ISHM: July 30 - August 6, 2020

News and Press Release
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Key Takeaways:

  • PM Kadhimi Announces Early Elections In June 2021; Senior Officer Sacked After Footage Of Abuse By Security Forces Sparks Outrage; Cabinet Approves New Domestic Violence Bill – On July 31, PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi announced a plan to hold early parliamentary elections on June 6, 2021. Kadhimi urged Parliament to finalize the election law and send it to President Salih for ratification. President Salih and UNAMI welcomed the announcement, which drew different reactions from political parties. The Nasr Coalition and Hikma Movement welcomed Kadhimi’s announcement, but Speaker Halbousi and Hadi al-Amiri said elections should happen sooner, while a senior KDP official said Kurdish leaders were not in favor of early elections. On August 1, Iraq’s High Electoral Commission said it was ready to organize elections in June of 2021, contingent on a number of conditions, including legislative action to complete the quorum of the Supreme Federal Court, the sole entity with the authority to ratify election results. On August 2, Iraq’s Interior Ministry said PM Kadhimi ordered the dismissal of Major General Saad Kahlaf, the commander of the controversial “Law Keeping” force. A day earlier, footage circulating on social media showed members of the force torturing a teenager, sparking widespread condemnations and protests against abuses by security forces. On August 4, a government spokesman said the Cabinet has approved a draft of a domestic violence law and sent it to Parliament for its approval. more…
  • New Rockets Target Baghdad’s Airport And Green Zone; Federal And Peshmerga Forces Establish Coordination Centers; Gunmen Attack Activist In Southern Iraq – On July 30, two rockets struck near Baghdad International Airport, and Iraqi security forces (ISF) later discovered two launch pads nearby. On August 5, another rocket struck near the Green Zone. The ISF found and defused seven more rockets prepared for launch. Neither attack caused casualties. On July 31, a spokesman for the U.S.-led International Coalition said that the Iraqi Defense Ministry and Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs will soon create “coordination centers” to organize joint operations against ISIS with support from Coalition advisers. Between July 30 – August 5, three IEDs exploded in Diyala, Maysan and Dhi-Qar, killing one Iraqi soldier and injuring two others. One of the bombs targeted a vehicle belonging to a contractor working for the International Coalition. On August 4, unknown gunmen attacked the home of an Iraqi activist in central Amarra with rocket propelled grenades (RPG) launcher and machine gun fire. On August 5, an attack by ISIS militants killed three ISF members in Salah ad-Din province. more…
  • Problems Haunt Yazidi Survivors Six Years After Genocide; Deaths From COVID-19 Rise Above 5,000 – On July 30, Amnesty International released a report describing the physical and mental health crises facing almost 2,000 Yazidi child survivors of ISIS. According to the report, many of the children who survived ISIS captivity from 2014-2017 have lasting physical and mental health injuries and are unable to integrate back into their community. On July 30, four COVID-19 patients died due to an oxygen shortage at Erbil’s Rizgari Hospital, according to patients’ relatives. On July 31, the D.C. Museum of the Bible announced that it would return around 8,000 stolen artifacts, including clay tablets, seal impressions, and bowls to Iraq. On July 31, the EU contributed €5 million to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) in order to support COVID-19 relief efforts in Iraq. On August 1, airports in the Kurdistan Region resumed passenger flights for the first time since March 17 when they were shut down due to COVID-19. On August 1, the governor of Karbala said the shrine city will remain closed during the annual Ashura religious ceremonies and until the 13th of Muharram (September 12). On August 6, the Ministry of Health reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 140,603. More than 3,040 cases were reported on August 6, representing a new daily peak. Deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 5,161 while a total of 101,025 patients have recovered. To date, Iraq has tested 1,092,741 samples for COVID-19. more…
  • Oil Exports Drop, Revenue Rises In July; Borders Report Improved Revenue Despite Closures; Iraq Investigates Widespread Fish Deaths – On August 1, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said it exported an average of 2.763 million barrels per day (bpd), about 53,000 bpd lower than June’s average, generating $3.487 billion in revenue. On August 2, the Iraqi Border Ports Authority said it generated ID 76 billion (approximately $63 million) in revenue during July despite the “elimination of customs on many goods and reduced imports due to the closure of most border crossings due to the pandemic.” On August 3, Iraq’s Minister of Agriculture formed a committee to investigate the deaths of large numbers of fish in the marshes of Diwaniya province. Initial reports point to toxins in water as the likely cause. 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.