to identify suspected supporters of  extremist groups. The Mosul City Council announced on June 20 that families of suspected members of extremist groups wishing to relocate into the city will not be able to do so. The official announcement comes after recent evictions in Sharqat, 100 kilometers south of Mosul, where displaced families have been forced to relocate to al-Shahama Camp in Salah ad-Din. In Qayyarah, 60 kilometers south of Mosul, 500 families have already received eviction notices. Humanitarian organizations are monitoring the issue and working with government officials to ensure displaced families have access to safety and due process of the law.

On June 24, UN’s Iraq Humanitarian Coordinator, Lise Grande, released a statement condemning the recent attacks on civilians in Mosul’s Old City as fighting intensifies. Fighting in the Old City is very intense and civilians are at extreme risk, as hundreds of civilians, including many children, are being shot. Grande estimates that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of civilians are being held as human shields. Grande says, “killing and wounding civilians violates every humanitarian principle and is contrary in every way to international humanitarian law…we have said this before, and are saying it now, as strongly as we can. Parties to this conflict are obliged under international humanitarian law to protect and assist civilians. Nothing is more important—nothing.” The UN estimates that there still remains between 100,000-150,000 civilians who remain trapped inside the old city.

On June 24, the ISF were able to successfully open exit routes to hundreds of civilians fleeing Mosul’s Old City. ISF channeled hundreds of civilians along two perpendicular streets into the center of the city, hoping to isolate ISIS militants. The United Nations voiced their concern to the raising death toll among civilians. At least 100 civilians reached safety of a government held area west of the Old City in a 20 minute period after exit routes opened. Soldiers provided civilians with food, water and medical treatment to the those injured and malnourished.

On June 26, with the imminent victory against ISIS in Mosul, the Iraqi government announced a US$ 100 billion, 10 year reconstruction plan for the country that is set to begin next year. The rebuilding of Mosul will be the focal point of the plan and is incredibly important to the reconstruction of the country, due to the large number of displaced from the city, the infrastructure damage, and the symbolic significance the city has. Hossam al-Ayyar, a member of the Ninewa Provincial Council said, “the plan will aim to eliminate ideological extremism from the culture of the people of Mosul, who have been living for three years with ISIS’s inflammatory rhetoric, and [prevent] the emergence of a new generation… inspired by the culture of hate.” The new plan includes cultural and religious plans by mosques, churches and schools in order to emphasize the importance of coexistence, promote shared living, and respect for others. The first phase of the plan mainly focuses on assisting and resettling  IDPs and civilians who stayed in the cities under ISIS occupation. The second phase of the plan is dedicated to building security initiatives, such as building and strengthening local police. The plan faces serious funding challenges, but the Iraqi government remains optimistic as The World Bank has shown willingness to invest.

On June 27, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that as the battle for Mosul intensifies, residents in the city who remain trapped face hunger and terror, as ISIS militants continue to to gun down civilians fleeing the city while those who remain trapped, are being used as human shields. The tens of thousands that remain trapped, are surviving on very low food stocks and without clean water or electricity resulting in widespread sickness, especially among children and the elderly.

On June 29, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) called for the increased protection of children who remain trapped in western Mosul. Peter Hawkins, UNICEF’s representative in Iraq, released a statement regarding the thousands of children who remain in grave danger in Mosul’s Old City. Hawkins said, “Children are facing multiple threats to their lives. Those stranded in the fighting are hiding in their basements, fearful of the next onslaught. Those who try to flee, risk being shot or wounded. Hundreds of civilians have already been reported killed and used as human shields….UNICEF reiterates its call on all parties to the conflict to protect children at all times. Children must be kept out of harm’s way no matter the circumstances.”

On June 29, the Swedish newspaper Expressen released footage of an Iraqi Federal Police soldier committing grave human rights abuses against alleged ISIS members captured by the Federal Police. Falah Aziz bragged that he had beheaded over 50 prisoners, and footage shows him decapitating, beating, and strangling unarmed prisoners while fellow police members watch and cheer. Aziz says that he is the only one performing these executions, and justifies them as a fair retribution for his family members killed by ISIS. This news comes after revelations in May that the Iraqi military’s elite Emergency Response Division was torturing captives suspected of fighting for ISIS in the battle to retake Mosul.


Barzani Presses Kurdish Independence Referendum

On June 24, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, and reiterated America’s opposition to the Kurdish Referendum on independence from Iraq, which is set for September 25. Tillerson further stressed the importance of sustained cooperation between Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga in order to successfully clear Iraq of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants.  

On June 25, the head of the Turkmen People’s Party (TPP) in Kirkuk, Irfan Kirkuki, stated that his party supports the upcoming Kurdistan referendum, because “the Turkmen generations can only obtain their rights through independence [from Iraq].” The TPP represents the Turkmen minority in Iraq, a group which has had historic tension with both the Kurds and Iraqi Arabs. Kirkuki emphasized that Turkmen have political, economic, and social ties with and interests in the Kurdistan Region, noting that there are greater tensions with Baghdad than with Erbil, and adding that Turkmen often do not often travel to Baghdad for fear of their lives.

On June 25, retired U.S. General and former CIA Director, David Petraeus commented that the Kurdistan Region of Iraq would need to export about 800,000 barrels of oil per day (b/d) at US$ 105 per barrel in order to afford independence from Iraq: “I really don’t think the [Kurds] can afford to be independent…they are only producing 800,000 barrels on a really good day and exporting a subset of that now [to US$ 40] per barrel. So, they still need some of what they get from Baghdad.” He added that while Kurdistan has a right to independence, they should wait until they can make an amicable deal with Iraq and Turkey. 

On June 26, Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq party (ISCI), denounced the upcoming Kurdistan referendum on independence from Iraq, saying that he “believes that the divisions will produce unstable entities in a troubled world” such as terrorist organizations. He spoke directly to the Kurds, telling them “you are part of the spirit of [the Iraqi] nation.” The ISCI is a pro-Iranian party with a conservative Shia ideology. Iran strongly opposes Iraqi Kurdish independence over fears that it could galvanize Iran’s own restive Kurdish population towards secession. The referendum is scheduled for September 25.

On June 28, Amin Bakr, a Kurdish politician of the Movement for Change (Gorran) Party, criticized the Baghdad government for its negligence in an upcoming water crisis that will affect the Kurdistan region. Iran is currently constructing a dam in city of Sardasht, which will cut off the flow of the Little Zab River: this river crosses from Iran into Iraqi Kurdistan territory before flowing through the Kurdish Dukan dam. If the water flow is not restored, 150 thousand people in the Qaladze City will face extreme water shortages. The project would also destroy the agriculture dependent on the river. Until recently, Dukan dam had a flow of thirty thousand cubic meters per second, however this has since decreased to a ratio of zero: water supplies are expected to dry up completely within days after the Little Zab River is cut off. Iran has been working on this project for years and, as Bakr notes, “has already alerted the Iraqi government on the danger of this work on Iraq’s share of water.” However there has been “an eerie silence” from Baghdad. The KRG Minister of Agriculture, Abdulstar Majid, is set to visit Tehran to resolve the issue, and notes that “decreasing the water that flows into the Kurdistan Region seems more like a political decision.”

On June 28, President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Massoud Barzani, stated that “the independence of Kurdistan will be a factor for the stability of the region and will not change the borders on any neighboring country,” and that “regardless of the results of the referendum, the Kurds will continue their close cooperation with Baghdad and the West until the final victory over ISIS.” These comments come among regional concern that the upcoming referendum will encourage other Kurdish populations in Turkey and Iran to similarly seek independence from their respective states.

On June 28, President of the Kurdistan Region, Massoud Barzani published an opinion piece in The Washington Post outlining the upcoming referendum, and what it will mean for the future of the region. He emphasized that “Kurdistan’s case for independence is compelling… the Kurds were promised their own state [following the first World War].  Instead we were divided against our will, our lands carved up among Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq.” He wrote in detail about the various offences of the Baghdad government onto the Kurds, including Saddam Hussein’s mass execution of nearly 5% of the Iraqi Kurdish population in the 1980s. In addition, Barzani noted that the referendum is binding in the sense that if passed, it will guarantee that there will be talks about self determination between Erbil and Baghdad.

On June 29, Faili Kurds living in Baghdad congregated to discuss the referendum and the fate of their community. With tensions rising between the KRG and the Iraqi government, Kurds living in Baghdad “feel threatened and are talking about the need to defend themselves.” Faili Kurds are Shia,a minority both in the overwhelmingly Sunni Kurdish population and in the Arab dominated city. They have continuously faced persecution for their beliefs and ethnicity: under Saddam Hussein’s regime, they were targeted for their support of Kurdish independence: thousands were murdered, and up to 1.4 million deported between the 1960s to 1980s. Currently, the group is debating the merits of supporting Kurdistan while in an Iraqi stronghold. Ali Akbar, a Faili leader, stated, “we need to come up with a way to defend ourselves and reach an agreement among ourselves to form a military force.”


Peshmerga Clash with ISIS in Kirkuk Province

On June 25, Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces repelled an Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) attack in the Dibis District of Kirkuk Province, about 45 kilometers northwest of the city of Kirkuk, killing eight militants and wounding five more. No Peshmerga fighters reported injuries. A conflicting report by a Kurdish journalist embedded with the Peshmerga indicated that they had killed “dozens” of militants.

On June 26, violent clashes broke out within ISIS’s ranks in the Abbasid region, in the southwest of the Kirkuk Province. A number of militants were left dead after a dispute turned violent over a financial disagreement between the militants in the city of Hawija (about 60 kilometers west of Kirkuk), and those stationed in the Diyala Province. ISIS militants in Diyala had sustained significant losses from the Iraqi air campaign against their bases on the border with Salah ad-Din. Hawija is one of the last urban outposts of ISIS in Iraq, where the ISF and coalition forces are preparing for a major assault after the operation to clear Mosul is completed.

On June 26, six senior ISIS leaders were reportedly killed in a coalition airstrike on a convoy traveling from the Kirkuk province towards Diyala. The leaders included at least one person who was considered extremely close to ISIS’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

On June 28, an IED injured four Peshmerga soldiers in the Dibis district of the Kirkuk province, about 45 kilometers northwest of Kirkuk. Kirkuk province is home to Hawija, one of ISIS’s last strongholds in Iraq, located approximately 70 kilometers southwest of the IED attack.


ISF Thwart ISIS Attacks in Diyala, Salah ad-Din

On June 26, a spokesman for the Diyala police forces announced that they had successfully thwarted eight terrorist attacks that were “ready to implement,” and six more that were in the final planning stages to be carried out during the month of Ramadan. The spokesman attributed this success to security forces’ infiltration of an Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) sleeper cell in Baqubah, which they dismantled in the process of stopping the attacks.

On June 26, a suicide bomber detonated prematurely, killing himself and 12 of his fellow ISIS militants northeast of Baqubah. The militants were gathered to perform a ceremony before sending the bomber on his mission when his vest exploded.

On June 27, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) soldiers thwarted an ISIS attack on a security checkpoint 60 kilometers northeast of Baqubah, with no casualties on either side. Lt. General Mizher al-Azzawi, head of the ISF Tigris Operations, said that as ISIS control continues to erode in Diyala, the organization has resorted to “banditry” and largely unsuccessful raids on roads and checkpoints.

On June 27, security forces thwarted an ISIS suicide attack on a wedding in the town of Hit, 70 kilometers west of Ramadi in Anbar Province. Security forces, working with local tribal militias, successfully killed two suicide bombers, without sustaining any casualties. On June 29, an IED attack on the homes of local militia fighters injured four people in Hit two days later, including two members of the militia.

On June 28, three ISIS explosives specialists died in the Sharqat District, approximately 120 kilometers north of Tikrit in Salah ad-Din Province, when they unintentionally detonated explosives that they were attempting to attach to a vehicle. Those killed in the blast included “Abu Ibra,” a high-ranking explosives expert and British citizen who reportedly fled to Salah ad-Din from Mosul, as ISIS’s control of the city erodes.


UN Ambassador Haley Testifies Before Congress; State Department Plans to Remove Iraq from Child Soldier List

On June 26, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced his plan to remove Iraq from the U.S. State Department’s list of governments using child soldiers. This move is highly opposed by senior diplomats in the Middle East and officials from the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy and Human Rights and Labor. Critics argue that the Trump administration is prioritizing diplomatic interests over human rights, and that the use of child soldiers continues to be an issue in the region: Human Rights Watch (HRW) recently documented child recruitment by militias tied to the Iraqi government. HRW strongly discourages the removal of Iraq from this list. According to Reuters, Secretary Tillerson ignored State Department Officials and top U.S. diplomats regarding the removal of Iraq from the list. According to HRW, Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) continue to recruit and use child soldiers in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Regarding the removal of Iraq and Burma from the list, Jo Becker, children’s rights advocate director at HRW said, “Taking Burma and Iraq off the list when they continue to use child soldiers is both contrary to U.S. law and harms children still in the ranks…Secretary of State Tillerson apparently believes the list is subject to backroom political calculations, rather than facts on the ground and U.S. law. Unless Tillerson reverses this action, he will gravely damage U.S. credibility in ending the use of children in warfare.”

On June 27, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, testified at a budget hearing on the United Nations and International Organizations, before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. Haley was testifying to the committee regarding severe budget cuts by the Trump Administration that could weaken U.S. foreign policy, national security and peacekeeping efforts around the world. The proposed budget would cut about 40% in UN Peacekeeping funds. Haley justified these cuts by arguing that the UN has value, but needs to “trim the fat around the edges.” Haley continued by claiming that the cuts at the UN is just “spending smarter” and that funding will no longer continue just because it has been a tradition of the past. Haley defended the cuts saying that “they are not necessarily a bad thing” and would eventually hold the world responsible for their own expenses. During the hearing, Congressman Fortenberry (R-CA) questioned Haley about introducing a UN resolution holding ISIS responsible and accountable for genocide in northern Iraq against Yazidis, Iraqi Christians and other minorities. Haley responded that she would be willing and eager to work on an “ISIS accountability” resolution with Fortenberry.

On June 28, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on “Advancing U.S. Interests at the United Nations.” Haley reiterated her support for the Trump Administration’s proposed US$ 600 million cut to the UN’s peacekeeping budget, that the UN has recently accepted. Haley also acknowledged that the unpredictability of U.S. foreign policy was “a good thing,” a statement that caused many UN diplomats to become concerned. Haley said, “’Keeping foreign governments guessing about U.S. intentions has served as a powerful negotiating lever,” referring to the temporary passage of the budget cuts. Following her testimony, Haley tweeted “Just 5 months into our time here, we’ve cut over half a billion $$$ from the UN peacekeeping budget & we’re only getting started.” Her tweet sparked outrage over social media and garnered a wave of criticism, some even coming from Republican leaders. Haley’s tweet follows a recent visit by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to Washington, to lobby against the administration’s proposed budget cuts.


Deportation Orders of Many Christian Iraqis Delayed by Federal Judge

On June 26, Mark Goldsmith, a U.S. federal judge halted the deportation of 1,444 Iraqi nationals who were issued final deportation orders, 199 of whom were detained by immigration authorities around Detroit earlier this month during a nationwide immigration crackdown. The judge’s order will delay the deportation of the group until July 10, an order designed to give detainees time to find legal representation, and for Goldsmith to debate the extent of his jurisdiction in the case. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney Lee Gelernt praised the order, adding that “the lives of these individuals should not depend on what part of the U.S. they reside in and whether they could find a lawyer to file a federal court action.”

On June 27, The Washington Post reported on the temporary halt to the deportation of Iraqis in America, noting that about 85 of the detainees had been expected to be flown to Baghdad as soon as this past Tuesday. The roundup is a result of a deal struck earlier this year between the Iraqi government and the Trump administration, in which Iraq would accept deportees from the United States who lack travel documents in exchange for Iraq’s removal from the travel ban. This comes as part of the U.S. immigration authorities’ attempt to remove a “backlog” of immigrants who have committed crimes in their past.


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

DateLocationDeathsInjuries
06/29/17Hit, 60 km northwest of Ramadi04
06/28/17Al-Bua Jassim neighborhood, north of Ramadi13
06/28/17Nahrawan neighborhood, east of Baghdad02
06/28/17Dibis, 50 km northwest of Kirkuk
04
06/27/17Ramadi07
06/27/17Fallujah02
06/27/17Mansouria, 50 km east of Baqubah02
06/27/17Saba al-Bour neighborhood, northwest of Baghdad10
06/26/17Al-Musayib, 70 km north of al-Hilla00
06/26/17Al-Musayib, 70 km north of al-Hilla11
06/26/17Al-Musayib, 70 km north of al-Hilla10
06/26/17Al-Suwaib, southern Baghdad02
06/26/17Al-Qayarah, 70 km south of Mosul00
06/25/17Buni Saud, 20 km southwest of Baqubah01
06/24/17Yusifiya neighborhood, southwest of Baghdad03
06/23/17Al-Baghdadi town, 100 km northwest of Ramadi00
06/23/17Jazeerat Ramadi, north of Ramadi02
06/23/17Al-Baghdadi town, 100 km northwest of Ramadi910
06/23/17Siwan, north of Erbil21
06/23/17Al-Mada'in neighborhood, south of Baghdad02
06/23/17Al-Nairia neighborhood, east of Baghdad27
06/23/17Muthanna district, eastern Mosul819

 

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.


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