ISHM: August 13 – August 20, 2020 – Iraq


  • U.S.-Iraq Strategic Dialogue Resumes In Washington; Trump Meets Kadhimi, Says U.S. Forces Could Leave Iraq In three Years – On August 19, PM Kadhimi arrived in Washington to meet with President Trump and resume U.S.-Iraq strategic dialogue. Ahead of his departure, Kadhimi met with the leaders of the Fatah Coalition who pressed their demand for the expulsion of U.S. forces. On August 19, Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Iraq and the U.S. have resumed the second stage of strategic dialogue talks in Washington. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein led their respective delegations in opening the meetings of the U.S.-Iraq High Coordination Committee which involved six different sessions: economics, energy (where Iraq and U.S. firms signed multiple agreements), health and environment, politics and diplomacy, security and counter-terrorism, and finally education and culture. On August 20, PM Kadhimi met with President Trump at the White House. Trump described Kadhimi as someone he “gets along with very well.” Trump also said the U.S. could complete the withdrawal of its troops from Iraq within three years. more…

  • Kadhimi Expects Election Law Vote Soon; Baghdad And Erbil Agree On Payments, Customs; Kadhimi Fires Basra Police Chief; Protests Erupt In Zakho – On August 13, PM Kadhimi said that he reached an agreement with President Salih and Speaker Halbousi that Parliament shall vote on the election law during its next session, for which no date has been set yet. On August 15, the Iraqi government and the KRG agreed that Baghdad will make three ID 320 billion (approximately $265 million) monthly payments to the KRG to cover expenses and pay civil servants while the KRG will unify its customs procedures with those used by federal authorities. On August 17, PM Kadhimi fired Basra police chief Lt. Gen. Rasheed Flayeh and dismissed the National Security Service chief in the province after a violent escalation against activists during which unknown gunmen murdered and injured several activists. On August 20, NRT reported that KRG security forces beat up demonstrators at the Ibrahim al-Kahlil border crossing. A KRG official claimed the protesters were PKK supporters who destroyed property and attacked security forces. KRG authorities subsequently shut down NRT offices in Duhok and Erbil. more…

  • More Rockets, IEDs Target Iraqi Bases And Coalition Contractors; Wave Of Assassinations Target Iraqi Activists In Basra; Iraq Struggles To Keep F-16s Flying – Between August 13 – 18, at least ten rockets targeted Balad air base, Camp Taji, Baghdad Airport, and the Green Zone. None of the attacks caused casualties. On August 19, local officials said Turkish bombardment killed a local man in Duhok’s Kani Masi subdistrict. Between August 14 – 19, unknown gunmen in Basra targeted Iraqi activists in at least four separate attacks, killing five people, including prominent activists Tahsin Osama, Reham Yacoub, and injuring at least three others. The assassinations prompted Interior Minister Othman al-Ghanimi to go to Basra and issue orders for stricter security measures. On August 17, Iraq’s Ministry of Defense said the country’s air force succeeded in repairing 25 F-16 fighter jets and returning them to service relying solely on Iraqi crews. The announcement came days after Iraq Oil Report published a report describing how the departure of Lockheed Martin engineers and corruption involving Iraqi officers, U.S. contractor Sally Port and local subcontractors allegedly rendered all but five of the jets inoperable for months. Between August 14 – 15, three IEDs targeted civilian contractors transporting supplies for the International Coalition against ISIS in Dhi-Qar, Basra and Diwaniyah. Between August 15 – 19, five bombings killed a civilian and wounded five more in Kirkuk, Ninewa and Dhi-Qar. On August 18, that Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service troops, backed by the International Coalition, killed at least ten ISIS militants in the Qarachogh mountains. more…

  • WHO Warns Of Imminent Major Health Crisis As COVID-19 Cases Near 200,000; Iraq Braces For Spike In COVID-19 Cases Ahead Of Ashura; U.S. Provides $203 In New Aid But Funding Gap Remains – On August 15, the Iraqi government Iraq issued orders to extend a partial daily curfew from 10pm to 5am until further notice and prohibit people from traveling between provinces except for emergencies. On August 19, the WHO warned that new cases of COVID-19 in Iraq were “exponentially rising to an alarming and worrying level, suggesting a major health crisis soon.” WHO, however, believes Iraq could still stem the tide of the pandemic if Iraqis were to put more effort into prevention, estimating that wearing face masks and avoiding crowds can “reduce the rate of transmission of COVID-19 by at least 57 percent and 30 percent respectively.” On August 19, Iraq’s Health Ministry warned of a spike in COVID-19 transmission during the Ashura observance, urging Iraqis to heed the recommendations of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who encouraged Iraqis to observe religious ceremonies remotely. On August 19, the U.S. said it was providing more than $203 million in new humanitarian aid for Iraq. Prior to this announcement, data by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs showed that only $248.6 million (37.5%) of the $662.2 million funding requirement for Iraq’s 2020 Humanitarian Relief Plan have been received to date. Even if fully funded, the aid would reach only 44% of Iraq’s total population in need. On August 20, the Ministry of Health reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 192,797. More than 4,570 cases were reported on August 18, representing a new daily peak. Deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 6,208 while a total of 137,200 patients have recovered. To date, Iraq has tested 1,368,727 samples for COVID-19. more…

  • Iraq Needs Seven Million More Jobs By 2025; Customs Revenue Rises; KRG To Pay March Salaries; Iraq Signs Energy Deals With Five U.S. Firms – On August 17, Iraq’s Planning Ministry said the country’s population will exceed 47 million by 2025, suggesting that Iraq will need to generate up to seven million additional jobs to accommodate the expanding workforce. On August 17, the chief of Iraq’s Border Ports Authority said that recent Army deployments have created a safe environment at ports of entry leading to improved customs revenue, which reached ID 500 billion (about $400 million) in one month. On August 17, the KRG Finance Ministry said it will pay pensions and civil servant salaries for March after the KRG and Iraqi government reached a new deal to resume budget payments to the KRG. On August 18, Iraq’s Oil Ministry signed a contract with a Norwegian ship builder to build two 30,000 ton oil tankers. On August 19, Reuters reported that Iraq signed deals worth a total $8 billion with five major American firms in a bid to strengthen Iraq’s energy sector and reduce Baghdad’s reliance on energy imports from Iran. Specifically, Iraq signed two deals worth $1.2 billion with General Electric to service and maintain major power stations and important elements of Iraq’s power grid. 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.



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