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CrisisWatch Iraq

Unchanged Situation

Opposition parties announced boycott of October polls, Islamic State (ISIS) conducted deadliest attack this year, and Turkey continued operations against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). In run-up to 10 Oct elections, office of PM al-Kadhimi 1 Sept announced security forces had thwarted plan to “rig the elections by putting pressure on a number of election commission employees”. Around 40 political parties associated with 2019 Tishreen protest movement 4 Sept announced boycott of elections, saying polls “lack integrity, fairness and equal opportunities”. UN official 22 Sept said UN election observers will number over 800. Meanwhile, series of suspected ISIS attacks continued. Notably, in Kirkuk governorate suspected ISIS militants 2 Sept killed one soldier; 5 Sept killed 13 federal police officers in Rashad region in deadliest attack this year; 11 Sept killed three federal police officers. ISIS ambush 21 Sept killed two in Garmiyan area, Sulaymaniyah governorate. Military and Peshmerga 17 Sept announced joint security operation against ISIS. Turkey continued operations – including airstrikes – against PKK in northern Iraq (see Turkey). In sign of increasing PKK retaliatory at-tacks in population centres, IED 15 Sept killed two members of so-called Rojava Peshmerga armed group in Akre, Duhok governorate. Unknown assailants 18 Sept shot dead mid-ranking PKK commander Yasin Bulut in Sulaymaniyah province. In-security and attacks persisted across country. In Nineveh governorate, gunmen 5 Sept killed at least three soldiers in attack on army checkpoint south of Mosul city; attack on vehicle same day killed paramilitary Popular Mobilisation Forces commander in Babil governorate. Explosives attack 11 Sept killed at least four near Makhmour. Rockets 11 Sept targeted Erbil International Airport hosting U.S.-led coalition; in al-Muthanna governorate, IED next day reportedly targeted international coalition convoy. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) 9 Sept fired missiles at headquarters of unspecified foreign-backed organisation near Erbil city; Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran same day said it was targeted; IRGC 20 Sept struck four bases belonging to “anti-revolutionary groups”. While Baghdad and Washington 16 Sept reportedly agreed to reduce U.S. troops in Anbar and Erbil provinces, New York Times 20 Sept reported that U.S. deployed additional 2,000 troops for nine months.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

7 Oct 2021
[Shiite Muslim cleric] Sadr has been selling himself as a viable option, and a central one in Iraqi politics. Washington Post

Lahib Higel

Senior Analyst, Iraq
2 Jun 2021
Successive [Iraqi] governments since the military victory over ISIS have failed to integrate the PMF. It has become a force in itself, pursuing its own interests. Al Jazeera

Lahib Higel

Senior Analyst, Iraq
12 Dec 2020
In comparison to previous protests [in Iraq's Kurdish north] these are significant as the current fiscal crisis affects larger swaths of the population. The Washington Post

Lahib Higel

Senior Analyst, Iraq
27 Sep 2020
The trend here is that the U.S. is withdrawing (from Iraq). If they are not doing it now, then they are doing it eventually. The Washington Post

Lahib Higel

Senior Analyst, Iraq
4 Sep 2020
It seems that what is left of ISIS networks now is that they are getting organized in smaller groups of five or six people who may not be connected to each other even. New Delhi Times

Berkay Mandıracı

Analyst, Turkey
30 Mar 2020
If the United States is forced out of Iraq in an ugly, contentious fashion, it could poison the bilateral relationship. (Quoted with Maria Fantappie) War on the Rocks

Sam Heller

Former Adviser, Non-state Armed Groups

Latest Updates

Hundreds of Thousands of Iraqis Are Still Internally Displaced

A short illustrated look at the story of Iraq's internal displacement crisis.

Exiles in Their Own Country: Dealing with Displacement in Post-ISIS Iraq

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis remain uprooted and unable to go home after the war to defeat ISIS. The worst off are those, mainly women and children, perceived to have jihadist ties. Iraq and its partners should find ways to end their displacement.

Also available in العربية

Iraq: Fixing Security in Kirkuk

Federal forces now patrol Kirkuk, the diverse, oil-rich province disputed between the central and Kurdish regional governments. The arrangement is unsettling communal relations, with Kurds feeling excluded. With outside help, Baghdad and Erbil should design a joint security mechanism including a locally recruited multi-ethnic unit.

Also available in العربية

When Measuring ISIS’s “Resurgence”, Use the Right Standard

Memories of the Islamic State’s 2014-2015 “caliphate” peak in Iraq and Syria colour views of its present capacity, leading officials and observers either to exaggerate or understate its threat. In Iraq, the group does pose a danger. Gauging it properly is key to containing it.

Also available in العربية

On Third Try, a New Government for Iraq

The new Iraqi prime minister has several daunting tasks. Not only must he navigate the politics that delayed his cabinet’s formation, but he must also deal with plummeting state revenues, simmering public discontent and – last but hardly least – rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

Our People

Lahib Higel

Senior Analyst, Iraq