ISHM : August 3 – 9

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This week’s headlines:

  • IHEC Is Accused of Ignoring Vote Counting Machine Concerns, IHEC Announces the End of Election Ballots Recount – The process of election ballot recount was concluded, while the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) was criticized for allegedly ignoring concerns over electronic vote counting machines. According to an August 5 report by Reuters, IHEC ignored Iraq’s Board of Supreme Audit (BSA) reservations concerning the electronic vote counting machines. On August 6, IHEC announced the official end of the ballots recount of the parliamentary elections, which took place on May 12, 2018. more…
  • ISF Continue Carrying Out Security Operations, Iraq and Jordan Sign Agreement on Military Cooperation – Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) continue to counter ISIS in Iraqi territory and conduct security operations. On August 4, the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior announced that five ISIS members were arrested in Hamam al-Ali. On August 5, other 6 ISIS militants were arrested in Ninewa Province. On August 5, Iraq and Jordan signed a military cooperation agreement. more…
  • Abadi Compiles List of Government Officials Suspected of Corruption, Iraq Announces it Will Respect U.S. Sanctions against Iran – In the framework of his plan to fight corruption, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced on August 2 that he would be compiling a list of government officials potentially involved in corruption. On August 7, Abadi released the list, which is intended for the Integrity Commission to investigate the individuals named in it. On August 7, Abadi expressed Iraq’s disagreement with U.S. sanctions inflicted upon Iran, though he pointed out that Iraq intends to obey them. more…
  • Protests Continue in Basra, Baghdad and Najaf – While citizens continue to be dissatisfied, on August 3 demonstrators gathered in central Najaf Province to demand better government services. On August 5, protests in Basra forced the Iraqi government to close the Safwan border crossing with Kuwait for several hours. On August 7, protesters gathered in Sadr City to oppose the suspension of Sadr City District Director-General Adel Saad. more…
  • WHO Publishes Reports on Mental Health Support Services in Iraq, the Netherlands and the IOM Sign Cooperation for Providing Livelihood and Psychological Support to Iraqi Youth – According to UN estimates, roughly one-third of Iraq’s population of 37 million was directly affected by ISIS and the war, contributing to an increased need for trauma treatment and other mental health care services. However, today Iraq only has about 80 licensed psychologist and 215 psychiatrists. On August 9, the World Health Organization (WHO) released data on the current provision of mental health support services in Iraq. On August 7, the Netherlands signed a cooperation agreement with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for providing livelihood and psychological support to Iraqi youth in crisis-affected areas. 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.


IHEC Is Accused of Ignoring Vote Counting Machine Concerns, IHEC Announces the End of Election Ballots Recoun

On August 4, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) nominated their choice for presidency of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), Mohamed Saber Ismail. Saber holds a doctorate in nuclear physics and served as a representative of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in France and the United States, as well as being Iraq’s ambassador to the United Nations.

On August 5, a representative of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) denied agreeing with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) on the decision to nominate a president. The KDP indicated that there must be agreement between the two largest Kurdish parties (the PUK and the KDP).

On August 5, Reuters reported that the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) ignored reports expressing concerns over the credibility of electronic voting machines. The Iraq Board of Supreme Audit (BSA) submitted a list of 11 concerns to IHEC on May 9, 2018, two days before before elections. Concerns from the BSA audit included how easy it was to tamper with voting machines as well as “suggesting that the price tag [for the machines] should have been lower.” The BSA audit identified that the contract with the South Korean company, Miru Systems, to provide voting machines was for $97 million while the reported payment for the machines was $135 million. Influential cleric Moqtada al-Sadr expressed his concerns over the failure of these machines and the damage it will do the the trust of the Iraqi people in the government. Miru Systems has also come under scrutiny by opposition parties in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for elections that are scheduled in December.

On August 6, the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) announced the conclusion of the the manual recount process. IHEC was forced to cut the recounts short due to many ballots being damaged during a ballot warehouse fire. As previously reported in ISHM #163, a fire that broke out on June 10, 2018, at a warehouse where the votes were being stored, damaged several boxes of ballots and led to several calls for abandoning the idea of a recount and instead holding new elections.

On August 6, the Victory Alliance confirmed its commitment to nominate Haider al-Abadi to serve as Prime Minister in the formation of the next government. The Victory Alliance is known as Abadi’s party and holds and alliance with influential cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr’s Sadrist movement.


ISF Continue Carrying Out Security Operations, Iraq and Jordan Sign Agreement on Military Cooperation

On August 3, Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants collapsed two electric towers in Qara Tapa sub-district, Diayala province. The collapse affected electrical transmission as far north as Dibis District, Kirkuk Province. Attacks by militants on electrical towers have been occurring in recent weeks, as Iraq suffers electrical shortages.

On August 4, the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior announced the arrest of five members of ISIS in the town of Hamam al-Alil, south of Mosul. The defendants provided statements to Iraqi police confessing involvement in the terrorist group.

On August 4, three officers of Iraq’s federal police were killed when a their vehicle was exploded by an unidentified explosive device in the city of Tikrit, Salah ad-Din Province. The police forces were conducting sweeps of the desert areas of the province in search of remaining ISIS militants.

On August 5, the Iraqi Interior Ministry announced the arrest of six members of ISIS in East Mosul, Ninewa Province. The arrested militants are alleged ISIS fighters during the control of Mosul.

August 5, Iraqi security forces (ISF) killed two ISIS fighters during clashes Makhmour District,  Erbil Province (approximately 100 km southeast of Mosul). Clashes continue as Iraqi security conducts sweeps in areas still containing ISIS presence in the foothills and in tunnel holdouts.

On August 5, an Iraqi police officer was killed in Mosul when a bomb he was attempting to defuse exploded. Two additional officers were wounded when a second bomb exploded at a nearby location.

On August 5, Iraq and Jordan signed a military cooperation agreement. The agreement was made following meetings by Chairman of the Jordanian Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mahmoud Abdel Halim Freihat, and Iraqi Defense Minister Irfan Mahmoud Al- Hayali. The deal arranges for joint military drills and strategic cooperation related to border protection, and intelligence development.

On August 7, ISF killed 16 ISIS members in Anbar province. The ISIS members were migrating from Syria to Iraq when Iraqi forces intercepted them in the Anbar desert.

On August 7, Shafaaq reported a raid in western Mosul, Ninewa province, in which eight ISIS members were arrested. Twelve more militants escaped Iraqi security forces. During the raid, ISF discovered four tunnels, at least one of which extended into Syrian territory. This tunnel extends from Rabia in Tal Afar district (135 kilometers northwest of Mosul) into Syria. Light arms, ammunition, and cell phones were confiscated from the tunnels.

On August 8, ISF foiled an attack by ISIS militants on an electrical tower in Tarmiyah district north of Baghdad. Clashes occurred as the ISIS fighters attempted to detonate an explosive device at the site of the towers. Three militants were killed, while the rest escaped. One member of the security forces was injured. Security forces blocked the roads out of Tarmiyah in attempt to stop the escaped militants, however they were not able to catch them.


Abadi Compiles List of Government Officials Suspected of Corruption, Iraq Announces it Will Respect U.S. Sanctions against Iran

On August 2, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi indicated that he is in the process of compiling a list of 50 government officials which are suspected of corruption. Abadi plans to refer these officials to the Integrity Commission, in order for the Commission to conduct an investigation on the corruption allegations. On July 29, Abadi fired several managers of polling stations as well as the Minister of electricity on account of corruption; as previously reported in ISHM #169.

On August 7, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared his position on the recent sanctions against Iran. Abadi stated: “We consider them (sanctions on Iran) a strategic mistake and incorrect but we will abide by them to protect the interest of out people. We will not interact with them or support them but we will abide by them.” On August 5, President Trump signed an executive order to reinstate sanctions on Iran and warned in a tweet that “Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States.” The sanctions target Iran’s automotive sector and natural resource exports. Iran recently cut electricity to Iraq in the wake of economic struggles, increasing economical pressure on Iran could lead to an impact on Iraq as well.

On August 7, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi released a list of corrupt government officials to be investigated by the Integrity Commission. Abadi has been put under pressure to act-out against corrupt officials due to recent protests and sit-in that criticize the corruption of the Iraqi government. Protesters have staged several provincial government offices in the southern province of Basra.

On August 8, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi referred additional government officials to the Integrity Commission including two major figures: the former Minister of Education and current chairman of the Parliamentary Finance Committee, Mohammed Tamim, the former Minister of Construction and Housing Mohammed al-Daraji, and the former Minister of Industry and Minerals, Ahmed Nasir. Many of the names on the referred list are former members of the Maliki administration.


Protests Continue in Basra, Baghdad and Najaf

On August 3, hundreds protested in central Najaf Province in ongoing demands for improved government services. The protests began in July and are now entering their second month, with demonstrations generally reorganizing on fridays.

 

On August 5, approximately 150 protesters assembled in the city of Basra to demand better living conditions and reduced corruption in the federal government. The demonstrations forced Iraq to close the Safwan border with Kuwait for several hours until crowds dissipated.

 

On August 7, dozens demonstrated in Sadr City District, Baghdad, to protest the suspension of Sadr City District Director-General Adel Saadi. The protestors met outside of the Baghdad municipal building, threatening a sit-in if Saadi was not restored.

On August 8, a special representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations, Jan Kubis   warned Iraq and neighboring countries of the impending displacement of people in Southern Iraq. Kubis noted that the drought and water scarcity in Iraq will expose 25% of the population to water scarcity, disease, and possibly displacement. Iranian and Turkish water policies have greatly contributed to Iraq’s water crisis.


WHO Publishes Reports on Mental Health Support Services in Iraq, the Netherlands and the IOM Sign Cooperation for Providing Livelihood and Psychological Support to Iraqi Youth

On August 7, the International Organization for Migration signed a partnership with the Government of the Netherlands to provide 3.5 million euros (approx. 4.05 million USD) over 18 months for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) to displaced Iraqi youth. The support will be administered nationwide (including the Kurdistan region), but will focus on Anbar, Baghdad, and Kirkuk provinces. The support will also include livelihood assistance in the form of  vocational training, job placement, and business development assistance.

On August 9, the World Health Organization released its monthly 3W MHPSS cluster report. July was the largest month this year in terms of cases of MHPSS care, with 7,837 cases (compared to 3,961 cases the month before). From January to July 10,264 mental health promotion sessions were conducted, and 24,512 cases received psychosocial care. Approximately one-third of Iraq’s population of 37 million was directly affected by ISIS and the war, contributing to an increased need for trauma treatment and other mental health care services. However, today Iraq only has about 80 licensed psychologist and 215 psychiatrists.


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

 

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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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