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ISHM: August 19 - August 26, 2021

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Key Takeaways:

  • Preparations Continue For August 28 Regional Conference; Kadhimi Visits Kuwait; Sadrists Say Early Election “Unconstitutional”; UNAMI Lauds IHEC’s Preparations – On August 21, Turkey’s Erdogan defended the August 16-17 deadly Turkish airstrikes in Sinjar during a phone call with PM Kadhimi. On August 21, Japan’s Foreign Minister arrived in Baghdad for meetings with Iraqi officials, and received an invitation from Kadhimi to attend the regional conference Baghdad will host on August 28. On August 22, PM Kadhimi visited Kuwait to discuss bilateral relations. Kadhimi highlighted his government’s desire to make Iraq a “meeting point for dialogue” and invited Kuwait to attend the August 28 regional conference. On August 22, the Saeroun Alliance said the plan to hold early elections in October violated Article 56 of the Constitution. On August 25, KDP leader Masoud Barzani and Dawa Party leader Nouri al-Maliki issued a joint statement from Erbil in which they stressed that the next election must take place as scheduled on October 10. On August 25, the head of the UN Mission for Iraq briefed the UN Security Council on current conditions in the country, with a focus on electoral preparations. The UN envoy lauded the efforts by IHEC to prepare for the early election, but warned that IHEC preparations alone won’t guarantee that elections will be successful and credible, calling on Iraqi parties to do their part. more…

  • ISIS Attack, PMF Retaliation Raise Tensions In Tarmiyah; Turkish Shelling Kills Two Iraqis; Six IEDs Target Military Supply Convoys – On August 20, ISIS militants attacked PMF fighters in Tarmiyah, north of Baghdad, killing four of them and wounding several. Tensions increased in the area after PMF fighters demolished five houses that ISIS allegedly used to attack them. PM Kadhimi visited Tarmiyah to meet with security commanders and community leaders to mitigate the tensions. On August 22, Turkish artillery shelling struck near Zahko, killing two Iraqi tourists from Mosul. On August 24, Turkey bombed 28 suspected PKK positions in the Penjwen district of Sulaymaniyah province. On August 24, mortar shells struck near villages in the Qosh Tappa subdistrict, south of Erbil. Between August 24 – 25, nine IED explosions killed three Iraqis and wounded a fourth person. Six of the explosions targeted convoys transporting supplies for Iraqi and Coalition forces. On August 24, unidentified gunmen attacked al-Rafidain Center for Dialogue in Najaf using a rocket-propelled grenade. Between August 23 – 24, three Iraqi airstrikes in Salah ad-Din, Anbar and Diyala killed five ISIS militants and injured three others. more…

  • Aid Organizations Say Water Crisis Impacts Millions; New Human Trafficking Reports Points To Lingering Risks; New COVID-19 Cases Decline As Vaccinations Pass the 3 Million Mark – On August 23, 13 humanitarian organizations warned in a joint statement that water scarcity poses a severe risk to the wellbeing of 12 million people in Iraq and Syria. The statement warned that drought will reduce electricity generation at dams, cause widespread disruptions to agriculture, and create new challenges for displaced persons. On August 23, Iraq’s Foreign Ministry said it will begin providing temporary passports to hundreds of Iraqis who have been stranded on the Lithuanian-Belarussian border to enable them to return home. On August 23, a new U.S. Department of State report said that women and children are the most vulnerable groups to human trafficking, especially those living in regions liberated from ISIS. The report also warned that nearly 1.2 million IDPs are at an increased risk of being exploited, and that Yazidi survivors remain at risk of being “re-trafficked.” On August 26, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 1,855,781. Deaths from confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 20,480 while hospitalizations decreased to 140,060. The daily average for new cases decreased from 8,314/day over the 7-day period ending August 19 to 6,629/day during the last 7-day period. The rate of vaccination continued to increase this week, with the total number of vaccinated people reaching 3,192,127, including 131,262 who received their shots on August 26. more…

  • KRG Terminates Major Gas Development Contract; Iraq Inks Solar Power Deal With PowerChina – On August 21, Rudaw reported that British energy firm, Genel Energy, received a notice from the KRG’s Natural Resources Ministry terminating Genel’s contract to develop the Miran and Bina Bawi gas fields. Genel denounced the Ministry’s decision, arguing that “Genel believes that the KRG has no grounds for issuing its notices of intention to terminate.” On August 24, the Iraqi Cabinet approved a proposal presented by BP in June to move its stake in the Rumaila oil field to a new, stand alone company. On August 25, the Iraqi government said it has signed a preliminary deal with PowerChina to install solar power plants capable of producing 2 gigawatts of electricity. 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.