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ISHM: July 8 - July 15, 2021

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Key Takeaways:

  • Deadly Hospital Fire Creates Outrage; Sadr Says He Withdraws From Politics; PUK Infighting Exposes Intense Division – On July 8, IHEC said candidates can begin campaigning for the October elections. On July 11, UNAMI chief condemned the abduction of Iraqi journalist Ali al-Mikdam as part of “cowardly aggressions that threaten a pillar of democracy: freedom of expression.” On July 12, the trial of four Duhok journalists accused of creating a political party to “undermine the stability of the Kurdistan region” began in Erbil. On July 12, Muqtada al-Sadr criticized militia attacks on U.S. targets, and questioned whether this “resistance to occupation” was true. On July 13, protestors gathered in Nasiriyah after a deadly fire killed more than 90 people at al-Hussein Teaching Hospital. President Barham Salih attributed the fire to “persistent corruption and mismanagement.” On July 13, Reuters reported that the intelligence chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps visited Iraq last week and instructed Iraqi militias to continue targeting U.S. personnel and facilities. On July 15, Muqtada al-Sadr said he will not support any political party in the upcoming election and withdrew his support “from anyone who claims to belong” to the Sadrist movement “in this government or the next.” On July 15, PUKMedia said the PUK arrested a “spy” who was working for the “former co-president” of the PUK “to strike the strategic interests” of the party. Another statement said that PUK “president” Bafel Talabani has ordered “radical changes in the leaderships of all security and party institutions.” more…
  • Iraq Sees Fewer Attacks On Its Grid; Gunmen Abduct, Torture Journalist Over Writings Criticizing Militias – Between July 10 – 15, the explosions of 11 IEDs in several provinces wounded 11 Iraqis and damaged high voltage transmission towers. Four of the bombs targeted convoys transporting supplies for the International Coalition. Between July 8 – 13, seven other attacks killed five Iraqis, wounded three others, and left one civilian missing. One of the attacks targeted a candidate in the upcoming parliamentary election. On July 9, masked gunmen kidnapped Ali al-Mikdam, an Iraqi activist and journalist, in the Karrada area of Baghdad. After his release, Mikdam said his captors tortured him and questioned him about an article he authored in which he criticized Iran-backed militias. more…
  • Iraq Launches New Food Distribution System; Hospital Fire Kills Dozens In Nasiriyah; Iraq Reports New Daily Record In COVID-19 Cases – On July 10, Iraq’s Trade Minister, Alaa Ahmed al-Jubouri, announced the launch of the nationwide “food basket” project, an ambitious effort to reform the national ration card system that started in 1991. On July 12, the Iraqi government, EU, and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) launched Iraq’s STRIVE Juvenile project, an EU-funded initiative to improve Iraq’s capacity to stop terrorist exploitation of children. On June 12, a massive fire broke out in the COVID-19 isolation ward of Imam al-Hussein Teaching Hospital in Nasiriyah, killing at least 92 people and injuring over 100 others. Staff and eyewitnesses blamed flammable construction materials, lack of fire alarms and extinguishers, and low first responder preparedness for the high casualties and speed at which the fire spread. On July 15, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 1,466,529. Deaths from confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 17,707 while hospitalizations increased to 116,244. To date, 1,332,578 patients have recovered from the virus, and Iraq has tested 12,387,180 samples for COVID-19. The daily average for new cases increased from 7,547/day over the 7-day period ending July 8 to 8,606/day during the last 7-day period. The total number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 1,104,878, including 16,519 who received their shots on July 15. The 9,635 new infections Iraq reported on July 14 represent a new daily high. more…
  • Iraq May Seek UN Help With Water Disputes; Baghdad Sends First Cash Payment To KRG; Iraq Had 1.25 Million Births In 2020; Chinese Company To Build Al-Faw Refinery – On July 10, Iraq’s Water Resources Minister threatened to file a complaint against Iran at the UN for cutting water flow into Iraq’s rivers, calling the cut a violation of international conventions. On July 11, the KRG’s Finance Ministry announced that the federal government sent IQD200 billion ($137 million) to Erbil’s branch of the Central Bank of Iraq. This is the first budget payment towards the KRG’s share of the 2021 federal budget. On June 12, Iraq’s Planning Ministry announced that Iraq recorded 1.258 million births and 224,729 deaths in 2020, placing the country’s estimated population at 40,150,200. On July 13, Iraq’s Oil Ministry announced that it signed a contract with the Chinese state-owned China National Chemical Engineering Co. Ltd. (CNCEC) to build a 300,000 bpd oil refinery and an associated petrochemical complex in al-Faw. 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.