This week’s headlines:
- U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Hezbollah-Affiliated Individuals, Iraq to Trade Food for Iranian Energy and Gas – On November 11, Iraqi President Barham Salih called on the United States (U.S.) to rethink its sanctions against Iran, voicing concerns about how the decision will affect Iraq’s relations with Iran. On November 13, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed sanctions on four individuals who are affiliated with Lebanese Hezbollah. The four individuals are Shibl Muhsin Ubayd al-Zaydi, from Iraq, Yusuf Hashim, Adnan Hussein Kawtharani and Muhammad Abd-Al-Hadi, from Lebanon. On November 14, an Iraqi senior official and a member of Iraq’s ministerial energy committee stated that Iraq agreed to exchange food for Iranian gas and energy supplies. The first source stated that “the American deadline of 45 days to stop importing Iranian gas is not enough at all for Iraq to find an alternative source.” Baghdad will seek U.S. approval to continue to import Iranian gas for power stations. The second official stated that “stopping Iranian gas after the deadline will create a real power crisis. We need more time and the Americans are completely aware of how desperately we need Iranian gas.” more…
- Council of Representatives Reduces Number of Parliamentary Committees, Discussion on Federal Budget for 2019 Postponed to November 20 – On November 10, the Council of Representatives voted to reduce the number of parliamentary committees from 27 to 22. An anonymous political source told Alsumaria News that “the Council of Representatives decided to reduce the number of committees from 27 to 22 through the integration of the committees of Culture and Media, Tourism and Antiquities. The committee on Affairs of Members and Parliamentary Development will be integrated with the committee on Institutions of Civil Society. In addition, the Human Rights with Martyrs and Prisoners will be integrated with the committees on Labor and Social Affairs and the committee on Displaced Persons. On November 12, the Iraqi Minister of Finance, Fuad Hussein, stated that the 2019 Federal Budget still can not be enacted by the Council of Representatives. Hussein stated that “the budget was prepared by the previous government,” and that “the vision of the current government is different from what exists in the current budget.” On November 13, the Iraqi Parliament postponed discussions on the 2019 Federal Budget until November 20 after failing to reach an agreement in Tuesday’s session of Parliament. On November 14, the Iraqi Parliament announced its decision to investigate how bills amounting to $7 billion Iraqi dinars (US $6 million) were damaged by rainwater that entered the Rafidain Central Bank in 2013. On November 14, the Iraqi Commission of Integrity (COI) announced it had seized property that was given to the wife of an ex-government official. more…
- Car Bomb Kills Four and Injures 12 in Mosul, Security Measures Strengthened in Ninewa Province to Prevent Escalation of Violence – On November 8, a car bomb exploded near the Abu Layla restaurant on Baghdad Street, in Mosul, Ninewa Province. The blast killed four people and injured 12. On November 9, Bashir Haddad, the second Deputy Speaker of the Iraqi parliament, condemned the car bomb attack that killed four civilians and injured 12 in Mosul, Ninewa Province, on November 8, 2018. Haddad urged Iraqi forces from the army, police, and security committee to review the security procedures and take necessary security measures to protect the lives of citizens and infrastructures. On November 9, former governor of Ninewa Province, Atheel al-Nujaifi, warned that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has returned to Ninewa Province and the rest of the liberated areas, urging the ruling political parties to cooperate with “the Sunni and Kurdish leaders” to avoid the “escalation of the danger.” On November 10, Major General Najim Abdullah al-Jubouri, Chief of Ninewa Operations, released a statement saying that Iraqi forces bolstered security measures is Mosul, anticipating increased violence in the area. more…
- USAID, Sanad and NRC Release Reports Concerning IDPs and Humanitarian Developments in Iraq, ICRC Launches Awareness Campaign on Violence Against Medical Personnel in Iraq – On September 30, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) published a report providing information concerning humanitarian developments in Iraq. As of September 30, 2018, 4.08 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) have returned to their homes areas since 2014, and 8.7 million people are in need of assistance in Iraq. Approximately 1.89 million people remain displaced in Iraq, with 591,354 of the IDPs residing in Ninewa province. On November 11, Sanad for Peacebuilding announced that 1000 displaced families, both internally and internationally, returned to their homes in Al-Ayadhiya, a sub-district of Tal Afar, Ninewa Province, adding that “many of these families have come from Turkey or from camps across Iraq, including Kirkuk and Mosul. Tal Afar, a city west of Mosul, has struggled with sectarian violence since 2003.” On November 12, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) launched a public awareness campaign in Iraq during a ceremony at the Ministry of Health in Baghdad, titled ‘Health Care in Danger’, which will last until November 21, 2018. This campaign addresses violence against medical personnel and facilities, and its negative impact on the provision of health care. On November 13, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) published a report on the internally displaced persons (IDPs) among the Yazidi community in Iraq. Although ISIS forces have been driven out of the area of Sinjar, where most of the community used to reside, three years later, approximately 200,000 Yazidi remain displaced in northern Iraq. more…
Attention readers! ISHM will take a break for Thanksgiving, but it will be back the week after, with a comprehensive issue on the week we missed!
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.
On November 11, Iraqi President Barham Salih called on the United States (U.S.) to rethink its sanctions against Iran, voicing concerns about how the decision will affect Iraq’s relations with Iran. Salih stated that “we do not want Iraq to be burdened with the U.S. sanctions on Iran,” and that “Iran is a neighboring country and out interest lies in having good and stable relations with Iran.”
On November 13, the United States (U.S.) Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), imposed sanctions on four individuals who are affiliated with Hezbollah. The four individuals are Shibl Muhsin Ubayd al-Zaydi, from Iraq, Yusuf Hashim, Adnan Hussein Kawtharani and Muhammad Abd-Al-Hadi, from Lebanon. The Treasury stated that “(OFAC) took action today to target four [Hezbollah]-affiliated individuals who lead and coordinate the group’s operational, intelligence, and financial activities in Iraq,” and that, “[the] Treasury’s concerted actions aim to deny [Hezbollah’s] attempts to exploit Iraq to launder funds, procure weapons, train fighters, and collect intelligence as a proxy for Iran.” According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Zaydi has been supporting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) and “assisting in, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, [Hezbollah].” The U.S. Department of the Treasury charged Zaydi of specifically working in Iraq and assisting in facilitating Iraqi investments on behalf of the IRGC-QF and smuggled oil and Iraqi fighters into Syria.
On November 14, an Iraqi senior official and a member of Iraq’s ministerial energy committee stated that Iraq agreed to exchange food for Iranian gas and energy supplies. The first source stated that “the American deadline of 45 days to stop importing Iranian gas is not enough at all for Iraq to find an alternative source.” Baghdad will seek U.S. approval to continue to import Iranian gas for power stations as the second official stated that “stopping Iranian gas after the deadline will create a real power crisis. We need more time and the Americans are completely aware of how desperately we need Iranian gas,” further adding that Iraq would submit an official request to the U.S. to extend its imports beyond the 45 day deadline.
On November 9, the head of the Iraqi Turkmen Front, Arshad al-Salihi, blasted the Iraqi federal government and further called on political leaders to include the Turkmen Front in the government formation discussions and with a seat in the next Cabinet. Salihi stated that, “certain parties in Baghdad want to remove the Turkmen Front from the political process.” Alsumaria News reported that “he called on Shiite leaders to stand by the Turkmen regarding their political representation and to support them in this regard.” On September 27, 2018, the Iraqi Turkmen Front announced it would secede from the Coalition for Reform and Reconstruction as the party was upset over the lack of representation it would receive in the next government.
On November 10, the Council of Representatives voted to reduce the number of parliamentary committees from 27 to 22. An anonymous political source told Alsumaria News that “the Council of Representatives decided to reduce the number of committees from 27 to 22 through the integration of the committees of Culture and Media, Tourism and Antiquities. The committee on Affairs of Members and Parliamentary Development will be integrated with the committee on Institutions of Civil Society. In addition, the Human Rights with Martyrs and Prisoners will be integrated with the committees on Labor and Social Affairs and the committee on Displaced Persons. Parliament also created Transport and Communications as a committee, which brought the minimum number of committees from 21 to 22.
On November 11, Iraqi President, Barham Salih, met with Sabah al-Ahmad Al Jaber al-Sabah, the Emir of Kuwait. Lukman Faily, spokesman for President Salih, wrote on Twitter that, “President Barham Salih had a very productive meeting with his Highness the emir of Kuwait, it covered a wide range of issues focusing on bilateral developments plus region security and the reduction of tensions in our region.” Salih also wrote on Twitter that, “We leave Kuwait after a busy day, thank his Highness [Emir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah] and our brothers for the warm welcome and to make sure to strengthen our bilateral relationship, to start to achieve the common economic interests and security stability, and to disassociate our country and our region from absurd disputes.”
On November 12, Iraqi Minister of Finance, Fuad Hussein, met with the British Ambassador to Iraq, John Wilks. Shafaaq News reported that “during the meeting, they reviewed the bilateral relations between Iraq and Britain and discussed the best ways to strengthen and develop them, especially in the economic and financial sectors.”
On November 12, Iraqi President Barham Salih met with the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Mohammed bin Zayed. Salih met with a number of UAE officials and wrote on Twitter that “our relations with the people in the UAE are well established in history, but it is important that we start cooperating with a promising future for our people and meeting the ambition of our youth to keep up with the world’s scientific and economic progress.”
On November 12, the Iraqi Council of Representatives voted to create a fact-finding committee to investigate the security development in Ninewa Province. Alsumaria News quoted a parliamentary source who stated that “the [Council of Representatives] voted during its meeting today on the formation of a fact-finding committee on the security events in [Ninewa].”
On November 12, Iraqi Prime Minister (PM) met with a delegation from the Independent High Electoral Commission. The PM Media Office wrote on Twitter that “during the meeting, the work of the Electoral Commission was discussed following the decision of the Council of Representatives to return to exercise its functions,” and that “the Prime Minister emphasizes the importance of integrity of the upcoming electoral process, as the political system in Iraq is a democratic system based on free and fair elections.”
On November 12, the Iraqi Minister of Finance, Fuad Hussein, stated that the 2019 Federal Budget was facing many problems before its enactment by the Council of Representatives. Hussein stated that “the budget was prepared by the previous government,” and that “the vision of the current government is different from what exists in the current budget.” Hussein added that the ministries and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) have presented many ideas on how to change the budget citing that time constraints is making it very difficult to meet the needs of all parties involved in the discussions. However, Hussein affirmed that “we are ready to work transparently with Parliament, and we will have a coordinator in the Iraqi Parliament.”
On November 13, the Wasit Provincial Council selected Mohammed al-Mayahi as the province’s new governor. Alsumaria News wrote that “the Council of Wasit Province held its regular session today, which included its agenda to choose a candidate for the post of governor.” The correspondent added that Mayahi was then confirmed as the next governor.
On November 13, the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) announced that Iraqi Prime Minister (PM) Adel Abdul Mahdi expressed his support to provide the necessary measures to keep the upcoming provincial elections fair and secure. Aziz al-Kheqani, a spokesman for the IHEC told Alsumaria News that “the Council held an important meeting with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, [Mohammed al-Halbousi] and talked about the latest developments in the upcoming electoral process and the preparations of the [IHEC] for this purpose,” and that “[PM] Abdul Mahdi called on the President and members of the [Council of Representatives] to make efforts to ensure the success of the upcoming provincial elections, and the [PM] listened to the views and proposals put forward in order to complete the preparations and expressed his full readiness to facilitate all procedures related to the electoral process and will provide the needs of the [IHEC] for the purpose of the upcoming local elections.”
On November 13, Rudaw News reported that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) was still in active talks to form the majority governing coalition, almost two months since the September 30, 2018 Parliament elections. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has been in talks with the Gorran Party to form the majority coalition and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Komal Party contests that they have not been included in the discussions. An anonymous KDP official told Rudaw News that “We don’t want to waste time in discussions on forming the government. Other parties are aware there has been constant phone conversations between us and it’s now clear how the government will be formed.” Arif Tayfur, a member of the KDP’s committee, said that “we don’t want a broad-based government or a government formed by two parties. Those participating in the government should stay in the government until the end.” He also added that “the KDP will elect the speaker by a majority vote as a last resort.”
On November 13, the Iraqi Parliament postponed discussions on the 2019 Federal Budget until November 20 after failing to reach an agreement in Tuesday’s session of Parliament. Rebwar Taha, a Member of Parliament (MP) from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) told Rudaw News that “it is not only Kurds. The issue is that the person who prepared this draft bill seems to have come from another world or country. If you compare this draft bill with the program and agenda of Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government, you will see that they are two different things.” Taha also told Rudaw that the political blocs were planning on meeting with two committees on November 18 and 19 as Iraqi Minister of Finance, Fuad Hussein, attended the session of Parliament on November 12, 2018 to discuss the government’s vision on what should be prioritized in the 2019 Federal Budget.
On November 14, the Sunni National Axis Alliance stated that the coalition was close to finding a consensus for the post of the Minister of Defense. Shafaaq News reported that the two leading candidates for the minister are Salim al-Jabouri and Ahmed al-Jubouri, as the Alliance is trying to bid for a position in Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s Cabinet.
On November 14, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, António Guterres, commended the Iraqi and Kuwaiti government for the peaceful transfer of a shipment of Kuwaiti government property on November 13. The UN Spokesman for Guterres released a statement which read that “the Secretary-General commends the efforts of the Governments of Iraq and Kuwait to resolve the outstanding issues between them and calls for their continued constructive participation in the closure of the missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and property, including national archives.” Guterres also affirmed the UN’s commitment to resolving remaining issues between Iraq and Kuwait.
On November 14, the Iraqi Parliament announced its decision to investigate how $7 billion Iraqi dinars (US $6 million) were damaged by rain waters that entered the Rafidain Central Bank in 2013. Ali al-Alaq, governor of the Central Bank of Iraq who was not in office in 2013, responded to Members of Parliament (MPs) questions about the incident and said that “in 2013, the coffers of the Rafidain Bank were drowned by heavy rains and entered into the bank and caused damage to banknotes of up to 7 billion dinars.” Alaq explained that “the Central Bank received these [banknotes] and compensated them,” noting that “the loss occurred was the cost of reprinting and keeping the banknotes as the same value.” MP Hoshyar Abdullah, member of the Financial Committee, expressed concerned concerning the cause of the incident, saying that “we have concerns about how to enter water to the store, and this is in doubt for us, so we will conduct an investigation as soon as possible.”
On November 14, the Iraqi Commission of Integrity (COI) announced it had seized property that was given to the wife of an ex-government official. The COI released a statement which read that “COI clarified that its continued follow-up resulted in issuance of the Court of Appeal-Baghdad/Karkh federal decision to return the property, its area 12,642 square meters from the wife of a senior official in the previous government, indicating that the property has been re-registered in the name of the Baghdad Municipality.” Rudaw News reported that the government official’s identity was not revealed, but an anonymous parliamentary source told Rudaw News that “the accused had briefly served as a deputy to Iraq’s former Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi.” The COI said that the investigation revealed the official violated laws outlawing the sale or lease of state-owned property.
On November 15, Iraqi President Barham Salim, met with King Abdullah II of Jordan. The two sides discussed the strategic and economic ties in the region and discussed the importance of creating a strategic partnership with Egypt. Salih and Abdullah also discussed opening a port and establishing an industrial city in Trebil, Iraq, which borders Jordan in Anbar Province. Finally, Salih stated that “the victory of Iraq and the defeat of [Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham] is a victory for the region and the world. It is necessary to preserve this victory by standing up against everything that destabilizes peace and stability,” as Salih praised Jordan’s position and assistance in Iraq’s fight against terrorism.
On November 8, a car bomb exploded near the Abu Layla restaurant on Baghdad Street, in Mosul, Ninewa Province. The blast killed four people and injured 12. An anonymous security source said that all the victims were civilians, and among them were four of the restaurant employees.
On November 9, Bashir Haddad, the second Deputy Speaker of the Iraqi parliament, condemned the car bomb attack that killed four civilians and injured 12 in Mosul, Ninewa Province, on November 8, 2018. Haddad urged Iraqi forces from the army, police, and security committee to review the security procedures and take necessary security measures to protect the lives of citizens and infrastructures. Haddad also added that “yesterday’s bombing in Mosul and the [death] of the victims is dangerous indicator [which] confirms the existence of terrorist sleeper cells, and the Iraqi forces should intensify intelligence efforts and proactive operations to eliminate these cells to maintain security and stability in the city.”
On November 9, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported that the United States (U.S.) strengthened their security measures in the military bases of Al-Taqadum, 25 kilometers east of Fallujah, Anbar Province, and Ain al-Asad, 200 kilometers west of Ramadi, Anbar Province. In the western part of Iraq, 38,000 Iraqi security and army forces deployed are currently deployed. According to a senior Iraqi military official in Anbar, U.S. forces in both military bases are no longer involved “in any direct combat activities against a sympathetic organization.” Rather, the military official stated that “U.S. forces are monitoring, air control, training of Iraqi forces and a civilian program to help liberated cities set up humanitarian projects.” Additionally, this official said that Americans are currently training Iraqi army forces to learn necessary skills, such as targeting dangerous terrorist leaders or liberating hostages. Ismail Najm al-Obeidi, the leader of the tribal forces, said in an interview with Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that these forces are holding meetings with the Americans with the aim to support and ensure that no new extremism is born.
On November 9, On November 9, former governor of Ninewa Province, Atheel al-Nujaifi, warned that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has returned to Ninewa Province and the rest of the liberated areas, urging the ruling political parties to cooperate with “the Sunni and Kurdish leaders” to avoid the “escalation of the danger.” Nujaifi added that “the security solution starts with political leaders, not [with the] security [itself]. Security leaders follow their political leadership and implement their wishes.” He called on the Prime Minister (PM) Adel Abdul Mahdi to “talk with influential leaders in the society to avoid a repeat of the tragedy.” Nujaifi added that “you will not succeed in fighting terrorism with corrupt agents as an alternative to the Sunni leaders, nor cheap agents as an alternative to the Kurdish leaders. You should hear from the [personalities] who know how to speak strongly and put your mistakes in front of your eyes.” Nujaifi also pointed out that “after Mosul was destroyed on the pretext that it was the only way to eliminate terrorism, terrorism returned and Mosul remained destroyed – if you were to admit the mistake – nothing less than the search for a new way to fight terrorism and avoid its return.”
On November 10, the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Brett McGurk, met with Iraqi PM Adel Abdul Mahdi and Iraqi President, Barham Salih. McGurk wrote on Twitter that, “Productive stop in Baghdad earlier to discuss coalition support to Iraq forces in suppressing ISIS sleeper cells and protecting Iraqi borders, as we prepare to accelerate operations in east Syria.”
On November 10, the Center for Security Information released a statement concerning the International Coalition strike in Ninewa Province. Yahya Rasool, a spokesman for the Center for Security Information, stated that “A force from the 66th Brigade in the 20th Brigade carried out a search under the supervision of the Ninewa Operations Command, and intelligence efforts, for the hideouts of [ISIS] terrorists in the area of Jabal ‘Atshan.” He added that “.based on intelligence information, our security forces provided coalition aircraft with information on important targets in the area [above mentioned]. Successful airstrikes were carried out, which resulted in the death the destruction of three terrorist hideouts and the death of 14 of them.”
On November 10, the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) declared that its troops are present in Ninewa Province and along the border line. The PMUs said in a statement that “[PMUs] forces are still strongly present in the defensive positions,” adding that “the presence of the forces of the [PMUs] has been strengthened in the past few days in these areas.”
On November 10, Major General Najim Abdullah al-Jubouri, Chief of Ninewa Operations, released a statement saying that Iraqi forces increased security measures is Mosul, anticipating increased violence in the area. Jubouri added that “the citizen has a great role in establishing security through his cooperation with the security forces, which in return are working hard to ensure security and peace in this city.” Jubouri also added that “the security forces will intensify the intelligence and security efforts as well as take precautionary measures to prevent any serious incidents that may occur in the future.”
On November 12, an anonymous official security source reported that an armed attack was perpetrated against a military checkpoint in Tuz Khurmatu, Salah ad-Din Province. The source said that the attack took place on November 9, 2018, when two unidentified gunmen opened fire on the checkpoint, situated in the Imam Ahmad neighborhood of the city. The attack did not cause any casualties, nor injuries.
On November 12, unidentified gunmen attacked the house of a Sunni tribal militia officer, killing at least nine people.The home of Captain Misha’an Hazemawi near Karma District, approximately 16 kilometers northeast of Fallujah, Anbar Province, was stormed by unidentified assailants, who killed him and other eight people. Two anonymous security sources affirmed that ISIS was behind the attack, though no group has claimed responsibility for it yet.
On September 30, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) published a report providing information concerning humanitarian developments in Iraq. As of September 30, 2018, 4.08 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) have returned to their home areas since 2014, and 8.7 million people are in need of assistance in Iraq. Approximately 1.89 million people remain displaced in Iraq, and 591,354 of the IDPs live in Ninewa province. International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that more than 50 percent of remaining IDPs having been displaced for more than three years. According to a July and August assessment conducted by the IOM, 80% of IDPs currently living in camps do not intend to return to their home areas in the next 12 months. While the amount of IDPs is lowering, many are unable to return due to destroyed homes, insecurity, and lack of livelihoods. Many of the nearly 467,000 IDPs residing in IDP camps are restricted in their locations and are unable to find employment outside of the camps. The Iraqi Government is still working on efforts to close IDP sites, but humanitarian aid groups believe that this would leave IDPs vulnerable as many are dependent on life saving emergency food assistance within the camps. More than 80 percent of out-of-camp IDPs do not plan to return to their home areas during the next 12 months, according to a July and August assessment of IDP movement intentions.
On November 11, Sanad for Peacebuilding (Sanad) announced that 1000 displaced families, both internally and internationally, returned to their homes in Al-Ayadhiya, a sub-district of Tal Afar, Ninewa Province, adding that “many of these families have come from Turkey or from camps across Iraq, including Kirkuk and Mosul. Tal Afar, a city west of Mosul, has struggled with sectarian violence since 2003.” Sanad established a peacebuilding project in Tal Afar that worked on reconciling conflicting communities and tribal leaders, which led to the announcement of a peaceful coexistence agreement on August 9, 2018. The statement released by Sanad read that “with rucial support from United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and the Higher Commission for Communal Peace and Coexistence and their significant role with engaging varioussecurity actors. The process successfully resulted in the announcement of agreed peaceful coexistence principles for the sub-district of Al-Ayadhiya, following weeks of individual cross-sectarian key actor interviews, succeeded by a joint dialogue process with 35 key actors, representing the various communities of Al-Ayadhiya. Participants included, lawyers, tribal and religious leaders, militia commanders, as well as local and central governmental actors.” Nasha’t Sadiq Mohamed, the Head of Al-Ayadhiya sub-district Council, stated that “after the success of Al-Ayadhiya Conference for Peaceful Coexistence and the declaration of the community agreement by the Tribes on August 9, 2018…several constructive steps have been taken to repatriate 1000 displaced families to Al-Ayadhiya sub-district.” The peaceful coexistence agreement includes pledges to maintain rule of law, prevention of revenge acts of violence and supporting Iraqi security forces in identifying former Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) members. Haider Ibrahimi, executive director of Sanad said that “it has been more than 18 months since we first started the dialogue process in Tal Afar with the aim of addressing the barriers to safe, and voluntary return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) as well as the barriers to long-standing peace in the area. Sanad, with the support of USIP and with coordination with the Higher Permanent Commission for Communal Peace and Coexistence, we were able to bring the community together to agree on key priorities and principles that would address the issues preventing the IDPs from return.” Ibrahimi also added that “to sustain this outcome, and encourage the rest of the families to return to their homes, the community needs service provision, rehabilitation of infrastructure and economic opportunities for youth, women and vulnerable groups.”
On November 12, The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) reported on a two-day workshop that took place at the University of Anbar in Ramadi, Anbar Province, on November 7 and November 8, 2018, focused on dealing with the rubble left after the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The workshop was hosted by the Province of Anbar, in cooperation with the Iraqi Ministry of Health and Environment and the UNEP, with local authorities, technical government departments, academics and U.N. agencies participating in it. The workshop considered various options for managing the debris including the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)’s Facility for Immediate Stabilization and the International Organization Migration to establish debris recycling centres in Mosul. Currently three of the seven million tons of debris has been removed with extensive support from the UNDP’s Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilization. Mustapha Arsan, deputy governor of Anbar Province, stated that “over two years since retaking most of Anbar’s shattered cities from the grips of ISIS terrorists in 2016, rubble continues to be a major obstacle for tens of thousands of displaced persons to regain their homes, and restart their lives and businesses.”
On November 12, the U.N. brought in cultural preservation specialists to evaluate rehabilitating two historical sites in Kirkuk. The Qishla and Citadel were two historic buildings which were destroyed by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The Qishla was an Ottoman era garrison and the Citadel was built in 884 B.C. on top of an artificial mound 40 meters high. The Director-General of the Iraqi Department for Culture and Antiquities, Iyad Tariq said that, “[the Citadel] was once home to 950 families, a church, two mosques, minarets, a school, restaurants and cafes, monuments, and a bustling market,” and that “with support from UNESCO and the international community, the CItadel can be restored to its former glory.” The Governor of Kirkuk, Rakan al-Jabouri and Colonel Wisam Abdullah of the Kirkuk Antiquities Police, joined the assessment visit.
On November 12, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) launched a public awareness campaign in Iraq during a ceremony at the Ministry of Health in Baghdad, titled ‘Health Care in Danger’, which will last until November 21, 2018. This campaign, organized by the Iraqi Ministry of Health and the ICRC with the cooperation of a wide range of partners including the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, addresses the violence on medical personnel and facilities, and its negative impact on the provision of health care. According to statistics of the ICRC, “in Iraq, threats affecting health workers and services go beyond violence directly linked to armed conflict. Other types of violence are prevalent, such as reprisals against health professionals in the form of verbal or physical abuse, threats, kidnapping or even killing. Afraid for their safety, many of them have left the country. According to a survey conducted by the Health and Environment Volunteer Team, in Baghdad, 70% of health personnel have expressed the wish to emigrate for this reason, while 98% responded that the number of health professionals leaving the country would decrease if a secure working environment could be guaranteed.” Katharina Ritz, Head of delegation of the ICRC in Iraq, stated that “because health care professionals by the very nature of their job deal with situations of life and death, situations where emotions run high, they are very frequently exposed to adverse reaction by patients, their families, the communities and other people that accompany them to the health facilities, including weapon bearers. At the end of the day, the first victims are the sick and wounded as such attacks reduce the chances of delivery of life-saving health care for millions of Iraqis.” The campaign is using TV spots, an interactive social media campaign, information sessions, and bulk SMS messages to spread their message.
On November 13, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) published a report on the internally displaced persons (IDPs) among the Yazidi community in Iraq. Though ISIS forces were driven out of the city of Sinjar, where most of the community used to live, three years ago, approximately 200,000 Yezidi remain displaced in northern Iraq. 6,000 families have returned home, but are experiencing the difficulties living in a war torn space. A young woman who is among the ones who have returned, told the NRC that “we are home, but we are not actually living, there is nothing here. We don’t have water, schools or hospitals. Pregnant women have died because of a lack of maternity healthcare.” In Sinjar, 70% of buildings were damaged or destroyed during the conflict to regain control of the city. The NRC media coordinator in Iraq, Tom Peyre-Costa, commented that “streets are empty, you barely see anyone. Hundreds of thousands of Yazidis are still displaced across the country and cannot come back because of security issues and lack of basic services such as water and electricity. There is an urgent need to rebuild schools and hospitals, otherwise this place is going to stay empty.” The report further read that “while the plight of Yazidi victims was highlighted last month through the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Yazidi survivor Nadia Murad, the city of Sinjar remains largely uninhabitable. Elsewhere in Iraq reconstruction is slowly happening, but in Sinjar it never started. Meanwhile, Sunni Arab neighbours are afraid to return, fearing reprisals from community members or local security forces.” Peyre-Costa also added that “what [the NRC does] in Sinjar is a good start, but it is far from being enough. Yazidis must not be forgotten. It is time for the international community to understand the extent of the needs. They must invest as much in the reconstruction of Sinjar as they did in the military operations against IS group.”
On November 13, the Special Representative for the U.N. Secretary-General for Iraq, Jan Kubis, briefed the Security Council of the U.N. on the current political developments in Iraq. In his brief, Kubis stated that “while the government formation process has not been without controversy, the political blocs have demonstrated a willingness to act in support of the Prime Minister. Competition and differences have been largely political and not sectarian, and in this way, a break from the past.” Kubis added that the government’s programme included deliberation and advisory from the U.N. and it represents a general outline that will help to meet the needs of Iraq’s citizens. Kubis acknowledged that this would be his last briefing for the Security Council, as Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert would become his successor in leading the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI). Kubis also applauded former Iraqi Prime Minister (PM) Haider al-Abadi for his willingness to peacefully transfer power to PM Adel Abdul Mahdi and expressed his optimism that the future will hold promising prospects for the country and its people.
IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties
|11/15/2018||Badush, 25 kilometers northwest of Mosul||2||1|
|11/11/2018||al-Muthanna, 248 kilometers southwest of Basra||0||3|
|11/13/2018||Fallujah, 71 kilometers west of Baghdad||0||1|
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.