Iraq

Iraq has been successively ravaged by the 1980-1988 war with Iran, crippling sanctions after its invasion of Kuwait in 1990, internal conflict after the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, and the transnational jihadists of Islamic State after 2014. Its multiple challenges further include sectarian violence and Kurdish separatism. Crisis Group aims to promote locally-centred stabilisation and better governance of post-ISIS Iraq in order to reduce the risk of violent flare-ups in liberated areas and mitigate the impact of foreign strategic competition, notably between Iran and the U.S. Through field research, advocacy and engagement with all sides, we urge countries involved in the anti-ISIS campaign to support security sector and institutional reform in Iraq as well. On the Kurdish front, we urge a return to a UN-led process to resolve the question of the disputed territories, especially Kirkuk, and of oil revenue-sharing.

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CrisisWatch Iraq

Deteriorated Situation

Iran launched first direct attack in Iraq since Gaza war and hostilities between U.S. and Tehran-backed militias escalated; region braced for retaliation after Iraqi umbrella group killed U.S. troops in Jordan.

Gaza war continued to fuel escalation. In first direct Iranian attack since start of war in Gaza, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps 15 Jan launched three missiles at house of prominent Kurdish businessman in Kurdistan’s regional capital Erbil, killing at least four; like similar strike in March 2022, Iran claimed attack targeted Mossad activities, which Kurdistan Regional Govt (KRG) denied. Meanwhile, U.S. 4 Jan struck Iran-backed Harakat al-Nujaba group in capital Baghdad, reportedly killing four, including commander of paramilitary coalition Hashd al-Shaabi. U.S. for first time acknowledged use of ballistic missiles by Iran-backed umbrella group Islamic Resistance in Iraq in 20 Jan attack on Ain al-Asad base in Anbar governorate, injuring several personnel. In major escalation marking first fatal strike on U.S. forces since Gaza war, drone attacks by Islamic Resistance in Iraq, likely operating in Syria, 28 Jan killed three U.S. personnel in north-eastern Jordan (see Jordan). U.S. and Iraq late Jan began formal talks on withdrawal of U.S. forces. Militant group Kataib Hizbollah 30 Jan announced suspension of attacks on U.S. forces “to prevent embarrassment” of Iraqi govt.

Türkiye-PKK attacks intensified in north. Late Dec spate of attacks on Turkish troops continued, as PKK 5 Jan killed five soldiers in attack on military base and clash 12 Jan killed nine Turkish soldiers. In response, Türkiye 12-16 Jan launched airstrikes in both northern Iraq and Syria, targeting PKK/People’s Protection Units militants. Ankara also increased attacks on Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), party based in Sulaymaniyah province; Turkish FM Hakan Fidan 16 Jan threatened “further measures” if PUK did not change its attitude toward PKK.

Baghdad and Erbil ended budget dispute; Islamic State (ISIS) maintained activity. After KRG President Barzani’s 13 Jan visit to Baghdad, govt next day agreed to allocate monthly funds to KRG, marking shift from previous arrangement of loans. Suspected ISIS militants 6 Jan reportedly attacked Hashd al-Shaabi forces in Salah al-Din governorate, killing two; 14 Jan killed three soldiers near Haditha town.

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In The News

15 wrz 2022
Installing a monarchy that wasn’t very popular and that was overthrown in 1958 was the ignition for the many problems that the modern Iraqi state has faced. AP

Lahib Higel

Senior Analyst, Iraq

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Lahib Higel

Senior Analyst, Iraq
Lahib Higel

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