ISHM: September 17 - September 24, 2020

News and Press Release
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Key Takeaways:

  • Kadhimi Visits France Next Month; Constitutional Amendments Committee Reports Progress; Halbousi Targets Sep 26 Election Law Vote; Sadr, PMF Committee Denounce Attacks – On September 18, Iraq’s Foreign Minister said from Paris that PM Kadhimi will visit France next month. On September 18, a presidential adviser said an academic committee formed to suggest constitutional amendments completed its proposals and that President Salih will seek Cabinet input before submitting the proposals jointly to Parliament. The committee worked to clarify articles concerning the “Federation Council,” proposed changes to presidential powers, suggested shrinking Parliament to 175 lawmakers, and proposed allowing the party with the most seats based on election results to form the government. On September 20, a KRG delegation arrived in Baghdad to continue negotiations regarding the region’s share of the federal budget for the next three years. On September 21, PM Kadhimi banned Lt. Gen. Jamil al-Shammari from travel over his suspected role in the killing of protestors in Nasiriyah last year. On September 22, Speaker Halbousi said he intends to pass a complete Election Law by September 26, and called on all representatives to attend the session. On September 24, the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Committee condemned attacks on foreign and Iraqi interests, saying they are not in line with national policy. Moqtada al-Sadr also condemned unnamed elements of the PMF for conducting “ongoing bombings and assassinations,” saying PMF factions must avoid violence to protect Iraq from proxy conflicts and external influence. more…

  • New IEDs Hit Coalition Contractors, American School; Kidnapping Of Activist Precipitates Standoff In Dhi-Qar; Explosion Raises Tensions In Sinjar – On September 17, a bomb targeted the American Institute for English Learning in Najaf. Between September 19 – 23, five IEDs targeted civilian contractors transporting supplies for the U.S.-led Coalition in Salah ad-Din, Abu Ghraib and Babylon, injuring at least one Iraqi. Between September 20 – 23, a rocket targeted Baghdad International Airport and three mortar rounds landed in the Green Zone. Between september 19 – 20, two other IEDs and an ISIS attack killed two Iraqis and wounded four more in Diyala. On September 19, unknown gunmen kidnapped activist Sajjad al-Iraqi and injured another activist after targeting their vehicle near Nasiriyah. PM Kadhimi dispatched CTS units to Nasiriyah to rescue the kidnapped activist. Tensions and potential for confrontation between the CTS on hand side and local tribes and militias on the other side forced a pause in operations. On September 20, Iraqi military sources said a Turkish drone strike destroyed a car in Sinjar, killing three members of the PKK. But eyewitnesses claimed the explosion was the result of a car bomb, and accused the PKK of plotting the bombing “to prevent the return of displaced people and have freedom of action in the area.” The next day, a PMF unit affiliated with the Najaf clergy said it received a request from Yazidi leaders to help form a Yazidi force to help secure Sinjar. more…

  • PM To Form New Council To Defend Women Rights; Iraq Bans Visitors Ahead Of Arbaeen; Iraq Joins Global Vaccine Alliance As COVID-19 Cases Continue To Rise – On September 19, PM Kadhimi announced the creation of the Supreme Council for Women in Iraq, which will seek equitable treatment and protection for women from “persecution, violence, and discrimination.” On September 19, the National Health and Safety Committee issued new COVID-19 guidelines that prohibit the entry of visitors from any country, including pilgrims trying to visit Karbala for the annual Arbaeen pilgrimage. On September 21, a survey conducted by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) revealed that 78% of displaced Iraqis have lost their source of income, that 66% of displaced families cut the number of their meals, and 83% of displaced families were “less likely” to send their children to school since the start of the pandemic. On September 21, the Ministry of Health announced that Iraq joined the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations and expects to obtain enough doses for 20% of the population, prioritizing senior citizens, medical crews and security forces. On September 24, the Ministry of Health reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 337,106. Deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 8,799 while a total of 268,761 patients have recovered. To date, Iraq has tested 2,141,885 samples for COVID-19. more…

  • EU To Support Energy Sector Reform; Iraq, Turkey To Build Railroad Link; Iraq To Sign Port Construction Contracts; U.S. Extends Iran Sanctions Waiver – On September 20, Iraq’s Minister for Planning, signed a new agreement with the EU for enhanced financial support to help fight COVID-19, resettle IDPs, as well as technical and financial support for electricity and gas sectors reforms. On September 20, the Ninewa Governor announced that Iraqi engineering and construction crews working with Turkish firms will begin construction on a new railway line between Mosul and Turkey in the coming days. On September 20, the Oil Ministry announced leadership changes in several of its departments and constitutive companies, including the Basra Oil Company and Iraqi Drilling Company. On September 22, the director of Iraq’s state-owned ports company said the company will award $2 billion in contracts for infrastructure and berth construction as part of the “Grand Faw Port” project. On September 23, an Iraqi official said the U.S. had extended Iraq’s exemption from sanctions on electricity and gas imports from Iran for 60 days. 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.