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ISHM: March 3 - 10, 2022

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Key Takeaways:

  • Parliament Solicits New Presidential Candidates; Oil Ministry Wants Lawmaker Arrested; Top Court Summons Finance Minister Over Dinar Devaluation; Lawmaker's Guards Shoot Prominent Activist -- On March 5, Iraq's Parliament voted to begin accepting new candidacy statements from individuals seeking to run for the office of president of Iraq. On March 8, Iraq's Oil Ministry said it asked the Joint Operations Command to execute a warrant for the arrest of a Basra member of Parliament accused of involvement in "flagrant extortion and misinformation" against the Basra Oil Company. On March 8, Iraq's Supreme Federal Court summoned the Finance Minister and Central Bank of Iraq governor to attend a hearing on March 14 in a case seeking to reverse the 2020 government decision to devalue the dinar. On March 8, the guards of Suha al-Sultani, a Sadrist lawmaker from Babylon province used batons, stones, and live fire to disperse protesters gathered outside the Sultani's residence, seriously injuring prominent activist Dhurgham Majid and several others. In other developments, on March 9, a criminal court in Salah ad-Din sentenced the mayor of the Samarra district to seven years in prison after finding him guilty of embezzling public funds. more...

  • Lack Of Funds Impedes Formation Of Joint Army-Peshmerga Units -- On March 9, the Ministry of Peshmerga said that lack of financial allocations was impeding the implementation of an agreement reached last year to form joint military brigades with the federal Ministry of Defense. The Peshmerga has recently made its 20th brigade available to the Defense Ministry for the purpose of creating two joint brigades to control gaps between their respective lines of control, but the Finance Ministry said that there were no authorized funds to support this plan. In other developments, between March 3 -- 10, the explosions of three IEDs and two remnants of war in Salah ad-Din, Dhi-Qar, Kirkuk, and Baghdad killed a child and injured a civilian. Between March 8 -- 10, clashes between Iraqi security forces and ISIS militants in Salah ad-Din, Kirkuk, and Diyala killed seven ISIS militants. The fighting also killed one member of the security forces and injured two soldiers and two civilians. more...

  • Iraq Relaxes COVID-19 Restrictions; WHO To Help Review Iraq's Health Sector -- On March 7, the Iraqi government revised the country's COVID-19 policies in light of declining infection rates. As of April 1, Iraq will no longer require visitors to present negative PCR tests, and all public and private universities will revert to in-person classes during the school year 2022-2023. On March 7, the regional director of the WHO met with PM Kadhimi in Baghdad and informed him that the WHO has selected Iraq and four other nations for a program to conduct a comprehensive review of their health systems and help develop them. In other developments, on March 10, Iraq's Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 2,311,238, an increase of 5,146 in cases from the 2,306,092 reported on March 3. Hospitalizations decreased from 30,160 to 24,026, and the daily average for new cases during the last 7-day period dropped to 735/day from 1,133/day during the 7-day period ending March 3. Total vaccinations reached 10,084,782 including 40,637 who received their shots on March 10. more...

  • Government Initiates Emergency Measures To Address Food Security; Baghdad Expects $20 Billion Revenue Increase In 2022 -- On March 6 and 8, the Iraqi government held emergency meetings to address food security amid a steep increase in prices. To this end, the government decided to raise the price at which it buys wheat from farmers, allocated $100 million to import three million tons of wheat, froze customs duties on several key food items, and decided to issue a one-time cash assistance payment to low income Iraqis. Meanwhile, authorities arrested 31 individuals in various provinces who are accused of price gouging. On March 10, a financial advisor to PM Kadhimi said the government expects $20 billion in additional revenue this year, aided by high oil prices. Officials think the higher revenue means that Iraq will not need to borrow money to cover its expenses. In other developments, on March 3, Iraq's Transportation Ministry said that Iraqi railroad officials and their Syrian counterparts discussed plans to extend a railroad connection from al-Qaim in Anbar province to the Syrian port of Tartus on the Mediterranean. 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.