By Michael Knights and Alex Almeida, for the Combating Terrorism Center. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Remaining and Expanding: The Recovery of Islamic State Operations in Iraq in 2019-2020

The Islamic State has recovered from its territorial defeats since 2017 to mount a strong and sustained resurgence as an insurgent force inside Iraq.

A new analysis of attack metrics from the past 18 months paints a picture of an Islamic State insurgency that has regained its balance, spread out across many more areas, and reclaimed significant tactical proficiency.

Now operating at the same levels it achieved in 2012, a number of factors suggest that the Islamic State could further ramp up its rural insurgency in 2020 and 2021.

An input of experienced cadres from Syria, a downturn in Iraqi and coalition effectiveness, and now the disruption of a combined COVID and economic crisis will likely all feed into an escalating campaign of attrition against the Iraqi state, military, and tribes.

Full report here.

(Source: Combating Terrorism Center)

By Michael Knights and Alex Almeida, for the Combating Terrorism Center. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Remaining and Expanding: The Recovery of Islamic State Operations in Iraq in 2019-2020

The Islamic State has recovered from its territorial defeats since 2017 to mount a strong and sustained resurgence as an insurgent force inside Iraq.

A new analysis of attack metrics from the past 18 months paints a picture of an Islamic State insurgency that has regained its balance, spread out across many more areas, and reclaimed significant tactical proficiency.

Now operating at the same levels it achieved in 2012, a number of factors suggest that the Islamic State could further ramp up its rural insurgency in 2020 and 2021.

An input of experienced cadres from Syria, a downturn in Iraqi and coalition effectiveness, and now the disruption of a combined COVID and economic crisis will likely all feed into an escalating campaign of attrition against the Iraqi state, military, and tribes.

Full report here.

(Source: Combating Terrorism Center)

By Al-Monitor staff. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Islamic State believed behind crop fires in Iraq’s disputed territories

Crops are burning in northern Iraq’s disputed territories again and locals are mobilizing to fight the suspected culprit, the Islamic State.

Click here to read the full story.

By Adam Lucente for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Islamic State steps up attacks in Iraq during coronavirus lockdown

Iraq has been hit by a wave of Islamic State (IS) attacks during the country’s coronavirus lockdown.

Numerous operations by IS and unknown groups have occurred in Iraq’s disputed territories in April.

Iraqi security forces and the US-led anti-IS coalition have also attacked the group several times this month.

One journalist in the disputed city of Kirkuk said the uptick began after the government imposed a curfew March 17 to fight the spread of the virus.

Click here to read the full story.

By Omar Sattar for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News

Islamic State seeks comeback under cover of coronavirus

The Islamic State (IS) is seeking to take advantage of Iraq’s preoccupation with the coronavirus pandemic and the global coalition’s suspension there of military operations against IS.

Accordingly, Iraqi forces have launched a preemptive operation to cut off IS supply routes and weaken its combat capabilities.

“Despite the suspension of the global coalition’s operations, Iraqi forces are conducting operations to hunt down the terrorist organization on the border with Syria,” Iraq Defense Ministry spokesperson Yahya Rasoul told Al-Monitor. “IS has incurred huge losses in recent days as it tried to exploit the coronavirus crisis to expand its terrorist operations.”

Click here to read the full story.

After ISIL, Agricultural Production Struggles to Recover in Parts of Iraq

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) occupied large swathes of Iraqi territory between 2014 and 2017.

The consequences of this occupation are still being felt in many rural areas where agricultural production was used as both a source of political propaganda and income, or destroyed as the group was forced out, a new IOM report says.

It is estimated that the group’s brutal three-year occupation reduced Iraq’s agricultural capacity by 40 per cent.

“It is necessary to prioritize the recovery and development of rural areas as part of our reconstruction and stabilization efforts,” said Siobhan Simojoki, Head of IOM Iraq’s Community Stabilization Unit.

“Agriculture should be considered as an essential facet of the stabilization process and focus on this area can help balance out longstanding rural-urban economic inequalities.”

The report, Rural Areas in Ninewa: Legacies of Conflict on Rural Economies and Communities in Sinjar and Ninewa Plains, published on 28 November focuses on agricultural output in Iraq’s third-largest governorate. Ninewa, in north-western Iraq, is also one of the country’s most fertile areas and has historically been the source of much of its grain and produce.

ISIL benefitted from the 2014 harvest completed in the months before taking over Ninewa; the group then profited from sales of the harvest and rain-fed crops, while forcing workers to continue operating agricultural infrastructure.

Finally, as ISIL was being pushed out, fighting, abuse, and revenge destruction caused severe lasting damage to the agricultural sector in the governorate.

ISIL purposely targeted rural areas for strategic purposes, i.e., access to their own steady food supply and the option to sell off agricultural produce for financial gain, but their overuse and, in some cases, deliberate destruction of agricultural land has had long-term consequences on many rural areas.

Almost two years after the military defeat of ISIL in Iraq, livestock are still missing in Ninewa, agricultural lands remain contaminated with explosives, and necessary machinery is lost or destroyed.

To date, many stabilization and post-crisis development efforts have targeted urban areas. Ninewa’s role in Iraq’s agricultural industry suggests that rebuilding agricultural livelihoods is an essential component to achieving successful stabilization in Iraq.

The presence of historically marginalized minorities in Ninewa’s rural areas is also of great importance, given the sensitivities of ethno-religious tensions related to land ownership; Ninewa Governorate is one of the most diverse in Iraq in terms of the number and prevalence of minorities. The new also report considers tensions in rural areas that have been worsened or ignited due to land and water policies, and agricultural decline under ISIL.

The studies conducted for this report were funded by USAID, within the framework of the project Supporting the Return of Displaced Populations in the Ninewa Plains and Western Ninewa.

Click here to download the full report.

(Source: IOM)

By Thanassis Cambanis, for Foreign Affairs. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Neglected Prison Camps Are Incubating a New Extremist Threat.

The death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi marked the end of one destructive phase of the Islamic State, the extremist group also known as ISIS.

Baghdadi was the self-proclaimed caliph of a Great Britain-sized swath of Iraq and Syria, the last remains of which a U.S.-led coalition removed from his control in March.

The ISIS leader ordered the murder of thousands and terrorized millions during his short reign.

But his targeted assassination has done little to halt a gathering crisis that is at least as serious a threat to Iraq’s stability.

Click here to read the full story.

By Thanassis Cambanis, for Foreign Affairs. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Neglected Prison Camps Are Incubating a New Extremist Threat.

The death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi marked the end of one destructive phase of the Islamic State, the extremist group also known as ISIS.

Baghdadi was the self-proclaimed caliph of a Great Britain-sized swath of Iraq and Syria, the last remains of which a U.S.-led coalition removed from his control in March.

The ISIS leader ordered the murder of thousands and terrorized millions during his short reign.

But his targeted assassination has done little to halt a gathering crisis that is at least as serious a threat to Iraq’s stability.

Click here to read the full story.

Iraq’s intelligence service provided the US-led coalition with the exact coordinates of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s location, paving the way for the raid that reportedly killed him, an Iraqi intelligence official told Reuters on Sunday.

The agency learned of Baghdadi’s location from documents found at a secret location in Iraq’s western desert after arresting an Iraqi man and woman from within his “inner circle”, the official said.

Baghdadi is believed to have been killed in a US military operation in Syria, sources in Syria, Iraq and Iran said on Sunday ahead of a “major statement” due from US President Donald Trump at the White House.

(Source: Middle East Monitor)

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Mark Green announced the first tranche of recipients under USAID’s New Partnerships Initiative (NPI) on Thursday during his remarks at the Accord Network’s Annual Forum.

The organizations will carry out programs that improve global health outcomes in USAID’s partner countries, and assist populations in the Republic of Iraq that are recovering from the genocide perpetrated by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Administrator Green launched the NPI in May 2019 to expand and diversify USAID’s partner base and change the way the Agency does business. By working with new or underutilized partners, the Agency hopes to bring more innovative approaches to U.S. foreign assistance; focus on strengthening capacity and commitment in partner countries by tapping into existing networks of community- and faith-based organizations; and reach new populations.

Administrator Green also announced a new $18 million award to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to support the return and recovery of displaced religious and ethnic minority communities in the Nineveh Plains and Western Nineveh Province. Long-time USAID partner Samaritan’s Purse will receive $9 million of that total.

New USAID Assistance Through the NPI Direct to Local Iraqi Groups That Are Helping Victims of ISIS Genocide

USAID is awarding small grants through the NPI that total approximately $4 million to six local groups in Northern Iraq to help religious and ethnic minorities targeted by ISIS. The new NPI implementers in Northern Iraq are the following:

Philadelphia Organization for Relief and Development: The award will establish a community center in the town of Qaraqosh to provide services for people with disabilities, training in employment skills, child care, and a community food bank.

Catholic University of Erbil: The award will provide classes in business language and computer software for widows, victims of abuse, and former captives of ISIS.

Top Mountain: The award will support a business incubator and employment program for Iraqi youth, which will promote entrepreneurship, provide business training, and build commercial networks.

Shlama Foundation: The award seeks to improve job opportunities through training engineers on the installation on solar power, provide electricity for families, and install solar-powered pumps for farms and street lighting for villages.

Beth Nahrain: The award will help re-establish a local, women-led organization decimated by ISIS. The organization will also provide small-business vocational training to women in the Nineveh Plains.

Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights: The award will provide trauma-rehabilitation and resilience services to survivors of genocide; legal services and programs in justice/reparations; and activities to promote inter-religious and inter-ethnic dialogue.

The United States remains committed to supporting persecuted religious and ethnic minorities in Northern Iraq. With these new awards, the total assistance the U.S. Government has provided since 2017 in Northern Iraq is now more than $400 million. These programs complement H.R. 390, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018, which passed with bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress and which President Donald J. Trump signed into law on December 11, 2018. Additional U.S. humanitarian assistance has also benefited the same Iraqi communities.

New Funding for the IOM and Samaritan’s Purse to Help Victims of ISIS Genocide

Administrator Green also announced at the Accord Network that Samaritan’s Purse will receive $9 million as a part of a new $18 million award to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), to support the return and recovery of displaced religious and ethnic minority communities in the Nineveh Plains and Western Nineveh Province in Iraq.

New USAID Assistance in Global Health Through the NPI

Administrator Green also announced two new awards under the Agency’s NPI for global health. These awards, which total $68 million, will leverage the expertise and reach of local and locally established civil society and faith- and community-based organizations to increase the quality, access, and sustainability of health care.

The new NPI implementers for global health are the following:

World Relief: Working with local partners, World Relief will expand and leverage existing community networks in four countries to help strengthen maternal, reproductive, and child health at the local level.

Palladium International: This program will help reach USAID’s goal of increasing access to, and the uptake of, high-quality health care across priority areas, in line with USAID’s Journey to Self-Reliance. The partner will provide sub-awards to local organizations, along with mentoring and technical support to strengthen their capacity. Palladium will be expected to pass sixty-five percent of the total award to new and underutilized sub-awardees.

(Source: USAID)