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Iraq in january, 2024

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2024-1-3

  1. Iran’s Basij and Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces Stage Joint Display in Shatt al-Arab. Iran’s Basij naval forces and Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces are set to hold their first-ever joint display in the waters of Shatt al-Arab in Iraq. The event, organized by the Third Naval Region of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), takes place near a memorial for Iranian casualties in the 1986 Faw Offensive against Iraq.
  2. Australian Inquiry into Declassified Iraq War Documents. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has ordered an investigation into the non-disclosure of declassified documents related to Australia’s involvement in the U.S.-led Iraq invasion from 20 years ago. These documents, released by the National Archives of Australia, were initially withheld due to their association with the National Security Committee, a subcommittee responsible for national security and foreign policy decisions. Albanese aims to determine whether the documents were withheld for political reasons and calls for transparency regarding Australia’s participation in the war.
  3. Iraq Implements Ban on Dollar Transactions for Five Countries, Including Iran. Iraq’s central bank has enforced a plan to ban the use of the US dollar from January 1st onwards, affecting five countries, including Iran. The move aims to control exchange rate fluctuations and reduce the gap between the official and black market exchange rates. As a result, transferring funds to Iran will require currency purchase from the free market, incurring about a 20% difference in exchange rates.

2024-1-4

  •  US Drone Strike Targets Key Leader in Baghdad. An American official confirmed that the US military conducted a drone strike in Baghdad, targeting a leader in an Iraqi armed faction responsible for attacks on US forces. The strike resulted in the death of the faction’s senior leader, Abu Taqwa al-Saidi, and another individual. This armed group is linked to Iran and is identified as the “Al-Nujaba Movement.” Reports indicate that a drone fired four missiles during the attack. Al-Saidi played a significant role in the movement’s “Special Operations” and had responsibilities related to security in the Baghdad region during battles against ISIS. The incident has escalated tensions in the region, with the Al-Nujaba Movement vowing retaliation against the United States. This comes amid a series of attacks in Iraq and Syria, often attributed to Israeli involvement, while the US maintains a presence in Iraq to assist local forces in countering the resurgence of ISIS.

2024-1-9

  1. Iranian Boats Intercept Commercial Vessels in Iraqi Waters. In a recent maritime incident within Iraqi territorial waters, five Iranian gunboats intercepted a commercial ship flying the Tanzanian flag. This event, reported by Al-Arabiya/Al-Hadath, occurs amidst the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip and a rise in attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea, attributed to the Iranian-backed Houthi group. The timing of this interception is particularly sensitive given the regional instability and increased maritime aggression. While Iran has denied any role in these attacks, the international community has pointed fingers at Tehran for its alleged support of armed groups in the region, including the Houthis in Yemen, various factions in Iraq and Syria, and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Details of the interception remain unclear, with potential confusion over territorial waters between Iran and Iraq.

2024-1-10

  1. Sudanese PM Supports Negotiations for Continued U.S. Troop Presence in Iraq. In a surprising turn of events, Sudanese Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa al-Sudani, despite announcing plans for the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, secretly expressed his willingness to negotiate the continued presence of U.S. troops. This development is significant for the Biden administration’s efforts to combat ISIS and counter Iranian influence in the region, although the complex political landscape in Iraq may pose challenges to this outcome. Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Joel Vowell, the head of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria, met with Iraq’s Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani to discuss recent drone attacks by Iran-backed militias and the protection of coalition forces in Iraq. These talks come amid pressure from Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani to establish a timeline for the withdrawal of over 2,500 coalition troops, raising concerns over the future of the U.S. presence in the country. Additionally, there are hints that the U.S. could use economic leverage, possibly through control over Iraqi oil export revenues, to ensure the retention of its troops in Iraq, particularly if the Iraqi government considers their withdrawal.
  2. Escalating Drone Attacks on Coalition Forces in Iraq. Erbil and Harir Bases Targeted. In recent developments, coalition forces successfully thwarted a drone attack on Erbil International Airport, intercepting two explosive-laden drones aimed at the airport. Meanwhile, the Harir base in northern Iraq, hosting international coalition forces, was targeted in a separate drone attack. These incidents come in the wake of escalating tensions, as the Pentagon reports a total of 127 attacks on U.S. facilities in Iraq and Syria since the regional escalation began. These attacks, involving rockets and drones, are believed to be carried out by Iran-affiliated groups, posing a significant security challenge in the region.
  3. Iraq Continues Economic Support to Iran Despite US Pressure. The Secretary-General of the Iran-Iraq Joint Chamber of Commerce, Jahanbakhsh Sanjabi Shirazi, reveals that there has been no special meeting between Iraqi bank officials and the US regarding suspending foreign currency exchanges with Iran. He emphasizes that trade between Iran and Iraq remains unaffected by these discussions, indicating that both countries have their policies to address the situation.
  4. Qatar Offers to Build $2 Billion Power Station in Iraq. Qatar’s Orbakon Trading and Contracting company has proposed reconstructing a 2.1-gigawatt thermal power station in northern Iraq, benefiting several provinces. The project, estimated to cost at least $2 billion and take a minimum of three years to complete, aims to reduce Iraq’s reliance on Iranian gas imports for electricity production. This initiative is part of broader agreements between Qatar and Iraq, including the development of energy projects and modern urban areas as part of Iraq’s development road.
  5. Corruption of Millions Uncovered in Iraq Linked to Saddam Regime. Iraq’s “Recovery of Iraq Funds” fund has revealed corruption involving the withdrawal of up to 600 million dinars from the dissolved “National Council” account after April 9, 2003. An investigation revealed unauthorized cash withdrawals, raising suspicions of illegal actions during Saddam Hussein’s regime. The case has been referred to the Federal Commission of Integrity for further investigation.

2024-1-11

  1. Iran-Backed Militia Targets US Facility Near Erbil Airport. An Iran-backed militia, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, attempted to attack a US facility near Erbil Airport using an armed drone. The attack was thwarted, and there were no reported casualties. Tensions in the region have risen due to the Gaza war and Iran’s proxies’ actions against US interests.
  2. Effective Airstrikes Pursuing ISIS Remnants in Iraq. Iraq’s strategic approach of using airstrikes in pursuit of ISIS remnants is proving successful in reducing the group’s activities and curbing their movements in liberated provinces. Security forces recently announced the killing of three ISIS members in an airstrike in Kirkuk, underscoring the effectiveness of this strategy.

2024-1-12

  1. Pentagon Refutes Reports of Attacks on US Embassy and Warships Following Yemen Strikes. The Pentagon, through its spokesperson, has categorically denied recent reports of attacks on the American embassy in Iraq or U.S. warships in retaliation for American strikes in Yemen. Meanwhile, the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces have claimed responsibility for attacks targeting American bases in Iraq. These incidents have adversely affected security and societal peace in Iraq, straining relations with the United States. The escalation has also heightened tensions between the Kurdistan Region and the central government in Baghdad. Fadi Al-Shammari, an advisor to the Iraqi Prime Minister, has openly criticized Western countries for escalating conflict in the region. He highlighted the West’s contradictory stance on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis and the recent attacks in Yemen, accusing them of exacerbating regional tensions instead of mitigating them.
  2. Report Reveals Undisclosed Canadian Military Presence in Iraq and Nigeria. A recent report by “Canadian Dimension,” translated by the “Information” agency, has brought to light the relatively unknown deployment of Canadian forces in Iraq and Nigeria. The report highlights that Canada has stationed combat soldiers in these critical global areas, a fact that has received minimal media attention. Since 2014, hundreds of Canadian troops have been in Iraq, ostensibly to combat ISIS. Despite a reduction in the ISIS threat, Canadian forces remain stationed in the country. The report comes in the wake of the Iraqi parliament’s resolution requesting foreign forces to leave Iraq after the U.S. government’s assassination of key military figures in Baghdad. However, Canadian troops did not withdraw. The Iraqi government is once again demanding the exit of foreign forces, including Canadian troops, especially following a recent U.S. airstrike in Baghdad. The report underscores that both American and Canadian soldiers show no intention of leaving Iraq, even after attacks on their headquarters.

2024-1-15

  1. Missiles Target Area Near U.S. Consulate in Erbil; IRGC Claims Responsibility.  In a concerning escalation of tensions in the Middle East, ten missiles were launched this morning towards an area near the new, yet unoccupied, building of the American Consulate in Erbil, raising international alarms. The ownership of the targeted area remains unconfirmed, with no immediate clarity on whether it falls under American governmental property. Allied forces responded promptly, successfully intercepting three drones in the vicinity of Erbil Airport. The strikes, which seemed to have narrowly missed American buildings, resulted in no reported material damage, according to statements from two American representatives at the Consulate to Arabic media outlets. Erbil Airport, which experienced a brief operational halt, swiftly returned to its normal schedule following the incident. In a bold declaration, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) claimed responsibility for the missile strikes in Erbil. The IRGC alleged that their targets were the Mossad spy quarters and opposition headquarters located in the region. This claim adds another layer of complexity to the already volatile regional dynamics. Additionally, the IRGC has admitted to conducting strikes in Aleppo, Syria, asserting that their targets were ISIS headquarters. These strikes in Aleppo are described by the IRGC as a form of retaliation for a prior explosion in Karma, occurring a few weeks earlier. This sequence of events marks a significant escalation in regional tensions, particularly concerning Iran’s involvement and its implications for U.S. interests in the area. As details continue to emerge, the international community closely watches the situation, with many awaiting the response of the United States and its allies to this latest development.
  2. U.S. Ambassador Engages in Dialogue on Iraqi and Kurdish Oil and Budget Matters. U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Elena Romanowski, engaged in a substantive discussion with Nechirvan Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region, focusing on the collaborative efforts of Iraq and Kurdistan in the realms of oil and budget management. During this dialogue, Ambassador Romanowski commended the commitment to safeguarding American commercial interests. She also strongly condemned the recent terrorist attacks in Birmam and reiterated her support for both Iraq and Kurdistan as they confront these security challenges. This meeting underscores the strategic partnership and mutual interests between the U.S., Iraq, and the Kurdistan Region, particularly in the context of economic stability and counter-terrorism efforts. Ambassador Romanowski’s remarks highlight the importance of continued collaboration in navigating the complex political and economic landscape of the region.
  3. Iraq Aims to Halt International Borrowing and Reassess External Debts. The Iraqi government has set forth a plan to cease non-beneficial international borrowing and to conduct a thorough assessment of its external debts, which currently stand at $25 billion. To facilitate this initiative, a specialized committee has been established to scrutinize the loans, pinpointing the specific entities and projects that have utilized these funds. This strategic move is aimed at enhancing Iraq’s standing in the global financial arena. By focusing on eliminating debts that contribute little to the national economy, the government is taking a significant step towards fiscal responsibility and economic stability. This approach marks a pivotal shift in Iraq’s financial management, prioritizing long-term economic health over short-term financial influxes.

2024-1-16

  1. Iran’s Military Operation in Erbil: A Show of Force Masking Fear and Culminating in Human Tragedy.Iran’s deployment of its longest-range “Khaibar Shekan” missiles, capable of reaching approximately 1200 kilometers, along with the use of drones, was more a display of strength amid escalating regional tensions, as reported by Arab media outlets. These attacks briefly halted air traffic movement. The Kurdistan Region’s Counter-Terrorism Unit in Iraq thwarted an attempted drone attack on Erbil International Airport, involving three explosive-laden drones.A spokesperson for the Iranian ministry claimed Iran’s commitment to regional peace and state sovereignty, yet emphasized its right to defend national security and punish perpetrators. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) acknowledged responsibility for the attacks, justifying them as retaliation for previous assaults in Iran and the assassination of resistance leaders in Syria and Lebanon. Mohammad Saleh Sadeghian, director of the Arab Center for Iranian Studies in Tehran, explained in an interview with Al-Hadath Arab channel that the targeted house of a Kurdish Iraqi trader was based on intelligence linking it to the deaths of Mossawi in Syria and Al-Aarouri in Lebanon. The IRGC also claimed its attack targeted Israeli Mossad spy centers in response to Israeli actions and the killing of resistance leaders.The Iraqi Foreign Ministry summoned the Iranian chargé d’affaires in Baghdad, condemning the Iranian attacks on Kurdistan and announcing legal actions, including a complaint to the UN Security Council. The Kurdistan Regional Security Council strongly denounced Iran’s attack on Erbil, describing it as a violation of the security agreement between Baghdad and Tehran. The Iraqi National Security Advisor refuted Iran’s claims of targeting a Mossad headquarters, asserting the attack was on a businessman’s home. An Iranian man was arrested in Erbil for espionage and handed over to security authorities. The Iranian missile strike on Erbil resulted in 10 casualties, including a one-year-old girl. Yashro Dzei and his family were among those killed.

2024-1-17

  1.  Iran’s Military Operation in Erbil: A Show of Force Masking Fear and Culminating in Human Tragedy.

Iran’s deployment of its longest-range “Khaibar Shekan” missiles, capable of reaching approximately 1200 kilometers, along with the use of drones, was more a display of strength amid escalating regional tensions, as reported by Arab media outlets. These attacks briefly halted air traffic movement. The Kurdistan Region’s Counter-Terrorism Unit in Iraq thwarted an attempted drone attack on Erbil International Airport, involving three explosive-laden drones.A spokesperson for the Iranian ministry claimed Iran’s commitment to regional peace and state sovereignty, yet emphasized its right to defend national security and punish perpetrators. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) acknowledged responsibility for the attacks, justifying them as retaliation for previous assaults in Iran and the assassination of resistance leaders in Syria and Lebanon. Mohammad Saleh Sadeghian, director of the Arab Center for Iranian Studies in Tehran, explained in an interview with Al-Hadath Arab channel that the targeted house of a Kurdish Iraqi trader was based on intelligence linking it to the deaths of Mossawi in Syria and Al-Aarouri in Lebanon. The IRGC also claimed its attack targeted Israeli Mossad spy centers in response to Israeli actions and the killing of resistance leaders.The Iraqi Foreign Ministry summoned the Iranian chargé d’affaires in Baghdad, condemning the Iranian attacks on Kurdistan and announcing legal actions, including a complaint to the UN Security Council. The Kurdistan Regional Security Council strongly denounced Iran’s attack on Erbil, describing it as a violation of the security agreement between Baghdad and Tehran. The Iraqi National Security Advisor refuted Iran’s claims of targeting a Mossad headquarters, asserting the attack was on a businessman’s home. An Iranian man was arrested in Erbil for espionage and handed over to security authorities. The Iranian missile strike on Erbil resulted in 10 casualties, including a one-year-old girl. Yashro Dzei and his family were among those killed.

2024-1-18

  1. Erbil Airport Drone Incident and Coalition Forces’ Status in Iraq. The Counter-Terrorism Service in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region reported the interception and destruction of three drones over Erbil Airport, a site hosting American and other international forces. The incident, which occurred without any claim of responsibility, did not result in disclosed casualties or infrastructure damage. Concurrently, Major General Tahseen Al-Khafaji of the Iraqi Security Media Cell clarified that no additional international coalition forces have entered Iraq. He emphasized that Iraq requires no foreign military presence, with the coalition’s role confined to advisory, training, and intelligence capacities. Al-Khafaji also highlighted the upcoming activation of a joint Iraq-coalition committee, tasked with planning the coalition’s withdrawal and redefining the bilateral relationship.

2024-1-24

  1. Armed Drone Strikes U.S. Base Near Erbil Airport Following American Assault on Militia Headquarters in Iraq. Hadi Al-Amiri, a senior figure in the Popular Mobilization Forces, has called for the immediate expulsion of all foreign forces from Iraq in response to these developments. Additionally, Abu Alaa al-Wala’i, head of the Iraqi Sayyid al-Shuhada Brigades, has declared the commencement of a new phase of attacks and urged increased assaults in the Mediterranean to challenge Israeli ports.
  2. U.S. Retaliates with Precision Airstrikes in Iraq Against Iran-backed Militia. In a decisive military response, the United States executed targeted airstrikes early this morning, January 24th, at 12:15 AM Iraq time, against Iran-supported Kata’ib Hezbollah militia in Iraq. This action by the U.S. Central Command is a direct response to the recent aggressive actions by the militia, notably the January 20th attack on Al-Asad Air Base. The strikes specifically targeted three key facilities — a headquarters, a missile and shell storage site, and a training ground for unmanned aerial assault drones — used by the Kata’ib Hezbollah and allied Iranian groups. These precise operations were designed to neutralize significant militant capabilities in the region. Security sources and leaders within the Popular Mobilization Forces have confirmed that the locations hit included areas in Jurf Al Sakhar, approximately 60 km south of Baghdad, and in Al Qaim near the Syrian border, resulting in at least two fatalities. The Pentagon has emphasized that these surgical strikes are a crucial component of a broader strategy to counter escalating Iranian threats and hostile actions in the Middle East. This assertive U.S. military action signifies a firm stance against Iranian influence and aggression in the region, underscoring Washington’s commitment to maintaining regional stability.
  3. Iran-Backed Militias in Iraq Launch Drone Strike on Israeli Port. Iranian-aligned militias in Iraq conducted a drone strike on Tuesday against the Port of Ashdod in Israel. Further intensifying the situation, the Islamic Resistance also launched a missile attack on the Conico base in Syria, which hosts American troops, marking their third strike within a single day. In a rapid counter-response, the U.S. Central Command executed a precise airstrike later the same day. The target was a truck in transit from Iraq to Syrian Deir ez-Zor, believed to be supplying weapons to the Iranian militias. The strike resulted in multiple casualties among the militia members.
  4. Tehran Chamber of Commerce Appeals to Kurdistan Region to Reconsider Boycott of Iranian Goods. The Tehran Chamber of Commerce has expressed deep regret over the Erbil Chamber of Commerce in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region’s call for a boycott of Iranian products. The chamber reiterated the importance of continuing economic cooperation between Iraq, the Kurdistan Region, and Iran. It highlighted the deep historical and cultural ties between the two countries and the significant annual trade volume, which amounts to approximately $3 billion between Iran and the Kurdistan Region. 

2024-1-25

  1. Second Drone Strike on Ashdod Port by Iraqi Islamic Resistance. On January 25, 2024, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq launched a drone attack on Israel’s Ashdod port, marking their second such strike. This follows their recent attacks on three U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria, including Ain al-Assad. The group claims these operations as part of their ongoing campaign against Israeli occupation, citing retaliation for perceived aggressions against Palestinians in Gaza.
  2. Iranian-affiliated Iraqi Parties Begin Political Pressure Operations to Expel U.S. Forces. After the leader of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in Iraq, Falih Al-Fayyadh, affirmed that the PMF’s role is solely related to Iraq’s financial aspect and securing its supplies, and that it is the strong arm of Imam Khomeini’s project, with the PMF remaining Imam Khamenei’s sword until the achievement of Iraq’s integration with Iran, which is the primary goal of establishing the PMF, and its role is to defend this project, political parties in the Iraqi parliament have started working to exert pressure to end the presence of U.S. forces in the country. Ali Hussein, a member of the Fatah Alliance, emphasized that the supreme will in Iran seeks to expel U.S. forces from Iraq. The Saqaroun bloc in the Iraqi parliament announced its determination to confront the ongoing American airstrikes on PMF facilities.

2024-1-26

  1. U.S. Sets Conditions for Troop Withdrawal in Official Letter to Iraq, Signals Waning Patience.The United States sent an official letter to the Iraqi government laying out Washington’s formal conditions for a withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. Arabic media sources said the letter, which was formally delivered by U.S. Ambassador Alina Romanowski, stunned Iraqi leaders and prompted urgent meetings within the Iraqi government and the Hashd parties to discuss what they described as asudden [American] move.”The US letter indicates that Washington’s patience with Baghdad is running out as many in the US have grown unhappy with the Iraqi government’s failure to stop IRGC and Hashd attacks against US troops and diplomats in Iraq.

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