ISHM 234: December 12 - 19, 2019

Report
from Education for Peace in Iraq Center
Published on 19 Dec 2019 View Original

Key Takeaways:

  • Deadline For Selecting New PM Extended As Deadlock Continues; U.S. Issues Warning To Iran, Plans To Reduce Diplomatic Staff In Iraq; Parliament Fails To Pass Election Law – On December 13, Iraq’s most senior cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, pressed the government to crack down on illegal armed groups and ensure that all weapons and armed forces are under the complete control of the state. On December 13, former minister Mohammed Shya al-Sudani emerged as the relative front-runner, among many candidates, in the still deadlocked negotiations for replacing resigned Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi. Strong opposition by Moqtada al-Sadr and protesters precluded a deal, forcing an extension of the deadline to select a new PM until December 22. On December 13, the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, issued a stern warning to Iran, following rocket attacks on Iraqi military bases that also house American personnel, promising “decisive” action if Tehran harmed America’s interests. Meanwhile, the State Department plans to reduce U.S. diplomatic presence in Baghdad and Erbil by 137 people, representing a 28% reduction in an already stretched presence. On December 18, Iraq’s Parliament failed to agree on an intensely debated new election law that would govern future parliamentary elections. The key obstacle is Article 15, which deals with key electoral mechanisms, including size and distribution of electoral districts, how to allocate seats, and whether candidates can run individually or as party lists. more…
  • Twin Suicide Bombings Strike Samarra; ISIS Attacks, Tribal Clashes Hit Diyala; Activists Targeted In Baghdad And The South – On December 12, two suicide bombers attacked security forces near Samarra, killing 11 people. On December 12, an IED killed one civilian and wounded four in Diyala. On December 12, an attack with two IEDs injured two civilians in Baghdad. On December 15, unidentified attackers detonated a bomb under the vehicle of two activists in Diwaniya, injuring both. On December 15, ISIS militants attacked security forces in two locations in Diyala, killing five people and wounding four. On December 15, an IED killed two civilians west of Mosul. On December 15, gunmen killed a local businessman known for supporting protesters in east Baghdad. On December 15, security forces killed eight ISIS militants and destroyed two of their vehicles west of Samarra. On December 17, attackers stabbed and killed a shop owner in west Baghdad who had provided material support for protesters. On December 17, an IED in Diyala killed one person and injured another. On December 17, gunmen attacked truck drivers on the highway near Baiji, killing three and wounding another. On December 17, gunmen killed one person and wounded another in Diyala. On December 19, tribal clashes killed four people, including two soldiers, and injured four more in Diyala. On December 19, two rocket strikes by security forces killed eight ISIS militants in the Qara Chogh mountain area, northwest of Salah ad-Din. more…
  • Rights Agencies Find Government Complicit In Violence Against Protesters; New Wave Of Assassinations Target Activists; Mass Grave Uncovered In Anbar – On December 13, Amnesty International urged Baghdad to put an end to “a growing lethal campaign” targeting activists and protesters, adding that the government may have aided the culprits in their recent attacks. A report by Human Rights Watch also found evidence that government forces may have helped the perpetrators of a deadly December 6 attack that killed at least 29 protesters. On December 15, Iraqi’s High Commission for Human Rights warned of a dangerous escalation in assassinations and kidnappings targeting activists and protesters. Several Iraqi activists were attacked in Baghdad and other provinces this week, including by IEDs and gunmen wielding silenced weapons. On December 15, authorities discovered a mass grave in Anbar province containing the remains of about 100 civilians. Local officials believe the remains belonged to victims of an alleged 2016 forced disappearance and mass killing campaign of locals by militias. On December 17, the Norwegian Refugee Council said that most of the 17,000 Syrian refugees who recently fled to Iraq were not interested in returning to Syria. On December 18, Iraq’s Higher Judiciary Council said authorities have released a total of 2,700 protesters from detention while another 107 remain under investigation. more…
  • Iraqi Factories See Signs Of Recovery As Iranian Imports Drop; Protesters Blockade Oil Fields, Power Stations; Iraqi Bank To Finance Nasiriyah Oil Field Development – On December 16, the Ministry of Transportation reported a significant increase in international overflights following the opening of a third overflight line through Iraq’s airspace. On December 16, Iranian trade officials said the value of Iraq’s monthly imports of Iranian goods has dropped by more than $200 million. The decline coincided with rising anti-Iran sentiment and boycotts of Iranian goods that also allowed Iraqi factories to hire more employees and increase output to meet to rising demand for domestic products. On December 17, protesters in Basra blocked roads leading to the north Rumaila oil field while protesters in Wasit blocked the entrance to the Zubaidiyah power plant, one of Iraq’s largest. The Ministry of Electricity warned that a continuation of the blockade could force a shutdown, costing the grid 2,450 megawatts. On December 17, Iraq’s council of ministers approved a plan for financing a project to expand oil production at the Nasiriyah oil field by an additional 100,000 barrels per day through a $265 million loan from the Trade Bank of Iraq.
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Attention readers! ISHM will take a break for the Christmas holiday, but it will be back the week after, with comprehensive coverage of the week we missed!

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.