Iraq + 1 more

ISHM: December 8 - 14, 2017

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Key Takeaways:

  • Abadi Declares “End of War Against ISIS” – On December 9, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that Iraqi Security Forces “fully control the Iraqi-Syrian border, and thus we can announce the end of the war against [ISIS].” He continued, “Unity is our weapon, and we must adhere to this unity and strengthen it with all possible [resolve].” The announcement followed several days of security operations in remote portions of Anbar Province, as well as operations in Salah ad-Din and Ninewa Provinces, aimed at capturing or killing remaining ISIS militants. Abadi’s remarks were heavily criticized by Kurdish political parties for not specifically giving credit to the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga. Abadi issued revised remarks that mentioned the Peshmerga a few days later. U.S. Army Lt. General Paul E. Funk II, commander of Operation Inherent Resolve congratulated Iraq, but warned that “much work remains, and we will continue to work by, with and through our Iraqi partners to ensure the enduring defeat of [ISIS] and prevent its ability to threaten civilization, regionally and globally.” On December 11, influential Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ordered Popular Mobilization Units associated with his leadership, including the Peace Brigades, to hand over all of their weapons to the Iraqi government and disband within 45 days. Sadr urged the Iraqi government to find jobs for those militia members as soon as possible. more…

  • WSJ: Lack of Aid Funding Could Lead to Resurgence of ISIS – The Wall Street Journal reported that insufficient reconstruction aid poses a threat to a resurgence of ISIS militants in areas recently cleared in Iraq. UN officials have said that an additional US$ 300 million is needed beyond the US$ 770 million already pledged by members of the U.S.-led international coalition and UNOCHA reports that the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan is 83 percent funded as of December 8. Thomas Staal, Counselor for USAID, reported that despite proposed cuts to aid funding by U.S. President Donald Trump, humanitarian aid to Iraq would actually increase, particularly for ISIS victims. A pledging conference for international donors to support Iraq is planned for early 2018 in Kuwait. more…

  • KRG Continues Push for Dialogue with Baghdad – Iraqi President Fuad Masum met this week with Vice Presidents Nouri al-Maliki and Iyad Allawi, as well as with Deputy Speaker of Parliament Sheik Humam Hamoudi, to discuss a resolution to the ongoing dispute between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the federal government in Baghdad. On December 12, 77 Iraqi civil society organizations signed on to a memorandum calling on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to lift the international flight ban to and from the Kurdistan Region, imposed in the weeks after the September 25 referendum on Kurdistan’s independence held against the wishes of the federal government. The Kurdistan Regional Government has also pressed for dialogue, which continues to be stonewalled by Abadi. more…

  • Erdogan Organizes Meeting in Response to Trump’s Recognition of Jerusalem – On December 13, leaders of majority Muslim countries met in Turkey at the invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial announcement that the United States would move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari headed the Iraqi delegation. 22 heads of state were in attendance at the meeting and 23 other nations sent lower-level delegations. more…

  • UN Concludes Oil-for-Food Program – On December 8, the UN Security Council concluded that all provisions of the Iraqi oil-for-food program had been met, including the final transfer of funds (US$ 14.3 million) from the program’s escrow account to the Iraqi government. The oil-for-food program began in 1995 to allow Iraq to sell its oil in exchange for humanitarian goods for civilians and prevent the regime of Saddam Hussein from enhancing its military. The program was plagued by allegations of corruption and mismanagement and was unofficially terminated following the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. 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.