ISHM: November 10 – 16, 2017


Key Takeaways:

  • ISIS Territory “Down to the Last One Percent” as Security Forces Move Toward Rawa – On November 11, Iraqi Army Lt. General Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah announced the start of operations to clear Rawa of ISIS militants. Rawa, a small town of 20 thousand on the Euphrates River in Anbar Province, represents a portion of the “last one percent of the area that remains to be cleared of ISIS,” according to spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve Colonel Ryan Dillon. The Iraq Army’s 7th Brigade aided by U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes made progress in clearing smaller villages near Rawa this week. U.S. Marine Colonel Seth Folsom said he expected maintaining the cleared territory to be more difficult than the initial clearance, however. “Motivating troops to attack to regain their country is easy…what’s less easy to motivate men to do, is to stand duty on checkpoints.” more…
  • Kurdistan Parliament Affirms Federal Court Ruling on Independence; KDP MPs Return to Baghdad – The Kurdistan Regional Parliament announced that the KRG would respect the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court ruling of November 6, which stipulates that the Iraqi Constitution does not authorize the separation of any part of Iraq and instead emphasizes a federal responsibility to maintain unity. The Parliament’s affirmation of the ruling won wide praise from the international community, including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Western leaders, who view the recognition as a major step toward dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad. The following day, the Kurdistan Democratic Party announced an end to their boycott of the Iraqi Parliament, begun in protest over the Federal government’s opposition to a September 25 referendum on Kurdistan independence. more…
  • Earthquake Hits Along Iran-Iraq Border – In the late evening of November 12, a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck the Iran-Iraq border, with its epicenter located near the meeting point of Sulaimania and Diayala Provinces with Iran, southwest of Halabja. The earthquake, felt as far away as Kuwait and Israel, most heavily impacted western Iran and the Darbandikhan District in Iraq’s Sulaimania Province. In Iraq, as many as 10 fatalities and upwards of 550 injuries were reported. Response teams from the United Nations, Red Crescent, International Medical Corps, USAID, and others responded to the region which left several hundred homes damaged or destroyed, forced the closure of the Darbandikhan Hospital, and disrupted electric and water supplies to thousands of residents. The Darbandikhan Dam on the Diyala River in Sulaimania Province was thought to be at risk of failure, but inspectors from the National Water Commission deemed it stable the day following the quake. more…
  • Kirkuk KRG Office Relocates to Erbil; Ousted Governor’s Case Dismissed – The KRG Office in Kirkuk temporarily suspended operations in Kirkuk Province and relocated to the Kurdistan Parliament building in Erbil. A statement from the Office cited concern over safety and the likelihood of looting as the reason for the relocation. On November 14, the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court dismissed ousted Kirkuk Governor Najmaddin Karim’s challenge to the Iraqi Parliament’s September 14 vote to remove him from office. Karim was ousted as governor for permitting the September 25 referendum on Kurdish independence to take place in Kirkuk Province. more…
  • Iraqi Foreign Minister Visits Qatar – Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari met with Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani in Doha this week. Jaafari stressed the importance of economic and security cooperation among Arab nations during the visit. Iraq has maintained a neutral position in Qatar’s recent diplomatic row with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and several other Gulf states over Qatar’s perceived ties to Iran and allegations of support for terrorist activity. 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.

ISIS Territory “Down to the Last One Percent” as Security Forces Move Toward Rawa

On November 9, Associated Press (AP) reported that the United States (U.S.) had established an outpost with several hundred Marines near the Iraqi-Syrian border in west Anbar. This outpost allowed the Marines to be closer to the frontline, as opposed to their main base in Anbar, which was about 80 miles to the east. According to AP, “Such outposts have become more common [during] the past year, bringing the Americans out of main bases and closer to the action. U.S. commanders say the tactic has paid off in the swift rollback of the Islamic State group.” However, the outpost was not equipped the way an ordinary base would be; Marines needed to ration water and did not have access to electricity or cell service. After Qa’im was cleared last week, all that remains of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) territory in Iraq is desert along the Iraqi-Syrian border. U.S. Marines Col. Seth W. B. Folsom, commander of Task Force Lion, said that he expected maintaining the cleared territory to be more difficult than the initial clearance. “It’s much more challenging, no doubt in my mind it’s more challenging…Motivating troops to attack to regain their country is easy…What’s less easy to motivate men to do, is to stand duty on checkpoints.” Despite this, Folsom expressed hope that Iraqi forces would be able to hold the line on their own within the next year.

On November 11, Lieutenant General Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah announced that operations had begun to clear the area outside of Rawa District of ISIS militants. An anonymous source disclosed that the U.S.-led international coalition was providing air support for the operation. Later that day, Yarallah reported that the Rummaneh area had been completely cleared as well as the villages of Albuabid, Bufraj, Bushehaban, Bagouz, Babil, Albu Hardan, Ash, Khetila and Dujima.

On November 11, Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) disclosed that a service member was found dead in what appeared to be a non-combat related incident. CJTF-OIR announced that the service member’s name and the circumstances surrounding the death would be released at the discretion of national authorities, but that the incident was under investigation.

On November 13, an anonymous source revealed that Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) had cleared six villages on the outskirts of Rawa. The source said, “the army divisions of the Seventh Brigade liberated those villages after the escape of elements calling them in the depth of the desert.”

On November 14, Hussein Ali, Rawa’s Mayor, alleged that ISIS militants had fled Rawa toward the Iraqi-Syrian border because of the incoming ISF. Ali called on citizens of Rawa to cooperate with the ISF.

On November 14, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced that security forces would be entering areas of Anbar that the federal government had not been present in since 2003. In the previous weeks, the ISF have managed to clear many areas in west Anbar, including Qa’im and Rummaneh.

On November 14, CJTF-OIR released the names of two ISIS leaders killed in the fighting in Qa’im on October 26. The militants killed were Yusuf Demir, an ISIS media official, and Omer Demir, an ISIS external operations coordinator.

On November 14, Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for CJTF-OIR gave a video briefing at the Pentagon from Baghdad. In his opening remarks, Dillon asserted that the U.S.-led international coalition was continuing to provide the ISF with intelligence, advice, support, and airstrikes. According to Dillon, over the past week, CJTF-OIR conducted six strikes in Rawa in support of ISF on the ground. Additionally, Dillon stressed the need for productive dialogue between Baghdad and Erbil. He said, “We have seen recently, when military attention and security resources are diverted from the fight against ISIS, that terrorist groups seize on opportunities to launch attacks against civilians and security forces.” Dillon then highlighted the humanitarian aid that the coalition was providing to Iraq, including renovations in Sharqat and cash-for-work projects in Mosul. Dillon also commended Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s leadership as commander-in-chief. He said, “Mr. Abadi has shown that he is very much capable of leading, and doing a very good job of being a commander-in-chief. We have all the confidence in him, and, you know, the — he has made a lot of progress in the fight to defeat ISIS as we have seen, we’re down to the last one percent of the area that remains to be cleared of ISIS. So, we’ve shown that he is very effective, and he has proven that he is a wartime commander-in-chief and has done a very good job.”

On November 15, an anonymous source reported that the U.S.-led international coalition conducted an airstrike on an improvised explosive device (IED) factory in Rawa. The source also reported that the coalition bombed a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) that was headed toward ISF positions.

On November 15, the Iraqi Military Information Cell announced that 45 terrorists had been killed and 13 villages cleared in operations in Anbar near the Euphrates. Six VBIEDs were also destroyed. ISF were still moving toward Rawa District at the time of the report.

On November 16, an anonymous source reported that the ISF were building a floating bridge to enter Rawa District. The bridge would connect Anata and Rawa and would allow ISF to enter Rawa to begin the operation to clear the district of ISIS militants.

Kurdistan Parliament Affirms Federal Court Ruling on Independence; KDP MPs Return to Baghdad

On November 9, the office influential Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr reported that Qubad Talabani, deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and son of late Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, called Sadr to ask him to intervene and mediate dialogue between the KRG and the Iraqi Federal Government. Sadr replied that “the referendum was not constitutional” and that dialogue cannot adhere to the constitution unless the referendum is cancelled.

On November 11, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited Karbala, where over 13 million Muslims had gathered for the Arba’een Pilgrimage. In a press conference, Abadi warned of political groups “waiting for terrorist action to make gains” and that escalation of conflict “leads to the emergence of terrorist groups, causing displacement of citizens.” He called to de-escalate the conflicts in Lebanon, Egypt, Yemen, and Syria. He also called to stop incitement and creating “sectarian strife” through “rumors” on social media. The fight against Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), he noted, cost Iraq US$ 100 billion. Regarding the Iraqi elections, Abadi reiterated that his government would not allow Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) to become politically involved. “Some politicians are using the salaries of the [PMUs] for election propaganda,” he said. In response to the request of Qubad Talabani, deputy President of the KRG, that the leader of the Sadrist movement Moqtada al-Sadr mediate dialogue between the KRG and the Iraqi Federal Government, Abadi said that he did not need mediation with the Kurdish people. Finally, Abadi commended the Peshmerga forces for their patriotism and their “great role” in the fight against terrorism.

On November 11, influential Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr traveled to Karbala to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. According to an anonymous source, the two discussed political and security issues in Iraq, including the Baghdad-Erbil crisis.

On November 11, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and former KRG President Masoud Barzani appeared on CNN for a short interview. He stated that he did not regret the referendum vote for independence, claiming that it was a democratic right to give people the means to express their opinion and that he was not planning to declare independence the day after. When asked about the lost Kurdish territory and influence as a result of holding the referendum, Barzani explained that the Kurds had to choose between losing hope and losing other things, and that they chose to keep the hope. “If we would have lost our will,” he said, “it would have been much bigger than losing some areas temporarily.” Barzani said that he was not surprised that Baghdad sent troops into Kirkuk and other disputed territories because Baghdad had, he claimed, been preparing this move for a long time; the referendum was only an excuse to do so. Finally, he sent a message to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi: “We helped you a lot in Mosul. You wouldn’t have been able to liberate Mosul. Go back to logic and wisdom and solve the problem with negotiations, because war results in bloodshed and destruction for all of the people of Iraq.”

On November 12, the Kurdish Gorran Party refused to participate in the Kurdish Regional Parliament meeting because the “[KRG] failed to deal with crises and can not overcome the current sensitive stage.” Head of the Gorran Party, Barzo Majeed called for the formation of an interim government with the primary priority to “improve the living situation of citizens.” It was the first meeting of the Kurdistan Regional Parliament since it distributed the presidential powers following the resignation of Masoud Barzani as President of the KRG.

On November 12, a leading member of the Islamic Group of Kurdistan presented his opinion on the Baghdad-Erbil crisis in an interview with Alsumaria News. “Baghdad is determined so far to impose control of the federal authority on the [Kurdistan Region of Iraq],” he said, “the only solution is to conduct dialogue mediated by an international (body) and according to the Constitution.” However, he continued to explain that it would be difficult for the KRI to conduct dialogue in its current state because of internal problems in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) and differences between the Kurdish political parties. He stressed the importance that the KRI delegation at the dialogue had the credibility and legal expertise necessary for the task.

On November 13, Secretary General of the Ministry of the Peshmerga Jabbar Yawar disclosed that the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and Peshmerga completed technical talks and the situation between them “is completely calm on all fronts and there is no need for concern.” He said he hoped that the calm situation would help “cleanse the political atmosphere” ahead of a political dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad. He emphasised the Peshmerga did not want to cause any reason for “bloody clashes” at this point.

On November 13, KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani warned of worsening health problems in the KRI due to lack of medicine, and blamed Baghdad. “The medicines sent from Baghdad are too few,” he said, explaining that, in addition to the local population, the KRI also hosts about 1.5 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Syrian refugees. Barzani warned that “to reduce the proportion of drugs sent by Baghdad [would] exacerbate health problems.” Previously, on November 8, KRI Minister of Health Recot Hamma Rashid said that his ministry “has been suffering from a crisis in medicines for more than three years because of the war against [ISIS] and [the need to] shelter a large number of [IDPs] in the Kurdistan region… Loans of pharmaceutical companies in the Ministry of Health [of the KRI] exceeded more than 100 billion dinars [US$ 85.5 million].” According to Rashid, the KRI received between 45 to 50 percent of its medicine from Baghdad. Additionally, Rashid said that the KRI needed a 300 billion dinar (US$ 257 million) budget for medicines from Baghdad, while the draft 2018 budget planned to provide only 170 billion dinar (US$ 145 million). In the draft 2018 Iraqi Federal Budget, the KRI’s portion of the budget would be reduced from 17 to 12.67 percent.

On November 13, KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani reported during a press conference that no date had been set for KRG representatives to visit Baghdad to begin dialogue between the KRI and the Iraqi Federal Government. “Baghdad should think about the stability of Iraq and Kurdistan,” Barzani said in the press conference. He called the Iraqi draft budget law for 2018 “the worst” and claimed it aimed to undermine the political entities of the KRI. He emphasized the KRI’s “right” to 17 percent of the federal budget. He also noted that the KRG was continuing its attempts to make a diplomatic visit to Turkey, and was waiting for the Iranians to reopen their border crossing with the KRI.

On November 13, the Kurdish Gorran Party and the Kurdistan Islamic Group gave a joint statement to the press following their meeting in Sulaimania. It said the situation between the KRI and the Iraqi Federal Government is “critical” because of Kurdish authorities implementing the “wrong” policies. It called for the formation of “an interim government to conduct a successful dialogue with the central government and work to improve the living conditions of citizens and provide salaries of employees and prepare for the holding of fair elections away from party interference.”

On November 13, the Kurdistan Regional Parliament, chaired by its deputy chairman Jaafar Ibrahim, held a meeting to discuss the relations between the KRI and the Iraqi Federal Government. They stressed the need for dialogue to resolve outstanding issues between Erbil and Baghdad, and called on the Federal Government to form a committee to investigate crimes in the disputed territories and work to compensate IDPs and return them to their areas of origin. Finally, they warned of Kurds withdrawing from political processes if the Federal Government continued to not engage in dialogue.

On November 14, the KRG stated it respected the Iraqi Supreme Federal Court interpretation of Article 1 of the Iraqi Constitution. Article 1 of the Iraqi Constitution says, “the Republic of Iraq is one independent federal state.” On November 6, the Supreme Federal Court affirmed that there is no text in the Iraqi Constitution authorizing the secession of any of the components of Iraq. “The Kurdistan region is always committed to seeking to resolve differences with the federal authorities in constitutional and legal ways,” the KRG statement said, “We believe that this should be the basis for starting a comprehensive national dialogue to resolve differences by applying all constitutional articles in a way that guarantees the protection of the rights, powers and competencies contained in the constitution as the only way to ensure the unity of Iraq.”

On November 14, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi addressed the issue of salaries for the KRI during his weekly press conference. He affirmed his commitment to pay the salaries of KRI government employees; however, he also commented that “oil prices are still below the level required to sustain development.”

On November 15, a number of Iraqi Members of Parliament (MPs) from the KDP returned to attend the Parliament meetings and work in their respective parliamentary committees. The anonymous source connected the return to the recent Iraqi Supreme Federal Court affirmation that the Iraqi Constitution does not authorize secession and the decision of the KRG to respect the Court’s decision.

On November 15, French Foreign Ministry Spokesman Annes Roumette Espany announced France’s support for the KRG’s decision to recognize the Iraqi Supreme Federal Court’s interpretation of the Iraqi Constitution. In addition, Roumette stated that “France encourages dialogue between the government of Baghdad and the Kurdistan government to find a political solution as soon as the dispute within the framework of the Iraqi constitution and respect for Iraq’s unity and sovereignty and the rights of the Kurds.”

On November 15, Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki, and the President of the Islamic Supreme Council Hammoud Hamoudi warned against any attempt to postpone the Iraqi elections, scheduled for May 15, 2018. They both stressed the need to “defuse differences and purify the political atmosphere to create the electoral atmosphere.”

On November 15, the Kurdistan Regional Parliament released a statement to the press indicating its support for recent steps of the KRG to address the Erbil-Baghdad crisis. Additionally, the statement condemned Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi for using threatening language and unilateral actions. Finally, the statement threatened that the Parliament views Kurdish parties’ withdrawal from the Iraqi political process as a considerable course of action if the Iraqi Federal Government would not permit dialogue within a Constitutional framework.

On November 15, the KDP announced their decision to end their boycott of the Iraqi Parliament and to return to attend its regular meetings. KDP member, Arafat Karam, explained that “the decision to end the boycott of the meetings of the parliament came after studying the situation and recent changes and outstanding problems between Baghdad and Erbil… The [KRI] is still part of the political process and Kurdistan is still part of Iraq, and the referendum that was held is not to declare an independent state.”

On November 15, Saad al-Hadithi, spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s Information Office, told Sputnik that the KRG’s decision to respect the Iraqi Supreme Federal Court’s interpretation of Article 1 of the Iraqi Constitution means the cancellation of the KRI referendum for independence. “Looking at the matter from this angle,” he explained, “leads us to take procedural steps to reach consensus and understandings and then we can talk about engaging in political dialogue.” Cancelling the referendum results was Abadi’s condition to begin dialogue between the KRG and the Iraqi Federal Government.

On November 15, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres expressed support for a constitution-based political dialogue between the KRG and the Iraqi Federal Government, noting that the United Nations (UN) is ready to cooperate. Guterres’s representative in Iraq, Jan Kubis, met with KRI Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and his deputy, Qubad Talabani, to convey the message. Barzani thanked Gutteres’s support and asserted that “the Kurdistan region as always is ready to resolve all problems with Iraq through dialogue within the framework of the Constitution.”

On November 16, Secretary of the Kurdistan Regional Parliament Bakr Talabani spoke at a press conference after a meeting of the Parliament with consulates and diplomats in the KRI. She reported that the Kurdistan Regional Parliament sent a peaceful message to the world on behalf of the Kurdish people, and reiterated the “desire of the regional parliament to conduct a serious dialogue with Baghdad, according to the Constitution.” Additionally, she reiterated the Parliament’s threat that it would consider withdrawing from Iraq’s political process in the event that the Iraqi Federal Government would not agree to conduct dialogue with the KRI.

Earthquake Hits Along Iran-Iraq Border

On November 12, a 7.3 magnitude earthquake hit the Iraq-Iran border. The epicenter was near the meeting point of Sulaimania and Diyala Provinces at the Iranian border, southwest of Halabja. Initial reporting indicated that four people were killed in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), and six were killed in Iran. The World Food Programme released a “shakemap” of the earthquake that showed its epicenter and geographic intensity.

On November 12, Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General of the United Nations, issued a brief statement regarding the earthquake. He conveyed his condolences to victims and families and affirmed that the United Nations would assist if required.

On November 12, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) published a flash update on the earthquake. According to the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System, around 1.8 million people lived within 100 km of the earthquake in both Iraq and Iran. Consequently, OCHA predicted that the humanitarian impact of the earthquake would be high. As of 23:30 local time, OCHA was reporting that there were 16 injuries in Khanaqin and over 50 injuries in Darbandikhan District in Sulaimania Province.

On November 13, OCHA amended the numbers of casualties reported. They assessed that there had been six fatalities and over 500 wounded in Iraq. Darbandikhan District in Sulaimania Province was hit the hardest of any area in Iraq. The World Health Organization sent urgent medical supplies to hospitals in the Kurdistan Region. Lise Grande, Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said, “Our priority right now is to help local authorities respond as quickly as possible…An assessment team has just arrived in Darbandikhan, one of the areas worst impacted by this quake. We’ve also received a request from the Government to dispatch a United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team from Geneva. This is a highly specialised team that will help to assess conditions and coordinate the response.”

On November 13, the Red Crescent Society announced that volunteers were assisting in search-and-rescue operations as well as providing first aid to victims. The Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) reported that nine people were killed and 425 were wounded. “Immediately after the earthquake, we have deployed our teams to evacuate the injured and provide first aid to the affected communities. Our team are working around the clock in the affected areas”, said Mohamad Khosaii, spokesperson of Iraqi Red Crescent Society.

On November 13, the International Medical Corps announced that it had deployed a team to Sulaimania, Iraq after the earthquake. The team consisted of one doctor, two nurses, and a pharmacist. “We are coordinating with local and national health officials to identify additional ways we might be able to support relief efforts,” said Bogdan Dumitru, International Medical Corps’ Country Director in Iraq.

On November 13, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani reported that the KRG decided to send a committee to assess the damages due to the earthquake. In addition, he said that the Turkish Government had sent aid to victims of the quake through the Ibrahim al-Khalil border crossing and Sulaimania airport. He praised the Kurdish administrative and health organizations providing assistance and declared that “every effort will be made to help the victims.”

On November 13, the Emir of Kuwait, Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, sent his condolences to Iraqi President Fuad Masum and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi for the victims of the November 12 earthquake that hit Sulaimania Province. The earthquake was felt in Kuwait as well to a lesser degree. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also sent their condolences for the victims of the earthquake in Iraq and Iran.

On November 13, the Deputy Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Sheikh Dr. Humam Hamoudi, called on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to act in response to the earthquake. “Harness all the facilities and emergency government assistance to help the affected and compensate for material losses in buildings and treatment of the wounded,” he suggested, adding that Iraq “need[s] to take the necessary measures and to prepare fully to face any contingencies in the future.”

On November 13, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi chaired a meeting of the Iraqi Supreme National Water Commission to discuss the impact of the November 12 earthquake on the Darbandikhan Dam that resides over the Diyala River in northern Sulaimania Province. The Commission presented a report of the effects of the earthquake on the dam. The Commission directed “to continue monitoring the dam of Darbandikhan to ensure [its] safety.” A statement released to the public reported that the dam is safe and there is no danger. Darbandikhan Dam was built between 1956 to 1961 and underwent rehabilitation from 2007 to 2013 due to poor construction and neglect. It provides irrigation, flood control, and 249 MW of electric power.

On November 14, KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and his deputy, Qubad Talabani, visited the Darbandikhan Dam to see the effects of the November 12 earthquake. Barzani reported that Darbandikhan Dam officials had assured him that the dam remained safe. Additionally, he said that “the European Union and other international bodies have promised to send experts to assess the situation of the dam and provide the necessary assistance.” Regarding other damages by the earthquake, Barzani said, “We will allocate an emergency budget to the administrative bodies to deal with the problems quickly… The responsible authorities were assigned to assess the damage caused by the earthquake and will make every effort to compensate the affected people.”

On November 14, the KRG’s Ministry of the Interior released a report about the effects of the earthquake. The Ministry estimated that 640,000 people were severely impacted. Most of the affected were due to the collapse of houses; however, nine people were killed and 554 were injured. Over half of the people injured have been treated and discharged from area hospitals. The report also summarized the humanitarian work being done as well as the priority needs in the area. Of those needs identified, the most urgent were water, latrines, and showers.

On November 14, the IRCS reported that an additional person had died as a result of the earthquake, bringing the total number to ten. (This number is in question; some other reports list the number at eight or nine.) IRCS announced that it expected more casualties to be reported due to aftershocks. IRCS also disclosed that the Darbandikhan Dam was being assessed after reports from citizens that it had been damaged during the earthquake. Residents downstream of the dam were notified to be ready to evacuate if necessary.

On November 14, International Organization of Migration (IOM) Iraq Mobile Medical Team deployed to Kani Bardina village, Warmawa district in Sulaimania Province to provide medical assistance. Half of the homes in Kani Bardina were damaged or destroyed in the earthquake. The IOM team spoke with Jamil, whose house was destroyed. He said, “Today we received medical check-ups from IOM. My wife received treatment for her blood pressure; it was too high because of the earthquake. We hope to receive help to repair our house before the winter season begins.”

On November 14, the KRG reported that the main hospital in Darbandikhan was closed because of damage from the earthquake. Critical cases were being taken to the Sulaimania hospital, which was functioning as normal. Additionally, the Darbandikhan tunnel was blocked because of landslides, and the water and electricity network had been damaged. Three schools in Darbandikhan were also currently unusable because of damage.

On November 14, the Singapore Red Cross donated US$ 40,000 to both Iran and Iraq for humanitarian aid after the earthquake (US$ 20,000 to Iraq and US$ 20,000 to Iran). Benjamin William, Secretary General and CEO of Singapore Red Cross, said, “As the rescue and search mission is ongoing, the full extent of the devastation is unknown at this point. The Singapore Red Cross will remain in close contact with both the Iranian Red Crescent and the Iraqi Red Crescent to ascertain the immediate to mid-term needs, and to provide further support where needed.”

On November 15, the World Health Organization (WHO) deployed a medical team to Sulaimania Province, which was supported with three ambulances, four tents, and various other supplies. The funds for WHO aid were provided by the European Union Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) and the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA).

On November 15, Iraqi President Fuad Masum announced that he had received a written message from Russian President Vladimir Putin through Russian Ambassador to Iraq, Maxim Maximov. The message from Putin expressed condolences for the Iraqi President for the earthquake that Iraq experienced, offered support, expressed a desire to strengthen bilateral relations.

Kirkuk KRG Office Relocates to Erbil; Ousted Governor’s Case Dismissed

On November 10, the Kurdistan Regional Office in Kirkuk temporarily suspended its operations in Kirkuk Province and moved to the Kurdistan Parliament building in Erbil. A statement from the Office to the press said that the reason for the suspension was concern about the safety of the employees. “The office was subjected to attacks and violations and the looting,” the statement said. The Office was initially opened in 2016 to link the people of Kirkuk to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

On November 14, the Iraqi Supreme Federal Court dismissed former Kirkuk Governor Najmaddin Karim’s case that challenged the Iraqi Parliament’s September 14 decision to remove him from office. Karim ignored the Parliament’s decision on grounds that the Kirkuk Provincial Council was the only body that could appoint or remove him from the position of Governor of Kirkuk. He was eventually replaced when Iraqi forces entered Kirkuk on October 16. The Federal Court’s spokesperson reported that the dismissal of Karim’s case was not legislative, but administrative.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Visits Qatar

On November 10, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari met Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha to discuss strengthening bilateral relations between Iraq and Qatar. Jaafari highlighted Iraq’s difficult economic circumstances due to its recent security challenges and low oil prices, and asserted that Iraq “looks forward to the continued support of brotherly and friendly countries in the field of reconstruction.” Jaafari also noted that “Iraq now enjoys excellent relations with its Arab, regional and international environment and seeks to employ its relations to achieve security and stability in the region.” The Emir of Qatar affirmed the importance of Iraqi-Qatari bilateral relations and that Qatar would contribute to the reconstruction of Iraq’s infrastructure “in the coming period.”

On November 11, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari met with Qatari Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani in Doha, Qatar, to discuss the countries’ bilateral relations. According to Jaafari’s media office, “the two sides stressed the importance of adopting dialogue in the face of the challenges facing the Arab region.” Thani called for strengthening Iraqi-Qatari economic relations and speeding-up the establishment of an Iraqi-Qatari committee to “enhancing joint cooperation between the two countries in various fields.” Jaafari extended Thani an official invitation to visit Baghdad for that purpose.

On November 11, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari declared Iraq’s position against the economic sanctions against Qatar. “We will stand” against any attempt to seige an Arab state, Jaafari said at the Qatari Diplomatic Institute on his trip to Doha after he met with the Qatari Prime Minister and the Emir of Qatar. He argued that there was more that unites Arab countries than divides them. “The philosophy of Iraqi diplomacy is aimed at developing relations, establishing relations on the basis of common interests and putting out fires in the region,” he explained, noting that “the Arab region is drowning in conflicts and we desperately need to move diplomatic reactors to resolve crises.”

On November 11, Iraqi Vice President Osama Nujaifi warned of the possibility that Iraq might become a “battlefield” in an American-Iranian confrontation. Nujaifi was interviewed by Al-Jazeera during his trip to Washington, D.C. He noted that both American forces and Iranian backed PMUs are deployed in Iraq, and that U.S.-Iran relations have been intensifying. Confrontations, he said, would “be a disaster,” and he urged Americans and Iranians to prevent them.

On November 15, President of the Syrian People’s Council Hamouda Sabbagh expressed hopes of reopening the Syrian-Iraqi border and re-establishing Syrian-Iraqi bilateral relations during a meeting with the Iraqi Ambassador to Syria, Riad al-Tai. Sabbagh stressed Syria and Iraq’s shared ties and experience with terrorism. Tai said that “the convergence of the Syrian and Iraqi armies on the border is a gospel of victory and a strong will to defeat terrorism in the region.”

On November 15, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari met with the Georgian Ambassador to Iraq, Gregory Tabatadze, in Baghdad. Jaafari praised Iraqi-Georgian relations, noting that they “transcended geography and language…so we can promote mutual common interests and face common dangers.” Tabatadze conveyed that Georgia wanted to enter an eight-point agreement with Iraq to strengthen bilateral relations.

IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

11/15/17Zubayr, 15 km southwest of Basra00
11/13/17Dora neighborhood, south Baghdad01
11/12/17Buhriz, 9 km south of Baquba00
11/11/17Suwaib district, southwest Baghdad12
11/10/17Rayhannah, east of Ana (210 km west of Ramadi), Anbar Province0unspecified


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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