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Iraq in February, 2024

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2024-2-7

  1. Drone Strike Kills Iraqi Militia Leaders in Baghdad. A drone strike in Baghdad’s Al-Mashtal area on Wednesday evening resulted in the deaths of three individuals, including two leaders of the pro-Iranian Hezbollah Brigades and a leader from the Popular Mobilization Forces.
  2. Al-Araji Affirms Legal Duty to Serve Iran. In a statement reflecting on Monday’s meeting, February 5, 2024, the leader of the Iranian Badr Organization and Iraqi National Security Advisor, Qasim al-Araji, emphasized the legal obligation to serve Iran while discussing bilateral relations with the Secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council, Ali Akbar Ahmadian, and his delegation. Al-Araji reiterated the strategic importance of Iraq-Iran relations, emphasizing shared interests and the need for direct, collaborative solutions to regional challenges. Ahmadian reaffirmed Iran’s commitment to respecting Iraq’s sovereignty and resolving issues through constructive dialogue, highlighting the enduring historical ties between the two nations.
  3. Iraqi Prime Minister Reveals Agreement on Ceasing Attacks. Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani unveiled an agreement last night regarding the cessation of attacks between armed factions and American forces. Al-Sudani announced to Al-Arabiya channel that the Mobilization Forces factions agreed to halt their attacks in exchange for the cessation of American responses. He emphasized the end of the international coalition’s mission against ISIS and rejected any military incursions into Iraqi territory. Al-Sudani clarified that the coalition’s presence began and will conclude at Iraq’s request, with negotiations underway to withdraw forces, including in the Kurdistan region. American Secretary of State Blinken also commented on the matter yesterday evening.
  4. Iraqi Experts Assert Attacks Against the U.S. Will Continue. Iraqi newspapers underscore persistent US struggles countering Iran-backed militant assaults in the Middle East. Attacks targeting US forces and shipping extend across Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Yemen. Despite retaliatory US airstrikes following the deaths of three soldiers in Jordan, aggression persists. Subsequent attacks in Syria and on merchant vessels follow joint US-British strikes against the Houthis. While experts foresee a potential decrease in attacks due to US measures and Iran-backed groups’ inclination to limit losses, a complete cessation remains improbable.
  5. Iraqi PM Engages in Economic Diversification Despite Security Risks. Baghdad, February 6, 2024 – Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani held separate discussions with Dutch and Chinese officials to bolster economic ties. In a meeting with Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Hanke Bruins Slot, Al-Sudani emphasized Iraq’s commitment to enhancing bilateral cooperation across various sectors, welcoming Dutch companies‘ participation in strategic projects such as the Al-Faw Grand Port and Development Road. Concurrently, Al-Sudani met with Chinese Ambassador to Iraq Cui Wei to discuss strategies for deepening economic partnership, particularly focusing on China’s involvement in the Development Road project. Both meetings underscored Iraq’s efforts to diversify economic partnerships and promote regional stability.
  6. Clashing Views: Iraqi PM’s Proposal vs. Pentagon’s Accountability. Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani articulated an “equation” regarding mutual attacks between armed factions and American forces, proposing a cessation of hostilities from both sides in exchange for peace. Stressing rejection of any military attack on Iraqi soil, Al-Sudani highlighted the termination of the international coalition’s mission against ISIS. In contrast, Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh attributed attacks on U.S. forces to pro-Iranian armed factions, particularly naming Kata’ib Hezbollah. She affirmed accountability for those responsible for recent attacks, including the incident in Jordan, signaling a different assessment of the security landscape.

2024-2-8

  1. US Drone Strike Kills Iraqi Hezbollah Leader, Sparks Tensions. CENTCOM has confirmed the execution of a drone strike in eastern Baghdad. The strike, intended to neutralize a prominent leader responsible for attacks against American forces, resulted in the death of a high-ranking figure within the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades, an organization with ties to Iran, along with two others. This action has elicited strong reactions from Baghdad, which has denounced the strike as a violation of its sovereignty and a threat to regional stability.

2024-2-13

  1. PM Barzani and Erdogan Discuss Recent Developments in IraqKurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan convened in The meeting occurred during the World Governments Summit, where Prime Minister Barzani’s participation was at the invitation of UAE Vice President, Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
  2. Iran’s Energy Influence in Iraq: Political and Economic Pressures Revealed.Recent disclosures by the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity reveal a 25% loss in electrical output due to decreased gas imports from Iran, underscoring Iran’s significant role as a key energy supplier to Iraq. This revelation comes just two weeks after Iran announced the commencement of construction on a new nuclear power plant in Hormozgan Province, ostensibly aimed at expanding its nuclear energy capabilities for peaceful electricity generation. However, the discrepancy between Iran’s stated intentions and its actions in leveraging energy supplies for political gain raises questions about the true nature of its nuclear program. 

2024-2-14

  1. Iraq and Iran Pledge Joint Efforts Against Regional Threats.Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani emphasized the need to strengthen judicial cooperation with Iran during a meeting with Iran’s judiciary chief, Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei. This collaboration targets drug trafficking and terrorism. Al-Sudani also condemned what he termed as “malicious” influences from the United States and Israel in the region. Additionally, Muhammad Sayhoud Al-Sudani from the State of Law coalition announced plans for the withdrawal of American troops, reportedly supported by Imam Khamenei.
  2.  Iraq Eyes Enhanced Energy Cooperation with Saudi Arabia.Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani stressed closer collaboration with Saudi Arabia under OPEC to stabilize the global energy market. In talks with Saudi Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud, Al-Sudani welcomed Saudi investment in Iraq, emphasizing economic and bilateral ties. The meeting highlighted a joint solar energy project with Total Energies and Saudi’s ACWA Power, advancing cooperative ventures between the two nations. In other related news, Iraq pledged to align its oil production with OPEC+ agreements. This decision aims to rectify any production increases beyond agreed limits, using secondary source reports to validate data. It reaffirms Iraq’s commitment to the production adjustments set during the 35th OPEC+ Ministerial Meeting in June 2023, emphasizing its role in global oil market stability.
  3. Iraqi Refugee Sentenced in Plot to Assassinate George W. Bush.An American court has sentenced Iraqi refugee Shihab Ahmed Shihab to over 14 years in prison for attempting to smuggle an ISIS assassination squad into the United States to kill former President George W. Bush. Shihab, who pleaded guilty to providing material support to terrorists, was motivated by grievances over the chaos in Iraq following the 2003 U.S. invasion. His conviction has raised concerns about vulnerabilities within the American immigration system, highlighting his entry into the U.S. with a visa obtained from a corrupt official and attempts to remain in the country through fraudulent asylum claims and a sham marriage. Shihab faces the possibility of deportation after serving his sentence.

2024-2-15&16

  1. Iraqi Factions Bomb a Military Target in the Golan with Drones.Armed Iraqi factions announced their bombing of a military target in the Israeli-occupied Golan region, using drones. The operation came as a response to Israeli actions in Gaza and in support of the Palestinians. These factions, known as the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq,” have previously claimed responsibility for similar attacks against Israeli and American targets in Iraq and Syria, stressing that they will continue to carry out operations in response to the Israeli aggression against Gaza since October.
  2. Iraqi Parliamentary Initiative to Impose Economic Sanctions on Jordan.Iraqi representatives, led by Representative Hadi Al-Salami, propose imposing economic sanctions on Jordan, in response to accusations of Jordan’s participation in American raids against armed factions in Iraq. The proposal includes canceling economic privileges granted to Jordan, such as selling oil at reduced prices, and comes in the context of preserving Iraqi sovereignty and in response to foreign interference. The move reflects the tension in relations against the backdrop of allegations of Jordan’s participation in the American raids, which were denied by a Jordanian military source, stressing respect for Iraq’s sovereignty.

2024-2-22

  1.  Pro-Iran Militias’ Illicit Activities Cripple Mosul’s Economy. In Mosul, pro-Iran Hashd al-Shaabi affiliated militias continue to engage in theft, extortion, and property seizures, despite Iraqi efforts to dismantle their economic offices. Governor Abdul Qadir Dakhil of Nineveh province reports these militias’ deep influence over governmental institutions, hindering development projects and farmland use. Their illicit control extends to oil theft, taxing businesses, and land fraud, inflicting significant economic damage on the region.
  2. Iraq’s Parliament Deadlocked Over Speaker Election. Iraq’s efforts to elect a new Speaker of Parliament remain stalled, with the Coordinating Framework’s representative Gharib Askar reporting no progress despite ongoing negotiations. The Federal Court’s dismissal of Muhammad Al-Halbousi in November 2023 for official misconduct has left the position vacant. Amidst unresolved disputes among power factions, the parliamentary functions continue under Acting Speaker Mohsen Al-Mandalawi, with no solution in sight for the leadership crisis.
  3. Lukoil’s Founder Meets Iraqi PM to Discuss Oil Development.Vagit Alekperov, Lukoil’s founder, met with Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shia Al-Sudani to discuss the expansion of Lukoil’s operations in Iraq, including the development of West Qurna and Erido oil fields. The talks aimed at overcoming operational challenges and enhancing Lukoil’s involvement in Iraq’s energy sector, building on the momentum of the Iraqi PM’s recent visit to Moscow.

2024-2-28

  1. Iran Backs Armenia in Iraq Investment TalksAs Azerbaijan secures its position as Israel’s foremost energy provider, Armenia, with Iran’s backing, actively seeks to fortify economic relations with Iraq. Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani welcomed Armenian companies to participate in significant initiatives such as the Development Road and the Al-Faw Grand Port project.
  2. 2.Iraq Seizes 80kg of Captagon in AnbarIn. a targeted operation against drug smuggling, Iraq’s General Directorate of Narcotics Control confiscated 80 kilograms of Captagon pills in the western governorate of Anbar. This significant seizure underlines the government’s ongoing efforts to combat the narcotics trade within its borders. Alongside the drugs, authorities detained four individuals suspected of involvement in the trafficking network, marking a critical step in Iraq’s broader strategy to curb the spread of illegal substances and dismantle smuggling operations.

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