ISHM : August 31 – September 6, 2018

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This week’s headlines:

  • Violent Protests Erupt in Basra Province, Umm Qasr Port Operations Shut Down following Protesters’ Blockade of its Main Entrance – Demands for safe drinking water and improvement of basic services prompted the eruption of violent protests in Basra. On August 31, demonstrators tried to break into Basra Province government headquarters in the city of Basra. On August 31, the Office of the Human Rights Commission in Basra Province affirmed that two demonstrators were injured following clashes with the police in Basra. On September 4, a local security and health source reported that five demonstrators were killed and sixteen were injured following clashes with police forces in the city of Basra. On September 5, protesters blocked the entrance of the Umm Qasr port, approximately 70 kilometers south of Basra. On September 6, port employees revealed that all the operations at Umm Qasr port were suspended. more…
  • Iraqi Parliament Convenes, Failure to Elect Speaker of Parliament Prompts Postposition of Meetings – Following a decree issued by Iraqi President Fuad Masum on August 27, 2018, the Iraqi parliament convened on September 3, 2018. On September 3, the oldest Member of Parliament (MP) Mohamed Ali Zinni opened the first session of the Iraqi parliament. Failure to elect a new speaker of parliament and his two deputies prompted Iraqi lawmakers to decide, on September 4, to postpone parliamentary session until September 15, 2018. On September 6, the leader of the Sairoon Alliance, Muqtada al-Sadr, called on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, ministers, and the governor of Basra to head to parliament by next Sunday to resolve the protests in Basra. more…
  • Report by Reuters Suggests Iran Positioning Missiles in Iraq, Alarming Israeli Defense Chief – On August 31, Reuters reported that “three Iranian officials, two Iraqi intelligence sources and two Western intelligence sources” claim Iran has transferred short-range ballistic missiles to Iranian-backed Shia militias in Iraq over the past few months. The article names specific missile types with a range of 200 km to 700 km. According to Reuters’ unnamed sources, Iran’s alleged missile transfer is intended to dissuade attacks on its interests in the Middle East. The Reuters report also cites some of their sources identifying locations of factories inside Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan being used to develop Iraq’s own capacity to build ballistic missiles. The allegations have since been denied by the Iraqi government, the Iranian government, and an official with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). On September 1, Iran denied the report issued by Reuters on August 31, 2018, according to which it had transferred ballistic missiles to Shia militias in Iraq. On September 2, the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement denying reports of Iran providing missiles to Shia militias in Iraq. On September 3, the Israeli Minister of Defense, Avigdor Lieberman, said during a conference that “we are certainly monitoring everything that is happening in Syria and, regarding Iranian threats, we are not limiting ourselves just to Syrian territory. This also needs to be clear.” On September 4, Jalal Sheikh Karim, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Deputy Minister of the Interior, spoke to BasNews and denied the presence of ballistic missiles sent by Iran, in Sulaimania Province. Since the story ran, no major media outlets have picked up the story other than to report on reactions to the original Reuters article or to raise questions about it. more…
  • Talks to Form Alliances Continue, Abadi announced the Formation of the Largest Majority Bloc – On September 2, rival Iraqi political factions claimed to have formed alliances capable of forming a new parliamentary government. On September 3, the alliance between Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced it had attained enough members of parliament to form the largest bloc. On September 4, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced to reporters that the largest bloc of the new parliament had been numerically decided. On September 5, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) stated that the party would not pick sides in the current political battle to form the largest bloc in parliament. On September 6, an anonymous political source revealed that Iyad Allawi, leader of the National Coalition, is considering withdrawing from the parliament. more…
  • McGurk Denies Reports of Meetings with Iraqi Political Leaders, U.N. Announces Appointment of New Special Representative for Iraq and Head of UNAMI – Iraqi media outlets reported last week that U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL Brett McGurk had held meetings between August 28 and August 30, 2018, with Iraqi coalition leaders. On August 30, McGurk issued a statement on his Twitter account denying reports of him meeting with several Iraqi coalitions leaders in Baghdad. On August 31, United Nations (U.N.) Secretary-General António Guterres announced the appointment of Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert of the Netherlands as Special Representative for Iraq and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). 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.


Violent Protests Erupt in Basra Province, Umm Qasr Port Operations Shut Down following Protesters’ Blockade of its Main Entrance

On August 31, demonstrators tried to break into Basra Province government headquarters in the city of Basra. Protesters, who are demanding better services and the end of widespread corruption, threw stones and set fire to tires outside the building. They destroyed part of the wall surrounding the provincial government headquarter building and launched petrol bombs towards it. Though there were clashes with the riot police, no significant injuries were reported.

On August 31, the Office of the Human Rights Commission in Basra Province affirmed that two demonstrators were injured following clashes with the police in Basra. The victims were wounded by live bullets used by the security forces to disperse protesters.  

On August 31, Kazim Sahlani, spokesman for the Basra movement, said that security forces had begun randomly arresting demonstrators all over Basra Province.  Sahlani said that “dozens have been arrested so far.”

On August 31, some demonstrators threw burning materials inside the wall of the provincial government building in Basra, causing a fire in the front garden. According to  sources, civil defense teams were engaging in battling the fire.

On September 1, an anonymous security source revealed that security forces were extensively deployed near the Basra Province government building. The source said that “the security forces in Basra have spread intensively near the [government] building of the province.” The source added that “the street leading to the building was shut down and Abu Karim Qassim Square was surrounded by military contingents.”

On September 2, approximately 150 protesters gathered in front of the main entrance to the Nahr Bin Oman oilfield in Basra Province, threatening to break into the oilfield if the Iraqi government fails to respond to their demands of improved basic services and safe drinking water. Hassan Ali, one of the organizers of the protest, said that “we will not allow the oilfield to operate unless we get clean water. No services, no jobs, now no clean water. We are fed up.” The police used tear gas to disperse them.

On September 1, the Press Freedom Association of Iraq announced that two journalists were arrested and several others were injured by security forces while covering the ongoing demonstrations in Basra Province. The representative of the Association said that Essam al-Sudani, reporter for Reuters, was detained for several hours after being caught near the provincial government building in Basra covering the demonstrations. Safa Ghali, photographer for Dijlah TV, was arrested and later released while reporting and photographing the ongoing protests. Fuad al-Hilfi, reporter of w.tv in Basra, said that security forces broke his camera and verbally assaulted him, forcing him to leave the area where demonstrations were taking place. Shehab Ahmed, another reporter who was following the protests, said he was unconscious for fifteen minutes after security forces targeted him with tear gas. The Association released a statement condemning the repression against the press, saying it considers the direct targeting of journalists and preventing them for covering what is happening as a violation of the Constitution. The Association also called on Iraqi prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to investigate the incidents involving the targeting of journalists.

On September 3, Kazim Sahlani, spokesman for the Basra movement, revealed the existence of ongoing clashes between demonstrators and police forces in Basra Province. Sahlani said that “there is a continuation of excessive force [use] by security forces against demonstrators.” He added that “some homes and medical clinics in the area adjacent to the demonstrations were damaged.”

On September 4, a local security and health source reported that five demonstrators were killed and sixteen were injured following clashes with police forces in the city of Basra. The source added that 22 members of the security forces suffered injuries, and some of them were wounded by hand grenades.

On September 4, Fares Shaddad, member of the Basra Provincial Council announced that security forces imposed a curfew, which will last until the morning of September 5, 2018. Shaddad said that “the curfew was imposed by the Operations Command, after the recent repercussions which resulted from the clashes between the security forces and the demonstrators.”  Shaddad added that “there were casualties on both sides, and we have not confirmed the numbers yet,” pointing out that “the security situation in the province will be controlled during the coming hours and things are calm.”

On September 4, Moqtada al-Sadr expressed his anger at the events unfolding in Basra. In a tweet, Sadr wrote that “we are saddened to see the tragedy in our oppressed eyes.” He went on to say that he was angered by “the unjust encroachment by some security forces on unarmed demonstrators who only want a living with dignity.” He added that “we must join efforts to lift Basra out of corruption, sectarianism and militias.”

On September 4, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced he had given clear orders to avoid using live ammunition against  demonstrators. During a press conference, Abadi announced that he will open an investigation into the killings in Basra. Abadi also stated provinces will be given the authority to conduct financial transfers to better allocate funds for the rapid development of projects, including improving the Haritha water plant in Basra Province.  

On September 4, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi held an emergency meeting with Basra Governor Assad Al-Eidani and several members of the House of Representatives to discuss the conditions in Basra Province. In a statement given to Shafaaq News, Abadi “stressed the determination of the Council of Ministers to address the problem of clean water and solutions that have been discussed during the past few weeks.” The statement also stressed the need to set specific timetables to “facilitate and accelerate the implementation of projects, including water purification projects, rehabilitation of water distribution networks, and the extension of new tanker lines to provide sufficient quantities of water for different areas.”

On September 4, the Council of Ministers voted on several resolutions involving the province of Basra. The meeting included discussions on efforts to address the problems of drinking water, and  approved a plan to establish desalination plants. Another resolution approved an increase of IQD 100,000 (USD 83.85) given to needy families for a two month period. The current water and economic crises in Basra has led to daily protests since July 8.

On September 4, the Alliance for Reform and Reconstruction condemned the use of any form of violence against demonstrators and encouraged the formation of a “crisis cell” in Basra to find realistic solutions for the province. The Alliance released a statement calling for “leaving the patchwork solutions and forming a crisis cell at the highest levels in the province, including the basic departments in the governorate and the ministries concerned.”

On September 4, the head of the General Union of Agricultural Societies in Iraq, Haider Abdul Wahid al-Assad, said that the pollution of water sources in Basra has resulted in the mass loss of fish. Several rare fish and even species of local palm tree dates are threatened by the high percentage of pollution and salinity. According to Assad, there also is a high risk “of the spread of gastrointestinal and cholera diseases among the rural communities and villages.”

On September 5, the Basra Court of Appeals declared that it will investigate the incidents which took place in Basra Province during the demonstrations, following the death of five protesters. An anonymous source said that the Court will investigate the deaths of the demonstrators, as well as the attacks on the security forces and the provincial institutions. The source added that the judges will take legal action against the perpetrators of the crimes, and those who contributed by any means to committing illegal actions.

On September 5, Jamil al-Shammari, Basra Operations Commander, released a statement regarding incidents during the demonstrations in Basra Province. Shammari said that “the leadership of Basra Operations and the country stand with the demonstrators, and I personally support [peaceful] demonstrations in an unlimited manner,” pointing out that “the form of yesterday demonstrations was different, as they were not peaceful.” He added that security forces “were surprised by a group of [protesters] throwing hand grenades and burning military vehicles and the provincial [government] building.” Shammari continued saying that the killing of the protesters “led to the imposition of a curfew,” and warned about “some groups using their gangs for the purpose of assassinating citizens and igniting sedition inside Basra.”

On September 5, the leader of the State of Law Coalition, Nouri al-Maliki called on the central and local governments to quickly address the crisis in Basra. In a statement, Maliki said: “the central and local governments should contain the repercussions of urgent and effective solutions, open the doors of dialogue with the demonstrators, refrain from the use of force and methods of violence that will open new overlapping crises, and call for an immediate investigation of the events and punish those who caused them.”

On September 5, demonstrations resumed in the morning in Basra Province after four protesters were killed on the night of September 4, 2018. Hundreds of residents gathered in al-Hartha, approximately 30 kilometers north of Basra, demanding the improvement of basic services and the removal of the Basra Province Operations Commander. Another demonstration took place in the al-Zubayr District, approximately 20 kilometers southwest of Basra.

On September 5, thousands of demonstrators gathered outside the provincial government building, in the city of Basra. Protesters threw stones at the building and tried to break down concrete barriers, while security forces used tear gas and fired shots in the air, in an attempt to disperse demonstrators. Later in the day, protesters set the the main provincial government building in Basra on fire. The road leading from Basra to Baghdad was also blocked by demonstrators.

On September 5, protesters blocked the entrance of the Umm Qasr port, approximately 70 kilometers south of Basra. A local government official said that “protesters have blocked the main entrance of the port. Trucks that carry supplies can’t enter or leave the facility.” Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani expressed his support for the ongoing demonstrations.

On September 5,  Ammar al-Hakim called for an investigation into the security forces violent handling of demonstrators in Basra Province. Hakim said in a statement that “we condemn the use of weapons against demonstrators and demand an urgent investigation into the recent events that killed a number of demonstrators and security forces. We also urge religious, official, cultural, academic and media activities to work to heal the rift.”

On September 5, Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Jawad al-Khalisi, prominent Iraqi Shia cleric, released a statement calling on Iraqi citizens to stand with protesters in Basra, and against their “oppressors.” Khalisi said that “we have always warned the sons of Iraq against the negative aspects of the deliberate demands of the oppressed, and the oppressed Iraqi people, and the warnings about using violence and force against the people of Iraq who claim their rights had increased.” Khalisi added that “the sons of our army and the sons of the security institutions are there to protect the people, not to be tools of the oppressors and the corrupted in suppressing the will of the oppressed.” Khalisi said that “we condemn and denounce the shooting of demonstrators and the use of violence against them, especially since they have done nothing but claim their legitimate rights,” calling on “politicians to not be preoccupied with the tricks of the blocks and compete for positions in these moments,” as they must work to resolve the issues of the people of Basra.

On September 5, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General (SRSG) for Iraq, Jan Kubis,urged authorities to avoid using lethal force against demonstrators in the province of Basra. In a statement, Kubis calls for “calm and urges the authorities to avoid using disproportionate, lethal force against the demonstrators, provide the necessary protection for the people of Basra, ensure human rights while protecting law and order, and investigate and hold accountable those responsible for the outbreak of the violence.”

On September 6, port employees revealed that all the operations at Umm Qasr port were suspended. This comes after protesters blocked the main entrance to the port on September 5, 2018, preventing employees and trucks from entering and leaving the facility.

On September 6, an anonymous official source reported that a large number of security forces were deployed to various area of the city of Basra, following protests and clashes between demonstrators and the police. The source said that “security forces have spread significantly in different areas of Basra, including the Zubayr District, after the government buildings were set on fire in central Basra.” The source added that “angry protesters blocked the road from Basra to Amarah, in addition to blocking the road from Al-Tannumah to Al-Ashar.”

On September 6, an anonymous source said that protesters set fire to other municipality buildings in the city of Basra. According to the source, civil defense teams are struggling to find access to those buildings to extinguish fires.

On September 6, the Iraqi Human Rights Commission released a statement saying that it “monitored the use of excessive violence by the security services against the peaceful demonstrators, which led to the death of 9 people and  93 were injured among the demonstrators, while 18 security personnel were injured since the beginning of September to this day in Basra,” adding that the Commission fears the demonstrations will get out of control if the demands of the protesters will not be met. The statement also called for “maintaining demonstrations peaceful and [respect] the inviolability of private and public property,” while calling on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to encourage dialogue between the coalitions to resolve the crisis and investigate the crimes that were perpetrated.

On September 6, the Basra Operations Command announced the imposition of a curfew in the city of Basra. The Command said in a statement that the curfew is set to start at three o’clock in the afternoon, and will remain in place until further notice. The Command called on citizens to cooperate with security forces, in order to keep both people and public property safe.

On September 6, an anonymous security source revealed that the decision to impose a curfew on the city of Basra was revoked. The source said that “the Basra Operations Command has directed the abolition of the curfew in the city.” The curfew was supposed to go into effect at three o’clock in the afternoon on September 6, 2018, and to remain in effect until further notice.

On September 6, demonstrators marched towards the headquarters of the provincial government in the city of Basra, demanding improved services. Protesters raised the Iraqi flag, and stormed the building, with some of them reaching its roof.

On September 6, protesters in Basra Province set fires to the headquarters of the Dawa Party, the Badr Organization, and Asaib Ahl al-Haq. Protesters also targeted the house of the governor. Earlier in the day, demonstrators burned a building belonging to the provincial council, but civil defense teams denied this was connected to the protests. At least 21 people have been killed in Basra Province since protests began July 8, 2018.


Iraqi Parliament Convenes, Failure to Elect Speaker of Parliament Prompts Postposition of Meetings

On September 3, Iraqi President Fuad Masum issued a statement in support of the new Iraqi parliament and its ability form a new government. Masum said that “we are strongly encouraged to choose a competent and strong government, capable of achieving a program which meets the demands of the people and the level of their aspirations.” Masum added that “our country faces dangers through our unilateral dependence on oil,” and called for a diversification of the economy in the country.

On September 3, the oldest Member of Parliament (MP) Mohamed Ali Zinni opened the first session of the Iraqi parliament. The new government includes 329 deputies from the elections on May 12. This was the fourth session of the Iraqi parliament after the Saddam Hussein regime. The session began with speeches from several key politicians including former parliament speaker Salim al-Jubouri and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

On September 3, Ammar Tohma, head of the Islamic Virtue Party, called for a meeting of the “winning” blocs of parliament to redress the sharp divisions within the new government. Tohma said that “the first session of the parliament demonstrates the continuous and deeper divisions, which threatens further fragmentation and rupture, which will disrupt the completion of constitutional obligations at their appointed time, and delay the formation of the government and the consequence is the suffering of citizens.”

On September 4, Iraqi lawmakers decided to postpone parliamentary sessions until September 15, 2018. This comes after the government failed to elect the new speaker of parliament. The major step needed to establish a new government is for lawmakers to name a parliament speaker and his two deputies. This comes days after rival political factions claimed to have formed majority blocs within parliament.

On September 6, the leader of the Sairoon Alliance, Muqtada al-Sadr, called on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, ministers, and the governor of Basra to head to parliament by next Sunday to resolve the protests in Basra. In a televised speech, Sadr said that “the province suffers from the time of the former regime and now of poor services, there is no water and no electricity.” He added that “I call on the new parliament to convene immediately, and in a public and extraordinary session that will be publicly broadcasted on official channels, to inform the people about the course of events, by the end of next Sunday, with the attendance of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Interior, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Water Resources, the Minister of Housing and Construction and Municipalities, the Minister of Electricity and the Governor of Basra and his deputies and the President of the Provincial Council, for them to develop radical, immediate and future solution for Basra, or for them to resign immediately.”

On September 6, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi responded to comments from Muqtada al-Sadr, who criticized the current government over the handling of the protests in Basra Province. Abadi’s media office released a statement saying that Abadi “stresses the importance of the holding meetings of the House of Representatives as soon as possible, and not to disable them and to abide by the constitutional deadline to accomplish the tasks entrusted to him.” It further read that “Abadi is ready to attend the meeting of the Council of Representatives with the ministers and officials concerned to discuss the conditions and needs of Basra and the measures to be taken to alleviate the suffering of its people and provide the best services for them.”

On September 6, the Victory Alliance welcomed the request from Sairoon Alliance leader, Muqtada al-Sadr to convene parliament next Sunday to discuss solutions to the issues in Basra Province. The coalition stated that “the security and stability of Basra will contribute to the implementation of planned projects and provision of services.” The coalition also praised Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi for not “disrupting parliament” and for “abiding by constitutional deadlines.”


Report by Reuters Suggests Iran Positioning Missiles in Iraq, Alarming Israeli Defense Chief

On August 31, the United States (U.S.) government reassured Iraq and the region about its commitment to work with partners and allies to counter activities from Iran they label as “destabilizing.” The statement  came a day after the Wall Street Journal reported that Qais al-Khazali, the leader of the group Asaib Ahl al-Haq, received support from Tehran.

On August 31, Reuters reported that Iran transferred ballistic missiles to Iranian-backed Shia militias in Iraq, in an effort to increase the capacity of building missiles in Iraq to dissuade attacks on its interests in the Middle East. The article quotes three Iranian officials, two Iraqi intelligence sources and two Western intelligence sources affirming that Iran has been transferring the missiles during the past few months, while training militiamen to build them on their own. Reuters also reported comments from a senior Iranian official, who said that “the logic was to have a backup plan if Iran was attacked. The number of missiles is not high, just a couple of dozens, but it can be increased if necessary.” Iraqi government and military officials did not release any comments in this regard.

On September 1, U.S. Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, commented on the Reuters report of August 31, 2018, according to which Shia militia in Iraq would have received ballistic missiles from Iran. Pompeo wrote on Twitter that he is “deeply concerned about reports of #Iran transferring ballistic missiles into Iraq. If true, this would be a gross violation of Iraqi sovereignty and of UNSCR 2231. Baghdad should determine what happens in Iraq, not Teheran.” The UNSCR 2231 in the United Nations Security Council Resolution which endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the nuclear program of Iran.

On September 1, Iran denied the report issued by Reuters on August 31, 2018, according to which it had transferred ballistic missiles to Shia militias in Iraq. The spokesman for the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bahram Qassemi, said that “such false and ridiculous news have no purpose other than affecting Iran’s foreign relations, especially with its neighbors.” Qassemi added that “this news is solely aimed at creating fears in the countries of the region.”

On September 2, the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement denying reports of Iran providing missiles to Shia militias in Iraq. The Ministry affirmed being “astonished at the allegations,” adding that Reuters report regarding the issue, published on august 31, 2018, was “without evidence.” The statement read that “Iraq is not obliged to respond to media reports that lack tangible evidence backing up their claims and allegations.” It continued saying that “all state institutions in Iraq uphold Article 7 of the constitution, which prohibits the use of Iraqi land as a base or passage to be used in operations targeting the security of other states.”

On September 3, the Israeli Minister of Defense, Avigdor Lieberman, said during a conference that “we are certainly monitoring everything that is happening in Syria and, regarding Iranian threats, we are not limiting ourselves just to Syrian territory. This also needs to be clear.” Lieberman was asked about the possibility of taking action in Iraq, and replied saying that “I am saying that we will contend with any Iranian threat, and it doesn’t matter from where it comes…Israel’s freedom is total. We retain this freedom of action.”

On September 3, the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it would deal with the current Iraqi government, regardless of the political direction of the new government.Bahram Qassemi, spokesman for the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, released a statement saying that “we will deal with any government in Iraq from any political current and we will not interfere in the country’s internal affairs.”

On September 4, Jalal Sheikh Karim, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Deputy Minister of the Interior, spoke to BasNews and denied the presence of ballistic missiles sent by Iran, in Sulaimania Province. Karim said that “such allegations are only baseless and there is no truth to them,” adding that “it is not possible for Iran to have military units in another country. Here is Kurdistan Region and it has nothing to do with such things, unless Iran takes over [the region] and builds up its military bases.”


Talks to Form Alliances Continue, Abadi announced the Formation of the Largest Majority Bloc

On August 31, the Fatah Alliance issued a statement on the recent firing of National Security Adviser, Falih al-Fayadh. The alliance viewed the August 30th exemption of the former national security adviser as an illegal action which “confuse the security situation and endanger the stability of the country.”

On September 2, rival Iraqi political factions claimed to have formed alliances capable of forming a new parliamentary government. This comes after months of political uncertainty following Iraqi parliamentary elections of May 12, 2018. Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a statement that the new alliance would give them a majority bloc in parliament. The other political faction led by Hadi al-Ameri, leader of the Fatah Alliance, and Nouri al-Maliki, leader of the State of Law Coalition, stated their newly formed alliance would win the majority, after key lawmakers defected from the other faction.

On September 3, MP Mohamed Ali Zinni, who opened the fourth session of the Iraqi parliament,  stated that he was considering going to the Federal Supreme Court to resolve which faction receives the largest bloc in parliament. The first session of parliament took place on September 3, 2018. The Parliament needs to form a majority bloc, as well as electing the speaker of parliament and his two deputies, in order to form the new government.

On September 3, the alliance between Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced it had attained enough members of parliament to form the largest bloc.In a press conference, the head of the alliance, Hassan Aqoli, told reporters: “we announce the formation of the largest bloc of more than 180 deputies, and more than 20 political entities.” According to Aqoli, the alliance planned to abide by constitutional guidelines in order to create the next parliament. Currently, the new speaker of parliament and his two deputies still need to be voted on in parliament.

On September 4, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced to reporters that the largest bloc of the new parliament had been numerically decided. Abadi called on lawmakers to return to open dialogue and to elect the new speaker of parliament. He also confirmed that the majority bloc  would agree to elect the speaker of parliament on September 15.

On September 4, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi reiterated that the largest political bloc had been settled. Abadi urged the political blocs to accept the interpretation from the Federal Court and Article 19 of the Parties Law. He also called on the political blocs to “sit back at the dialogue table and abide by the constitutional timing for the election of the speaker of parliament.”

On September 5, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) stated that the party would not pick sides in the current political battle to form the largest bloc in parliament. PUK MP Hussein Hassan stated that it will begin dialogue with the two majority blocs for forming a new government once they will have clarify the formation of the alliances, saying that “we are waiting on them to resolve their options and have a clear picture, to go to dialogue with the largest bloc.”. Hassan said that both the PUK and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) will cooperate in the formation of the new government with the bloc whose views are most consistent with their vision, adding that “there is a positive response from some of the political forces to our demands.”  

On September 5, an anonymous source revealed that Faleh al-Fayadh filed an appeal to the Federal Court, after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi fired him from his position as National Security Advisor. The source said that “Fayadh filed an appeal against the decision to the Administrative Court.”

On September 6, an anonymous political source revealed that Iyad Allawi, leader of the National Coalition, is considering withdrawing for the parliament. The source said that Allawi is considering giving up hi seat because of “the lack of transparency and integrity which accompanied the electoral process, and the interactions taking place in the political arena.” The source added that “the leader of the National Coalition, Iyad Allawi, is very dissatisfied with the situation,” especially with the “not pay attention to the suffering of the Iraqi people and service demands.” The source also pointed out that Allawi “believes that what is seen in the political arena today is not different from what happened in 2010, when Iraq was manipulated and the will of its citizens was subjected to foreign agendas.”



McGurk Denies Reports of Meetings with Iraqi Political Leaders, U.N. Announces Appointment of New Special Representative for Iraq and Head of UNAMI

On August 30, Brett McGurk, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, issued a statement on his Twitter account denying reports of him meeting with several Iraqi coalitions leaders in Baghdad. According to Shafaaq News, McGurk held a series of meetings with Iraqi coalition leaders between August 28 and August 30, 2018, after he had arrived in Baghdad. McGurk wrote on Twitter that “this meeting and many other meetings being reported in Iraqi media over the past few days never happened. #fakemeetings,” referring both to Shafaaq News and Rudaw English.

On August 31, United Nations (U.N.) Secretary-General António Guterres announced the appointment of Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert of the Netherlands as Special Representative for Iraq and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). She will take the place of Jan Kubis, from Slovakia. The statement released by the U.N. read that “the Secretary-General of the United Nations has appointed Ms. Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert as his Special Representative for Iraq and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). Current Special Representative Ján Kubiš continues to serve as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of UNAMI until later in the year.” Hennis-Plasschaert served as the Minister of Defence of the Netherlands and will bring over 20 years of political and diplomatic experience.

On September 2, the United Nations released casualty figures for Iraq during the month of August. A total of 90 civilians were killed and another 117 were injured in acts of terrorism, violence, and armed conflict. The figures were recorded by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). Baghdad, Ninewa, and Anbar were the worst affected governorates.  

On September 3, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Training and Qualifications Directorate in the Ministry of Interior’s (MoI) said that the two parties jointly delivered two pilot courses for local police officers. The course lasted two weeks and was attended by 38 mid-ranking police officers. The goal of the course was to “introduce and upskill participants’ knowledge and techniques in improving public security.”


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

DateLocationDeathsInjuries
08/31/2018 Karbala00
9/02/2018 Al-Fatah, 64 kilometers north of Tikrit32
9/03/2018 Kirkuk02
9/03/2018 Ur, 17 kilometers northeast of Baghdad04
9/04/2018 Baqubah10
9/04/2018 Baghdad03
9/04/2018 Bakr, 57 kilometers northwest of Ramadi02
9/05/2018 Rezzaza Lake07

 

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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