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ISHM: December 16 – 30, 2021

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Key Takeaways:

  • **Najaf, Dhi-Qar Governors Resign; Parliament To Meet Jan 9 After Court Ratifies Election Results; Amiri, Sadr Set Conditions For Future U.S. Presence – **On December 23, the governor of Dhi-Qar submitted his resignation to PM Kadhimi after the latter ordered an investigation into the use of force by security forces in Nasiriyah that injured several protesters a day earlier. On December 24, the governor of Najaf submitted his resignation too, two days after Muqtada al-Sadr had called for his sacking amid fresh protests demanding better services in the province. The resignations sparked alarm among other Shia parties, who implicitly accused Sadr of forcing the resignations to benefit his party. On December 27, Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court ratified the results of the October 10 election and rejected the appeals filed by the Fatah Coalition. Muqtada al-Sadr welcomed the news and reiterated his plan to form a majority government. The leaders of the coordination framework for Shia parties said they accepted the Court’s decision but claimed it was made under pressure. They also asked their supporters to end their demonstrations against the results. On December 30, President Salih announced that he signed a presidential decree asking the new Parliament to convene on January 9. On December 28, Hadi al-Amiri said that International Coalition forces must hand over the Harir base in Erbil and Ain al-Assad base in Anbar “or any parts of Iraqi bases they occupy” to Iraqi forces, insisting that foreign combat forces “of any type” must leave by December 31, adding that the future need for foreign advisors must be assessed, justified, and described in detail by the Iraqi commanders and then agreed on in writing. Muqtada al-Sadr largely echoed Amiri’s position in a statement released on December 30. more…
  • **Attacks On Supply Convoys Escalate; ISF Ramp Up Anti-ISIS Operations; Oil Company Attacked; Militias Threaten More Attacks After Dec 31 – **Between December 18 – 29, the explosions of 17 IEDs and one remnant of war killed one Iraqi and injured at least 12. Twelve of these IEDs targeted convoys transporting equipment for the International Coalition forces along highways in central and southern Iraq. Between December 19 – 30, Iraqi troops and military aircraft killed at least 22 ISIS militants in a series of ground operations and airstrikes in Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninewa, and Anbar. On December 27, unidentified gunmen attacked the facilities of a Chinese oil services company operating at the Gharraf oil field in Dhi-Qar. The attack, which involved small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades, did not cause casualties. On December 28, anti-U.S. militias said that Washington was “not serious” about withdrawing from Iraq and threatened fresh attacks if any U.S. forces were to remain in the country after December 31. In other developments, between December 16 – 29, seven militants attacks in Salah ad-Din and Diyala killed 12 Iraqis and wounded 12 more. On December 19, two Katyusha-type rockets targeted the Green Zone in Baghdad without causing casualties. more…
  • **Flash Floods Ravage Erbil; UN Reports Slams Unfair Trials Of Kurdistan Dissidents; Diyala Displacement Crisis Continues – **On December 17, officials said that flash floods caused by heavy rainfall killed at least 11 people in Erbil, forced many to abandon their homes, and caused extensive material damage to public infrastructure and thousands of houses. On December 22, a new UN report on the state of freedom of expression in the KRI exposed shortcomings in the legal proceedings of trials involving people who criticized authorities. The report says authorities ignored reports of torture, and describes a “consistent lack of respect for the legal conditions…necessary to guarantee fair judicial proceedings.” On December 27, news reports said that nearly 300 families from the village of Nahr al-Imam remain in displacement, two months after they had to leave their village amid a wave of retaliatory actions sparked by an ISIS attack. In Other developments, on December 30, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 2,093,436. Deaths from confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 24,154 while hospitalizations decreased to 4,755. The daily average for new cases during the last 14-day period was 269/day, down from 424/day during the 7-day period ending December 16. The total number of vaccinated people reached 8,531,055 including 53,328 who received their shots on December 30. more…
  • **Iraq Pays Off Kuwait War Reparations; Land Distribution In Major Housing Program Begins; Iraq Resumes Sulfur Exports – **On December 21, Iraq’s Central Bank said Baghdad has made the last and final payment of the war reparations that the UN Security Council obligated Iraq to pay Kuwait in connection with its 1990 invasion of the country. On December 21, PM Kadhimi said the government will distribute 84,000 land deeds to Iraqis under the first stage of the “Dari” housing initiative. On December 27, Iraq’s General Ports Company said that the country has shipped its first cargo of 6,500 tons of sulfur for export after a long pause in sales. In Other developments, on December 20, the KRG Finance Ministry said it had received a new payment of IQD200 billion from the federal government to pay the salaries of its civil servants. On December 28, the head of Iraq’s General Commission for Customs instructed the regional managers of customs departments to prepare to establish customs offices along the internal borders with the Kurdistan region to “prevent smuggling and collect differences in tariffs.” 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.