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ISHM: May 21 - May 28, 2020

Countries
Iraq
Sources
EPIC
Publication date
Origin
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Key Takeaways:

  • Saeroun Trying To Replace Speaker Halbousi; KRG Blames Baghdad For $27 Billion Debt; PM Kadhimi Speaks With World Leaders, Seeks Economic Support – On May 21, the Saeroun bloc led by Moqtada al-Sadr said it will issue an ultimatum to Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi “to correct his path” amid reports of ongoing effort to remove Halbousi from office. On May 22, KRG PM Masrour Barzani said his government faces $27 billion in debt, attributing most it to Baghdad’s policy to withhold the KRG share of the budget, and alluded to plans for austerity measures. On May 22, PM Kadhimi spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and discussed mitigating Iraq’s financial crisis and preparations for strategic dialogue in June. On May 23, Kadhimi spoke with the presidents of France and Russia and met with China’s ambassador to Iraq. The talks focused on expanding foreign investments in Iraq, support for reconstruction of war-damaged cities, and counter terrorism cooperation. On May 23, Iraq’s finance minister visited Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to encourage investments in Iraq and discuss debt forgiveness and electrical grid links. more…
  • ISIS Continues To Burn Farms While IED Activity Declines; Top ISIS Commander For Iraq Killed In Syria – Between May 22-27, suspected ISIS militants attacked a small refinery in Kirkuk, killing one person and wounding three, while an explosion and small arms attack wounded a civilian and two members of the Iraqi security forces (ISF) in Diyala. ISIS militants also killed a civilian and burned farms in at least three locations in Kirkuk and Diyala, while two attacks on ISF positions in Salah ad-Din left three militants dead and injured three ISF members. Meanwhile, suspected ISIS militants kidnapped four men from villages in Kirkuk and Diyala. Finally, two IEDs wounded three members of the ISF in Babylon and Diyala, while an attack south of Baghdad killed one Iraqi soldier and wounded another. On May 25-26, ISF helicopters destroyed three ISIS armed trucks near Rutba while Iraq’s counter terrorism service said the International Coalition killed a top ISIS commander for Iraq an airstrike in eastern Syria. The ISF also killed four militants southwest of Baghdad and destroyed two ISIS vehicles in Salah ad-Din. On May 27, a Turkish airstrike killed five PKK members in Sulaymaniyah and damaged a nearby hospital and civilian homes. more…
  • UNAMI Report Says 490 Activists Killed Since October, Presses Baghdad To Investigate; COVID-19 Outbreak Worsens – On May 23, the UN assistance mission for Iraq (UNAMI) published an update on violence against Iraqi protesters since October, counting 123 cases of missing persons, 490 killings and 7,783 injuries. UNAMI urged the Iraqi government to locate the missing activists, investigate kidnappings and torture, protect protesters from new abuses, and expose those behind the abuses. On May 28, the KRG issued orders to extend the closure of airports and ban on travel between the provinces of the Kurdistan region through June 15. On May 28, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased this week to 5,457 representing a new record weekly increase in confirmed infections. Deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 179 while a total of 2,971 patients have recovered. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 211,485 samples for COVID-19. Iraq’s prime minister instructed security forces this week to be more strict in enforcing the curfew designed to contain the spread of COVID-19. more…
  • Baghdad Borrowed To Pay May Salaries; Erbil And Baghdad To Negotiate Budget Settlement In 30 Days; Saudi Companies To Invest In Iraqi Gas Field – On May 23, a financial advisor to the Iraqi government said the financial crisis forced Baghdad to borrow ID 3 trillion (~$2.5 billion) from local banks to secure enough funds to pay salaries and pensions for the month of May. On May 23, the KRG agreed to a road-map proposed by the Iraqi government to resolve their budgetary disputes. Baghdad will pay the region ID 400 billion (~$333 million), then the two sides would audit the KRG non-oil revenue and hold intensive meetings leading to a final settlement within 30 days. On May 23, Iraq’s finance minister said Iraq has reached an agreement with Saudi firms to invest in the development in the Akkaz gas field in Anbar province. On May 23, the director of the Basra Oil Company said Iraq has begun drilling the first new production well in the Majnoon oil field since former operator Royal Dutch Shell withdrew from the field in 2018. 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.