Iraq + 1 more

ISHM: May 4 - 10, 2018

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Key Takeaways:

Sporadic Attacks on Candidates in Lead-Up to Elections – Several candidates for Iraqi Parliament were attacked this week while campaigning ahead of the May 12 elections. On May 7, leader of the New Generation list for Erbil Province, Rabun Maarof, suffered head injuries after an unidentified number of attackers confronted him in Erbil. On May 8, Member of Parliament Zaytun al-Dulaimi survived an assassination attempt in Dora, approximately seven kilometers south of Baghdad, when a suicide bomber detonated his explosive belt while the candidate’s convoy was passing by. On May 10, candidate with the PUK, Afin Mohammed Hassan al-Zahawi, was injured when unidentified gunmen opened fire on his convoy in Khanaqin, Diyala Province. Irfan Saadullah, a candidate with the KDP, was also attacked in Khanaqin later that day by an unidentified group, but managed to escape. Earlier in the week, university professor and candidate for Parliament from the National Coalition, Farouq Mahmoud Zarzoor, was found stabbed to death in his home in Lazakah District, 70 kilometers south of Mosul in Ninewa Province. Although ISIS claimed responsibility, Zarzoor’s son confessed to the killing according to a statement from the Supreme Judicial Council. more…

Several Candidates Withdraw Before Vote; Integrity Commission Head Resigns – Candidates for Parliament from a variety of coalitions and parties resigned this week in the lead-up to the May 12 elections. Rochen Abdul Salam and Sherko Abed withdrew their bids to represent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s Victory Coalition, Sawsan al-Bayati withdrew her candidacy for the Civilization Coalition in Kirkuk Province, and Ali Ghadir withdrew from the Goodwill Coalition, also in Kirkuk. Most of the resigning candidates did not offer reasons for their withdrawals. Separately, on May 9, Hassan al-Yasiri announced his resignation as head of Iraq’s Integrity Commission, the independent entity within the Iraqi government responsible for preventing and investigating corruption. In a lengthy statement, Yasiri said that the timing of his resignation was not important and that his resignation had been discussed for some time. Yasiri previously offered to resign in 2016, just a year after his appointment to the position by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. more…

Curfews, Closings Announced Ahead of Election Day – Iraqi security officials began rolling out their plans to protect voters and candidates during the May 12 elections. Major General Jalil al-Rubai, Baghdad Operations Commander, said that “there is an integrated plan to secure all centers and people.” Beginning on May 9, vehicle traffic in Baghdad will be restricted, and a curfew put in place beginning in the evening of May 11 for the city. At noon on May 11, all land and sea crossings, and airports into Iraq will be closed, and roads between provinces in Iraqi Kurdistan will be closed on election day. The Independent High Electoral Commission added that all campagining must end by 7 AM on May 11. more…

Accusations of Slow Voter Card Distribution; Voting Underway for Iraqi Forces, Expats – Party leaders and officials in Ninewa and Kirkuk provinces accused local election officials of intentionally slowing the distribution of voter identification cards to would-be voters ahead of elections. Mohammed Mahdi al-Bayat, leader of the Fattah Alliance, said that 17 thousand voters in Kirkuk Province would be unable to vote because of “deliberate negligence” on the part of election officials. Vice President of the Ninewa Provincial Council and Turkmen leader Noureddine Kaplan, accused the Election Commission of disenfranchising thousands of Iraqis displaced to Turkey, noting that the Commission opened 16 voting centers in Ankara, but none in cities like Gaziantep, where a large population of Iraqis live. On May 10, early voting began for members of the Iraqi Security Forces in Iraq and for Iraqi expatriates abroad. Early reports indicate that polling stations opened for these purposes were seeing wide participation amid tight security measures. (Iraqis living in the U.S. interested in voting in May elections, click here for more information.) more…

Iraq Continues Airstrikes on ISIS Positions in Syria – On May 6, the Iraqi Air Force conducted airstrikes against ISIS positions south of Dashaisha, Syria. Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, spokesman for the Joint Military Command, said that the “airstrikes conducted by Iraqi F-16 aircraft 400 kilometers from the Iraqi border successfully targeted a gathering of important ISIS members and leaders.” more…

Iraq Condemns Trump’s Withdrawal from Iran Nuclear Accord – Iraqi President Fuad Masum and the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Iranian nuclear agreement. Masum said in a statement that “the agreement marked a major achievement in bolstering the chances of peace and progress for all states of the region and the international community.” The Foreign Ministry added that the withdrawal “goes in the direction of escalation.” Both Masum and the Ministry praised the other signatories to the deal, including European allies and Iran, for remaining committed to the agreement. 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.