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ISHM: June 25 - July 2, 2020

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Key Takeaways:

  • Militias Attack Kadhimi Over Raid On Kataib Hezbollah; PM Sacks Media Commissioner, Eyes Changes In 6,000 Posts; Judiciary Drops Charges Against Former Finance Minister – On June 26, Qais al-Khazali and a Kataib Hezbollah spokesman attacked PM Kadhimi after Iraqi counter-terrorism forces arrested 14 Kataib Hezbollah members plotting rocket attacks in Baghdad. Khazali warned Kadhimi against trying to prevent attacks on U.S. forces arguing that no PM before him attempted to do so. Kataib Hezbollah accused Kadhimi of ordering the raid to cover up his alleged involvement in the assassinations of its leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. On June 26, President Barham Salih urged Turkey to end its military operations in northern Iraq amid an escalation of Turkish operations against the PKK that has also killed and displaced Iraqi civilians. On June 28, PM Kadhimi sacked the chief commissioner of the Communications and Media Commission as part of wider changes that will encompass 6,000 high-ranking. On June 30, the Iraqi judiciary released former Finance Minister Rafi al-Issawi and dropped all charges against him after he turned himself in. Speaker Halbousi said Issawi’s return after years of exile was the fruit of “social and political reconciliation” efforts by the UN and President Salih. more…
  • Counter-Terrorism Forces Arrest Kataib Hezbollah Members Planning Rocket Attacks, Take Over Important Border Crossing; Turkish Operations Inside Iraq Cause More Civilian Casualties – On June 25, Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) arrested 14 members of the Kataib Hezbollah militia for planning rocket attacks on government buildings. The rare operation raised tension between the CTS and the militia, which attempted to break into a CTS base to free the prisoners. A government spokesman stated that 13 of the detainees were later released but the primary suspect remains in custody. On June 25, local officials said that a CTS force arrived at the al-Qaim border crossing between Iraq and Syria to take over security at the facility, hours after PM Kadhimi said he’d launch a campaign to “retake control” of the country’s borders. On June 25, local officials said a Turkish airstrike in Sulaymaniyah killed two PKK members and wounded six civilians. On June 28, at least 25 mortar shells fired by Turkish forces struck villages in Duhok province. Between June 26-30, multiple operations by Iraqi security forces, some of which backed by Coalition airstrikes killed at least 21 ISIS militants in Salah ad-Din, Ninewa, Kirkuk and Diyala. On June 27, gunmen killed a senior police officer in Wasit, while ISIS militants killed one policeman and wounded three others in Diyala. Between June 27-July 1, two IEDs exploded in Basra without casualties, a third IED wounded a civilian in Diyala, while a fourth IED killed four popular mobilization Forces (PMF) fighters and injured the leader of a tribal force in Salah ad-Din. more…
  • Several Provinces Extend Total Curfews; Government Directs More Funds To The Health Ministry Amid Rising COVID-19 Cases And Deadly Oxygen Shortage; Deaths From COVID-19 Pass 2,160 – This week, officials in at least nine provinces announced a total week-long curfew in response to the worsening COVID-19 outbreak, and the country extended its flight ban until July 15. On June 27, Iraq’s PM instructed the Ministry of Industry to open all oxygen production lines to supply hospitals treating COVID-19 patients after a shortage caused deaths among COVID-19 patients in Nasiriyah. On June 28, the High Health and Safety Committee approved new funding for the Ministry of Health, authorized the ministry to recruit additional medical staff, allowed some private laboratories to perform COVID-19 testing, and allowed the Ministry of Health to buy oxygen on credit until its financial conditions have improved. The government set new curfew hours extending from 7:00pm until 6:00am, dismissing a proposal submitted by the Ministry of Health to revert to total curfew for four weeks. On July 2, the Ministry of Health reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 53,708 representing a new record weekly increase. More than 2,180 cases were reported in the last 24 hours alone. Deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 2,160 while a total of 27,912 patients have recovered. To date, Iraq has tested 567,685 samples for COVID-19. more…
  • Iraq Reports Progress In Building Grid Links With Gulf States; GDP Per Capita Drops, Poverty Rises Sharply; Oil Exports Dropped In June But Revenue Rises – On June 25, Iraq’s Ministry of Education said it recovered funds from 5,051 employees who were receiving double salaries from the ministry. On June 27, the Ministry of Electricity said it has completed 80% of the works required to connect Iraq’s electrical grid with those of the neighboring Gulf states, bringing Iraq closer to diversifying its energy imports. On June 28, the state-owned Iraqi Drilling Company signed a contract with Weatherford International to support drilling works concerning 20 wells in the Nasiriyah oil field. On June 29, Iraq’s Central Statistical Organization said the average per capita income decreased by 12.3% during the first quarter of this year compared with the same period of 2019, while the Ministry of Labor said the poverty rate has risen from 22% to 34% due to the pandemic and decline in oil prices. On July 1, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said crude oil exports averaged 2.816 million bpd in June, about 396,000 bpd lower than May’s average. These exports generated $2.861 billion in revenue, considerably more than May’s $2.091 billion. On June 30, the Central Bank of Iraq said instructed lenders to reduce interest rates on loans to support economic activity. 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.