Iraq

ISHM: February 10 - 17, 2022

Key Takeaways:

  • Emtidad Faces New Defections; KDP Presents New Presidential Candidate; Judiciary Chief Calls For Constitutional Amendments; Top Court Says KRG Oil Law Unconstitutional -- On February 13, a group of 17 members of the Emtidad Movement in Babylon announced their withdrawal from the protest-supported party citing leadership's failure to address recent resignations of some of the party's founders. On February 14, the KDP announced that KRG Interior Minister Reber Ahmed Barzani will be its new candidate for the presidency after Iraq's Supreme Federal Court permanently blocked Hoshyar Zebari from running for office. On February 14, the chief of Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council, Faiq Zaidan, published an article in which he urged the new Parliament to amend several articles of the constitution. Zaidan focused on articles that require a two-thirds majority in Parliament, arguing that these created deadlock and prevented the formation of key government bodies, such as the Federation Council. On February 15, Iraq's Supreme Federal Court ruled that the Oil and Gas Law adopted by the KRG since 2007 was unconstitutional and invalid. The Court said the KRG must therefore deliver all of the oil produced from fields under its control to the federal Oil Ministry and enable the latter to "exercise its constitutional power regarding oil exploration, extraction, and export." The KRG rejected the Court decision, calling it "unfair...violates the constitutional rights of the Kurdistan region." In other developments, on February 13, Iraq's Supreme Federal Court ruled that President Barham Salih shall remain in office until lawmakers elect a new president. more...

  • Military Operations Displace Hundreds From Makhoul Mountain Villages; Iraqi Forces Kill Top ISIS Militant In Anbar -- On February 15, the mayor of Makhoul in Salah ad-Din said that security forces ordered evacuations from five mountainside villages while the military clears ISIS cells from the surrounding area. According to the mayor, nearly 350-400 families are now living in temporary camps near the town center. The evacuation may last up to four months. Between February 11 -- 17, Iraqi security forces killed at least eight ISIS militants in airstrikes and ground operations in Diyala, Salah ad-Din, Ninewa, and Anbar. The latest of these operations killed the top ISIS militant in Anbar, Muthanna Khidhir Kamil Shatran, and one of his aides, outside the remote Rutba district. In other developments, between February 10 -- 16, seven attacks with IEDs and grenades in Babylon, Diyala, Salah ad-Din, Maysan, and Kirkuk injured at least six Iraqis. Security forces also defused four more IEDs intended to target power transmission lines and military supply convoys in Salah ad-Din and Muthanna, respectively. more...

  • Remnants Of War Behind Most "Grave Violations" Affecting Children; COVID-19 Cases Continue To Decline -- On February 16, the UN Security Council released a new report on the state of children and armed conflict in Iraq. The report, while points to a decrease in grave violations, says verified violations between August 2019 and June 2021 included 249 incidents in which children were killed or maimed. IEDs and explosive remnants of war were responsible for two thirds of those incidents. According to the report, ISIS was responsible for 65 of the violations, while Iraqi security forces and the PMF caused 68. On February 17, Iraq's Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 2,286,451, an increase of 18,697 from the 2,267,754 reported on February 10. Hospitalizations decreased from 70,253 to 52,964, and the daily average for new cases during the last 7-day period dropped to 2,671/day from 4,860/day during the 7-day period ending February 10. Total vaccinations reached 9,680,959 including 51,038 who received their shots on February 17. In other developments, on February 13, new UNHCR data shows that, despite significant returns, a total of 1,186,556 people continue to experience displacement in Iraq. These IDPs are part of the total "population of concern" that also includes more than 4.95 million returnees and nearly 300,000 refugees (mostly Syrians). Almost 90% of remaining IDPs have been displaced for three years or more and can't go back to their home districts due to lack of housing, lack of jobs, poor security, fear, and perceived links to ISIS. more...

  • Major Energy Deal With Total Faces Financial Obstacles; Government Intervenes To Control Rising Bread Prices -- On February 14, Reuters reported that a multibillion-dollar energy deal between Iraq and TotalEnergies may be at risk of cancellation. The primary obstacle facing the deal, which covers gas, solar, water processing, and an oil field development, is that the Oil Ministry failed to obtain agreements from other government agencies to secure cash flow necessary to jumpstart the projects. On February 16, Iraq's Trade Ministry said it will begin supplying flour to bakeries at subsidized prices as soon as next week to ensure adequate supply. The government intends to impose price controls to protect consumers as the country deals with a sharp increase in bread prices. In other developments, on February 12, Iraq Oil Report said that the KRG has told oil companies operating in the Kurdistan region that pipeline transit fees for oil exported through Turkey will see a big increase soon. On February 15, Iraq's Integrity Commission said that Iraq has gained legal access to confidential banking information that will allow it to look at bank accounts hidden in Switzerland as part of government efforts to track retrieve stolen funds. 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.