ISHM: November 16 – 29, 2018

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Key Takeaways:

  • Oil export resumes from Kirkuk to Turkey; Drop in oil prices suspends work on the 2019 budget – On November 16, the Iraqi Federal Government restarted oil exports from Kirkuk after a year of blocking the flow of oil from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. On November 19, KRI PM Nechirvan Barzani welcomed the resumption of Kirkuk oil exports as he called it a “positive gesture.” On November 26, the Iraqi Council of Representatives announced it would temporarily suspend work on the 2019 Federal Budget as oil prices dropped.
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  • EU reportedly offers assistance to Iraq to mitigate effect of U.S. sanctions on Iran; Iraqi PM Abdul Mahdi denounces U.S. sanctions on Iran – On November 16, the European Union (EU) told Iraqi PM Adel Abdul Mahdi that the EU is ready to offer assistance to Iraq if it faces any consequences due to sanctions the U.S. recently re-imposed on Iran. On November 20, the Iranian Ambassador to Iraq, Iraj Masjedi, urged Iranian companies to invest in Iraq as he noted that Iraqi President Barham Salih believes the country should not be bound by U.S. sanctions against Iran. On November 20, Iraqi PM Adel Abdul Mahdi publicly denounced U.S. sanctions against Iran. PM Mahdi stated that, “we are not part of the American system and we are not part of the aggression against other countries.”
    more…
  • Iraqi PM announces plan to unify customs procedures with the KRI; Masoud Barzani arrives for a visit in Baghdad – On November 21, Iraqi PM, Adel Abdul Mahdi announced the government’s plans to unify its customs and borders procedures with the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). On November 22-23, KDP leader Masoud Barzani traveled to Baghdad for a two-day visit at the helm of a Kurdish delegation. This is Barzani’s first visit to Baghdad since the Kurdish independence referendum in 2017. During his visit, Barzani met with Iraq’s leadership.
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  • Negotiations continue regarding yet unfilled cabinet positions; Sadr blasts government formation process – On November 17, the Fatah Alliance stated that the coalition is poised to confirm Falih al-Fayyadh as the next Minister of the Interior. On November 19, Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Sairoon Alliance, blasted the Iraqi government calling the government formation process an effort to “buy ministries in the new government of [Prime Minister] Adel Abdul Mahdi.” Sadr’s statement came after media outlets in Iraq reported that several Sunni political blocs agreed to vote on Falih al-Fayyadh as the next Minister of the Interior, while the Fatah Alliance would in exchange support Salim al-Jabouri as the Minister of Defense in a vote in parliament. On November 27, Iraqi PM Adel Abdul Mahdi announced that he was finalizing a decision on nominations for the remaining eight ministerial positions within the coming days.
    more…
  • Iraqi leaders meet international counterparts, discuss reform, tackling corruption and the fight against ISIS – On November 19, Iraqi President Barham Salih met with King Salman of Saudi Arabia. On November 27, former Iraqi PM, Haider al-Abadi, met with Jan Kubis, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq. During the meeting, Kubis stressed the need for the government to continue the reform process started by Abadi and the current security and economic situation. On November 29, Iraqi President Barham Salih met with World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Ferid Belhaj. President Salih urged the World Bank to continue to support social and economic development projects in Iraq. more…
  • Leader of Basra protests assassinated; Vehicle-borne explosive device rocks Tikrit; Bomb kills four children near Mosul – On November 18, an armed group assassinated Sheikh Wissam al-Gharawi, one of Basra’s most active protestors. Known as one of the main initiators of the protests, al-Gharawi consistently fought against policies and corruption and called for the formation of an armed faction to represent Basra’s demands. On November 18, a vehicle-borne IED exploded on al-Atibaa’ Street in Tikrit, Salah ad-Din province, killing five and wounding 16 people. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) condemned the bombing in Tikrit the next day. On November 22, a bomb exploded in a school bus in Zalahfa, a village south of Mosul, killing four children and wounding many others.
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  • Iraq carries out airstrikes in Syria; Gunmen attack UN office in Sulaimania – On November 20, Iraq launched air strikes in Sousse and al-Baghuz, Syria, reportedly hitting Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) targets. On November 29, The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Iraq denounced the attack on the office of the Directorate to Combat Violence against Women (DCVAW) in Sulaimania province. Four gunmen attacked the office. No casualties were reported.
    more…
  • UN discusses Mosul reconstruction; EU and France pledge additional support for Iraq IDPs – On November 15, the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) introduced the Initial Planning Framework for the Reconstruction of Mosul, sharing ideas on how to ‘Build Back Better’ the city of Mosul. On November 27, the European Union (EU) announced it would provide Iraq with EUR $56.5 million (USD $64.2 million) to promote job creation and to help support refugees and internally displaced populations.On November 29, France contributed $568,690 to the Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Programme (ICRRP), part of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in order to promote recovery efforts in areas liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). UNDP estimates that the funding will support about 200 vulnerable returnees in Sinjar and Hamdaniya through saving schemes and small business grants.
    more…
  • Flooding leads to mass displacement in Iraq, mobilizes massive humanitarian response – On November 23, heavy rainfall for two days resulted in severe flooding leaving thousands displaced, injured and dead. Floods primarily affected Ninewa and Salah al-Din provinces, and an estimated 25,000 people are in need of assistance. On November 27, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) released a report discussing how the recent floods further damaged infrastructure and agriculture, affecting the living conditions of internally displaced persons (IDPS). 7,500 families currently live in Qayarrah Airstrip Camp, Ninewa province, and 2,392 of the tents were completely flooded, forcing families to stay in the IOM health clinic and other communal areas. On November 28, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) announced it had helped in the evacuation efforts of more than 800 families who have been affected by the floods in the Shirqat District north of Salah ad-Din Province. On November 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) provided medicine and medical kits to the Shirqat General Hospital north of Salah ad-Din Province.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.


Oil export resumes from Kirkuk to Turkey; Drop in oil prices suspends work on the 2019 budget

On November 16, the Iraqi Federal Government restarted oil exports from Kirkuk after a year of blocking the flow of oil from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. U.S. Department of State Spokeswoman, Heather Nauert hailed the important development on Twitter. Nauert wrote that “the re-opening of #Kirkuk oil exports is a positive development for #Iraq and another important step in our efforts to reduce Iran’s oil exports. Congratulations to @IraqiGovt and @Kurdistan and to the @USEmbBaghdad team for their hard work.” The oil exports will start at around 50,000-60,000 barrels per day (bpd). Industry sources are expecting oil exports from Kirkuk to gradually increase. Before the suspension, the oil pipeline from Kirkuk was pumping about about 300,000 barrels per day.

On November 19, KRG PM Nechirvan Barzani welcomed the resumption of Kirkuk oil exports as he called it a “positive gesture.” Barzani stated that “now that a new government is in place in Baghdad, we hope we will be able to resolve all the issues between Baghdad and Erbil and step forward together for a brighter future for Iraq.” The development will be important moving forward for increasing positive relations between the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) and Baghdad. Barzani added, “In addition to our support to the government of dear [Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi], the KRG is ready to resolve and decide on every single problem in accordance with the constitutional mechanisms and embark on a serious process of talks and work together to implement all the constitutional rights that are entitled to all of us.”

On November 25, General Electric finalized a $600 million deal to fund a power project in Iraq with Trade Bank of Iraq and Standard Chartered. According to the new deal, the financing will create more than two gigawatts of power and will ensure the agreed 6.7 gigawatts of power for Iraq’s power grid. The U.S. Special Envoy for Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Brett McGurk wrote on Twitter, “General Electric today finalized arrangements with Trade Bank of Iraq to significantly boost Iraq’s power grid capacity before summer. First of a number of new energy projects that should come on line over the coming months.”

On November 26, the Iraqi Council of Representatives announced it would temporarily suspend work on the 2019 Federal Budget as oil prices dropped. Committees involved in amending the budget will suspend their weekly meeting until they can analyze how the prices in oil will affect the budget. The moves comes after the Finance Committee submitted a list of 43 comments and amendment proposals to Fuad Hussein, the Iraqi Minister of Finance on November 16.

On November 27, China’s Bohai Drilling Engineering Company reached a $156.74 million deal with the Iraqi government to begin production of 28 oil wells at the West Qurna Two oilfield, which is operated by Lukoil. Currently, the West Qurna Two oilfield produces about 400,000 barrels per day (bpd). Reuters reported that the state-run Basra Oil Company had been in talks with Bohai to grant it the contract, which allows Bohai to being operations in January with a completion date at the end of 2020.

On November 27, the Iraqi Council of Ministers granted an investment license project for the hydrogenation and improvement of gasoline production in Kirkuk. The announcement came from Iraqi PM Adel Abdul Mahdi’s office.


EU reportedly offers assistance to Iraq to mitigate effect of U.S. sanctions on Iran; Iraqi PM Abdul Mahdi denounces U.S. sanctions on Iran –

On November 16, the European Union (EU) told Iraqi PM Adel Abdul Mahdi that the EU is ready to offer assistance to Iraq if it faces any consequences due to sanctions the U.S. recently re-imposed on Iran. According to a readout distributed by the Iraq PM’s office, the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, told the PM that “the European Union is ready to support Iraq in dealing with the consequences of [U.S.] sanctions.” This phone call comes after the US granted Iraq a temporary waiver granting Iraq the ability to important Iranian gas and electricity until the end of December.

On November 17, Iraqi President Barham Salih met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran. According to Reuters, the two sides discussed raising their annual bilateral trade volume to $20 billion, even with the current U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil sector. Rouhani stated that “we held talks on trade in electricity, gas, petroleum products and activities in the field of oil exploration and extraction.” Salih added that “it will be important to create free trade zones at our shared border and to connect the two countries’ railways.”On November 19, Iranian President Hassan Hassan Rouhani stated that the U.S. would not be capable undermining Iran’s relations with neighboring countries. During a visit to Azerbaijan, Rouhani stated that, “the relations between Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Iraq are being strengthened day by day,” and that, “America will not be able to weaken and destabilize relations between Iran and these three countries.”

On November 20, the Iranian Ambassador to Iraq, Iraj Masjedi, urged Iranian companies to invest in Iraq as he noted that Iraqi President Barham Salih believes the country should not be bound by U.S. sanctions against Iran. Iran’s ambassador stated that “we have agreed with Iraq to establish a permanent exhibit of Iranian goods in Baghdad,” and that, “the large trade exchange between Iran and Iraq now comes under… great pressure on the Iraqi side. The President [Barham Salih] stressed during his visit to Iran that his country does not see itself bound by U.S. sanctions on Tehran.”

On November 20, Iraqi PM Adel Abdul Mahdi publicly denounced U.S. sanctions against Iran. PM Mahdi stated that, “we are not part of the American system and we are not part of the aggression against other countries.”


Iraqi PM announces plan to unify customs procedures with the KRI; Masoud Barzani arrives for a visit in Baghdad

On November 16, the PM of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Nechirvan Barzani, met with the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran, Andrew Peek. The KRG wrote on Twitter: “#Kurdistan Region Prime Minister @PMBarzani met with a U.S. delegation headed by Andrew Peek, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran, discussing latest developments in the region.”

On November 19, former Iraqi Deputy Minister of Finance, Fadel Nabi, stated that the Ministry of Finance held a meeting with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in an effort to meet the demands of the KRG for the 2019 Federal Budget. “The Kurds have a set of comments regarding the Iraqi draft budget for the year 2019. To implement the directive of [KRG] Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, a meeting was held at the Ministry of Finance to discuss the demands of the Kurds regarding the budget.” The two sides discusses the expenditures for the KRG as well as the amount of funds to be delegated to the Peshmerga forces.

On November 21, Iraqi PM Adel Abdul Mahdi announced the government’s plans to unify its customs and borders procedures with the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Reuters reports that the move will be implemented after the Iraqi federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are able to reach an agreement. The KRG currently collects and imposes custom tariffs on goods that it controls and imports, a policy that is considered illegal by the Iraqi government. At a press conference, PM Mahdi announced his plans to meet with Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani, as Barzani is scheduled to travel to Baghdad to meet with several leaders in Iraq on November 22. PM Mahdi stated that, “I will meet with Barzani tomorrow on relations between Erbil and Baghdad to discuss key issues that will strengthen relations between Erbil and Baghdad. We want to help the region and its citizens.”

On November 22-23, KDP leader Masoud Barzani traveled to Baghdad for a two-day visit at the helm of a Kurdish delegation. This is Barzani’s first visit to Baghdad since the Kurdish independence referendum in in 2017. During his visit, Barzani met with Iraq’s leadership. On November 22 , Iraqi Speaker of Parliament, Mohammed al-Halbousi, met with Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader Masoud Barzani. During the meeting, both sides discussed the need to unify efforts in supporting the next government and to ensure that viable solutions to problems and crises in Iraq are met. Halbousi urged that there is “more joint political action among all national forces to defuse differences and problems for the sake of Iraq’s supreme interests.” Barzani affirmed his support for “the legislative institutions to work on the passing of laws that contribute to the advancement of the country and to support political stability.”

On November 22, KDP leader Masoud Barzani met with Iraqi PM Adel Abdul Mahdi to discuss the current political situation and offered his support for Mahdi’s new government. Barzani stated that, “I express our full support to Dr. Adel Abdul Mahdi and we will continue to strengthen the relations and trust that originally existed and to resolve outstanding issues.” U.S. Special Envoy for Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Brett McGurk, also welcomed the discussions as a way for “strengthening ties and cooperation between the new Iraqi government and Kurdistan Regional government as essential for the lasting defeat of ISIS.”

On November 22, the leader of the Fatah Alliance, Hadi al-Amiri, met with KDP leader Masoud Barzani. At a joint press conference, Amiri stated that, “We hope that this blessed visit is a beginning for a good and strong relationship between Baghdad and Erbil, as we…look forward to a promising and positive future between Erbil and Baghdad. We are determined to build a strong and capable Iraq that preserves the precious and cherished life of all Iraq citizens, Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Assyrians, Yazidis, Shabak, and all other Muslims and Christians.”

On November 23, the leader of the Iraqi National Wisdom Movement, Ammar al-Hakim, met with KDP leader Masoud Barzani. Hakim stated that, “we are discussing how to support the government to implement its democratic government program and to enhance communication and consensus between the political blocs.” For his part, Barzani affirmed his support for PM Adel Abdul Mahdi and the next federal government.


Negotiations continue regarding yet unfilled cabinet positions; Sadr blasts government formation process

On November 17, the Fatah Alliance stated that the coalition is poised to confirm Falih al-Fayyadh as the next Minister of the Interior. Member of Parliament (MP), Karim Baldawi told Alsumaria News that “the dialogue between the political blocs is still continuing regarding the remainder of the cabinet, especially the security ministries,” and that “the Fatah Alliance is insistent on the candidate of the Ministry of the Interior, [Falih al-Fayyadh].”

On November 19, Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Iraqi National Wisdom Movement, was elected as the head of the Alliance for Reform and Reconstruction. The coalition of political blocs include Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoon Alliance, Haider al-Abadi’s Victory Alliance, and the National Wisdom Movement.

On November 19, Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Sairoon Alliance, blasted the Iraqi government calling the government formation process an effort to “buy ministries in the new government of [Prime Minister] Adel Abdul Mahdi.” Sadr’s statement came after media outlets in Iraq reported that several Sunni political blocs agreed to vote on Falih al-Fayyadh as the next Minister of the Interior, while the Fatah Alliance would in exchange support Salim al-Jabouri as the Minister of Defense in a vote in parliament. The recent deals comes after the Sairoon Alliance refused to confirm Fayyadh at the end of October as the Minister of the Interior, while the confirmation of the eight remaining ministers has also been delayed.

On November 27, Iraqi PM Adel Abdul Mahdi announced that he was finalizing a decision on nominations for the remaining eight ministerial positions within the coming days. The announcement follows a statement from Sairoon Alliance leader, Muqtada al-Sadr, in which he blamed quotas for the failure to pass the remaining ministers as his alliance has been vocally against the nomination of Falih al-Fayyadh for the Ministry of the Interior position, which was a move backed by leader of the Fatah Alliance, Hadi al-Amiri.

On November 28, the Iraq Turkmen Front threatened to become an opposition party to PM Adel Abdul Mahdi if the party did not receive a ministerial position in the next Cabinet. The leader of the Turkmen Front, Arshad Salhi stated that “the approach and policy of the Turkmen Front will be different with the current government in the case of continued exclusion of the candidate from the office of the President of the Republic and the Cabinet.”


Iraqi leaders meet international counterparts, discuss reform, tackling corruption and the fight against ISIS

On November 16, Iraqi PM Adel Abdul Mahdi relieved the governor of the Iraqi Central Bank of his duties, citing the damage done to seven billion Iraqi Dinars ($5.8 million) as the reason. Sources added that PM Mahdi assigned Ahmad al-Sarraf as the new governor of the central bank. This move comes after the media relations team for the Rafidain Bank confirmed that rainwater had entered coffers in the central bank damaging the money supplies.

On November 18, Iraqi PM Adel Abdul Mahdi spoke with the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin. Mnuchin affirmed the U.S.’s commitment to supporting Iraq and strengthening bilateral relations. The PM’s Media Office wrote on Twitter: “Adel Abdul Mahdi receives a telephone call from the United States Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Steven Mnuchin. [PM Mahdi] stressed the importance of continued international support for Iraq.”

On November 19, Iraqi President Barham Salih met with King Salman of Saudi Arabia. U.S. Special Envoy for Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Brett McGurk praised the development as he wrote that “Great to see #Iraq President @BarhamSalih in #SaudiArabia with @KingSalman to discuss further strengthening strategic ties between vital @coalition partners and working together towards post-ISIS recovery through energy and investment projects.” According to Shafaaq News, King Salman stated, “We look forward to continuing efforts to bolster cooperation between us and Iraq,” as the meeting emphasized the current need for the countries to coordinate oil policy and how to respond to extremism and terrorism is Syria and the region as a whole.

On November 20, Iraqi Speaker of Parliament, Mohammed al-Halbousi met with Deputy Chief of Mission at the American Embassy in Iraq, Joey Hood. A statement from Halbousi’s office read that, “the Speaker of the House of Representatives [Mohammed al-Halbousi] received at his office the Deputy U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad, Joey Hood, and his accompanying delegation. During the meeting, they discussed the latest political developments in Iraq and the region, as well as the importance of continuing to support Iraq.” The two also discussed how the executive and legislative branches of Iraq’s government can assist internally displaced persons (IDPs) by providing services necessary to regularize their situation as soon as possible.

On November 20, Iraqi Prime Minister (PM), Adel Abdul Mahdi, met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov. The PM Media Office wrote on Twitter that, “Prime Minister Mr. Adel Abdul Mahdi @AdilAbdAlMahdi receives the Special Envoy of the Russian President to the Middle East and the States of Africa Deputy Foreign Minister Mr. Mikhail Bogdanov and his entourage.” During the meeting both sides discussed efforts to boost bilateral cooperation in the economy, trade, energy investment, and security. Bogdanov stressed Russia’s commitment to developing strong relations with Iraq and offered Mahdi an invitation to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On November 22, Iraqi President Barham Salih announced plans for the Iraqi federal government to launch a reconstruction agency which will focus on funding infrastructure projects. Salih spoke at an international conference in Rome, Italy as he confirmed the country’s commitment to continuing to pursue the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) as a “monumental challenge and an immense success for Iraqi army forces.” Salih welcomed international entities such as sovereign wealth funds as sources of funding. Salih mentioned that misuse of public funds is a serious threat to promoting and attracting foreign investments in Iraq.

On November 23, Iraqi President Barham Salih met with Special Envoy of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General to Syria, Staffan de Mistura. The meeting took place during an international forum in Rome, Italy as the two discussed the recent developments in Syria and the role of Iraq and the regional impact Syria will have in terms of security and stability. Salih stressed that, “the importance of concerted international and regional efforts to end the Syrian crisis and find a lasting comprehensive solution to the problems in the region will reflect on the stability in Iraq and the region.” Mistura urged Salih and Iraq to continue to play a crucial role in promoting peace and stability in the region and in the fight against extremism and terrorism.

On November 24, Qais al-Khazali, leader of the Iranian-backed militia, Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), urged the Iraqi federal government to include Shiite militias in the country’s long-term border security strategy. Khazali told Reuters that, “securing Iraq’s borders with Syria is among the most important duties of the [ Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) ] right now. The [ISIS] threat against Iraq won’t end as long as Syria is unstable. The [PMU] proved it is the military side most capable of dealing with [ISIS], maybe the armed forces can invest in the [PMU] in duties that include border security.”

On November 26, Iraqi PM Adel Abdul Mahdi met with deputies and the governor of Ninewa Province in an effort to meet the province’s demands for allocations outlined in the 2019 Federal Budget. The PM Media Office stated that, “[PM Adel Abdul Mahdi] held a meeting with the deputies of the province of [Ninewa] in the presence of the governor and the commander of operations and President of the provincial council. During the meeting [the two sides] discussed the security situation in the province, stability and reconstruction, and the issues of displaced, agriculture, industry, humanitarian, investments, and the 2019 budget.” The delegation from Ninewa briefed PM Mahdi on the current problems the province faces as Mahdi affirmed he would work with provincial leaders to meet the demands through the appropriate means.

On November 27, Iraqi PM Adel Abdul Mahdi announced that government officials were working to open up parts of the ‘Green Zone’ in Baghdad. The Government of Iraq wrote on Twitter, “PM @AdilAbdAlMahdi: The new @IraqiGovt is pressing ahead with plans to open up the so called ‘green zone’ and many other streets in our capital city Baghdad, some of which have been closed off since 2003.”

On November 27, former Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi met with Jan Kubis, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq. During the meeting, Kubis stressed the need for the government to continue the reform process started by Abadi and the current security and economic situation. Kubis stated that, “it is important to preserve what has been achieved and to continue the process of reform that began during the last government.”

On November 28, Ali Aboudi, the head of the Political Relations Office of Iraqi Hezbollah in Iran, called for the departure of U.S. forces from Iraq. Aboudi stated, “We will not allow the presence of one US soldier on Iraqi soil.”

On November 28, the Iraqi Council of Ministers held a meeting to discuss a housing project announced by Iraqi PM Adel Abdul Mahdi. The Iraqi Cabinet received members of government departments who briefed PM Mahdi about the legal and administrative measures needed to implement the new program. Under the envisioned program, low-income families and those who are in need of housing would be allocated plots of land currently owned by the state.

On November 29, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani met with Jan Kubis, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq. According to Alsumaria News, “Sistani said in this meeting that the new government has great tasks and is waiting to see the success of its work, especially in the fields of fighting corruption, providing job opportunities for the unemployed, reconstruction of the war-affected areas, and restoring displaced persons to their areas of residence.”

On November 29, Iraqi President Barham Salih met with World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Ferid Belhaj. President Salih urged the World Bank to continue to support social and economic development projects in Iraq. Belhaj stated that “the World Bank is determined to support the Iraq economy positively and will work to support partnerships with Iraqi financial institutions by increasing areas of cooperation and the adoption of better investment resources and energies.”


Leader of Basra protests assassinated; Vehicle-borne explosive device rocks Tikrit; Bomb kills four children near Mosul

On November 18, an armed group assassinated Sheikh Wissam al-Gharawi, one of Basra’s most active protestors. Al-Gharawi was taken to the military hospital but died after being shot in front of his home. Known as one of the main initiators of the protests, al-Gharawi consistently fought against policies and corruption and called for the formation of an armed faction to represent Basra’s demands.

On November 18, an anonymous security source stated that a vehicle-borne IED exploded on al-Atibaa’ Street in Tikrit, Salah ad-Din province. The source shared that the explosion killed five and wounded 16 people.

On November 19, United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) condemned the bombing in Tikrit, Salah ad-Din province. Special Representative and Head of UNAMI, Jan Kubis, denounced the bombing stating, “this is a cowardly attack outside a restaurant in the center of Tikrit. It is an absolute evil. It has no goals other than killing civilians and trying to destroy Iraq’s recovery in peace after years of conflict.” Kubis also commented, “the aim of the terrorists to undermine security and destabilize areas that are still recovering from the scourge of terrorism will fail the unity of the Iraqi people and the vigilance of the security forces.” Kubis called for increased efforts to combat sleeper cells to prevent future attacks on civilians.

On November 22, a bomb exploded in a school bus in Zalahfa, a village south of Mosul, killing four children and wounding many others. Peter Hawkins, the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) representative in Iraq, released a press statement commenting, “This attack might jeopardize the tremendous efforts to get children back to school in areas where violence was the heaviest. Attacks on children are senseless and must stop. Children and their right to education must be protected at all times.” There are currently 3 million children in Iraq who do not have access to consistent education, and half of the schools require reconstruction.


Iraq carries out airstrikes in Syria; Gunmen attack UN office in Sulaimania

On November 20, Iraq launched air strikes in Sousse and al-Baghuz, Syria, reportedly hitting Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) targets. A statement published by the Iraqi government shared that “F-16 fighter jets severely damaged a building where members of the ultra-hardline Sunni militant group were storing weapons, killing 10 of them. A second strike destroyed a building housing 30 ISIS fighters.” In total the air strikes hit and destroyed two buildings, a weapons warehouse, and 40 ISIS fighters.

On November 29, The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Iraq denounced the attack on the office of the Directorate to Combat Violence against Women (DCVAW) in Sulaimania province. Four gunmen attacked the office, but there were no casualties reported. Dr. Oluremi Sogunro, UNFPA Representative to Iraq stated: “we regret that such attacks happen, especially during the 16 Days of Activism to Combat Violence against Women, when the whole world, including the Government of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, is calling to put an end to abuse and violence against women. We all have the responsibility to protect women and girls, especially survivors of gender-based violence. We call upon the Regional Government of Kurdistan to complete the investigation and arrest the perpetrators to give women back the sense of security they seek.”

On November 26, United Nations Iraq reported the launch of the 16 days of activism for the Elimination of Violence against Women. A joint survey published by the Government of Iraq and UNICEF found that 37% of women between the ages of 15 and 49 in Iraq think that violence toward women is acceptable, and a new UNFPA study revealed that 63% of Gender Based Violence incidents in Iraq are perpetrated by a family member. United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) reaffirmed their commitment to end all forms of violence against women, and call on the Iraqi government to further support the rights and needs of women. Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Iraq, stated “Violence towards women and girls is a violation of human rights and has a devastating impact on their health, well-being, and their futures. It can never be justified. Women and girls make up half of the population in Iraq and they have a right to live free from fear and violence and be free to fulfill their fullest potential.” Displacement and return threaten the safety of women and girls, specifically cases of sexual violence and exploitation, harassment and child marriage, with girls as young as 12 being married off.


UN discusses Mosul reconstruction; EU and France pledge additional support for Iraq IDPs

On November 15, the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) introduced the Initial Planning Framework for the Reconstruction of Mosul, sharing ideas on how to ‘Build Back Better’ the city of Mosul. Over 100 participants from the local government, private sector, organizations, and agencies met at the Ninewa Governor’s office and discussed priorities and solutions for reconstruction. The participants also addressed how to ensure a fast reconstruction, while also protecting the heritage and historical characteristics of the Old City. Nawfal Hamadi al-Sultan, Governor of Ninewa Province, highlighted the vital role UN agencies have in the reconstruction process, and emphasized the importance of collaboration between government ministries, the UN agencies and the residents of Mosul. Al-Sultan and Ruedas called for the establishment of a special committee to monitor and ensure that the recommendations in the Framework are carried out.

On November 15, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) launched the ‘Holding On’ digital campaign to highlight the daily life and resilience of internally displaced persons (IDPs). This campaign marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, and includes stories of IDPs’ most cherished possessions. Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Director of Operations and Emergencies in the United Nations podcast, A Way Home Together: Stories of the Human Journey, commented “Internally displaced people have left their homes on their own. They don’t have anything other than what they’re carrying. Our exhibition shows people who just walked out with a t-shirt or only holding their children in their arms…That’s all they have.” The exhibition’s virtual reality component features the lives of IDPs in Colombia, Iraq, Nigeria, the Philippines and Ukraine.

On November 27, Nobel Peace Prize winners Nadia Murad and Dr. Denis Mukwege received an additional USD $5.6 million to continue their campaign to fight against individuals using sexual violence as a weapon of war.

On November 27, the European Union (EU) announced it would provide Iraq with EUR $56.5 million (USD $64.2 million) to promote job creation and to help support refugees and internally displaced populations. This will bring the total amount of EU assistance to USD $146.6 million for 2018. Neven Mimica, the Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development stated that “the EU is delivering on its commitments made last February at the Iraqi Reconstruction Conference in Kuwait. This new support will create opportunities and jobs, helping some of the most vulnerable communities to get back on their feet and rebuild their lives.”

On November 29, France contributed $568,690 to the Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Programme (ICRRP), part of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in order to promote recovery efforts in areas liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). UNDP estimates that the funding will support about 200 vulnerable returnees in Sinjar and Hamdaniya through saving schemes and small business grants. Bruno Aubert, the French Ambassador to Iraq, stated that “this project is well aligned with both French and Iraqi priorities for stabilization. Targeting the improvement of the conditions for the safe return of IDPs in areas strongly affected by [ISIS] occupation, the provision of immediate livelihood and employment opportunities – in particular for youth and women – is a key step toward more resiliency and sustainability for these communities.”


Flooding leads to mass displacement in Iraq, mobilizes massive humanitarian response

On November 23, heavy rainfall for two days resulted in severe flooding leaving thousands displaced, injured and dead. Floods primarily affected Ninewa and Salah al-Din provinces, and an estimated 25,000 people are in need of assistance (10,000 in Salah al-Din and 15,000 in Ninewa). Reports indicate that the Shirqat district in Salah al-Din, and Qayyarah Airstrip and Jeddah internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Ninewa, were affected the most severely. Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi led a meeting of the Crisis Management Cell on November 23 to plan the emergency response activities of ministries and the Iraqi Red Crescent Society. The Rapid Response Mechanism and Logistics clusters have initiated needs assessments, and others will be conducted in the coming week by health, Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and protection organizations. United Nations (UN) agencies and humanitarian partners have initiated relief activities in affected areas with the Iraqi Government.

On November 27, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) released a report discussing how the recent floods further damaged infrastructure and agriculture, affecting the living conditions of internally displaced persons (IDPs). 7,500 families currently live in Qayarrah Airstrip Camp, Ninewa province, and 2,392 of the tents were completely flooded, forcing families to stay in the IOM health clinic and other communal areas. 300 families stayed in the health clinic in Qayarrah Airstrip Camp, and were given dry blankets, heaters and emergency health care services. IOM’s Rapid Assessment and Response Team immediately responded to the floods, and investigated the damage and needs in the camps. IOM also employed over 600 IDPs to clear the drainage channels, ensuring the flow of water out of the camp, and to repair the road to regain access to camps, including access for humanitarian organizations. IOM, Representative for Ninewa Voluntary Displaced Organization (RNVDO) and Danish Refugee Council (DRC) distributed hundreds of kits to the most vulnerable households. Since November 23, more than 3,150 basic non-food item kits were provided for households in Qayarrah Airstrip and Jeddah, consisting of mattresses, bedsheets, plastic sheeting, a solar lamp, rechargeable light, gas cooker, jerry can and a kitchen set. Support for the kits was provided by the Office of the United States (US) Foreign Disaster Assistance and the Government of Germany.

On November 28, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) announced it had helped in the evacuation efforts of more than 800 families who have been affected by the floods in the Shirqat District north of Salah ad-Din Province. IRCS relief official Hyder Qassim stated that “the emergency teams of the IRCS since morning have evacuated 307 families from the village of Khadrania and 530 families from the village of Horria and saving them after they have been besieged by the torrents that swept away their houses and transported them to a safe place, also providing the necessary first aid for them, where the water level high estimates from one to two and a half (m) which has led to the destruction of four houses built by mud and more than 500 house have been swept in districts of Khadrania and Horria.”

On November 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) provided medicine and medical kits to the Shirqat General Hospital north of Salah ad-Din Province. The shipment of medical supplies contains more than 13 tons of medication including trauma kits and Inter-agency Health Emergency Kits (IHEK). The Shirqat General Hospital received support from local health authorities. WHO Acting Representative, Dr. Adham Ismail stated that “WHO is committed to supporting the Ministry of Health and local health authorities in providing urgent health care services to the in-need population all over Iraq. WHO and its health partners are still required to deliver more and intervene further to ensure availability and easy access to health services including referral and ambulatory services in IDP camps as well as remote and hard-to-reach areas.” Authorities estimate that over 1,000 homes have been destroyed by the recent flooding in Salah ad-Din Province and that over 5,000 residents were evacuated in Shirqat district.

On November 28, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) provided relief and food aid for more than 1,900 internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in the Alqadisia compound and the camps of Alalam and Shahama within Salah ad-Din center. The aid includes two food parcels, two bags of rice weighing 25 kilos and two health sets per household,” said Hyder Qassim, the relief official of Salah ad-Din center. Qassim also stated that the IRCS`s health teams are assisting patient cases in the medical centers inside the camps, and the units of the mobile medical centers that provide medical, therapeutic, and psychosocial support for the IDPs.

On November 29, Global Shelter Cluster in Iraq published an overview on the living conditions and needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs) within camps. Winterization items for the camps are provided by Catholic Relief Services (CRS), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The provision is projected to be complete by mid-December. 21,000 tents need to be replaced in Iraq ahead of the winter, and camps still remain in need of other vital resources such as kerosene, clothing and food. 29,510 families were provided with winter necessities during the month of November, and as of November 29, 21% of households in camps have been reached with winter support. Heavy rains and flooding, and delays at checkpoints prevented some of humanitarian assistance from reaching IDP camps.


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

DateLocationDeathsInjuries
11/29/2018Hamrin Mountains, 80 kilometers northeast of Baqubah14
11/28/2018Baqubah12
11/27/2018Al Shuala, 16 kilometers northwest of Baghdad12
11/24/2018Badush, 35 kilometers northwest of Mosul21
11/23/2018Jalawla, northeastern Diyala Province02
11/22/2018Mosul47
11/18/2018Tikrit, 184 kilometers north of Baghdad516
11/19/2018Rifai, 81 kilometers north of Nasiriyah00
11/22/2018Badush, 35 kilometers northwest of Mosul24

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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