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ISHM: December 24, 2020 - January 7, 2021

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Key Takeaways:

  • Kadhimi Says Government Ready For Showdown As Militias Issue Brazen Threats; Parliament To Discuss 2021 Budget On Saturday; Fatah Calls For Removing U.S. Forces – On December 25, PM Kadhimi warned “outlaw” militias that his government was “ready for a decisive confrontation if necessary” while stressing that he had called for de-escalation after a tense standoff in Baghdad. Kadhimi’s Defense Minister warned that a continuation of militia attacks on diplomatic missions could “lead the country into civil war.” On December 26, a senior member of Kataib Hezbollah threatened to “cut off the ears” of the Iraqi PM, warned him not to “test the resistance’s patience.” On December 29, Parliament received the draft 2021 budget, which the Cabinet approved on December 21. The budget includes IQD164 trillion in spending with an estimated deficit of IQD71 trillion. Parliament is set to begin discussing the draft budget on January 9. On January 3, Fatah Coalition leader Hadi al-Amiri said that the Iraqi government “must meet its commitments to remove all foreign forces, starting with American forces, according to a timetable.” On January 6, the KRG Parliament voted to approve the appointment of Kamal Atroushi as the next KRG Minister of Natural Resources. more…
  • Militias Increase Attacks On Coalition Contractors; ISIS Attacks Concentrate On Diyala; Security Forces Foil Mine Attack On Oil Tanker – Between December 25 – January 7, the explosions of 14 IEDs and three remnants of war killed at least seven Iraqis and wounded 19 across several provinces. Seven of the IEDs targeted contractors transporting supplies for the International Coalition. Between December 24 – January 5, at least 12 other militant attacks killed nine Iraqis and wounded 14 more. Most of the attacks occurred in Diyala province. On January 1, the Ministry of Interior announced the discovery of a mine attached to an oil tanker carrying Iraqi oil in the Persian Gulf. The mine was defused without incidents. more…
  • Activists Say Domestic Violence Worse Than Figures Imply; Iraq Among Most Dangerous Places For Journalists; Iraq Sees Fewer New COVID-19 Cases – On December 27, Iraq’s Interior Ministry said it recorded 15,000 instances of domestic violence in 2020. Activists from the Iraqi Feminist groups say that the numbers of women who suffer abuse but do not seek medical treatment or file a report are much higher. On December 29, Reporters Without Borders ranked Iraq in the top five most dangerous places to be a journalist, pointing that journalists face intimidation, harassment, and deadly attacks by unidentified militias for exposing government corruption or highlighting the demands of the protesters. On January 5, the Public Health chief in Iraq’s Ministry of Health said that Iraq expects to receive the first batch of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine during the first quarter of 2021. On January 7, Iraq’s Health Ministry reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 600,775. Deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 12,869 while the number of patients currently in hospitals decreased to 36,759. To date, 551,127 patients have recovered from the virus and Iraq has tested 4,774,142 samples for COVID-19. The daily average for new cases decreased to 885/day over the last 14-day period. more…
  • Iran Reduces Gas Supplies To Iraq; Daewoo Signs Faw Port Construction Deal; Iraq’s Oil Revenue Rises Sharply In December; Washington Issues New Sanctions Waiver – On December 28, Iran’s national gas company said it reduced gas supplies to Iraq because of outstanding bills in excess of $5 billion. On December 29, Iraq’s Border Ports Authority said customs revenue in 2020 amounted to IQD1.147 trillion, up from IQD1.122 trillion in 2019. On December 30, Iraq signed agreements worth $2.6 billion with Daewoo Engineering & Construction to build the first phase of Iraq’s planned Faw Port. On December 31, Iraq’s Central Statistics Office said GDP dropped by 21.5% during the third quarter of 2020 compared with the same period of 2019. On January 1, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said that oil exports during December averaged 2.846 million bpd, generating $4.213 billion in revenue, which is more than $800 million higher than November’s $3.394 billion. On January 4, Washington issued a three-month sanctions waiver for Iraq, allowing Baghdad to continue to purchase natural gas and electricity from Iran. On January 6, Iraq’s Minister of Agriculture said that Iraq began exporting “limited volumes” of several crops to Saudi Arabia. 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.