ISHM: October 9 – October 15, 2020

News and Press Release
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Key Takeaways:

  • Kadhimi Announces Deal On Normalization In Sinjar; Parliament Holds Controversial Vote On Districting; Militias Announce Conditional Truce; Economic Reform White Paper Released -- On October 9, PM Kadhimi announced an agreement with the KRG to "restore stability and normalize conditions" in Sinjar. The deal assigns security responsibility to the federal government "in coordination with" the KRG, while a "joint commission" would oversee services. On October 10, lawmakers voted on an electoral districting plan that bases the number of districts per province on the respective number of women quota seats--typically one quarter of the total. A group of 50 representatives rejected the vote, saying it lacked quorum. On October 11, a Kataib Hezbollah spokesperson said that anti-U.S. militia groups Iraq were offered a ceasefire conditional on U.S. military withdrawal. On October 11, a new borrowing bill arrived in Parliament, seeking authorization to borrow from domestic and foreign lenders to plug a budget deficit amounting to $34 billion for the final four months of 2020. On October 11, Federal Supreme Court Justice Aboud al-Tamimi died, casting doubt over the Court's ability to ratify future election results. On October 12, Iraq's Cabinet released a long-awaited white paper on its intended efforts to reform Iraq's economy. The paper identifies Iraq's great dependence on oil revenues to finance a bloated, underproductive public sector and other government spending as the primary causes of economic weakness. It describes a three-to-five-year program to overhaul Iraq's economy, and outlines nearly 200 legislative, technical, and financial reform measures organized into five categories, starting with immediate measures to stop the financial "bleeding." more...

  • String Of IED Attacks Hit Ninewa, Diyala And Baghdad While Unexploded Ordnance Continues To Claim Lives; ISF And Peshmerga Open Two Security Coordination Centers -- On October 9, Maj. Gen. Adnan Salman al-Anzi took command of the 5th Iraqi Army division in Diyala province, replacing Maj. Gen. Saleh Harz Nasser, who assumed command of the 8th division. Between October 9 -- 15, nine IEDs and explosions involving unexploded ordnance killed at least four Iraqis and wounded 13 others in Ninewa, Diyala, Anbar and Baghdad. One additional attack targeted contractors transporting supplies for the International Coalition in Samawa, without causing casualties. Between October 9 -- 14, three other ISIS attacks in Diyala and Ninewa killed two Iraqis and wounded a third. On October 13, Iraq's Joint Operations Command announced the opening of two joint security coordination centers with KRG security forces in Erbil and Baghdad. Top ISF and Peshmerga commanders also discussed opening another center in Diyala and "sealing the gaps" along the line separating areas under their respective control. more...

  • Arrests Target Journalists And Activists; Health Workers On Strike Over Poor Work Conditions As COVID-19 Deaths Pass 10,000 -- On October 7, KRG security forces arrested journalist Sherwan Amin Sherwani, who covers human rights abuses in the KRI. On October 12, police arrested political activist Hamad al-Sayed al-Sumada'i in Salah ad-Din province after he criticized local government officials on Facebook. On October 10, the WHO warned that Iraq's healthcare system can't meet growing needs for adequate mental healthcare, noting that there are fewer than two mental healthcare workers for every 100,000 Iraqis, well below the global average of nine per 100,000 people. On October 11, members of five healthcare workers unions began a countrywide strike to demand higher pay, better work conditions, and replacing the minister of health. On October 14, the West Mosul Local Peace Committee signed an agreement to encourage over 1,100 displaced families with perceived links to ISIS to return to their homes in the Muhalabiya subdistrict. On October 15, the Ministry of Health reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 416,802. Deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 10,086 while the number of patients currently in hospitals decreased to 55,964. To date, 350,752 patients have recovered from the virus and Iraq has tested 2,568,776 samples for COVID-19. more...
  • Flights To Iran And Turkey Resume; Iraq Looks To China To Build New Airport and 1,000 Schools; Iraq, Jordan And Egypt Discuss Oil Pipeline Project; Telecom Company Sues Iraq -- On October 11, Baghdad sent a new payment of IQD 320 billion to the KRG as part of a budget deal agreed to on August 15. On October 11 and 15, Iraqi authorities announced the resumption of flights to Iran and Turkey, respectively. On October 11, Iraqi officials discussed the development of an airport in Nasiriyah and a project to build 1,000 schools with China's Ambassador. On October 12, Iraq agreed to a deal allowing Iran access to funds frozen in Iraqi banks that represent outstanding dues owed to Iran for Iraqi energy purchases and are to be used by Iran to purchase Iraqi goods. On October 13, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq discussed implementing an oil pipeline originally agreed to between Jordan and Iraq in 2013 to connect Basra to the Jordanian port of Aqaba. Jordan's Foreign Minister said the project was part of the three countries' desire for "integration." On October 13, Iraq's Oil Minister proposed the creation of a new oil company to handle operations in the Kurdistan region similar to other state-owned entities operating in other Iraqi provinces. On October 13, French telecommunications company Orange, sued the Iraqi government for more than $400 million in damages in connection with Orange's investments in Iraqi telecom operator, Korek. On October 14, the Chief Executive of Petronas said the company is considering ending its operations at the Gharraf oil field due to pressure from low oil prices. 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.