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ISHM: August 12 - August 19, 2021

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Key Takeaways:

  • Preparations For Regional Conference Continue; Tension Rises Between Sistani’s Followers And Iran-Backed Militias; Saeroun, Fatah Exchange Jabs Over Election Boycott; Former Air Force Commander Faces Prison – On August 14-15, Iraqi officials invited Qatar and the UAE to attend a regional conference that Baghdad intends to host by the end of the August, but made it clear that Syria was not invited. On August 15, the commander of a Popular Mobilization Forces unit affiliated with Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani accused the leaders of Iran-backed militias of being “traitors” that serve “masters from beyond the borders.” On August 16, a representative of Muqtada al-Sadr’s Saeroun Alliance stated that “elections will not happen without our participation,” adding that Saeroun’s decision to boycott elections was “a message to political blocs that were preparing to set up an incorrect mechanism for selecting the [next] prime minister.” Earlier, the rival Fatah Coalition dismissed boycotting parties as “insignificant…they realize they’re losing.” On August 16, security forces arrested the former commander of Iraq’s air force, who attempted to escape after a Baghdad court sentenced him to two years in prison over misuse of public assets. On August 17, President Barham Salih presented a new proposed penal code to Iraq’s Parliament to replace existing laws that have been in place since 1969. more…
  • ISF, Peshmerga To Form Joint Brigades; Turkish Airstrikes Kill Six People In Sinjar; New IEDs Target Contractors And The Electric Grid – On August 12, the Federal Government and the KRG announced an agreement to form joint security forces to operate in the buffer zones separating their respective security forces in Diyala, Kirkuk, and Ninewa provinces. On August 12, four rockets targeted a Turkish military base in Bashiqa, northeast of Mosul. On August 16 – 17, two Turkish airstrikes in Sinjar killed at least six people, including the commander of a local Yazidi militia, and injured four others. Between August 13 – 19, attacks with explosives damaged pylons on three high voltage transmission lines near Baghdad, Kirkuk, and Karbala. Between August 13 – 19, nine IED explosions killed at least two Iraqis and wounded 12 others. Three of the IEDs targeted contractors transporting supplies for the International Coalition. An additional IED killed three Turkish soldiers and wounded two in an unspecified location in northern Iraq. more…
  • Community Outreach Seeks Acceptance For IDPs With Perceived Ties To ISIS; COVID-19 Cases Slightly Down, Vaccinations Accelerate – On August 16, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released new statistics indicating that the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq stood at 1,191,470 as of July 31. On August 17, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said that its operations in Iraq face a 68% funding gap. On August 18, the UNDP and Iraq’s Ministry of Migration invited more than 70 tribal chiefs and community leaders to a workshop designed to promote acceptance for, and facilitate the return of Iraqi IDPs and refugees, especially those with perceived ties to ISIS. On August 19, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 1,809,376. Deaths from confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 19,958 while hospitalizations decreased slightly to 156,772. To date, Iraq has tested 13,912,862 samples for COVID-19. The daily average for new cases decreased from 9,460/day over the 7-day period ending August 12 to 8,314/day during the last 7-day period. The rate of vaccination continued to increase this week, with the total number of vaccinated people reaching 2,835,415, including 126,820 who received their shots on August 12. more…
  • KRG Receives New Installment From Baghdad; Kadhimi Announces New Projects In Ninewa; Baghdad Warns Ankara About Illicit Trade – On August 15, the head of the KRG representation office in Baghdad said that the federal government has decided to send the KRG another monthly payment of IQD200 billion as part of its share of the national budget. On August 16, Iraq’s Council of Ministers held a meeting in Mosul, where it approved plans to unfreeze funds meant for reconstruction and took other decisions regarding the rehabilitation of Mosul’s International Airport, train station, and several bridges. On August 18, Iraqi Trade Minister met with his visiting Turkish counterpart in Baghdad to discuss trade dispute, and stressed that Turkish goods must enter Iraq through official ports of entry “to protect them from legal action targeting contraband goods.” 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.