ISHM: January 6 – 12, 2017

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Key Takeaways:

  • ISF Makes Progress in Eastern Mosul, Plans for Crossing the Tigris – Iraqi Security Forces made slow but steady progress in the ongoing operation to clear Mosul of ISIS militants. Assisted by Iraq’s elite Counterterrorism Force (CTS), security forces cleared several important municipal areas in the city’s southeast, united with the 16th Brigade of the Iraqi Army in the northeast near Mosul University, and on January 8, reached the eastern banks of the Tigris River. U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes targeted sniper positions, IED-making facilities, and a training ground. Spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, Colonel John Dorrian, stated that progress is slow due to ISIS’s use of human shields and heavy and indiscriminate shelling. Iraqi forces will need to make repairs to some of Mosul’s heavily destroyed bridges and further contain ISIS’s presence in the eastern side of the city before progressing into the much more densely populated western half. more…
  • Grim Conditions, Food and Water Shortages Continue to Plague Mosul – On January 10, a “hysteria of executions” was reportedly carried out by ISIS in western Mosul against civilians and low-level ISIS militants accused of desertion. Personal food supplies are being confiscated by ISIS and militants have reportedly cut off water supplies to many parts of the city. As a result, residents are increasingly risking their lives to flee the city despite encouragement by Iraqi government officials to remain in their homes. UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Lise Grande, praised the Iraqi Security Forces in Mosul for incorporating “a humanitarian concept of operations when they were developing their battle plans.” Despite these measures, an estimated 47% of casualties in Mosul since October 17 are civilian casualties – a percentage that is expected to climb after security forces enter the western half of the city in the coming weeks or months. more…
  • Human Trafficking in Anbar Province as Military Operations Ramp Up – On January 6, Iraqi Security Forces, certain Popular Mobilization Units, and local tribal fighters all assisted by U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes launched a combined effort to clear western Anbar Province of ISIS militants, beginning with the city of Annah. Four days later, ISIS militants reportedly transferred 170 kidnapped civilians to unknown locations in Syria, in addition to an estimated 200 abductees from Qa’im and Rawa, also in western Anbar. more…
  • Poverty Rates Rise; Cabinet Commits to Education, Economic Diversification – The Iraqi Ministry of Planning reported that 30% of Iraqis are living in poverty, up from 22% the last time the survey was conducted in 2014. Iraq’s ongoing security crisis and the precipitous drop in oil prices are recognized as the chief contributors to the rise in poverty. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s Council of Ministers announced its intention to provide additional investment in public education and school construction, and reduce wages of those working in the electricity sector. That announcement came the same day that Japan agreed to loan Iraq approximately US$ 235 million to assist in rebuilding damaged electricity infrastructure in areas formerly controlled by ISIS. more…
  • Tension with Turkey Lingers Amid Dialogue – On January 6, Turkish airstrikes targeted 11 Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) positions in northern Iraq, despite Iraq’s objection to invasions of its sovereignty. Days later, Turkish Prime Minister Ali Yildrem met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Nechirvan Barzani to discuss military cooperation and bilateral relations. At issue, especially since October 2016, is the presence of Turkish troops at the Bashiqa military base northeast of Mosul. The Iraqi Government objects to the Turkish presence while Turkey maintains that the troops are present to assist in security operations against ISIS. Ostensibly, Turkey has agreed to withdraw from the base after operations to clear Mosul of ISIS militants concludes. more…
  • Protesters Object to Lack of Security; Provincial Elections May be Postponed – Civilians from Sadr City (an impoverished and predominantly Shia neighborhood in Baghdad) protested in Tahrir Square, demanding improvements to the security situation of their neighborhood. Sadr City has seen a wave of violence in recent weeks, including a vehicle-based IED that killed 24 and wounded 67 on January 2. Baghdad Operations Command shut down the protest, purportedly out of fear that the protest would become a target for violence. Separately, the Iraqi Parliament proposed changes to Iraq’s Local Elections Act which could move provincial elections scheduled for April to September. Influential Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr published a 35-point proposal to reform elections, including the introduction of absentee ballots and term limits for Members of Parliament. The plan could be considered by Parliament in the coming weeks. 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.


ISF Makes Progress in Eastern Mosul, Plans for Crossing the Tigris

On January 7, an unnamed security source reported that the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) killed three Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants armed with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) strapped to themselves in a southeast neighborhood of Mosul. The Federal Police were able to stop the attack, avoiding any injuries.

On January 9, ISF Operations Command announced the clearing of the Palestinian neighborhood in Mosul. The neighborhood is in southern Mosul, across the Tigris from the Mosul airport.

On January 9, a statement issued by the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Information declared that airstrikes on Monday killed 25 members of ISIS and destroyed components of the terrorist organization’s industrial structure in Mosul. The statement also said that airstrikes also killed 20 ISIS militants in Tal Afar, and that the operation was assisted by U.S.-led coalition forces.  

On January 9, Lieutenant General Abdul Ghani al-Asadi announced that Iraq’s elite Counter-terrorism Force (CTS) now control one of the bridges across the Tigris River through Mosul. Al-Asadi added that the University of Mosul on the east side of the river is also completely surrounded by the ISF.

On January 10, the military media cell in Mosul reported that ISIS bombed two of the bridges across the Tigris in order to impede the progress of the ISF. U.S.-led coalition forces had already destroyed all of the bridges, but in such a way that they could be easily repaired for crossing into the western side of the city.

On January 10, an unnamed source reported that aerial bombardments by the Iraqi Air force killed an ISIS battalion commander and three of his aides, all four of whom were Australian citizens. The site in northern Ninewa Province was reportedly completely destroyed.

On January 10, spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition forces Colonel John Dorrian stated that progress in southeastern Mosul is moving slowly due to tactics used by ISIS which target civilians. Dorrian said that militants use civilians as shields, shoot the civilians if they attempt to flee toward the Iraqi forces, and heavily shell neighborhoods as they are forced to withdraw from them. Also on January 10, when asked if the U.S. should have a continued presence in Iraq after the military defeat of ISIS, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said that coalition leaders were realistic about the fact that ISIS would likely go underground and require a “sustained effort” to defend against. He also emphasized that it would be up to the government of Iraq if the U.S. forces in Iraq would stay for an extended period of time.

On January 10, the Federal Police announced the clearing of the Sumar neighborhood in southeastern Mosul. This accompanies the clearing of important municipal areas of the city which houses services such as the telecommunications office and postal services complex.

On January 11, the Military Media Cell announced that CTS forces stormed the financial district in eastern Mosul. The neighborhood is close to both the Jumhuriyah and Raba bridges. Also on Wednesday, the neighborhoods of “April 7” and Sadeeq on the northern side of the city were cleared of ISIS militants.

On January 11, PUK Media reported that some ISIS militants are purposefully injuring themselves to avoid being put on the frontlines of the fight for Mosul. They also report that ISIS has not been able to pay its Mosul fighters, leading to more militants taking bribes to smuggle out civilians.

On January 11, an unnamed security source reported the unification of the 16th Brigade of the Iraqi Army with CTS forces in the Sukkar neighborhood in northeastern Mosul. The area is close to Mosul University and the Hudayba neighborhood, and according to the source, the unification of the security forces will assist with the clearing of those areas.

On January 11, the Governor of Dhi Qar Province, Yahya Nassiri, cautioned that with the breakdown of ISIS in Mosul, the security forces in Dhi Qar need to be on high alert for sleeper cells and other threats to security by militants. Nassiri also asked for the central government to provide support and modern weapons.

On January 11, the military media cell announced that ISIS targets in northern Mosul were destroyed by airstrikes. The targets included a known sniper nest, a plant used to convert vehicles into vehicle-based IEDs (VBIEDs), and a training ground, as well as locations in Tal Afar, 77 kilometers west of Mosul.

On January 12, the ISF cleared the neighborhoods of Salam, Sumar, and al-Saheron in southern Mosul. Commander of Operations Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Rasheed Yar God reported that the fighting caused significant casualties among the ISIS militants, as well as losses of equipment.

On January 12, an unnamed security source reported that nine senior ISIS leaders, including Abu Anas al-Qhatani, had fled from eastern Mosul toward Syria. The source reported that they were carrying with them millions of dollars of money with them.


Grim Conditions, Food and Water Shortages Continue to Plague Mosul

Jan. 6 Jan. 7 Jan. 8 Jan. 9 Jan. 10 Jan. 11 Jan. 12
Total IDPs 133,302 134,364 135,528 137,880 139,776 142,698 144,612
Daily Net Change +1,068 +1,062 +1,164 +2,352 +1,896 +2,922 +1,914

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Displaced from Mosul and Surrounding Areas Since Military Operations Began on October 17.
Source: International Organization for Migration (IOM).

On January 6, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that the French government donated emergency medicine and medical supplies in support of the effort to clear Mosul of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants. The donation is part of a larger effort made by European Union Member States to aid Iraq through the United Nations (UN) and WHO. Since the beginning of the operation to clear Mosul of ISIS militants on October 17, 2016, a total of 2,967 injury cases from Mosul were reported at the Emergency and West Emergency hospitals in Erbil, 85 kilometers east of Mosul. In the week of December 25 to December 31, 2016 the two hospitals received an average of 32 injured patients per day, and received an average of 50 injured patients per day during the first week of 2017.

On January 7, journalist Dexter Filkins reported that Iraq could suffer catastrophic results if the Mosul Dam, located 50 kilometers northwest of the city of Mosul, collapsed. Should the dam collapse, which experts posit could happen at any time, Mosul would be under 24 meters of water within an hour, and within three days Baghdad would be under 4 meters of water. An estimated one million to one and a half million people would die in the flooding. In 2006, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deemed the Mosul Dam the “most dangerous dam in the world.” Since the dam was finished in 1984 under Saddam Hussein, it has needed constant repair because it was built on soluble rock which dissolves when it comes in contact with water. Many of the dam’s 1,500 workers fled in 2014 when ISIS militants briefly held the area, which led to further deterioration of the dam. In March 2016, TREVI, an Italian company, was contracted to provide maintenance on the dam and ensure its safety.

On January 7, an anonymous source reported that more than 60 families of ISIS militants fled the city of Mosul and reached Baaj, a small Sunni-majority town in Ninewa Province 161 kilometers west of Mosul, on their way to al-Raqqa, Syria, the de-facto ISIS capital. The movement serves as evidence that the clearing of ISIS militants from Mosul has “resolved in favor of security forces” in eastern Mosul. There are 134,364 IDPs currently displaced from/within Mosul since operations to clear the city of ISIS militants began on October 17, 2016.  

On January 9, an anonymous security source reported that ISIS militants kidnapped 40 young men from the city of Mosul and transferred them to an unknown location, forcing them to join the ranks of ISIS. The men were kidnapped in order to confront Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), who recently began operations in the al-Faisaliah neighborhood in central Mosul.  

On January 9, an anonymous source reported that ISIS militants have implemented the “policy of starvation” in Mosul against families whose sons were executed “as a matter of revenge”, by confiscating food and redistributing it to ISIS supporters as food becomes more scarce. The UN Humanitarian Response Plan 2017 reported that, as of the end of 2016, nearly 2.9 million people in Iraq were food insecure and that in 2017, as many as 1.5 million people in Mosul alone will need some kind of humanitarian assistance.

On January 9, Al Sumaria reported that famine and food insecurity have forced thousands of civilians to flee their neighborhoods in Mosul in recent days. Two to three thousand civilians are arriving each day to the small Assyrian Christian town of Bartella, located 21 kilometers east of Mosul, that was cleared of ISIS militants in October 2016. Families continue to flee to the Hassan Shami Camp located 34 kilometers east of Mosul, Khazar Camp located 47 kilometers northeast of Mosul, and Jeddah Camp located 72 kilometers south of Mosul.

On January 9, Ninewa Provincial Council Member Hossam El Din Al Abbar reported that ISIS militants cut off water from cleared areas of eastern Mosul, and demanded that the Ministry of Municipalities provide funds to transport drinking water to the affected areas. Currently, ISIS militants control water supply to the entire city. According to Al Sumaria, 88% of the eastern Mosul is cleared of ISIS militants. Al Shafaaq reported that 30 neighborhoods lost access to water as a result of the restrictions, with an additional 10 neighborhoods experiencing intermittent water supply.

On January 10, an anonymous source reported a “hysteria of executions” carried out by ISIS militants against civilians and low-level ISIS fighters over the last 24 hours in western Mosul. The executions were an act of revenge against ISIS militants for the “betrayal” that occurred in eastern Mosul by “leaders and members of the network that did not fight and reneged on the pledge of allegiance to al-Baghdadi.” The number of civilian and ISIS fatalities is unclear, however, the incident suggests that ISIS militants are becoming increasingly desperate as Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) continue to clear eastern Mosul of ISIS.

On January 10, the Alliance2015 partners ACTED, Welthungerhilfe, and People in Need received an undisclosed amount of EU Humanitarian Aid funding to provide humanitarian assistance to 19,600 IDPs from/ within Mosul in three key areas: “protection from the elements; water supply and sanitation; and learning support” immediately. In addition, Alliance2015 partners will repair water-related infrastructure, build latrines, establish solid waste management systems, and provide psychological support to children in high conflict areas. Alliance2015 is a partnership of seven European NGOs including ACTED, Cesvi, Concern Worldwide, HELVETAS Swiss Incorporation, Hivos, People in Need, and Welthungerhilfe, who “aim to fight poverty” and “engage in humanitarian and development activities” worldwide.

On January 11, the Ministry of Displacement and Migration announced that it was preparing for the arrival of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) as operations to clear the city of Mosul and the greater Ninewa Province continue. Today, ministry teams received over two thousand IDPs from Hawija located 67 kilometers west of Kirkuk, Tel Abth located 81 kilometers west of Mosul, and Tal Afar located 78 kilometers west of Mosul, as well as neighborhoods in Mosul including Somar, al-Nabi Yunis, Falastin, and Ghorfran. There are 142,698 IDPs currently displaced from/within Mosul since operations to clear the city of ISIS militants began on October 17, 2016.  

On January 11, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Lise Grande praised the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in their efforts in Mosul to incorporate a “humanitarian concept of operations when they were developing their battle plans” through measures such as prohibiting artillery strikes, providing “humanitarian exit corridors,” and requiring that civilians remain inside their homes. Despite these measures, civilian casualties represent approximately 47% of all casualties in Mosul since military operations began on October 17, 2016. In a conflict like this, it would be expected that civilian casualties represent 15 to 20% of all casualties, however, civilians in Mosul are at a greater risk because they are frequently targeted by ISIS militants.

On January 12, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) called for greater access to the city of Mosul to provide relief to the estimated 1 million or more civilians still inside. In addition to water and food, civilians in Mosul need emergency relief items such as hygiene kits, blankets, cooking tools, and access to health services. The ICRC is also working to rebuild essential infrastructure and reconnect families who have been separated in the chaos. Since operations to clear Mosul of ISIS militants began on October 17, 2016, the ICRC has been able to provide emergency relief to nearly half of the 144,612 IDPs displaced from Mosul and surrounding areas. Established in 1863, the ICRC is an independent organization that works to provide humanitarian assistance to “victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence” worldwide.

On January 12, the International Organization for Migration-Iraq Mission (IOM) reported that 144,612 IDPs are currently displaced from/within Mosul since operations to clear the city of ISIS militants began on October 17, 2016, marking an increase of 12,378 individuals since January 5. IOM also reported that 88% of IDPs from/within Mosul are seeking shelter in camps or emergency sites, with the greatest number of IDPs living in Khazar camp located 47 kilometers northeast of Mosul. Khazar camp experienced a 15% increase in IDPs since January 5, and now houses a total of 38,988 IDPs.


Human Trafficking in Anbar Province as Military Operations Ramp Up

On January 7, Almada Press suggested that the role played by the U.S. military in clearing western Anbar Province is more than an advisory one. On January 6, a joint effort of the ISF, Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs), and local tribes began an offensive campaign to clear Anbar of ISIS militants, beginning with the town of Annah.

On January 8, U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes on multiple ISIS positions killed an estimated 52 ISIS militants, including multiple leaders and non-Iraqi members of the organization. The Joint Special Operations Command stated that the airstrikes were made around Haditha, 260 kilometers northwest of Baghdad, on January 5 and 6.

On January 9, the Department of Displacement and Migration reported that more than 175 families escaped ISIS-controlled areas in western Anbar Province. The families will be housed in camps in Amiriyah Fallujah, 37 kilometers south of Fallujah, and Bzeibiz, 20 kilometers south of Fallujah. There are currently 268,428 IDPs displaced from/within Anbar Province.

On January 10, Anbar Police Chief Hadi Rzej announced that police forces successfully stopped an ISIS militant driving a vehicle based improvised explosive device (VBIED). The man was arrested in Joeba al-Nasaf, 15 kilometers east of Ramadi. The arrest comes as the effort to clear the western Anbar Province continues with the combined forces of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) and ISF.

On January 10, a security source in the Anbar Operations Command reported that ISIS militants transferred 170 kidnapped civilians from Anbar Province to unknown locations in Syria. ISIS militants have already transferred approximately 200 additional abductees from Qa’im, 40 kilometers from the Syrian border, and Rawa, 100 kilometers from the Syrian border.  

On January 10, the Ministry of Displacement and Migration reported that 213 families were displaced from Qa’im, 40 kilometers from the Syrian border, and Rawa, 100 kilometers from the Syrian border, in Anbar Province. Half of the families sought refuge in camps in Amiriyah Fallujah, 37 kilometers south of Fallujah, and Bzeibiz, 20 kilometers south of Fallujah. On January 5, Major General Qassim al-Muhammadi announced the launch of operations to clear the western areas of Anbar Province of ISIS militants.

On January 12, the local government in Fallujah called for assistance in clearing hundreds of dangerous IEDs still scattered throughout the city, saying that they do not have the resources to do so. The city, situated just 65 kilometers west of Baghdad, was cleared of ISIS militants in June 2016, but many IEDs were planted during their two year occupation of Fallujah.

On January 12, Muweed Farhan, an official in the town of Rahhaliya, 120 kilometers south of Ramadi, announced the formation of a militia from the tribes of the area. He added that the Police Chief of Anbar Province, Maj . Gen. Hadi Kassar Rseg, approved of the plan and was sending further police forces to assist with the security of the area.


Poverty Rates Rise; Cabinet Commits to Education, Economic Diversification

On January 9, the Iraqi Ministry of Planning reported that the poverty rate, as defined by the Iraqi government, rose to 30% in 2016, up from 22% the last time the survey was conducted in 2014. The Ministry of Planning spokesman Abdul Zahra al-Hindawi noted that the violence incited by ISIS militants coupled with the drop in oil prices has contributed to the rise in poverty. The Iraqi Ministry of Planning will conduct the survey again in the first quarter of 2017. The UN Human Development Report indicated that 23.3% of Iraqis lived at or near multidimensional poverty.

On January 9, Genel Energy, a London based oil company, announced its discovery of a new oil well in Iraqi Kurdistan capable of producing approximately 3,800 barrels per day. The oil well is located in the Peshkabir oil field. While construction around the new well is under budget and ahead of schedule, Genel Energy is still lobbying the Kurdish government for the right to expand its project.

On January 10, Japan reached an agreement with Iraq to loan up to 27.2 billion Yen (approximately US$ 235 million) to assist Baghdad in rebuilding its damaged electricity infrastructure in areas formerly controlled by ISIS. This deal comes in light of news that the Iraqi government is facing a 21 trillion Iraqi Dinar (US$ 17.8 billion) budget shortfall.

On January 10, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s cabinet announced its intention to reduce the wages of those working in the electricity sector. The move comes at a time when Iraqi officials are seeking private sector job growth and economic production as a chief goal. In the same press release, the cabinet also stated its intention to provide for additional investment into education, with an emphasis on constructing new schools.

On January 10, the Provincial Council of Maysan, requested national military assistance to ensure the stability of its port of entry at its border with Iran. Tribal tensions increased as military forces vacated the area after initially establishing order. However, as the threat of renewed inter-tribal violence looms, the economic benefits of maintaining the border have suffered, with the loss of regional commerce and cross-border trade estimated at as much as 100 Million Dinars a day (approximately US$ 84,453).

On January 10, Iraq’s Central Bank announced new economic and financial procedures and agreements designed to facilitate a stronger Iraqi economy. First, the Central Bank adopted the IBAN system, an internationally agreed upon method to identify bank accounts and to reduce errors in electronic transactions. According to one banking official, switching to the IBAN system will streamline transactions as it unifies the disparate national and international banking systems.

On January 10, Iraq announced its intention to follow the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) decision to temporarily reduce oil production. Iraq will cut its oil production by 160,000 barrels a day until the end of the month, when production will be reduced again by 210,000 barrels a day. OPEC frequently stifles or increases oil production to manipulate oil prices to generate revenue. Despite OPEC’s decision to limit oil production, Iraq still intends to export “record” amounts of oil into February, with a stated goal of 3.641 million barrels per day. As recently reported in ISHM, Baghdad continues to be concerned with the Kurdish Regional Government’s intention to proceed with increased oil production–threatening to upset OPEC’s new standards.   

On January 10, the Municipal Council of the District of Muqdadiyah in Diyala Province announced the launch of a humanitarian program funded by Oxfam International to provide jobs primarily for women and internally displaced persons (IDPs). The program is the largest effort of its kind since 2003 and will provide 250 new jobs. In 2015, Oxfam reported that nearly 20% of women in Diyala Province had no access to employment, despite relying almost entirely on “market purchase” and thus access to employment and income to provide basic necessities for their families.


Tension with Turkey Lingers Amid Dialogue

On January 6, the Turkish military announced the destruction of 11 Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) positions in the Qandil region of northern Iraq. The airstrikes are a part of the Turkish government’s campaign to subdue the PKK, which often takes shelter across the border in Iraq. The issue is a contentious one, as the Iraqi government has explicitly told the Turkish military that it is not welcome in Iraq. The PKK is labeled a terrorist organization by the Turkish and U.S. governments.

On January 8, Turkish Prime Minister Ali Yildrem visited Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and his Kurdish counterpart Nechirvan Barazani to discuss security, bilateral relations and the Bashiqa military base. The day after the meetings, PM Yildrim invited Iraqi Chief of Staff Othman Ghanimi to Ankara to discuss the controversial Bashiqa military base near Mosul. Turkey contests that the base is a vital component of its ISIS strategy, and only functions as a staging area for anti-terror operations. Iraq stresses its right to territorial sovereignty, seeing the base as an imposition. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi proposed that discussions concerning the Bashiqa base present an opportunity to work toward “good neighbourliness” as well as military cooperation and stronger bilateral relations between Ankara and Baghdad. Currently, both countries operate with the understanding that after the Mosul operation is concluded, Turkey will vacate its forces from Camp Bashiqa, albeit without an official agreement.

On January 11, the Turkish Interior Ministry announced that it is working on a program to naturalize “some” of the three million Syrian and Iraqi refugees currently living and working in Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated that the current humanitarian situation required “more radical measures over time,” briefly noting that among the refugees, there are “many who can make a serious contribution to our country.” The announcement comes shortly after Turkish Prime Minister Ali Yildrem visited his Iraqi and Iraqi Kurdish counterparts, Haider al-Abadi and Nechirvan Barazani, to discuss relations between Iraq and Turkey which have “deteriorated” over time due in large part to Turkish military presence at the Bashiqa military base in northern Iraq.


Protesters Object to Lack of Security; Provincial Elections May be Postponed

On January 8, dozens of civilians staged a sit-in in Tahrir Square in central Baghdad protesting the recent bombings in Sadr City (an impoverished and predominantly Shia neighborhood of Baghdad) and demanding increased protection for civilians. The protesters, angry with the lack of protection the current brigade charged with protecting the neighborhood has provided, demanded that the brigade be changed. Sadr City has seen a wave of violence in recent days, including a vehicle based IED that killed 24 and wounded 67 on January 2.

On January 8, the Iraqi Kurdish High Committee to Evaluate and Respond to International Reports issued a response to the Human Rights Watch’s criticism of the Kurdish Regional Government’s (KRG) closing of the “Yazdi” NGO’s office in Dohuk. Yazdi is an NGO seeking to aid the Yazidi population. According to the KRG, NGOs operating within their jurisdiction are required to follow a specific set of guidelines designed to prevent political interference on the part of NGOs. The KRG found Yazdi in violation of two of its guidelines: first, Yazdi did not renew its annual license to legally operate in KRG territory; and second, the KRG concluded that Yazdi was taking on a political role in the Yazidi community, in violation of its NGO code.

On January 10, Iraqi Shia Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr offered a 35 point proposal to the Iraqi Parliament advocating for election reform, claiming that current election law was not “acceptable” to the people. Two of al-Sadr’s main points are the introduction of absentee ballots, as the threat of postponement of elections or violence at voting locations is a real possibility; as well as a new term limit preventing a third consecutive term for a Member of Parliament (MP) or executive official. Additional aspects of the proposal consist of limitations on the political and electoral involvement of ambitious armed militias, a reduction in the number of MPs, a maximum 5 day period until election results are announced, and preventing the use of government offices as a tool to benefit certain groups. At the moment, other MPs have not adopted the legislation, and it is still under consideration.

On January 10, the Iraqi Parliament announced that they are requesting that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visit the Commission on Security and Defence to discuss ongoing security concerns in Baghdad. Abdul Aziz Hassan, a member of the committee, suggested that ISIS will activate their sleeper cells in the capital to “cover up” their battlefield defeats at the hands of U.S.-led international coalition forces. Hassan also addressed additional topics such as the role of security forces in regulating protests.

On January 10, the Iraqi Parliament proposed changes to Iraq’s Local Elections Act, which stipulates the rules and timetables of local elections. The amendment attempts to move local elections to September rather than April as a result of financial constraints, as well as several other minor changes to the organization of local elections. Provincial elections are presently scheduled to take place this April.

In a January 10 statement, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi addressed his views on the use of force against protesters. Al-Abadi stressed that protest is a “natural right” and that when conducted peacefully, should not be repressed. Al-Abadi stated that he only saw the use of force against protesters as legitimate when the safety of the public or property is at risk. When asked about calls for his government’s overthrow, Al-Abadi replied that the only legitimate way to do so was through the Parliament.

On January 10, the Baghdad Operations Command issued a statement explaining the reasons why the sit-in demonstrations at Tahrir Square, that began on January 8, 2017, were shut down. It stated that the Baghdad Operations Command was “working day and night to provide protection for all of the demonstrators” but that there was fear that the sit-in would become a target for violence. Demonstrators at the sit-in protested the recent violence in Sadr City (an impoverished and predominantly Shia neighborhood of Baghdad) including a vehicle based IED on January 2, 2017 that killed 24 and wounded 67. The protesters also demanded greater protection for civilians.


DateLocationDeathsInjuries
01/12/17Hamamiyat, North of Baghdad01
01/12/17Daur District, East of Tikrit04
01/12/17Qadisiyah, North of Tikrit4?
01/12/17Malef,
South of Baghdad
14
01/11/17Bakri, West of Baghdad15
01/11/17Al-Utefiya, North Baghdad15
01/11/17Bayaa,
South Baghdad
27
01/10/17Al-bu Aath,
 South of Baghdad01
01/10/17Bismaya, Southeast of Baghdad13
01/10/17Tarmiya, North of Baghdad12
01/10/16Al-Madain, South of Baghdad14
01/09/17Suwaib,
 South of Baghdad
01
01/08/17Jamila, Sadr City,
Eastern Baghdad
1350
01/08/17Al-Baladiat, eastern Baghdad??

 

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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