- The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2299 (2016), in which the Secretary-General was requested to report every three months on progress made towards fulfilling the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). The report covers key developments related to Iraq and provides an update on the activities of the United Nations in Iraq since my last report (S/2017/357) and the briefing of my Special Representative to the Security Council on 22 May 2017.
II. Summary of key political developments pertaining to Iraq
A. Political situation
On 9 July, the Prime Minister of Iraq, Haider al-Abadi, arrived in Mosul to congratulate Iraq’s security forces on liberating the city from Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The Prime Minister further stated that victory was around the corner. On 21 June, while the Iraqi security forces were reportedly approximately 100 metres south of the Nuri mosque, where ISIL had declared its so-called caliphate, ISIL destroyed the mosque and its iconic leaning minaret. On 29 June, Iraqi security forces announced that they had taken control of the ar ea of the destroyed Nuri mosque. Iraqi security forces are currently making efforts to establish full control over the old city.
On 6 June, Prime Minister Al-Abadi stressed the need to balance progress against ISIL with minimizing casualties among civilians and Iraqi security forces. On 13 June, he praised support from the people of Mosul to the Iraqi security forces and highlighted Government-established corridors for evacuating people from the old city.
As Mosul is freed from ISIL, military operations will increasingly focus on the border between Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic and on areas still under ISIL control. During their operations in Ninawa governorate, the popular mobilization forces and the Peshmerga reportedly established alliances with local fighters of various backgrounds, including in areas being contested by the federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government. Tensions emerged over the operations of the popular mobilization forces in the Qayrawan subdistrict of Sinjar district, from 12 to 23 May. On 23 May, Prime Minister Al-Abadi reaffirmed Baghdad’s agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government, under which the Peshmerga would keep control of areas in Ninawa governorate that they had held prior to the Mosul operation in October 2016. He emphasized the need to address disputed areas through dialogue and through the formation of a joint Iraqi security forces and Peshmerga force in Sinjar. According to a statement issued by the Peshmerga on 30 May and to a statement by the Presidency of the Kurdistan region of Iraq on 31 May, the liberation of Yazidi-majority villages by the popular mobilization forces contravenes a prior agreement that stipulated that a joint Iraqi security forces and Peshmerga force should liberate those villages. On 30 May, the Kurdistan Regional President, Massoud Barzani, warned against intrusions into disputed territories under the Kurdistan Regional Government’s control prior to 2014.
While progress against ISIL is being achieved, this situation underscores the need to advance national reconciliation in parallel with that progress. On 17 May, under the sponsorship of the Speaker of the Council of Representatives, Salim al-Jubouri, and in coordination with UNAMI, a conference on the theme “The future of the Turkmens within a unified Iraq”, attended by 500 participants, was convened. Representatives of the President and the Prime Minister, and heads of Turkmen political parties and Turkmen parliamentarians attended. The aim of the conference was to formulate a unified vision on post-ISIL Iraq and the role of the Turkmens.
UNAMI also received multiple papers from various groups on national reconciliation, which included recommendations from religious and ethnic minority groups, civil society and youth. The Mission is comparing and analysing these proposals to identify common themes, which will support future discussions of UNAMI with key stakeholders.
No tangible progress occurred in the implementation of the Popular Mobilization Commission Law. On 30 May, Prime Minister Al-Abadi stressed that all Iraqi security forces, including the popular mobilization forces, operated under his command. Several leaders of those forces reaffirmed the Prime Minister ’s statement on 13 June.
There was no progress on amending the legal framework for elections. The Council of Representatives continued to consider amendments to the Law on Provincial and District Council Elections (Law No. 36 of 2008, as amended), the Law on the Independent High Electoral Commission (Law No. 11 of 2007), and the Law on the Council of Representatives Elections (Law No. 45 of 2013). According to the calendar of the Independent High Electoral Commission, 16 April 2017 was the deadline for establishing clarity on the Law on Provincial and District Council Elections. This would have allowed adequate time to prepare for the provincial and district council elections, scheduled for 16 September 2017.
On 30 May, citing the Constitution of Iraq, Prime Minister Al-Abadi stated that the elections to the Council of Representatives would have to be held on time irrespective of progress on the legal framework. On 20 June, Speaker of Parliament Al-Jubouri noted that key legislation, including electoral laws, would be on the agenda of the Council of Representatives, which was scheduled to resume on 4 July after the Ramadan break. He commented on the infeasibility of holding provincial and district council elections on time, in September 2017, but noted that the elections to the Council of Representatives, planned for April 2018, would not be postponed.
On 7 June, a majority of the political parties represented in the Parliament of the Kurdistan region of Iraq agreed to hold a referendum on independence on 25 September 2017. They also committed to reactivate the Regional Parliament, which last met in October 2015. The Movement for Change (Gorran) and the Kurdistan Islamic Group boycotted the 7 June meeting. Both averred that the Regional Parliament alone could call a referendum. On 7 June, the Governor of Kirkuk, Najmaldin Karim, reiterated that the referendum would also be held in Kirkuk