ISHM: October 26 – November 1, 2018

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This week’s headlines:

  • International Leaders Congratulate Mahdi on His Election to Prime Minister, Council of Representatives Rejects Federal Budget for 2019 – On October 26, Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the United Nations Secretary-General, released a statement congratulating newly confirmed Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi. On October 26, Iraqi Prime Minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi received a congratulatory phone call from British Prime Minister Theresa May. On October 28, the Iraqi Council of Ministers submitted a draft of Iraq’s 2019 Federal Budget to the Council of Representatives. On October 29, leader of the Iraqi Decision Coalition and former Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi called on leaders to more equitably allocate funds for Ninewa Province. On October 31, the Iraqi Council of Representatives rejected the 2019 Federal Budget, effectively sending it back to the Council of Ministers. On November 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a message to Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to congratulate him on his confirmation as Iraq’s new Prime Minister. more…
  • KRG Judicial Council Ratifies Elections Results, the KDP Announces It Will Nominate a Candidate for KRG Presidency Next Week – On October 28, Iraqi President Barham Salih met with members of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) to discuss the tensions between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the PUK and ways the tensions can be alleviated to build a government that is cohesive and serves the needs of all people living in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). On October 30, the Judicial Council of the KRG approved the results of the September 30, 2018 parliamentary elections. The approval solidifies the ability of the parties to begin government formation talks as the first session of the new Parliament is slated to take place on November 6 and will be presided over by the oldest Member of Parliament (MP). On October 30, leaders for the KDP announced they would nominate a candidate for the Presidency of the KRG by next week. Aras Hasso Mirkhan, a member of the KDP’s leadership council, stated that “after the approval of the Judicial Council on the final results of the Kurdistan parliamentary elections, it is decided that the party’s leadership council will hold a meeting early next week.” more…
  • PMUs Strengthen Security in Anbar following ISIS Attack near the Iraqi Border, Saudi-American Citizen Freed After 13 Months of Prison in Iraq – On October 28, Iraqi President Barham Salih met with members of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) to discuss the tensions between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the PUK and ways the tensions can be alleviated to build a government that is cohesive and serves the needs of all people living in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). On October 30, the Judicial Council of the KRG approved the results of the September 30, 2018 parliamentary elections. The approval solidifies the ability of the parties to begin government formation talks as the first session of the new Parliament is slated to take place on November 6 and will be presided over by the oldest Member of Parliament (MP). On October 30, leaders for the KDP announced they would nominate a candidate for the Presidency of the KRG by next week. Aras Hasso Mirkhan, a member of the KDP’s leadership council, stated that “after the approval of the Judicial Council on the final results of the Kurdistan parliamentary elections, it is decided that the party’s leadership council will hold a meeting early next week.” more…
  • Human Rights Watch (HRW) Denounces U.S. Transfer of Detainees from Syria to Iraq, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) Publishes Report on Impact of Water Salinity on Livelihoods in Basra Province – On October 29, UN Deputy Special Representative for Iraq Alice Walpole met with members of the Yazidi community in Sinjar District, Ninewa Province. On October 31, Shafaaq News reported on an investigation by Human Right Watch (HRW) condemning the U.S. military’s transfer of foreign national detainees from northern Syria to Iraq. The detainees are suspected of belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), and HRW warned that they are at risk of being tortured by Iraqi security forces. HRW analyzed four recent terrorism trials that took place in Baghdad. According to Nadim Houry of HRW: “Prosecuting ISIS suspects is crucial for their countless victims to obtain justice, but that won’t be achieved by transferring detainees to abusive situations. The U.S. should not be transferring ISIS suspects from Syria to Iraq or elsewhere if they will be at risk of torture or an unfair trial.” In particular, HRW is condemning the breach of international human rights and humanitarian law which prohibits transferring detainees to countries that engage in the use of mistreatment or torture. On October 21, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) published findings on “the impact of water salinity and other shocks on the livelihoods of Basra’s residents” with recommendations for livelihood and market-based interventions. Rising water salinity has led to reduced crop yields and other adverse effects on agricultural livelihoods and the sustainability of farmlands in Iraq’s southern agricultural districts that depend entirely on the river Tigris as the primary source of irrigation. Crops that require higher levels of irrigation, such as wheat and barley, have been most adversely affected. “In [interviews] with the Directorate of Agriculture, mukhtars and the Al-Fares Group, respondents reported that any effort to improve the level of water in the marshes would require the Iraqi government to develop an agreement with Iran and Turkey.” 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.


International Leaders Congratulate Mahdi on His Election to Prime Minister, Council of Representatives Rejects Federal Budget for 2019

On October 25, Iraqi Prime Minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, stated that Iraq would focus on its independence and prioritize its own interests when it comes to helping the United States (U.S.) enforce new sanctions against Iran. Mahdi said that, “we consider them a strategic mistake and incorrect but we will abide by them to protect the interests of our people. We will not interact with them or support them but will abide by them.” Mahdi also asked the U.S. government if Iraq could ignore some sanctions against Iran, and he did not state whether or not his government would further seek exceptions to the November 4 sanctions.

On October 26, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi extended his condolences to King Abdullah II of Jordan for the victims of flash flooding near the Dead Sea. A statement from Mahdi’s office read that “Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi made a telephone call to King Abdullah II of Jordan and offered condolences to the King of Jordan and to the families of the victims of the floods in Jordan, including a number of Iraqi citizens.” Mahdi stated that “we directed the Iraqi Foreign Ministry immediately after the incident to follow up and provide full support to the families of the wounded and the deceased.”

On October 26, Major General Najm Abdullah al-Jubouri, commander of Ninewa Operations Command, announced his candidacy for the post of Iraqi Minister of Defense. Jubouri published a survey on his personal Facebook profile asking his followers “do you support the nomination of Major General Najim al-Jubouri as Minister of Defense?”.

On October 26, Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the United Nations Secretary-General, released a statement congratulating newly confirmed Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi. The statement read that “the Secretary-General congratulates Mr. Adel Abdul Mahdi on his confirmation as Iraq’s new Prime Minister and welcomes the announcement of the formation of a new Government and the adoption of a new ministerial programme within the constitutional timeframe,“ and, “the Secretary-General expresses his hope that the new Government will be able to accelerate inclusive efforts to rebuild the country after years of conflict, promote national reconciliation, and foster lasting peace and security in Iraq.” Dujarric also confirmed the United Nations will continue to support Iraq during this next crucial period.

On October 26, Iraqi Prime Minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, received a phone call from British Prime Minister Theresa May. According to the Prime Minister Media Office, “Ms. [Theresa May] congratulated Mr. Adel Abdul Mahdi on the formation of the Government and expressed the support of the United Kingdom to the Iraqi government in all fields.” The office also stated that May had invited Mahdi to visit London.

On October 26, the Iranian Speaker of Parliament, Ali Larijani, affirmed that Iran was ready to develop and strengthen relations between Tehran and Baghdad. Larijani congratulated Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and said that, “I am confident that your tenure as prime minister will see the development and strengthening of relations between two countries and peoples in various political, economic, and parliamentary fields.”

On October 27, Alsumaria News reported that Sunni blocs in the Council of Representatives rejected a compromise proposal for the Ministry of Defense. Alsumaria quoted an anonymous official who said that, “Sunni forces still insist on granting the post of defense minister to one of its candidates,” and, “the position has become the share of the Sunni deputies including in the list of [Ayad Allawi] and some of the parties that are engaged in negotiations to form the government suggested to the Sunnis some candidates for the compromise, but all names were rejected.”

On October 27, Alsumaria News reported that there is an active effort to reduce the number of Vice Presidents (VPs) in Iraq from three to one. An anonymous parliamentary source stated that “the parliamentary memorandum will face considerable rejection by some, but parliament is determined to amend this law.” Since 2008, Iraq has had three VPs.

On October 27, Iraqi Speaker of Parliament, Mohammed al-Halbousi, met with Jordanian Speaker of the House of Representatives, Atef Tarawneh. The meeting took place in Amman, Jordan, and the Iraqi Ambassador to the Kingdom of Jordan was also in attendance. A statement from Halbousi’s office read that “Halbousi expressed his condolences to the government and the people of Jordan on the incident of the Dead Sea, which claimed the lives of a number of Iraqi and Jordanian students,” and that, “Iraq declares its solidarity and assistance to Jordan and the families of the victims.”

On October 27, Shafaaq News reported that the leader of the Sairoon Alliance, Muqtada al-Sadr, could not agree with the nomination of Falih al-Fayadh as the Minister of the Interior. Falih al-Fayadh was the former head of the Iraqi National Security Council and a former security adviser for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. However, Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Fatah Alliance, which formed an alliance with Sairoon, was still in support of Fayadh. According to an anonymous source, “Falih al-Fayadh is a candidate for the [Fatah Alliance], especially Hadi al-Amiri, and is still insisting on it, while Sadr continues to reject him without giving reasons.”

On October 27, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi visited the Ministry of Defense and met with several military leaders where he received his first security brief as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Mahdi stated that, “the Iraqi army has begun to regain its place in a democratic state and not a dictatorship,” and that, “the army is not used in repression but in the protection of the Iraqi people.” Mahdi further added, “security and the economy are linked together, without security and stability, there will be no investment and development of the economy and of services.”

On October 28, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi received a phone call from Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri. Mahdi’s office wrote on twitter, “Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi receives a telephone call from the first Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mr. [Eshaq Jahangiri] on Sunday, congratulating His Excellency on the formation of the government and affirming that democracy in Iraq is a model for the countries of the region.”

On October 28, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi met with the Italian Minister of Defense, Elisabetta Trenta. Mahdi’s office wrote on Twitter that “Mr. Adel Abdul Mahdi, receives the Italian Minister of Defense Ms. [Elisabetta Trenta], and her entourage on Sunday afternoon. The Prime Minister welcomes the guest minister and the accompanying delegation, praising the good historical ties that the two countries are bringing together.”

On October 28, the Iraqi Council of Ministers submitted a draft of the financial budget for 2019. The Council stated that the drafted budget was forwarded to the Council of Representatives.

On October 29, leader of the Iraqi Decision Coalition and former Vice President, Osama al-Nujaifi, called on leaders to include equitable funds allocate for Ninewa Province. Nujaifi wrote on Twitter, “We will work to address the injustice that has affected Ninewa in its share of the federal budget through the parliament or we will resort to the federal court and call on the deputies of [Ninewa] all solidarity to take this constitutional right.”

On October 29, Italian Minister of Defense, Elisabetta Trenta, outlined her country’s new military mission and plan in Iraq. Trenta stated that “the Italian government is now addressing the issue of reshaping our commitment in the region, and our exit strategy. I want to describe it as a success strategy. As we gradually complete our duties, we will ease our presence.” Trenta announced that Italy would reduce the number of Italian military personnel involved in the protection of the Mosul dam by 50, by March 2019. Trenta also confirmed Italy’s commitment to Iraq by continuing to support restoration and reinforcement efforts of the Mosul dam and will provide the tools necessary to ensure maintenance work on the dam is protected in order to serve Iraqi citizens.

On October 29, former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and leader of the Fatah Alliance, Hadi al-Amiri discussed the current political situation and the formation of the next government. Abadi’s office released a statement that read, “Abadi received on Monday the head of the Fatah Alliance Hadi al-Amiri, and during the meeting they discuss the political and security situation in the country and the completion of the formation of the government and the importance of work for the continuation of security, stability, reconstruction, and investment during the next phases to create a stable political environment and maintain the achievements made.”

On October 30, Ayatollah Muhammad Yaqoubi called on Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to provide proof of that any claims made against ministers of corruption and supporting the Baathist party are unfounded. Shafaaq News reported that Yaqoubi demanded “the prime minister to submit proof of innocence of his ministers who were accused,” and Yaqoobi stated that “the people had a glimmer of hope in the new government that it would be a national government providing security, services, and a booming economy, but today, after the declaration of the identities of its members, this hope has been lost.”

On October 31, Iraqi Speaker of Parliament, Mohammed al-Halbousi met with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) President of the Federal National Council, Amal Al Qubaisi. Halboui’s office released a statement that read that, “the meeting review the bilateral relations between the two countries and means of enhancing cooperation and coordination in the parliamentary field.” Halbousi also stressed the need of Iraq to attract more investment to help reconstruct Iraq.

On October 31, the Iraqi Council of Representatives rejected the 2019 Federal Budget, effectively sending it back to the Council of Ministers. Member of Parliament (MP) for the Fatah Alliance, Mohammed Baldawi viewed the budget as “nothing new” and actively rejected it for failing to “diversify revenues of the state treasury.” The budget came with heavy criticism from former Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi, who criticized a lack of funds allocated to the Ninewa Province.

On October 31, the Iraqi Integrity Commission announced the formation of an investigative and auditing task force which will monitor the quality of government performances in several aspects of the country. The Commission stated that “the Commission announces the formation of teams of investigative, auditing, and coordination team to monitor the level of government performance in different joints of the state,” and that “the central investigative team will manage and follow classified information according to the position and size of corruption and the management and follow-up of reconstruction projects and the lag of investment and services.”

On November 1, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, sent a message to Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to congratulate him on his confirmation as Iraq’s new Prime Minister. Mahdi’s Media Office wrote on Twitter that, “Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi receives a congratulatory message from Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian president congratulated the Prime Minister on the formation of the government, stressing his country’s keenness to strengthen relations between the two friendly countries and continue to support Iraq and continue join cooperation for the benefit of the two friendly countries.”

On November 1, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi received a message from German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. The PM Media Office wrote on Twitter that “Prime Minister Mr. Adel Abdul Mahdi receives a congratulatory message from German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the occasion of the formation of the government, wishing him success in his mission, confirming Germany’s support for the government in various fields.”

On November 1, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi received a message from Chinese Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China Li Keqiang. The PM Media Office wrote on Twitter that, “the Prime Minister, Mr. Adel Abdul Mahdi, received a congratulatory message from the Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Li Keqiang, on the occasion of the formation of the government, noting the depth of Iraq-Chinese relations and his aspiration to work with the new Iraqi government and strengthen relations in various fields.”

On November 1, Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammad al-Hakim, met with the Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ayman Safadi. Alsumaria News reported that, “the two sides agreed on the importance of strengthening bilateral cooperation in the fields of security, border protection, the promotion of inter-trade, and facilitating the granting of visas to expatriates from both countries.” The two countries also created joint-committee to enhance the bilateral relations between both countries.

On November 1, Jan Kubis, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, met with former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) wrote on Twitter that “SRSG Kubis met today with former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. SRSG Kubis commended Abadi’s leadership during the last four years and achievements during the tenure of the government that he led, including the liberation of Iraq and the peaceful transfer of power.”


KRG Judicial Council Ratifies Elections Results, the KDP Announces It Will Nominate a Candidate for KRG Presidency Next Week

On October 28, Iraqi President Barham Salih met with members of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) to discuss the tensions between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the PUK and ways the tensions can be alleviated to build a government that is cohesive and serves the needs of all people living in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). The office of the PUK released a statement that read, “the PUK [committee] in the meeting emphasized that it has a clear roadmap to protect the entity of the Kurdistan Region, its achievements, and to serve people of the Kurdistan Region,” and, “the best mechanism to achieve this is to hold responsible talks between the PUK and the KDP and other political parties of Kurdistan to form the new cabinet.”

On October 28, the Italian Minister of Defense, Elisabetta Trenta, met with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani. According to Rudaw News, “the Italian defense minister thanked the KRG, Peshmerga, and the people of Kurdistan for their contribution in the fight against ISIS,” and “she stressed that her country will continue its military and humanitarian support for the Kurdistan Region and said Italy is developing ties with Erbil across all sectors.”

On October 30, the Judicial Council of the KRG approved the results from the September 30, 2018 parliamentary elections. The approval solidifies the ability of the parties to begin government formation talks, as the first session of the new Parliament is slated to take place on November 6 and will be presided over by the oldest Member of Parliament (MP).

On October 30, leaders for the KDP announced they would nominate a candidate for the Presidency of the KRG by next week. Aras Hasso Mirkhan, member of the KDP’s leadership council, stated that “after the approval of the Judicial Council on the final results of the Kurdistan Parliament elections, it is decided that the party’s leadership council will hold a meeting early next week.” He confirmed that the leadership council intended to engage other parties on forming the next government of the KRG and the party will choose a candidate for the presidency that will receive broad support from other parties.

On October 30, Rudaw News reported that the Gorran party may decide to not participate in the next Parliament of the KRG and has asked supporters of the party to participate in a survey. Hemin Shiekhani, member of the Gorran National Council stated that “his party is canvassing the opinion of its supporters.” The survey could be completed within the next three days and could create problems with the formation of the next government.

On October 30, Rudaw News reported that the KRG Ministry of Natural Resources will being to crack down on oil refineries operating illegally. All illegal refineries are slated to be shut down within the next 60 days. Diyar Shiekh Gharib, director of Sulaimania Environmental Commission stated that, “The decision is the right decision. There is great care given to protecting the environment and people’s well-being.” Rudaw estimates there are about 200 oil refineries operating illegally and most of them refine crude oil for exports.  

On October 31, the outgoing KRG Parliament held it last session. Rudaw News reported that during the latest term session, lawmakers had introduced 206 bills with only 31 becoming law. On October 30, the Judicial Council approved the election results from the September 30, 2018 elections. According to Rudaw, “the legislature was largely ineffective, beleaguered by conflict and boycotts. It was shut down completely for two years after disputes between the KDP and Gorran reached breaking point.”


PMUs Strengthen Security in Anbar following ISIS Attack near the Iraqi Border, Saudi-American Citizen Freed After 13 Months of Prison in Iraq

On October 30, former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi urged political leaders and the intelligence and defense communities to continue the pursuit of terrorist cells. During the Arbaeen pilgrimage, Abadi extended his condolences to the Iraqi people for what they have gone through and added, “Iraqis are celebrating the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, this year and the victory over terrorists. On this victory, we need to continue to pursue terrorist cells and secure the border in the fulfillment of the blood that rattled the land of Iraq to produce victory and unity.”

On October 26, the Iraqi Research and Investigation Division arrested two passengers holding British passports at the Basra International Airport. According to the Border Patrol Authority, the suspects were impersonating the passports’ holders, and the passports were found to be false after forensic examination. The suspects were transferred to the Basra airport police station.   

On October 29, the lawyer of a United States (U.S.) male citizen announced that his client was freed after spending 13 months in prison in Iraq, without a trial. without a trial in Iraq for 13 months. According to The New York Times,  the man is an American-Saudi citizen, who was arrested in Syria in 2017 by a Kurdish militia, and later held by the U.S. military as a “wartime detainee at a base in Iraq while a court battle over is fate played out.” The suspect was accused of being a “foreign fighter” with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), and The New York Times identified him as Abdulrahman Ahmad Alsheikh. In December 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawyer raised concern about the case, as an American citizen was “ imprisoned in military custody for three months after being deemed an enemy combatant,” and demanded to allow Alsheikh to meet with a lawyer. The ACLU “ filed a habeas corpus lawsuit on the man’s behalf challenging his indefinite detention without charges or a lawyer. The Trump administration has asked Judge Chutkan to dismiss the case, arguing that the rights organization lacks standing to file suit on the detainee’s behalf since it has not met with the man, has no relationship with him and does not know his wishes.”  Alsheikh was freed with the help of the U.S. government to Bahrain, though the U.S. Department of State has revoked his American passport, amid “concerns that if [the prosecutors] brought Mr. Alsheikh to the United States and charged him with providing material support to a terrorist group, a judge might rule their evidence inadmissible — and then they would have to free him on domestic soil.”

On October 29, the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) declared a state of emergency along the Iraqi-Syrian border following an attack carried out by ISIS on the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDFs), on October 26, 2018, near the Iraqi border. In response, the PMU Directorate of Central Operations released a statement saying that “our units have been strengthened there in anticipation of any emergency and to confront any movement of the enemy [ISIS], especially since they take advantage of bad weather to infiltrate or attack,” and emphasized that “the situation is currently under control and that the PMUs in the axis of western Anbar performs its functions to the fullest.”

On October 30, an anonymous Iraqi military source revealed that the Iraqi government sent two army brigades Qaim, Anbar Province, to prevent cross border ISIS attack from Syria. An anonymous senior lieutenant in the Iraqi Ministry of Defense affirmed that “the 27th and 28th brigades of the 7th Infantry Division of the army arrived in the city of Qaim, west of Anbar Province. The new military reinforcements have been deployed close to the Syrian border, in anticipation of any emergency, and to repel any attempt of an attack targeting the Iraqi border,” adding that “three brigades of the [PMUs] also arrived in the region.”

On October 31, an anonymous source reported that the Iraqi Central Criminal Court released a Swedish woman charged with being a member of the ISIS. The source said that “the judge of the Central Court decided to release the Swedish defendant Victoria Draco Lazar for lack of evidence,” adding that “the court decided to imprison her for only six months on charges of crossing the border and illegal residence in the country.” Lazar is a Swedish citizen of Serbian orgins, who is married to an Iraqi-Swedish citizen, with whom she has three children. According to Lazar’s testimony, her husband died in Tel Aviv in 2016.

On October 31, the PMUs announced that they had killed two ISIS commanders who had ordered an attack on the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDFs), near the Iraqi-Syrian border. The attack on the SDFs was carried out on October 26, 2018, and the SDF announced that 14 of its fighters were killed, though the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that 70 SDF members lost their lives in the assault. Ahmed Nasrallah, a PMF operations commander for western Anbar Province, stated, “the Iraqi military had provided information on militant gathering locations, and that a U.S.-led military coalition fighting against Islamic State had not attacked.”

On November 1, Shafaaq News reported that the governor of Salah ad-Din Province survived an assassination attempt. According to Hisham Nuri, the director of the governor’s office,  Governor Ammar al-Jabr survived an improvised explosive device (IED) attack, which wounded two of his security guards.


Human Rights Watch (HRW) Denounces U.S. Transfer of Detainees from Syria to Iraq, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) Publishes Report on Impact of Water Salinity on Livelihoods in Basra Province

On October 29, the Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Alice Walpole, met with members of the Yazidi community in Sinjar District, Ninewa Province. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) wrote on Twitter, “Ms. Alice Walpole, accompanied by the Director of the UNESCO office in Iraq, visited the village of Kojo, south of Sinjar district, to meet with survivors of ISIS’s massacre in August 2014 and to visit mass graves sites in Kojo and discuss proposals for a memorial at the school of the town Mokhtar Kujo. Sheikh Nayef Jassim and clan elders confirmed demands for a thorough criminal investigation into the horrific events.”

On October 31, Shafaaq News reported on a Human Right Watch (HRW) story which condemned the transfer of United States detainees from northern Syria to Iraq. The suspected foreign nationals were detained on suspicion of belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), and HRW warned that they are at risk of being tortured by Iraqi security forces. The HRW report analyzed four recent terrorism trials, which took place in Baghdad. According to Nadim Houry, the Terrorism/Counterterrorism director of HRW, “Prosecuting ISIS suspects is crucial for their countless victims to obtain justice, but that won’t be achieved by transferring detainees to abusive situations. The U.S. should not be transferring ISIS suspects from Syria to Iraq or elsewhere if they will be at risk of torture or an unfair trial.”  HRW, in particular, is condemning the breach of international human rights and humanitarian law which prohibits transferring detainees to countries that engage in the use of mistreatment or torture. Overall, suspects who are suspected of having links to ISIS have been denied fair trials and are often tortured in Iraq. Syrian Democratic Forces (SDFs) have sought ways of sending foreign ISIS fighters back to their home countries for prosecution, but many countries do not want to have suspected fighters returned. HRW watch also criticized the U.S. government for being complicit in allowing the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service to engage in torture, which included mutilating victims’ bodies and also carrying out “enforced disappearances.” On September 10, 2018, HWR sent a letter to the U.S. government regarding the U.S. policy on the transfer of detainees who were held in northern Syria, which never received a response. HRW also added that current Iraqi federal law does not permit the prosecution of foreign nationals for acts committed outside of the country. The Iraqi High Judicial Council has deliberated that the Anti-Terrorism penal code of Iraq does not grant the extraterritorial jurisdiction unless a suspected terrorist acting outside of Iraq was a Iraqi citizen.  

On October 21, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) published a report to “examine the impact of water salinity and other shocks on the livelihoods of Basra’s residents. Based on these findings, NRC will provide recommendations for livelihood and market-based interventions.”  The NRC collected data in Basra Province from October 7 to October 10, 2018, and reviews from secondary sources to examine the impact of water salinity affecting residents. As for the methodology used, the NRC “collected inputs through Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with men and women in selected districts affected by water salinity, in addition to Key Informant Interviews (KII) with government line ministries, agricultural input suppliers, traders in the local markets, and humanitarian actors on ground. A modified Rapid Assessment of Market (RAM) tool was used to collect market related information from traders who were randomly sampled for interviews. Data for this assessment was collected from Basra city, Abu Khaseeb in the south and Al Qurna in the north of Basra. These districts were selected as representative geographical samples for the whole of Basra Governorate.” Security concerns prevented the NRC to conduct its research in the other districts of Basra Province. The report reads that “increased water salinity has had a direct effect on agricultural livelihoods. The majority of agricultural districts in the south depend entirely on the river Tigris as the primary source of irrigation. The increased salinity of the water has resulted in accumulation of salts and dissolved solutes in the soil, leading to low crop leads, plant death and adverse long-term effects on the sustainability of farmlands for future use. Given the lack of alternate water sources, and Basra’s low rainfall, most agricultural activities have ceased. Farmers reported reduced water levels in rivers, especially in Al-Qurna in the north of Basra, despite comparatively improved water quality in this area. This limits the amount of water for irrigation for crop production. The low water levels in the river have been attributed to upstream river flow control from Turkey and Iran. This is a critical issue for these areas, given that rainfall is limited and insufficient for crop production without supplemental irrigation. Crops that require higher levels of irrigation, such as wheat and barley, have been most adversely affected. The draining of wetlands/marshes during prior conflicts was a strategy employed by the government to destroy hiding places for insurgents in the area. This has contributed to the ongoing drought in the region, coupled with steadily decline in annual rainfall. During KIIs with the Directorate of Agriculture, mukhtars and the Al-Fares Group, respondents reported that any effort to improve the level of water in the marshes would require the Iraqi government to develop an agreement with Iran and Turkey.” These challenges that Basra Province is facing have caused the crop production to decrease, as well as the re-zoning of agricultural territories into residential areas. Another consequence is the displacement of agricultural and seasonal workers to urban areas, as they found themselves without any livelihood opportunity. The reports concludes that “the population of Basra governorate largely depend on agriculture and is the major source of income for a number of communities. The current water salinity has adversely affected the livelihood of the farmers. The disruption of the agricultural sector due to the water salinity, coupled with limited support from government and humanitarian actors has resulted in the loss of major income sources, the sale of livestock due to the high cost of water and animal feed, inability to access the necessary inputs, high unemployment rates, and informal re-zoning of agricultural land into residential.” Additionally, it recommends that “in districts such as Abu Khaseeb, Shatt Al-Arab, Al-Fao and Basra where agricultural livelihoods have been constrained due to lack of alternative water sources, the provision of business development training and business activation for pre-existing business is highly recommended. Affected farmers expressed interest in engaging in non-agricultural livelihoods as agriculture is no longer viable. In districts where water is still accessible through alternative water sources (such as Al Zubair, Al-Qurna and Al-Midaina), and where farmers are constrained by financial resources, the provision of agricultural inputs such as seeds, tools, fertilizers, pesticides and greenhouses with drip irrigation kits for vegetable production is highly recommended. Due to the lack of skills among many farmers, agricultural extension services should be provided alongside agricultural input support. To ensure sustainable agricultural extension service delivery, capacity building to governments and local NGOs in the area should be prioritized to continue service delivery in the long term. Due to the high rate of unemployment following the loss of agricultural livelihoods and lack of skills, the provision of vocational skills training for women, men and youth should be informed by a labour market assessment, through the vocational training centre in Basra under the MoLSA. This will allow affected groups improved access to employment opportunities in the labour market and an alternate income source. Job placement opportunities for youth and adults in Basra city will allow the private sector actors and affected groups to play important role in the local economy and pave the way for economic integration of affected groups into the formal labour system. In collaboration with WASH actors, any construction work is recommended to be done through Cash for Work (CfW), which will create short term employment and access to income for the youth and adults without any livelihood options.”  

On October 29, the Republic of Korea contributed USD five million to support stabilization and reconstruction in newly freed areas in Iraq. Korea partnered with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to support UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS), which finances fast-track initiatives in areas retaken from the ISIS. This is Korea’s fifth contribution since 2015 to FFS. UNDP Resident Representative for Iraq, Marta Ruedas, stated that “since Iraq was declared free from [ISIS], significant progress across the country has been made – schools and hospitals have reopened, bridges are functioning, and water and electricity networks are up and running. But we still have a long way to go – a number of key areas are in desperate need of stabilization efforts. We are very grateful to the Republic of Korea for this generous contribution. It comes at exactly the right time.” Korean Ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Song Woong-Yeob, responded to the donation saying that “the Iraqi people have achieved a great victory in the war against [ISIS], and have also exerted enormous efforts to stabilize and rehabilitate the affected area by the violence of the terrorist group. As a responsible member of the international community and a close friend of Iraq, the Republic of Korea is deeply committed to supporting the stabilization and recovery efforts in Iraq, and I firmly believe that our continuing support will contribute to laying the foundation for peace and prosperity in Iraq.”

On October 29, The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released a statement announcing that the United States (U.S.) donated USD 128.8 million to its mission in 2018, in order to support Syrian refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Iraq. Bruno Geddo, UNHCR Representative in Iraq, said that “a year since the end of large-scale fighting in Iraq, our work is far from over. The wounds inflicted by years of conflict on people and communities will take a long time to heal. Major efforts are underway by the authorities, United Nations (UN) agencies and partners to support displaced Iraqis as they return. Rebuilding Iraq is not just about bricks and mortar, but the coming together of cohesive and inclusive communities, which will take time. With the extraordinary support of donors like the United States, UNHCR will continue to stand with the people of Iraq until the job is done.” In addition, U.S. Ambassador Douglas Silliman affirmed that “the United States is deeply committed to providing life-saving humanitarian assistance to refugees in Iraq and Syria… [The U.S. Government] contribution will assist those who are not yet able to return home voluntarily, safely, and with dignity.”


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

DateLocationDeathsInjuries
10/31/2018 Jalawla, 152 kilometers north east of Baghdad02
10/30/2018 Mosul12
10/31/2018 Khanaqin, 178 kilometers north east of Baghdad213
10/29/2018 al-Taji, 33 kilometers north of Baghdad01
10/28/2018 Jalawla, 152 kilometers north east of Baghdad02

 

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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