ISHM: DECEMBER 30, 2021 – JANUARY 6, 2022
- Militia Commanders Vow To Expel All U.S. Forces; Kadhimi Condemns “Senseless” Attacks On Military Bases; Kurdish, Sunni Parties Close Ranks Ahead Of Parliament Meeting – On January 1, Fatah Coalition leader Hadi al-Amiri said all U.S. forces must leave Iraq, calling the demand “the price for the blood” of Abu Mahdi al-Muhadis and Qassim Soleimani. On January 5, PM Kadhimi condemned the recent “senseless” rocket rocket and drone attacks on Iraqi military bases. Kadhimi reiterated that the combat role of U.S. forces in Iraq had ended, stressing that remaining U.S. personnel work as advisers alongside Iraqi forces. On January 5, the KDP and PUK issued a joint statement saying they plan to send a joint delegation to Baghdad to participate in the negotiations to form the next Iraqi government. The two parties also said they want to organize the next KRI parliamentary election before the end of September. On January 5, the Taqaddum party of Mohammed al-Halbousi said it invited the Azm Coalition of Khamis al-Khanjar to enter into alliance ahead of the January 9 anticipated first session of the new parliament. The Azm Coalition said it welcomed the invitation. In other developments, on January 5, a Baghdad court sentenced Raad al-Haris, a former deputy minister of electricity, to six years in prison after finding him guilty of receiving bribes. On January 6, PM Kadhimi said that he would personally oversee the local government in Najaf, two weeks after the governor submitted his resignation. more…
- Iraq Arrests Officers Behind Botched Raid That Killed 20; Militias Intensify Drone And Rocket Attacks On Military Bases – On January 2, Iraqi authorities arrested 14 suspects after investigations indicated that security forces in the Babylon town of Jbala used “excessive force” during a December 30 raid that was based on false intelligence and killed 20 people. A spokesman for PM Kadhimi said the PM fired the Babylon police and intelligence chiefs, adding that the perpetrators actively tried to “mislead their superiors and the public” about the circumstance of the crime. Between January 3 – 5, there were three attacks by explosives-laden drones against Iraqi military bases at Ain al-Asad and Baghdad Airport. The defense systems at the bases intercepted all of the five drones used. On January 5, two attacks with several rockets each targeted Ain al-Asad and Baghdad Airport without reports of casualties. Iraqi security forces seized launch platforms and unfired rockets afterwards, including 240mm projectiles. In other developmets, between January 1 – 6, the explosions of five IEDs and two remnants of war in Basra, Diyala, Babylon, and Muthanna killed five Iraqis and injured at least eight. The deadliest incident occurred near Basra, where a remnant of war killed five civilians. Four of the five IEDs reported this week targeted convoys transporting supplies for the Iraqi military or International Coalition forces. more…
- Iraq’s Population Tops 41 Million; Health Officials Report First Cases With The Omicron Variant – On January 3, Iraq’s Planning Ministry announced that Iraq’s population grew to an estimated 41.19 million people, suggesting that the population grew by more than 1 million people since the ministry issued its previous estimate 12 months ago. On January 6, Iraq’s Health Ministry reported the first infections with the Omicron variant in the country. A ministry statement said that five patients tested positive for Omicron in Duhok province, adding that there were additional cases among foreign diplomats in Baghdad. In other developments,
on January 6, Iraq’s Health Ministry said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 2,095,848. Deaths from confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 24,194 while hospitalizations increased slightly to 4,941. The daily average for new cases during the last 7-day period was 344/day, up from 269/day during the 14-day period ending December 30. The total number of vaccinated people reached 8,628,155 including 63,028 who received their shots on January 6. more…
- Chinese Companies To Build New Refinery At Faw; Oil Revenue Dips In December; Iraq Takes Over ExxonMobil’s Stake In A Major Oil Field – On December 30, Iraq’s Oil Ministry signed an initial agreement with Hualu, a Chinese company, for the construction of a 300,000 bpd refinery and a petrochemicals complex at Faw. On January 1, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said that oil exports during December averaged 3.277 million bpd and generated $7.037 billion in revenue, about $550 million lower than in November. On January 5, Iraq’s Council of Ministers approved the takeover by the country’s national oil company (INOC) of ExxonMobil’s 32.7% stake in the West Qurna 1 oil field in Basra. In Other developments, on January 5, Iraq’s General Customs Commission reported a 15% increase in its revenue during the year 2021 compared to 2020. 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.
Militia Commanders Vow To Expel All U.S. Forces; Kadhimi Condemns “Senseless” Attacks On Military Bases; Kurdish, Sunni Parties Close Ranks Ahead Of Parliament Meeting
On January 1, thousands of Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) supporters held a rally in Baghdad marking the second anniversary of the killing of Iranian general Qassim Soleimani and PMF deputy chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a drone strike near Baghdad’s airport. Fatah Coalition leader Hadi al-Amiri, who attended the rally along with other militia commanders, reiterated the call for all U.S. forces to leave Iraq. Addressing the crowd, Amiri stated that “the price for [Muhadis and Soleimani’s] blood will be the expulsion of occupation forces from Iraq.”
On January 5, the Iraqi judiciary said that a criminal court in Baghdad sentenced Raad al-Haris, a former deputy minister of electricity to six years in prison and IQD10 million in fines after finding him guilty of receiving bribes in connection with decisions to award ministry contracts. The country’s Integrity Commission explained that the verdict concerns just one of several cases against Haris that are still under ongoing investigations.
On January 5, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi condemned recent rocket and drone attacks on Iraqi military bases, calling them “senseless.” Kadhimi reiterated that the combat role of U.S. forces in Iraq had ended, stressing that those who remain work as advisers alongside Iraqi forces. Kadhimi also addressed the “Jbala crime” in which 20 civilians died in a botched raid by security forces that was based on wrong intelligence reports (see more below). Kadhimi said he instructed the National Security Service to investigate the crime in which “an entire family was victimized due to a personal dispute and an abuse of article 4 of the counter-terrorism law.”
On January 5, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) issued a joint statement in which they expressed their intent to organize the next parliamentary election in the region before the end of September 2022. The statement added that the two ruling parties “agreed to work towards reinforcing the people’s trust in the electoral process and to make it transparent.” The parties also confirmed that they plan to send a joint delegation to Baghdad to participate in the negotiations to form the next Iraqi government.
On January 5, the Taqaddum party of Mohammed al-Halbousi said it invited the Azm Coalition of Khamis al-Khanjar to enter into alliance ahead of the January 9 anticipated first session of the new parliament. The Azm Coalition responded positively to the invitation, saying in a statement that it “welcomes this historic step…to move together to serve Iraq and protect the rights of our people.”
On January 6, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi visited Najaf to meet with the heads of service departments, announcing that he would personally oversee the administration of the province, two weeks after the provincial governor submitted his resignation. According to Shafaq News, an informed government source confirmed that the first deputy of the resigned governor would now report directly to the Prime Minister as he runs the province’s affairs. Kadhimi also gave instructions to establish a new municipal department for Najaf’s old city, with the goal of “preserving the history and heritage” of the district, which is holy to millions of Iraqis.
Iraq Arrests Officers Behind Botched Raid That Killed 20; Militias Intensify Drone And Rocket Attacks On Military Bases
On December 30, security sources said that an Iraqi airstrike killed an ISIS militant while he was attempting to move between Diyala and Salah ad-Din provinces, in the area of al-Mayta basin. On January 4, a new airstrike struck what security sources described as an ”important ISIS target” in the Wadi Thalab region of Diyala, killing another ISIS militant.
On December 31, a security source in Diyala said that a group of ISIS militants attacked a Tribal Mobilization Forces checkpoint in the Udheim subdistrict, northeast of Baquba. The attack, which involved small arms and sniper fire, killed one tribal fighter and wounded two.
On January 1, the Turkish military said that its warplanes killed four members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in an airstrike that targeted their positions in the Qandil Mountains in Iraq’s Kurdistan region.
On January 1, a security source in Basra said that an unexploded remnant of war (ERW) killed five civilians and injured five more when it detonated near them in the north Rumaila desert. On January 4, the explosion of another ERW injured another civilian in the Mamlaha region, near the Faw district of Basra.
On January 2, security sources in Ninewa said that five rockets struck near a base occupied by the Turkish military at Zelikan, near Bashiqa, without causing casualties. Security forces later discovered the vehicle and launchers used in the attack in the village of Abu Jarboua, northeast of Mosul.
On January 2, a senior Iraqi military spokesman said that authorities arrested 14 suspects after Interior Ministry investigations indicated that security forces in Babylon province used “excessive force” during a December 30 raid on a wanted individual’s residence in which up to 20 people were killed, including 12 children. Security officials in Babylon initially reported that the wanted individual opened fire on security forces, alleging that the force discovered the bodies of 20 murdered civilians upon entering the building after a standoff that lasted hours. Local security sources in the Babylon town of Jbala initially claimed that the wanted individual murdered the other residents before committing suicide after security forces surrounded the house. The military spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister said the incident, which caused much public outrage, happened because the raiding force was deployed relying on unreliable information and without verified intelligence. The spokesman also acknowledged that there was an active effort by the perpetrators to “mislead their superiors and the public” about the circumstance of the case. On January 3, the prime minister fired the Babylon police and intelligence chiefs and ordered an investigation to determine their role in the incident.
On January 3, security sources said that two armed drones had targeted facilities used by U.S. military personnel near Baghdad International Airport. International Coalition officials said that neither drone managed to reach their targets after the C-RAM weapon systems defending the area fired upon them, downing both drones. According to AP, the officials added that one of the drones used in the attack carried the phrase “Soleimani’s revenge.”
On January 4, the Security Media Cell reported that an attack with two armed drones targeted the Iraqi air force base at Ain al-Asad in Anbar province. Both drones crashed outside the base perimeter without causing casualties. Footage from the base’s defensive systems showed cannon fire and missiles engaging and disabling the two drones.
On January 4, a security source in Ninewa said that a group of ISIS militants attacked a Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) checkpoint in the Tal Afar district, northwest of Mosul. The attack killed one PMF fighter.
On January 4, security sources said that an IED struck a convoy transporting supplies for the International Coalition forces while it was moving along a main highway through the Yusufiyah district, south of Baghdad. On the following day, security sources said another IED exploded targeting another supply convoy on a main highway in Muthanna province. Within hours, a third IED exploded while a supply convoy drove through Babylon province. This attack was followed by a fourth explosion that targeted a similar convoy in Babylon province on January 6. There were no reports of casualties or serious damage associated with any of the attacks.
On January 5, the Security Media Cell reported that a rocket struck an Iraqi military base near Baghdad’s International Airport. Initial news reports indicted the attack did not cause damage or casualties. Videos circulating on local news sites suggest the attack involved at least ten rockets. The statement added that Iraqi security forces later discovered a launcher loaded with another 240mm rocket that had failed to launch, and defused the rocket. The launcher was found in the al-Jihad neighborhood of west Baghdad.
On January 5, an International Coalition statement said that a salvo of five rockets targeted the Iraqi air force base of Ain al-Asad, but impacted at a distance of nearly 2 kilometers from the base. The statement blamed the attack on “outlaw militias.” Local sources said the rockets were fired from a modified minibus that was left in the village of Bastamiyah, 25 kilometers west of the Hit district. Later on the same day, the Security Media Cell said the base defenses intercepted and downed an armed drone that attempted to attack the base. Footage released by the Iraqi military appeared to show a missile intercept and destroy the drone.
On January 5, a roadside IED exploded against a federal police vehicle near the Nahrawan district on the border between Baghdad and Diyala. The explosion wounded two members of the federal police.
On January 6, security sources in Baghdad said that gunmen attacked the home of a senior officer in the PMF 45th brigade in the al-Ilam neighborhood of west Baghdad. The attack reportedly killed five members of the officer’s family, including his three children.
Iraq’s Population Tops 41 Million; Health Officials Report First Cases With The Omicron Variant
On January 3, Iraq’s Planning Ministry announced that Iraq’s population grew to an estimated 41.19 million people. This estimate suggests that the population grew by more than 1 million people since the ministry issued its previous estimate. The ministry added that males and females represented 51% and 49% of Iraq’s population, respectively. The estimates also suggested that almost 28.8 million Iraqis lived in urban areas (69.9%) while the remaining 12.4 million lived in rural settings. Baghdad remains the country’s most populous province, with an estimated 8.7 million inhabitant, while Muthanna is the least populous, with an estimated 880,000 inhabitants.
On January 6, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 2,095,848, an increase of 2,412 in cases from the 2,093,436 reported on December 30. Of these cases, 4,941 are currently under treatment, including 68 being treated in ICUs. These numbers represent an increase of 186 in hospitalizations but a decrease of 18 in ICU admissions since December 30. Ministry data indicated that there were 40 new COVID-19 deaths since December 30, bringing the total from 24,154 to 24,194. The total number of recoveries increased from 2,064,527 to 2,066,713. The average number of new cases during the last 7-day period was 344 per day, up from 269 per day during the 14-day period ending December 30. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Sulaymaniyah with 195 cases, Kirkuk with 130, Baghdad with 100, and Erbil with 88 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 16,890,412 samples for COVID-19. The total number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 8,628,155 including 63,028 who received their shots on January 6.
On January 6, Iraq’s Health Ministry reported the first infections with the Omicron variant in the country. A ministry statement said that five patients tested positive for Omicron in Duhok province, adding that there were additional cases among foreign diplomats in Baghdad, without specifying the numbers of the latter infections.
Chinese Companies To Build New Refinery At Faw; Oil Revenue Dips In December; Iraq Takes Over ExxonMobil’s Stake At A Major Oil Field
On December 30, Iraq’s Oil Ministry signed an initial agreement with Hualu, a Chinese company, for the construction of a refinery and petrochemicals complex at Faw, in Basra province. According to a statement by the ministry, the 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) refinery and 3 million tons per year petrochemicals complex will involve about $8 billion in initial investments, and eventually up to $29 billion.
On January 1, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil said that crude oil exports during December totaled 101.579 million barrels, for an average of 3.277 million bpd, relatively unchanged from November’s average of 3.273 million bpd. The December exports generated $7.037 billion in revenue, about $550 million lower than November’s $7.59 billion. Iraq sold its crude oil at an average price of approximately $72 per barrel, about $5 below the previous month’s average of $77.33 per barrel. Shipped exports from fields in southern and central Iraq averaged 3.179 million bpd in December, while average exports from the northern fields in Kirkuk, which were exported through the Turkish port of Ceyhan, bounced to just over 87,000 bpd. During December, Iraq also exported an average of just under 10,000 bpd to Jordan by trucks.
On January 5, Iraq’s official news agency reported that the Council of Ministers approved the takeover by the country’s national oil company (INOC) of ExxonMobil’s stake in the West Qurna 1 oil field in Basra. In July of 2021, Prime Minister Kadhimi said he wanted an American company to replace ExxonMobil at the major oil field. That was two months after Iraq rejected ExxonMobil’s proposal to sell its 32.7% stake in the West Qurna 1 oil field to two Chinese companies.
On January 5, Iraq’s General Customs Commission reported a 15% increase in its revenue during the year 2021 compared with 2020. In a statement, the commission said that it generated just over IQD1 trillion in 2021, an equivalent of approximately $690 million. This figure was up from IQD863 billion in the previous year, which was the equivalent of $719 million (taking into account the currency devaluation that took effect at the end of 2020).