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ISHM: July 9 - July 16, 2020

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Key Takeaways:

  • Electricity Blackouts, Salary Reforms Spark Protests; PM Seeks Closer Ties With Saudi Arabia; French Foreign Minister Visits Baghdad – Between July 10 and July 14, demonstrators took to the streets to protest poor electricity supplies in multiple provinces, prompting PM Kadhimi to offer private generator operators free fuel in exchange for lower prices and longer hours. Meanwhile, Parliament formed a committee to investigate alleged corruption in electricity projects since 2006. On July 12, groups of so-called Rafha pensioners protested a government decision that prevents the former residents of the Gulf War-era refugee camp from receiving pensions if they received another government salary. Unconfirmed reports of casualties invited political attacks on the PM from the Fatah Alliance and Dawa Party. On July 15, PM Kadhimi visited Basra and held a Cabinet meeting there in which the government gave the green light for contracts necessary for the stalled “Grand Basra Water Project.” On July 15, PM Kadhimi ordered the formation of the Iraqi-Saudi Council, a set of eight committees meant to enhance coordination between the two nations ahead of a visit to Saudi Arabia next week. On July 16, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Baghdad and met with his Iraqi counterpart to discuss economic and security challenges facing Iraq. more…

  • Turkish Operations Displace Civilians; Iraqi Forces Launch New Anti-ISIS Operations With Coalition Support; Gunmen Attack Convoy For U.S. Forces – On July 10, Turkish airstrikes forced residents of a village near Zakho to abandon their homes. Between July 10 – 13, six IEDs killed eight people and wounded 13 more, mostly members of Iraqi security forces (ISF) in Diyala and Babylon. On July 11, the ISF launched the fourth stage of Operation “Heroes of Iraq” to pursue ISIS militants in Diyala province up to the border with Iran and in the gaps between federal and Peshmerga forces in the disputed territories. On July 11, unknown gunmen intercepted and burned three trucks carrying equipment and supplies belonging to U.S. forces in Iraq. A new armed group named “Saraya Thawrat al-Ishreen al-Thania” claimed responsibility for the attack. Between July 12 – 15, the ISF and Coalition airstrikes killed at least 26 ISIS militants in Baghdad, Kirkuk, Diyala, and Makhmour, including a senior figure in the so-called Baghdad “Wilayat.” more…

  • Iraq To Relax Travel Restrictions, Lift Curfew In August; Warnings About COVID-19 Outbreak In Prisons; Iraq Records 16,500 New COVID-19 Cases This Week – On July 9, the government said that Iraqi citizens will soon be allowed to travel abroad on the condition that they self-quarantine for 14 days upon returning to Iraq. On July 11, a spokesperson for the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights warned that the health situation in Dhi-Qar was deteriorating amid shortages of important medical supplies, including oxygen, PCR testing kits for COVID-19 and personal protective equipment. On July 13, the Euro-Mediterranean Observatory for Human Rights warned that conditions in Iraqi prisons were on the brink of humanitarian catastrophe, arguing that the COVID-19 outbreak threatens prisoners disproportionately as crowded prisons lack essential health care and access to proper hygiene. On July 16, the government reduced the country-wide curfew hours to be from 9:30pm to 6am, with a plan to completely lift the curfew after Eid al-Adha holiday, which begins in early August. On July 16, the Ministry of Health reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 86,148 representing a new record weekly increase. More than 2,840 cases were reported on July 10, representing a new peak. Deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 3,522 while a total of 54,316 patients have recovered. To date, Iraq has tested 744,847 samples for COVID-19. more…

  • Government Asserts Control Over Border Crossings, Basra Ports; Iraq Vows Full Compliance With OPEC+ Cuts In August – On July 11, PM Kadhimi visited the Mandili border crossing, which partially reopened to trade with Iran last week, and he authorized Iraqi Armed Forces to shoot anyone who assaults the facility and its workers or commits customs violations. Kadhimi also visited the Safwan border crossing and the Umm Qasr ports in Basra, and instructed the military to provide protection for the sites and stop any armed groups that attempt to control them. On July 12, Oil Minister Oil Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar said Iraq will fully comply with its obligations under the OPEC+ agreement to reduce oil production in August, adding that Iraqi will also work between July and September to compensate for overproduction in May and June. 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.