ISHM: March 11 - March 25, 2021

News and Press Release
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Key Takeaways:

  • Budget Vote Delayed; IHEC Cancels Voting Outside Iraq; New Supreme Court Members Nominated; Strategic Dialogue Resumes In April – On March 20, Parliament announced that it will vote on the 2021 federal budget on March 27. On March 20, Iraqi courts issued arrest warrants for two political commentators using a Baath-era law, sparking widespread criticism. On March 23, the Iraqi High Electoral Commission announced the cancellation of out-of-country voting for the upcoming October elections. On March 24, the Supreme Judicial Council announced the candidates for the new formation of the Federal Supreme Court, less than a week after Parliament passed an amendment to the 2005 Supreme Court Law. On March 23, the White House said that Baghdad and Washington will resume strategic dialogue discussions in April. On March 24, Qatar’s Foreign Minister arrived in Baghdad for talks with Iraqi leaders. more…
  • Senior Intelligence Officer Assassinated; Militia Parade in Baghdad Challenges Kadhimi’s Government – Between March 19 – 24, 12 militant attacks killed six Iraqis, wounded several others, and left at least six others missing. One of the attacks targeted a senior Iraqi intelligence officer in the capital. Between March 19 – 25, nine IED explosions killed three people and wounded at least eight others. Two of the casualties were suspected attackers. Four of the bombings targeted trucks carrying supplies for the International Coalition forces. On March 24, the Iraqi military concluded a major operation backed by Coalition airstrikes in the Makmour area that killed 27 ISIS militants over two weeks. On March 25, Iraqi militant faction Rab’ Allah paraded through the streets of Baghdad, brandishing heavy weapons and rocket-propelled grenades. The group released a statement, which described the parade as “a threat to the American occupiers and their agents.” more…
  • Iraq Keeps Curfew, Receives First Large Shipment Of Vaccines As Daily Infections Rise Above 6,500 – On March 18, a report by aid agencies showed that humanitarian groups reached only 1.4 million out of 1.8 million targeted in the 2020 humanitarian response plan in Iraq. On March 18, announced a new COVID-19 curfew that took effect on March 22. On March 23, a new report by international aid organizations found that small and medium enterprises in Iraq suffered a 50% decrease in production and an 11% decrease in the number of full-time staff due to the pandemic. On March 25, Iraq’s Ministry of Health received a shipment of 336,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. On March 25, the Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 815,605. Deaths from confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 14,128 while the number of patients currently in hospitals increased to 69,225. To date, 732,252 patients have recovered from the virus, and Iraq has tested 7,793,654 samples for COVID-19. The daily average for new cases continued to rise, from 4,830/day over the 7-day period ending March 11 to 5,164/day during the last 7-day period. On March 25, Iraq reported a new record in daily infections when it counted 6,513 cases. more…
  • Lawmakers Push To Reverse Dinar Devaluation; Schlumberger Wins Drilling Contract; Iraq’s Default Rating Improves; Inflation Rises – On March 21, Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi agreed to forward a Sadrist proposal to establish an Iraqi sovereign fund to the Cabinet. On March 22, Fatah Coalition MPs said they were gathering support for a motion to compel the government to reverse the devaluation of the Iraqi dinar. On March 23, the Iraqi Cabinet approved a contract with oil services company Schlumberger to drill 96 wells at a cost of $480 million. On March 24, Fitch Ratings changed its assessment of Iraq’s “Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating” from “negative” to “stable.” On March 25, Iraq’s Ministry of Planning reported that the inflation index was up by 4% in February compared with the same month last year, attributing the change to the devaluation of the dinar. 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.