ISHM: October 1 – October 8, 2020

News and Press Release
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Key Takeaways:

Iraqis Mark Anniversary Of 2019 Protests; Kadhimi Underlines Determination To Protect Diplomatic Missions; Sadr Threatens Protesters Following Clashes In Karbala – On October 1, thousands of Iraqis gathered in Tahrir Square to commemorate the anniversary of the 2019 protests which forced the resignation of PM Adil Abdul-Mahdi and in which hundreds died. On October 1, PM Kadhimi denounced attacks on diplomatic mission, stressing that “war and peace decisions belong to the state alone.” On October 2, UNAMI chief Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert met with a Kataib Hezbollah leader, drawing strong criticism from the Iraqi public. On October 6, FM Fuad Hussein spoke of diplomatic efforts to dissuade the U.S. from closing its embassy, adding that Iraq continues to engage with Iran on the matter of diplomatic missions security. On October 6, PM Kadhimi a committee to investigate recent security incidents in and around Baghdad and develop a plan for containing militant activity. On October 6, security forces violently dispersed demonstrators in Karbala. Footage showed security personnel beat demonstrators with batons after they chanted anti-Iran and anti-U.S. slogans. Muqtada al-Sadr later attacked the protesters, saying that some have “ISIS or Baathist tendencies” and threatened to mobilize his followers to prevent future demonstrations. On October 6, a UNAMI report on Iraq’s preparations for elections pointed that the government has not allocated the necessary funding, that IHEC is understaffed and unable to distribute biometric voter registration cards, and that disagreements over the borders of electoral districts continue to delay voting on the election law. more…

Government Pushes PMF Out Of Airport, Away From Internal Borders With KRG; IED And Rocket Attacks On U.S. Interests Dwindle – On October 1, a committee comprising senior security, border and aviation officials discussed closing the offices of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and other unauthorized entities in Baghdad Airport. On October 2, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) began an operation to clear 15 villages near al-Udheim between Diyala and Salah ad-Din. The operations killed six ISIS members and struck at least 17 ISIS positions. On October 4, the Iraqi Joint Operations Command ordered the PMF Brigade 30 to pull back their lines by 5km (3 miles) from the line of contact with the Peshmerga in eastern Ninewa after a September 30 rocket attack targeting Erbil Airport originated from the Brigade’s area of responsibility. On October 4, unknown assailants attacked the home of former Muqtada al-Sadr aide Assad al-Nasiri in Najaf using explosive and molotov cocktails, causing significant damage but no injuries. Between October 5 – 8, four ISIS mortar attacks in Kirkuk and Diyala killed four Iraqis and wounded five more. Two IEDs killed an Iraqi and wounded two others during the same period in Baghdad and Fallujah. On October 5, unknown militants fired two rockets at the Green Zone from the al-Jihad neighborhood of west Baghdad. The rockets missed their target and did not cause casualties. more…

UN Experts Demand Investigation Into Attacks On Female Activists; 2020 Iraq Humanitarian Response Funding Gap At 40%; COVID-19 Cases Approach 400,000 – On October 2, experts from the UN Human Rights Council called on the Iraqi government to investigate the killing and attempted killing of activists Riham Yaqoub and Lodya Remon al-Barti, condemning the “impunity that allows these crimes to continue.” On October 4, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that donors provided $450.5 million of the $662.2 million funding requirement for Iraq’s 2020 Humanitarian Relief Plan and COVID-19 response, representing only 60% of funding required to address the needs of just 44% of Iraq’s total population in need. On October 8, the Ministry of Health reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 394,566. Deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 9,683 while the number of patients currently in hospitals increased to 61,068. To date, 323,815 patients have recovered from the virus and Iraq has tested 2,439,828 samples for COVID-19. more…

Customs Revenue Drops; Daewoo Wins Port Contracts; Iraq Gains Membership Of The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; Finance Ministry To Begin Paying Delayed Salaries – On October 2, Iraq’s Border Ports Authority reported IQD100 billion ($83.8 million) in revenue in September, down IQD7 billion from August. On October 6, the Iraqi Minister of Transportation said his ministry will sign a contract with South Korea’s Daewoo to begin construction on the first phase of the “Grand Faw Port” project. On October 7, the governors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) accepted Iraq’s membership request. On October 7, Iraq’s Ministry of Finance announced it will begin disbursing the delayed public servants September salaries the following day, after days of uncertainty about the government’s ability to pay salaries. 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.