ISHM: October 15 – October 22, 2020

News and Press Release
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Key Takeaways:

  • Militia Supporters Attack KDP Baghdad Office; Political Leaders Condemn Extra Judicial Killings In Salah Ad-Din; Kadhimi Tours European Capitals; Former Ninewa Governor Arrested – On October 17, militia supporters burned the office of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Baghdad. A new group calling itself “Rab’ Allah” is believed responsible for the attack, which followed remarks by a senior KDP member who criticized rogue elements within the PMF. The attack coincided with reports of attacks on liquor stores in Baghdad by another group calling itself “Ahbab Allah.” On October 17, the Ministerial Council for National Security opened an investigation into local security forces’ failure to prevent the executions of eight young men in in Salah ad-Din province, condemning the executions as intolerable security breaches, and promising urgent measures to determine responsibility. PM Kadhimi travelled to Salah ad-Din and met with local security officials to discuss the ongoing investigation. Kadhimi also visited the victims’ families, pledging to bring the perpetrators to justice and to reinforce security forces in the area. The chairman of the PMF commission, Falih al-Fayyadh said that Qais al-Khazali, whose Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia is suspect in the killings, “pledged to cooperate with the investigations.” Between October 18 – 22, PM Kadhimi led a high-level delegation on a European tour in which he visited Paris, Berlin and London. Kadhimi meetings with Europe’s key leaders focused on supporting Iraq mitigate its financial crisis, carry out economic reforms, revive its private sector, and enhance its security and counter-terrorism capabilities. On October 19, police arrested former Ninewa governor Nawfal al-Agoub on embezzlement charges involving IQD76 billion ($64 million) of funds intended for Mosul’s reconstruction. On October 21, the Parliamentary Legal Committee announced that lawmakers will meet next week to discuss the borrowing bill, the districting provisions of the Elections Law, and amendments to the Supreme Federal Court Law. more…
  • Militia Involvement Suspected In Kidnapping/Execution Incident In Salah Ad-Din; ISF Targets ISIS Militants In Kanous Island – Between October 15 – 21, eight IEDs killed at least six Iraqis and wounded at least eight more in Ninewa, Diyala, Babylon, and Kirkuk. Between October 16 – 21, at least five other militant attacks killed ten Iraqis and wounded at least seven more in Salah ad-Din, Kirkuk, Ninewa, Babylon and Diyala. On October 17, unknown militants executed eight young men in al-Farhatiya, an area of Salah ad-Din where the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia has significant presence, raising widespread suspicions of the militia’s involvement in extra judicial killings. Four other individuals were also missing after the attack. On October 21, Iraqi commanders said security forces were conducting a four-day operation that started on October 19 to clear Kanous Island of ISIS fighters. Iraqi Army engineers deployed pontoon bridges to allow the ISF to cross the Tigris into the Island, with is suspected of being a major launch point for the militants in northern Salah ad-Din. more…
  • Survey Shows Widespread Pollution In Basra Waterways; Iraq Plans To Close 36 IDP Camps Within Months; COVID-19 Spikes In The KRI While Nationwide Cases Approach 450,000 – On October 15, REACH Iraq released a new assessment of water pollution in Basra’s canals, detecting pollution with trash and vegetation in more than 7,700 locations. On October 18, aid organizations reported 36 incidents of access restrictions in Iraq during September, about half as many incidents they reported in July. These restrictions negatively impacted the delivery of humanitarian aid and assistance to more than 287,700 people, mostly in Ninewa and Anbar. On October 20, police discovered a mass grave for ISIS victims near Kirkuk containing the bodies of fifty people whom ISIS executed during its occupation of the area. On October 21, the Minister of Displacement and Migration announced that the last internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Karbala closed with the return of its 560 residents to their home districts in Tal Afar and Mosul. The government also closed the Shams and Ahl IDP camps in Abu Ghraib with the return of their 860 residents to their home districts in Anbar province. The minister said that a total of 36 camps will be closed in three stages within the next several months. On October 22, the Ministry of Health reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 442,164. Deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 10,465 while the number of patients currently in hospitals decreased to 55,964. To date, 371,826 patients have recovered from the virus and Iraq has tested 2,705,941 samples for COVID-19. The areas most affected this week were Baghdad and the Kurdistan region, which reported a record daily increase of 1,300 positive cases on October 22. more…
  • Iraq Targets 2023 To End Flaring; Baghdad Says Erbil Not Complying With Agreed Oil Production Cuts; Parliament To Discuss Borrowing Bill Next Week Amid Opposition – On October 16, a military source in Diyala reported that the Iraqi Army and other branches of the security forces launched several large-scale operations to prevent smuggling through the Khanaqin district, which borders Iran. On October 19, the Ministry of Oil announced it plans to eliminate gas flaring by 2023 by investing in new infrastructure in Basra, Dhi-Qar and Maysan to increase associated gas capture by 1.2 billion cubic feet/day to 2.7 billion cubic feet/day. The ministry is also looking to develop non-associated gas deposits at the Akkaz field in Anbar and Mansouriyah field in Diyala. On October 20, Iraq’s Oil Minister said that the Kurdistan region was not adhering to its share of the 1.06 million bpd in production cuts that Iraq has agreed to under the OPEC+ production cuts. On October 21, the Parliamentary Finance Committee said the legislature will conduct a first reading of the borrowing bill submitted by the Finance Ministry next week to gauge legislative support. Multiple committee members voiced opposition to the bill, saying the government was trying to borrow “astronomical figures” that are allegedly much higher than the actual deficit. 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.