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ISHM: July 15 - July 22, 2021

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Key Takeaways:

  • Iraq Announces Arrest Of Analyst Husham Al-Hashimi’s Killers; Kadhimi Meets Biden Next Week; PUK Tensions Subside; Iraqis Rally To End Impunity – On July 16, PM Kadhimi announced the arrest of one of suspects in the July 2020 assassination of prominent political analyst Husham al-Hashimi. The televised confessions of the suspect, a police officer, failed to reveal who ordered the assassination and the motive behind it. On July 16, the White House spokesperson said that President Biden and PM Kadhimi will meet in Washington on July 26 to launch the next round of strategic talks. On July 17, PUK co-president Lahur Sheikh Jangi announced that he would step down from his position, indicating a compromise to contain escalating tensions between him and co-president Bafel Talabani. On July 18, protesters took to the streets in Iraq and several cities around the world to demand an end to impunity for attacks against activists in Iraq. On July 21, Asaib Ahl al-Haq leader, Qais Khazali, accused PM Kadhimi of using the intelligence service in a plan to rig the October elections. more…
  • Deadly Suicide Bombing Kills 35 In Sadr City, Prompts Security Command Changes; String Of IEDs target Dhi-Qar Activists – On July 19, a suicide bombing for which ISIS claimed responsibility killed at least 35 people and wounded dozens more in Baghdad’s Sadr City. After the attack, PM Kadhimi relieved a divisional Federal Police commander responsible for the attack area from duty and appointed new commanders for Baghdad’s Karkh and Rasafa operations commands. Between July 15 -21, ten other IED explosions killed one Iraqi and wounded five others. Six of the bombings targeted the homes of civilians and activists in Dhi-Qar and Najaf. One of the other attacks damaged a high voltage transmission tower in Anbar. Between July 15 – 21, nine militant attacks killed ten Iraqis, mostly members of the security forces, and wounded at least 12 others. On July 17, an IED explosion injured two Turkish soldiers in Ninewa province’s Sheikhan district. Meanwhile, a Turkish airstrike killed five members of the PKK in northern Iraq. more…
  • Iraq Investigates Human Trafficking To Europe; Nearly Half A Million Returning IDPs Face Severe Conditions; Officials Call For Stricter Measures As COVID-19 Spread Continues – On July 15, Iraq said it will investigate human trafficking networks smuggling people from Iraq to Europe after Lithuania reported a spike in migrant arrivals from Iraq via Belarus. On July 15, UNICEF and UNESCO called for reopening schools in Iraq, underscoring the challenges children face due to school closures, including “learning loss, mental distress, exposure to violence and abuse, and…reduced development of social skills.” On July 18, the International Organization for Migration said that Iraq’s returnee population increased by 235,116 in 2020. The report ranks the severity of return conditions as low, medium, and high, based on security and the availability of shelter, jobs and services. It concludes that 484,548 of the total returnee population are in high severity conditions. On July 20, Iraq’s government issued guidelines for stricter preventive measures in public spaces, and said it will launch a campaign to encourage Iraqis to get vaccinated. Iraq’s Human Rights Commission called on PM Kadhimi to declare a state of health emergency after another day of record-high COVID-19 cases. On July 22, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 1,526,943. Deaths from confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 18,101 while hospitalizations increased to 122,511. To date, Iraq has tested 12,652,043 samples for COVID-19. The daily average for new cases increased slightly from 8,606/day over the 7-day period ending July 15 to 8,631/day during the last 7-day period. The total number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 1,218,518, including 20,819 who received their shots on July 22. The 9,883 infections Iraq reported on July 19 represent a new daily high. more…
  • KRG Eyes Regional Railway Project; Iraq Oil Output To Rise As OPEC Eases Restrictions; Land Distribution Initiative To Offer 550,000 Plots – On July 15, a delegation from the KRG Ministry of Construction and Housing met with a German railway company, Deutsche Bahn, in Berlin to discuss building a railway system connecting the Kurdistan region’s provinces. On July 18, the KRG Ministry of Electricity said work had begun on a 400 kilovolt power line to import electricity from Turkey. On July 18, OPEC decided to ease output restrictions imposed last year and allow members to gradually increase production. The new policy will allow Iraq to increase production by 150,000 bpd by December. On July 19, the Iraqi government launched a website through which Iraqis can file their applications to receive residential plots under an initiative that aims to distribute 550,000 plots throughout the country. more…

Attention readers! ISHM will take a break next week, but it will be back the week after, with comprehensive coverage of the week we missed!

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.