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ISHM: June 4 - 11, 2020

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Key Takeaways:

  • Parliament Approves Seven New Ministers; Protesters Demand Resignations Of Several Governors; Parliament Blocks Government Pay Cut Plans; U.S. And Iraq Launch Strategic Dialogue -- On June 6, Iraq's Parliament voted to approve seven new members of PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi's cabinet, thereby filling all 22 cabinet positions. On June 6, Hadi al-Amiri, the head of the Fatah coalition submitted his resignation from Parliament, raising expectations that he wants to assume the leadership of the popular mobilization forces (PMF) committee. On June 7, protesters took to the streets in several Iraqi provinces, including Najaf, Muthanna, Diwaniyah, Dhi-Qar and Babylon in what appears to be a unified push to demand the resignation of governors "from Basra to Babylon." On June 7, PM Kadhimi appointed Raed Jouhi as his new office director. On June 9, Qais al-Khazali, the leader of Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia said his group will shut down its offices in "all central and southern provinces until further notice." On June 10, Parliament voted on a resolution that "rejects any cuts" to public sector salaries and pensions "directly or indirectly." The resolution also opposes government plans to raise taxes on salaries and pensions. On June 11, the U.S. and Iraq launched the "strategic dialogue" talks that were announced in April as an effort to reset security, political, economic and cultural relations between Baghdad and Washington. more...

  • Iraq's PM Appoints New Military Chief Of Staff; New Rocket Attacks Target Vital Areas In Baghdad -- On June 5, a roadside bomb wounded two tribal mobilization fighters in Anbar province. Between June 7-9, gunmen killed four civilians in Ninewa and Baghdad, while an attack injured three policemen in Diyala. On June 10, a mortar attack killed an Iraqi soldier and wounded three others south of Kirkuk. On June 7, Iraqi PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi appointed Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Yarallah as the new chief of staff of the Iraqi military and appointed Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir al-Shammari as Deputy Commander of Joint Operations. On June 9-10, two rockets stuck close to the Baghdad international airport and the American embassy in Baghdad without causing casualties. Between June 5-10, Iraqi security forces killed a suicide bomber in Salah ad-Din province and three other ISIS militants in airstrikes between Diyala and Salah ad-Din. On June 10, Turkish airstrikes killed eight members of the PKK in northern Iraq. On June 11, Denmark said it will send 285 additional military personnel to Iraq to replace Canadian troops whose mission in Iraq is set to expire by the end of 2020. more...

  • Iraq Extends Total Curfew; WHO Warns Against Reopening Borders; Hundreds Of Doctors Infected With COVID-19 As Cases Rise Above 16,000 -- On June 6, Iraq's government issued orders to extend the total nationwide curfew through June 13 while PM Kadhimi acknowledged that increased testing has revealed the severity of the outbreak. The new orders include a lock-down on provinces that are host to pilgrimage sites (such as Najaf and Karbala) and called for stricter measures in provinces with international border crossings. The recent rapid increase in new cases prompted Iraq's top cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to urge Iraqis to observe social distancing and comply with the instructions of health authorities. On June 7, the WHO representative in Iraq warned that Iraq could experience a second wave of COVID-19 after having seen a rise in cases in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Turkey, and recommended that Iraq delays reopening borders with these countries. On June 7, the KRG Minister of Health warned that conditions in the Kurdistan region were critical and that the region was going through a dangerous new spike in COVID-19 cases. On June 9, Iraq's Ministry of Migration reported the first cases of COVID-19 infections in camps for internally displaced persons. On June 10, the Iraqi medical association reported that 324 Iraqi doctors had COVID-19, two of whom have died. Most of the cases were in Baghdad, where 170 doctors were infected. On June 11, Iraq's Ministry of Health reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 16,675 representing a new record weekly increase. Deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 457 while a total of 6,568 patients have recovered. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 339,868 samples for COVID-19. more...

  • Thousands Of Iraqi Oil Workers Lost Their Jobs; Iraq Affirms Commitment To Oil Output Cuts; Iraq Reopens Borders To Trade; Fires Destroyed Nearly 3,000 Acres Of Crops -- On June 5, Reuters reported citing Iraqi officials in Basra that up to 18% of Iraqi oil workers have lost their jobs or income due to the collapse in oil prices caused by COVID-19. On June 7, Iraq's electricity minister met with Germany's ambassador to discuss Iraq's energy needs and plans developed by Germany's Siemens for improving the electricity infrastructure. On June 8, Iraq's Oil Minister stressed that Iraq was committed to meeting its obligations to reduce its crude output under the OPEC+ deal. Meanwhile, Baghdad has approached some of its oil customers and asked them to skip an unspecified number of oil cargoes meant for this month and July. On June 9, Iraqi Border Ports Authority said it has asked the government to approve requests by Basra and Diyala provinces to partially reopen trade routes with Iran at the Shalamcheh and Mendili border crossings. Earlier, Turkish officials said that the Khabur gate between Turkey and Iraq at Duhok province reopened after months of closure due to the pandemic. On June 9, the Iraqi Civil Defense Directorate said that a total of 256 fires destroyed 11,630 dunams (2,873 acres) of farmlands during the harvest season between April 1 and June 8. 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.