ISHM: October 12 – 18, 2018

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This week’s headlines:

  • While Negotiations to Form the New Iraqi Government Continue, Mahdi Announces 36,000 Citizens Applied for Ministerial Positions – On October 11, BBC News reported that 36,000 citizens applied for ministerial positions on a special government website as Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul Mahdi is forming the next federal government. On October 13, Iraqi President Barham Salih called on all political blocs to cooperate with the Prime Minister-designate as he forms the next federal government. On October 15, the Iraqi Council of Representatives voted to create its permanent committees in Parliament. On October 17, Alsumaria News reported that an anonymous political source had revealed that the political blocs in Parliament were likely to reach an agreement on the final list of candidates to name for Cabinet positions in the new government; an announcement is likely due Saturday. On October 18, Iraqi President Barham Salih again urged all political forces to support Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul Mahdi in the formation of his new Cabinet. more…
  • Iraqi Leaders Meet With International Counterparts, General Electric Beats Siemens in Deal to Supply Power-Generating Equipment – On October 14, Iraqi President Barham Salih met with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman. On October 14, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan met with Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul Mahdi, Iraqi President Barham Salih, and Iraqi Speaker of Parliament Mohammed al-Halbousi. On October 15, Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs Ibrahim al-Jaafari met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to discuss opening the the Al-Qaim border crossing between Iraq and Syria. On October 15, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem stated his hopes for the Albu Kamal border crossing with neighboring Iraq to open as soon as possible. On October 16, the first deputy speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Hassan Karim al-Kaabi visited the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, Switzerland. On October 16, Lebanese President Michel Naim Aoun met with Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs Ibrahim al-Jaafari to discuss strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries. On October 17, the Financial Times reported that U.S. company General Electric had beaten out German company Siemens on a deal that will supply Iraq with 11 gigawatts of power-generating equipment. In a move to try and finalize the $15 billion deal, Chief Executive of Siemens, Joe Kaeser, visited Baghdad in September 2018 and met with outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. more…
  • ICRC Opens New Rehabilitation Center in Mosul, U.S. Department of State Announces Allocation of Funds to Protect Minority Communities in Iraq – On October 14, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) opened a new physical rehabilitation center in Mosul, Ninewa Province. Built in four months, the Ninewa Physical Rehabilitation Center (Ninewa PRC) will treat disabled patients and provide prosthetic, orthotic and physiotherapy services. On October 14, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) reported on the training workshops and courses they are providing for the most vulnerable groups in the districts of Mukdadia, Khanaqin, Baladroz, Baquba, and Khales in Diyala Province. On October 16, the U.S. Department of State released a statement announcing the financial contribution of the U.S. to assist and support minority communities in Iraq. The statement read that “as part of the continued commitment by Vice President Pence, Secretary Pompeo, and USAID Administrator Green to support ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq as highlighted earlier this year at the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, the United States is proud to announce over $178 million in U.S. foreign assistance to support these vulnerable communities in Iraq. This brings total U.S. assistance for this population to nearly $300 million since Fiscal Year 2017, implemented by both the State Department and USAID.” more…
  • Report on PMUs Recruiting Former ISIS Fighter Emerges, E.U. and Germany Renew Missions and Funding – On October 15, Shafaaq News cited an article by the magazine Foreign Policy, asserting that former Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants are being recruited to join the ranks of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs). According to the author, the PMUs recently changed their recruiting strategy, no longer limiting it to Shia fighters, including former ISIS members.On October 16, Ali al-Husseini, spokesman for the PMUs Northern Axis, released a statement in response to article published on October 15, 2018, by Foreign Policy, according to which the PMUs would be recruiting former ISIS fighter among their ranks. On October 16, the European Union (E.U.) announced its decision to launch a new civilian Common Sense and Defense Policy (CSDP) mission in Iraq. The European Minister of Foreign Affairs approved the mission, which will send 35 European experts to assist and advise relevant authorities and their needs in priority work areas. On October 17, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development released a statement announcing its contribution to Iraq’s stabilization efforts. Germany will make EUR 100 million (USD 115 million) available to both Iraq and Syria for rebuilding and stabilizing the area that were under ISIS control. 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.


While Negotiations to Form the New Iraqi Government Continue, Mahdi Announces 36,000 Citizens Applied for Ministerial Positions

On October 11, BBC News reported that 36,000 citizens applied for ministerial positions on a special government website as Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul Mahdi is forming the next federal government. Mahdi posted on Facebook, “Some 97% of the hopefuls are politically independent, 15% are women, and candidates come from all of Iraq’s provinces.” However, only 9,317 of the applicants will be considered based on having submitted all of the relevant documents.  

On October 13, Iraqi President Barham Salih called on all political blocs to cooperate with Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul Mahdi as he forms the next federal government. These remarks came during a meeting with Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Fatah Alliance. According to a statement from Salih’s office,“Salih reiterated the importance of speeding up the formation of the government in accordance with the constitutional timelines, starting the process of reconstruction and providing the necessary services to citizens in all regions.”

On October 15, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Kosrat Rasul Ali, met with a delegation from the Reform and Construction Coalition, headed by the leader of the National Wisdom Movement, Ammar al-Hakim in Sulaimania City. The two sides discussed political developments in Iraq and the issue of forming the next federal government with the participation from all parties. According to Shafaaq News, “the meeting also discussed the outstanding problems between the Kurdistan Region and the federal government, especially the issue of Kirkuk and addressing the problems of oil, gas, and the budget of Peshmerga forces.”

On October 15, the Iraqi Council of Representatives voted to create its permanent committees in Parliament. An anonymous source told Alsumaria News, “the Iraqi Council of Representatives voted during its meeting today on the formation of its standing committees, and the number of committees reached was 27.”

On October 15, the Iraqi Council of Representatives released the names of the committees created after Parliament voted to create 27 permanent committees. Members of Parliament (MPs) voted to amend the sizes of the committees as each committee will have at least 7 members but no more than 19.

On October 16, outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called on the Iraqi Parliament to vote on forming a financial committee. According to a tweet from the Government of Iraq, Abadi stated, “we call on Iraq’s Council of Representatives to quickly form a financial committee so that Parliament can vote on the budget of the next year, which will be submitted in the next few days.”

On October 16, the Iraqi Cabinet, under the leadership of outgoing Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, held a meeting to discuss the federal budget for fiscal year 2019. The budget discussions focused on financial allocations to ministries and projects needed to rebuild Iraq.

On October 16, former President of Iraq and leader of the National Coalition, Ayad Allawi, spoke with Alsumaria News on the recent political developments and the formation of the next federal government. Allawi stated, “the opportunity today to approve a national government platform and to establish a government that departs from sectarianism is now more than ever.” On October 11, 2018, Allawi also urged political forces to approve Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul Mahdi and to give him the tools necessary to succeed. Allawi expressed “hope to form a strong government able to address the deterioration of services and for the normalization of relations with Kurdistan.”

On October 17, outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met with Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Nechirvan Barzani. The two discussed the economic, political, and security situations affecting Iraq and how to better coordinate between the federal government and the KRG in order to enhance joint cooperation in rooting out terrorist cells in the region.

On October 17, Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul Mahdi met with the Secretary-General of Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), Qais al-Khazali. According to Shafaaq News, “during the meeting, they discussed the formation of the government, the difficulties it faces, and ways to deal with it in order to complete the formation of the government and ratifying it as soon as possible.”

On October 17, Alsumaria News reported that an anonymous political source had revealed that the political blocs in Parliament were likely to reach an agreement on the final list of candidates to name for Cabinet positions in the new government; an announcement is likely due Saturday.  According to the source, “the negotiations between the blocs was difficult this time for various reasons, most notably was the issue of the window announced by Abdul Mahdi to choose ministers over the Internet, as well as the announcement of certain blocs granting the Prime Minister-designate the power to choose ministers outside the quotas.”

On October 17, Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul Mahdi announced he planned on announcing his list of names to fill ministerial positions next week. Mahdi’s office stated, “Mr. Adil Abdul Mahdi, announces that his excellency intends to submit the names of his cabinet members next week and that he is making contact with the presidency of Parliament and with leaders and representative blocs to determine the right day.”

On October 17, Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul Mahdi met with the  Secretary-General of Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), Qais al-Khazali to discuss the current efforts to unite political blocs in order to form the new Iraqi government. According to a press statement from Mahdi’s office, “the meeting discussed the overall situation in the country, the government, and the unification of efforts between the political blocs to implement the priorities of the government in reconstruction, the provision of services and employment opportunities, fighting corruption, and strengthening the economy.”

On October 17, Iraqi Speaker of Parliament, Mohammed al-Halbousi, met with the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Nechirvan Barzani. Halbousi emphasized the importance of the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP’s) active participation in the new federal government. According to Alsumaria News, “Halbousi stressed the need for concerted efforts to form a strong government capable of achieving political stability, improving the level of services, and maintaining the gains made, especially in the fight against terrorism,” and, “the meeting widely discussed the efforts to form the next government in harmony with the aspirations of the Iraqi people by strengthening the common relations between the center and the region.”

On October 18, French President Emmanuel Macron congratulated Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul Mahdi on his appointment and expressed his desire to work with Mahdi to rebuild Iraq. At a press conference in Brussels, Macron stated that “my message to the prime minister in charge of forming the new Iraqi government, a person who is fluent in French, is I hope we will work together to rebuild Iraq and also will be able to work in all areas, especially humanitarian and aid.”

On October 18, Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul Mahdi released a statement condemning corruption within ministries of the previous Cabinet. Mahdi’s office stated that “we ask President Barham Salih, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, and the ministers to prevent all unconstitutional and illegal measures that do not fall within the framework of daily affairs.”

On October 18, Secretary-General of Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), Qais al-Khazali, met with Ninewa Province Governor Nofal al-Aakoub. According to Alsumaria News, Khazali stressed, “the need to achieve community reconciliation to address the problems created by [ISIS], which prevent the return of many displaced people to turn the page of terrorism and start a new life.”

On October 18, Iraqi President Barham Salih urged all political forces to support Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul Mahdi in the formation of his new Cabinet. Salih’s office released a statement calling on political forces “to support the Prime Minister-designate in the formation of his cabinet, as well as stand with him in the implementation of programs by the government to achieve the aspirations of the Iraqi people.” Salih also met with Mohammed Tamim, the leader of the Sunni National Dialogue Front.


Iraqi Leaders Meet With International Counterparts, General Electric Beats Siemens in Deal to Supply Power-Generating Equipment

On October 14, Iraqi President Barham Salih met with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman. During the meeting Salih spoke on the importance of maintaining friendly relations between the U.S. and Iraq, as well as the importance of avoiding regional and political tensions in order to improve and further stabilize the country and the region. Sullivan reaffirmed the United States’ support for Iraq and expressed the hope that investments in Iraq will increase as the U.S. will continue to push investors to help improve Iraq’s economy.  

On October 14, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan met with Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul Mahdi, Iraqi President Barham Salih, and Iraqi Speaker of Parliament Mohammed al-Halbousi. Special Envoy for Global Coalition to Defeat ISIL, Brett McGurk wrote on Twitter, “Deputy Secretary Sullivan met yesterday in #Baghdad with #Iraq PM Abadi, President Salih, Speaker Halbusi, and PM-Designate Abd al-Mahdi. Reaffirmed U.S. commitment to strengthen strategic ties and ensure lasting defeat of #ISIS.”

On October 15, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, John Sullivan, met with outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad wrote on Twitter, “Deputy Secretary Sullivan met with Prime Minister Abadi in which he commended the Prime Minister and all Iraqis in their commitment to the democratic process. The meeting also included a discussion with visiting leadership from General Electric on deepening economic cooperation.”  

On October 15, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, John Sullivan, met with the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani. According to U.S. Department of State spokeswoman Heather Nauert, “the Deputy Secretary congratulated the Prime Minister on the recent parliamentary election in the [KRI] and their continued leadership of the [ISIS] campaign.” Nauert further added, “Deputy Secretary Sullivan reaffirmed the United States’ support for the [KRI] as part of a unified Iraq and called for continued engagement between Erbil and Baghdad on key issues, including security and economic cooperation.”

On October 15, Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs Ibrahim al-Jaafari met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to discuss opening the the Al-Qaim border crossing between Iraq and Syria. According to Shafaaq News, “Assad stressed the importance of promoting and strengthening Syrian-Iraqi historical relations,” and, “the two sides discussed the agreement to intensify the work to open the border crossings between the two countries, which will contribute to expanding the horizons of cooperation between them.”

On October 15, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem stated his hopes for the Albu Kamal border crossing with neighboring Iraq to open as soon as possible. Moualem told reporters at a joint conference with his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jaafari, “We look to the interests of both the Syrian and Iraqi people in opening the Albu Kamal crossing.” On October 15, the Jordanian-Syrian border crossing of Nassib reopened, after it had been closed since 2015.

On October 16, Jan Kubis, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, met with former Iraqi Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jabouri. UNAMI wrote on Twitter, “the two sides discussed the latest political developments in Iraq and efforts by the political forces to form the new government.”

On October 16, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Jan Kubis, met with Secretary-General of Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), Qais al-Khazali. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) wrote on twitter, “Jan Kubis met today with the Secretary-General of the movement headbands Ahl al-Haq, [Qais al-Khazani]. The two sides discussed recent political developments in #Iraq and efforts by the political forces in shaping the coming government.”

On October 16, the leader of the State of Law Coalition, Nouri al-Maliki, urged leaders to support Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul Mahdi and to work on supporting the formation of the next government. Maliki also met with U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq and Iran in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Andrew Peek and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Douglas Silliman. According to Maliki’s office, “the two sides reviewed the future of bilateral relations between the two countries, enhancing them, and exchanged views on the latest developments in the region, in addition to ongoing dialogues to form the next government.”

On October 16, the British Ambassador to Iraq, Jon Wilks, congratulated women in Iraq as he was “encouraged to see that 25 percent of women elected to parliament in Baghdad have been selected on the basis of merit and not just the quota.”  The British Embassy in Iraq wrote on Facebook, “we have been encouraging all the political groups involved in government formation in Baghdad and Erbil to choose qualified candidates to take up senior positions of responsibility in the new Cabinet and other Ministerial positions, and indeed, there are many qualified women,” and, “studies of countries recovering from conflict show clearly that their chances of recovering and the speed of recovery depend greatly on the full participation of all of society, women and men, in peace building.”

On October 16, the first deputy speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Hassan Karim al-Kaabi visited the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, Switzerland. Kaabi addressed the international body in a meeting as he stated, “Iraq encompasses the principles of justice and equality,” and stressed that, “we will continue to enact legislation of high value up to the level of international law.”

On October 16, Iraqi President Barham Salih met with several ambassadors from Middle Eastern countries to discuss the importance of Iraq as an actor in the region. Salih stressed that Iraq is a crucial country in the region and should play a central role in developing friendly relations with other countries in the Middle East. According to PUKmedia, “the President stressed that Iraq should be a meeting place for regional and international interests, pointing out the importance of developing constructive relations with partners and countries in an effective manner and in the common interests of their peoples.”

On October 16, Lebanese President Michel Naim Aoun met with Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs  Ibrahim al-Jaafari to discuss strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries. Jaafari met with Aoun in Beirut, Lebanon, as he called for “concerted political efforts and intensifying dialogues to overcome the crisis in the region.”

On October 16, Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Sairoon Alliance, released a statement on Twitter criticizing U.S. President Donald Trump. Sadr blasted the President for not truly sympathizing with Iraqis and other Arab-world nations that have gone through war and violence. Sadr also viewed the issues plaguing Iraq as inherently Iraqi and stated, “reform your country and let us reform our countries and peoples and do not dictate to us what we do not want.” –Original Tweet Link

On October 17, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Jan Kubis, met with Iraqi Chief Justice Faiq Zaidan. UNAMI wrote on Twitter, “the two sides discussed the efforts of the political forces to form the government and the role of the judiciary in this regard.”

On October 17, Jan Kubis, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq met with former female candidates for the parliamentary elections in Iraq. Kubis held discussions with eight former candidates about the challenges hindering women in the electoral and political processes. According to UNAMI, “the women demanded that women with requisite qualifications should be considered for the positions of Deputy Minister and Vice President and be fully appreciated for the unique qualities and abilities they can bring to the job.”

On October 17, the Financial Times reported that U.S. company General Electric had beaten out German company Siemens on a deal that will supply Iraq with 11 gigawatts of power-generating equipment. In a move to try and finalize the $15 billion deal, Chief Executive of Siemens, Joe Kaeser, visited Baghdad in September 2018 and met with outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. The article reads that “as the contest between the German engineering group and GE reached its final stages, the Trump administration put pressure on the Iraqi government, reminding Baghdad that 7,000 Americans had died since the 2003 invasion to oust Saddam Hussein, according to people familiar with the negotiations.” According to an unnamed advisor for Abadi, “the U.S. government is holding a gun to our head.” An anonymous source also added that Washington plans to offer financing and insurance for U.S. companies that complete deals with the Iraqi power sector. General Electric is expected to announce its success soon, with a possible announcement coming at its third-quarter earnings report on October 30, 2018.

On October 18, Jan Kubis, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, met with the Secretary-General of the Arab Project in the Sunni National Axis Coalition, Khamis al-Khanjar. According to UNAMI, “the two sides discussed the latest political developments in Iraq and the efforts of the political forces to form the new government.”

On October 18, Ammar al-Hakim, the leader of the National Wisdom Movement, met with the Turkish Ambassador to Iraq, Fatih Yildiz. Alsumaria News reported that Hakim called on neighboring countries to support Iraq in security, stability, and giving a fair amount of water to Iraqi citizens. According to Hakim’s office, “[Hakim] and the Turkish Ambassador to Iraq, Fatih Yildiz, discussed bilateral relations between the two countries and the importance of developing them to serve the interests of their peoples.” Hakim also called for “fair quotas for Iraq from the Tigris and Euphrates.”


ICRC Opens New Rehabilitation Center in Mosul, U.S. Department of State Announces Allocation of Funds to Protect Minority Communities in Iraq

On October 14, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) opened a new physical rehabilitation center in Mosul, Ninewa Province. The facility was named Ninewa Physical Rehabilitation Center (Ninewa PRC), and was built in four months, to treat disabled patients and provide prosthetic, orthotic and physiotherapy services. Therese Powell, the ICRC’s physical rehabilitation programme manager in Iraq, said in a statement that “due to the massive destruction of infrastructure and lack of services in Ninewa Province, amputees requiring prosthetic limbs had to travel for several hours to Erbil or Sulaymaniyah to receive services,” adding that “we know that there are hundreds of people still waiting to access these much-needed services.” Dr. Layth Al-Hajjar, manager of the Ninawa PRC, pointed out that “the centre will support some 4,500 amputees in Ninawa governorate and will prevent the burden of travel and financial effects on the patients,” starting with lower-limb amputees, to expand to upper-limb amputees in the future. Katharina Ritz, head of the ICRC’s Iraq delegation, stated that “the services provided are crucial for the rehabilitation and social integration of people with disabilities to help them regain their independence, ability to work and to provide for their families.”

On October 14, The Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS)  reported on the training workshops and courses they are providing for the most vulnerable groups in the districts of Mukdadia, Khanaqin, Baladroz, Baquba and Khales in the Diyala Province. These groups include internally displaced persons (IDPs), families living in poverty, widows, the disabled, and unemployed youth. In addition, IRCS`s teams deployed at Al-Wand camp for the displaced in Khanaqin district in the Diyala Province have provided lectures about the programs of psychosocial support for IDPs. These programs address how to deal with children, getting them out of social isolation and alleviating their suffering, and methods of providing psychosocial support for the IDP children in the camp. More than 100 children have participated in the games, drawing, and entertainment programs.

On October 16, the United States (U.S.) Department of State released a statement announcing the financial contribution of the U.S. to assist and support minority communities in Iraq. The statement read that “as part of the continued commitment by Vice President Pence, Secretary Pompeo, and USAID Administrator Green to support ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq as highlighted earlier this year at the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, the United States is proud to announce over $178 million in U.S. foreign assistance to support these vulnerable communities in Iraq. This brings total U.S. assistance for this population to nearly $300 million since Fiscal Year 2017, implemented by both the State Department and USAID.” The statement highlights that the funds will be destined to four main areas: Genocide Recovery and Persecution Response (GRPR); Clearing the Explosive Remnants of War (ERW); Social, Economic and Political Empowerment; Preservation of Historic and Cultural Heritage Sites.Over USD 133 million are allocated to the GRPR program, which brings its total funding to USD 239 million, while USD 37 million will support effort to survey and clear EWR, as well as educating minority communities about the their risks. Approximately USD 8.5 million will go to “additional assistance to projects that provide psychosocial services, legal support, and initiatives to help collect evidence of human rights abuses; increase minority representation in local and provincial government; increase access to justice for children; strengthen rule of law; and provide livelihoods support and access to economic opportunities for vulnerable groups.” Finally, USD 2 million will support “ongoing programming to support the preservation of cultural heritage sites in Northern Iraq that were targeted for destruction by ISIS and other terrorist groups, safeguarding, preserving, and restoring access to significant cultural heritage sites of minority communities.” U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, John Sullivan, later made the official announcement, during is official visit to Baghdad.

On October 15, the United Nations (U.N.) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) issued a humanitarian bulletin on Iraq. This bulletin discussed the the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly that opened September 18, and the events OCHA Co-Chaired. Two significant events relating to Iraq were “Safe and Respected: Preventing Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment in the Humanitarian Sector” and “Civilians Under Fire: Humanitarian Protection and Respect for International Humanitarian Law.” Additionally, in September, International Organization for Migration (IOM) published the findings from its first Return Index, a tool developed to measure the severity of conditions in 1,400+ return locations across Iraq. This Return Index informs Internationally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of conditions and whether or not they are safe to return to their home areas.The Humanitarian Coordinator also launched an emergency reserve allocation, in response to an outbreak of measles, to support a nation-wide campaign to vaccinate 5 million children under five years old. The allocation funded two projects of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) with a total of USD 2.6 million (USD 2.22 million for WHO and USD 350,000 for UNICEF). This allocation is supporting training for vaccinators, transportation and distribution of the vaccines and post-campaign monitoring, as well as social mobilization activities to ensure effective community engagement and accountability to affected population.


Report on PMUs Recruiting Former ISIS Fighter Emerges, E.U. and Germany Renew Missions and Funding

On October 15, Shafaaq News reported an article issued by the magazine Foreign Policy, according to which former Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants would now be joining the ranks of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs). According to the author, the PMUs recently changed their recruiting strategy, no longer limiting it to Shia fighters, including former ISIS members. The article points out that though this alliance might appear strange, both parties have reasons for benefitting from it, posing a potential threat to Iraq security and stability. While the PMUs played an important role in the fight against ISIS and gained respect among civilians, they are considered by many as “Iranian proxies” and struggle to impose their influence in Sunni-majority areas. Additionally, former ISIS members are capable of identifying ISIS remnants and sleeper cells, and have been trained for combat. Former ISIS fighters appear to join the PMUs both for economical and social reasons. Being part of the PMUs insures a steady paycheck in a country where unemployment is widespread. At the same time, the militant who joins the PMUs has the chance to obtain an ID card, which he “can use it to convince his community that his former affiliation was for the sole purpose of spying. Such ploys are surprisingly effective. Based on Iraqi law, at least two witnesses are required to accuse someone of being part of the Islamic State. Witnesses are harder to find when the person in question has at least a minimum of plausible deniability.” The author of the article affirms that this trend is confirmed by the fact that both the Badr Organization, one of the largest PMUs, and Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), added former ISIS militants to their ranks: Badr recruited approximately 30 former militants in Jalawla, Diyala Province, and AAH recruited approximately 40 of them in the same province. The PMUs would be recruiting not only former low-level militants, but also prominent figures, and the author affirms that among the recruits there would be “Mutashar al-Turki, who led the battle against the Peshmerga in the southern part of Jalaula between June and August of 2014. Another is Zaid Mawlan, who according to our sources successfully persuaded members of an Iraqi emergency police battalion to hand over their arms to the Islamic State in 2014.” The article points out that integrating former ISIS fighters into PMUs could constitute a security issue for Iraq, as the government is currently unable to monitor the former militants and assess whether they are dangerous or not. Additionally, the association of PMUs with Iran is a concern for the international community, because “as long as Iraqi security is provided by various sectarian militias, Iraq will have a difficult time finally ending years and years of bloodshed.”

On October 16, Ali al-Husseini, spokesman for the PMUs Northern Axis, released a statement in response to article published on October 15, 2018, by Foreign Policy, according to which the PMUs would be recruiting former ISIS fighter among their ranks. Husseini affirmed that “the information that is told in the American report is completely untrue, we have not opened the doors to volunteering or joining to [any] person involved in terrorism. How could [we] the fighters include terrorist from [ISIS]?” Husseini added that “the names mentioned in the report have not been heard and we do not know them, and we do not have such figures in all aspects of the [PMUs] and its institutions.” Husseini also said that “the American report is a message that there is a new terrorist organization that may be emerging in Iraq, which will also be a creature of America,” adding that “America is a demon which is willing to do anything” to implement its plans.

On October 16, the European Union (E.U.) announced its decision to launch a new civilian Common Sense and Defense Policy (CSDP) mission in Iraq. The European Minister of Foreign Affairs approved the mission, which will sent 35 European experts to assist and advise relevant authorities and their needs in priority work areas. The mission is expected to cost approximately EUR 14 million (USD 16.1 million), and should begin in Baghdad, at the end of 2018. The E.U. Advisory Mission in support of Security Sector Reform in Iraq (EUAM Iraq) released a statement saying that “the aim of the Iraqi national security strategy is to build state institutions capable of consolidating security, peace and preventing conflicts, whilst adhering to the rule of law and human rights standards. It outlines a number of urgent threats to national security, including terrorism, corruption, political instability and ethnic and sectarian polarisation, which the CSDP mission will help to address.” The statement added that “the mission will work in close coordination with the EU delegation to Iraq as well as international partners also present, including the UN Development Programme (UNDP), NATO and the global coalition against [ISIS]”.

On October 17, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development released a statement announcing its contribute to Iraq’s stabilization efforts. Germany will make EUR 100 million (USD 115 million) available to both Iraq and Syria for rebuilding and stabilizing the area that were under ISIS control. The statement read that “Germany is therefore providing 90 million euros for Iraq through the United Nations. The aim is to enable the return of the displaced Iraqis to lay the foundations for reconstruction and counter the resurgence of violence and extremism.” The money will be provided through the United Nations (U.N.) Funding Facility for Stabilization for Iraq.

On October 17, Brett McGurk, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIL, commented on the statement released by the German government concerning its help to stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Iraq. McGurk wrote on Twitter that “Germany has been a key coalition partner from the outset of our campaign to defeat ISIS. Especially grateful for their confirmation today of USD $115 million to support stabilization of areas liberated from ISIS in Iraq and Syria.”


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

DateLocationDeathsInjuries
10/12/2018 al-Taji, 35 kilometers north of Baghdad12
10/13/2018 Al Qayyarah, 75 kilometers south of Mosul20
10/13/2018 Kirkuk08
10/14/2018 Baqubah, 69 kilometers northeast of Baghdad02
10/16/2018 Diyala Province13
10/17/2018 al-Shirqat, 173 kilometers west of Kirkuk30

 

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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