ISHM: February 3 – 9, 2017


Key Takeaways:

  • Abadi Hints He Knows where ISIS Leader is Hiding; Iraqi-U.S. Troop Relations May be Suffering from President Trump’s EO – On February 8, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi acknowledged that Iraqi Security Forces know the location of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and are “closely monitoring his movements and communications.” This is the first time that Abadi has disclosed having this information. As U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes continue to provide air support for impending operations to clear western Mosul of ISIS militants, relations between Iraqi soldiers and their American counterparts have been noticeably marred by President Trump’s January 27 executive order barring Iraqis from entering the United States, as reported by the The New York Times. Brigadier General Mizhir Khalid al-Mashhadani, a counterterrorism force commander in Mosul, told a Times reporter that “This decision by Trump blows up our liberation efforts of cooperation and coordination with American forces.” Many other Iraqi soldiers on the front lines in Mosul have voiced similar concerns. more…
  • IDPs Continue to Come and Go From Eastern Mosul; Qayyarah Oil Fires Still Rage – According to the International Organization for Migration, over 46,000 IDPs have returned to their homes in eastern Mosul while 150,000 remain displaced. Returns to the city may be premature, as the east is increasingly pummeled by mortar fire from across the Tigris in western Mosul. Families in cleared portions of the city are also fleeing their homes due to food and water scarcity and a lack of basic services, according to the UNHCR. Space in IDP camps near Mosul is limited despite the anticipation of over 250,000 additional IDPs when operations to clear western Mosul begin within the next few weeks. Separately, Iraq’s Oil Ministry announced that teams were able to extinguish another oil well fire in the Qayyarah oil field, 65 kilometers south of Mosul. Six wells remain ablaze – fires that were set by ISIS militants as they retreated from the area in August 2016. The environmental and public health impacts of the fires are of grave concern. (Read more about the impacts of the fires in our report.) more…
  • Security Force Shortages Slow Operations in Anbar as Diyala and Salah ad-Din Rely on PMUs – Eid Amash al-Karoubli, spokesman for the Anbar Provincial Council, attributed the temporary halt in military operations to clear Anbar Province of ISIS militants to a lack of troop availability and a lack of funding. The same day, the Joint Special Operations Command stressed that Anbar operations have not stopped, though they have slowed. Separately, Chairman of the Diyala Provincial Council, Sadiq al-Husseini, suggested that the relatively “little infiltration” of ISIS militants into Salah-ad Din is the result of Popular Mobilization Units providing security and tightly restricting movement between Salah ad-Din and Diyala Provinces. Raad al-Maash, Member of Parliament for Diyala Province, has called for greater border controls between the two provinces, claiming that the “porous nature” of the border is a result of ISIS transiting through Salah ad-Din. Despite the conflicting statements, both Diyala and Salah ad-Din have seen an uptick in violence since ISIS militants began fleeing parts of Ninewa Province in 2016. The limited availability of security forces and overreliance on popular militias for holding cleared territories is becoming the status quo throughout Iraq, as the ISF maintain their focus on Mosul. more…
  • Aid Agencies See Funding Shortfalls Amid Reports of Fraud, Misuse – On February 3, Iraqi Parliament’s Committee on Human Rights revealed that “huge” sums of money and humanitarian aid donated to assist IDPs in Iraq fail to reach them. Joseph Saliwa, attorney for the Committee, said that promises of food and monetary assistance are made to gain votes, but that the promises are not fulfilled. Saliwa claimed that “millions of dollars” from the European Union and United States have been donated, but inappropriately spent or mismanaged. The finding comes the same day that UNICEF reported on the alarming number of displaced children who forego school in order to help financially support their families, and just one week after the World Food Programme halved its monthly food rations for IDPs in Iraq due to funding shortages. more…
  • Iraq Looks to Diversify Economy with World Bank Support – Farid Bellhaj, director for the Middle East department at the World Bank, announced that the organization will fund Iraqi efforts to rebuild after ISIS is defeated. Bellhaj specifically mentioned rebuilding the Mosul Dam, which is in serious need of attention, and suggested that investment by the World Bank will incentivize cooperation among Iraq’s sectarian communities. Iraq is seeking to diversify its economy to include sectors other than oil. more…
  • Protests in Baghdad Amid Efforts at Post-ISIS Reconciliation – On February 8, thousands of protesters led by influential Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr assembled at Tahrir Square in Baghdad to protest alleged corruption in Parliament and sluggish responses to security threats in the capital. Earlier in the week, former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani met with the president of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq to discuss strengthening ties between Iraq’s Shia and Kurdish communities. Iraqi Vice President Iyad Allawi met with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to discuss reconstruction efforts post-ISIS and the development of a national identity that will “supersede sectarianism.” The meetings could be seen as a positive sign for reconciliation, but will need to translate into action in the weeks and months ahead. 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.

Abadi Hints He Knows where ISIS Leader is Hiding; Iraqi-U.S. Troop Relations May be Suffering from President Trump’s EO

On February 3, an anonymous source in the intelligence branch of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) reported in-fighting among Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) militants on the west bank of Mosul. The fighting is reported to be between Arab and foreign nationals fighting for ISIS, and is generally interpreted as another sign of poor morale among militants in Mosul.

On February 3, Hadi al-Amiri, Secretary General of the Badr Organization, stated that the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) in western Ninewa Province would stop moving toward the Iraqi-Syrian border until the area between Tal Afar and Mosul was secured. Referencing previous ISF experience in Ramadi and Fallujah, Amiri emphasized the importance of clearing the road between the two cities as an essential step in securing the area as a whole.

On February 3, Iraqi soldiers expressed their frustrations at President Trump’s Executive Order banning Iraqis from entering the U.S. Brig. Gen. Mizhir Khalid al-Mashhadani, a counterterrorism force commander in Mosul, stated that, “This decision by Trump blows up our liberation efforts of cooperation and coordination with American forces.” The travel ban and implication that all Iraqis would be a danger to Americans puts extra strain on the relationship between Iraqi and American soldiers working together against ISIS militants.

On February 4, U.S.-led International Coalition airstrikes targeted the Mosul Airport in West Mosul, killing ISIS militants and destroying equipment. On January 5, local sources reported seeing ISIS pulling the bodies of at least ten militants from the destroyed buildings, including the bodies of four leaders.

On February 5, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) launched a training program for ISF, teaching strategies for dealing with improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The program will also provide relevant equipment and education on military-civilian cooperation. This strategy of direct involvement as an organization is a departure from previous methods of using member nations. The U.S. is also currently training around 3,000 policemen and border guards to be put in place after Mosul is cleared of ISIS militants. U.S.-led international coalition troops have been training Iraqi police for over a year, but the Iraqi government has asked for more support in this area, as security forces plan to transition from pushing out an occupying force to acting against terrorists on a smaller scale.

On February 7, the Canadian Defense Industry released a statement saying that Iraqi authorities approved of Canada’s plan to fund, arm, and supply Kurdish Peshmerga forces. The bulk of the supplies will be light arms and medicine. Some Canadian and Iraqi critics of these types of deals have claimed that the supplies might be embezzled or misused, so the Canadian Defense Ministry intends to place (unspecified) “adequate controls” over the transfer of supplies.

On February 7, the new Minister of Defense, Irfan Mahmood Hiyali, met with the Iranian military attache assigned to Iraq, Mustafa Moradian, to discuss the mutual security concerns of the two states, emphasizing the need for mutual cooperation. Hiyali also met with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman, in part to discuss the preparations for the impending joint military operation in western Mosul.  

On February 7, al-Sumaria News reported that the first class of Arab volunteers training with the Kurdish Peshmerga has graduated. The roughly 900 volunteers from areas west of Mosul are of varying backgrounds and religions, and will be sent back to protect their home regions.

On February 7, U.S. Department of Defense spokesman Jeff Davis reported that ISIS militants in western Mosul are effectively cut off from any routes of resupply or reinforcement. He stated, “The fighters who remain in west Mosul face a choice between surrendering or annihilation, as there’s not a place to retreat.”

On February 8, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi stated that the ISF know the location of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and are closely monitoring his movements and communications. Abadi declined to say where Baghdadi is, but did acknowledge that many ISIS leaders have been killed, leaving Baghdadi without most of his close advisors.

On February 8, Faleh al-Fayad, a PMU leader, announced that the PMUs would be maintaining their position by the Syrian border, cutting off the route between Mosul and Raqqa, 470 kilometers away in Syria. Fayad said that media sources were misinterpreting the actions of the PMUs because “they originally opposed the idea of the Iraqi people defending themselves.”

On February 8, an anonymous source in eastern Mosul reported a number of grenade attacks by ISIS militants, resulting in the death of one civilian, and the injury of 19 other people. The wounded include five volunteers distributing humanitarian aid and members of the PMUs.

On February 9, the Secretary-General of the Peshmerga Ministry, Jabar Yawar, announced that Peshmerga forces would not be taking part in the operation to clear the west side of Mosul. He stated that the decision was a financial one, and thanked the U.S.-led international coalition for their help in the fight against ISIS.

IDPs Continue to Come and Go From Eastern Mosul; Qayyarah Oil Fires Still Rage

Feb. 3 Feb. 4 Feb. 5 Feb. 6 Feb. 7 Feb. 8 Feb. 9
Total IDPs 161,094 161,634 161,886 No data 153,714 No data 152,922
Daily Net Change -84 +540 +252 No data -8,172 No data -792

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

On February 3, Oil Ministry spokesperson Assem Jihad announced that technical and engineering teams extinguished the fire at oil well number 60 in the Qayyarah oil field, located 65 kilometers south of Mosul. Efforts to extinguish the remaining fires are ongoing. In August 2016, Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants retreated from the area, setting fire to 19 oil wells and the Mishraq sulfur plant. The town’s 20,000 residents and thousands of internally displaced persons (IDP) housed in nearby emergency sites suffer from respiratory problems, burns, “hypoxia, constrictive bronchitis, and pulmonary edema (fluid accumulation in the lungs),” in addition to vision problems, dizziness, and infection as a result of the fires.

On February 3, Ayman, a young Yazidi boy, was reunited with his family after being separated from them for nearly 18 months. Ayman was separated from his parents when ISIS militants overran his village in northern Erbil, killing several of his family members. They placed him in an orphanage where Umm and Abu Ahmed, a couple living in Rashidiya, a town just north of Mosul, purchased him for US$500. They bought him toys, books, enrolled him in school, and taught him about Islam. By chance, Ayman’s uncle Samir Rasho Khalaf saw a Facebook post about Ayman, and was able to contact Umm and Abu Ahmed and reunite with his nephew. The whereabouts of Ayman’s parents and siblings are still unknown.

On February 4, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that a total of 108 trauma cases were recorded in the Emergency Hospital and West Emergency Hospital in Erbil, 85 kilometers east of Mosul, from January 29 to February 4. Between the Bartalla field hospital, Emergency Hospital, and West Emergency Hospital, a total of 3,924 casualty cases were recorded since operations to clear Mosul of ISIS militants began on October 17, 2016. The WHO and its partners are working to establish Trauma Stabilization Points on the outskirts of western Mosul as casualty rates are expected to be high when operations to clear the western area of the city begin. The WHO also reported medicine shortages in the Khazar camp, located 47 kilometers northeast of Mosul, and Hassan Sham camp, located 32 kilometers east of Mosul.  

On February 5, the Military Times reported that the American military has failed to report “thousands” of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan for “several years,” and that the existing data may be inaccurate for the entire war on terror since it began in October 2001. Airstrikes carried out by helicopters and drones operated by the U.S. Army are excluded from the open-source database that tracks airstrikes; a database that academics, the media, American allies, and Congress use. In addition, the Defense Department’s public summary of U.S. military operations does not include nearly 6,000 airstrikes that occurred in Iraq and Syria since 2014 when airstrikes against ISIS began. An anonymous Army official noted that the data could be excluded because the collection of such data is not an Army Title 10 responsibility. Executive director for Human Rights Watch Kenneth Roth stated that “security at times requires secrecy,” but that transparent reporting, particularly reporting of airstrikes that result in civilian casualties, is essential so that journalists, citizens, and human rights workers can “scrutinize military operations being conducted in their name.”

On February 5, an anonymous source reported that ISIS militants allegedly stole nearly 45 organs from patients scheduled for operations at a hospital in eastern Mosul before the city was cleared of ISIS militants. Patients report waking up from surgery to find that they had a kidney or other organ removed; a procedure that they were not scheduled for nor did they agree to do. ISIS militants sell the organs on the black market as another source for income to fund its operations. The source also revealed that many wounded ISIS militants who were treated at hospitals in eastern Mosul were also victims of the crime.

On February 7, the Geneva Call, a Swiss non-governmental organization (NGO), announced that it will launch a 10-day “video campaign” on social media to “to raise awareness on the issue of recruitment and use of children during armed conflict and the protection of children during hostilities.” Geneva Call sited a Human Rights Watch report that suggested that groups such as the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), the Sinjar Resistance Unit (YBŞ), and the People’s Defense Force (HPG) have used tactics to recruit children into their ranks in Sinjar, located 127 kilometers west of Mosul. The videos series will urge groups to “prevent the use of children during military operations” and to maintain humanitarian norms in regards to civilian protection. The Geneva Call is an NGO that engages with non-state actors to “banning the use of anti-personnel mines, protecting children from the effects of armed conflict, prohibiting sexual violence in armed conflict and working towards the elimination of gender discrimination.”

On February 7, an anonymous source reported that ISIS militants bombed a water tank in eastern Mosul, causing “serious” damage to neighboring homes and buildings and cutting water supply to most of the eastern part of the city. Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) were not able to get to the tank in time before ISIS militants detonated the bomb. Casualties as a result of the bombing have not been reported.

On February 7, the UN announced that it will need US$50 million to remove mines and unexploded improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from areas in Mosul recently cleared of ISIS militants. An additional US$50 million will be needed to clear the rest of the country of explosives that ISIS militants left behind. Since 2015, the UN Mine Action Service has removed 2,600 mines and explosives from 390 locations in Fallujah and Ramadi in Anbar Province.

On February 8, Human Rights Watch reported that ISIS militants frequently used hospitals in eastern Mosul as makeshift bases, putting civilians and civilian infrastructure at risk. A staff member at the al-Salam Hospital in the Wahda neighborhood of eastern Mosul reported that since ISIS gained control of the city in June 2014, ISIS militants have had a constant presence at the hospital. In December 2016, operations began to clear the hospital of ISIS presence. A warning was issued that allowed able-bodied patients to flee the hospital before operations began; those who could not hid in the hospital’s basement and administrative office. Human Rights Watch was not able to verify if civilians were killed during the battle. However, there have been incidents in which civilians were killed in operations to clear other clinics and medical facilities. In 2014, ISIS militants gained control of a clinic in Hammam al-Alil, a town 30 kilometers south of Mosul. In October 2016, the clinic was hit by an airstrike, killing eight civilians and wounding one other.

On February 8, The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that 920 IDPs from eastern Mosul have fled between February 4 and February 5 from previously cleared areas of the city due to an increase in mortar fire from across the Tigris in western Mosul. Families in eastern Mosul are also forced to flee due to food and water scarcity and lack of basic services. During the same period 1,630 IDPs left Hassan Sham and Khazar camps, located 32 kilometers east and 47 kilometers northeast of Mosul respectively. In addition, the IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix noted a net decrease in 8,000 IDPs between February 5 and February 6 to account for previously unrecorded returns. The UNHCR anticipates the movement of over 250,000 IDPs as operations to clear western Mosul of ISIS militants begin, and has requested US$578 million to support IDPs in Iraq, of which only 2% has been funded.

On February 8, Iraqi Security Forces have started leaving corpses of dead ISIS militants in the streets of eastern Mosul; a measure aimed at eliminating sympathy for ISIS. The corpses serve as a warning to civilians, and demonstrate the “price” associated with sympathizing with ISIS. Some civilians support the measure because of the brutal regime that ISIS militants implemented. Residents in eastern Mosul reported that smoking a single cigarette could result in 25 lashes. Keeping a beard too short could result in 100 lashes and jail time. Regardless of the efficacy of this measure, the potential physical and mental health risks should be addressed.

On February 9, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that 152,922 IDPs are displaced from Mosul and the surrounding area since operations to clear the city of ISIS militants began on October 17, 2016, a net decrease of 8,256 IPDs since January 26. Sixty-seven percent of IDPs from Mosul and the surrounding area are housed in emergency camps, 16% live in private settings, 16% live in emergency sites, and 1% live in critical shelter arrangements. Cumulatively, nearly 200,000 IDPs have been impacted by the crisis in Mosul since it began in October 2016. However, to date over 46,000 IDPs have returned to their homes.

Security Force Shortages Slow Operations in Anbar as Diyala and Salah ad-Din Rely on PMUs

On February 3, Anbar Joint Operations Command reported killing 30 Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) militants and destroying their vehicles in the area of Rutba, 310 kilometers west of Ramadi. On January 4, they reported arresting a militant and finding four improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

On February 3, Popular Mobilization Unit (PMU) spokesperson Ahmed al-Asadi refuted statements made in a recent Human Rights Watch report that suggested that PMUs are committing human rights violations against civilians. The Human Rights Watch report claimed that PMUs are unlawfully detaining IDPs in “secret locations” as they flee areas of violence, exposing the IDPs to abuse. Asadi condemned Human Rights Watch for not addressing the topic “fairly,” “distorting the facts,” and for trying to sway public opinion against the PMUs, who are working to remove “forces of terror” from Iraq. Asadi also condemned Human Rights Watch for only using interviews and anecdotes as evidence, stating that “you cannot build an indictment on these terms.” The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also issued a statement claiming that they did not receive any complaints from civilians regarding human rights violations perpetrated by PMUs, adding that it commits to investigating any human rights violation reports that it receives.

On February 5, Eid Amash al-Karbouli, a spokesman for the Anbar Provincial Council, attributed the cessation of movements to clear western Anbar to the lack of troops available for the effort. Karbouli emphasized the importance of being able to secure the Iraq-Syria border once it is cleared of militants, and complained of a lack of funds to properly do so. The same day, Joint Special Operations Command stressed that fighting in Anbar has not halted, speaking of a stable plan to clear the Province.

On February 5, Operations Command in Anbar Province announced that 16 ISIS militants were killed in western Anbar Province. An anonymous source reported that two of the militants were wearing suicide vests, and that the vehicle-based improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) that the militants were driving were also destroyed.  

On February 7, the Ministry of Oil and the Department of Immigration announced that they will coordinate in implementing a free oil program for internally displaced persons (IDP) in Diyala. Nearly 1,300 IDP families in two camps in the city of Khanaqin, 105 kilometers northeast of Baquba, will be given 100 liters of oil per household for free. The program is in response to the declining condition of IDPs in Diyala and the dropping temperatures in the area.

On February 7, a woman recalled her escape from Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants and life under ISIS rule in al-Qa’im, located 300 kilometers west of Fallujah. The woman, who remained anonymous, reported that residents in al-Qa’im have faced “murder, injustice, and hunger” since ISIS militants took control of the city in 2014. Before she was able to escape, ISIS militants poured oil over her stove and destroyed much of her home. Her daughter tried to flee with the help of a smuggler, but was killed by ISIS militants. Smugglers were frequently solicited to help residents flee, however, they are often targeted by ISIS militants.

On February 7, an anonymous local source reported that an ISIS militant who is known as one of the main IED experts in the area has died. The man, known as Abu al-Mator, was killed when one of the IEDs he was transporting exploded.

On February 8, Chairman of the Diyala Provincial Council Sadiq al-Husseini said that there has been little infiltration from Salah ad-Din by ISIS militants, largely due to PMUs providing security. Husseini stated that the goal was to cut off any corridors of movement for militants between Diyala and Salah ad-Din, which would significantly boost interior security. On the same day, security forces found a large cache of explosives west of Samarra in Salah ad-Din (130 kilometers north of Baghdad), and a suicide bomber was shot dead while attacking a military headquarters north of Tikrit (190 kilometers north of Baghdad).

On February 8, the 110th Battalion of the Iraqi carried out a missile attack on an ISIS convoy northeast of Baquba, 70 kilometers north of Baghdad, destroying vehicles and killing militants. Another convoy was destroyed by an airstrike in the same region of Diyala.

On February 8, Member of Parliament for Diyala Province, Raad al-Maash, reported that nearly 18,000 people in the Hamrin Basin, 55 kilometers northeast of Baquba, have no access to medical services. He called on the Ministry of Health to intervene immediately to prevent the spread and emergence of diseases in the area.  

On February 9, Raad al-Maash, Member of Parliament for Diyala Province, emphasized the need to secure the border between Diyala and Salah ad-Din Provinces. Maash stated that, due to its porous nature, half of the violence in Diyala comes through the border.

Aid Agencies See Funding Shortfalls Amid Reports of Fraud, Misuse

On February 3, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Iraq Chief of Mission Thomas Lothar Weiss met with the Deputy Governor of Karbala Jasim Al Fatlawy and Head of the Karbala Provincial Council Nassif Jassem and signed the Memorandum of Understanding aimed to “recommit to ongoing cooperation between IOM and Kerbala governorate to support displaced Iraqis and host communities” in the form of data collection, carrying out community development activities, providing health care support, and distributing emergency aid. In Najaf, Weiss met with Deputy Governor Abbas Jabur to discuss the ongoing needs of internally displaced persons (IDP), including food aid, water, school rebuilding, and medical services. According to IOM’s data, Karbala hosts more than 65,000 IDPs while Najaf hosts 78,000 IDPs, most of whom were displaced to Karbala and Najaf from June to August 2014.

On February 3, Joseph Saliwa, Iraqi Parliament’s Human Rights Committee attorney, revealed that “huge” sums of money and aid donated to assist IDPs in Iraq never reach them. Saliwa noted that politicians frequently promise monetary and food donations to IDPs in order to gain votes in upcoming elections, however, these promises are never fulfilled. In addition, Saliwa claims that “millions of dollars” from the European Union and the United States have been donated to support IDPs, but that this money rarely reaches IDPs in need. Amid reports of aid shortages and the prospect of increasing IDP populations once operations to clear ISIS militants from western Mosul begin, this finding is particularly unsettling.  

On February 3, Shafaaq reported that children in IDP camps across Iraq are working to support their families rather than enrolling in school. Many students do not have access to schools in the IDP camps, or their school was closed due to ISIS violence. Many parents chose not to enroll their children in schools that ISIS militants took over  for fear that their children would be recruited. The UN International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) reported that nearly 3.5 million children were out of school in 2016, with nearly 500,000 children working to support their families. Last week, the World Food Programme halved its monthly food rations donation due to funding shortages and payment delays from donor countries. With fewer resources, IDP children are increasingly forced to work to help provide basic necessities for their families.  

On February 7, the Director of the Ministry for Displacement and Migration, Dhi Qar Ali Saleh,  announced that the ministry distributed more than 3,000 aid baskets to displaced families across Iraq. IDP families in Mosul and Ramadi, as well as families in Anbar, Salah ad-Din, and Diyala Provinces received aid packages that included food, blankets, hygiene items, petroleum, and household items.

On February 9, the UN Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat) and the al-Karam Human Development Program concluded a six-week training program for 125 residents in Ramadi in Anbar Province. Funded by the Japanese government, the program taught participants skills in “carpentry, welding, aluminium works, plumbing, electricity and traditional building skills.” The program aimed to empower community members in Ramadi by providing essential skills to rebuild civilian infrastructure and skills needed to access employment and earn an income. For IDPs recently returned to Ramadi, access to employment is an essential step in returning to normalcy.

Iraq Looks to Diversify Economy with World Bank Support

On February 3, Iraqi Vice President Humam Hamoudi met with representatives from the Czech Republic’s Economic and Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Industry to discuss opportunities for investment and bilateral trade deals. Iraq is seeking to diversify its economy away from oil, and these types of deals help to identify spaces for non-energy investment.

On February 6, Farid Bellhaj, the director for the Middle East department at the World Bank announced that the World Bank would help fund Iraqi efforts to rebuild after the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS)’s defeat. One area highlighted for concern was the maintenance of the Mosul dam, which is in poor condition and upon breaking could threaten the lives of many Iraqi civilians. Bellhaj explained that the World Bank will use its considerable financial power to incentivize Iraq’s tripartite communities to work in tandem rather than against one another through joint investment ventures and by following the strategies used to produce success of its rebuilding programs in ethnically stratified countries such as Rwanda. Specifics beyond the broad goals of the World Bank’s proposal were not given.

On February 7, former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani held a meeting with the Japanese Ambassador to Iraq, Fumio Iwai, where they discussed opportunities for the Japanese and Kurdish communities to work together. They also discussed ways to identify investment opportunities for Japanese businesses in Kurdistan.

Protests in Baghdad Amid Efforts at Post-ISIS Reconciliation

On February 3, Iraqi Vice President Iyad Allawi called for more reconstruction efforts in formerly ISIS controlled areas, particularly Anbar and Nineveh Provinces. Allawi met with an ambassador from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, an international organization claiming to represent the collective interests of Muslims. Both the Vice President and the Ambassador agreed to develop more plans for rebuilding the country after the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS)’s defeat, especially in constructing a shared identity that will supercede sectarianism.

On February 7, Former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani met with the president of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) to discuss building a stronger relationship between Iraq’s Shia and Kurdish communities. The ISCI is one of Iraq’s largest Shia political bodies, and seeks to protect and advance the interests of Iraq’s Shia community. Both groups discussed bottom-up initiatives, that is, focusing on building stronger relationships between towns and local governments that will translate into a more robust civil society.

On February 7, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi spoke to the Members of Parliament to confirm that Iraq seeks to further improve its relations with Kuwait. Abadi likely desired to reiterate Iraq’s position regarding Kuwait because of controversy over the Khawr Abd Allah Waterway and whether or not it encroaches on Kuwaiti waters. Factions within Iraq and Kuwait both lay competing claims to territory the waterway will use, and that the settlement after the first Gulf War was unfair. In the same meeting, Abadi also sought to reassure pensioners and welfare recipients that the government will continue to provide benefits.

On February 7, Korsat Rasul Ali, Deputy Secretary General of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan met with the United States Consul to the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah. The officials discussed the role of the Kurdish community in building a more cohesive Iraq, combatting ISIS, and in fostering democracy.

On February 8, former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani met with his former political party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, a Kurdish political party advocating for modern social democracy. In their first platform, the PUK called for opposition to “national, class, and religious oppression.” The party provided Talabani with updates on Kurdistan’s political situation.

On February 8, Baghdad security forces closed Deck Bridge and Tahrir Square in Baghdad due to potential protests. Protests condemning Parliamentary corruption and sluggish responses to security threats in Baghdad have been ongoing over the last several weeks. Figures such as influential Shia Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr have called for countrywide demonstrations designed to counter corruption and maltreatment at the hands of the government. Following the day’s protests in Baghdad, in which thousands demonstrated, security forces reopened the public spaces.

On February 8, a delegation from the European Union met with Kurdish Regional Government President Masoud Barzani to discuss Kurdistan’s assistance in aiding internally displaced persons (IDPs) as well as what else the European Union can do to alleviate the pressures of the IDP crisis. The European delegation commended the Kurdistan Regional Government’s efforts, particularly in their push to support religious freedom and shelter religious minorities. The European delegation then suggested that Kurdistan’s stability should be used as a model for the rest of Iraq. The Kurdistan Regional Government proposed that one of the most important aspects to maintaining stability is a respect for religious differences, and alluded to the European Union pushing religious tolerance in their reconstruction efforts.

IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

02/02/17Ma'alif, South Baghdad03
02/02/17Husseinia, North of Baghdad12
02/02/17Muhamadiya, South of Baghdad02
02/02/17Hur Rajab, South of Baghdad13
02/01/17Bob al Sham, North of Baquba15
02/01/17Shaab, East Baghdad02
02/01/17Abu Gharib, West of Baghdad10
02/01/17Diyala Bridge, Southeast of Baghdad
01/31/17Radwaniyah, Southwest of Baghdad05
01/31/17Abu Gharib, West of Baghdad02
01/30/17Security Checkpoint East of Tikrit11
01/30/17Tarmiyah, North of Baghdad13
01/30/17al-Furat, West of Baghdad02
01/30/17Suwaib, South of Mosul14
01/30/17al-Dibs Judiciary, Kirkuk Province05
01/29/17Amin, East Baghdad02
01/29/17Diyala Bridge, Southeast of Baghdad03
01/29/17Madain, South of Baghdad14
01/28/17Sabah al-Bour, Northwest of Baghdad14
01/27/17Bakri, West Baghdad05
01/27/17Um al-Kuber wa al-Guzlan, East Baghdad16
01/27/17al-Basatin, North Baghdad13
01/27/17Souk al-Arab, Central Baghdad11


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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