ISHM: JUNE 29 – July 12, 2018


Key Takeaways:

  • Parliamentary Elections Ballot Recount Continues to Fuel Controversy – The Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) began the manual ballot recount process on July 3 for Anbar, Dohuk, Kirkuk, Erbil, Ninewa, Salahuddin, and Sulaimaniya Provinces. The recount comes amid repeated claims of voter fraud and false ballot-counts due to alleged tampering with electronic voting equipment. The ongoing recount process has delayed some governing coalition-formation negotiations, including a potential alliance between influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoon party and other large party organizations. Meanwhile, Iraqi Sunni leaders met in Istanbul to discuss the formation of a Sunni parliamentary bloc, with former Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jabouri and former Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi in attendance. Iraqi media later reported that an agreement had been reached to form the new bloc under the name “National Axis.” more…
  • Water Shortage Curtails Oil Refinement, Prompts Crop Limitations – On July 5-7, the Shuaiba oil refinery in Basra Province shut down due after rising salinity levels reached four-times the safe amount to be used in the refinement process. The shutdown highlights Iraq’s ongoing water crisis, as reduced flow through the country’s rivers has led to severe water shortages and penetration of Persian Gulf seawater into the Shatt al-Arab river. On July 10, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi raised the issue of water shortage in Basra at the Council of Ministers meeting. Iraq’s southern agricultural regions have been particularly hard-hit by the ongoing lack of sufficient irrigation water, leading to rising tensions between southern Provinces regarding federally-imposed water quotas. This summer’s shortages have been exacerbated by continued dam construction in Turkey (and Iran), which limits flow into the country’s major rivers. more…
  • Demonstrator Killed in Basra amid Ongoing Protests – On July 8, security forces in Basra fired into a crowd of demonstrators protesting against ongoing jobs shortage, insufficient electricity/water provision, and lack of other basic services, killing one individual and wounding eight more. One day later, Iraqi President Fuad Masum called for an investigation to be conducted into the incident. On July 10, tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered around the West Qurna oilfield to protest the killing of the unarmed protester in Basra two days earlier. The Basra incident occurred amid ongoing protests across southern Iraqi provinces, focused primarily on water and electricity shortages, as well as ongoing unemployment. These systemic challenges have exacerbated inter-provincial and inter-tribal tensions in southern Iraq, which has witnessed intensified clashes between heavily-armed tribal elements in recent weeks. more…
  • Turkish Military Continues to Hit PKK Targets in Northern Iraq – Turkish aircraft continue to strike Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets across northern Iraq as part of ongoing operations against the terrorist group. Between July 7-10, Turkish media reported that military operations had “neutralized” 40 PKK militants. Meanwhile, PKK sources claimed a retaliatory attack that killed three Turkish soldiers in the Barzan area, north of Erbil. The Turkish military has been conducting airstrikes against PKK targets inside northern Iraq since July 2015. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by the US and EU. more…
  • ISIS Insurgent Activity Continues to Challenge Security Forces – Groups affiliated with ISIS have continued to harass Iraqi security forces and civilians in northern and central provinces, particularly around the Diyala-Kirkuk-Ninewa area, as well as in Anbar Province. Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have responded by intensifying their sweeping and counter-insurgency operations in ISIS-affected regions. On July 5, ISF launched major operations, called “Vengeance of the Martyrs,” to eliminate any remaining ISIS units, prompted by public outrage regarding the murder of eight abducted civilians on June 20. more…
  • Hemorrhagic Fever Sparks Health Scare – Iraqi media reported on the spread of hemorrhagic fever in several provinces, including Diwaniya, Diyala, Erbil, and Maysan, last week. These reports prompted widespread concern regarding the country’s over-burdened public health system’s ability to manage an epidemiological crisis. Some provincial leaders responded by denying all reports of hemorrhagic fever in their provinces, despite several reported deaths from the illness. more…
  • Construction Begins at New US Consulate in Erbil – The new US Consulate in Erbil will be the largest American consular facility in the world, costing approximately $600 million and covering 200 square kilometers. 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.

Parliamentary Elections Ballot Recount Continues to Fuel Controversy

On June 28, a parliamentary deputy, Faris al-Faris, said that the parliament  was unable to hold its session on the 28th due to lack of quorum. Parliamentary leaders were attempting to pass a law that would both extend the life of the parliament and remove the provision in the Election Law’s third amendment which allows for special election votes to be canceled. Many members of the parliament opposed the extension of the parliament’s life and refused to attend the session.

On June 30, Reuters reported that manual recounts for Iraqi ballots are set to begin Tuesday, June 3. The recounts will cover ballots from the provinces of Anbar, Dohuk, Kirkuk, Erbil, Ninewa, Salahuddin, and Sulaimaniya as well as ballots from Iraqis in foreign countries. Events leading up to the recount have complicated the process with attempted burning of ballot boxes and calls for a new election. It is unknown how long recounting ballots will take.

On June 30, the Iraqi Parliament held its closing session. Vice-President of the Council Hammam Hamoudi led the session with 127 members of parliament in attendance. The end of the parliamentary session leaves Iraq in a state of “legislative vacuum” with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi as the sole minister while the ratification of elections results remains pending through a manual ballot recount.

On July 1, a VBIED detonated just outside of a ballot warehouse in Baghdad, two days before recounts are (were?) supposed to take place. While the explosion did not damage the warehouse or its ballots, 20 nearby people were injured and 1 was killed. Baghdad Police indicated that the target of the attack was the warehouse but security forces opened fire before the car could reach the building.

On July 2, the announcement of the coalition being formed by influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and other large party leaders was delayed. Originally expected to be announced on July 1, ongoing negotiations and the pending ballot recount have caused the members of the fledgling coalition to postpone their formal announcement.  

On July 3, the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) started the ballot recount process in six regions. While the majority of ballots have been transported to Baghdad, some have remained in their own regions for recounting. Later that day, Kirkuk also began its recount process after some delay.

On July 3, Iraqi Sunni leaders met in Istanbul to discuss the forming of a Sunni Bloc, as well as nominations for a new Speaker of Parliament. Former Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jabouri and former Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi were in attendance.

On July 3, The Iraqi Turkmen Front reported that there was a massive difference close to 50% between electronic ballots and hand counted ballot results. In the case of one ballot box a representative of the recounting team stated that the electronic results from one box showed 291 votes for one party and after counting, only showed 71 votes.

On July 4, al-Sumaria reported that an agreement had been made by Sunni leaders to create a Sunni bloc named “National Axis.” The bloc is to be led by Iraqi businessman Khamis Khanjar. A source noted that the bloc will be composed of 47 Sunni deputies. Former Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jabouri denied involvement in any sectarian alliance.

On July 7, former Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jubouri announced a negotiation team for the formation of a new government which was agreed upon with various political blocs. Jubouri hosted the meeting, largely consisting of Sunni blocs.

On July 8, influential Shia cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, asked Iraqi political parties to suspend discussion with outside political powers like (maybe say including instead of like?)the United States. Sadr has been a strong voice against international influence in Iraq, including opposing both Iranian and US influence.

On July 12, four Kurdish parties declared a boycott of the elections recount. The declaration occurs after manual counting has begun in Erbil, and includes the Goran, Coalition for Democracy and Justice, Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), and Kurdistan Islamic Group (KIG) parties. The boycott follows suit with Kurdish parties (excluding PUK) in Sulaymaniyah that held their own boycott during that regions respective recount.

Water Shortage Curtails Oil Refinement, Prompts Crop Limitations

On July 2, the Ministry of Water Resources confirmed the water salinity of the Shatt al-Arab as unable to “continue [its] usual uses of water” in Basra Province as “salt concentrations in the area of Sehan, the historical site of the mouth of the karun river in Shatt al-Arab, reached 25000 parts per million (ppm), compared [to] 2,000 ppm in the…Upper Shatt al-Arab” area. They provide two reasons for this increase in salinity: “first, the dumping of salty water … from the Iranian side, as well as the high tide.” The Ministry has recently completed an operation on the Shatt al-Arab which provides drinking services on both sides of the Shatt al-Arab.

On July 3, Rudaw reported that the agriculture ministry “suspended the cultivation of rice, corn and other cereals, which need large quantities of water” last month. Diwaniyah Province and Najaf Province are where more than 70 percent of the amber crop is grown, “and in total, the variety makes up over a third of the 100,000 tons of rice grown in Iraq” annually. Amber rice farmers income is “slashed,” as these farmers “usually ear between 300,00 and 500,00 dinars (approximately US 240 to 400 dollars) a year per dunum (quarter-hectare).” The Ministry of Agriculture was planning to have 350,000 hectares of crops this season, including rice and corn, according to the spokesman Hamid al-Naef. This, however, will not be actualized as the Ministry for Water Resources “warned it would not be possible to irrigate these key crops, [thus] the forecast was slashed to 150,000 hectares, mainly set aside for less water-intensive vegetables and palms.” Due to these water restraints, “the ministry has therefore asked farmers not to cultivate rice, yellow or white corn, cotton, sesame, sunflower” said Naef. Safaa al-Janabi, the Agriculture ministry’s provincial director said these changes “represent a total loss of 50 billion dinars” (approximately US$ 42 million). Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the government would compensate farmers, especially those that produce rice, but some are scared this promise will not be kept. Some rice farmers tried to grow their crop despite these restrictions, “but the ministry for water resources removed their pumps,” destroying their crop.

On July 10, it was reported that the Shuaiba refinery, which produces 210,000 barrels of oil per day (b/d), near Basra Province, was forced to shut down between July 5 and July 7. This is due to salt levels rising four times the usual amount in the river water used in the refining process. Iraq’s refinery capacity is limited and “aging plants [are] struggling to keep up with demand especially in the summer.” Media director of the South Refineries Company said, “there are fears that the stoppage might re-occur after the re-operation because the problem might remain.” Federal Iraq averaged 588,000 b/d of refinery throughout April and the Kurdistan region averaged 150,000 b/d. SPGlobal reported that “Iraq could overcome occasional and limited outages by releasing fuel from storage, but doesn’t have the storage or space capacity to cover more without reducing domestic supply, or increasing imports.” To-date, Iraq’s oil fields are not yet affected by rising salinity, as their own stop-gap measures have located and treated alternative water supplies before the most recent shortages this summer.

On July 10, the Council of Ministers, chaired by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, discussed the water issue in Basra Province. Abadi’s office said they discussed the water project as well as the “problems of the people” in Basra. The Council agreed to form a governmental delegation, headed by the Minister of Oil, which included the following ministers: the Minister of Reconstruction, Housing, Municipalities, Public Works, Electricity, and Water Resources. They decided on issues regarding whether to increase the “tank wheels” distributing water to citizens, to link “the Basra water project to the current carrier lines, and examine the possibility of pumping water during the pilot operation,” as assured by the project consultant. The Basra water project executive committee is working with the British partners in allocating the amount required for consultancy, as well as ensuring prevention of abuses and increases in innovation.

On July 10, the Directorate of Muthanna Agriculture announced its success in wheat cultivation in Muthanna Province. Al-Muthanna Naim, director of Muthanna Agriculture, said the program “has achieved its objectives in the provence through the inclusion of more land, the introduction of agricultural mechanization and the provision of fertilizers and seeds.” This program additionally granted farmers support through providing education on the scientific methods of agriculture, water waste reduction, and modern irrigation methods. The farmers in the program produced 900 kilograms per hectare of different wheat varieties last season.

On July 11, Water Resources Minister Hassan al-Janabi said in a speech at a UN Security Council session that “successive governments have committed themselves to the revival of the marshes,” calling for respect for Iraq’s water rights. He said destruction of civilian and water installations were caused by terrorism. “Terrorism is a global phenomenon, not a domestic phenomenon, [where] instability and economic and social vulnerability contribute to the spread of extremism,” said al-Janabi. He continued to say “Iraq seeks peace and development with neighboring countries” emphasizing that “Iraq strongly calls for respect for its water rights.”

Demonstrator Killed in Basra amid Ongoing Protests

On July 2, Mazen Khazaie, the director of Ghazaniya in Diyala Province, said the area lost 200 million dinars (approximately US 168,138 dollars) due to electricity issues. Weak voltages were reported by Khazaie as the cause, due to failures in household electrical appliances.

On July 3, Reuters reported two people were killed and two people wounded in a tribal conflict east of Baghdad, in Habibiya after clashes erupted between heavily-armed groups.

On July 7, Iran stopped providing electricity to Iraq. Musa al-Muderris, spokesman of the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity, “said that due to the [rising] debts [owed by Iraq to Iran], Iran has stopped a thousand megawatts of electricity flow to Iraq as of Friday,” July 6. The Ministry of Electricity called on citizens to increase the rationalization of electricity consumption to reduce the burden of the electrical system due to the suspension of the processing of electric power from the Islamic Republic of Iran” said the Ministry of Electricity in a statement released on their website. As temperatures rise in Iraq, the need for electricity for air conditioning needs rise and strain “the nation’s beleaguered power infrastructure” as, according to the Ministry of Electricity “Iraq produces 15,700 megawatts of electricity but needs more than 23,000 to ensure nonstop supply to residents and institutions.” Al-Muderris said negotiations are continuous and that electricity needs have not been met.

On July 8, the Provinces of Maysan and Wasit witnessed protests against electrical power cuts. The demonstrators insisted continuation of protests until this issue is addressed. The demonstrators held banners that held the Ministry of Electricity and local government responsible for these issues.

On July 8, demonstrators in Wasit Province protested the electricity issues in the province, erecting a marquee sit-in near the Department of Electricity Governorate. The demonstrators also threatened to sever the link between Baghdad and Wasit if electricity issues are not addressed.

On July 8, Iraqi police opened fire to disperse dozens of protesters in Basra after they demonstrated against a shortage of jobs, electricity, water and a lack of other basic services including a corrupt police force. Police reported eight protesters wounded in the shooting while a local mayor reported that one demonstrator was killed, and three others wounded. “Protesters were only making fair demands for jobs and better basic services but police opened fire and killed one protester,” said Yaseen al-Battat, a local mayor from the Imam Sadiq area where the protesters were. General Jamil al-Shammari, issued a statement on the incident in which he stated that a group of gunmen, separate from protesters, opened fire on security forces and security forces returned fire, resulting in the reported casualties. The protestors were from surrounding farmland areas near West Qurna, which is being developed by Russia’s Lukoil. Iraq witnesses service-related protests every summer across the country, particularly regarding inadequate electricity and water provision, as high temperatures and increased usage burdens an already-limited network.

On July 8, A member of the Basra provincial council called for a meeting to address the concerns of Basra citizens. The resolution by the provincial council included:

  • Pardoning of security commanders for civilian injuries
  • Restricting and laying-off foreign workers in oil fields
  • Following through with plans to build desalination plants and powerplants with money provided by British foreign aid
  • Forcing petroleum companies to pay owed dues to Basra before paying for reconstruction of liberated areas in northern Iraq
  • Assign ministers to the seats of electricity, housing, water, and oil in Basra municipalities

On July 9, after this weekend’s protests in Basra, which killed one person and injured many others, Iraqi President Fuad Masum called to investigate the incident. He directed the security and judicial authorities on Sunday to conduct more urgent and fair investigations. Basra citizens took to the streets on Saturday night, lighting fires on the streets to protest electricity shortages. Masum stressed that every Iraqi citizen has the right to protest and express their opinion as guaranteed by the constitution “but in a peaceful way, away from violence.”

On June 9, Qais al-Khazali, a leader of the Shia political group Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, tweeted a statement in which he condemned security forces for shooting unarmed peaceful protesters. In the tweet, he stated that action must be taken regarding the “Baathist culture” in the security forces leadership.

On July 10, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) expressed concern about security forces shooting at protesters in Basra, killing one person and wounding others. Iraqi authorities opened an investigation, asking them to maintain independence and accuracy. Activists said “the demonstration was peaceful and free of weapons, and those responsible for the violence should be held accountable.” The United Nations also “stressed the right of Iraqis to exercise their right to peaceful assembly without intimidation or repression.”

On July 10, tens of thousands of people demonstrated near the West Qurna field protesting the killing and wounding of demonstrators during a previous protest. Protestors demanded the improvement of services and provision of jobs. While protesting, the people cut off a road leading to the oil field. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi issued a statement on the incident of security forces firing on civilians during the Basra oil-field protests. Abadi stated that the matter was under investigation and people responsible for those shot at the protest will be punished. Abadi added that, there is no circumstance in which people are justified in attacking security forces.

Turkish Military Continues to Hit PKK Targets in Northern Iraq

On July 2, Turkish warplanes attacked border areas in the province of Dohuk. The attack caused frantic behavior amongst the residents, the casualties of the incident still unknown. The PKK has operated from inside Iraqi territory for years, and in early June, the Turkish government launched renewed operations targeting PKK fighters operating from northern Iraq’s Qandil mountains. The Turkish military has been conducting airstrikes against PKK targets inside northern Iraq since July 2015. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by the US and EU.

On July 7, 10, and 11, Turkish news outlet Hurriyet reported the “neutralizing” of at least 40 PKK militants in total. The Turkish military uses the term neutralize to imply that the militants were either captured or killed without specification.

On July 9, the PKK announced that three Turkish soldiers were killed in the Barzan area just north of Erbil. Al-Sumaria news received a statement from PKK sources noting that, “our forces launched a violent attack on the positions of the Turkey army in Barzan, killing three Turkish soldiers.” Turkey maintains a series of military bases across northern Iraq, and has launched renewed operations against PKK militants operating in the region this summer.

On July 11, Turkish military forces destroyed 28 PKK targets in northern Iraq’s Zab, Afashin Basian, Hawkurk and Qandil regions in the Kurdistan region of Iraq (KRI). Estimates indicate that the Turkish military maintains approximately 11 temporary military bases around northern Iraq as part of its operations against the PKK.

ISIS Insurgent Activity Continues to Challenge Security Forces

On June 29, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered the immediate execution of all convicted ISIS-affiliated militants presently on death row, following the kidnapping and killing eight members of Iraq’s security forces by ISIS units. Abadi stated, “our security and military forces will take forceful revenge against these terrorists.” Iraqi security forces executed twelve convicted members of ISIS following Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s orders. More than 300 people have been sentenced to death for involvement with the recently defeated ISIS.

On June 29, the UN released a report concerning the formation of a counter terrorism project between the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism and Iraq as well as plans to open an office in Baghdad. The main goal is to build thematic development projects. The report noted that “Primacy must be given to voluntary returns of IDPs to the conditions of at least basic security and stability, community and national reconciliation and stabilization, including justice and accountability based on principles of equal citizenship, tolerance and resilience. That also requires political, ideological, economic, social and legal solutions and reforms with a specific focus on how to provide an increasingly young Iraqi population with a dignified future, and how to empower women. Prevention must be at the centre of strategies and measures against violent extremism at this stage.”

On July 2, the construction of a security fence along Iraq began with Syria in order to prevent ISIS militants from crossing the border. The barrier on the frontier includes a six meter wide trench, which runs from 20 kilometers north of al Qaim, which was reclaimed after ISIS attempted to seize it. ISIS still carries out air attacks across the country, targeting mostly remote areas. “We had been warned that the battle against ISIS was not over, even if the group was broken,” Abdel Mahdi Karbalai, a representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most-senior Shia Muslim leader, said during a sermon at Friday prayer.

On July 3, the Baghdad Police Force carried out an initial operation in Kirkuk Province which resulted in the capture of one of the largest terrorist gangs associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The Police force managed to remove many weapons, dismantling the gang who have been associated with many acts of violence around the country.

On July 4, Iraqi Forces launched an operation targeting ISIS splinter militia group, “White Flags,” along the Kirkuk-Khurmatu-Kifri highway. As one of the largest groups to fragment from ISIS, White Flags militants have been active in Iraq’s northern regions, especially Kurdistan.

On July 5, a cache was seized containing 18 explosive devices in Lake Hamrin, north of Diyala Province. Police General Faisal Al Abbadi said in a statement, “the Diyala police formed an additive and a cache of explosives, containing 18 explosive devices and a barrel of C-4 as well as the destruction of a motorcycle.” The operation is the largest of its kind in terms of military sectors involved, and the areas that it covered. The police are continuing to search for remnants of ISIS around the province.

On July 5, Iraqi forces launched a major operation against remaining members of ISIS following the murders of eight abducted civilians in late June. The Joint Operations Command (JOC) stated that the operation was being supported by the Iraqi Air Force and the US-led coalition that intervened with ISIS after they seized control of large swathes of territory in northern and central Iraq in summer 2014. This operation marks the first time that federal Iraqi forces and the Peshmerga have worked together since clashes following last year’s Kurdish independence referendum and the federal government’s advances into Peshmerga-controlled Kirkuk Province.

On July 7, the Iraqi police released two Filipino women who were kidnapped on the road between Baghdad and Erbil the previous day. The two women were traveling with other Filipino nationals when their car broke down. While seeking assistance, they were kidnapped and taken to an unknown location. After they were found, the attack was assumed to be under ISIS.

On July 7, the Iraqi police force arrested a militant for transporting arms for ISIS extremists in Anbar Province. The troops set up an ambush and seized the senior member of the terrorist group in al-Bouthaib.

On July 7, the police force announced the arrest of some individuals, including ISIS members, associated with terrorist activity in Nineveh Province and Anbar Province.The statement said the forces were able to arrest two terrorists in the Qayyarah area of Mosul, of whom one individual was Abu Zubair, responsible for many killings and associated with ISIS.

On July 9, four soldiers were killed and injured as a bomb explosion targeted a military patrol just west of Anbar Province. An unknown source stated, “a bomb, placed on the side of the road at the main entrance of Rutba, west of Anbar, targeted a military patrol, leaving two soldiers killed and two others wounded. A civilian was killed, on Saturday, while another was injured by an undetonated bomb…[a] remnant of war against ISIS.”

On July 10, in Diyala, police officer Mizher al Azzawi announced the arrest of  thirteen individuals involved in an incident which took place on the road connecting Baquba and Baghdad. These people are also linked to ISIS; al Azzawi stated, “the process of tracking the terrorist network was carried out through a structured plan, under the supervision of Diyala operations.” Seven civilians were killed in the attack after a bus stopped back on the way from a wedding in Buhraz.

On July 10, in Kirkuk, the Iraqi Air Force destroyed several ISIS vehicles, as well as a camp housing ISIS militants that had allegedly conducted an attack along the Baghdad-Kirkuk highway. An unnamed source in the Iraqi Air Force stated, “four vehicles loaded with equipment belonging to ISIS were destroyed, the army’s air force carried out further missions resulting in destruction of vehicles associated with the terrorist group.” The strike came in response to the attack on June 17, in which two truck drivers were killed and seven civilians were kidnapped by fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Khalis District, approximately 15 kilometers north of Baqubah in Diyala Province along the Kirkuk-Baghdad road.

On July 10, the killing of eight members of ISIS was announced in Diyala. These individuals were planning on installing a fake control, due to an airstrike carried out by the international coalition aircraft. According to intelligence information, the eight individuals, alongside planning to install fake controls, destroyed the wheels of a motorcycle which was used to carry two of the terrorist members, several M16s, and other unknown weapons.

On 10 July, four police officers were killed and injured as a bomb blast targeted their patrol southwest of Kirkuk. The blast left one killed and the other three severely injured. Iraqi media reported that “A bomb went off targeting a patrol for Federal Police conscripts near al-Bakkara village in Hawija, southwest of Kirkuk.” In response, security forces carried out operations in the region and areas in the vicinity in search for the perpetrators.

On July 11, an Iraqi federal police officer was killed in an ISIS explosion in southern Ninewa Province.

On July 11, police forces in Kirkuk destroyed seven a weapons cache and 15 explosive devices belonging to groups affiliated with ISIS. The police forces carried out a search of a number of villages in the Zab area, southwest Kirkuk Province, where they discovered ISIS-controlled weapons caches. Groups affiliated with ISIS have continued insurgent activity across northern Iraq’s Kirkuk Province since 2017.

On July 12, the Iraqi Air Force conducted an airstrike that reportedly killed seven ISIS members in Lower Smaka village, southern Kirkuk Province.

Hemorrhagic Fever Sparks Health Scare

On July 1, a case of hemorrhagic fever was reported in Erbil Province. Khalas Qadir, the spokesman for the Ministry of Health of Kurdistan reported the case, “stressing the need to address the epidemic.” He said the individual is under strict care and that they “have set up an operations room in all governorates of Kurdistan to confront the epidemic as well as to implement campaigns, [spreading the idea] of raising livestock with pesticides.”

On July 1, Maysan Province’s Ministry of Health denied reports of hemorrhagic fever in the province. The director of media department Mohammad al-Kanani validated this claim and said “all precautionary measures have been taken to prevent the disease from reaching the province.”

On July 1, President Ali al-Daini of the Diyala Province announced a general ban on raising livestock and sheep in urban centers. He said this issue will be enforced in Diyala and Baquba, ensuring its enforcement by, as he said in an interview with al-Sumaria News “giving the green light to competent authorities to do their part according to the law, dealing with violations without any exceptions.” Daini said it is time to address the issues of cattle and sheep breeding in urban centers “as an environmental and health damage to residential neighborhoods.” The governor of the Diyala Council said there have been no instances of hemorrhagic fever, as preventative measures have been taken “in coordination with the veterinary and related authorities.”

On July 2, the Ministry of Health identified five cases of individuals diagnosed with hemorrhagic fever in Iraq. Four of the five died. The disease is particularly prevalent in Diwaniya Province.

On July 2, the Director General of the Health Department of Kirkuk, Hussein Ibrahim, said the media too easily jumps at the news about the spread of the hemorrhagic fever in Iraq. The Ministry of Health is reportedly taking “all preventive measures against hemorrhagic fever,” while the Department of Public Health and Health Control Teams cooperate with the Kirkuk police center, Department of Veterinary Medicine, and butchers to determine adequate…..for sheep and cowers in efforts of protecting others from the spread of this disease. Ibrahim said there are “exaggerations in dealing with [hemorrhagic fever] by some media” and noted that ‘“according to data from the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health, the disease [has been an] endemic disease in Iraq and neighboring countries for many years. In Iraq in 1979 and since [then,] recorded casualties in a number of provinces in Iraq [occurred] at controlled rates.’”

Construction Begins at New US Consulate in Erbil

On July 6, the United States began construction on a new consulate building in Erbil. The 200,000 square meter complex will be the United States’ largest consulate complex in the world and will cost $600 million. The US Embassy in Baghdad remains the largest and most expensive American diplomatic facility in the world.


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

6/30/2018 Diyala, Khanqin, Northwest of Baquba00
7/1/2018 Kirkuk (unknown)120
7/1/2018 Salah al-Din, Tuzkhurmato02
7/2/2018 Diyala, Khanqin, Northwest of Baquba00
7/4/2018 Diyala, Khanqin, Northwest of Baquba00
7/4/2018 Salah al-Din, Tuzkhurmato04
7/4/2018 Northern Baghdad, Shula area111
7/5/2018 Road North of Baghdad02
7/5/2018 Western Baghdad, Abu Ghraib 02
7/6/2018 Salah al-Din, Baji02
7/6/2018 Northern Baghdad, Jokuk11
7/8/2018 Southern Diyala, 25km south of Baquba11
7/9/2018 Northern Diyala, Village of Umm Hatta01
06/22/2018 Salah al-Din, Baji41
06/22/2018 Baghdad, Radwaniyah10


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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