ISHM : July 27 – August 2

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This week’s headlines:

    • While demonstrations continue throughout Iraq, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi issued several directives to address protesters’ demands- On July 27, demonstrators in Baghdad called for the formation of a new government, while in Maysan Province protestors gathered to demand more jobs and the provision of basic services. On July 28, Abadi issued directive for Diwaniya Province, rescheduling payment of debts owed by farmers and development organizations. On August 1, other directives were issued for Karbala, allocating funds to hospitals and development projects.more…
    • Parties and Religious Leaders Call for Formation of New Government, Abadi Fires Ministries and Elections Officials over Corruption Allegations – Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalai, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s spokesman, and Ammar al-Hakim, National Wisdom Movement leader, called for the formation of a new government. On July 31, following Parliament meeting, it was announced that it will take an additional 110 days after the preliminary elections results, to form a new government. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi fired five elections officials on July 28, over corruption allegations. On July 29, Abadi also fired the Minister of Electricity, Qasim al-Fahdawi, over corruptions and poor management. more…
    • ISIS Activity Continues to Pose a Security Threat – ISIS continues to be strongly present in several provinces. On July 27, the Ninewa Operations Command found two ISIS tunnels in Ayadiyah. On July 28, two ISIS militants were killed in southeast Kirkuk Province, and the Diyala Provincial Council issued a list of wanted terrorists. Four ISIS militants were killed in Salah ad-Din Province on July 29.
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    • Electrical Transmission Towers Destroyed in Kirkuk Province, Threats on Local Leaders Emerge with New Groups – As reported by Michael Knights as results of his field studies, approximately 50 local leaders were assassinated in the past 3 months. There appears to be a trend of increased attacks on infrastructures and local leaders, as terrorist group strike in rural areas. On July 29, three electrical transmission towers were destroyed in Hawija District, Kirkuk Province, and another one was downed on July 30, in the Dibs District of Kirkuk Province. It was reported on July 31, that a new terrorist group emerged, called “Revenge of the Martyrs”, which appears to be targeting local leaders in Salah ad-Din Province. more…
    • Ministry of Oil Assigns Development of Mansuriyah Gas Field and Nasiriyah Oil Field to State-Run Companies, Iraq Signs a Deal with Kuwait on Desalination Plants, Energy Production to Increase in Basra – As reported by Michael Knights as results of his field studies, approximately 50 local leaders were assassinated in the past 3 months. There appears to be a trend of increased attacks on infrastructures and local leaders, as terrorist group strike in rural areas where there is less of a presence of overstretched Iraqi security forces. On July 29, three electrical transmission towers were destroyed in Hawija District, Kirkuk Province, and another one was downed on July 30, in the Dibs District of Kirkuk Province. It was reported on July 31, that a new terrorist group emerged, called “Revenge of the Martyrs”, which appears to be targeting local leaders in Salah ad-Din Province. more…
    • Human Rights Watch Publishes Report On Iraqi Judges Disregarding Torture Allegations – On July 31, Human Rights Watch published an extensive report concerning Iraqi judges disregarding torture allegations. The report is the result of the study of 30 cases tried by Baghdad courts between 2009 and 2018, and found that in 22 of them, the judges failed to investigate the use of torture by security forces, in order to obtain confessions.
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For more background on most of the institutions, key actors, political parties, and locations mentioned in our takeaways or in the stories that follow, see the ISHM Reference Guide.


Abadi Issues Directives to Respond to Demonstrators’ Demands, Protests Continue throughout Iraq

On July 27, the leader of the Sadrist movement, Moqtada al-Sadr tweeted that there needs to be an end to protester suppression. Sadr noted the tragedy and death that has resulted from protests and the need to stop harming civilians.

On July 27, dozens of protestors demonstrated in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square demanding the formation of a government and reforms including improving electricity and addressing corruption. In response security forces shut down roads leading to Tahrir Square as a precaution. The protests remained peaceful as protestors left the square later that evening and roads were reopened.

On July 27, protests continued throughout Iraq. Over one hundred people in Maysan Province protested outside of the governorate building demanding that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi “keep his promises” and meet calls to provide jobs and basic services. Hundreds also gathered in Nasiriyah, as well as dozens in Karbala with similar demands.

On July 28, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Iraq criticized the suppression of protests including security forces surrounding peaceful protests, and failure to release detainees in an expeditious manner.

On July 28, protests ensued in Kadhimiya to demand improved government services, and the release of protestors arrested in southern Iraq.

On July 28, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi issued several directives for Diwaniya Province to address demands of protesters from the region. The directives were intended to alleviate economic pressure on the region by rescheduling payment of debts from farmers and development organizations as well as finishing several projects that were planned for the area including a hospital and an airstrip. Diwaniya Province has joined the southern protests after droughts have left many farms barren.

On July 29, hundreds of protestors assembled in Dhi Qar to demand the dismissal of the province’s water director. The protestors threatened civil disobedience if the demand was not met.

On July 31, students demonstrated outside the Ministry of Education in Baghdad, demanding increasing the number seats available in Iraqi universities.

On July 31, demonstrators erected tents outside of the Basra provincial council to hold a peaceful sit-in.

On July 31, generators in Diyala Province second largest city, Khanaqin, stopped operating under protest by owners citing unreasonable fees from the Diyala Council.

On August 1, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi issued several directives to allocate funding to hospitals and development projects in the region of Karbala. This provision of funding is the third in a series of directives from Abadi, aimed at appeasing the demands of protesters. Abadi stated: “[protest is] a healthy phenomenon that allows the demands of the people to be heard.”

On August 1, hundreds of people protested in the streets of Kufa, eastern Najaf Province. The protests demanded better water and electrical services, following the demands of several southern protests this past month.

 


Parties and Religious Leaders Call for Formation of New Government, Abadi Fires Ministries and Elections Officials over Corruption Allegations

On July 27, Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalai spoke on behalf of Iraq’s top Shi’ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Karbalai urged moving forward with the formation of the new government, saying that a new government is necessary to combat corruption and address water and electricity shortages. The leader of the National Wisdom Movement, Ammar al-Hakim, announced his party’s support for Sistani’s position.

On July 28, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi fired five election officials on charges of corruption during the May 15 election. Election chiefs were sacked in the provinces of Kirkuk, Salahuddin, and Anbar as well as the chief officials in the foreign offices of Turkey and Jordan.

On July 29, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi fired the Iraqi Minister of Electricity over issues of poor management of resources and rampant corruption. The Minister, Qasim al-Fahdawi, had no comment on his firing.  

On July 31, Al Sumaria released information on the most recent parliamentary meeting. In the meeting parliament discussed when the formation of the new government would take place. The meeting somewhat indicated the formation of the new government will take place 110 days after the preliminary results of the election are in, which still have not been delivered. The meeting settled on resolutions on the deadlines to select various positions within the new government. The resolution allowed for two weeks to file appeals to the Independent High Electoral Commission. After the Supreme Judicial Council ratifies, the new parliament will have 15 days to convene for their first meeting. Three days after the first meeting, the process for selecting the new Prime Minister will begin.

On July 31, the leader of the Sadrist movement, Moqtada al-Sadr, released the guidelines that his political bloc would use to select the next Prime Minister. Sadr stipulated that the candidate must have loyalty to their voting bloc and Iraq over their loyalties to sectarian powers. Sadr’s coalition controls the majority of  votes in parliament and will likely be able to select the next Prime Minister.

 


ISIS Activity Continues to Pose a Security Threat

On July 27, Ninewa Operations Command found two Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) tunnels in Ayadiyah. The tunnel held 20 explosive devices and 6 explosive belts. Security forces have been uncovering and destroying tunnels in previously ISIS occupied areas since December.

On July 27, a mosque in Baghdad was attacked by unidentified gunmen. Security forces arrived after the shootings, finding one civilian killed and one other wounded.

On July 28, Iraqi security forces killed two ISIS members southwest of Kirkuk Province. Sweeps of Kirkuk province and other formerly occupied areas for remaining ISIS militants have become a focus of Iraqi security forces in recent weeks.  

On July 28, Diyala Provincial Council completed a black list compiled by the provincial intelligence agency for ISIS members and individuals associated with the terrorist organization. This will serve as a wanted list for security forces.

On July 29, security forces in Samarra, Salah ad-Din Province, conducted a preemptive operation targeting four militants. The militants were killed, after police gunfire hit the explosive vests that three of them were wearing.

On July 30, the head of the Diyala Council’s security committee said that PMUs northeast of Baquba killed three ISIS militants. PMUs have played an active role in recent months in the fight against ISIS as the terrorist group engages in increasingly localized guerilla tactics.

On July 30, Prime Minister haider al-Abadi met with the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Nechirvan Barzani. The two discussed the importance of cooperation between the Iraq central government and the KRG especially with coordination of security forces and rooting out remnants of ISIS.

On July 31, Iraqi security forces arrested three members of ISIS. Interior Minister spokesman Major General Saad Maan said that intelligence agencies uncovered the militants with two in Ninewa and one in Baghdad.

 


Electrical Transmission Towers Destroyed in Kirkuk Province, Threats on Local Leaders Emerge with New Group

On July 29, three electrical transmission towers were destroyed in Kirkuk Province, disrupting power in areas surrounding Hawija District. The towers were toppled after IEDs were placed at the base of each tower. Because the investigation is ongoing, a terrorist group was not named, but ISIS has been targeting electrical towers amidst ongoing protests over government services such as electricity and water.

On July 30, terrorist groups downed a tower in Dibs district, Kirkuk Province transferring electricity between the cities of Kirkuk and Erbil. The attack disrupted power transmission over a large radius surrounding the downed line including widespread outages in Ninewa. Emergency towers will be erected to provide power while the towers are fixed and lifted.

On July 30, Iraqi Intelligence officer Hassan al-Sufi directed Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) to protect transmission towers and power stations in Kirkuk province. Sufi notes that around 6,000 volunteers from Hawija are prepared to defend the towers and could clear the area of ISIS units within 30 days with equipment from the government.

On July 31, a tribal conflict dispute led to gunfire and some damaged property including some power lines which cut electricity to nearby areas. The conflict occurred 30 kilometers northeast of Baquba, Diyala Province.

On July 31, Shafaaq reported of a new armed group called “Revenge of the Martyrs” who are attacking local leaders in Salah ad-Din. The report comes following a grenade attack at the home of local leader Fadhel al-Jubouri. This could be part of a trend of increased attacks on local leaders and infrastructure in rural areas. Reported in last week’s ISHM were findings from Michael Knights recent field research in Iraq in which he detailed this emerging threat. In the past three months over 50 local leaders were assassinated.

On August 1, PMU police forces in Salah ad-Din clashed with the Khazraj clan who were protesting the kidnapping and killing of three of their elders. The protesters blocked a road leading to Baghdad and refused to move. In trying to disperse the crowd, the PMU shot and killed a tribesman. The road was later reopened, and an investigation under Salah ad-Din Police Chief and Samara Operations Command is being conducted.

 


Ministry of Oil Assigns Development of Mansuriyah Gas Field and Nasiriyah Oil Field to State-Run Companies, Iraq Signs a Deal with Kuwait on Desalination Plants, Energy Production to Increase in Basra

On July 31, the Iraqi Minister of Oil, Jabar al-Luaibi, ordered  state-run firms to take over the project of developing the Mansuriyah gas field and Nassiriya oil field. This comes after a “delay and failure” of foreign companies to resume works in the areas, and Iraq’s failure in attracting foreign investors to carry on the projects. Iraq signed deals with Turkish, Kuwaiti, and South Korean state-run oil companies to develop the fields; however, after seven years, little progress has been made on the oil fields, hindering Iraq’s income from oil revenues. The fields are situated in Diyala province, known for its high rates of violence and militant activity. The government has allocated $140 million dollars to the project and hopes to more than double the output capacity in these fields.

On August 1, Iraq signed a deal with Kuwait to exchange Iraqi oil for Kuwaiti desalination plants. Kuwait signed a deal with Iraq to provided 17 generators and 17,000 tons of diesel on the 22nd of July.

On August 1, the spokesman for the Council of Ministers, Saad al-Hadithi, announced that there will be an increase in energy production in the Basra Province. Hadithi indicated that there was eight development projects that were being worked on. Three of the eight projects have been completed, adding an additional 360 megawatts to the power grid; however, many have complained over the lack of progress on these projects. Hadithi stated that many projects are near completion but were terminated due to contractors bailing out.


Human Rights Watch Publishes Report On Iraqi Judges Disregarding Torture Allegations

On July 31, Human Rights Watch published a report conducted between 2009 to 2018 that revealed that Iraqi Judges have frequently failed to investigate and punish allegations of torture by Iraqi Security forces. The report claims that judges consistently failed to take action regarding claims of coerced confessions through torture. Torture is forbidden under Iraqi law, but the law also leaves almost full discretion to judges to determine how to consider torture allegations in trial. The decision to conduct a forensic report when considering torture allegations falls on the judge which rarely occurs. These concerns have increased in recent months as captured ISIS members undergo trial. Cases where alleged ISIS members claim their confessions were coerced are widespread. The report claims that the courts refuse to consider the claims, do not investigate security forces personnel, and in some cases threaten to defense.


 


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

DateLocationDeathsInjuries
7/20/2018 Rajaiba district in the province of Karbala
00
7/21/2018 35km Northwest of Kirkuk in the area of Elton Kobri
00
7/21/2018 Kirkuk in the district of Debs in the area of Sarkan01
7/24/2018 North of Baghdad in near Saba al-Boor02

 


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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