ISHM: January 19 – 25, 2018


Key Takeaways:

    • Court, Parliament Finalize Date for National Elections – After a ruling by the Supreme Federal Court that elections must be limited to the period identified in the Iraqi Constitution, Iraqi President Fuad Masum certified Parliament’s decision to hold national elections on May 12, 2018. Some factions in Parliament were attempting to postpone elections, suggesting that internally displaced persons throughout the country needed to first return to their places of origin. Parliament also amended the Election Law to require Parliament candidates to hold a university degree or the equivalent and reached an agreement with the Council of Ministers to provide for electronic voting and independent election monitoring across the country. Still unclear is whether provincial elections will also be held on May 12. more…
    • IEDs Continue to Pose Risks to Returning IDPs – Minister of Migration and Displacement Jassem al-Jaff said in a statement that nearly 450 thousand of 1.35 million people have returned to the liberated areas of Ninewa Province despite special challenges posed by the “ethnic, religious, and tribal diversity” of the region. Of major concern is the prevalence of unexploded ordnance and IEDs left by ISIS militants in recently liberated areas, including Mosul and cities in Anbar Province. On January 22, an IED killed two family members and injured four others inside their home in Rawa. The family had just returned after a long period of displacement. A similar incident took place the following day, also in Rawa. more…
    • Attacks by ISIS Insurgents Lead to Change in Tactics, More Training – During a call this week, Prime Minister Haider al-Aabdi and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg discussed accelerating and intensifying training for Iraqi Security Forces, to include both infantry and intelligence units. The following day, Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi acknowledged that the battle against ISIS will be increasingly dependent on intelligence confrontation and specific operations in order to target violent extremism and ideology. During the week, Iraqi Security Forces assisted by U.S.-led international coalition partners and Popular Mobilization Units conducted operations in Ninewa, Kirkuk, Salah ad-Din, and Diyala Provinces, and on January 24, 21 ISIS militants were killed during operations in southern Mosul according to a statement by the ISF. more…
    • Turkish Action in Syria May Leave Border Vulnerable – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ordered Turkish air and ground strikes against members of the U.S.-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG) in northeastern Syria, centered around the city of Afrin, in what he dubbed “Operation Olive Branch.” Turkey continues to target members of the YPG-affiliated Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, as well. Analysts have voiced concern that YPG units near the Iraqi-Syrian border who have been helpful in countering a resurgence of ISIS militants may relocate from the Sinjar region to defend areas in northern Syria from Turkish aggression, and that such a withdrawal could leave the Iraqi-Syrian border vulnerable. (For more on the historic role of the YPG in Sinjar, read our analysis.) more…
    • Barzani, Abadi Meet on Sidelines at Davos in Show of Cooperation – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Prime Minister for the Kurdistan Regional Government Nechirvan Barzani met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this week to discuss ongoing tensions between the federal government and the KRG stemming from the September 2017 referendum on Kurdish independence. According to both parties, a deal to reopen Kurdish airports to international travel may come soon. (The airports were closed to international travel in October, in retaliation for the Kurdish referendum vote.) On January 25, Abadi said that the KRG has agreed to cede control of oil in the Kurdistan region to the federal government, though the KRG has yet to respond to that claim. Abadi and Barzani realize the importance of demonstrating cooperation during the Davos conference, where many representatives of the global economies that will support Iraqi development and reconstruction are gathered less than a month before the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq, to be held February 12-14. more…
    • German Woman Sentenced to Death in Iraq for Supporting ISIS – On January 21, the Central Criminal Court in Baghdad sentenced a female German citizen to death for providing logistical support and assistance to several ISIS operations. The following day, the German government formally protested the sentence and asked to take her into custody. The question of how and where to prosecute foreign ISIS fighters has often been decided on a case-by-case basis with no universal rule yet imposed on extradition or jurisdiction. more…
    • Sandstorm and Bird Flu Contribute to Regional Health Problems – A significant sandstorm on January 20 in Najaf and Karbala Provinces, southeast of Baghdad, resulted in at least 1200 cases of asphyxiation and respiratory distress, though no fatalities were reported. Separately, Diyala and Salah ad-Din Provinces continue to battle bird flu infection with the sixth human case claiming the life of a man in Balad. More than 100 thousand chickens have been destroyed in an effort to contain the virus. 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.

Court, Parliament Finalize Date for National Elections

On January 18, the United States (US) Embassy in Iraq published a statement in support of holding the Iraqi national elections on May 12. The statement said that “Postponing the elections would set a dangerous precedent, undermining the constitution and damaging Iraq’s long-term democratic development.” In order to help achieve that goal, the US reported that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) would help train local civil society groups in election monitoring as well as sending six advisors to assist Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC).

On January 19, Gorran Party Member of Parliament in Baghdad (MP) Hoshyar Abdullah reported that MPs who were calling for postponing the elections were the minority in the Iraqi Parliament. Abdullah reported that the majority of MPs, as well as the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, wanted elections to be held as scheduled on May 12.

On January 19, Iraqi MP Awatif Nehma said that the US’s plan to send advisors to assist the Electoral Commission was “a prelude to interference and manipulation of the results.”

On January 20, Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jubouri scheduled a parliamentary session with 229 MPs to vote on a date for the elections. Jabouri also reported that there was a proposal to hold national elections on time but to reschedule provincial elections. A similar session to vote on an election date had failed two days prior after the National Alliance withdrew in protest. The National Alliance has promised to boycott the new session as well if the resolution came to a vote.

On January 20, several political parties, both Iraqi and Kurdish, boycotted an Iraqi Parliament session that had been scheduled to vote on a date for elections. The National Alliance was one of the parties to boycott. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) also protested and did not attend. In response, Iraqi Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jabouri scheduled a meeting for the following day.

On January 21, the Federal Supreme Court of Iraq released a statement saying that the date of the elections could not be changed. The Court ruled that the elections “must be limited to the period specified in [Article 56] to elect members of the new [Parliament].” Later that day, Iraqi Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jabouri recognized the Court’s decision and said that it was binding for the Parliament.

On January 21, Iraqi Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jabouri announced that Parliament would be voting on the dates of provincial elections. Jabouri said that the two options would be to hold the elections on time or to postpone them for six months.

On January 21, the Ninewa Provincial Council announced its support for  postponing elections in the province. Bashar al-Kiki, President of the Council, said that the Council wanted to ensure the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs), especially from Mosul.

On January 22, the Iraqi Parliament has set the date for national elections as May 12, 2018. Sunni and Kurdish lawmakers had tried to postpone the election, in order to allow more displaced people to return to their homes. However, on Sunday, January 20, Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court ruled that postponing the election would be unconstitutional. The Parliament and the Council of Ministers committed to eight directives before the vote: 1. to provide a safe election environment, 2. to return IDPs to their areas of origin, 3. to hold the vote electronically in all regions, 4. that all the parties running for the election should not have armed wings, 5. that weapons must not be carried during political campaigns and until the official end of election day, 6. that local and international observers be present to monitor elections and that the UN and civil society organizations take necessary action to ensure large participation and fair elections, and that 7. That Parliament will monitor through its committees the implementation of these commitments, and 8. that the participation of all citizens in the elections be ensured through the establishment of funds for the return of IDPs.

On January 22, the Iraqi Parliament  asked the government to commit to a set of directives in order to provide a safe environment for the elections execution. Among these directives, there will be the restriction of the use of weapons during political propaganda and the adoption of the electronic vote.

On January 22, the President of Iraq, Fuad Masum issued a statement setting May 12, 2018 as the date for Iraqi parliamentary elections. The statement says that “based on the provisions of Articles (56) and (73-VII) of the Constitution, and article (III) of article (7) of the Law of Elections of the Council of Representatives No. (45), it is determined Saturday, the twelfth of the month of May, a date for the election of the House of Representatives”.

On January 22, the Iraqi Parliament voted on an amendment to the election law that would require all candidates for parliament seats to have a Bachelor’s degree or the equivalent. This was the first amendment to the Election Law of the year.

On January 23, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi gave a speech that MPs who were attempting to postpone elections were doing so “to maintain their post.” Abadi pledged that the Iraqi government would provide an environment that was conducive to holding fair and transparent elections.

On January 24, Iraqi President Fuad Masum approved the amendment requiring parliamentary candidates to have a Bachelor’s degree. According to Al-Sumaria, the amendment was initiated in order to hold fair and transparent elections.

IEDs Continue to Pose Risks to Returning IDPs

On January 22, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that more than 18,600 vulnerable Iraqis received legal documents and over 23,300 benefited from legal assistance related to documentation with the support of UNHCR and its partners during 2017. During the years of extremist control and recent conflicts, thousands of displaced Iraqis had lost their civic identities or were issued identities unable to be recognized by the government. According to Bruno Geddo, UNHCR Representative in Iraq, “Without legal documents, Iraqis face manifold problems in their everyday lives, like accessing public services including social welfare benefits, moving safely through checkpoints, securing employment and exercising their rights.” UNHCR is working with relevant government entities and with relevant partners to help them regain their identities as quickly as possible. UNHCR and partners supported the authorities to establish mobile operations in recently-retaken areas as soon as it was feasible, starting from Mosul and Ninewa.

On January 22, Governor of Salah ad-Din Ahmed Abdullah Abd al-Jubouri announced the start of the return of displaced families to Sulaiman Bek, a town in the Tuz District of Salah ad-Din Province in northern Iraq. The regional government had conducted several meetings and dialogues about the return of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the liberated areas and the process to achieve societal reconciliation with the tribes and to compensate those affected people. The director of Sulaiman Bek in Salah ad-Din Province, al-Bayati, announced Monday (January 15), the reopening of the formal government departments in the district and the raising of the Iraqi flag over the buildings.

On January 23, Migration and Displacement Minister Jassem al-Jaff said in a statement that his ministry had managed to repatriate nearly 450,000 people, out of 1.35 million, to the liberated areas in Ninewa Province. He mentioned that the condition of refugees in Ninewa are experiencing more challenges due to the diversity. The Ministry announced in a statement that he met the delegation from the US Rand Corporation in the minister’s headquarters, noting that the meeting discussed the return of the displaced families to their cities of origin in the liberated areas.

On January 22, a source within the Anbar Operations Command said a bomb exploded in a booby-trapped house in the central area of the Rawa District, approximately 320 kilometers northwest of Baghdad, in Anbar Province. The device was placed by ISIS militants in a house that had been abandoned and detonated once a family of six returned to the house after a “long period of displacement.” The source said two of the family members were killed and four were injured, announcing the launch of a security campaign to clear any booby-trapped house targeting repatriated families.

On January 23, a booby-trapped house exploded in the district of Rawa, approximately 320 kilometers northwest of Baghdad, in Anbar Province. The blast caused the death of the house owner.

Attacks by ISIS Insurgents Lead to Change in Tactics, More Training

On January 19, ISIS militants attacked the village of Bouseif, south of Mosul, killing a farmer. One of the militants died after the security forces responded with gunfire.

On January 21, the Military Intelligence Forces, in cooperation with the Samarra Operations Command and the 313th Brigade of the Popular Mobilization Units, killed two ISIS suicide bombers in the city of Samarra, in southern Salah ad-Din Province. During the operation, the troops destroyed four ISIS hotbeds and dismantled several explosive devices. The statement released by the Military Intelligence Directorate said that 5 kilograms of ammonium nitrate were seized and that this operation was launched in an effort to eliminate ISIS remnants in Iraq.

On January 21, the spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior, General Saad Maan, said that the Federal Police arrested three ISIS militants belonging to the so-called Martyrs Battalion, in Kirkuk Province. He clarified that this military operation was launched following intelligence reports and that one of the arrested militants guided the police to a location where two explosive belts were hidden.

On January 23, the Federal Police killed eleven ISIS members during an operation that took place in the town of Zab, 35 km west of Hawija in Kirkuk Province. The terrorists were located in the valleys leading to the Zab River and several medium and light weapons were seized at the scene. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced in October 2017 that Hawija, a crucial town held by ISIS, was returned to the control of Iraqi forces.

On January 23, Iraqi Security Forces, backed by some members of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) and local villagers, killed sixteen ISIS members in Al-Zarariyah, a village 35 kilometers southwest of Hawija. During the confrontation, an ISIS militant detonated his explosives, injuring three members of the PMU.

On January 23, the Ministry of the Defense announced the launch of a clearing operation against ISIS in Ninewa. The Ministry released a brief statement saying the offensive was launched following intelligence reports and with the support of the U.S.-led international coalition.

On January 23, the commander of the Baghdad Operations Command, Maj. Gen. Jalil al-Rubeyi, said his troops killed two suicide bombers wearing explosive belts and another ISIS militant who was with them. He added that the operation took place in the region of Al-Dhabitiyah, north of Baghdad, and that the terrorists planned on carrying out their attacks in Baghdad.  

On January 23, the Ninewa Police Captain, Alaa al-Bayati announced that the Ninewa Police arrested Tareq Abu Islam, chief of ISIS vigilantism, in Qayyarah, approximately 80 kilometers south of Mosul. He is accused of ordering the murder of hundreds of civilians. Bayati added that the security forces were also able to arrest Ayman Waad al-Jarjari, who was in charge of ISIS Bayt al-Mal (Treasury House).

On January 23, Iraqi troops found a mass grave containing 20 bodies of victims executed by ISIS in Al-Houd, 70 km south of Mosul. A security source said that a bomb making workshop with 450 IEDs was also discovered in the area.

On January 23, the Iraqi Prime Minister’s media office released a statement according to which, during a telephone call with NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi expressed Iraq’s desire to continue the training of its forces and that the training process could take place inside Iraq’s territory. The statement added that during the call, they discussed accelerating and intensifying Iraqi forces’ training, as well as including infantry and intelligence units in the training process.

On January 23, the head of the security committee of the Diyala Provincial Council Sadeq al-Husseini said a senior ISIS leader and two of his companions were killed in an airstrike. Husseini said the action took place following accurate intelligence information that located the three terrorists in a house near Hamrin Lake, approximately 50 kilometers northeast of Baqubah, in Diyala Province.

On January 23, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi confirmed that he expected to accelerate the military training by NATO into new curriculum like intelligence training, and he expressed his desire to continue the training, and to transfer training operations inside Iraq. Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg called Abadi to express his admiration of Iraq’s effort in fighting ISIS.

On January 24, during talks at the Davos Economic Forum in Switzerland, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen confirmed with Prime Minister Abadi that Germany will continue its commitment to the unity of Iraq by providing training assistance to the Iraqi Security Forces. On Tuesday, Abadi confirmed Iraq’s desire to move training operations to Iraq. Most Iraqi special forces trainings operations have taken place in Jordan.

On January 24, Maj. Gen. Najim al-Jabouri, Ninewa Operations Commander, has officially denied the withdrawal of paramilitary forces from Ninewa Province, saying that the Popular Mobilization Units are only relocating in the region. In his press statement, Jabouri added that the Joint Operations Command and the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces have transferred the security management in Mosul and Ninewa Province to the local police. He said that the PMUs now patrol the outskirts and the surrounding wall, adding that recent searches near the Tigris have not discovered any ISIS presence. Jabouri also explained that according to the recent intelligence information received, ISIS members are encountering difficulties in regrouping because the Iraqi forces are constantly keeping track of them.

On January 24, Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi met with a Kuwaiti media delegation. During the meeting he underlined that the battle against ISIS is still ongoing, but the ways of confrontation will change. Allawi said the new approach on the battle against ISIS will be more dependent on intelligence confrontation and specific operations to eradicate terrorism and protect the unity of Iraqi society from extremist beliefs. Allawi explained that these beliefs are the consequence of sectarianism, abuses on certain segments of society and policies built on reactions, which Allawi considers unacceptable. He also expressed his regrets in regards to the current political, economical and social situation in Iraq, which are due to the lack of adequate management, spread of corruption and lack of accountability. Allawi also praised the Kuwait’s diplomatic action in solving political dilemmas and thanked Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah for his constant support to Iraq and his wisdom in dealing with Arab issues.

On January 24, PMU forces patrolling near Zab, approximately 100 kilometers south of Kirkuk City, killed six suspected ISIS militants.

On January 24, Col. Ahmed al-Jabouri announced that 21 ISIS militants were killed during a military operation launched on Tuesday, and that the operation is still on going due to the geographical nature of the area and the presence of civilians. The operation aims to purge the southern part of Mosul of ISIS insurgents.

On January 24, Gen. Wathiq al-Hamdani, Chief of Ninewa Police, confirmed the arrest of nine ISIS militants within an ongoing operation in southern Mosul. The operation was carried out by the police in cooperation with the army and security services.

Turkish Action in Syria May Leave Border Vulnerable

On January 21, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu arrived in Baghdad to discuss the relations between Turkey and Iraq. Representatives from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon, were present to discuss Turkish operations Afrin. On January 18, Turkey began an offensive against the People’s Protection Units (YPG), who Turkey has long considered to be a terrorist group. Turkey has attacked the area with artillery fire and airstrikes in an operation known as Operation Olive Branch. Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said of the operation, “We will chase them. God willing, we will complete this operation very quickly.” Two days later, Erdoğan announced that Turkish airstrikes hit 108 targets belonging to Kurdish militants, hours after it launched Olive Branch Operation against a U.S.-based Kurdish militia in Afrin, Syria.

On January 21, Gorran Party Member of Parliament in Baghdad Hoshyar Abdullah called on Turkey to end its intervention in Afrin, Syria, which he said was “a model of peaceful coexistence between Arabs and Kurds.” Abdullah stated that Turkey had made Afrin less safe and that civilians were at risk because of continuous Turkish raids. Abdullah then called on the United Nations and other international actors to intervene.

On January 21, dozens of demonstrators in Erbil protested Turkish attacks on Afrin, Syria. The protesters warned of humanitarian disasters from the attacks.

On January 21, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu met with Iraqi Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jabouri to discuss greater cooperation between Turkey and Iraq. The two discussed the political, security, and economic situation and how to make regional developments, including trade relations.

On January 23, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, after he returned back to his country after his visit in Iraq, said he discussed with Iraqi officials about a joint operation against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Sinjar, a predominantly Yazidi city near the Syrian border, where the Turkish government conducted airstrikes over during the weekend. He also claimed that the Iraqi officials assured them that they will secure the border between Syria and Iraq near Sinjar, and stop PKK members from traveling between Syria and Iraq. The meeting between him and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Sunday (January 21) revealed the information of Turkey’s support for a united Iraq.

On January 23, the Turkish General Staff announced that fighter jets have launched airstrikes in the northern of Iraq border against the PKK. The office claimed that according to intelligence information, the group is planning to attack a police station and military barracks along Turkish-Iraqi border.

On January 23, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi reported that he had been invited to Turkey to discuss cooperation between the two countries in dealing with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Sinjar. Turkey and the PKK have been engaged in armed conflict since 1984 because of the PKK’s desire for autonomy in Turkey. Abadi noted that Iraq does not support the PKK and did not want its territory used by the PKK to fight Turkey.

On January 24, Hisham al-Hashimi, adviser to the Iraqi government on terrorist groups, wrote on Facebook that the withdrawal of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the northern Euphrates, on the Syrian-Iraqi border, to take part in defending Afrin, Syria, could leave those areas vulnerable to a return of ISIS militants. The SDF and the YGP are cooperating in resisting the Turkish offensive in Afrin, but have historically clashed with one another. The YGP has control over the Sinjar region, while the SDF is concentrated in the Rojava region.  According to Hashimi, the withdrawal of SDF and YPG to provide backup in Afrin is leaving the Syrian-Iraqi border defenseless for more than 275 km. Hashimi added that this represents a threat even for the Popular Mobilization Units stationed in southern Sinjar. Hashimi said in his Facebook post that there are at least one thousand armed ISIS members in the Euphrates islands, who constitute a real danger for Anbar, Ninewa and Salah ad-Din Provinces.

Barzani, Abadi Meet on Sidelines at Davos in Show of Cooperation

On January 20, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi hosted Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani in Baghdad. The two discussed several issues, including the resolution of the tensions between Baghdad and Erbil stemming from the September referendum on Kurdish independence. Insiders reported that the meeting focused on the proportion of the budget to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) as well as allocations to the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga. Abadi also stated that Kurdish airports would reopen to international travel after full federal authority had been restored to them. Abadi closed Kurdish airports to international travel in October.

On January 24, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenča completed a three-day visit to Iraq. During the visit, Miroslav Jenča visited liberated Mosul and met with Iraqi officials across different sectors, including Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Vice-President Osama al-Nujaifi, Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jabouri as well as the recently appointed electoral board of commissioners. This three-day trip aimed to discuss how the UN can best contribute to Iraq, particularly on the national and provincial council elections scheduled for May 12, 2018, developments in the relations between the Iraqi federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq as well as the upcoming international reconstruction conference for Iraq in Kuwait, and Iraq reconciliation processes.

Official site of Kuwait International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq

On January 21, the United Nation Secretary-General António Guterres confirmed that he would attend the Kuwait International Conferences for Reconstruction of Iraq. He said, “The international community should support Iraq and coordinate joint work with the Iraqi government, including contributing to the reconstruction and stability.” He also stressed “the United Nations support for holding the elections on time as set by the government.”

On January 22, King Abdullah II or Jordan received an invitation from Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to attend the conferences of the Kuwait International Conferences for the Reconstruction of Iraq. The King said Jordan would support the stability and unity of its brother Iraq.

On January 22, Prime Minister of the KRG Nechirvan Barzani affirmed that his visit to Baghdad was decided after having contact with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Barzani considered this visit a good start in the direction of solving problems between the two parties according to the Constitution. He added that it was necessary to work together in order to reach a solution to the problems and that he would meet with Abadi at the upcoming World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

On January 22, during a conference in Erbil, KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said that the airports would reopen once some technical problems they were experiencing were solved. He expressed hope that it would happen as soon as possible, but did not specify a timeline.

On January 23, the National Investment Commission announced that the Kuwait International Conferences for Reconstruction of Iraq will be held in Kuwait from February 12 to 14. According to the Commission, 157 projects covering all sectors of Iraq economy will be presented during the conferences, including major strategic and other medium level proposals covering oil and gas, transport, housing, and agriculture. More than 70 countries will participate in this conference along with other international organizations, including the World Bank.

On January 23, KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani arrived in Davos, Switzerland to participate in the World Economic Forum. Barzani and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi conducted a meeting the following day, and according to a press release by Abadi’s office, both sides emphasized a commitment to maintaining the unity and sovereignty of Iraq.

On January 24, the Iraqi delegation led by Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi participated in Davos Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. During the forum, the international community showed a positive shift of view towards Iraq’s domestic investment environment. Delegations and investors from 70 countries are attending the forum from Tuesday to Friday. A press release from Abadi’s office said that the Prime Minister met with the world’s largest investment companies and major investors. The meeting comes ahead of the impending Kuwait International Conferences for the Reconstruction of Iraq, to be held in February.

On January 24, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and Jordan’s King Abdullah II on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. According to the statement from the Information Office of the Prime Minister, the group discussed strengthening cooperation among them and the current conditions of the region.

On January 25, the head of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi during the Davos Forum about the preparations for the reconstruction of the Kuwait International Conferences for Reconstruction of Iraq. According to Iraqi officials, Iraq needs approximately US$ 100 billion for the reconstruction of infrastructure and restoration of services in liberated areas.

On January 25, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) has agreed to hand over all of its oil to the federal government of Iraq. Abadi added that there is still a lot of work to do to fight corruption and restore the country, and the only way to do so is to attract foreign investors.  

On January 25, the Basra Provincial Council announced an electricity project to link the province with Kuwait and join the “Gulf Network,” which would import energy from Kuwait during the summer months in exchange for gas crude Kuwait has exported from Iraq.

German Woman Sentenced to Death in Iraq for Supporting ISIS

On January 21, the Central Criminal Court in Baghdad sentenced a German female suspect of Moroccan origins, Lamia Aldaashah, to death over providing logistical support and assistance to several Islamic State militant group operations. Abdul Sattar Bir Qadar, spokesperson for the High Judicial Council said, “The Central Criminal Court reviewed the case of a German suspect and decreed sentencing her to death in accordance with provisions of the fourth article of the Counter-Terrorism Law.”

On January 23, the German Embassy in Baghdad officially protested a death sentence against a Moroccan-German woman found guilty for providing logistic assistance to ISIS. The German government was surprised by the decision of execution, and noted that they “prepared a formal request to the Iraqi government to hand over the Germans before the issuance of Aldaasha’s sentences.”

On January 24, a French agency suggested that there are approximately 40 French citizens  currently in prison camps in Syria and Iraq, including approximately 20 children. Three French citizens are detained and awaiting trial over allegations of ISIS affiliation and they may face the death penalty if convicted.

Sandstorm and Bird Flu Contribute to Regional Health Problems

On January 20, the Health Department of Najaf Province stated that its hospitals received approximately 500 cases of asphyxiation following a dust storm that hit the area on January 19. The Middle Euphrates hospital received 200 cases, while another 118 were treated in Al-Sija hospital. Al-Hakim hospital recorded 67 cases, 55 were recorded in Sadr City, and 24 in Al-Munadharat hospital.

On January 20, the Health Department of Karbala Province announced it had recorded 700 cases of asphyxiation following a sand storm that hit the area on the afternoon of January 19. The Department said all the people seeking treatment at the hospitals were taken care of and returned to their homes after their condition had improved.

On January 20, Diyala Province recorded another bird flu infection in the district of Hibhib, 60 kilometers north of Baghdad. The director of the Hibhib District, Hassan Shallal, said the infection site was located at a poultry farm in Al-Jadeed, in northern Hibhib. According to Shallal, the contamination caused monetary losses of more than 1.5 million of Iraqi Dinars (approximately US$ 1,260).

On January 21, the director of the Hibhib District in Diyala Province, announced the launch of an action to fight the spread of bird flu infections. He said that in an effort to contain the contamination, approximately 60 thousand chickens will be destroyed, following the protocol used in the sterilization of infected fields to prevent the transmission of the disease to the neighboring areas.

On January 21, an Iraqi medical source said that the sixth human case infected with bird flu died in the city of Balad, approximately 90 kilometers north of Baghdad, in Salah ad-Din Province. The source added that other two cases are under examination for the same infection.

On January 23, Udai al-Khadran, Mayor of Khalis in Diyala Province, revealed that one more bird flu infection was recorded at a farm in the eastern part of Khalis. The disease forces farmers to destroy thousands of birds. Khadran revealed in a recent statement that the infection killed more than 130 thousand chickens in the province.

IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

01/18/2018Abu Ghraib, 30 km west of Baghdad12
01/18/2018Al-Tarmiyah, 60 km north of Baghdad12
01/18/2018Al-Yusufiyah, 40 km south of Baghdad14
01/17/2018Rawa District, Anbar province, 320 km north-west of Baghdad24
01/17/2018Jisr Diyala, 25 km south-east of Baghdad02
01/17/2018Al-Ghazaliyah, neighborhood in western Baghdad01
01/16/2018Hawr Rajab, 20 km south of Baghdad01
01/15/2018Mahmudiyah, 30 km south of Baghdad04
01/15/2018Suwaib, 25 south-west of Baghdad02
01/15/2018Al-Madai'n, 50 km south-east of Baghdad14
01/14/2018Taji, 35 km north of Baghdad13
01/13/2018Rawa District, Anbar province, 320 km north-west of Baghdad10
01/13/2018Al-Jihad district, western Baghdad10
01/13/2018Hit, Anbar province04


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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