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.

The European Union and UNITAD Sign Agreement to support Digitization of Evidence of ISIL crimes in Iraq

The United Nation Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) and the European Union (EU) have announced the signing of a Contribution Agreement through which the EU will fund a project to support the digitization and archiving of evidentiary materials of ISIL crimes held by Iraqi authorities.

The EU’s contribution of 3.5 million EUR to this project represents the largest extrabudgetary contribution received by UNITAD to date.

Through this project, UNITAD will provide technical assistance and support to national authorities and those in the Kurdistan Region, to establish a comprehensive, indexed inventories of evidence relevant to ISIL crimes committed in Iraq.

This will strengthen the evidentiary basis for UNITAD and Iraqi national authorities in developing comprehensive case-files supporting domestic proceedings brought against ISIL members for crimes that may constitute crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, in line with international standards.

UNITAD is implementing this project with support from the government of Iraq and in consultation with the Iraqi National Coordinating Committee. As an initial step, UNITAD will conduct detailed mapping of existing evidentiary material, before developing a detailed digitization plan.

Special Adviser Karim A. A. Khan QC (pictured), Head of UNITAD, thanked the EU for its generous support and underlined:

“The preservation and organization of evidentiary material in relation to ISIL crimes will serve to deepen the evidential foundations available for ISIL prosecutions. By establishing a comprehensive documentary record of these acts, we also contribute to global efforts to promote peace and security by ensuring that the ideologically bankrupt nature of ISIL is exposed.”

The Special Adviser added that doing all this will help ensure justice and that the gravity of these crimes – and the sacrifices made by Iraqi citizens – are not forgotten. He concluded:

“The victims, survivors – and indeed humanity – deserve no less. Accordingly, I record my gratitude to the EU for its generous contribution and to the Government of Iraq for its support of this project.”

The EU funding for the project will run for 18 months, starting on March 26, 2020.

(Source: EU)

By John Lee.

The US-led coalition fighting the so-called Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) has announced the suspension of operations.

In a statement, Operation Inherent Resolve said:

Our first priority is protecting all Coalition personnel committed to the defeat of Daesh. Repeated rocket attacks over the last two months by elements of Kata’ib Hezbollah have caused the death of Iraqi Security Forces personnel and a U.S. civilian.

“As a result we are now fully committed to protecting the Iraqi bases that host Coalition troops. This has limited our capacity to conduct training with partners and to support their operations against Daesh and we have therefore paused these activities, subject to continuous review.

“We remain resolute as partners of the Government of Iraq and the Iraqi people that have welcomed us into their country to help defeat ISIS. We remain ready to return our full attention and efforts back to our shared goal of ensuring the lasting defeat of Daesh.

(Source: Operation Inherent Resolve)

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.