1. The present report is submitted pursuant to Secretary Council resolution 2299 (2016), in which the Secretary-General was requested to report every three months on progress made towards the fulfilment of the responsibilities of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). It covers key developments related to Iraq and provides an update on the activities of the United Nations in Iraq since the briefing of my Special Representative to the Security Council on 9 November 2016. My last report was issued on 25 October 2016 (S/2016/897).
II. Summary of key political developments pertaining to Iraq
A. Political situation
2. In parallel with the ongoing military campaign against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Government of Iraq has been working on putting in place effective governance and security arrangements for post-liberation Ninawa. On 11 December, the Ninawa Provincial Council directed that all provincial government offices, many of which had been relocated to Erbil and Dahuk during the ISIL occupation, should move back to liberated areas of Ninawa. Provincial authorities resumed the delivery of services in retaken areas, with the Chair of the Provincial Council, Bashar Kiki, confirming on 23 November that provincial authorities had started working in the governorate to the extent that the security situation allowed. On the same day, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi affirmed in a session of the Council of Ministers that, upon liberation, Ninawa would be governed by civilian authorities. The Government also recommenced the recruitment of personnel for the Ninawa provincial police, with the intent of deploying them to secure liberated areas.
3. On 26 November, the Council of Representatives adopted the Popular Mobilization Commission Law, which establishes the popular mobilization forces as an independent military entity of the Iraqi armed forces under the command of the Commander-in-Chief, the Prime Minister. Of the 328 members of the Council of Representatives, 208 were present during the parliamentary session, including most of the members of the National Alliance and the Sadrist Movement and some members of the Kurdistan Alliance. The law was endorsed by all of those present. Some proponents of the law argued that it would guarantee livelihood and legal cover for the popular mobilization forces, while at the same time bringing them under the control of the Government. The majority of the Iraqi Forces Coalition boycotted the parliamentary session, arguing that after the defeat of ISIL there would be no need for maintaining military entities outside the ministries of defence and the interior. The Government is currently working out the modalities for implementing the law.
4. Discussions about national reconciliation in Iraq have been ongoing since the National Alliance, the Shi’a parliamentary bloc, adopted its National Settlement Initiative on 30 October. Political leaders from the Sunni component met on 26 November and 13 December to exchange views on national reconciliation. On 26 December, the Speaker of Parliament, Salim al-Jubouri, and a number of representatives from the Iraqi Forces Coalition met with a delegation from the National Alliance, including its Chair, Ammar al-Hakim, to discuss the post-ISIL phase, as well as national reconciliation. At a joint press conference after the meeting, the parties emphasized the importance of a unified Iraq and an inclusive national reconciliation process.
5. On 7 December, the Council of Representatives approved the 2017 Federal Budget Law. Key disputed issues included allocations for the popular mobilization forces and the Kurdistan Regional Government, as well as demands from southern governorates. Under the budget, total expenditures are estimated at $85 billion and total revenues at $67 billion, leaving an $18 billion deficit (or 21.6 per cent of the total budget). Planned oil exports are set at 3.75 million barrels per day, at a price of $42 per barrel. This target is in line with the decision taken by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries on 30 November, under which Iraq is committed to limiting its crude oil production level to 4.35 million barrels per day. On 5 December, the International Monetary Fund Executive Board completed its first review of the three-year stand-by arrangement for Iraq and disbursed a first amount of $618 million, noting that the revised fiscal programme in 2016 and the 2017 budget were aligned with the stand-by arrangement.
6. The 2017 federal budget sets the total number of popular mobilization forces elements at 122,000 and provides a total budget of $1.6 billion for the forces. According to the budget, the number of popular mobilization forces elements from governorates and areas affected by the armed conflict would be increased to ensure that each governorate is represented in a proportionate manner, while also maintaining a balance between the various communities within each governorate.