Iraqi officials meet with foreign counterparts; Legislation proposed to expel U.S.
forces from Iraq; Iran works to expand trade with Iraq; Growing Baghdad-KRG cooperation – On January 14, the French government announced that it had agreed to loan Iraq EUR 1 billion to aid reconstruction of areas liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
On January 14, Jordan’s King Abdullah II met with Iraqi President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Adel Abd al-Mahdi in Baghdad.
On January 19, the pro-Iran Fatah Alliance, former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law Coalition, and Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoon Alliance finalized draft legislation to expel U.S.
troops from Iraq.
On January 21, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif addressed a business conference in Baghdad to announce new customs procedures to ease commerce between Iraq and Iran.
On January 22, representatives from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Iraqi federal government announced plans to form a joint military committee to coordinate security operations in territories disputed between the two parties.
On January 23, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abd al-Mahdi and Finance Minister Fuad Hussein met with Turkish Finance Minister Berat Bayrak.
On January 23, Iraqi President Barham Salih met with Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari, the Special Assistant to Pakistan’s Prime Minister.
On January 23, Turkey’s Ministry of Transportation lifted a 16-month-old ban on flights into Iraqi Kurdistan’s Sulaimaniyah Airport operated by Turkish-flagged carriers.
Efforts to complete government formation continue; No agreement reached on 2019 federal budget; New corruption allegations against local Iraqi officials –On January 20, the Iraqi Commission on Integrity announced that the Head of the Energy Committee in Diwaniyah Province had been arrested on charges of bribery.
On January 21, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abd al-Mahdi named his preferred candidates for the Ministers of Education and Justice posts.
He named Safana al-Hamdani to head the Ministry of Education and Kirkuk-born judge Arkan Bibani to head the Ministry of Justice.
On January 23, former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki declared that his State of Law (SoL) bloc in parliament would boycott a vote on the 2019 Iraqi budget.
On January 23, the Iraqi Integrity Commission announced that it had sentenced the Secretary of Baghdad and the Director-General of the Department of Parks in Baghdad in absentia to seven years imprisonment for “intentionally damaging” infrastructure development projects in the Iraqi capital.
Prime Minister Mahdi visits Basra as protests continue to rage in the province – On January 18, demonstrators in the southern port city of Basra reportedly burned a police vehicle following attempts by security forces to disperse a large-scale protest outside the city’s provincial administration building.
On January 21, Prime Minister Adel Abd al-Mahdi made a surprise visit to the southern port city of Basra as protesters across the province stepped up demands for the formation of a local emergency government.
Iraqi media reported that Mahdi’s delegation met with Basra Province Deputy Governor Mohammed al-Taher regarding ongoing lack of basic services and simmering political unrest.
The Prime Minister also reportedly promised to construct two new power-plants in the southern province to generate 600MW and 1000MW, respectively.
Militant activity continues to plague Iraq amid lifting of road closures in Baghdad; Details emerge on ISIS’ now-destroyed chemical weapons program – On January 11, “at least two civilians” were killed and ten wounded when a car bomb exploded inside a market in Iraq’s western Anbar Province.
Between January 12 and 20, security officials in Baghdad dismantled a series of concrete barriers across the Iraqi capital, part of an initiative to facilitate travel and circulation within the city.
On January 13, a member of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) was killed in an Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) attack in Kirkuk city’s northwest quadrant.
On January 17, villagers in several villages across Jalawla and Khanaqin in Diyala Province abandoned their homes following an increase in the number of ISIS attacks in the area.
On January 21, the Washington Post published a story detailing the experience of an Iraqi scientist who admitted to manufacturing chemical weapons for ISIS inside Mosul.
On January 23, a suicide car bomb exploded in the town of Hawija, approximately 93 kilometers north of Baghdad in Kirkuk Province.
On January 23, Iraq’s Directorate for Military Intelligence announced that security forces operating in Salah al-Din Province had killed Saad Dallah, a an ISIS commander also known as the “Prince of Terror.” On January 23, four civilians were killed after Turkish aircraft bombed positions allegedly occupied by Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in Iraqi Kurdistan’s Dohuk Province.
Locals in Kirkuk demand new anti-ISIS force as counter-terrorism forces redeploy in the province; UK to withdraw more than half of its combat aircrafts from Iraq and Syria – On January 22, representatives from Arab and Turkmen communities in Kirkuk Province demanded the formation of a new regional security force to boost counter-Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) operations in the province.
On January 23, the British newspaper Daily Mail reported that the United Kingdom had decided to “withdraw more than half” of its combat aircraft from Iraq and Syria.
On January 23, Iraqi media outlets reported that elite units belonging to the Iraqi Army’s Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) would be leaving Kirkuk Province.
Iraqi military commanders quickly issued a correction to these media stories, noting that only the CTS’ 61st Brigade would be re-deploying from Kirkuk, but that the majority of currently-deployed CTS units would remain in position to conduct counter-insurgency sweeping operations.
Ramifications of heavy rainfall and flooding; UN agencies and NGOs distribute winterization and other aid – On January 12, the head of the Iraqi Fishermen’s Association in the Hammar Marshes, southern Iraq, reported that 3,000 fishermen in the region remain unemployed due to high level of water pollution and salinity.
However, due to the heavy rains, now 50% of the marshes are covered in water, whereas previously only 10% were covered.
According to a January 16 report in al-Mada, the Iraqi Ministry of Water announced that salinity levels in the Shatt al-Arab returned to normal following heavy rains and snow.
On January 14, the UN’s World Health Organization delivered four large trucks filled with kits and medical supplies to previously displaced Iraqis who have returned to Diyala province.
On January 15, the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that it completed the three-month distribution of 25,000 winter item kits such as heaters and blankets, to address the needs of 150,000 vulnerable Iraqis across the country.
On January 22, The National reported on a campaign launched by Iraqi public figures, including Iraq’s President Barham Salih, pledging to donate to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) winterization efforts, which include provision of cash assistance and goods essential in winter, as well as improving shelter conditions.
MSF warns about drug-resistance infections in Mosul; Basra Provincial Council approves demining project; New official statistics show rise in dropout rate among primary school students – On January 17, international medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) issued a statement warning that over 40 percent of patients in Mosul have exhibited “multi-drug resistant infections.” On January 18, al-Sumaria reported that the Basra Provincial Council announced a new project to clear the area of the marshes in the province of mines.
On January 19, al-Mada reported that the Central Bureau of Statistics in Iraq released a new report regarding dropout rates from primary schools across Iraq, showing a rise in the number of students failing to complete even primary education.
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.