ISHM: February 28 – March 7, 2019

ISHM LOGO

Key Takeaways:

  • Iraqi Officials Meet Foreign Counterparts; KDP and PUK Reach Power-Sharing Deal; Kurdish Opposition Leader Arrested; Chairmanships of Parliamentary Committees Divided – On March 2, the Iraqi Speaker of the House Mohammed Halboussi arrived in Jordan for the summit of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union. On March 3, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi and Iraqi Speaker of the House of Representatives Mohammed Halboussi met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Baghdad. On March 3, Shaswar Abdulwahid, the leader of the Kurdish opposition party the New Generation Movement, was arrested after receiving an arrest warrant issued by a court in Sulaimania for defamation and insulting a state employee. On March 4, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) signed a joint agreement paving the way to the formation of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). On March 6, Deputy Secretary-General of the PUK, Kosrat Rasul Ali, met with British Ambassador to Iraq John Wilkes. On March 6, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi and United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke on the phone. The two leaders discussed the legal framework allowing the International Coalition led by the United States to operate in Iraq. On March 6, Iraqi parliamentarians reached an agreement concerning the division of leadership positions in the parliament’s various committees. On March 7, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke on the phone with the leader of the KDP Masoud Barzani. Pompeo urged Barzani to quickly complete the formation of the KRG.
    more…
  • Militant Attacks Persist Across Iraq Despite Security Operations; Plan Developed for Return of Peshmerga to Kirkuk; Iraqis Kidnapped by ISIS Return from Syria – On February 28, a car bomb exploded in Mosul, killing at least two civilians and wounding twenty-four others. Throughout the past week, dozens of Yezidi and Shia women and children from Iraq escaped ISIS captivity in Syria, four years after being kidnapped by ISIS when they swept across the Ninewa plain. On March 2, a delegation of Iraqi security officials led by Falih al-Fayyad, Iraq’s National Security Adviser, and leaders of local Yezidi forces held a meeting in Sinjar in Ninewa province to form a unified Yezidi security force. On March 3, the joint committee consisting of Peshmerga forces and members the Federal Ministry of Defense made progress in reaching an agreement addressing the disputed areas in Kirkuk and surrounding provinces. On March 6, a roadside bomb exploded in Diyala province, killing one security officer and injuring three others. The explosion occurred near a police patrol in al-Tawakol village, 40 km northeast of the capital Baquba, reported the head of the security committee. On March 6, ISIS militants attacked a bus carrying forces from the Popular Mobilization Forces from Mosul to Kirkuk, killing six fighters and injuring 31 others. more…
  • Donors Pledge Additional Support for Iraq; New HRW Report Highlights Torture, Unfair Trials of Children Suspected of Ties to ISIS – On March 3, the United Nations Development Programme announced that Italy will contribute $2.7 million for stabilization projects in Iraq. On March 4, Japan donated $4.7 million in humanitarian aid to support women and children in Iraq. The Japan Ambassador to Iraq announced that this will be part of a new assistance project for Iraq totalling $63 million. On March 6, Human Rights Watch released a report on human rights abuses by the Iraqi and Kurdistan Regional Government in their treatment of hundreds of children held on terrorism charges. On March 6, the Government of Denmark announced contributing $4 million to support security and justice reform programs in Iraq through the UN Development Program.
    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.


Iraqi Officials Meet Foreign Counterparts; KDP and PUK Reach Power-Sharing Deal; Kurdish Opposition Leader Arrested; Chairmanships of Parliamentary Committees Divided

On March 2, the Iraqi Speaker of the House Mohammed Halboussi arrived in Jordan for the summit of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union, the 29th conference of this kind. Halbousi met with the King Hussein of Jordan on the sidelines of the summit and the two leaders discussed improving relations between the neighboring countries.

On March 3, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi and Iraqi Speaker of the House of Representatives Mohammed Halboussi met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Baghdad. Mahdi stated that Iraq could use its influence to help Palestinians obtain their demands, such as a recognized Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. The leaders discussed relations between the two countries as well as the current situation in the Palestinian territories. On March 4, Abbas met with Iraqi President Barham Salih, who promised to “exert efforts to achieve the hopes of the brotherly Palestinian people for peace, stability and the realization of their full legitimate rights.”

On March 3, Shaswar Abdulwahid, the leader of the Kurdish opposition party the New Generation Movement, was arrested after receiving an arrest warrant issued by a court in Sulaimania for defamation and insulting a state employee. The New Generation Movement insists that the arrest is politically motivated. Abdulwahid was released on bail the next day.The same day, local security forces (Asayish) arrested 80 supporters of the party who gathered outside the court on Sulaimania. Two teams of journalists with NRT TV, a media outlet affiliated with the New Generation Movement, were arrested as well.

On March 4, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) signed a joint agreement paving the way to the formation of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The two parties agreed that, the next minister of justice in Baghdad will be filled by a PUK official. The PUK will also participate in nominating the Kurdish parliament speaker and other KRG ministerial positions. The agreement also dealt with the distribution of leadership positions at the Kirkuk governorate between the two parties, stipulating that the top post, the governor of Kirkuk, will be a member of the PUK. This four-year deal replaces the older “Strategic Agreement” between the two parties, signed in 2005. On March 6, the Secretary General of the Ministry of the Peshmerga Jabar Yawar announced that one article of the agreement between the PUK and KDP concerned the long-delayed efforts to unify the Peshmerga forces of the two parties.

On March 6, Deputy Secretary-General of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Kosrat Rasul Ali met with British Ambassador to Iraq John Wilkes. The leaders discussed current conditions in Iraqi Kurdistan as well as its relationship with the central Iraqi government and how to combat terrorism. Ali and Wilkes also outlined positive future steps in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq such as increasing cooperation between the regions’ parties and completing the formation of the Kurdish Regional Government.

On March 6, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi and United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke on the phone. The two leaders discussed the legal framework allowing the International Coalition led by the United States to operate in Iraq, whose role is to train Iraqi forces and assist in the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The two leaders acknowledged that the legal framework does not allow for the establishment of foreign bases on Iraqi soil.The two leaders also discussed the current fighting against ISIS on the Syrian side of the Iraqi-Syrian border and the effects of that campaign on Iraq.

On March 6, Iraqi parliamentarians reached an agreement concerning the division of leadership positions in the parliament’s various committees. Just over half of the positions were given to Shia representatives, with leadership of ten committees, while Sunni members of parliament (MPs) head eight committees, six will be headed by Kurdish MPs and one by an MP from Iraq’s minority communities. The nominations require the approval of parliament before going into effect.

On March 7, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke on the phone with the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) Masoud Barzani. Pompeo urged Barzani to complete the formation of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) quickly. Pompeo also reiterated that the United States is present in Iraq with the government’s permission to help fight the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).


Militant Attacks Persist Across Iraq Despite Security Operations; Plan Developed for Return of Peshmerga to Kirkuk; Iraqis Kidnapped by ISIS Return from Syria

On February 28, a car bomb exploded in Mosul, killing at least two civilians and wounding twenty-four others. Iraqi security forces reported that the attack, which occurred near the University of Mosul, was executed by “a VBIED (vehicle borne improvised explosive device)… parked next to the outside wall of the cultural group area.”

On March 1, Kurdistan24 reported that thousands of civilians and fighters are leaving the last Islamic State in Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) territory in Baghouz, Syria and surrendering to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Among these civilians, a few are Yezidi and Shia children and women from Iraq who were kidnapped by ISIS four years ago when they swept across the Ninewa plain. On March 1, 18 Yezidis freed from ISIS returned to Iraq and on March 6 seven Yezidi and four Iraqi Shia children exited Baghouz, leaving ISIS captivity. The children will be transferred to the Yezidi community center.

On March 2, a delegation of Iraqi security officials led by Falih al-Fayyad, Iraq’s National Security Adviser, and leaders of local Yezidi forces held a meeting in Sinjar in Ninewa province to form a unified Yezidi security force. Haider Shasho, the Commander of the Êzîdxan Protection Force in Sinjar, argued that a unified security force of the Yezidis will be more effective in protecting citizens living in the region. Currently, multiple armed actors are present in Sinjar, including the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a local affiliate of the PKK and the Êzîdxan Protection Force.

On March 3, an unidentified gunman shot and killed a Peshmerga fighter outside his home in Erbil district in Iraqi Kurdistan and fled the scene. A source reported that there is an ongoing investigation to locate and arrest the assailant.

On March 3, the U.S.-led international coalition conducted airstrikes and succeeded in destroying a tunnel used by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Maheya Valley in Anbar province. On March 4, the Joint Operations Command launched another airstrike in Anbar province that killed eight ISIS militants.The Security Media Center reported in a statement that they located the fighters in the desert of Kabisa in Anbar. These operations are part of an extensive military campaign to locate members of ISIS in western Anbar province.

On March 3, the joint committee consisting of Peshmerga forces and members the Federal Ministry of Defense made progress in reaching an agreement addressing the disputed areas in Kirkuk and surrounding provinces. The committee created six working groups to review the situation in the region and report their findings to the main committee. The committee decided that the return of Peshmerga forces to the disputed territories will occur in three stages. In the first stage,a joint Peshmerga operations room will be formed in Kirkuk, consisting of six Peshmerga officers, three from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), and three from the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP). The second stage aims to reduce the discord between the Peshmerga and the federal military forces in the disputed areas by having the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal government reduce the number of forces deployed in the region. The final stage stipulates that the Peshmerga and Iraqi government forces will collectively oversee the protection of the disputed regions in Kirkuk, Diyala, Ninewa, and Salah ad-Din.

On March 6, a roadside bomb exploded in Diyala province, killing one security officer and injuring three others. The explosion occurred near a police patrol in al-Tawakol village, 40 km northeast of the capital Baquba, reported the head of the security committee. Security forces increased their presence in the area following the attack.

On March 6, members of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) attacked a bus carrying forces from the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) from Mosul to Kirkuk, killing six fighters and injuring 31 others. The ambush occurred between Makhmour and Dubiz south of Mosul city. Ali Husseini, the Spokesman of the northern branch the PMF, confirmed that the paramilitary deployed additional forces to protect the region. On March 7, the Prime Minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, demanded an investigation into the ambush.


Donors Pledge Additional Support for Iraq; New HRW Report Highlights Torture, Unfair Trials of Children Suspected of Ties to ISIS

On March 3, the United Nations Development Programme announced that Italy will contribute $2.7 million for stabilization projects in Iraq. The government of Italy will donate this money to the UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS) that aims to support communities affected by the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS). The FFS encompases more than 3,100 projects in 31 cities and districts helping local authorities in reconstruction of infrastructure.

On March 4, Japan donated $4.7 million in humanitarian aid to support women and children in Iraq. The Japan Ambassador to Iraq announced that this will be part of a new assistance project for Iraq totalling $63 million. $3.4 million of the humanitarian aid will be distributed to the United Nations Children Fund to provide immunization and nutrition assistance for children in conflict-affected areas in Iraq. $1.3 million was given to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to increase women’s access to reproductive health care and improve the response to gender-based violence in Iraq.

On March 4, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released a report about the living conditions and required interventions to assist Iraq’s internally displaced persons (IDPs). Following a visit to Ashti IDP camp in Sulaimania, Marta Ruedas, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq said that “Iraq’s approximately 1.8 million remaining IDPs must be presented with options beyond life in an IDP camp.” The OCHA report identified bolstering support to out-of-camp IDPs and improved access to educational services for all IDPs as top priorities for 2019.

On March 6, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report on human rights abuses by the Iraqi and Kurdistan Regional Government in their treatment of hundreds of children held on terrorism charges for alleged affiliation with the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). authorities use flawed screening processes that often lead to the prosecution of children in “hasty and unfair” trials often based on dubious evidence, including forced confessions elicited under torture.Many Iraqi children who have been arrested reported to HRW that when released, they fear returning home because they have been branded ISIS and might face revenge attacks. The report argues that these children should be rehabilitated and reintegrated back into society.

On March 6, Pukmedia reported that the Government of Denmark contributed $4 million to support security and justice reform programs in Iraq through the UN Development Program. This contribution will be used to implement projects increasing citizens’ cooperation with the police and carrying out training for Iraqi police officers. Gert Maink, the Danish Ambassador in Iraq said his country was “committed to supporting Iraq’s transition to stability, security, and recovery.”


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs March 1, 2019 - March 7, 2019

The following table includes both civilian and security forces who were either injured or killed due to improvised explosive devices (IEDs), vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), or suicide attacks.
DateLocationDeathsInjuries
02/28/19Mosul, Ninewa Province 224
03/02/19Hawija District, Kirkuk Province10
03/06/19al-Tawakol, Diyala Province 13

 

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.


Subscribe to our weekly ISHM and have the latest developments in Iraq sent straight to your inbox every Thursday and follow EPIC on Twitter to receive updates throughout the week.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email