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Iraq in September 2023

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September 1, 2023

  1. Significant Visit of Iraqi Prime Minister to Iran’s Khuzestan Province (Mawazin). Khuzestan Province, Iran, to welcome Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani next week, announces Governor Ali Akbar Hussaini Mehrab. Significant visit includes inauguration of vital developmental projects, boosting regional ties.
  2. Gulf Keystone Petroleum Cuts Jobs Amid Halted Kurdistan Oil Exports (Al-Arabiya). Today, Thursday, Gulf Keystone Petroleum raised doubts about the continuity of its activity, after it announced that it had cut expatriate jobs by 55% to cut costs in light of the suspension of crude oil exports from Iraqi Kurdistan.
  3. 3 Arrested, ISIS-Linked Ammunition Seized in Anbar (Al Iraqi news). Gulf Keystone Petroleum slashes expatriate jobs by 55% due to suspended crude oil exports from Iraqi Kurdistan. The company mulls further job cuts and faces uncertainty after Iraq-Turkey pipeline halt. Its shares dropped 8% on the London Stock Exchange.

September 5, 2023

 Iraq: Evacuation Directive Triggers Violent Skirmishes and Fatalities in Kirkuk

Clashes Over PM Sudani’s Evacuation Order Result in Four Deaths

Violent confrontations between protestors and security forces in Kirkuk have led to four fatalities and a curfew imposition. Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and their backers demanded the revocation of Prime Minister Sudani’s order to evacuate Kirkuk’s Joint Operations Command (JOC) facilities. The evacuation was planned to make way for the return of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) to offices they had occupied before October 2017. Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court has suspended Sudani’s directive, pending the resolution of lawsuits filed to maintain security in Kirkuk province. The Kurdish Prime Minister criticized the court’s decision as a “farce,” with KRG officials questioning its constitutionality following anti-Kurdistan Region rulings.

September 6, 2023

  1. Kurdistan Government Urges Baghdad to Prevent Further Kirkuk Unrest (Flipboard). The spokesman for the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government, Peshwa Hauramani, that “the Iraqi government must take measures to prevent the recurrence of the recent events.” victim of political strife.
  2. Iraqi Court Declares Khor Abdullah Agreement with Kuwait Unconstitutional (Al-Jazeera). Following violent demonstrations in Kirkuk, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s spokesman, Peshwa Hauramani, has called on the Iraqi government to take measures to prevent further unrest in the city.

September 7, 2023

  1. Barzani and Al-Khanjar Discuss Urgent Need to Address Kirkuk Situation (Dijlah). Massoud Barzani and Khamis Al-Khanjar, head of the Sovereignty Alliance, meet to discuss the political landscape in Iraq and relations between the Kurdistan region and the federal government. Both express concern over the latest developments in Kirkuk and stress the immediate need to address the situation.
  2. Iraqi PM Lauds Successful Arbaeen Visit of Imam Hussein (Iraq Today). Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shia’a Al-Sudani declares the Arbaeen visit to Imam Hussein a success. At a press conference in Karbala, he thanks the security services and various organizations for their contributions. The event saw over 22 million visitors, including nearly 4 million from abroad, highlighting its global significance.

September 8, 2023

  1. Khamenei’s Appearance in Iraq’s Karbala’s Pilgrimage Solidifies Iran’s Deepening Influence (Tehran Times,Al-Ahed News, Al Hadath). In a significant development, Ayatollah Khamenei attended the Arbaeen pilgrimage in Karbala, emphasizing the role of the younger generation in carrying forth his message. His presence further underscores Iran’s growing influence in Iraq, as highlighted by the unprecedented turnout of 22 million participants, including 4 million Iranians, at the pilgrimage. Brigadier General Radan of Iran’s Internal Security Forces and Iraq’s national security advisor, Qasim Al-Araji, confirmed high-level cooperation efforts between the two countries. The pilgrimage, which has evolved with new political undertones since 2017, serves as a platform for resistance pledges against Western powers and calls for Islamic unity.

September 11, 2023

  1. Orange Juice Mishap Leaves Iranians Seeing Stars in Iraq! (Al Hurra). Sixteen Iranian pilgrims, visiting Iraq for Arbaeen in Karbala, suffered food poisoning in Babil province from “expired” orange juice. They received treatment in Dhi Qar province. Karbala hosts millions of Shia pilgrims annually for Imam Hussein’s mourning. Iraq’s Ministry of Interior reported 2.6 million visitors for Arbaeen.

September 12, 2023

  1. Iran: No Extension of the Deadline for Removing Militants from Northern Iraq (Baghdad Today). After the two countries agreed last month to disarm terrorist groups and close their military headquarters, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani announced on Monday that there would be no extension to the deadline for removing terrorists from Iraqi Kurdistan.
  2. The President of the Kurdistan Region Meets with the Iranian Ambassador to Iraq (Mawazin). Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani affirmed the region’s commitment to the Iraq-Iran security agreement and vowed not to allow any security threats from the Kurdistan Region toward Iran. Barzani and Iranian Ambassador Muhammad Kazem Al Sadiq discussed strengthening Iran’s relations with Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, the security agreement, Erbil-Baghdad relations, and dialogue to resolve outstanding issues.
  3. Erbil Accuses PKK of September 1 Bombing in Iraq (Arabic TR). The Security Council of Iraqi Kurdistan has accused the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) of behind the September 1 bombing in Erbil. In a press statement, they alleged that the bombing was carried out by a member of the Freedom Movement affiliated with the PKK, identifying the individual as (Z.J.K.), a resident of Chamchamal in Sulaymaniyah Governorate.

September 13, 2023

  1. Iraqi Foreign Minister Visits Iran, Calls for Respect of Sovereignty (Al-Arabiya). Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein plans to visit Tehran, urging Iran to respect Iraq’s sovereignty and avoid using violence against Iraqi Kurdistan. Hussein aims to discuss preventing armed groups from crossing the border and launching attacks against the Iranian government during his visit.
  2. Kurdish Leader’s Visit to Iran Focuses on Strengthening Relations (Baghdad Today). The leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Bafel Talabani, visited Iran to enhance relations, especially given the common border with Sulaymaniyah and the historical ties between the two. The visit was coordinated with the federal government and aimed to discuss issues related to strengthening the relationship with Iran rather than the presence of Iranian Kurdish opposition parties.

September 14, 2023

  1. Kurdish Delegation Heads to Baghdad Amid Disputes (Al Awsat). A high-level Kurdish delegation led by Prime Minister Masrour Barzani is set to hold discussions with Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa al-Sudani concerning political and financial disputes. The visit follows recent tensions, particularly over Kirkuk, budget, and funds allocated to the Kurdistan Regional Government.
  2. US Warns Iraq Over Militias Near Syria Border (NPA Syria). US Assistant Secretary of Defense, Celeste Wallander, urged Iraq to remove its Popular Mobilization Forces from a 150 km zone near the Iraq-Syria border and warned against any harassment or attacks by Iran-affiliated militias on American forces or allies in the region.

September 15, 2023

  1. US Warns Iraqi Banks to Address Dollar Misuse (Dare Lhilal). The US warns Iraq’s Central Bank to address dollar misuse or face new sanctions. Last July, 14 Iraqi banks were restricted from dollar transactions due to concerns of fraud, money laundering, and Iran’s sanctions evasion.
  2. Iranian Opposition Parties in Kurdistan Region Yet to be Disarmed, Says Kurdish Leader (Mawazin). Iranian opposition parties in the Kurdistan Region remain armed, according to Kurdish leader Ghiyath Al-Sourji. Efforts are ongoing to relocate them away from Iran’s borders, but disarmament has yet to occ

September 18, 2023

  1. Major Moves in Iraq: Oil Pipeline Resumption, Security Operations, and Regional Diplomacy Shape a Volatile Landscape (Al Araby TV, Al Ghad, Sputnik Arabic, Al-Araby, Press Bee, Al Arabiya). Turkey is set to resume its oil pipeline operations with Iraq following a completed inspection, signifying a boost in regional energy cooperation. In parallel security developments, Turkish drones struck targets in northern Iraq, killing three members of the Sinjar Resistance Units, while Iraqi forces regained control over key border points with Iran. On the domestic front, Iraqi intelligence successfully dismantled a terrorist network planning to execute suicide bombings in Baghdad. A conference in Doha addressed Iraq’s looming water crisis, amplified by climate change and upstream policies. Lastly, the transfer of Iranian opposition camps deeper into Iraqi territory has been completed, with border forces now in place.

September 19, 2023

  1. Baghdad Approves $1.6 Billion Loan to Kurdistan for Employee Salaries (Haya News). Iraqi Council of Ministers approves a 2.1 trillion dinar ($1.6 billion) loan to the Kurdistan Regional Government for the current fiscal year. The loan aims to ensure financial liquidity for the regional government to pay employee salaries. The decision reflects positive federal-regional relations and a commitment to constitutional obligations.
  2. Iraqi PM Says Missing Russian Citizens Damage Security Authorities’ Reputation (Arabic RT). Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani acknowledged that the disappearance of Russian-Israeli citizen Elizaveta Tsurkova in Baghdad tarnishes the reputation of Iraqi security. No group has claimed responsibility, and the incident questions Iraq’s stability and the capability of its security services, Al-Sudani told the New York Times.
  3. Army Aviation Strikes Multiple ISIS Sites in Kirkuk, Iraq (Baghdad Today). Army aircraft targeted ISIS hideouts in Daquq, Kirkuk Governorate, near the borders with Salah al-Din and Diyala Governorates, according to a security source. The strikes also hit ISIS positions near the village of Al-Shabija on the Al-Rukana River.

September 20, 2023

  1. Iraqi PM Al-Sudani Invited to Washington by Biden; Iraq Summons Turkish Ambassador Over Kurdistan Attacks; Iranian Opposition Groups Relocated (Arabic RT).  Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani received an invitation from U.S. President Joseph Biden to visit the White House during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. The focus was on strengthening the bilateral partnership. Concurrently, Iraq plans to issue a formal protest to the Turkish ambassador over attacks on Kurdistan, affirming that Iraq will defend its security, sovereignty, and stability. In a separate development, Iraq announced the relocation of Iranian opposition groups from the border areas, removing their weapons and preparing them for possible refugee status under UNHCR guidelines.

September 21, 2023

  1. Iraq Takes Steps to Align with Iran on Border Security, Confronts Turkiye Over Air Strikes (Al Jazeera). Iraq disarms anti-Iran groups, relocates them from the border; move follows a security agreement between Iraq, Iran, and Erbil. Iranian Revolutionary Guard warns of consequences if Iraq doesn’t disarm opposition groups, despite recent evacuations near the Iran-Iraq border. Meanwhile, the Iraqi Army denounces Turkish strikes, declares the right to take appropriate countermeasures.

September 22, 2023

  1. Iraqi PM Discusses U.S. Investment in Infrastructure with White House Coordinator (Al Iraq News). Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani met with U.S. White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, Brett McGurk, at the 78th U.N. General Assembly. McGurk reiterated the United States’ commitment to assisting Iraq in its ongoing reforms, particularly in the realms of infrastructure reconstruction and anti-corruption measures. The U.S. also pledged continued advisory support and training for Iraqi security forces in their fight against ISIS. This commitment falls under the broader Strategic Framework Agreement between the two nations.

September 25, 2023

  1. Iraq Initiates Nationwide Weapons Registration to Rein in Civilian Arms (Sky News Arabia). Iraq’s Ministry of Interior initiates a nationwide weapons registration to centralize civilian firearms. The complex task involves legal, media, and administrative measures, with some suggesting financial incentives for compliance.
  2. Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt Foreign Ministers Discuss Tripartite Cooperation at UN Assembly (Iraq News Network). Foreign ministers of Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt met on the sidelines of the 78th UN General Assembly in New York to discuss enhancing tripartite cooperation. The meeting covered a range of sectors including energy, trade, health, and security. The ministers also discussed regional issues such as the Palestinian conflict and the Syrian crisis. They agreed to continue coordination ahead of the next tripartite summit in Cairo.
  3. Central Bank of Iraq to Phase Out External Transfers in Favor of Dinar-Based Transactions (Independent Press Agency). Ali Mohsen Al-Alaq, the Governor of the Central Bank of Iraq, announced plans to discontinue external transfers in favor of internal transactions in dinars, starting next year. The move comes after an agreement with the US Federal Reserve and aims to focus the Central Bank’s role on supervision and control. The new policy is expected to enhance monetary stability and lower inflation rates.
  4. Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court Dissolves Kurdistan’s Provincial Councils, Citing Unconstitutionality (Rudaw). Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court has ruled to dissolve the Kurdistan Region’s provincial councils, declaring an amendment extending their term as “unconstitutional.” The court cited violations of democratic principles and basic rights. The decision leaves the councils in a “legal gap,” according to Ali Rashid, head of Erbil’s provincial council. This comes amid increasing criticism of the Kurdistan Regional Government for failing to hold timely elections.

September 26, 2023

  1. Iraqi Security Forces Arrest ISIS Foreign Battalion Commander in Kirkuk (Maspero.eg). In a coordinated operation, Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service and Kurdistan’s Asayish Operations Department arrested Abu Bukhari, the so-called commander of the foreign battalion of ISIS in Kirkuk. The operation was directed by Muhammad Shia’ al-Sudani, Commander-in-Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces. Additionally, Iraqi army aviation destroyed an ISIS den in Salah al-Din. A separate incident saw a training plane crash at Iraqi Kut Air Base due to a technical defect, injuring its crew.
  2. Iraqi Prime Minister Meets Commander of International Coalition Forces to Discuss Security Cooperation (Mawazine News). Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani met with General Joel Fowell, Commander of the International Coalition Forces to Combat Terrorism in Iraq and Syria. The meeting, also attended by the American Ambassador to Iraq, focused on security cooperation, intelligence exchange, and training of Iraqi forces. Both parties emphasized the ongoing work of a joint committee formed to shape the future relationship between Iraq and the international coalition, particularly after the defeat of ISIS.

September 27, 2023

  1. Tragic Fire in Iraqi Wedding Hall Claims 114 Lives, Injures Over 150 (Al Hadath). A devastating fire in a wedding hall in Al-Hamdaniya, east of Mosul, results in over 100 fatalities and 150+ injuries, reportedly ignited by fireworks during the ceremony. The hall lacked safety features like wet alarms and firefighting systems, causing a major tragedy. Iraqi and Kurdish authorities are providing relief and support to the victims.
  2. Iraqi PM Al-Sudani Dismisses Need for U.S.-Led Coalition Against ISIS (Al Arabiya). Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani says ISIS is no longer a threat to Iraq, eliminating the need for a U.S.-led international coalition. Al-Sudani stresses the importance of Iraq’s stability and warns that Syrian instability could impact the region. He also discusses confidence in the upcoming Iraqi elections.
  3. Iraq to Fast-Track Iran Railway Connection for Pilgrimage and Bilateral Ties (Sky News Arabia). Iraq aims to complete a 30-km railway from Basra to Iran’s Shalamcheh in 18 months, enhancing pilgrimage to Shiite shrines and bilateral relations, says Nasser Al-Asadi, advisor to the Iraqi Prime Minister. Plans for a Karbala-Najaf metro line extension are also in progress.

September 28, 2023

  1. Erdogan Invites Nouri al-Maliki, Head of Iraq’s Deep State, for Official Visit to Türkiye (Iraqi News). The Turkish ambassador delivered the invitation, highlighting Turkey’s aim to resolve existing issues and signaling a “qualitative shift” in future relations between the two countries.
  2. Thousands of Mourners Gather to Bury Over 100 Victims of Tragic Fire at Iraqi Christian Wedding (Iraqi News). Mourners gathered at a cemetery in Qaraqosh, Iraq, to bury victims of a tragic fire that erupted during a Christian wedding, claiming at least 100 lives and injuring 150 others. The fire spread rapidly, fueled by indoor fireworks. Emotional scenes unfolded as coffins were carried through the crowd, followed by grieving women barely able to stand. The community is in deep mourning as they lay their loved ones to rest.

September 29, 2023

  1. Iraqi Military Captures Suspected ISIS Members in Anbar Province and Baghdad (Bas News). The Iraqi Military, in collaboration with security forces, captured two suspected members of ISIS in Anbar province. The suspects were apprehended in elaborate ambushes and have been handed over for judicial proceedings. The Islamic State continues to maintain a presence in Iraq, particularly in disputed Kurdish territories. In a separate development, three more ISIS members were captured in Baghdad as anti-terror operations intensify.
  2. Cooling Equipment, Not Just Fireworks, to Blame for Tragic Wedding Fire in Iraq (Al Hadath). A friend of the groom revealed that the tragic wedding fire in Iraq was not solely caused by fireworks. Prior to the fireworks incident, cooling equipment had been burning unnoticed for over half an hour, contributing to the fire’s spread. The owner was unaware that the devices were malfunctioning. 

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