Country: Iraq, Syrian Arab Republic
Sistani Condemns Violence Against Protesters; Amiri Mediates Between Sadr And Maliki; Allawi Under Pressure Amid Competing Demands By Political Rivals; Iraq And NATO Agree On Training Mission – On February 7, Ayatollah Ali Sistani condemned ongoing violence against protesters, specifically the February 5 Najaf attacks during which Sadr’s “blue hats” followers killed between eight and 14 people and wounded many more.
On February 9, political sources said that Fatah’s leader Hadi al-Amiri was mediating between political rivals Moqtada al-Sadr and former PM Nouri al-Maliki to unite the Shia parties in Parliament.
On February 11, Moqtada al-Sadr warned that he might withdraw his support for PM-designate Mohammed Allawi’s efforts to form a new government because Allawi was allegedly coming under the influence of partisan and sectarian pressures.
Sadr appeared to be alluding to efforts by Sunni, Kurdish and rival Shia political factions seeking a share of Allawi’s future cabinet.
On February 11, a member of the Fatah coalition accused Sunni and Kurdish factions of making excessive demands for ministerial positions that could derail the government formation process.
Political blocs have largely refrained from making public demands for certain ministerial positions, but analysts say that all political blocs are competing to secure their shares of cabinet posts behind closed doors.
Local newspapers suggested that members of Parliament opposing Allawi’s confirmation were now the majority.
On February 13, the secretary general of NATO said the government of Iraq asked NATO to continue training the country’s security forces.
Sadr Issues “Charter” To Regulate Protests, Threatens Protesters Over “Promiscuity” And “Insults To Religion”; Iraqi Women March In Defiance; Protesters And Security Forces Struggle For Control Over Key Roads And Bridges – On February 11, Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his “blue hat” supporters to “disband” but allowed them to continue to participate in protests, so long as they “blended in with [protesters]…without declaring their affiliation.” On February 8, Sadr issued an 18-point “revolution charter” that included controversial and overbearing items, such as a call for gender segregation at protest sites and saying that protesters must not interfere in political debates over government formation.
Activists criticized Sadr’s attempt to establish “patriarchal control” over the reform movement.
On February 13, Iraqi women organized marches in Baghdad and several provinces to assert the role of women in the reform movement and challenge social stereotypes.
Sadr responded by accusing young protesters of engaging in “promiscuity, drunkenness, and immorality.” Sadr compared secular, civil-minded protesters to ISIS, saying that he will not tolerate “offenses against religion, faith, and the homeland.” On February 12, protesters and security forces wrestled for control of key bridges and roads.
In Baghdad, protesters continued to occupy al-Khilani and Tahrir Squares despite attempts by riot police to restrict protesters to Tahrir Square.
Nearby, protesters closed the al-Sinak bridge again hours after security forces had announced the reopening of the bridge and other roads.
In Nasiriyah, protesters closed bridges with burning tires and cut off access to local government buildings.
At least one protester was killed, two were kidnapped and dozens were injured by tear gas and live fire during these events.
Protesters continued to reject Allawi’s appointment, denounce government and militia violence, and demand social, economic, and political rights.
UN Official Says ISIS Threat Remains “Acute”; Several Bombings Hit Baghdad; Lawyer, Journalist Targeted In Assassinations; ISF Launch New Major Operation; ISIS Conducts Complex Attack In Diyala – On February 7, the head of the UN Counter-Terrorism Department warned that ISIS continues to try to regroup, and that between 20,000 and 27,000 foreign fighters currently in Syria and Iraq continue to “pose an acute short, medium and long-term threat”.
On February 7, an IED wounded three civilians southeast of Baghdad.
On February 7, an IED killed one soldier in Diyala.
On February 8, ISIS militants killed one Iraqi soldier and wounded another in an attack in Salah ad-Din.
On February 8, an IED wounded one soldier south of Baghdad.
On February 8, four IEDs exploded in separate areas of Baghdad, injuring eight civilians.
On February 10, gunmen assassinated a government employee in Diyala.
On February 10, gunmen killed a naval officer in Basra.
On February 10, an IED wounded six civilians in Diyala.
On February 10, U.S.
defense officials said that 109 U.S.
personnel have sustained traumatic brain injuries following the January 7 Iranian ballistic missile strikes on Ain al-Assad air base.
On February 11, gunmen assassinated the CEO of an Iraqi satellite TV channel.
On February 11, an IED wounded two civilians in Mosul.
On February 12, an IED injured two civilians north of Baghdad.
On February 12, gunmen fired on a lawyer who defends detained protesters in Dhi-Qar, seriously wounded him.
On February 12, the Iraqi military launched a large-scale security operation to search for ISIS militants across Anbar province and surrounding areas up to Iraq’s borders with Syria and Jordan.
On February 12, ISIS gunmen killed a Peshmerga fighter in Diyala and subsequently killed one civilian, one ISF member and injured six other people who responded to the initial attack.
Plan To Resettle Refugees From Al-Hol Camp Faces Opposition In Ninewa; UNHCR Says There Are 6.3 Million “People Of Concern” In Iraq; Snowfall Increases Need For Fuel, Winter Supplies At IDP Camps – On February 7, the head of the UN Counter-Terrorism Department said that the humanitarian crisis facing 70,000 women and children in the al-Hol refugee camp in Syria was an urgent issue.
The official pointed out that children are denied freedom, education, and basic rights because of alleged connections to ISIS fighters from Iraq and Syria, recommending sending them back to their home countries.
News of an Iraqi government plan to resettle 30,000 refugees from al-Hol in Ninewa was met with push-back from local officials and Ninewa residents who fear that many of al-Hol inhabitants are not Iraqis and may be from families affiliated with ISIS fighters.
On February 10, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees released a new fact sheet on key humanitarian figures in Iraq, which designated 6.3 million people in Iraq as “people of concern,” including 1.4 million IDP, 4.6 million returnees, 247,568 Syrian refugees, 41,237 refugees from other countries, and 47,253 stateless persons.
On February 10, a member of the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights urged government and humanitarian agencies to provide heating fuel, medical supplies, and other winter gear to IDP camps to cope with snowfall and an extreme drop in temperatures across Iraq.
Pollution Forces Oil Field Output Cuts; KRG Seeks Federal Funds For Grain Farmers, Five Dams; U.S.
Extends Sanctions Waiver Allowing Iraq To Buy More Iranian Gas – On February 9, the Basra Oil Company plans to cut crude oil production at the Nahr bin Omar oil field to minimize pollution affecting nearby residential nearby.
On February 9, a KRG delegation, led by the KRG Minister of Agriculture, met with Iraq’s Minister of Agriculture to discuss outstanding dues to Kurdish farmers dating back to 2014 and the construction of five new dams in the KRI.
On February 11, the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Water and Marshlands said the government plans to allocate ID1 trillion (approximately $800 million) to the Agricultural Bank to loan to farmers in Iraq, including the KRI.
On February 13, the U.S.
granted Iraq a 45-day extension on a previous waiver, granted in October and set to expire February 13, to purchase gas and electricity from Iran despite American sanctions on Tehran.
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.