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ISHM: July 23 - 30, 2020

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Key Takeaways:

  • Iraq Asks Neighbors To Release More Water; Protesters Killed In Violent Crackdown As Electricity Shortages Ignite New Demonstrations; Leading Kurdish Parties To Mend Fences -- On July 24, the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources said Iraqi and Syrian officials were coordinating to put pressure on Turkey for their countries respective share of water. The minister also asked Iran to release more water from the Karun river into the Shatt al-Arab waterway, where reduced flows caused salinity to spike. On July 26, PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi mandated the formation of a committee charged with tracking customs operations at borders and ports after security forces deployed to 14 ports of entry prevent militia interference and criminal activity. On July 27, security forces killed at least two demonstrators and wounded dozens in overnight clashes while attempting to contain spreading protests in Baghdad's Tahrir Square. Eye witnesses said security forces fired tear gas and live ammunition at protesters. PM Kadhimi condemned the violence and ordered an investigation. He blamed corruption and poor planning by former governments for the electricity shortages that have sparked a new wave of protests across central and southern Iraq. On July 27, senior KDP and PUK leaders met in Erbil in an attempt to ease tension between their parties. The Kurdistan region's parliament, in which the KDP and PUK are the largest parties, has not met since early May. more...

  • Kidnapped German Activist Freed In Iraq; Rocket Attacks And Mysterious Explosions Rock Military Bases -- On July 24, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) freed German arts curator and activist Hella Mewis in an operation outside Baghdad but failed to arrest the kidnappers. On July 24, four Katyusha rockets struck the Besmaya military base southeast of Baghdad, damaging a warehouse for armored vehicles the day before the International Coalition handed the base back to the ISF. On July 27, three more rockets struck Camp Taji north of Baghdad, which houses Iraqi and Coalition forces. One of the rockets damaged an Iraqi Army helicopter, and another damaged an ISF artillery workshop. On July 26, two explosions occurred at al-Saqr military base in southern Baghdad, which houses units of the Iraqi federal police and Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). The explosions destroyed a weapons depot and were attributed to extreme heat and poor storage. The following day, two explosions struck the Majid al-Tamimi Air Base in Salah ad-Din province. Between July 25 -- 29, ISIS attacks and bombings in Salah ad-Din, Anbar, Baghdad and Diyala killed at least eight people (five civilians and three ISF memebrs) and injured twelve people (seven ISF members and five civilians). On July 26, Turkish airstrikes in Duhok killed one civilian and one Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighter. On July 28, the ISF concluded a new series of operations targeting ISIS presence in Diyala province. more...

  • Government Orders Total Curfew During The Eid Holiday; German Loan To Fund Four New Hospitals; COVID-19 Cases Exceed 121,000 -- On July 26, the Iraqi government issued orders for a total curfew during the Eid al-Adha holiday (July 30 through August 8). The government is allowing private clinics to re-open, so long as they obey health and safety guidelines, and tasked the Ministry of Health to coordinate a study for establishing electronic portals for medical consultations. On July 27, the EU delivered 27 tons of humanitarian aid items for UNICEF in Iraq, including educational kits for children in need, and personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers. On July 28, the KFW Development Bank said it will provide €15 million on behalf of the German government to finance at least four new hospitals that to serve up to 7,000 patients in Baghdad, Basra, Sulaymaniyah and Ninewa. On July 30, the Ministry of Health reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 121,263. More than 2,960 cases were reported on July 29, representing a new daily peak. Deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 4,671 while a total of 85,546 patients have recovered. To date, Iraq has tested 983,335 samples for COVID-19. more...

  • Iranian Sets Up Company In Iraq To Handle Imports, Settle Debt; Iraq Achieves Self-Sufficiency In Wheat; Japan To Finance 55,000 BPD Refinery In Basra -- On July 25, Iranian officials said their government created a company in Iraq to purchase food products as part of an arrangement to settle Iraq's debt to Iran in connection with Iraq's energy imports from Iran. On July 26, the Iraqi Ministry of Trade said Iraqi wheat farmers have so far delivered more than 4.9 million tons of grain this year, indicating Iraq will be self-sufficient in wheat for the second consecutive year. On July 28, the KRG Finance Minister told the KRG parliament that, during budget negotiations held last month, the federal government offered funds to pay for only half of the KRG's public employees. On July 29, Iraq's Oil Minister said the Iraq government agreed to enter into a contract with JGC, a Japanese engineering company, to build a 55,000 bpd refinery in Basra, to be financed through a loan provided by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). 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.