By Ranj Alaadin, for Brookings Institution. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq has a new prime minister. What next?

After five months and two failed attempts, Iraq has a new prime minister.

Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s appointment offers the country the prospect of some respite after months of political paralysis and mass social unrest since October 2019.

The unrest has rocked the political class, and has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, the dramatic decline in oil prices, and tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

The full report can be read here.

The UN Security Council decided unanimously to extend the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) until 31 May 2021, during a 29 May videoconference meeting*.

In adopting resolution 2522 (2020), the Council further decided that the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNAMI, at the request of the Government of Iraq, shall prioritize the provision of advice, support and assistance to the Government and people of Iraq on advancing inclusive, political dialogue and national and community-level reconciliation.

By the resolution’s terms, the Council also decided that the Special Representative and Head of Mission shall further advise, support and assist the Government with regard to several initiatives, including constitutional reviews, security sector reform and planning and executing free and fair Iraqi-led, Iraqi-owned elections, and shall promote, support, and facilitate, in coordination with authorities, the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and implementation of programmes to improve the country’s capacity to provide effective essential civil and social services, among other things.

The Council also recognized that the security of United Nations personnel is essential for UNAMI to carry out its work for the benefit of Iraq’s people and called upon the Government to continue to provide security and logistical support to the United Nations presence in the country.

The Council had previously decided on 21 May 2019 to extend UNAMI’s mandate for one year through resolution 2470 (2019).  (See Press Release SC/13819.)

(Source: UN)

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 Hamdi Malik for Foreign Affairs. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Mustafa al-Kadhimi (pictured), Iraq’s new prime minister as of May 12, has already announced a bold intention.

In a short government manifesto he submitted to the Iraqi Parliament, Kadhimi emphasized his plans to “impose the state’s prestige” by bringing armed groups under government control.

To observers of post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, the manifesto’s meaning is clear: the damage to the state’s “prestige” has, after all, come mainly from pro-Iranian militant groups who answer to the commanders of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), rather than to Iraq’s commander in chief.

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

Iraq to launch investigations against killing of protesters

The new Iraqi government has begun procedures to reinvestigate the violent acts during the popular protests that broke out in October and killed more than 700 people and injured over 25,000.

The decision was greatly welcomed at home and in the international arena.

The United Nations Security Council called for “transparency during the investigation.”

Click here to read the full story.

By John Lee.

The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has dropped its investigation into ABB linked to the Unaoil case.

After a thorough and detailed review of the available evidence, the SFO concluded that this case did not meet the relevant test for prosecution as defined in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

The SFO announced its investigation into ABB Ltd in February 2017 following a self-report by representatives acting on behalf of the company.

(Source: UK SFO)

By John Lee.

The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has dropped its investigation into ABB linked to the Unaoil case.

After a thorough and detailed review of the available evidence, the SFO concluded that this case did not meet the relevant test for prosecution as defined in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

The SFO announced its investigation into ABB Ltd in February 2017 following a self-report by representatives acting on behalf of the company.

(Source: UK SFO)

Iraq: UN details ordeal of abducted protesters, welcomes Government’s promise to investigate and compensate

A United Nations report published today on the abduction of protesters in Iraq since last October details their ordeals from the time of abduction through interrogation to acts of torture.

In its fourth report on the protests, the UN Human Rights Office of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) documented cases involving 123 people who disappeared between 1 October 2019 and 21 March 2020. Of these, 98 people were located, but 25 remain missing or are in an unknown status.

Since the protests erupted at the start of October, the UN has verified 490 deaths of activists and 7,783 injured. Most of the protesters are young and unemployed, and have been demanding that their economic and social rights be respected. The demonstrations have continued even after the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.

The report found that the “absence of accountability for these acts continues to contribute to the pervasive environment of impunity in relation to demonstration-linked reports of violations and abuses”.

“The establishment of a high-level fact-finding committee by the new Government to investigate casualties and related harm is a crucial step toward justice and accountability,” said Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq. “The Government’s commitment to provide medical treatment for injured demonstrators and compensation to the families of victims is encouraging.”

The report notes that the abductions and disappearances occurred amid numerous incidents involving additional violations and abuses targeting activists and protesters, including deliberate killings, shooting and knife attacks, threats and intimidation, and excessive and unlawful use of force at demonstration sites.

None of those interviewed knew the identity of those responsible for their abduction, although most speculated the involvement of ‘militia’. They added that they did not believe official Iraqi Security Forces were directly responsible, nor that ordinary criminal gangs were to blame.

The report does not speculate on who might be behind the abductions, points to “the involvement of armed actors with substantial levels of organisation and access to resources”.

The report provides concrete recommendations to the Government of Iraq, including:

  • Make immediate efforts to comply with its obligations under international law, including by making all efforts to locate those demonstrators and activists who remain missing.
  • Take immediate action to protect protesters and activists from abduction.
  • Take immediate action to investigate all alleged cases of abduction, disappearance and torture/ill-treatment, and to prosecute those responsible.
  • Publicly identify the so-called unidentified force, armed group or ‘militia’, behind the abductions.

The report in English and Arabic:

English: https://bit.ly/2A7oe75

Arabic: https://bit.ly/3ecuHwk

(Source: UN)

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

Iraqi prime minister stresses PMU should be Iraqi institution under state authority

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi faces a difficult task in implementing his reform plan for the Popular Mobilization Units organization and bringing its various military factions under full control of the Iraqi state.

He has started approaching PMU leaders, but reining in the organization will not be an easy task.

Click here to read the full story.

(Picture credit: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)