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CrisisWatch Iraq

Unchanged Situation

U.S.-backed govt forces and allied militias continued to make gains in campaign to retake western half of Mosul in north from Islamic State (ISIS). Govt forces 6 March said they had captured “al Hurriya” bridge that leads to ISIS-held city centre, and 12 March said they had retaken seventeen of 40 districts in western half from ISIS and surrounded remainder. Govt forces 14 March killed ISIS commander of Old City, Abdul Rahman al-Ansary, and 18 March captured two additional neighbourhoods al-Kur and al-Tawafa. ISIS fighters 20 March captured nine govt officers in western Mosul. U.S. airstrike in western Mosul 17 March reportedly killed over 150 civilians. Iraqi ambassador to UN 10 March denied reports by medical workers and World Health Organisation that ISIS had likely used chemical weapons in Mosul, said “really no evidence”. Govt airstrike 31 March reportedly killed several ISIS commanders in al-Qaim, W Anbar province, including Ayad al-Jumaili believed to be second-in-command. Unclaimed bombings 9 March killed at least 26 people in village 20km north of Tikrit in centre, 20 March killed 21 people in Baghdad’s Shiite Hay al-Amel suburb and 29 March killed seventeen people at police checkpoint in southern Baghdad. Intra-Kurdish tensions rose sharply in Sinjar in NW as relations between Turkey-backed Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Iran-backed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) continued to deteriorate: KDP-trained Syrian peshmerga forces 3 March tried to expel PKK-affiliated Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS) from Sinjar, seven people killed; 14 March killed one woman at anti-KDP protest organised by PKK-affiliated factions in neighbouring Khanasor district. In show of force against KDP, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party early March tried to seize KDP-affiliated North Gas Company refinery in NW. Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr 24 March said he would call for boycott of elections unless electoral law is changed; provincial elections are planned for later in 2017.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

20 Apr 2017
Iran's strategy in Iraq is a policy of divide and rule. Kurdish society is very divided at the moment and Iran has a chance to exploit those divisions. Al-Monitor

Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
14 Dec 2016
Exxon didn't care [about the political impacts of their decision]. And this was of course music to the Kurds’ ears. The Atlantic

Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
20 Oct 2016
It is true that Turkey is stepping into a foreign country, but it is also true that some of the Iraqi actors have strong links to regional powers. So how to draw the line between what is Iraqi and non-Iraqi? It's kind of difficult. AFP

Maria Fantappie

Senior Analyst
22 Jul 2016
[In Iraq, the U.S. and other nations are channelling resources into local Sunni coffers, a tactic used during the U.S.-led occupation.] What’s at stake is re-establishing the same sort of political order that actually led to the rise of [the Islamic State]. We have to be careful not to repeat the same mistakes of the past. Mc Clatchy DC

Maria Fantappie

Senior Analyst

Latest Updates

The Perils of a Post-ISIS Iraq

In Kirkuk, the extremist group's defeat risks rekindling old ethnic and religious conflicts — unless cooler heads prevail.

Originally published in Foreign Policy

Also available in العربية

Water Wars? Lessons from the Middle East & North Africa

In a keynote speech for the World Water Week in Stockholm on 28 August 2016, our MENA Program Director Joost Hiltermann assesses the role of water in Middle East conflicts – even, potentially, when used in the cultivation of Yemen’s beloved stimulant, qat.

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