Iraq + 1 more

ISHM: December 1 - 7, 2017

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Key Takeaways:

  • Iraq Voices Opposition to Trump’s Plan to Move U.S. Embassy in Israel – Hundreds of protesters demonstrated in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square in opposition to U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement that the United States would move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Influential Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who encouraged the protests, Tweeted that “Jerusalem is ours… our holy land… [it] has a God that protects it and a people that redeems it.” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that Iraq’s Council of Ministers is opposed to the move and warned of repercussions that may result. Following Trump’s announcement, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad issued a security message warning Americans in Iraq of the potential for violence. more…

  • 3,000 ISIS Militants Still Operating in Iraq and Syria – The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) reported that in November 2017, at least 117 civilians were killed and 264 injured as a result of terrorism and other armed conflict. Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for UNAMI, Jan Kubis, said “…casualties among civilians are a horrible reminder that the terrorists can still inflict blows at peaceful citizens, and that all measures need to be taken by the authorities to protect civilians against the barbarism of the terrorists.” According to spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, U.S. Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, there are approximately 3,000 ISIS militants remaining in Iraq and Syria, despite ISIS’s loss of territorial control. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi addressed security concerns during his weekly press conference, and indicated that the most pressing security needs are along the Iraqi-Syrian border. more…

  • France’s Macron Meets with Barzani, Calls for an End to PMUs – Following a meeting with Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government Nechirvan Barzani in Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron called on Iraq to dismantle its militias, including Iran-backed Shia Popular Mobilization Units who have come under scrutiny for alleged abuses against civilians, including Iraqi Kurds. In a phone call to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi later the same day, Macron reiterated France’s support for Iraq’s unity and federal authority, but urged Abadi to resolve the ongoing dispute between Erbil and Baghdad through dialogue and adherence to the Constitution. According to Abadi’s office, the French President did not mention militias during their call. In order to attend the meeting in Paris, Barzani had to travel overland to Turkey and then fly to France – a result of Baghdad’s continued ban of international travel to and from the Kurdistan region. The ban was put into place following the September 25 referendum on Kurdish independence held despite Baghdad’s objections. more…

  • 2018 Budget Law Remains Under Debate – On December 3, the Iraqi Parliament received the latest draft of the 2018 federal budget from the Council of Ministers and referred the bill to Parliament’s Finance Committee. An earlier draft released soon after the September 25 referendum on Kurdish independence had been recalled by the Council of Ministers and included objectionably low allocations for the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) (as previously reported in ISHM). The latest draft allocates 14 trillion Iraqi dinar (approximately US$ 11.8 billion) to the KRI, a figure that was met with continued objection by Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government Nechirvan Barzani. Other points of contention still unresolved with the budget include allocations to oil-producing provinces, funding for reconstruction and internally displaced persons, and funding for Popular Mobilization Units. more…

  • Move to Privatize Electricity Distribution Met with Protests – During the week, citizens in Basra, Dhi Qar, and Najaf Provinces protested federal government steps toward privatizing electricity distribution in southern Iraq. Confusion over how any proposed privatization will affect prices, particularly for lower income households, led the Ministry of Electricity to issue a statement suggesting that the public has been misinformed about the process and its effects on subsidies. Electricity distribution problems predate Iraq’s 2003 democratic transition, and is characterized by shortages in power production, chronic failures in distribution, and illegal connections to the electric grid. 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.