Sunday, January 31, 2016

Musings On Iraq In The News


My interview with Haroro Ingram on the Islamic State’s information campaign was reprinted in Vox Pol. Musings On Iraq was mentioned in "Post-Islamic State Problems: Diyala Province Undergoing Violent Ethnic and Sectarian Cleansing" by Aida al-Khatib for Niqash. I was cited in "The Obama Administration Has Made A Striking Choice In Iraq" by Armin Rosen and Michael Kelly for Business Insider.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Iraq Ranks In Ten Most Corrupt Countries In World Again


Germany’s Transparency International (TI) released its newest corruption index for 2015, and as usual Iraq was at the bottom of the list. TI scores countries from 0 to 100 with 100 being at the top. The ten worst countries in its new study were Somalia, North Korea, Afghanistan, Sudan, South Sudan, Angola, Libya, Iraq, Venezuela, and Guinea-Bissau. Seven of those nations had the worst ranks last year. Iraq received the same score that it had for the last two years at 16. In 2012 it did slightly better at 18.

Most Corrupt Countries On Transparency International Corruption Index 2015
1. Somalia
1. North Korea
3. Afghanistan
4. Sudan
5. South Sudan
6. Angola
7. Libya
7. Iraq
9. Venezuela
10. Guinea-Bissau
  
Iraq always ranks towards the bottom of these surveys because corruption is so rampant throughout the state. The ruling elite use graft and bribes to maintain their patronage systems and enrich themselves. That’s also the reason why there is no real push to end it either because if one top officials were to be taken down it would threaten all the rest. That’s despite repeated promises by the prime ministers, the complaints of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and protests that occur almost every year demanding action on the issue. Premier Haidar Abadi for example announced a reform program in August 2015 that was supposed to address corruption, but he was focused more on building up his own base and going after his rivals than actually addressing the problem, and nothing substantive was done. Abadi passed up a perfect opportunity as the street was with him and so was Najaf, but he was unwilling to seriously touch the golden goose that keeps the Iraqi parties going.

SOURCES

Salim, Mustafa and Cunningham, Erin, “Iraqi prime minister announces sweeping reform measures aimed at fighting corruption,” Washington Post, 8/9/15

Transparency International, “Corruption Perceptions Index 2015,” 1/27/16

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Iraq Ex-Finance Min Issawi Convicted Of Corruption Rather Than Terrorism Charges


In December 2015 Iraq’s former Finance Minister Rafi Issawi was convicted in two separate court cases. Issawi last ran afoul of the law in 2012 when his bodyguards were arrested and Issawi was charged with terrorism. That led to months of protests across a number of provinces that became one of the major stories in the country for 2013. When Issawi was finally found guilty in 2015 however it was not for involvement with violence, but for rather routine corruption.

At the end of 2015 Issawi was found guilty in two separate corruption trials. First, Issawi was given seven years for manipulating money exchanges. A few days later Issawi received an additional one year sentence in a misdemeanor court for appointing relatives to office and issuing illegal degrees, so people could get government jobs. There were originally 20 other charges against him, but those were dropped. One and seven years were relatively light sentences showing that the charges were not that serious. Like other top officials, Issawi was treated with kid gloves by the courts, and was only convicted after he had left office and was out of the country as the government is not serious about tackling graft and other illegalities. This was anti-climatic compared to what Issawi went through in previous years.

The last time Issawi was faced with charges it was for terrorism, and caused a huge controversy that lasted for nearly a year. On December 20, 2012, ten of Issawi’s bodyguards were arrested. A State of Law member claimed that twenty families in Anbar filed suits against them, which led to warrants being issued. (1) On December 29, one of the guards was shown on Al-Iraqiya TV confessing to taking orders from Issawi’s son-in-law to carry out assassinations with aid from former Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi. The arrests led to a series of protests in Salahaddin, Anbar, Ninewa, Diyala, Kirkuk, Babil, Baghdad, and even in the south in Maysan, Dhi Qar, and Basra initially. In January, Moqtada al-Sadr sent a delegation to the protests in Ramadi to express support, and his bloc rejected an offer by Prime Minister Maliki to assume Issawi’s position as Finance Minister. Later, these protests took on a sectarian tone as Sunni demonstrations against Maliki’s Shiite government with a few turning very militant such as in Fallujah and Hawija, with the latter taken over by the Naqshibandi insurgent group and the former featuring some Islamic State supporters. When they started however they were about the prime minister targeting another one of his opponents, and cut across sectarian and political lines. They came after Maliki had chased off Vice President Hashemi into exile the year before on similar terrorist charges, and the premier was pushing the Kurds over oil and the disputed territories. Issawi was actually aligned with Maliki beforehand, but then broke with him. Issawi wrote an opinion piece with Iyad Allawi asking for the U.S to intervene to stop Maliki from grabbing more power, and called for a no confidence vote against the premier, which led to the arrest warrants being issued.

Maliki used the same tactics of intimidation against Issawi in the past. In December 2011 one of Hashemi’s bodyguards claimed that the vice president and Issawi ran death squads in Fallujah in 2006. It was later reported that the bodyguard was tortured to acquire the confession. Maliki had accused Issawi of involvement with violence the year before as well. In 2010 General Ray Odierno sent a letter to Maliki telling him that U.S. intelligence had reviewed Issawi’s case and found nothing against him. In 2005-2006 Fallujah was an insurgent center and Issawi ran a hospital there leading to suspicions that he must have either cooperated with or been with the militants. Maliki constantly played upon that background even though the Americans did not believe there was anything to it.

If the Iraqi government was so committed to taking Issawi to court for terrorism charges in 2012 and threatened to do so in 2011, what changed in 2015? The case against Issawi was always a political move by Prime Minister Maliki. Charging his rivals with involvement with violence would not only force them out of office, but discredit them with the public as well. With Maliki no longer premier however, there was no pressure on the courts to follow through with such a case anymore. Instead, Issawi was found guilty of corruption charges that any Iraqi minister could have been charged with. Still, Maliki ultimately won because Issawi’s political career is probably over for the foreseeable future.

FOOTNOTES

1. Al Rafidayn, “Alfalh: 20 families of Anbar filed lawsuits against al-Issawi and protection elements Hashemi,” 12/22/12

SOURCES

Adnan, Duraid and Arango, Tim, “Arrest of a Sunni Minister’s Bodyguards Prompts Protests in Iraq,” New York Times, 12/21/12

Alsumaria, “Integrity issued a new jail sentence against former Finance Minister and senior officials,” 1/21/16

Associated Press, “Iraq finance minister says staff members kidnapped,” 12/20/12
- “Sunni demonstrators challenge Iraq’s Shiite-led government, denounce bodyguards’ arrest,” 12/23/12

BBC, “Protests engulf west Iraq as Anbar rises against Maliki,” 1/2/13

Dananer, “Haitham al-Jubouri: former finance minister was involved nine corrupted files,” 7/23/13

Dodge, Toby, “The resistible rise of Nuri al-Maliki,” Open Democracy, 3/22/12

Gordon, Michael, “Tensions Rise in Baghdad With Raid on Official,” New York Times, 12/20/12

Healy, Jack and Gordon, Michael, “A Moderate Official at Risk in a Fracturing Iraq,” New York Times, 12/30/11

International Crisis Group, “Make or Break: Iraq’s Sunnis and the State,” 8/14/13

Jabar, Faleh, Mansour, Renad, Khaddaj, Abir, “Maliki and the Rest: A Crisis within a Crisis,” Iraq Institute for Strategic Studies, July 2012

Al-Mada, “Government circulated judicial arrest warrant Rafie al-Issawi on all security institutions and internal checkpoints and border,” 3/14/13
- “Integrity Commission: Issawi sentenced to seven years,” 12/1/15
- “Power of the Prime Minister’s Office arrested facilities Rafie al-Issawi,” 12/20/12

Mardini, Ramzy, “Iraq After the U.S. Withdrawal: Update #1,” Institute for the Study of War, 12/19/11
- “Iraq’s First Post-Withdrawal Crisis,” Institute for the Study of War, 12/19/11

National Iraqi News Agency, “Anbar Cleric Council demanding to declare civil disobedience,” 12/22/12
- “Demonstrations in Salah al-Din condemns “arbitrary measures” against Issawi protection members,” 12/21/12
- “Demonstrations pro-Issawi in the cities of Alqaim and Rotba of Anbar province,” 12/21/12
- “Protesters from Fallujah cut off the international highway and heading to Baghdad,” 12/21/12

Radio Nawa, “Bayraktar: an arrest warrant for official protection Issawi was issued some time ago but he was on the run,” 12/22/12

Al Rafidayn, “Alfalh: 20 families of Anbar filed lawsuits against al-Issawi and protection elements Hashemi,” 12/22/12
- “Missions, palaces and murder topple Issawi .. An arrest warrant waiting for him,” 4/6/13

Rayburn, Joel, Iraq After America, Strongmen, Sectarians, Resistance, Hoover Institution Press: Stanford, 2014

Salaheddin, Sinan and Schreck, Adam, “Iraq confirms arrest of minister’s bodyguards,” Associated Press, 12/21/12

Schreck, Adam and Abdul-Zahra, Qassim, “Iraq: New Protests Break out in Sunni Stronghold,” Associated Press, 12/26/12

Shafaq News, “Salahuddin calls its masses to demonstrate peacefully to express their demands,” 12/31/12

Sotaliraq, “Integrity: Court of Misdemeanors issues one year imprisonment against Issawi,” 12/22/15
- “Integrity: Criminal Court sentenced Issawi to seven years in prison,” 12/1/15

Sowell, Kirk, “Inside Iraqi Politics No. 30,” 1/3/12

Van Wilgenburg, Wladimir, “Iraqi Government Will Possible Arrest More Sunni Leaders,” Transnational Middle-East Observer, 12/22/11

Wyer, Sam, “Political Update: Mapping the Iraq Protests,” Institute for the Study of War, 1/11/13

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Security In Iraq, Jan 15-21, 2016


At the end of 2015 the Islamic State launched an offensive against the Kurds in Ninewa and Kirkuk. That was followed by some headline grabbing terrorist attacks in Baghdad and Diyala in January 2016. That all ended in the third week of the month as violence returned to its normal levels.

There were 135 security incidents reported in the press from January 15-21, 2016. Baghdad witnessed the most violence with 65 attacks, followed by 25 in Salahaddin, 17 in Anbar, 9 in Ninewa, 6 in Kirkuk, 5 in Babil and Diyala each, and one in Basra, Dhi Qar, and Sulaymaniya respectively.

Those attacks led to 275 deaths and 227 injuries. 4 Hashd al-Shaabi, 5 Peshmerga, 13 members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), and 253 civilians were killed, and 4 Peshmerga, 30 ISF, and 193 civilians were wounded. By province, Anbar was the deadliest with 124 fatalities. After that there were 65 in Ninewa, 59 in Baghdad, 10 in Salahaddin, 8 in Kirkuk, 5 in Babil, and 4 in Diyala.

The heaviest fighting continued to occur in Anbar where the security forces were trying to clear the Islamic State out of the eastern suburbs of Ramadi. The government reported more progress in that effort declaring Albu Khalifa, Albu Mahal, Sufiya, and Albu Ghanam freed. Husaiba was also attacked during the week. In Sufiya’s case, this was the third time in January that it was called freed of IS, yet operations were still underway there afterward. This was also the eighth time the Iraqi forces had gone into Husaiba since July. Ramadi appears to be emptied of IS elements, and now the main focus is upon the suburbs to prevent the militants from re-infiltrating into the area.

Anbar had the most reported casualties out of Iraq’s 18 provinces during the week with 124 dead and 12 wounded. That was because the government reported that 120 civilians had been killed in the operation to free the city.

During the week there were constant reports of progress in southern Fallujah, but with no evidence. Instead the government talked about its operations in Thar Thar, which is to the north. That probably meant the Fallujah campaign had stalled once again. It was begun simultaneously with the Ramadi one in July by the Hashd, and then stopped in October. It was restarted in December, but once again doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. As for Thar Thar, the joint forces have carried out sweeps there on and off again for months. IS has been able to move its men in and out of the area into neighboring Salahaddin in response to government pressure leaving it a contested territory.

The Islamic State remained focused upon southern Baghdad. There were 23 incidents in that section of the governorate during the week. Three of those incidents were dead bodies being found, which could have been the work of insurgents, vigilantes or Hashd elements. The Dora district was also where American contractors were kidnapped. The rest of the attacks appeared to be the work of IS such as 12 improvised explosive devices (IEDs). In the east there were 15 incidents, but half of those could have been the work of criminals, vigilantes or Hashd such as two robberies and various dead bodies being dumped. Crime in fact has been on the increase in both Baghdad and southern Iraq during the instability generated by the war. Every few days a major robbery is reported in the capital for example. In the rest of the governorate there were 12 incidents in the north, 11 in the west and 3 in the center. IS is active in all the outer regions of Baghdad and the surrounding provinces. Its networks extend all the way into the middle of the city as well. As the group has shifted to the defensive it is concentrating upon the capital in an attempt to stoke sectarian tension by striking Shiite areas, as well as to undermine the public’s confidence in the government with constant bombings and shootings. IS really picked up its operations in the capital during the week, and there were 65 incidents total, which was the highest amount since the third week of July 2015.

Security Incidents Baghdad Jan 15-21, 2016
Center: 3 – 1 Kidnapping, 2 IEDs
East: 14 – 1 Grenade, 1 Sticky Bombs, 2 Robberies, 3 IEDs, 7 Shootings
Outer East: 1 – 1 Sticky Bomb
North: 9 – 1 Robbery, 1 Robbery/Shooting, 1 Grenade, 1 Sticky Bomb, 2 Shootings, 3 IEDs
Outer North: 3 – 1 Beheading, 1 Sticky Bomb, 1 IED
South: 12 – 1 Kidnapping Americans, 1 Strangling, 1 Stabbing, 1 Sticky Bomb, 4 Shootings, 4 IEDs
Outer South: 11 – 1 Stabbing, 2 Shootings, 8 IEDs
West: 10 – 1 Robbery, 1 Robbery/Shooting, 2 Shootings, 2 Sticky Bombs, 4 IEDs
Outer West: 1 – 1 IED

After a huge surge in violence in Diyala during the second week of January topped off by a double IS bombing in Muqtadiya that led to Hashd retaliatory attacks upon Sunnis, things de-escalated the following week. There were only five incidents reported from January 15-21. Three of those however were clashes with IS, which have not happened for quite some time in the province. Usually attacks in Diyala are isolated shootings and IEDs with some mortar fire sprinkled in. IS is definitely up to something in Diyala, but what it’s goals and purposes are not known yet.

Dead bodies continued to appear throughout Kirkuk province. 8 bodies were found in four different locations during the week. The week before one body was discovered in the governorate, 8 the first week of January, and then 2 at the end of December. Who is responsible for these incidents is unknown, but it is definitely a change from what was seen in Kirkuk the previous months.

At the end of December the Islamic State launched a winter offensive against the Kurds in Ninewa, and to a lesser extent in Kirkuk. Every day IS hit a different part of the line looking for a week point. That ended during the third week of January. There was only one incident in Kazar with a mortar attack that killed five Peshmerga and wounded four others. An air strike was blamed for killing 11 civilians and injuring 6 in Mosul on January 18. The Islamic State was also accused of executing 49 people in Mosul and Bashiqa.

Heavy clashes continued in Salahaddin. Samarra Island in the center and Tal Kasaiba, the Ajeel and Alas oil fields, and the Makhoul Mountains in the northeast saw large scale skirmishes throughout the week that included three bulldozer bombs, five suicide bombers and eight car bombs destroyed or killed. There was also fighting in Alam just south of Tikrit. IS launched these as counter attacks after the loss of Ramadi. IS has used Salahaddin for months now as a diversionary front to draw attention and manpower away from its main focus in Anbar, and that continues to the present.

The third week of January was another sign that IS’s car bomb campaign was over. There were only 14 vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) launched during the week, the lowest amount for months. More importantly not a single one was successful with all of them destroyed in attacks upon the joint forces.

Violence In Iraq By Week 2015-16
Date
Incidents
Dead
Wounded
Jan 1-7
226
540
525
Jan 8-14
187
776
514
Jan 15-21
197
438
528
Jan 22-28
207
573
898 + 150
Jan 29-31
94
329
567
JAN
911
2,656
3,032 + 150
Feb 1-7
168
572
689
Feb 8-14
183
462
572
Feb 15-21
177
697
383
Feb 22-28
202
614
722
FEB
730
2,345
2,366
Mar 1-7
196
408
595
Mar 8-14
164
419
655
Mar 15-21
178
1,312
505
Mar 22-28
201
310
406
Mar 29-31
81
212 + 4
218 + 150
MAR
820
2,665
2,529
Apr 1-7
153
276
422
Apr 8-14
165
864
525
Apr 15-21
190
880
714
Apr 22-28
187
564
479
Apr 29-30
56
169
182 + 299
APR
751
2,753
2,621
May 1-7
176
651
448
May 8-14
167
450
542
May 15-21
149
996
390
May 22-28
131
362 + 1,499
344
May 29-31
49
87
164 + 646
MAY
672
2,546 + 1,499
1,888 + 646
Jun 1-7
155
534
475
Jun 8-14
146
649 + 405
389
Jun 15-21
153
403
373
Jun 22-28
186
407
474
Jun 29-30
66
126 + 22
189 + 106
JUN
706
2,141 + 405
2,006
Jul 1-7
161
436
718
Jul 8-14
141
385
570
Jul 15-21
109
359
597 + 4,024
Jul 22-28
148
559
590
Jul 29-31
53
193 + 260
203 + 400
JUL
612
2,192
3,078 + 4,024
Aug 1-7
154
650 + 760
298
Aug 8-14
133
756
640
Aug 15-21
136
348
354
Aug 22-28
138
366
296
Aug 29-31
59
112
169
AUG
620
2,239 + 760
1,757
Sep 1-7
141
293
355
Sep 8-14
146
387
394
Sep 15-21
123
323
488
Sep 22-28
128
190
258
Sep 29-30
40
110 + 19
147 + 8
SEP
578
1,303 + 314
1,650 + 3,003
Oct 1-7
120
340
398
Oct 8-14
144
254
389
Oct 15-21
142
208
285
Oct 22-28
129
216
366
Oct 29-31
49
110
116
OCT
585
1,127
1,554
Nov 1-7
125
186
316
Nov 8-14
121
265
354
Nov 15-21
140
358
420
Nov 22-28
107
289
261 + 124 + 1,322
Nov 29-30
37
52 + 24
103 + 1
NOV
530
1,174
1,455 + 124 + 1,322
Dec 1-7
118
158
249
Dec 8-14
128
246
248
Dec 15-21
140
242
326 + 5,920
Dec 22-28
127
292
346
Dec 29-31
40
203 + 14
83
DEC
553
1,155
1,252 + 5,920
Jan 1-7
150
808
421
Jan 8-14
140
408
417
Jan 15-21
135
275
227

Security By Province Jan 8-14, 2016
Province
Jan 8-14
Anbar
17 Incidents
124 Killed: 4 ISF, 120 Civilians
12 Wounded: 12 ISF
12 Shootings
1 IED
13 Suicide Bombers Killed
3 Car Bombs Destroyed
Babil
5 Incidents
5 Killed: 2 Civilians, 3 ISF
22 Wounded: 4 ISF, 18 Civilians
4 IEDs
1 Sticky Bomb
Baghdad
65 Incidents
59 Killed: 1 Hashd, 3 ISF, 55 Civilians
160 Wounded: 5 ISF, 155 Civilians
19 Shootings
26 IEDs
7 Sticky Bombs
2 Grenades
Basra
1 Incident
1 IED
Dhi Qar
1 Incident
1 Grenade
Diyala
5 Incidents
4 Killed: 1 Civilian, 3 Hashd
4 Shootings
Kirkuk
6 Incidents
8 Killed: 8 Civilians
4 Shootings
1 Grenade
Ninewa
9 Incidents
65 Killed: 5 Peshmerga, 60 Civilians
10 Wounded: 4 Peshmerga, 6 Civilians
3 Shootings
1 Mortar
Salahaddin
25 Incidents
10 Killed: 3 ISF, 7 Civilians
22 Wounded: 9 ISF, 13 Civilians
13 Shootings
4 IEDs
1 Rockets
5 Suicide Bombers Killed
11 Car Bombs Destroyed
Sulaymaniya
1 Incident
1 Wounded: 1 Civilian
1 Shooting

Car Bombs In Iraq, January 2016
Date
Location
Dead
Wounded
Jan 1
North of Ramadi x4, Anbar
35 Kilo, Haditha & North of Ramadi, Anbar – 11 destroyed
60
70
Jan 2
Albu Faraj, Anbar – 1 destroyed


Jan 3
Camp Speicher x2, Slaahaddin
Barwana, Garma, Haditha Nazim & Ramadi, Anbar – 46 destroyed
20
17
Jan 4
Outside Haditha, Anbar
Wadi Horan, Anbar - 3 destroyed
Baya, Baghdad – 1 destroyed
11
30
Jan 5
Nikhaib x2 & Ramadi, Anbar
Barwana, Niamiya & Ramadi, Anbar – 13 destroyed
8

Jan 6
Ramadi, Anbar – 2 destroyed


Jan 7



Totals
10 – 77 destroyed
99
117
Jan 8
Barwana, Anbar – 5 destroyed


Jan 9



Jan 10



Jan 11
Nahrawan & New Baghdad x2, Baghdad
Muqtadiya, Diyala
69
118
Jan 12
Khalis, Diyala
Jazeera, Salahaddin – 8 destroyed
3
10
Jan 13
East of Ramadi & Jubba, Anbar – 9 destroyed
Mandali, Diyala – 1 destroyed


Jan 14
East & Tal Kasiba x2, Salahaddin
Ajeel, Makhoul Mountains, Tal Kasiba, Salahaddin – 5 destroyed
7
6
Totals
8 – 28 Destroyed
79
134
Jan 15
Tal Kasiba, Salahaddin – 4 destroyed


Jan 16
Thar Thar, Anbar – 3 destroyed


Jan 17



Jan 18
Leine & Samarra Island, Salahaddin – 3 destroyed


Jan 19



Jan 20
Leine & Samarra Island, Salahaddin – 4 destroyed


Jan 21



Totals
0 – 14 Destroyed



SOURCES

Adel, Loaa, "Fatlawi: Albu Khalifa and Albu Mahal areas fully liberated," Iraqi Nes, 1/16/16

AIN, "Daash car bombs destroyed by air strikes in Samarra Island," 1/18/16

Buratha News, "Destroyed a Daash terrorist car bomb in Samarra Island," 1/20/16
- "Killing of 36 terrorists including sucide bombers and destroyed four car bombs south of Fallujah," 1/16/16
- "Popular crowd cleared areas south-east of Lake Thar Thar north of Ramadi," 1/16/16

Al Mada, "The fall of 120 civilians in Ramadi curing clearing operations against Daash," 1/19/16

Al Masalah, "Killing of eight Daash in west of Samarra," 1/20/16

NINA, "/17/ civilians killed and wounded in bombing by the international coalition east of Mosul," 1/18/16
- "Daash Shell Khazar Region And Execute 4 Police Officers In Central Mosul," 1/17/16

Sarhan, Amre, "Security forces liberate al-Sufiyah area, says Anbar Council," Iraqi News, 1/15/16

Sotaliraq, "The dismantling of four car bombs east of Tikrit," 1/15/16
- "Security forces are making progress in liberating Husaybah area east of Ramadi," 1/16/16
- "Security forces liberate Albu Ghanim and rescue 37 families east of Ramadi," 1/15/16

Security In Iraq Aug 1-7, 2017

Since the end of the Mosul battle in July, violence in Iraq has remained at a very low level. Both security incidents ...