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Iraq Security and Humanitarian Monitor: April 21-28, 2022

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Key Takeaways:

  • Tehran And Riyadh Hold New Talks In Baghdad; Halbousi, Threatened By Returning Political Rivals, Seeks New Understanding With Iran -- On April 23, Iran's foreign ministry said that Iran and Saudi Arabia recently held a "fifth round" of diplomatic talks in Baghdad. Iranians said the talks were "positive," and raised hopes for "steps on the path of resumption of ties." On April 26, Speaker Halbousi threatened to withdraw from the political process in response to the "dominance and manipulation" by armed factions. Halbousi was apparently responding to the recent returns of several Sunni political and tribal figures from Anbar, who had been exiled on terrorism or corruption charges since Nouri al-Maliki's second term (2010-2014). The returns are viewed as maneuvers by the Coordination Framework for Shia parties (CF) to apply pressure on Halbousi to reconsider his alliance with Muqtada al-Sadr. The next day, Halbousi went to Tehran and met with President Raisi, foreign minister Abdullahian, and national security chief Shamkhani. Speaking at a press conference, Halbousi alluded to U.S.-Iran relations, and the militia problem in Iraq, saying that "sanctions should not be imposed on people, just as there should be no terror through empowering armed gangs," noting that he "looks forward to improved relations" with Iran. In other developments, on April 24, the trilateral "Save the Homeland" alliance of the Sadrist bloc, KDP and the Siyada coalition of Speaker Halbousi, announced that it will present a bill to criminalize normalization with the state of Israel. more...

  • Militants Launch New Series Of Attacks Across Several Provinces; Tension Rises Between Iraqi Army And Militias In Sinjar -- Between April 21 -- 28, the explosions of ten IEDs, three remnants of war, and one suicide bomber vest in Babylon, Muthanna, Diwaniyah, Najaf, Ninewa, Basra, Anbar, Diyala, and Salah ad-Din provinces killed at least nine Iraqis and wounded another ten. Between April 21 -- 27, clashes between ISIS militants and Iraqi forces in Anbar, Kirkuk, Diyala, and Salah ad-Din provinces killed at least four Iraqi civilians and members of the security forces, and wounded 12. At least eight ISIS militants were also killed. On April 23, Iraqi army troops raided a building occupied by the PKK-affiliated YBS militia in Sinjar, confiscating various weapons and arresting several militiamen. Meanwhile, army forces in the Sinjar area received reinforcements in preparation for possible escalation. Between April 22 -- 24, Turkish military bases in Duhok and Ninewa provinces were attacked twice with rockets as Turkish forces continued their military campaign against PKK presence in the Kurdistan region. more...

  • Humanitarian Responses Face Large Funding Gaps; More Than Half A Million Returnees Remain In "High Severity" Conditions -- On April 24, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) has reached a third of nearly 1 million people targeted by the plan. So far, donors have provided $41 million in funding, just over 10% of the $400 million needed to implement the 2022 HRP. On April 25, UNICEF said its 2021 appeal to fund humanitarian assistance in Iraq, which requested $65.9 million to address "critical and acute humanitarian needs" of children and families, ended with a funding gap of 57%. On April 26, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) provided new data on the patterns of return among internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their home districts during the first quarter of 2022. The update shows that more than 581,00 returnees are living in "high severity" conditions relating to housing, livelihoods, basic services, security, and social cohesion. Another 1.94 million are experiencing "medium severity" conditions. In other developments, on April 28, Iraq's Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 2,324,847, an increase of just 969 from the 2,323,878 reported on April 21. Hospitalizations decreased from 3,604 to 2,335, and the daily average for new cases during the last 7-day period decreased to 138/day from 163/day during the 7-day period ending April 21. The number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 10,524,458, including 17,292 who received their shots on April 28. more...

  • Iraq And Iran Agree On Energy Supply Terms Throughout 2022; Twenty New Wells To Boost Oil Production At The Nasiriyah Field -- On April 27, Iraq's Minister of Electricity met with Iran's Oil Minister in Tehran to discuss gas and electricity supplies to Iraq and $1.69 billion in related arrears. The two sides reached "mutually satisfactory solutions" regarding prices, contractual obligations, and payments of arrears to "guarantee streamlined supplies throughout 2022." On April 27, the director general of Iraq's Dhi-Qar Oil Company said that a project to expand production capacity at the 80,000 bpd Nasiriyah oil field has commenced with the drilling of the first of 20 new oil wells. In other developments, on April 24, Iraq's Border Ports Commission said that Iraqi authorities have started implementing electronic receipt mechanisms at several ports of entry to prevent fraud in the collection of customs fees. 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.