ISHM: February 4 - February 11, 2021

News and Press Release
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Key Takeaways:

  • Protests Escalate In Dhi-Qar, Wasit; Sadr’s Militia Deploys On Anniversary Of Deadly Attacks On Protesters; Debate Intensifies Over International Monitoring Of Elections – On February 5, security forces injured three protesters during new demonstrations in Nasiriyah demanding the release of kidnapped activists. Demonstrators gathered in Wasit province too to express solidarity with the Nasiriyah demonstrations. Iraq’s Interior Minister and National Security chief headed to Wasit to calm the situation amid fear of escalation. On February 8, Moqtada al-Sadr’s militia deployed on the streets of Baghdad, Najaf, and Karbala, setting up checkpoints in an apparent show of force. The aggressive deployment came shortly after activists in Najaf publicly denounced Sadr during an event commemorating victims of deadly attacks by Sadr’s followers on Najaf protesters last year. Security sources said gunmen “affiliated with a political group” carried out a string of raids on the homes of activists throughout Najaf. On February 9, the Iraqi Cabinet announced the formation of the Supreme Committee for Reform, a new entity meant to supervise and facilitate reform initiatives across state institutions. On February 10, IHEC announced that it extended the deadline to register electoral coalitions to February 27. On February 11, IHEC said it invited 71 countries and international organizations to observe the upcoming Iraqi election in October. Earlier this week, al-Mada reported that several political parties, including the Fatah Coalition and Nouri al-Maliki, have exerted pressure on the government to cancel calls for international monitoring, while others offered conditional approval. more…

  • IEDs Target Coalition Supply Convoys And Baghdad Businesses; Turkey Attacks The PKK In Duhok – Between February 4 – 11, at least 11 IEDs and remnants of war exploded in various parts of Iraq, causing four injuries among civilians. Five of the explosions targeted trucks carrying supplies for the International Coalition, and two targeted businesses in Baghdad. On February 5, security forces disarmed an IED placed outside the Baghdad home of Army Aviation commander, Major General Samir al-Maliki. On February 5, gunmen attacked the Iraqi Communist Party office in Najaf with Molotov cocktails and gunfire. On February 8, gunmen shot an activist in Nasiriyah, and security forces disarmed an IED that was placed near the home of a local teacher nearby. Between February 5 – 10, seven other militant attacks killed at least two Iraqis and wounded 11 more. On February 6, unidentified attackers burned down a biometric voter registration center in Ninewa, and police prevented a second attack elsewhere in the province. On February 10, the Turkish military launched new air and ground operations against the PKK in the area of Mount Kara in Duhok province, killing eight PKK fighters. more…

  • Iraq Reverses Position On Closing The Jedaa IDP Camp; Report Says 2.3 Million People Need Protection In Iraq; Health Officials Issue Warnings As COVID-19 Cases Rise Fast – On February 4, Iraq’s Minister of Migration denied earlier reports that said Iraq was shutting down the Jedaa 5 IDP camp, arguing that the government won’t close the camp anytime soon. On February 6, the Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) returned the remains of 104 Yazidi victims of ISIS genocide to be buried in Kojo and Sinjar. On February 7, aid organizations reported a marked decrease in access restrictions affecting their work in Iraq. On February 7, schools in the Kurdistan region resumed in-school classes. On February 9, aid organizations forming the Protection Cluster in Iraq said that at least 2.3 million people will be in need of protection in 2021. On February 9, authorities executed five Iraqis convicted on terrorism charges. On February 11, Iraq’s Health Ministry reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 636,908. Deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 13,144 while the number of patients currently in hospitals increased sharply to 19,950. To date, 6,038,814 patients have recovered from the virus, and Iraq has tested 6,108475 samples for COVID-19. The daily average for new cases increased from 1,150/day during the 7-day period ending February 4 to 1,812 over the last 7-day period. The Health Ministry issued a new public health warning, saying that infections were rising quickly amid weak compliance with prevention measures. The ministry warned that downplaying the pandemic will exacerbate the situation and increase infections beyond the available capacity of hospitals. more…

  • Iraq Struggles To Protect Farmers From Cheap Illegal Imports; Baghdad In Talks To Purchase Gas From The Kurdistan Region - On February 7, the head of the General Tax Authority said Iraq generated IQD3.8 trillion in tax revenues in 2020, an increase of 800 billion dinars from 2019. On February 7, the Ministry of Agriculture approved a plan to export 5,500 tons of potatoes to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. On February 10, the Ministry of Interior siad it deported 32,000 foreign workers, as part of a campaign to monitor illegal immigration and protect local jobs. On February 11, dozens of tomato farmers in Basra blocked the international highway with trucks filled with the crop. Farmers complained about merchants bribing border officials to smuggle cheap Iranian tomatoes, undercutting their ability to compete. The protests came days after PM Kadhimi formed a task force involving top security officials to protect Iraqi goods by monitoring the markets for smuggled agricultural products. On February 11, UAE’s Dana Gas said the Iraqi government entered into talks with the Pearl Consortium, of which Dana is a member, to purchase natural gas from the Khor Mor gas field in the Kurdistan Region. more…

Attention readers! ISHM will take a break next week while our team focuses on a critical research initiative concerning Iraq’s next election and political outlook. ISHM 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.