Customs and traditions
According to Abbreviationfinder, Iraq is a very conservative country compared to Sweden, but Iraqis are proud of their hospitality and generosity towards visitors.
Greetings often take the form of a ritual: one shakes hands for a long time while hearing about the other’s condition, how it is with health, the family, the house and more. They often hug each other and kiss each other on the cheek.
- Countryaah: Overview of the capital city of Iraq, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
Men are not bothered to walk hand in hand with male friends, however, physical contact between people of different genders is unusual. It is not obvious that a man can greet a woman by taking her hand. The man should wait for the woman to stretch out her hand, otherwise just bow and address her. Usually men and women spend time separately, with the exception of special family gatherings. How strictly religious traditions about gender segregation are applied, for example, varies greatly from area to area and between different social groups.
The upholstery is quite important. Business meetings require a dark suit for men, and for women, skirts that extend below the knees and long sleeves apply in all contexts. Even when visiting Iraqi homes, one should dress neatly and neatly. Bringing a gift is always appreciated, preferably something typical of one’s own country, but of course not alcohol for religious Muslim families. It is appropriate and certainly appreciated to learn at least some basic courtesy phrases in Arabic or Kurdish.
Religion is very important in Iraqi society, but it can be a sensitive issue, especially given the tense conditions in the country. Publicly expressed atheism is rare and can be perceived as offensive and as an attack on religion. It is advisable to show respect and discretion, especially with people you do not know well.
In mosques you are not allowed to wear shoes or revealing clothing. Do not photograph veiled women without explicit permission. Also, do not take photographs of anything that may have the slightest military connection.
Traveling to Iraq today is still dangerous and can be especially dangerous for foreigners. The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs discourages visits in large parts of Iraq, except in the Kurdish areas of the north, although fighting and assaults may also occur in these provinces. The threat comes from both criminal gangs and armed groups with political goals.
Different visa rules apply to Kurdish autonomy and the rest of Iraq. Anyone with an Israeli stamp in the passport can be denied entry into Iraq.
The US Embassy is occupied
Supporters of the militia al-Hashd al-Shaabi occupy the United States: an embassy in the green zone of Baghdad in anger over the US air strikes that claimed the death of 25 milers last weekend. The occupation ends a day later, but the mission is left vandalized.
Stepped up position between the US and the militia
The US is attacking weapons stockpiles in western Iraq and eastern Syria, which are linked to a pro-Iranian militia group. The attacks are justified by the fact that rocket attacks have occurred two days earlier against a base in Kirkuk where both US and Iraqi personnel are serving. An employee of a company that worked for the US armed forces has lost their lives. 25 militiamen are killed in US air strikes, according to the larger Shiite and Tehran-backed militia al-Hashd al-Shaabi, which formally forms part of Iraq’s defense force.
Oilfield in blockade
Protesters demanding jobs block an oil field 30 miles south of Baghdad. It is the first time the wave of protests has taken place since the fall, affecting oil production in Iraq, which exports 3.6 million barrels of oil per day. Recently, there have been protests, including sitting strikes, in a number of places in southern Iraq.
Thumbs down for prime ministerial candidates
The last day for Parliament to agree on who will be given the job of forming government after Adil Abd al-Mahdi. President Barham Salih has already moved forward the time limit a couple of times. In Iraq after Saddam Hussein (since 2003), the norm is for the Prime Minister to be a Shia Muslim. Names of candidates have leaked since the government’s resignation on December 1, but quickly the center of the protest movement Tahrir Square in Baghdad has been taped with posters crossing the faces of said politicians. If the president fails to find a candidate who receives sufficient support in Parliament, it is, according to the constitution, that he will step in as prime minister for the time being.
Fell on his own grip
Parliamentarian Mahmud Mullah Talal is sentenced to six years in prison in a corruption case that provides insight into how it can go in Iraqi top politics. In November, he tried to prove that the Minister of Industry is on state contracts. A person in the minister’s immediate circle then contacted and argued that the Honorable Member would be paid if he kept silent. In the background, corruption investigators were waiting, who could take the MP on the bar with a juicy sum of money. Mahmud Mullah Talal was elected to Parliament for a smaller Shi’a party, al-Hikma.
US sanctions against militia leaders
US faces sanctions on three Iranian-backed Iraqi militias, which the US holds responsible for the deaths of protesters. Practically speaking, sanctions against leaders of Shi’ite al-Hashd al-Shaabi forces have little significance, but the decision testifies to US concerns about Iran’s strong influence in the neighboring country. The Hashd forces have for some time been openly cooperating with the Iraqi government army (see July 1, 2019). There have been rocket attacks against places in Iraq where there are US personnel, and the US has in many cases pointed out Iran-friendly forces.
The government is leaving
Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi submits the government’s resignation application to Parliament, which immediately accepts. This is in light of the fact that the street demonstrations have escalated over the past week; the number of casualties during the two months that the demonstrations went on has now passed 420. Around 20,000 people have been injured, the vast majority of protesters. Abd al-Madhi and his ministers remain until a new prime minister has been appointed by the president.
Over 40 dead when protests are knocked down
44 people are killed and up to 1,000 injured during the bloodiest day to date since the wave of protests against the government began in early October. Ten people are shot to death in the city of Najaf where a crowd lit a fire at Iran’s consulate the night before in protest against Iran’s political influence in Iraq. Most victims are needed in the city of Nasiriyah in the south. 25 people are killed when security forces break up demonstrations. According to the AFP news agency, the violence has now claimed more than 390 deaths and more than 15,000 people have been injured.
Minister is being investigated in Sweden for crimes
A Swedish criminal investigation against Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari is being expanded. He is heavily criticized for the violence used by government forces against protesters in Iraq. In Sweden, where he is written and holds citizenship, he has been investigated since November 8 for suspected grant and folk record violations. Following allegations of crimes against humanity, he will also be examined by the National Assembly against international and organized crime. The minister sprang from the great tribal confederation Shammar, historically one of Iraq’s most influential groupings. Shammar consists of several branches and lots of clans. His party has previously denied information on Swedish citizenship; Iraqi Ministers are not expected to have dual citizenship.
Sistani supports the wave of protest
The most revered of the Shiite religious leaders in Iraq, the storayatolla Sistani, makes a statement spread through the Friday sermon in Karbala. At the beginning of last fall’s protest wave, Sistani cautiously supported it, now describing the demonstrations as “an honorable way to seek change”. At least 330 lives have been demanded in the protests that target both the influence of neighboring Iran and the political system that resulted from the US intervention to overthrow dictator Saddam Hussein. Sistani calls on Parliament to adopt an improved electoral law as soon as possible; a proposal has been tabled, but Parliament has not started debating it. An amended election system is part of a UN plan that also includes constitutional amendments and legislation on infrastructure. Sistani has met with UN Secretary-General Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert to show that he supports her plan.
Iran is pushing to save the government
The Shiaallian Fatah, which is the second largest in the parliament, says after many if and only support for Adil Abd al-Mahdi’s hard-working government. Of all the judgments, it is important for neighboring Iran that the government is riding the storm. During the recent weeks’ crisis, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s foreign operations is reported to have shuttled Iraq’s Shi’a bloc in some form of mediation. Iran’s actions have aroused suspicion, especially as it is linked to the fact that the Baghdad government has this time chosen tough grip on the street protesters. Still, however, it is silent from Muqtada al-Sadr, who leads the Iraqi parliament’s largest faction and has driven part of the wave of protests against the prime minister.
Sharp shots against protesters
Once again, Iraqi security forces are firing sharp shots at protesters in Baghdad, and four people have been shot dead in a protest outside Iran’s consulate in Karbala. Authorities have stopped publishing the death toll, but the news agency AFP counts a total of 270 deaths during this fall’s protest wave. In several places, government offices have been stormed or closed. The protesters are not happy with the measures the government has proposed, including new government jobs. President Barham Salih has proposed a new election as soon as a new electoral law could be adopted.
New IS leaders with demanding names
IS confirms via its own propaganda channels that both the leader of the movement and its spokesman have died (see October 27). The new leader is named Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, while Abu Hamza al-Qurayshi is named as spokesman. The names signal a relationship with Prophet Muhammad, the new IS leadership thus claims to be legitimate in the eyes of other Muslims. Later, in January 2020, new messages will come: A Turk from Tal Afar in northern Iraq will be selected as a new IS leader. According to sources in spy organizations for the British newspaper The Guardian, the man’s name is Amir Muhammad Abd al-Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi. (IS leaders are also called for by the US with that name.) Under IS terror, the man must have played a leading role in the atrocities to which the Yazid minority was exposed.
The pressure on the government is growing
Demonstrations against the Iraqi government continue despite a nightly curfew. Another five protesters die in Baghdad and the total death toll since the wave of protests began on October 1 is said to have reached 240. Mass meetings are held in several cities and students, teachers and court lawyers strike. Parliament votes to dissolve provincial assemblies, withdraw benefits for certain executives and call the prime minister for hearing; The partial alliance led by Shia preacher Muqtada al-Sadr but also containing communists declares that it no longer supports Abd al-Mahdi as prime minister. A day later, Abd al-Mahdi also loses the support of Fatah, the other major party alliance behind him as head of government.
IS leader dies at US raids in Syria
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the IS jihadist network that proclaimed a caliphate in Iraq and Syria, blasts with a bomb belt to escape a US special forces in northwestern Syria. He takes children with him to death. According to the United States, his identity can be confirmed by genetic testing. The event nevertheless raises many questions: How has the IS leader been able to move through northern Syria, where all possible warring parties scout and have roadblocks, to a hiding place in the west? How does the US know exactly where it is? How can the American Council, with eight helicopters, be carried through the airspace in northern Syria? Kurdish representatives state that the council has been prepared for some time but delayed by Turkey carrying out a military offensive into Syrian territory. In a separate raid, Abu al-Hasan al-Muhajir, IS spokesman, is killed.
High death rate after protests
The wave of demonstrations that swept across Iraq in early October claimed 157 lives, including 149 civilians and eight security forces employees, a state investigation commission said. 70 percent of the victims had been hit by head or chest shots. Commanders of various forces who were involved have now been suspended from service. If approved by the Prime Minister, they will be dismissed. The UN Iraq Mission UNAMI, which conducted its own investigation, has concluded that there were serious abuses in the actions taken against protesters.
The army admits overwhelm
The army admits in a statement, when the demonstration wave in Iraqi cities has claimed over 100 lives, that its forces have used too much force against the protesters. Several have died from gunshot injuries. Those responsible must be held accountable, it is called. The Prime Minister has ordered the soldiers on the streets to be replaced by police. The government has tried to curb the protests the day before by promising investments in 17 points, including increased support for families living in the margins of society.
Storayatolla supports protest wave
The protesters are supported by Ali al-Sistani, the foremost religious leader among Iraqi Shiites. Many Shiites want to hear how the Storayatollan looks on the wave of protest before deciding whether to participate, and he is now calling – through Friday sermon delivered in many mosques – the government to take steps to improve community service, create jobs for the unemployed and get the job done. corruption.
Protests require the death victims
Curfew takes effect in Baghdad, which is shaken by violent demonstrations. Even in the cities of al- Nasiriyya, al- Amara and al- Hilla who have witnessed similar protests, there are exceptional rules. About ten casualties have been required and access to the internet and social media has been limited. During the week that follows, protests continue, and the death toll is growing. The demonstrators are mainly young men, and the protests are linked to high unemployment and dissatisfaction with Iraqi politicians, who have failed to address recurrent electricity and water outages and corruption. The wave of protests does not appear to have any unified leadership, but is perceived as the biggest challenge to date for Adil Abd al- Mahdi’s government.
Reviewer: Power on glide from the government army
A war hero is petitioned from his post by the prime minister, without public explanation. General Abd al-Wahab al-Saadi, known for his efforts when the city of Mosul was liberated from IS, is moved to the Department of Defense from his job as deputy commander of an anti-terror force trained by the United States. Groupings within the paramilitary forces al-Hashd al-Shaabi must have lobbied to get the war hero moved, and assessors see the risk that Iran-friendly Hashd forces, which have not previously belonged to Iraq’s regular army, will advance their positions (see July 1, 2019).
Iraq is attracted by “new silk roads”
Iraq will join China’s major plans with “new silk roads”, which are aimed at expanding trade relations around the world, including the construction of ports, railways and airports in a number of countries. The message is given by Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi, on a visit to Beijing. China is Iraq’s largest trading partner, while Iraq is China’s second largest oil supplier. Criticism of the Chinese projects is usually about the fact that the host countries where the infrastructure construction takes place build up large debts to China.
IS leaders urge prisoners to be released
IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may have been ousted from his position as self-proclaimed caliph, but he urged the movement’s supporters to free jihadists and relatives who are being held captive in Syria and Iraq. The audio recording is published by IS propaganda agencies. In Iraq, more than 500 foreign nationals have been sentenced to severe penalties for connection to IS, but the authorities do not state how many IS faithful prisoners are imprisoned altogether. Kurdish authorities that operate camps in northern Syria expect that only women and children who are foreign nationals amount to 12,000, from 40 countries. The Red Cross has warned that there are “apocalyptic” conditions in the camps and calls on the homelands to ensure that the families of IS fighters are brought home.
Severe electricity shortages should be rectified
Iraq and the Gulf States Cooperative Organization GCC have agreed to build a power line from Kuwait to the port city of Faw in southern Iraq. The GCC will finance the 30-mile line building aimed at supplying Iraq with electricity shortages. The day before, the Iraqi government has signed an agreement with German Siemens, which is commissioned to repair war-damaged power plants in the city of Baiji in the north. Iraq currently buys electricity from Iran, with the exception of the sanctions the United States maintains against Iran. In particular, during the summer, the lack of electricity has disrupted community functions in Iraq and led to demonstrations.
Many dead in congestion accident in Karbala
Over 30 pilgrims die in conjunction with the ashura mourning in Karbala. Around 100 were also seriously injured, many of them, in the panic that ensued in the crowd. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims participate in ashura, which commemorates the memory of the martyr’s death in 680 by Prophet Muhammad’s daughter-in-law Hussein.
Newspaper: Israel behind Iraq attack
Israel has carried out at least one attack on weapons stockpiles in Iraq over the past month, reports the New York Times. In Syria, Israel often attacks targets linked to Iranian forces (which assists the Assad regime), but in Iraq such efforts are far more sensitive as the United States cooperates with the country’s government. Recently, there have been at least three explosions at the People’s Mobilization (al-Hashd al-Shaabi), forces consisting mainly of pro-Iranian militia, and the newspaper has sources pointing out Israel.
Lifetime of massacre in Baghdad
An American who worked for security company Blackwater in Iraq in 2007 is sentenced to life imprisonment for murder. US courts have examined his role in a massacre of unarmed civilians. At least 14 people died when Blackwater guards, escorting a diplomatic cortege, opened fire on a crowd in Baghdad. The incident, four years after the dictator Saddam Hussein was driven by US-led forces, contributed to Iraqi anger against Americans. This is the third time that US courts are assessing the soldier’s role.
Iraq: No IS members executed yet
9th of August
Since the beginning of 2018, some 500 foreign nationals have been detained in Iraq as supporters of IS. But no sentenced persons have been executed yet, says Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi. The Iraqi government has sent signals to IS-jihadists’ homelands that prisoners may be dealt with in Iraq if countries that do not want to receive them bear the costs. From camps in northern Syria, run by Kurdish authorities, Iraq, for its part, plans to welcome 31,000 Iraqi nationals belonging to IS members.
Report: Around 15,000 active IS fighters
Remaining supporters of the Islamic State (IS) have managed to rally in attacks against forces holding their former “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq, according to a US Defense Inspector General’s report. The report examines the impact that US forces have largely withdrawn. IS was forced off with US military support in both countries, but the forces that took over (in Syria, especially Kurdish units) find it difficult to maintain control long-term and coordinate their actions against IS, it says. IS performs murder, ambush and bombing. The report estimates the number of IS- jihadists in Syria and Iraq to be between 14,000 and 18,000, of which 3,000 are shipped from other countries.
Corruption fighters claim some success
Iraq’s anti-corruption campaigners say the Commission manages to recoup a billion dollars to the Treasury during the first half of 2019. 857 arrest warrants have been issued and 407 suspects have been arrested. But there is much more to do: Since 2004, the year after a US-led invasion ousted dictator Saddam Hussein from power, $ 250 billion of public funds is believed to have been wasted, according to estimates made by Iraq’s parliament.
The governor embraced aid
Around $ 10 million that would have gone to two hospitals in Mosul has been embezzled by Nineve’s disappeared ex-governor, a state commission against corruption claims. Nineveh was one of the provinces where IS ravaged. In total, about 1.6 million Iraqis are still internally displaced as a result of war, 40 percent of them from Nineveh, and their return is slowed down by the failure to rebuild basic community services. The governor is believed to be hiding in Kurdish autonomy in northern Iraq, where money could be traced. He himself went underground after a ferry tragedy in Mosul, which led to sharp criticism of the authorities and his own deposition (see March 21 and July 18, 2019).
Suggestion: “Nuremberg Trial” for IS
For a year, the British lawyer Karim Khan, on behalf of the UN agency Unitad and with a staff of almost 80 people, traveled around Iraq to collect evidence and testimony of crimes committed by the Islamic State (IS). Investigators have, among other things, investigated death victims in mass graves, called video films and examined documents from the IS Caliphate’s own bureaucracy. Khan believes that a tribunal should be set up to address the crimes, in the style of the Nuremberg Trials against Nazi leaders after World War II (see June 3, 2019). In Iraq, IS supporters are now sentenced daily, some to death, but victims and witnesses of criminal offenses are not admitted – for convicting, terrorist membership is enough. Khan believes that a tribunal, like after Nazism, would help to reduce the appeal of the violence-glorifying movement.
New leader for Yazidis
Hazem Tahsin Bek takes over the role of leader of the Yazid minority in Iraq at a coronation ceremony in the city of Lalish. After Father Tahsin Said Ali’s departure in January, his new role was confirmed by a religious five-member council that includes the Yazidis’ highest spiritual leader Baba Shaykh. Hazem Tahsin Bek has previously been a member of the regional parliament of Kurdish autonomy.
US sanctions on regional leaders
The United States imposes sanctions on two Iraqi militia leaders – one Christian, the other from the Shabak minority group – and against two former governors. The ex-governors of Nineveh and Saladin are identified as corrupt and the militia leaders are held responsible for serious human rights violations, including kidnappings. An Iraqi Commission Against Corruption has previously claimed that the Nineveh Governor’s circle shunned $ 64 million of state funds, including nearly 40 million that would have been used to rebuild the war-torn city of Mosul.
Turkish diplomat is murdered in Erbil
An attack on a Turkish consulate in Erbil in northern Iraq requires three lives. A Turkish diplomat and two other people are shot to death. Turkish forces carry out a few days later air strikes targeting the Kurdish PKK guerrilla in the Qandil Mountains in Iraq. Some time before the attack in Erbil, the PKK announced that one of the movement’s leaders and other persons had been put to death in a Turkish raid.
Kurdish government with heavy KDP profile
A new regional government has been accepted and approved by Parliament in the Kurdish autonomy in the north (see June 11). The important post of Minister of Oil is not appointed, the position is held by regional head Masrour Barzani himself until further notice. Barzani’s party KDP holds nine ministerial posts, the other major party PUK six. Four ministers belong to the Goran Party (Change), one comes from the Kurdistan Socialist Party and one is a Christian, in accordance with rules that will secure influence for minorities.
Iran-friendly militias are closer to the army
Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi issues a decree that the Shi’ilis that go under the collective concept of Popular Mobilization (al-Hashd al-Shaabi) should be integrated into the army, on paper. Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr states that his force Saraya al-Salam will follow the decree. It is also supported by militia Asaib Ahl al-Haqq, who is considered to have close contacts with Iran. But full integration into the federal army should not be: the militias retain their leaders. The result, on the other hand, is believed to be that forces open to Iranian influence gain greater legitimacy. The United States has tried to persuade the Prime Minister to disband the militia.
No to US attack against Iran
Iraq will not, under any circumstances, allow the US to use Iraqi ground bases to attack Iran, President Barham Salih told CNN. He also questions the sanctions that the United States has reintroduced to Iran. Barham Salih refers to the experience of sanctions maintained against Iraq in the 1990s. The dictator Saddam Hussein was not disrupted, however, the sanctions according to Salih still have effects in Iraqi society.
Important ministerial posts filled
The Baghdad Parliament approves three key positions: Najah al-Shammari becomes Minister of Defense, Yasin al-Yasiri Minister of the Interior and Faruq Amin Minister of Justice. The appointments mean that Badr, the dominant Iran-friendly party, is given control over the important home ministry. The post of Minister of Education is still empty in the government of Adil Abd al-Mahdi, eight months after he became prime minister.
American interests are being shelled
A series of grenade or rocket attacks have been directed against US interests in Iraq for about a week. No one has taken on the attacks, but the projectiles are said to be fired from areas where there are armed Shia groups. No deaths have been reported. The attacks – against military bases and oil facilities where there are US personnel – are seen as support markings for Iran in the conflict with war threats ongoing between Washington and Tehran.
The US allows Iran trade despite sanctions
The US extends Iraq’s exemption from sanctions against Iran. Gas and oil trade between Iran and Iraq can continue for another 90 days without US sanctions. The energy supply in Iraq is heavily dependent on imports and electricity consumption in Iraq increases during the summer heat. A repeat of the 2018 protest wave is feared if there would be major disruptions in the supply of electricity.
“King’s Family” leads Kurdish autonomy
Two cousins are now leading Kurdish self-government in Iraq as Masrour Barzani is appointed prime minister by the regional parliament. He succeeds Nechirvan Barzani who was installed on the regional presidential post the day before (see May 28). The Barzani family has such a grip on the positions of power that the clan almost functions as a royal dynasty: Massoud Barzani (father of Masrour, uncle of Nechirvan) is expected to act as a “gray eminence” even though he no longer holds any formal position in the state institutions. The party KDP was founded by Grandpa Mustafa Barzani (1903-1979).
The green zone in Baghdad opened
The roads through the previously closed “green zone” in Baghdad are now fully opened, in connection with the celebration of the festival id al-fitr. The zone on the west side of the Tigris River has a history as the seat of power under Saddam Hussein, but has also – for security reasons – been barred for the majority of citizens since the US-led invasion in 2003 when the dictator collapsed (see October 25, 2018).
Tribunal against IS on the agenda
The Swedish government is holding an international meeting to discuss how a tribunal to try suspects for crimes committed by IS could be implemented. The meeting at the official level includes, among others, several Western countries and the UN. From camps in Kurdish-controlled areas in Syria, several countries have begun to bring home orphaned children and women connected to IS.
New president of Kurdish region
Parliament in the Kurdish autonomy in the north elects Nechirvan Barzani as regional president. Barzani is the deputy party leader in the KDP party. The other major Kurdish party, PUK, boycott the vote and accuse the KDP of a breach of promise. When Nechirvan Barzani’s representative (his uncle who held the presidential post 2005-2017) called for a contentious referendum on independence, he supported it. But Nechirvan Barzani has since then, as prime minister in the self-government, been responsible for trying to make relations with the central government in Baghdad work again.
Turkish offensive against Kurdish guerrillas
Turkish forces enter Iraqi territory during a military offensive against the PKK. The Kurdish guerrillas have bases in mountain areas at the border. Two weeks after the offensive began, the Turkish Defense Forces state that 43 PKK supporters were harmless.
The US fears Iran-backed militia
15th of May
All staff who are not considered necessary are taken home from the US Embassy in Baghdad and the country’s consulate in Erbil. The United States, which over the past year has made decisions that escalate a protracted conflict with Iran, states that a threat exists from the Iraqi militia that has ties to Iran. At the same time, contradictory messages about whether heightened alert status prevails in Iraq from other countries that still have troops in place to fight the Islamic State (IS).
The US pressures Iraq into a tightened position with Iran
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo makes an unannounced visit to increase pressure on Iraq’s government to reduce its dependence on neighboring Iran (see March 11). Pompeo also demands guarantees to protect Americans in Iraq – 5,200 militants. One year after the US withdrew from the International Nuclear Energy Agreement with Iran and reintroduced harsh sanctions on Tehran, the tone between the US and Iran has tightened. The United States has sent an aircraft carrier and associated combat group to the waters south of Iran and Iraq. Pompeo claims that the US is responding to immediate threats from Iran.
Paperless children are left without care and school
Approximately 45,000 children who have lived in IS-controlled areas are currently in camps and have difficulty accessing healthcare and education, according to a report from the Norwegian organization Refugee Council. A fundamental problem is that many lack birth certificates. Not only relatives of IS members, but also others affected by IS’s exercise of power are affected. Parents often lack ID documents. The children risk becoming stateless and thus long-term without civil rights.
Children of IS members are flown home
More than 80 children of Tajik who have joined IS have been fetched by air from Iraq, Tajikistan’s Foreign Ministry reports. The children are Tajik citizens (see March 11). Tajik authorities have previously stated that more than 1,000 Tajiks joined the terrorist group in Iraq or Syria, among them Gulmurod Halimov, who led the Interior Ministry’s special forces before announcing via a 2015 video that he had been recruited by IS. In Iraq, 43 Tajik women are convicted of terror-related crimes.
The IS leader calls for terrorist acts
IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – who in 2014 proclaimed a caliphate in Mosul – appears in a video on the internet that is believed to be genuine. The video contains references to current events, in particular the defeat of the movement in the Baghuz fortress in Syria. It’s been five years since al-Baghdadi turned out in a similar way and he is now urging sympathizers to continue committing terrorist acts, as revenge. The terrorist group has also taken on concerted bombings against Christians in Sri Lanka on April 21, on Easter Day.
Saudi courtship: the sports arena in gift
Saudi Arabia’s Commerce Minister promises, on a visit to Baghdad, a loan package to Iraq: a billion dollars for development projects, half a billion for export promotion and also a gift – a sports arena for 100,000 spectators to be built on the outskirts of Baghdad. At the same time, the minister is opening a new Saudi consulate and more missions are planned. The parties say that the countries’ mutual relations, which have long been eclipsed by Saddam Hussein and his war train in the region, have entered a new phase. The Saudi eagerness to be in place should also be seen in the light of the regime in Iran, which is a bitter rival to Saudi Arabia’s rule, has strong allies in Baghdad and supplies large quantities of goods to Iraq.
IS’s last bracket has fallen
SDF, the Kurdish Arab forces in northern Syria, raises its yellow flag in the last IS stronghold of Baghuz and declares that the final battle against the jihadist movement is over. This does not mean that all IS fighters have been disarmed or killed – in smaller places along the Iraq-Syria border, there are assumed to be scattered crowds – but IS no longer controls any part of its former “caliphate”.
New Year celebrator in ferry tragedy
A ferry accident occurs in Mosul and nearly 100 passengers are feared to have lost their lives. Most of the victims are women and children whose families are on their way to an island with amusement parks to celebrate the Kurdish New Year. The ferry is reported to have been overloaded. A warning of high water levels in the river Tigris had also been issued after a rainfall, when the hatches were opened in a pond upstream. A few days later, the governor of Nineveh province gets fired at the request of Iraq’s prime minister. Parliament also makes decisions that allow victims to receive damages.
UN appeal for children in IS families
11th of March
The UN Children’s Fund Unicef calls for children of IS members not to be considered terrorists. Unicef estimates that there are around 3,000 children suffering from at least 43 countries alone in the largest camp in eastern Syria, al-Hol (al-Hawl). In addition, there are even more children from Syrian and Iraqi jihadist families, which will be a challenge to integrate on site (see February 19 and March 6).
State visit from Iran: Iraq is torn between two fires
11th of March
Iranian President Hassan Rohani initiates a three-day state visit to Iraq, the first since he became president. He praises Iran-Iraq relations as “special” and, among other things, talks trade and railway lines with the Iraqi leadership. It is happening at the same time as the US wants the Iraqi government to limit Iran’s influence in the neighboring country, which is large – the Shiite-dominated parties in Iraq have deep contacts with Iran. Iraq also needs exemptions from US sanctions against Iran in order to buy electricity and natural gas (see November 8, 2018). On March 19, the United States is also extending Iraq’s exception, again.
Britons indicate death toll after raids against IS
The British Air Force, RAF, participates in the US-led alliance fighting IS in Syria and Iraq, and British authorities estimate that RAF’s raids have claimed over 4,000 jihadists’ lives. The summation applies to raids carried out between September 2014 and January 2019. According to these data, three-quarters of the deaths have been required in Iraq. The British Ministry of Defense says it only knows of a civilian death victim, but the aid and research organization Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) which has obtained the information states that civilian death rates are underreported. The RAF has attacked around 1,000 targets in the IS strongholds of Mosul and Raqqa during the war years, and the military’s analysis of the effects is mostly done through aerial photography.
HRW: IS children are imprisoned and tortured
At the end of 2018, about 1,500 children / youth related to IS were held in prison by Iraqi and Kurdish authorities, Human Rights Watch said in a report. HRW claims torture exists to persuade children to admit crime. The regional government of Kurdish autonomy has previously denied such claims. From the Iraqi federal government, HRW is reporting that at least 185 children of foreign nationality have been sentenced to prison sentences on charges of terrorism. The organization, which has interviewed children in captivity, among others, calls on Iraqi lawmakers to change the anti-terror laws.
French IS warriors threatened by death penalty
In connection with Iraq’s President Barham Salih’s visit to France, it is announced that 13 IS fighters who are French nationals will be brought to trial in Iraq. They have been handed over to government forces by Kurdish forces and will be tried for terrorist offenses, which could result in the death penalty in Iraq
Swedish no to IS warriors
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven says that Sweden will not assist IS warriors with Swedish citizenship who want to return home. How Swedish authorities should deal with children for IS supporters has not been decided (see February 19).
Jihadist wife is denied return to London
Britain puts the issue of close relatives of IS warriors at the forefront by revoking the citizenship of Shamima Begum, 19 years old. In 2015, she and two other teenage girls left London to join IS and the “caliphate” movement was set up in Syria and Iraq. Since fighting IS, she is in a refugee camp in Syria and she has children with a jihadist. In Iraq, women and children from a variety of countries are in a similar situation (see November 13, 2018)). Both Iraq and the Kurdish forces in northern Syria are asking the jihadists’ homelands to take care of families as well as suspected IS hangers, as the IS-ravaged countries have no resources to deal with them on the spot. Britain has previously withdrawn the passport for Britons who have committed brutal crimes in IS’s name.
Female President in split Kurdish Parliament
The Kurdish autonomy parliament has got a female president: Vala Farid, who belongs to the KDP party. She is acting on the record. The question of who will receive the assignment permanently will be decided in negotiations between the major parties KDP and the PUK – and the PUK chose to boycott the session, when Parliament convened for the first time four months after the elections in the region (see October 21, 2018). On February 15, KDP and PUK were reported to have reached an agreement on important issues, but the cooperation is in spite of the compromise.
Extended mine clearance in Iraq
Swedish support for the UN mine clearance in Iraq is being expanded. UN efforts Unma’s work in Iraq has so far been concentrated on Mosul and al-Falluja, but will be expanded to more places, including Kirkuk. Of the nearly 17,000 explosive items that the miners destroyed in 2018, 782 were suicide belts – which in many cases remained on dead persons, says Unma’s Swedish manager of TT News Agency.
Oil against electricity in border trade
Iraq resumes oil deliveries to Jordan via Kirkuk tankers. Jordan will in turn export electricity to Iraq within a couple of years. Prime Ministers Adil Abd al-Mahdi and Omar al-Razzaz meet at the border, where they have also agreed to set up an industrial area (see January 14). In Iraq, there is some grief about Jordan being given a rebate on oil, but it is linked to Iraq looking for other sources of electricity imports when trade with Iran is subject to US sanctions.
Riot in protest against Turkey
A Turkish army posting in Iraqi territory is stormed by protesters who claim that a Turkish air strike claimed multiple lives; Turkey often raids Iraqi territory in search of the terrorist-stamped Kurdish guerrilla PKK. A demonstrator is now shot to death as Turkish soldiers open fire. Iraq’s Foreign Ministry states that a formal protest should be handed over to Turkey’s ambassador. On the same day, Turkey resumed direct flights to northern Iraq after 16 months of blockade. The traffic was stopped in protest against the Kurds conducting a referendum on independence in 2017.
State budget with doubled deficit
Parliament approves the state budget for 2019, which is greatly expanded compared to the previous year. Among other things, it includes wage increases for government employees, even in Kurdish self-government. But the budget deficit is also growing; it more than doubles. Nonetheless, members from several provinces feel that the appropriations for reconstruction after the war against IS should be greater. 90 percent of the revenue in the budget is expected to come from oil recovery.
Increased demands for US retreat
Since the Iraqi government declared victory against the jihadist movement IS 2017, countries participating in the fighting have taken military personnel home. The number of foreign soldiers in Iraq dropped from 11,000 in January 2018 to 8,000 at the end of the year. The United States now has 5,200 troops stationed at bases in Iraq. President Trump’s surprise visit to US soldiers over Christmas – without courtesy of Iraq’s leaders – and his message that American soldiers should be called home from Syria have increased the demand for Americans to leave Iraq as well. Especially the proiran parties are critical and conduct protests.
Delayed plan for oil pipeline is taken up
Jordan’s King Abdullah visits Iraq for the first time in over ten years. Iraq’s President Barham Salih, for his part, has visited Amman a few months earlier. The countries have a 18-mile common border and Jordan imports Iraqi crude oil. In 2013, they agreed to build a 170-mile oil pipeline between Basra and Aqaba, but plans were halted when the jihadist IS subdued large parts of Iraq. Jordan has decided to revive the plan, but no new timetable has been announced.
The Baghdad government strengthens the grip on Kirkuk
The Iraqi government places special forces in Kirkuk. It is tense in the disputed city since the Kurdish self-government flag was hoisted over a party headquarters. Iraq’s constitution says that the oil-rich and ethnically mixed Kirkuk should obey the central government in Baghdad, while the Kurds claim to extend their self-government there (see November 20, 2017). Oil exports from Kirkuk resumed following an agreement between the Baghdad government and the self-government in December 2018.