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ISHM: July 2 - July 9, 2020

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Key Takeaways:

  • Kadhimi Appoints New Security Adviser, Chief of National Security Service; Poor Economic Conditions Spark Protests In Kurdistan; Public Anger Over Assassination Of Prominent Researcher – On July 4, PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi appointed retired General Abdul-Ghani al-Asadi, a former commander in the Counter-Terrorism Service as head of the National Security Service and appointed former Interior Minister Qasim al-Araji as his National Security Advisor. On July 6, protesters in Sulaymaniyah broke into the local office of the KRG Parliament, demanding payment of their salaries, which have been delayed since February. Meanwhile in Erbil, farmers protested the loss of crop earnings by tossing their crops on the street as cheap imports from neighboring countries caused prices to fall and lock-down left them unable to market their produce. On July 7, demonstrators in Tahrir Square in Baghdad mourned Husham al-Hashimi, a prominent Iraqi security analyst who was assassinated by gunmen on Monday. The protesters accused Iranian-backed militias of killing al-Hashimi, who was a vocal advocate for establishing state control over arms and a supporter of peaceful protesters. On July 8, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the assassination and accused Iranian-backed militias of the attack. UN Special Representative Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert called it an “act of cowardice,” calling on the government to act quickly to identify the perpetrators. more…

  • Coalition Reduces Iraq Task Force Size, Adjusts Mission; Rocket Targets U.S. Embassy; Gunmen Assassinate Prominent Researcher; Federal Forces And Peshmerga Establish Coordination Centers – On July 2, an IED killed two Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) fighters in Salah ad-Din, and on July 4, another IED wounded two civilians in Ninewa. On July 5, the U.S.-led Coalition said a portion of its Task Force-Iraq will be withdrawn from Iraq, and the remainder will transition into a Military Advisor Group that will “support the ISF w/ anti-ISIS planning, intelligence sharing, and airstrike coordination at a centralized operations center in Baghdad.” On July 5, a rocket struck a house in Baghdad’s Green Zone, injuring a child. The rocket was apparently targeting the U.S. embassy, but was deflected by its C-Ram anti-missile defense systems. Between July 5-8, two mortar attacks and two other ISIS attacks wounded six civilians and killed a tribal fighter in Diyala, while Iraqi forces killed a senior ISIS figure north of Baghdad. On July 6, gunmen assassinated prominent Iraqi security analyst Husham al-Hashimi in Baghdad. Sources close to Hashimi recently received threats from both ISIS and militia groups like Kataib Hezbollah. PM Kadhimi condemned the assassination and vowed to “spare no effort in pursuing the criminals.” Kadhimi also dismissed the commander of the 1st Federal Police Division, which is responsible for security in the area where the attack happened. On July 7, Iraqi commanders said federal forces and the Peshmerga discussed establishing three coordination centers in Diyala, Kirkuk and Ninewa to enable coordination and information sharing regarding ISIS activity in areas where the Peshmerga and federal forces currently don’t have presence. more…

  • Studies Reveal Pandemic’s Massive Economic Damage; Iraq Scrambles To Build Field Hospitals For COVID-19; Curfews Extended As Iraq Sees 15,900 New Cases This Week – On July 2, a survey of the pandemic’s economic impact in Iraq by the International Rescue Committee found that 87% of respondents have lost their jobs, and 73% were forced to eat less food to save money while a new study by Iraq’s Planning Ministry indicates that 4.5 million Iraqis are at risk of experiencing poverty as a result of the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic. On July 3, WHO delivered 200 ventilators to Iraq’s Ministry of Health and expects to provide an additional 100 ventilators soon. On July 4, Iraq’s Planning Minister said his ministry will present a plan to resume construction of several hospitals where work stalled at 90% complete. Meanwhile, Iraq opened a new 300-bed field hospital to absorb new COVID-19 cases and authorized the Ministry of Finance to obtain a €15 million grant from Germany to finance the construction of five temporary hospitals to help combat the COVID-19 crisis. On July 6, Iraq’s Higher Committee for Health and National Safety extended the nighttime nationwide partial curfew during weekdays, and will enforce a full curfew during the weekends. The government also ordered all private medical facilities to shut down until July 20. On July 9, the Ministry of Health reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 69,612 representing a new record weekly increase. More than 2,741 cases were reported on July 8, representing a new peak. Deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 2,882 while a total of 39,502 patients have recovered. To date, Iraq has tested 649,036 samples for COVID-19. more…

  • Iraq Partially Reopens Borders With Iran; Pandemic, Rising Temperatures Lead To More Outages; Iraq To Resume Oil Trucking To Jordan, Seeks Oil Deal With Lebanon – On July 6, the Iraqi Border Ports Authority said the prime minister approved a request submitted in June to resume partial trade at the Shalamcheh and Mandali border crossings, which connect Iraq with Iran. Two days a week, 250 shipments will be allowed through the border while the movement of people will continue to be prohibited. On July 7, the Parliamentary energy committee said that the COVID-19 pandemic was contributing to the reduction in the hours of electricity supplied through the grid by reducing the ability to repair hundreds of broken transformers amid high demand during the summer heat wave. On July 8, Jordan’s Energy Minister said that Iraq will resume the export of 10,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil to Jordan in the next two days. The exports were halted for two months as low prices rendered the trucked exports inefficient due to high transport costs. Meanwhile, an Iraqi delegation arrived in Beirut seeking an agreement that would trade Iraqi oil for agricultural and industrial products. more…