Iraq Weekly Security Report

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Iraq Weekly Security Report
Iraq
Weekly Security Report
July 28, 2015
Security Analysis
July 21 - 27, 2015
Executive Summary
• Turkish air strikes threaten return to conflict across northern Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) border territories, as international partners raise concerns over diversion of anti-ISIS operations.
• Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) advance on Anbar University, recording gains in battle for Ramadi town amid stalled
operations on Fallujah and the al Karma flank.
• Risk of protest remains heightened across the Qurna and Midaina territories of north-east Basra following ongoing unrest associated with power shortages and employment opportunities.
National Overview
Turkish air strikes threaten return to conflict across northern KRG border territories, as international
partners raise concerns over diversion of anti-ISIS operations. Occurring after a landmark agreement with
the United States to extend the use of air bases in south-eastern Turkey to the coalition war effort, Turkish fighter
jets resumed bombardment against camps belonging to Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Iraq this week, striking
a number of sites in the Qandil mountains, close to the
DAHUK
Iranian border from Friday onwards. While such hostilities should not be seen as either a direct threat to the
ERBIL
KRG administration or to international organizations
NINEVEH
operating from secure locations in Dohuk or Erbil (air
SULAIMANIYA
KIRKUK
strikes and artillery fire against remote PKK positions
have occurred sporadically over the past decade), the
SALAHUDDIN
conflict will undoubtedly serve to strain the already
DIYALA
challenging position for anti-ISIS groups in the disputed
BAGHDAD
areas of north-western Iraq where a number of KurdANBAR
ish militias, including the PKK and Syrian Kurdistan
WASIT
KARBALA BABIL
National Army (Yekîneyên Parastina Gel – YPG) units
QADISIYA
MAYSAN
are understood to be operating alongside official KRG
security forces. Nonetheless, for organizations currently
NAJAF
DHI QAR
Over 30 Incidents
working along the Turkish-Iraqi border, Triple Canopy
Over 10 Incidents
BASRA
advises against all travel to the PKK-associated areas of
MUTHANNA
Over Five Incidents
Mergarsur, Mount Kelashin, Darkar and Amadiya which
At Least One Incident
have previously been targeted by Turkish military forces
No Incidents
and are likely to represent the main focus of any future
conflict should the current situation escalate.
Reported violent incidents July 21 - 27, 2015
Northern Region
ISIS shifts targeting to Shia Turkmen and Kurdish-held territories
amid protracted clashes around
the Baiji front line. At the time of
writing Baiji town remains disputed,
as Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) continue to
engage with ISIS cells in militant-controlled areas,
resulting in the death of eight fighters in the Tel Abu
Jarad area on July 26, days after Shia militiamen
announced the killing of the ISIS shadow governor
of the city. To the east, particular caution is also
Security Analysis
July 21 - 27, 2015
advised for all operations in the Kurdish-Turkoman
inhabited town of Tuz Khurmatu which like Diyala
has witnessed a spike in targeted bombings in recent
weeks, after a failed attempt by militants to storm
Peshmerga positions on the Zerga bridge (SW of
the city) on July 15. As with Baqubah, militants are
understood to be specifically targeting Tuz Khurmatu
in order to strike at the city’s Shia inhabitants, with
some 12 residents of the city killed and 45 others
wounded when a pair of suicide bombers detonated
themselves at a crowded public swimming pool on
July 25. Local reporting indicates the attack was
coordinated alongside wider ISIS cells in the province,
with a second VBIED blast occurring on the same day
close to the traffic police headquarters in the center
of the city.
Central Region
ISF advance on Anbar University, recording gains in battle
for Ramadi town, amid stalled
operations on Fallujah and the
al Karma flank. At present, the
security environment surrounding Ramadi and the
outlying territories of Sajjariyah and Humeyrah
remains highly fluid with ISF units understood to be
encountering elevated resistance and counter-attacks against recently won positions, even as Iraqi
police and Shia Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs)
press into central districts. Major areas of conflict this week included the Albu al Jassim village,
north-west of the provincial capital, as well as the
south-western Tamim neighborhood which witnessed a major advance of allied forces on Sunday
evening, resulting in the capture of the Anbar
University complex after hours of heavy fighting.
The move followed the capture of the 8th brigade
base, west of Ramadi town, six days earlier and
has the potential to provide a launch pad for a full
ground assault, once militia commanders deem
the ISIS defenders sufficiently isolated from their
supply networks. Organizations operating in the
central territories should note that heavy aerial
bombardment of Fallujah, Ramadi, Hit and the
border district of al Qaim remains a daily phenomenon, adding to an already challenging operating
environment in ISF-controlled territories, although
crucially the majority of such activity continues to
take place far from the national capital Baghdad.
Southern Region
Risk of protest remains heightened across the Qurna and
Midaina territories of north-east
Basra following ongoing unrest
associated with power shortages
and employment opportunities. While mediation
with tribal elders is now understood to have resolved
the dispute with local policing authorities, following
the shooting of a demonstrator on July 17, power
shortages have continued to provoke sporadic
demonstrations across Basra province, with unrest in
the Muwafaqiya area of Basra city spreading to multiple sites at West Qurna 1 and West Qurna 2 from
July 26. In both instances, popular dissatisfaction
with power outages appears to have acted as a trigger for community leaders to reiterate a wider set of
demands to the Basra local authority, and while the
demonstrators were only able to inflict minimal disruption to commercial traffic and operations, organizations are advised to maintain particular vigilance
while traveling along the Qurna-Midaina highway
where stone-throwing and other minor security incidents have recently been reported. The breakdown
of relations between the Shaghamba and Egab
tribes, residents of Qurna, has also contributed to an
increase in reported violent clashes and land disputes this week, reinforcing the need for additional
security precautions to be observed for rural transits
in the north-east Basra area
Key Security Events
July 21 - 27, 2015
Dohuk, July 24:
Turkish fighter jets launched air strikes on Kurdistan
Workers Party (PKK) camps across the Dohuk border and
the Qandil mountain range, opening the potential for a
cessation in the two year ceasefire between Istanbul and
the PKK.
Dohuk
Rabia
Sinjar
Tal Afar
Mosul
Erbil
ERBIL
NINEVEHBadkdida
Sulaymaniyah
Kirkuk
SULAIMANIYA
KIRKUK
Hawija
Baiji
Anbar, July 25:
Two air strikes destroyed an ISIS explosive-rigged earth
mover along with a residential building in the Albu
Aithah area of Ramadi governorate, killing as many
as 15 ISIS members who were reported to have been
meeting inside.
Salahuddin, July 25:
12 civilians were killed in the mixed city of
Tuz Khurmatu when two suicide bombers
struck bathers at public swimming pool close
to the city center. The majority of the victims
were Shia Turkmen residents, and appear
to have been targeted as part of the wider
ISIS strategy of sectarian bombings in mixed
Sunni-Shia areas.
DAHUK
Tuz Khurmatu
Tikrit
Sulaiman Beg
SALAHUDDIN Jalawla
Al Qairm
Samarra
Haditha
Khalis
Hit
Habbaniyah
Ramadi
Rutba
Khanaqin
Sadia
Basra, July 26:
Multiple demonstrations occurred at the
West Qurna 1 and West Qurna 2 sites in
north-eastern Basra, with approximately 200
protesters gathering to demand increased
employment and improvement of local
electricity supply. The protests concluded
peacefully in the early evening.
Muqdadiyah
DIYALA
Baqubah
Taji
Baghdad
BAGHDAD
Fallujah
Abu Ghraib
ANBAR
Anbar, July 26:
Security forces recaptured the Anbar University complex
after hours of protracted clashes with ISIS forces, using
coalition and Iraqi air support to bombard the militant
headquarters before mounting a ground assault.
Hillah
KARBALA
Karbala BABIL
Al Amarah
Najaf Ad
QADISIYA
Diwaniyah
NAJAF
LEGEND
Kut
WASIT
MAYSAN
Nasiriyah
DHI QAR
Basra
BASRA
KRG Territory
ISIS Held City
Kurdish Held City
Disputed City
ISF Held City
Peshmerga
Controlled Areas
MUTHANNA
News Summary
July 21 - 27, 2015
Politics and Security
• Iraqi Forces Attack Islamic State Base in Ramad –
BBC News. Iraqi forces have launched an attack against
the Islamic State-controlled University of Anbar complex
in the city of Ramadi, US officials said. IS militants have
been using the sprawling site as a command base since
taking control of the city in May. Some reports suggested
Iraqi forces had retaken control of the complex. The Iraqi
military launched an operation this month to push IS out
of Anbar province, large swathes of which are controlled
by the militants. The operation to retake the university complex was supported by US air strikes against IS
positions around Ramadi. A number of buildings in and
around the complex were badly damaged or destroyed,
Athal al-Fahdawi told Associated Press. Full Article
Turkish Jets Hit
PKK Targets in Iraq
After Soldiers Killed
Turkey attacked Kurdish insurgent camps in Iraq for
a second night on Sunday, security sources said, in a
campaign that could end its peace process with the
Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Ankara, which called
for a special NATO meeting on Tuesday to discuss its
security concerns, said two soldiers were killed and
four wounded in an earlier attack by PKK militants.
• PM Says Kurdistan Ready to Help Resume PKK
Peace Talks with Ankara – Rudaw. Kurdistan Region
Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani on Saturday called on
the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to reduce tensions with
Turkey and resume its peace process, following Turkish
raids on the militants’ bases in Kurdistan. Barzani said that
Kurdistan was ready to help the two sides resume peace
talks. He added that Turkish military attacks on the PKK’s
base in Kurdistan’s Qandil Mountains had followed provocative statements made by the group’s leaders. The Group
of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK) was founded by the
PKK to promote the ideas of the guerrilla group’s leader,
Abdullah Ocalan, who remains jailed in Turkey. Full Article
• Western Officials Warns Turkey: Don’t Attack
Kurds – BasNews. UK Prime Minister David Cameron and
German Chancellor Angela Merkel made it clear that Turkey
should not attack Kurds, reported the Guardian on Monday.
Both leaders said they did not want the Turks to shift the
focus of their new operations to an assault on Kurds in Iraqi
Kurdistan or Syria. “We want the focus to be on ISIL. It is
important that Turkey made these steps and we will encourage them to do that,” Cameron said. Merkel on Sunday
urged Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu “not to give
up the peace process with the Kurds but to stick to it despite
all the difficulties,” according to her deputy spokesman
Georg Streiter, reported in Deutsche Welle. Full Article
Long a reluctant member of the US-led coalition
against Islamic State, Turkey made a dramatic turnaround this week by granting the alliance access to
its air bases and launching air raids against both the
jihadist movement and the PKK. It has no plans to
send ground troops into Syria and the air strikes there
are meant to give support to moderate Syrian rebels
fighting Islamic State, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was quoted as saying by the Hurriyet newspaper.
He said the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party,
(PYD), which has links to the PKK, could “have a
place in the new Syria” if it did not disturb Turkey, cut
all relations with President Bashar al-Assad’s administration, and cooperated with opposition forces.
Source: Reuters. Full Article
News Summary
July 21 - 27, 2015
Economics and Business
• Iraq, Oman to Buy Iran Gas – Mehr News
Agency. Exporting gas to Persian Gulf states along
with Iraq, Oman and Afghanistan is atop the agenda
of the National Iranian Gas Export Company (NIGEC)
according to its Managing Director Alireza Kameli.
The vast distance and the cheap price together haul
any plan to export gas to Europe down the list while
the regional market in need of Iran’s gas is a fit priority for NIGEC according to Kameli. The official reassured that the Iranian side of the Iran-Iraq gas line
was 99 percent complete and the project depended
on Iraq’s domestic security. Liquefied fuel projects on
the Iranian territory include the Persian Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) with an annual capacity to produce
16.2 million tons of gas. Full Article
• $1.5 Million Support for Humanitarian Coordination – IBN. The Federal Government of Iraq’s Joint
Coordination and Monitoring Center (JCMC) and
Kurdistan Regional Government’s Joint Crisis Coordination Center (JCC) today met in Erbil to discuss how
to effectively reach more than 3 million displaced Iraqis
in the country, as funding is drying up. The United
Kingdom and UN Development Program (UNDP) also
signed a new partnership of £1 million (US$ 1.5 million) to build the capacity of these two key institutions.
Responsible for coordinating one of the region’s largest and most complex humanitarian operations, the
two crises centers will cooperate to reach millions of
displaced people through prioritization, planning and
targeting, as well as resource mobilization. Full Article
Key Upcoming Dates
August 20 Kurdistan Presidential
Election
Sept. 23 - 26 Eid al Adha
(Feast of the Sacrifice)
National Holiday
Iraq’s Oil Exports Head for
Another Record in July
Iraq’s southern oil exports have risen above three
million barrels per day (bpd) so far in July, according to loading data and an industry source, setting
shipments from OPEC’s second-largest producer on
course for a monthly record. The Iraqi boost is an
indication of continued high output from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC),
which is focusing on keeping market share rather
than curbing supply to support prices.
Exports from Iraq’s southern terminals averaged 3.06
million bpd in the first 23 days of this month, up
from a record 3.02 million bpd in all of June. Shipments jumped in June after Iraq’s decision to split
the crude stream into two grades, Basra Heavy and
Basra Light, to resolve quality issues. This has allowed
some companies working at Iraqi oilfields to increase
production. “It looks like another strong month
above the 3 million level,” said the industry source,
who tracks the exports. “It’s very impressive what
they are doing.” The southern fields produce most
of Iraq’s oil. Located far from the parts of the country
controlled by Islamic State militants, they have kept
pumping despite the conflict.
Source: Trade Arabia. Full Article
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