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Iraq Security and Humanitarian Monitor: March 17 - 24, 2022

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Key Takeaways:

  • Sadr Asks Independents To Help Break Deadlock; Sadr-Led Alliance Endorses KDP Presidential Candidate, Picks Jaafar Al-Sadr For PM; Other Shia Parties To Boycott Key Meeting On March 26 – On March 21, Muqtada al-Sadr reached out to independent lawmakers, asking them to help achieve quorum at an upcoming session designated for the election of a new president. Sadr promised to reward the independents with “space for running the country.” On March 21, the Emtidad party, said that the coalition it is part of plans to attend the March 26 session to vote for its own presidential candidate. On March 24, the Sadrist bloc formally announced the formation of “National Rescue,” a trilateral alliance with the KDP and Syiada blocs. The alliance endorsed the KDP’s Reber Ahmed Barzani as its presidential candidate, and nominated Muqtada’s cousin, Jaafar al-Sadr to be the next PM. On March 24, the coordination framework for Shia parties (CF) warned in a statement that the anticipated Parliament meeting March 26 “will not happen due to incomplete quorum.” The CF statement said that insisting on convening the session threatens to “squander the rights” of the Shia community and “creates a schism” among its ranks. Earlier, a senior PUK officials said his party too plans to boycott the March 26 session. In other developments, on March 22, Interior Minister Othman al-Ghanimi became acting Minister of Migration after the former minister became a member of Parliament. On March 23, a court in Salah ad-Din sentenced activist Yazid Hassoun to three months in prison after it found him guilty of “defamation” against the provincial governor. The verdict sparked widespread condemnations and expressions of solidarity with the activist. more…
  • New Rocket Attack Targets Major Iraqi Air Force Base – On March 17, the Iraqi military said that an attack with four rockets targeted the Iraqi air force base at Balad, in Salah ad-Din province. The rockets, which originated from an area near the Khalis district of the adjacent Diyala province, struck an open area without causing damages or casualties. In other developments, between March 19 – 24, the explosions of four IEDs and two remnants of war in Ninewa, Dhi-Qar, Baghdad, and Najaf, killed one person and injured four people. Between March 22 – 24, four militant attacks on civilians and security forces in Kirkuk, Maysan, Diyala, and Baghdad, killed three Iraqis and wounded three more. more…
  • Climate-Induced Displacement Increased 10% In The 1st Quarter Of 2022 – On March 23, new data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on climate-induced displacement in Iraq showed that more than 20,000 individuals (comprising 3,358 families) were experiencing displacement from their areas due to water shortages as of mid-March. The figure represents a 10% increase in displacements since December 2021. Almost half of the displaced families are from Dhi-Qar province. In other developments, on March 20, Iraqi authorities in western Mosul opened a mass grave they believe includes mostly the remains of dozens of ISIS fighters and their relatives who died during the campaign by Iraqi forces to reclaim the city from the terrorist organization. Authorities so far removed the remains of at least 85 individuals, and will conduct DNA analysis to identify the deceased. On March 24, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 2,317,128, an increase of just 1,994 in cases from the 2,315,134 reported on March 17. Hospitalizations decreased from 19,206 to 14,865, and the daily average for new cases during the last 7-day period dropped to 285/day from 557/day during the 7-day period ending March 17. The number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 10,265,501 including 30,602 who received their shots on March 24. more…
  • Anti-Price Gouging Arrests Continue; Anbar Says Construction On New Airport Will Begin Soon – On March 20, Iraq’s Interior Ministry said it arrested 30 merchants and shop owners in various provinces who are accused of price gouging. The arrests are part of a campaign authorities launched earlier this month to deal with rising food prices and shortages caused in part by the war in Ukraine. On March 24, the local government in Anbar said that Polikon, a Turkish company, would soon begin construction on a new international airport in the province. The airport is designed to have the capacity to handle 500,000 passengers per year, according to the provincial government. In other developments, on March 23, Iraq’s Ministry of Industry said that the country’s state-owned cement production company produced more than 7 million tons of cement in 2021. The Ministry wants to raise production further as Iraq deals with shortages in construction materials as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 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.