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ISHM: April 1 - April 8, 2021

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Key Takeaways:

  • Militia Leader Threatens More Attacks On U.S. Targets; Baghdad And Washington Resume Strategic Dialogue; Investigation Identifies Officers Responsible For Killing Protesters – On April 2, Qais al-Khazali threatened continued attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq, singling out presence at two bases in Anbar and Erbil. On April 3, the Swiss Foreign Minister arrived in Baghdad to discuss economic, humanitarian, and security issues with PM Kadhimi. On April 7, Kadhimi selected Ahmed Ghani al-Khafaji as Dhi-Qar’s new governor. On April 7, Iraq and the U.S. launched the third round of strategic dialogue talks. A joint statement after the talks outlined steps for cooperation in security, economic, energy, humanitarian and cultural affairs. The two sides stressed that the shift in U.S. forces mission to training and assisting the ISF allows for the “redeployment of remaining [U.S.] combat troops outside Iraq” according to timetables the parties will set later. On April 7, the Iraqi military said that an investigations into the killing of protesters in Dhi-Qar in February identified five ISF personnel who opened fire despite orders restricting the use of lethal force. more…
  • New Wave Of Bombings Target Coalition Contractors; Rockets Strike Near Balad Air Base – Between April 5 – 8, eight IEDs targeted Coalition supply convoys along highways in southern and western Iraq. The attacks coincided with a threat by a group called Ashab al-Kahf to use more sophisticated methods to circumvent counter-IED measures. Between April 3 – 8, five other IED attacks killed one Iraqi and wounded at least six others. One of the attacks targeted a group of activists in Dhi-Qar. On April 4, two rockets landed outside the perimeter of Balad air base, north of Baghdad, without causing casualties. On April 3, ISIS militants kidnapped four fishermen in Salah ad-Din and executed two of them. more…
  • COVID-19 Surge Continues, Cases Surpass 900,000; Iraq And Lebanon To Exchange Fuel For Health Services – On April 8, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 903,439. Deaths from confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 14,606 while hospitalizations increased to 89,506. To date, 799,327 patients have recovered from the virus, and Iraq has tested 8,380,401 samples for COVID-19. The daily average for new cases increased from 5,970/day over the 7-day period ending April 1 to 6,642/day during the last 7-day period. The total number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 126,791, including the 8,657 who received their shots on April 8. On April 7, Physicians for Human Rights published a report outlining the challenges facing Iraqi health institutions as they struggle to deal with the pandemic. The document warns that government statistics on infections and fatalities are “almost certainly lower than the actual” numbers. On April 2, Iraq and Lebanon signed an agreement to trade fuel for medical services. On April 6, the UN-Habitat said Japan provided it with $3.5 million to support creating favorable conditions for the return of IDPs to the Sinjar district of Ninewa. On April 6, UNHCR published the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (Iraq 3RP), which aims to address the needs of nearly a quarter million Syrian refugees who are currently in Iraq. more…
  • United Arab Emirates To Invest $3 Billion In Iraq; Construction On Major Dam Project To Begin In May; Government Agrees To Pay Lecturers After Week Of Protests – On April 4, Emirati officials announced $3 billion in investments in Iraq during a visit by PM Kadhimi. On April 5, Iraq’s Minister of Water Resources announced that Iraq plans to begin working on the Makhoul Dam project on May 1. On April 6, the Iraqi government authorized the Ministry of Education to contract and pay “free lecturers,” a group of thousands of educators and administrators who provide services as freelancers without regular pay. The Cabinet approved the IQD 250,000 ($171) monthly stipend following several days of sit-ins and protests that erupted in 11 provinces, including Baghdad. 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.