ISHM: March 25 - April 1, 2021

News and Press Release
Originally published
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Key Takeaways:

  • **Khazali Attacks Sinjar Agreement; IHEC Extends Voter Registration; Parliament Approves 2021 Budget; Kadhimi Visits Saudi Arabia – **On March 25, Asaib Ahl al-Haq leader Qais al-Khazali pushed for canceling the Sinjar normalization agreement, calling it a “treasonous” political deal. On March 29, the Foreign Ministers of Jordan and Egypt arrived in Baghdad for discussions with Iraqi officials. On March 29, the Supreme Judicial Council completed the process of nominating the future members of the Federal Supreme Court. On March 30, the U.S. State Department announced that Strategic Dialogue talks with Iraq will resume on April 7. On March 31, IHEC decided to extend the biometric voter registration period until April 15. On March 31, Iraq’s Parliament voted to pass the 2021 federal draft budget after weeks of contentious negotiations and delays. Lawmakers deleted several articles designed to control spending, raise taxes, and increase non-oil revenue. On March 31, PM Kadhimi arrived in Riyadh for bilateral talks with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. The two sides agreed to establish a joint Iraqi-Saudi fund with an initial contribution of $3 billion from Saudi Arabia. more…
  • **IED Attacks Haunt Coalition Supply Convoys; Rockets Target Peshmerga Forces; Controversial General Assumes Command In Ninewa – **Between March 26 – April 1, the explosions of nine IEDs and one remnant of war killed two Iraqis and wounded at least seven more. Five of the IEDs targeted trucks transporting supplies for the International Coalition. On March 29, clashes with ISIS militants killed PMF fighters and a police officer, and wounded four other Iraqis in Kirkuk and Salah ad-Din. On March 29, six rockets landed near Peshmerga front lines in the Alton Kopri district, northwest of Kirkuk. On March 31, a Defense Ministry source said Major General Mahmoud al-Falahi will become the next Ninewa Operations commander. Falahi was removed from his previous command in Anbar in 2019 after PMF factions accused him of conspiring with the U.S. and Israel to target their positions. more…
  • **State Department Says Human Rights Abusers Enjoy Impunity In Iraq; Modest Rollout For COVID-19 Vaccine As Cases Continue To Rise – **On March 26, UNHCR said it has secured only 12% of the funds needed to support its Iraq Situation Response for 2021. On March 26, the Kurdistan region said it received 43,800 doses of the AstraZeneca 19 vaccine from Baghdad. On March 30, a U.S. State Department annual report on human rights conditions in Iraq highlighted a long list of serious abuses, many of which were connected to actions by government and paramilitary forces to suppress popular protests. The report said authorities “rarely punished those responsible” for the abuses. On April 1, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 856,939. Deaths from confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 14,360 while hospitalizations increased to 78,483. To date, 764,096 patients have recovered from the virus, and Iraq has tested 8,07,977 samples for COVID-19. The daily average for new cases increased from 5,164/day over the 7-day period ending March 25 to 5,970/day during the last 7-day period. The total number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 72,408, including the 16,408 who received their shots on April 1. more…
  • **Iraq, Total Pursue Major Energy Projects; Rampant Corruption Plagues Real Estate Transactions; Iraq Gets 120-Day Sanctions Waiver; March Oil Revenue Tops $5.7 Billion – **On March 29, Iraq and Total signed preliminary agreements for several projects focusing on natural gas capture, solar power, and water supply for the oil industry. On March 29, the Integrity Commission revealed that almost a third of transactions processed by government real estate offices in Baghdad, and a half in Mosul, involved some form of bribery. On March 30, the U.S. extended a sanctions waiver that permits Iraq to continue purchasing gas and electricity from Iran for an additional 120 days. On April 1, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said March oil exports averaged 2.945 million bpd and generated $5.782 billion in revenue. 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.