Iraq

ISHM: May 14 - May 21, 2020

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Key Takeaways:

  • Kadhimi Reaches Out To Hostile Militia Commanders; Pride Flag Incident Threatens Relations With EU; Kadhimi Orders Investigations Into Forced Disappearances; Fresh Protests reported In Several Provinces – On May 16, PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi visited the popular mobilization forces (PMF) commission and met with several senior commanders, including that of Kataib Hezbollah, a militia group that accuses Kadhimi of assisting the U.S. in killing its late commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. On May 16, members of Parliament accused security forces loyal to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of assaulting and arresting dozens of protesters in Duhok. On May 17, a move by the EU mission and other foreign embassies to raise the LGBTQ pride flag sparked angry reactions from the religious endowment organizations and Islamist political parties in Iraq, including a call by former PM Nouri al-Maliki to expell the ambassadors of the EU, UK and Canada. On May 17, PM Kadhimi instructed the Ministry of Interior to “use all available resources” to uncover the fate of kidnapped and forcibly disappeared Iraqis. Kadhimi also gave instructions to create “an accurate list” of Iraqis, whether civilian or military, who were killed, wounded or disabled during mass protests since October 2019. On May 18, security forces in Diwaniyah opened fire at protesters who had gathered to demand the release of four protesters who were arrested earlier in the day. In Dhi-Qar, security forces arrested protesters and set their tents on fire after they blocked the entrance to the Ahdab oil field. On May 19, a member of the parliamentary finance committee said the cabinet has begun drafting a 2020 budget bill that will be limited to operational spending with no allocations for investment. more…
  • ISIS Intensifies Crops Burning Campaign, Launches New Deadly Attacks; Iraqi Forces, Coalition Airstrikes Pursue ISIS In Multiple Provinces – Between May 15-20 ISIS militants attacked villagers, killing at least four and setting wheat crops on fire in Diyala, Salah ad-Din and Ninewa. Government documents said 88 fires destroyed 1,460 acres during the three weeks ending May 14. On May 14, militant attacks killed one popular mobilization forces (PMF) fighter and injured one more in Babylon while mortar fire wounded four civilians in Diyala. On May 15, an IED and small arms attack wounded five PMF fighters in Diyala and an IED attacks killed five Iraqi security forces (ISF) members and injured six in Diyala and north of Baghdad. On May 16, ISIS attacks killed three ISF members and wounded two in Kirkuk, Salah ad-Din and Diyala. On May 17-18, two IEDs killed two PMF fighters and injured four in Salah ad-Din, while two other attacks killed two policemen in Ninewa and a soldier in Kirkuk. On May 19, three IEDs killed three people and wounded three in Diyala and Madain southeast of Baghdad. On May 20 ISIS militants killed one ISF member and injured two in Anbar. On May 15, Coalition airstrikes killed seven ISIS militants in Ninewa. On May 17, the ISF launched a large-scale operation to the desert between Anbar, Ninewa and Salah ad-Din, killing of three ISIS members and seizing weapons, explosives and vehicles. On May 17-18, Iraqi and Coalition airstrikes killed an unspecified number of ISIS militants and destroyed their tunnels near Kirkuk. On May 19, the ISF killed eight ISIS members in in Diyala and Salah ad-Din. On May 19, ISIS militants destroyed or damaged three high voltage towers in Diyala, then attacked repair crews with an IED, wounding two people. more...
  • Iraq To Isolate Entire Districts, Initiate Stricter Measures Against COVID-19 Ahead Of Major Holiday As New Cases Climb Higher – On May 18, Iraq’s Health Minister said the government has decided to establish a “regional cordon” around several districts in Baghdad in response to “the accelerating increase” in COVID-19 cases in the capital. The impacted districts are: Sadr city, Habibiyah, Kamaliyah, Hurriyah, Shula and Amiriyah. On May 18, the KRG decided to extend the ban on travel between provinces in the region and the rest of Iraq until June 1, while imposing a total curfew for 72 hours starting on the first day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which begins this weekend. The KRG Minister of Health said on May 19 that the appearance of new cases represent a continuation of the first wave of COVID-19, attributing the disease’s persistence to the decline in compliance with preventative measures. On May 20, the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh (UNITAD) reported making “significant progress” in its effort to investigate ISIS crimes in Iraq, saying its investigators looked into data from two million calls, collecting evidence that will strengthen the cases against members of the terrorism group. On May 21, Iraq’s Health Ministry reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased this week to 3,877 representing a new record weekly increase in confirmed infections. Deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 140 while a total of 2,483 patients have recovered. Iraq’s Minister of Health warned that the growing numbers of COVID-19 patients was starting to put pressure on Iraq’s health care system. more…
  • COVID-19 Severely Impacts Of SMEs Production And Revenue; Iraq Harvests 1.9 Million Tons Of Wheat; New Government Seeks More Saudi Investments – On May 14, a recent study by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) showed that COVID-19 was having a severe impact on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Iraq. On average, productivity dropped by more than half and sales in several sectors have dropped by as much as 70% in the past month. On May 17, the state-owned grain trading company said that the wheat harvest season has entered its peak stage, with farmers delivering more than 1.9 million tons of wheat as of May 15, out of an expected six million tons. On May 21, Prime Minister Kadhimi dispatched Finance Minister Ali Allawi to Saudi Arabia, with a mission to discuss bilateral relations, regional economic issues and expanding Saudi investments in Iraq. 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.