ISHM: May 6 - 13, 2021

News and Press Release
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Key Takeaways:

  • Assassination Sparks Anti-Iran Protests; Political Parties Boycott October Elections; UNAMI Criticizes Baghdad’s Crises Handling – Between May 9-12, thousands of protesters took to the streets in Karbala, Babylon, Najaf and Baghdad to protest the assassination of Ehab al-Wazni, a prominent activist and leader of protests movement in Karbala. Angry protesters chanted anti-Iran slogans, attempted to storm an Iranian Consulate, set ablaze political parties’ branches, and clashed with riot police. On May 9, two political parties declared an election boycott in response to al-Wazi’s slaying. On May 9, the Kurdistan Counter Terrorism Group denied that its agents supported the American operation that killed Qassem Soleimani. On May 11, major political parties accused London’s Ambassador to Baghdad of interfering in internal affairs for saying that Iraq cannot hold fair elections without protecting activists from armed factions. On May 11, the head of UNAMI gave Baghdad poor marks for its handling of the security situation and closure of IDP camps. UNAMI also highlighted “worrisome” trends in restricting freedoms in Kurdistan. On May 11 and 12, political candidates in Kirkuk and Baghdad said that they received explicit death threats demanding they drop out. more…

  • Gunmen Assassinate Activist Ehab al-Wazni; Explosive-Laden Drone Strikes Ain Al-Assad; Lockheed Martin Pulls Crews Sustaining Iraqi F-16s – On May 8, Gunmen assassinated prominent political activist Ehab al-Wazni in Karbala. The next day, attackers shot and severely wounded a TV reporter in Diwaniya. On May 8, an explosive-laden drone struck a hangar in Ain al-Assad air base in Anbar. Between May 6-13, nine IED attacks targeted military targets and civilians in Anbar, Babylon, Basra, Diyala, Kirkuk, Salah ad-Din, and Wasit. Three of those bombs exploded near International Coalition supply convoys. During the same period, ISIS militants attacked at least seven Iraqi army, police, and PMF targets in Diyala, Kirkuk and Salad ad-Din. These attacks killed at least seven Iraqis. On May 10, Lockheed Martin said it was pulling crews responsible for maintaining Iraqi F-16s from Balad air base due to continued security threats. Iraq’s military said the decision will affect training and capability-building efforts supporting Iraq’s F-16 fleet. more…

  • UNITAD Declares ISIS Atrocities Against Yazidis Genocide; National Lockdown Goes Into Effect In Iraq; COVID-19 Infections Continue To Decline – On May 9, the Iraqi Human Rights Commission said that it documented at least 25 assassinations and 45 attempts to kill political activists in 18 months, while 80 are still missing. On May 10, UNITAD said ISIS crimes against Yazidis constituted genocide. The UN body also concluded that ISIS militants committed war crimes when they executed unarmed cadets in Camp Speicher near Tikrit. On May 12, authorities began implementing a restrictive lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19. Major cities appeared deserted as security forces installed barriers and closed major roads. Meanwhile, the rate of infections and hospitalizations continued a steady decline for the third week. The Health Ministry reported an average of 4,843 cases per day during the last 7-day period, compared to an average of 5,627 per day during the 7-day period ending May 6. more…
  • Kadhimi’s Government Appeals Budget Law; Iraq Makes an Offer To ExxonMobil – On May 6, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said it was actively working to recover frozen assets in Italy valued at $724 million. On May 10, MP Ali al-Lami said the government submitted appeals concerning five articles of the budget law to the Federal Supreme Court. On May 10, Iraq formally offered to acquire ExxonMobil’s shares in West Qurna 1 oilfield. Exxon is seeking $350 million for its 32.7% share. On May 11, the Finance Ministry in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) transmitted the first draft of the region’s budget bill to the cabinet for approval. The draft is expected to be presented to the regional Parliament later for review and approval, a first since 2013. On May 12, the Ministry of Planning said that the inflation rate in Iraq continued its rise in April. The cumulative increase in inflation during the last six months reached 5.6%. 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.