Iraq + 2 more

ISHM: April 15 - April 22, 2021

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News and Press Release
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Key Takeaways:

  • Baghdad Mediates Between Regional Foes; Party Leader Arrested In Corruption Investigations; Protestor-Led Movements Mull Political Future – On April 18, sources said PM Kadhimi mediated direct talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Baghdad, where they discussed their involvements in regional conflicts. On April 19, the newly-formed Federal Supreme Court (FSC) held its first hearing, and reviewed a case appealing the Parliament resolution that dissolved the provincial councils. On April 22, Parliament failed to meet due to lack of quorum for the second time this week, ostensibly to prevent a potential vote to strip several members of their immunity. On April 19, the Supreme Judicial Council submitted a request to lift immunity from 20 members due to findings of investigations by the anti-corruption commission. On April 18, Iraqi security forces detained Jamal al-Karbouli, the head of al-Hal party, on corruption charges. On April 20, eight protestor-led political movements held a meeting in Babylon in which they agreed, in principle, to participate in the October elections. more…
  • Rockets Hit Balad Air Base; ISIS Leader In Fallujah Detained In Kurdistan; Militias Implicated In Last Week’s Deadly Car Bomb – On April 16, Iraqi security officials stated that the investigation into the April 15 car bomb in Sadr City revealed the cause of the explosion to be an “accidental discharge” of explosives being transported by a PMF militia group. On April 18, five rockets struck Balad air base, north of Baghdad, injuring two Iraqi soldiers. On April 18, rockets struck the positions of a tribal mobilization regiment in Daquq district of Kirkuk, killing an Iraqi army soldier and injuring two soldiers and three tribal militiamen. Between April 15 -21, the explosions of 15 IEDs and one remnant of war killed at least seven Iraqis and wounded nine more. Two of the IEDs targeted electrical towers and repair crews in Ninawa. Two other IEDs targeted oil wells in Kirkuk, while another three targeted civilian contractors working for the International Coalition. On April 20, KRG authorities captured 22 ISIS militants, including the ISIS leader in Fallujah, who were planning attacks in Kurdistan. more…
  • COVID-19 Cases In Iraq Reach One Million; Report Highlights Shrinking Press Freedoms And Threats Facing Journalists – On April 22, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the total number of COVID-19 infections has now reached 1,010,304. The average number of new cases remained steady at 7,633 per day during the last 7-day period. This grim milestone comes as the government began to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for employees of public-facing institutions and workers in the service and hospitality industries. On April 20, Reporters Without Borders lowered Iraq’s ranking in its 2021 World Press Freedom Index due to serious threats and tightened restrictions against journalists in Iraq, including the Kurdistan region. The watchdog cited an increase in violence, state censorship, and lack of accountability. more…
  • Appeals Put Federal Budget In Limbo; UK Removes Iraq From Financial High-Risk List; Sinopec To Develop The Mansouriya Gas Field – On April 18, the Central Bank of Iraq said the UK has removed Iraq from a list of high-risk countries for the financing of terrorism and money laundering. On April 20, the Ministry of Oil awarded a contract to develop al-Mansouriya natural gas field in Diyala province to the Chinese company Sinopec. On April 15, the Oil Ministry said it entered discussions with American companies to purchase ExxonMobil’s stake in the West Qurna 1 oil field. On April 22, a financial advisor to PM Kadhimi, said that the government plans to appeal more than ten articles of the 2021 budget after the Parliament amended articles in a way that “restricts and burdens” the executive branch. 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.