Iraq + 1 more

ISHM: January 14 - January 21, 2021

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News and Press Release
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Key Takeaways:

  • U.S. Troops Down To 2,500; Lawmakers Propose 164 Changes To 2021 Budget; Iraq Pushes Elections Date To October – On January 14, PM Kadhimi visited the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Commission to meet with PMF chief Falih al-Fayyadh after the U.S. imposed sanctions on Fayyadh and his acting deputy. On January 15, prominent Dhi-Qar activist Dr. Alaa al-Rikabi announced the formation of “Imtidad”, a new political group set to run in the next parliamentary election. On January 15, acting U.S. Defense Secretary Christopher Miller said the number of U.S. troops in Iraq has dropped to 2,500. On January 18, Turkey’s Defense Minister visited Baghdad and Erbil for meetings with PM Kadhimi and KRG leaders. On January 18, al-Mada reported that lawmakers summitted 164 proposed amendments to the 2021 draft budget, including calls to reduce spending by more than IQD40 trillion and shrink the deficit by half. On January 19, Iraq’s Cabinet confirmed October 10 as the new date for early elections. The Electoral Commission (IHEC) proposed the delay to extend the deadlines for voter and party registrations. On January 21, Qais al-Khazali condemned Kadhimi’s government for failing to prevent the January 21 twin suicide bombings, accusing the intelligence services of prioritizing the protection of foreign interests. more…
  • Twin Suicide Bombings Kill More Than 30 In Baghdad; Militias Continue Attacks On Coalition Contractors And Businesses; ISIS Targets The Electric Grid – Between January 14 – 21, 21 explosions killed at least 37 Iraqis and wounded more than 120 others. Most of the significant attacks occurred in Baghdad, Ninewa, Anbar, and along a main highway in southern Iraq. Twin suicide bombings in central Baghdad on January 21, the first such attacks since 2019, caused the vast majority of these casualties. There were also six bombings that targeted liquor stores, mostly in Baghdad, and four attacks on trucks carrying supplies for the International Coalition. This week also saw two bombing attacks by suspected ISIS militants that damaged high voltage power lines and transformers, resulting in significant outages. more…
  • Iraq Closes Salamiyya Camp, Considers More Closures; KRG Says Population Reached 6.17 Million; Health Officials Warn Of New COVID-19 Wave – On January 15, Iraq’s Migration Minister announced the closure of the Salamiyya camp for IDPs after all of its inhabitants “voluntarily” returned to their home districts. A ministry spokesperson said the next camps to close will be Amiriyat al-Fallujah in Anbar and al-Jadah in Ninewa province. On January 18, the statistics department in the KRG Planning Ministry estimated the population of the Kurdistan region to be 6.171 million people. On January 19, The Ministry of Health warned of a high risk of a second wave of COVID-19 that could be more severe than the first. The ministry cited the unknown duration of immunity after recovery, cold winter temperatures, the new and more infectious strain, weak compliance with prevention measure, and the reopening of public spaces without adherence to social distancing, as the main risk factors. On January 21, Iraq’s Health Ministry reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 611,407. Deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 12,977 while the number of patients currently in hospitals decreased to 21,705. To date, 576,725 patients have recovered from the virus, and Iraq has tested 5,267,174 samples for COVID-19. The daily average for new cases increased slightly to 809/day over the last 7-day period. more…
  • U.S. Pushes Baghdad-Erbil Gas Cooperation; KRG Releases Oil Sales And Revenue Report; Avian Flu Strikes Poultry Farms – On January 14, the Iraq-U.S. Joint Coordination Committee on Energy met to discuss cooperation in support of Iraq’s energy sectors. The meeting included Iraqi federal and KRG officials, and focused on projects to capture flared gas and reduce imports. On January 15, the KRG Oil and Gas Affairs Council released a report prepared by Deloitte about oil production and sales between January 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020. The report said the KRG sold 118,720,827 barrels through its pipelines to Turkey at an average price of $31.66/barrel, generating net revenue of $1.83 billion, after deducting production costs owed to operating companies from a gross revenue of $3.176 billion. On January 17, Iraq’s Ministry of Industry said it has secured new permits for the Economic City, a joint Iraqi-Jordanian project to construct an industrial center on the border between Iraq and Jordan. On January 18, local officials and businesses reported that poultry fields suffered an outbreak of avian flu in Salah ad-Din province that affected 52 farms and killed 110,000 birds. 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.