Iraq + 3 more

ISHM 231: November 21 - December 5, 2019

News and Press Release
Originally published
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Key Takeaways:

  • Death Toll Reaches 460 After Deadly Attacks On Protesters In Dhi-Qar And Najaf; Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi Resigns; Political Blocs Discuss Potential Candidates For The Premiership Amid Iranian Interference – Ongoing anti-government protests saw the worst episode of violence on December 28th, when security forces shot and killed at least 45 demonstrators, mostly in Najaf and Nasiriyah. On December 4, the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights reported that the recent violence has pushed the death toll since October 1 to at least 460 people, while some 17,400 have been injured. The UN Secretary-General, Pope Francis and Washington called on the Iraqi government to end violence against protesters. On December 1, Iraq’s Parliament officially accepted Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi’s resignation, which he announced on November 29, without holding a formal vote of no confidence. Abdul-Mahdi’s resignation followed an appeal by Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to Parliament to “reconsider its options” with regard to government formation. Iraq’s constitution states that Parliament’s largest bloc must nominate a candidate within fifteen days, but the process is complicated by disagreements over which party qualifies as the largest. On December 1, President Barham Salih began discussions with major political blocs to identify a potential replacement for Abdul-Mahdi. Reuters reported that Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and a Lebanese Hezbollah operative have visited Iraq and met with senior officials to influence the succession process. No clear candidates have emerged to date. more…

  • Rockets Target Green Zone, Major Air Base; ISIS Launches Series Of Deadly Attacks In Diyala; New Reports Of Iran Arming Iraqi Militias With Advanced Rockets – On November 22, a rocket fired at the Green Zone landed in the Tigris river. Another rocket struck near the Green Zone on November 29. Neither attack caused casualties. On December 3, five rockets landed inside Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar province without causing any casualties. On November 26, three IED explosions killed eight people and injured fifteen more in Baghdad. On December 5, the KRG Ministry of Peshmerga called for increased support from the U.S.-led coalition after a week long series of deadly ISIS attacks in Diyala province. The attacks, which included bombings, assaults on security forces positions, and sniper fire killed at least 21 Iraqis and wounded more than 44, including members of the Peshmerga, Popular Mobilization Forces, Iraqi Army and police, as well as civilians. On December 3, the Hawija police arrested a deputy of deceased ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The detained militant, Abu Khaldun, is described as the ISIS military chief of the Salah ad-Din area. On December 4, _The New York Time_s reported that Iran is using allied Iraqi militias to move advanced short-range missiles into Iraq while the country is preoccupied with the mass anti-government protests. more…

  • UN Investigators Identify ISIS Members For Trials Over Crimes Against Yazidis; Iraq’s Government Accused Of 45 “Flagrant Violations” against Journalists; Abductions, Arrests Continue To Target Activists – On November 26, the head of the UN investigation team working to uncover ISIS crimes in Iraq (UNITAD) told the Security Council that the team has identified 160 ISIS members accused of mass murders and other atrocities against Yazidis in 2014. These suspects could face future trials inside Iraq. On December 2, The Society for Defending Press Freedom in Iraq accused the Iraqi government of fifty-four “flagrant violations” against journalists and media outlets during November. This report follows the decision by the Iraqi Communications and Media Commission on November 21, to close the offices of a dozen TV stations and radio stations. On December 2, HRW reported that seven protesters have gone missing from the demonstrations in Tahrir Square since October 7, four of whom remain unfound. The families of nine other protesters currently being detained were afraid to speak out and share details about their missing relatives. On December 5, the Joint Crisis Coordination Center (JCC) in the KRG announced that the KRI has received 17,862 Syrian refugees since the start of the Turkish incursion in northern Syria in October. more…

  • Protests Threaten Operations At Dhi-Qar Oil Co.; GE To Install 23 High-Voltage Transformer Stations; Oil Exports Rebound In November – On November 23, anti-government protesters stormed the headquarters of the Dhi-Qar oil company, shutting down its office operations and marched on the Gharraf field in northeastern Dhi-Qar. A company official said that the protests would certainly interrupt oil production, although no actual decrease in production has been reported to date. On November 25, General Electrics CEO Jerome Pecresse met with Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi in Baghdad to discuss GE’s implementation of a project involving the installation of 23 high-voltage transformer stations expected to create over 3,000 jobs and improve electricity provision for over four million homes across Iraq. On December 1, Iraq’s Ministry of Oil announced that crude oil exports for November reached over 105.14 million barrels for an average of 3.5 million barrels per day (bpd). These exports generated over $6.28 billion in revenue. November’s exports are slightly higher than those from October, which were reported at 3.447 million bpd. 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.