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Enhance Understanding

ISHM 218: AUGUST 15 – AUGUST 22, 2019

Key Takeaways: PMF Accuse U.S., Israel Of Targeting Their Bases; President Salih Tries To Contain U.S.-Iran Tensions; Parliament Removes Immunity Of Several Lawmakers – On August 21, senior PMF leader, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis said the PMF hold the U.S. and Israel responsible for recent attacks on PMF sites and threatened to fire at foreign aircraft that fly over PMF bases without Baghdad’s knowledge. On August 18, Iraqi President Barham Salih met separately with the U.S. and Iranian ambassadors to Iraq and discussed defusing U.S.-Iran tensions that are affecting Iraq. On August 16, Moqtada al-Sadr criticized PM Abdul-Mahdi over weak government

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ISHM 217: AUGUST 8 – AUGUST 15, 2019

Key Takeaways: Abdul-Mahdi Defends Pace Of PMF Reforms; Unidentified Bodies Spark Sectarian Recriminations; Election Law May Harm IDPs – On August 10, PM Abdul-Mahdi defended his stumbling measures to replace the PMF brigade 30 with regular troops in Ninewa. He affirmed that there was “no confusion from our end” about regulating the PMF and that implementing his “fixed, clear policy” must be gradual. On August 12, Sunni political groups called on the PM to open an investigation into the discovery of 31 unidentified bodies in Babyoln, arguing that that the bodies belonged to Sunni victims of sectarian violence. On August

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ISHM 216: AUGUST 1 – AUGUST 8, 2019

Key Takeaways: Iraq, Egypt And Jordan Discuss Trilateral Cooperation; Ninewa Standoff Tests PM’s Resolve to Control Militias; PM Appoints Inspectors In Key Institutions – On August 3, the foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan visited Baghdad and discussed reducing tensions in the Gulf region between Iran and the U.S./Arab states, strengthening trilateral economic cooperation and counter-terrorism cooperation. On August 5, protesters in the Ninewa plains expressed opposition to orders by PM Abdul-Mahdi to withdraw the PMF from checkpoints in the area. The developments tested the prime minister’s ability to bring PMF factions under government control. A negotiated compromise will reportedly

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ISHM 215: JULY 25 – AUGUST 1, 2019

Key Takeaways: PMF Chairman Says Reorganization Needs Two Months; Parliament Scrutinizes KRI Payments; Iraq Militia Threatens Bahrain Over Executions – On July 29, the head of the Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada militia threatened the king of Bahrain with retaliation over Manama’s recent execution of Shia opposition activists. On July 30, PMF committee chairman, Falih al-Fayyadh, informed Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi that the PMF is “fully committed” to complying with the prime minister’s instructions on reorganizing the force but said the process requires two months to complete. On July 31, the parliamentary finance committee said it seeks to summon the finance minister

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ISHM 214: JULY 18 – JULY 25, 2019

Key Takeaways: Baghdad And Erbil Appear Closer To Oil Agreement; CoR Amends Provincial Election Law; Abdul-Mahdi Mediates Between The UK and Iran – On July 20, 80 MPs asked Speaker Halbousi to reject U.S. sanctions on four Iraqi politicians. On July 22, the Iraqi parliament approved 20 clauses of an amendment to the provincial elections law. Elections are planned for April 2020, and will include Kirkuk. On July 22, Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi met with Iranian President Rouhani in Tehran, where they discussed easing Gulf tensions and attempted negotiations over the release of the British tanker seized by Iran. On

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ISHM 213: JULY 11 – JULY 18, 2019

Key Takeaways: U.S. Sanctions Four Iraqi Politicians/Militia Leaders; EU Backs Iraqi Proposal For Iran Conference; Draw-Down Of U.S. Diplomats May Be Permanent – On July 12, Foreign Policy magazine reported that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo intends to make the drawdown of embassy personnel in Baghdad permanent. On July 13, Bahrain’s ambassador to Iraq returned to Baghdad after he was recalled to Manama following the storming of the Bahraini embassy by Iraqi protesters. On July 13, EU foreign policy chief visited Baghdad and expressed the Union’s support for an Iraqi proposal to hold a conference on U.S.-Iran tensions. On

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ISHM 212: JULY 4 – JULY 11, 2019

Key Takeaways: New KRG Cabinet Sworn In; Baghdad And Erbil Agree On Security Arrangements In Disputed Territories; Parliament Fails To Amend Local Elections Law – On July 10, Masrour Barzani and 22 other candidates were sworn in as the new prime minister and cabinet of the KRI. The new ministers are all affiliated with the KDP, PUK and the Gorran, except for two representing Turkmen and Christian minority communities. On July 10, PM Abdul-Mahdi announced that the Iraqi Defense Ministry has reached an agreement with the KRG over security arrangements in the disputed areas. On July 10, Iraq’s parliament failed

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ISHM 211: JUNE 27 – JULY 4, 2019

Key Takeaways: Abdul-Mahdi Issues New Regulations To Control Militias; U.S. Accuses Iraqi Factions of Attacking Saudi Pipelines; UNSC Delegation Visits Iraq – On June 28, U.S. officials claimed that attacks on Saudi pipelines in May were undertaken by certain Iraqi groups backed by Iran. Iraqi officials dismissed the accusations and demanded evidence. On June 29, The UN Security Council visited Baghdad for the first time since Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The council representatives discussed humanitarian efforts and implementation of the 2018-2022 National Government program. On July 1, Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi issued a decree for all Popular Mobilization Forces

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EPIC WELCOMES SUMMER 2019 INTERNS

Three times per year, EPIC welcomes a new cohort of interns – young professionals seeking to add practical experience to their academic backgrounds in humanitarian affairs, international relations, security studies, political science, public relations, and beyond. We are grateful for their contributions to our research, action, and advocacy, and for the opportunity to connect them to Iraq and its people. Please join us in welcoming our Summer 2019 interns: Ali, Katie, May, Rachel and William! Ali Tinai was born and raised in Eritrea. He moved to Egypt at age 15 to escape Eritrea’s dictatorship. While in Egypt he learned English

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ISHM 210: JUNE 20 – JUNE 27, 2019

Key Takeaways: Iraq Parliament Approves New Ministers Of Defense, Interior and Justice; Multiple Governors Sacked; New Protests In Basra, Baghdad And Najaf; French President To Visit Iraq – On June 24, the Iraqi Parliament voted to approve the appointment of new ministers for Defense, Interior Minister, and Justice, but failed to confirm a candidate for the Ministry of Education. On June 20, the French President announced that he intends to visit Iraq before the end of the year. On June 20, protestors gathered in Baghdad to condemn government corruption and the lack of public services. On June 22, dozens of

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Summer is Here

As the mercury surges in Mesopotamia, so does the risk for a new showdown between angry protesters demanding better conditions and a government struggling to provide for them but is shackled by a legacy of corruption and incompetent, fiefdom-like institutions.   Many parts of southern Iraq, especially Basra, witnessed widespread protests last summer. Those highlighted multiple popular demands, on top of which were jobs, basic services—especially adequate electricity and clean water—and putting an end to endemic corruption across government institutions. The episode wasn’t without violence. Several offices of prominent parties and militias were torched, and so was Iran’s consulate in

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ISHM 209: JUNE 13 – JUNE 20, 2019

Key Takeaways: Political Opposition To Abdul-Mahdi Escalates; Provincial Elections Postponed Again; Commander in Chief Forbids Military Movements Without His Oversight; Kuwait’s Emir Visits Baghdad – On June 16, Iraqi press reported that six parliamentary blocs were considering a move to oppose the government of Abdul-Mahdi. On June 17, Moqtada al-Sadr a issued an ultimatum for parliament and the prime minister to complete cabinet formation within ten days. On June 16, the former governor of Kirkuk returned to Erbil weeks after he was reported arrested at Lebanon’s Rafic Hariri Airport. On June 17, Iraq’s Electoral Commission postponed the next provincial elections

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