ISHM: September 7 – 13, 2018

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This week’s headlines:

  • Civil Unrest in Basra Province Continues, Protesters Storm and Set Fire to the Iranian Consulate – Violent protests continue in Basra Province, with demonstrators growing increasingly frustrated about the lack of services and safe drinking water, as well as widespread corruption. On September 7, Shafaaq News reported that 11 demonstrators have died since protests began on August 31, 2018 in the city of Basra. On September 7, protesters headed to the U.S. consulate in the city of Basra. According to Shafaaq News, demonstrators tried to break into the facility, but they were stopped by security forces, who cordoned off the building, and prevented anybody from getting closer. On September 7, protesters broke into the Iranian consulate in Basra and damaged offices within the building. According to anonymous security sources, the consulate was empty when demonstrators stormed it. On September 7, the Basra Operations Command announced the beginning of a citywide curfew in Basra. The announcement came at 9:00 pm local time, after the city witnessed more violence. The statement released by the Command reads that “security forces will arrest anyone present in the streets.” more…
  • Iran Strikes Kurdish Parties Headquarters in KRI, U.S. Blames Iraq for Using “Proxies” in Iraqi Territory – On September 8, an anonymous security source declared that Iran bombed the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) and the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) headquarters in Koyasinjaq, approximately 73 kilometers southeast of Erbil, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). On September 9, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards claimed responsibility for the September 8 attack on the KDPI and PDKI headquarters, which killed 11 people. On September 11, U.S. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a statement accusing Iran of not preventing Iranian-backed Shia militias from attacking U.S. institutions in Iraq, declaring that “America will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of American lives.” On September 12, Reuters reported U.S. Republican Senators’ intention to introduce legislation for limiting Iranian influence in Iraq. more…
  • Campaigning Begins for Upcoming Parliamentary Elections in the KRI, Kubis meets with Kurdish Political Leaders in Erbil – Political campaigning has started in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) where citizens are expected to vote on September 30, 2018 for a new parliament. On September 11, campaign spokesman for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Samir Hawrami announced the start to the parliamentary elections in the KRI. On September 11, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq Jan Kubis met with leaders of the PUK, the New Generation Movement, and the Coalition for Democracy and Justice (CDJ) to discuss current security, political, and economic conditions in Iraq. On September 13, the PUK will hold a campaign rally in Ranya, KRI. more…
  • Federal Government Faces Criticism on Multiple Levels, Fatah Alliance Calls for PM Abadi’s Resignations – With unceasing violent protests in Basra Province, on September 7, Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Fatah Alliance, called for the resignation of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. On September 7, the spokesman for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Abdul-Mahdi al-Karbalai, criticized the current government for the failures to address the problems in Basra. On September 8, Member of Parliament (MP) and member of the Victory Alliance, Haider al-Fawadi hinted at a lack of optimism that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi will win a second term. more…
  • Progress of UN Humanitarian Efforts in Iraq Under Threat, UNESCO Announces Reconstruction Plan for Mosul – On August 31, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released its August 2018 Humanitarian Bulletin for Iraq. According to OCHA, 8.7 million Iraqis are currently in need of emergency humanitarian assistance. Of those, OCHA’s Iraq Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) is intended to reach 3.4 million vulnerable Iraqis. In the first five months of 2018, UN agencies and their humanitarian partners reached 1.3 million people with assistance. Over 65% of those reported activities were in Ninewa provinces, while less progress was reported in other provinces. As of August 31, the Iraq HRP is 61 percent funded, placing a growing number of urgent humanitarian projects under threat by funding gaps. On September 9, the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) and Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to support the United Nations 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan in Mosul. On September 9, a report from Human Appeal, an NGO based in the United Kingdom (UK), outlined the current humanitarian challenges that plague neighborhoods in western Mosul. On September 10, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Director General, Audrey Azoulay, announced a plan to use the cultural agency as a way forward with reconstructing the city of Mosul. 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.


Civil Unrest in Basra Province Continues, Protesters Storm and Set Fire to the Iranian Consulate

On September 6, a spokesperson for the European Union (EU) reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to Iraq, following the recent violence in Basra. The EU urges Iraq to form a government as soon as possible and for Iraqi security forces to show maximum restraint. The EU still upholds its partnership with Iraq, including its EUR 400 million (USD 463,553,200) pledge at the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq in February. “We will work with the new government in support of the stability, security, inclusive democracy and prosperity that all Iraqis deserve.”

On September 7, the Iraqi Ministry of Health issued a statement concerning the outcome of the protests in Basra Province. The statement read that “one person died and 35 were injured, including 11 military personnel.”

On September 7, the Iraqi Security Information Center said in a statement that “with the beginning of the demonstrations [in Basra] demanding rights and services, emerged a fierce attack against our armed forces.” The statement also read that “Although the blood of all Iraqis is precious, and we regret every single drop of blood, everyone has noticed that the number of injured among the ranks of the security forces is not low, which indicates the patience and the commitment of these forces, because they come from this people and are an integral part of it.” The statement added that these demonstrations “are classified within the area of vandalism,” and that they fall within “the tampering with homeland security.” The statement also called on demonstrators to respect both private and public property, and to remain caution and collaborate with the security forces.

On September 7, Shafaaq News reported that 11 demonstrators died since protests started in the city of Basra, on August 31, 2018. A doctor at the Basra General Hospital affirmed that two protesters died on the evening of September 6, 2018, during violent clashes in the city. According to the doctor, one victim was shot, and the other one died of severe burns. He added that the hospital also treated 45 injuries, ranging from suffocation due to tear gas, to gunshot wound.

On September 7, the newspaper Al-Hayat published an article according to which members of Saraya al-Salam, the armed faction of the Sadrist movement, led by Muqtada al-Sadr, received orders to move towards Basra. According to the article, units in Baghdad, Najaf and Samarra were instructed to deploy to Basra.

On September 7, protesters headed to the U.S. consulate in the city of Basra. According to Shafaaq News, demonstrators tried to break into the facility, but they were stopped by security forces, who cordoned off the building, and prevented anybody to get close to it.

On September 7, protesters broke into the Iranian consulate in Basra and damaged offices inside the building. According to anonymous security sources, the consulate was empty when demonstrators stormed it.

On September 7, the Basra Operations Command announced the beginning of a curfew in the city of Basra. The announcement came at 9:00 pm local time, after the city witnessed violent protests. The statement released by the Command reads that “security forces will arrest anyone present in the streets.”   

On September 7, demonstrators accessed a water treatment facility connected to the West Qurna 2 oilfield, approximately 65 kilometers northwest of Basra. A source inside Lukoil, the Russian company which manages the oilfield, said that two of the company’s Iraqi employees were held hostage by the protesters. Another source with the Basra energy police confirmed the information.

On September 7, protesters left the water facility connected to the West Qurna 2 oilfield, approximately 65 kilometers northwest of Basra. Demonstrators held the facility for one hour, and held two Lukoil Iraqi employees hostages, who were freed once they left the facility.

On September 7, the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement concerning the storming of the Iranian consulate, perpetrated by protesters in the city of Basra. The Ministry stated that the attack on the consulate had nothing to do with demands of protesters, adding that “the targeting of diplomatic missions is unacceptable and detrimental to the interests of Iraq.” Iranian officials blamed the Iraqi government for failing to protect its diplomatic mission, calling on Iraq to “identify and punish the attackers quickly.”

On September 7, anonymous security and medical sources revealed that one demonstrator was killed and 11 were injured during ongoing protests in Basra Province. Additionally, the Iraqi Chief of Ports Authority denied rumors concerning the alleged closure of the Shalamcheh border crossing with Iran, located 30 kilometers east of Basra. The released statement read that “there is no closure of the Shalamcheh border crossing,” and added that it has been working at its full capacity.

On September 7, anonymous security sources and witnesses reported of clashes between demonstrators and member of the Iranian-backed Shia militia Asaib Ahl al-Haq in the city of Basra, near the group headquarters. According to the sources, militiamen opened fire on the protesters, and said that “there are reports of three protesters killed.”

On September 8, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered an investigation on security units in Basra, who were responsible for protecting government institutions and foreign diplomatic mission. A statement released by his office read that “the Prime Minister, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Haider al-Abadi, has ordered the security units responsible for the protection of Iraqi institutions and the Iranian consulate in Basra, to be investigated for not carrying out their duties in providing the necessary protection.”

On September 8, the Umm Qasr port, situated approximately 60 kilometers south of Basra,  reopened, at 3:00am local time. On September 6, 2018, protesters had blocked the main entrance to the port, preventing employees and trucks from entering and exiting the facility. All operations had been shut down due to the unrest.

On September 8, officials in Basra imposed a curfew at 4:00 pm local time. The curfew was lifted on the same night.

On September 8, anonymous security sources revealed that three Katyusha rockets hit the perimeter of the Basra International Airport. The sources also said that “the rockets fell in an abandoned land, and did not result in any casualties nor material damage.”

On September 8, an anonymous security source reported the appointment of a new commander for the Basra Operations Command and a new director for the Basra provincial police. The source said that Lieutenant General Rashid Falih was appointed as the new Basra Operations commander, taking the place of Lieutenant General Jamil al-Shammari. The source added that “it was also decided that to appoint General Jaafar Saddam as the provincial police director, instead of General Jassim al-Saadi.”

On September 8, the newly appointed commander of the Basra Operations Command, Lieutenant General Rashid Falih, released a statement concerning security in the province. Falih said that “the citizens of Basra must cooperate with the security forces, who are carrying out their duties to protect them.” Falih also promise to Basra Province citizens to “restore security in the province.”

On September 8, the Iraqi Ministry of Health released a statement saying that 15 people were killed and 190 were wounded since violent protests started in Basra Province, on August 31, 2018. According to the Ministry, most of the injured were treated and sent back home.

On September 8, the United Nations (U.N.) Special Representative Secretary-General for Iraq, Jan Kubis, issued a statement condemning widespread violence in Basra Province. The statement read that “while fully supporting the legitimate demands of the protesters, of the civil society in Basra pursued in peaceful ways, the Special Representative urges the authorities to ensure law and order and take firm action against instigators of violence, against provocateurs and infiltrators with destructive political agenda aimed at sowing chaos. Security forces while doing so must protect the genuine protestors, act in full respect for human rights. He also calls on the Iraqi government to take all necessary steps to protect diplomatic and consular premises, public and private property. The authorities are also expected to investigate the events, identify those behind the act of violence and held those responsible fully accountable.” The statement added that “the Special Representative joins in H.E. Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani’s call to refrain from violence, to spare private and public property and for immediate action to be taken to answer the people’s rightful demands, so that people can gain trust and reassurances as steps to ease tensions. He urges the political leaders to listen to this and other recommendations of the Marjaiya.” It further continued saying that “the Special Representative reiterates his call on political leaders and newly elected members of the CoR to live up to the expectations of the people, to assume their responsibilities, to work together in addressing the people’s needs and in preventing uncertainty and polarisation. He urges them to expedite taking decisions on the country’s three Presidencies and the formation of a pro-reform national government that must immediately embark on taking effective steps to alleviate the people’s hardship. Otherwise, the chasm between the political elites and the people will deepen and the political system and its leaders will risk losing the confidence and the support of the people. A protracted process of government formation creates uncertainty and a fertile environment for political manipulations and acts of intimidation and violence that sabotage the democratic processes.

On September 8, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) urged protestors in Basra to express their frustrations peacefully and to avoid violence. Members of the two parties held a press conference in the House of Representatives also calling on the federal government to uphold sovereignty in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) and to prevent this violation by actors such as Iran and Turkey.

On September 8, Iraqi President Fuad Masum, condemned the burning of the Iranian consulate in Basra Province and called on the government to open an investigation into the incident. Masum also stated that it was crucial to develop friendly relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Iraqi government . The President’s office also released a statement condemning attacks against targets in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) by  Iran, as it “represents a serious escalation and a flagrant violation of the security of the country.”

On September 9, Uday Awad, deputy governor of Basra Province, affirmed that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi withdrew the dismissal of Basra Operations commander, Lieutenant General Jamil al-Shammari, due to “pressure of the American consulate.” Awad said that “despite our demands as representatives of Basra that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi dismisses the commander of [Basra] operations, it did not happen because of the pressure of the American consulate in Basra, which planned to ignite sedition in Iraq and Basra through the commander, who struck peaceful protestors using live bullets, which penetrated the bodies of many innocent people demanding services, including drinking water.” Awad added that “the commander of operations is still working to complete the American project in Basra,” and encourage citizens “not to remain silent” as al-Shammari resumes his duties as commander of Basra Operations.

On September 9, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) raised concerns over the security situation in Basra Province. The ICRC’s head of delegation in Iraq, Katharina Ritz, issued a statement about the use of violence by security forces. She said that “in particular, firearms and live ammunition must only be used as a last resort by security forces, and to protect against an imminent threat to life.” The ICRC provided on the ground assistance by contacting concerned health authorities and by supplying the Al-Sadr Teaching Hospital in Basra with emergency kits to help injured protestors. The ICRC is also supplying IV fluids to help patients dealing with illnesses from contaminated water sources in Basra Province.

On September 10, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRC) announced that volunteers had installed desalination and water purification systems in Basra Province. Teams of volunteers have recently installed four purification and desalination stations in the cities of Safwan, Abu-al Khasib, Zubayr, and Shatt al-Arab. The IRC’s Director of Water and Sanitation, Nawar Abdul Qadir, also announced plans to install an additional eight stations with assistance from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

On September 12, anonymous sources reported that armed clashes broke out between two tribal groups in the city of Basra. The sources said that the tribes of Bani Malik and Ghra were involved in the dispute, which took place in the Karma Ali area of the city. Additionally, a fire broke out at the Karma University in Basra, and the cause of the blaze is unclear and remains under investigation.

On September 13, an anonymous source with the Iraqi Ministry of Defense revealed that some arrests were made in connection to the fire of provincial government buildings in the city of Basra, on September 6, 2018. The source did not disclose the number of people who were arrested.


Iran Strikes Kurdish Parties Headquarters in KRI, U.S. Blames Iraq for Using “Proxies” in Iraqi Territory

On September 6, the Iraqi military released a statement saying that three mortar shells landed in the Green Zone, Baghdad. According to the statement, The mortar shells hit an “abandoned lot”, and caused “no casualties or physical damage.” An anonymous source inside the Green Zone affirmed that the mortars landed close to the Egyptian embassy. This is the first attack on the Green Zone since February 11, 2017, when a two rockets hit the fortified area of the Iraqi capital, leaving no casualties.

On September 7, the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) spokesman, United States (U.S.) Army Colonel Sean Ryan, released a statement concerning the attack on the Green Zone of Baghdad. Ryan wrote on Twitter that “Terrorists attacked the Green Zone early this morning with ineffective mortar fire, causing no damage. The #ISF effectively addressed the threat immediately. #Iraqis have a sense of national pride for increasing security in #Iraq & support ISF efforts to keep the peace. #CJTFOIR.”

On September 8, an anonymous security source declared that Iran bombed the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) and the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) headquarters in Koyasinjaq, approximately 73 kilometers southeast of Erbil, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Kamran Abbas, director of the Koya Sanjaq hospital, said that “11 KDPI members were killed and 30 wounded by Katyusha rockets fired on their headquarters.” The PDKI blamed Iran for the attack, and in a statement released on Twitter it wrote that “in a coordinated attack, the terrorist regime of Iran targeted PDKI’s bases and adjacent refugee camps in Koya, Iraqi Kurdistan. According to initial reports, 35 have been wounded, and 5 others have died.”

On September 9, the  Iranian Revolutionary Guards claimed responsibility for the attack on the KDPI and PDKI headquarters, which killed 11 people on September 8, 2018.  The Revolutionary Guarda said in a statement that “in a successful operation, the Guards’ aerospace unit, along with the army’s drone unit … targeted a criminal group’s meeting and a terrorist training center with seven short-range surface-to-surface missiles.” The statement added that the attack was perpetrated because of the decision of “group leaders to ignore serious warnings by officials of the Kurdistan Regional Government about Iran’s determination to dismantle their bases … and the need for an end to terrorist and aggressive actions against Iran.”

On September 9, the Iraqi federal government condemned the Iranian airstrikes on the headquarters of the KDPI in Koyasinjaq, KRI. The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its “rejection” of the bombing and confirmed Iraq’s commitment to making sure that Iraq’s sovereignty is not violated and that any strikes within the Iraqi territory must be coordinated with Iraqi officials.  

On September 9, the leader of the National Coalition, Iyad Allawi condemned the Iranian airstrikes of the headquarters of the KDPI in the city of Koyasinjaq, KRI. Allawi called on the country of Iraq to unite against this violation of Iraq’s “prestige, sovereignty, and national decision.”

On September 11, Chief of Staff for the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mohammad Baqeri demanded that authorities in Iraq hand over separatist Kurdish dissidents who may be stationed in the country and that any bases they hold to be shut down. This development comes three days after reports that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards were behind airstrikes against a base held by the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), which is an armed opposition group that fights for greater autonomy for the Iranian Kurdish community. The airstrikes killed at least 11 people. Baqeri defends the strikes and accuses Saudi Arabia of funding Kurdish armed groups in the region.

On September 11, the U.S. White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, released a statement accusing Iran of preventing Iranian-backed Shia militias from attacking U.S. institutions in Iraq. The statement read that “over the past few days we have seen life-threatening attacks in Iraq, including on the United States consulate in Basra and the American Embassy compound in Baghdad. Iran did not act to stop these attacks by its proxies in Iraq, which it has supported with funding, training and weapons.” The statement added that “The United States will hold the regime in Tehran accountable for any attack that results in injuries to our personnel or damage to the United States Government facilities. America will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of American lives.”

On September 11, U.S. Department of State spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, responded to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s demands that Iraq hands over any Kurdish dissidents in the KRI. In a news conference, Nauert told reporters that “Iran is continuing its violations. Iran is playing a bad role in the region and Iraq, and the recent bombing is aimed at destabilizing the country, the government, and the entire region.” Nauert also said that the U.S. respects the sovereignty of the Iraqi territory and that any resolution must come from Iraq.

On September 11, the newspaper Al-Araby al-Jadeed published an article according to which the Iranian army would have allegedly penetrated into Iraqi territory. The article quotes an official with the Ministry of Peshmerga saying that “Iranian military units have penetrated into Iraqi villages and town in the [KRI], under the pretext of pursuing the Iranian Kurdish armed opposition, which is located within the Iraqi border areas with Iran.” The alleged Iranian incursion appears to have stretched 20 kilometers inside the Iraqi territory, and would have reached the top of Mount Surin, in northern Sulaimania Province.

On September 12, the spokesman for the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bahram Qassemi, responded to a statement from the White House accusing Iran of allowing “proxies” in Basra to attack U.S. institutions. Qassemi accused the U.S. of promoting policies that are “destabilizing.” Qassemi said that “the recent conditions and chaos in Iraq, including the attack and burning of the building of the Consulate General of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Basra, are the outcome of these policies and their blatant, invisible and ineffective support for groups that promote and expand violence and extremism…”

On September 12, the leader of the Iraqi Ummah Party, Mithal al-Alusi, called on the Iraqi federal government to take a tougher stance on the recent missile attacks in the KRI. Alusi called on the Iraqi government to convenel the Iranian ambassador in Baghdad and to hand over a stronger message condemning the attacks. Alusi said in a statement that “unfortunately, the Iraqi government did not take any action against the blatant missile attacks on Iraqi soil.”

On September 12, Reuters reported U.S. Republican senators’ intention to introduce legislation for limiting Iranian influence in Iraq.  According to the article, the bill would impose sanctions on Iranian-backed Shia militias, as well as the requirement for the U.S. Secretary of State to compile and maintain a list or armed groups receiving support from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

On September 13, the Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, responded to statements issued from the U.S., which warned Iran about its use of “proxies” in Iraq to attack U.S. institutions and undermine U.S. interests. Jaafari dismissed claims that Iraq would stay idle, saying that “we will not allow our land to be a battlefield for regional or international wills.” He added that Iraq will uphold its values of providing security to its citizens and that there is “no collusion with anyone.”

On September 13, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, Chief of Staff for the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran, said in a statement that “the attack against the terrorists in Iraq’s Kurdistan conveys a message to the enemies, particularly those superpowers who think they can impose their evil plots on Iran and bully us.” Jafari added that “all  those who have forces, bases and equipment within a 2,000 km (1,200 mile) radius should know that our missiles are highly precise.”


Campaigning Begins for Upcoming Parliamentary Elections in the KRI, Kubis meets with Kurdish Political Leaders in Erbil

On September 11, campaign spokesman for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Samir Hawrami announced the start to the parliamentary election campaign in the Kurdistation Region of Iraq (KRI).  In a statement, Hawrami expressed “the hope that the electoral campaigns will proceed smoothly and in a democratic atmosphere.” Hawrami also called for supporters of the PUK to stand by the list of candidates and to “participate enthusiastically” in the elections. The elections are scheduled to be held on September 30.  

On September 11, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Jan Kubis, met with leaders of the PUK, the New Generation Movement, and the Coalition for Democracy and Justice (CDJ) to discuss the current security, political, and economic situations in Iraq.  Kubis stated his expectation for the House of Representatives to elect a Speaker of the House and his two deputies in the next parliamentary session. He also met with Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) President, Masoud Barzani in Erbil, and with Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani. During the meetings, the leaders agreed upon Iraq’s necessity to “continue with and further develop its balanced approach, including as regards cooperation with all its regional and international partners on the basis of full respect of the principles of sovereignty, non-interference, mutual benefit and good-neighbourly relations.” Kubis urged political leaders and their forces in the Kurdistan region to unite and cooperate to establish a “pro-reform, non-sectarian government.” Kubis also expressed his confidence that the political forces in the Kurdistan region “can foster agreement, consensus and unity, and expressed hope that they will undertake their positive role, as in the past.” Kubis warned about the negative impact of postponing the process, which could result in “dangerous divisions and polarization across the country,” while reiterating the appreciation for the work of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and his guidance.

On September 11,  the election campaign to elect a new parliament in the KRI began. The vote will take place on September 30 and will replace members who were elected in 2013. Kurdish political parties debated delays to the regional vote over stalled negotiations in Baghdad over the formation of a new government.

On September 11, PUK chairman, Qubad Talabani, released a statement stressing the importance of the upcoming elections in the KRI. According to Talabani, “I hear from the citizens that they are tired of political, social, and economic instability daily. Young people are resentful of the increase in unemployment despite the wealth possessed by the Kurdistan Region…Our plan for the next four years is to stabilize the Kurdistan region, increase employment opportunities, and improve services.”

On September 13, the PUK will hold a campaign rally in Ranya, KRI. PUKmedia reported that candidates for the September 30 parliamentary elections will be in attendance, and the rally will take place at 4:00pm local time.

On September 13, Saadi Ahmed Pira, spokesman for the PUK, stated that the PUK Political Bureau will make decisions on the candidate for the President of Iraq. Pira also stated the necessity for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to support all PUK candidates for parliament. He highlighted the importance of strong leadership and warned the region that the PUK needed to unite on all fronts in order to maintain security and safety in the region. Pira added that the next governor of Kirkuk should be decided by the Kurdish people and in accordance with the electoral seats given to the PUK. “The Patriotic Union will not bargain on Kirkuk, especially that the masses of the Patriotic Union are sincere.”


Federal Government Faces Criticism on Multiple Levels, Fatah Alliance Calls for PM Abadi’s Resignations

On September 7, Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Fatah Alliance, called for the resignation of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Amiri, who heads the alliance, condemned the Abadi’s handling of the protests in Basra and the administration’s “inability to provide the minimum requirements for a decent life for the people of Iraq.” Amiri called on the Abadi to submit his resignation or “we will work to go to the parliament to remove him in accordance with legal and constitutional frameworks.”

On September 7, the Non Governmental Organization (NGO) Amnesty International, released a public statement calling on Iraqi officials to open investigations into the violence in Basra, including the use of live ammunition against protesters by security forces. Amnesty International urged Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to publicly denounce the use of excessive force and to instruct security forces to avoid engaging protesters with brutality. According to a recent report issued by Amnesty International concerning the violence in Basra Province, an anonymous witness refuted the Basra Operations Command’s position that unknown assailants were responsible for the violence, “We see them [security forces] shooting at us. They throw tear gas and trap us in the streets and fire at the protesters,” the witness said.

On September 7, the spokesman for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Abdul-Mahdi al-Karbalai, criticized the current government for the failures to address the problems in Basra. Karbalai blamed the unrest on political leaders who are “preoccupied” and not listening to protestors. Karbalai also blamed the widespread corruption and alleged interference. “The problem of water in Basra is caused by the negligence of officials and we reject the interference of foreigners in Iraqi affairs.”

On September 8, the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi attended an emergency meeting in the House of Representatives to discuss the events in Basra. The leader of the Sairoon Alliance in Iraq, Muqtada al-Sadr, called on parliament to convene immediately and discuss solutions in the presence of Prime Minister Abadi and ministers of his government. Shafaaq reported that Abadi and Iraqi Interior Minister Qassem al-Araji were present for the emergency meeting.

On September 8, the emergency session in the House of Representatives to address the protests in Basra ended with no solution in sight. Member of Parliament (MP) Mohmmad Ali Zinni headed the special session with 180 deputies and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in attendance. At the meeting, the Minister of the Interior, Qassim al-Araji, confirmed the Ministry’s clear orders to protect demonstrators and to not engage with the use of excessive force. He announced that the Ministry intendeds to replace some security leaders. The Minister of Water Resources, Hassan al-Janabi, also stated that there is a shortage of services that have accumulated over years of mismanagement. The Minister of Health, Adila Hamoud, affirmed that the Ministry had sent a team of investigators after reports of high rates of intestinal infections. Tests found that water sources contained high rates of salt and pollution. The Governor of Basra, Assaad al-Eidani also expressed his determination to implement important projects and reforms to improve Basra Province and called on MP Zinni to form a committee that would follow up with recommendations given by the Council of Ministers. However, no solutions were found at the conclusion of the emergency meeting.

On September 8, Member of Parliament (MP) and member of the Victory Alliance, Haider al-Fawadi hinted at a lack of optimism that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi will win a second term. Fawadi released a statement hinting the “choice of the next prime minister must be in accordance with the criterion of strength and firmness.”

On September 11, the Islamic Dawa Party of Iraq released a statement calling for the formation of a government that best serves the interests of the people of Iraq. The party stated that the political blocs need to be held responsible and that it is necessary to create a government “free from quotas and private interests and factionalism.” The Islamic Dawa Party of Iraq also refused to blame the Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, for the current crisis in Basra Province. Instead, the party emphasized that it’s the duty of the next government to “meet the needs of citizens and to fight against corruption.”

On September 12, the Sairoon Alliance leader, Muqtada al-Sadr, announced efforts to pass a law that would limit the Prime Minister to only serve one term. According to the coalition, “this will prevent dictatorship and even legitimization of corruption in the institutions of the Iraqi state.” On the same day, Sadr also met with Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Fatah Alliance in Najaf, Iraq to discuss the formation of the largest bloc in parliament.

On September 13, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi released a statement is response to his critics. Abadi said that “we do not cling to power, but we have committed ourselves to constitutional procedures and respect the directives of the supreme religious authority and we respond to them. Our project is a national Iraq, not an eastern or a western one, and we look forward to completing it and consolidating it for the benefit of all Iraqis.”

On September 13, the Sairoon Alliance, led by Moqtada al-Sadr, issued a statement denying media rumors concerning new nominations for the position of Prime Minister. Raid Fahm, Secretary of Iraqi Communist Party, said that “Abadi is the only candidate who was officially named as a candidate for Prime Minister by the Victory Alliance, and the other political alliances did not put any other candidate forward formally, and rumors are rather inaccurate.” Fahmi added that “there will be a surprise selection for the new Prime Minister, though it will not be among the names released by the media.”


Progress of UN Humanitarian Efforts in Iraq Under Threat, UNESCO Announces Reconstruction Plan for Mosul

On August 31, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), released its August 2018 Humanitarian Bulletin for Iraq. The highlights of this issue focused on the current water scarcity crisis that has caused displacements and health concerns in southern Iraq, and current success rates for the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP). According to the report, 105 humanitarian partners were able to reach 1.3 million of the 3.4 million people (38 percent) targeted under the HRP plan in the first five months of 2018, with over 65 percent of the activities reported in Ninewa Province. The Iraq Humanitarian Fund (IHF), under the OCHA, has also allocated USD $5 million as part of a campaign to vaccinate 5 million children who are between 9 and 59 months old. The report also highlights an effort to meet HRP funding goal of USD $569 million, which is used to fund critical humanitarian efforts. The projects received 61 percent (USD $349.5 million) of their funding goal, but there still remains critical gaps needed for providing health services, shelter, food security, and water, sanitation and hygiene.

On September 9, The Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) and Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to support the United Nations 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan in Mosul. The QRCS agrees to fix and operate the Mosul General Hospital for eight months, which serves a population of 600,000 residents. Executive Director of QRCS, Youssef Abdullah Al-Sada, praised the agreement as crucial for rehabilitating the city of Mosul, “This intervention is important as the Mosul General Hospital is the only medical service provider in western Mosul, offering primary and secondary health care for the districts and outskirts of the city.” The agreement will also have the QRCS create a joint technical team with the Iraqi Ministry of Health and the Ninewa Provincial Council. Coordinators will investigate how to improve and provide assistance to the general hospital.

On September 9, a report from Human Appeal, an NGO based in the United Kingdom (U.K.), outlined the current humanitarian challenges that plague neighborhoods in western Mosul. Commissioned by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the report drew three key findings in the year following the liberation of West Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). First, returnees to the neighborhoods of Tal Al-Rumman, Al-Mamoun, and Al-Yarmouk are living in poor conditions and are living in serious danger as the city still has many remaining Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Second, access to clean water, electricity, healthcare, and education is lacking due to the lack of services or the inability for residents to obtain the necessary documentation needed. Third, the report found that the economy is still in shambles and that the revival of the agricultural sector will be vital for Mosul moving forward.

On September 10, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Director General, Audrey Azoulay, announced a plan to use the cultural agency as a way forward with reconstructing the city of Mosul. Almost a year after Israel and the United States (U.S.) pulled out of the organisation, Azoulay explained UNESCO’s intention to refocus multilateral efforts by partnering with the Iraqi government. The Iraqi government currently estimates that at least USD $2 billion of reconstruction aid is needed to restore the city. Azoulay also recognized the current political and civil unrest in Iraq: “We’re fully aware of Mosul’s specificities and the difficulties on the ground … but it’s exactly because the situation is still fragile that we need to act.”


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

DateLocationDeathsInjuries
09/07/2018 Sabaa al-Bour, 35 kilometers northwest of Baghdad03
09/07/2018 Taji, 34 kilometers north of Baghdad02
09/09/2018 Dibs, 53 kilometers northwest of Kirkuk02
09/10/2018 Jihad, 13 kilometers west of Baghdad04
09/10/2018 Haditha, 147 kilometers north of Ramadi13
09/12/2018 Madain, 43 kilometers south of Baghdad02
09/12/2018 Rutba, 309 kilometers west of Ramadi12
09/12/2018 Tikrit642
09/13/2018 Dhi Qar011

 

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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