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Iraq Febuary 2016 Monthly UN Security Council Forecast

 

February 2016 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 January 2016

MIDDLE EAST

Iraq

Expected Council Action

In February, Special Representative Ján Kubiš will brief on developments in Iraq and the Secretary-General’s report on the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

UNAMI’s mandate expires on 31 July 2016.

Key Recent Developments

The takeover of Mosul by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in June 2014 has left the Iraqi government without control of a large swath of its territory and has led to a widespread protection crisis.

Since Kubiš last briefed the Council on 11 November 2015, the US has stated that ISIS has lost 40 percent of the territory it had previously controlled in Iraq. Gains against ISIS were achieved late last year in Baiji, Sinjar and Ramadi. These offensives have been undertaken by Iraqi government forces and Kurdish peshmerga forces, backed by the US-led anti-ISIS coalition.

The Shi’a militia Hashd al-Shaabi—or the popular mobilisation forces—have also participated in reclaiming areas from ISIS, but not in Ramadi. Shi’a militias have not been included in offensives backed by the US-led coalition in deference to the US position that Iraq’s use of Shi’a militias in Sunni areas stokes sectarian tension, deepens the distrust of the Shi’a-led government among Sunni leaders in the western provinces and entrenches support for ISIS.

The government has announced that it intends to recapture Mosul in the first half of 2016. In the lead-up to this offensive, some analysts think that the jockeying for influence has already begun, as demonstrated on 3 December 2015 when Turkey deployed an armoured battalion to the Ba’shiqa region near Mosul. On 18 December, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed the Council on Iraq’s complaint regarding this Turkish deployment. The issue had also been raised by Russia in the Council on 8 December under “any other business”. Iraq called the entry of Turkish forces a provocation and a violation of international law. Turkey said the deployment was part of an existing arrangement with Iraq to train Kurdish peshmerga forces and local militias fighting ISIS. The US has been working to de-escalate the dispute and has asked Turkey to withdraw any forces not authorised by the Iraqi government. Turkey withdrew some troops to the autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq but has reportedly rejected a total withdrawal.

Despite the government’s military gains against ISIS, the situation of civilians has not seen a corresponding improvement. OCHA reports that the violence between armed groups and government forces has resulted in 3.3 million internally displaced persons and 10 million people who require humanitarian assistance.

The 19 January joint report by UNAMI and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights says that almost 19,000 civilians have died since January 2014 as a result of this surge in violence. Government forces have denied displaced persons access to safe areas, and government airstrikes and shelling of civilian areas have resulted in casualties. The report details how ISIS continues to commit systematic and widespread violence, which in some instances amounts to war crimes, crimes against humanity and possibly genocide. ISIS has enslaved 3,500 women and children, mostly from Iraq’s Yazidi community. On 16 December 2015, the Council adopted a presidential statement focused on human trafficking by terrorists, with a predominant focus on how ISIS generates revenue through trafficking and the slave trade, with a particular impact on women and children.

Civilians, especially minority communities, have been hesitant to return to some liberated areas since they have no guarantees of protection. The UN and Amnesty International have separately documented abuses against Sunni Arabs committed by Iraqi and Kurdish security forces in areas reclaimed from ISIS—including looting, arbitrary arrest, forcible displacement and extra-judicial killings—in retaliation for perceived support for ISIS.

Following the recapture of Ramadi, the first major victory against ISIS in Iraq, Kubiš said that for military advances against ISIS to hold, the government, in cooperation with the UN, would have to work quickly to restore the rule of law and basic services, and thus give civilians confidence that it was safe to return. This has been a consistent message from UNAMI regarding all areas liberated from ISIS, but particularly in relation to the Sunni provinces, which have a strained relationship with the Shi’a-led government in Baghdad.

Aside from military offensives against ISIS, persistent sectarian violence has been exacerbated by Saudi Arabia’s execution of Shi’a cleric Nimr al-Nimr on 2 January—one day after Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy in Baghdad for the first time since 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait. A wave of demonstrations in Iraq and attacks on Sunni mosques ensued. There were also attacks on Saudi diplomatic premises in Iran following the execution, which led Saudi Arabia and Iran to sever diplomatic ties. Council members issued a press statement on 4 January condemning the attacks on Saudi diplomatic premises in Iran and calling on parties to reduce tensions in the region. Following a trip to Tehran, Iraq’s foreign minister expressed concern over escalating regional tension and offered to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

There was further reprisal violence against Sunnis after ISIS attacks against Shi’a areas of Baghdad and Muqdadiya on 11 January left at least 50 people dead.  Council members condemned the attacks in a press statement. The reprisal violence caused Iraqi Sunni parliamentarians to boycott government sessions on 19 January.

In addition to the dire security situation, Iraq is facing a potential fiscal crisis because of plummeting global oil prices, the impasse over Kurdish oil exports, a bloated government payroll, corruption, and the cost of fighting ISIS. UNAMI leadership has emphasised that an effective partnership between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) based in Erbil is critical to Iraq’s stability and to the fight against ISIS. Implementation of a December 2014 agreement on oil exports and revenue sharing has been stymied since June 2015 because of a stalemate between Baghdad and Erbil. Baghdad claims that the KRG did not export a sufficient amount of oil through the central government, and the KRG claims that it did not receive its expected share of the federal budget. The KRG has resumed its autonomous exportation of oil via Turkey.

There has been discussion of the KRG renegotiating oil exports with Baghdad, but that has been delayed by the political uncertainty in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region since its president, Massoud Barzani, has stayed in office after his term ended in August 2015. The Kurdish political crisis intensified when Barzani’s ruling party unilaterally expelled rival Parliament Speaker Yousif Mohammed from government in October 2015.

Key Issues

The key issue for the Council is promoting a genuinely inclusive government.  A related issue is determining how the Council and UNAMI can encourage greater cooperation on security and humanitarian issues between the dominant Shi’a Dawa party of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Kurdish and Sunni parliamentarians, and thereby build confidence in the central government and fortify Iraq’s response to ISIS.

Another issue is how to address the mutually destabilising impact of the war in Syria and the Iraq crisis.

Options

Options seem limited since the security response to ISIS is happening outside the Council’s purview. However, an option is to adopt a statement calling for the government to work towards enhanced security and humanitarian coordination with the KRG and Sunni leaders, and for UNAMI to support the government in that effort. In such a statement, the Council could also condemn human rights violations by ISIS and associated armed groups (an indirect reference to former Baathists and Sunni tribal leaders) as well as by Iraqi security forces and associated armed groups (an indirect reference to Shi’a militias).

Such a statement could also call on the government to cooperate with UNAMI in areas that may require enhanced mission activities, such as human rights, rule of law, electoral assistance, security sector reform, stabilisation activities in areas liberated from ISIS and best practices for child protection and gender policies.

Council Dynamics

Council members uniformly support UNAMI and believe that the mission’s mandate is sufficiently broad and flexible to allow Kubiš to fulfil the mission’s good-offices role. However, the Council has been largely disengaged from grappling with the underlying political divisions among Iraq’s Shi’a, Sunni and Kurdish populations, beyond bland calls for an inclusive government.

Except through the lens of counter-terrorism, Council members have been unable to approach the connected crises in Iraq and Syria holistically. It is likely that they will continue to treat the two situations as discrete issues. Condemning the Tehran-backed regime in Damascus is difficult to reconcile with supporting the Tehran- and US-backed government in Baghdad. Some Council members will be watching with interest whether Abadi will be able to maintain his current balance of good relations with Riyadh and Tehran once Iran experiences the economic relief of lifted sanctions.

The US is the penholder on Iraq issues in general, and the UK is the penholder on Iraq-Kuwait issues.

http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/monthly-forecast/2016-02/iraq_10.php

 

16 February 2016, Security Council briefing on the situation in Iraq, Special Representative Jan Kubiš

 

Ján Kubiš, Special Representative and Head of UNAMI. UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

Mr. President,

In the past reporting period, the heroic people of Iraq have been steadily gaining ground against the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is gradually losing its appeal to the disenfranchised population. The liberation and holding of Beiji, Sinjar, and most of all Ramadi, and continuing clearance of the surrounding areas from ISIL fighters, have instilled the people of Iraq with hope that the country can and will be liberated from ISIL. It has also documented how important it is to rely on local and tribal fighters from areas under ISIL control to participate in the liberation and take responsibility for the security of their cities and provinces.

The success also demonstrates the increasingly resolute and effective support to Iraq of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL in its fight against ISIL and provides lessons for preparations for the liberation of the remaining territories, most notably of Mosul. It serves as an encouragement for other members of the international community to assist Iraq in combatting ISIL.

Mr. President,

The terrorist organisation ISIL with its radical ideology and policies of sectarianism, violent extremism and terrorism constitutes a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security. Combatting ISIL by all means is a priority of the whole international community and Member States are called upon to re-double and coordinate their efforts.

Following the 18 December 2015 meeting of the Security Council, bilateral and diplomatic efforts, assisted by international partners and the United Nations, continue to resolve the issues of the presence of Turkish forces in Camp Bashiqa, so far without mutually acceptable results. I reiterate the calls made by the Secretary-General for a solution in line with the Charter of the United Nations and in full respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq. I also urge both sides to take steps that will enable the deepening of cooperation in the field of security and continuous support in fighting ISIL, based on consultations with and full consent of the Government of Iraq.

Mr. President,

Regardless of the successes, ISIL remains a formidable and determined enemy that constantly adjusts its tactics and attack patterns, taking into account also the developments in Syria. ISIL cannot be defeated by military means alone, without addressing the root causes of violence and the underlying ideology, otherwise their effect will not be sustainable and lasting. Military victories need to be complemented by massive stabilisation and rehabilitation efforts that prioritise and allow for the safe return of IDPs to their towns of origin. Simultaneously, Iraqis must prioritise political and community reconciliation.

The lack of progress in implementing the National Political Agreement reflects the absence of political consensus and the continued pursuit of partisan interests. The stability, security and unity of Iraq hinge on an effective and inclusive political system and equality in decision-making at the federal and local levels. Tangible solutions to prevent political and sectarian exclusion have to include amendments to or adoption of priority legislation, followed by swift implementation, such as the Accountability and Justice Law, the National Guard Law and the General Amnesty Law.

Efforts by Sunni political forces and their leaders to unify their stance on national reconciliation, effective federalisation and decentralisation, and how to more successfully counter ISIL are equally necessary. I welcome such steps provided they add to internal consolidation and not divisions, while urging Sunni leaders and forces to continue such activities in the most inclusive manner possible.

Mr. President,

In early January, lethal attacks in Baghdad and in Muqdadiya, in Diyala governorate, perpetrated by ISIL and revenge violence by rogue militia elements and criminal groups prompted concern that the nation was again continuing down a spiralling trajectory of sectarian violence, compounded by internal political divisions along sectarian lines, as well as regional tensions and context. These attacks were an attempt to further stoke sectarian tensions and political polarisation in Iraq, and weaken the unity of Iraq and its people.

They also highlighted the urgent need to reach progress in intercommunal relations and swiftly restore state and local authority, rule of law, good governance, justice and provision of services to the newly liberated areas and exert firm control over all fighters and weapons. Security sector reform addressing the issue of uncontrolled armed groups and their presence in cities, notably in liberated areas, is a priority.

Mr. President,

Stabilization in liberated areas and the safe return of IDPs are of enormous political importance. I am happy to report that the stabilization phase of Tikrit is almost complete. Overall, the Government has given very high priority to returns and so far, more than 500,000 displaced Iraqis have returned to their home communities. The Government intends that up to 900,000 will return in 2016.

There are, however, a number of complicating factors impacting the pace of returns. These include a huge number of improvised explosive devices which have been laid by ISIL and which must be removed before populations can return home, as well as devastating destruction to infrastructure and homes. We are seeing this right now in Ramadi. I call on Iraq’s regional and international partners to enhance their support to the Government of Iraq’s efforts to hold and stabilise areas retaken from ISIL. These efforts also ought to focus on building the capacity of local security and police forces through training and material support.

Mr. President,

Persistent political polarization and divisions continue to hamper Prime Minister Abadi’s ability to advance the reform agenda, including in decentralisation and fighting corruption. The Prime Minister’s recent announcement aimed at establishing a more professional Cabinet with members selected on merit, and not on sectarian or political quotas, should be accompanied by accelerated implementation of a genuine political, security and economic reform package. The complex and deepening set of challenges before the country and its people requires that the political blocks finally work together in support of comprehensive and profound reforms, as they did when adopting the budget for 2016.

Iraq’s persistent and rapidly-deepening fiscal crisis and growing budget deficit, compounded by the security and humanitarian situation and drastic decline in global oil prices, has almost halved the State’s planned income since then, and the Kurdistan Region faces at least a situation as grave as that of Baghdad. Fiscal challenges are also likely to impact the fight against ISIL as a significant number of fighters, notably the Peshmerga, have not received salaries for several months.

I am mindful that if left unaddressed, such an unsustainable situation may seriously undermine the renewed morale of pro-government forces and confidence of the people, including youth, communities, minorities and IDPs that they can have a future in Iraq. And while the Governments in Baghdad and Erbil must rapidly prioritise and take full ownership over the state finances and reforms, I urge the international community to assist Iraq in overcoming these difficulties through increased technical support and funding, including through lending by international and regional financial institutions. Genuine economic reforms by the Governments in Baghdad and Erbil could pave the way to such financial and budgetary support.

Mr. President,

The severe economic crisis is having a sobering effect on the relationship between Baghdad and Erbil, with both sides showing renewed will to work together, militarily and economically, including on reforms. I am therefore hopeful that realism and pragmatism will prevail and help boost efforts in ensuring the stability and prosperity of Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region, needed to continue jointly the existential fight against ISIL.

Mr. President,

The humanitarian crisis in Iraq is highly complex, and is expected to widen and worsen this year. Today not only 3.3 million IDPs, but altogether some ten million Iraqis – almost one third of the population – urgently require some form of humanitarian assistance. Let’s not forget – without the necessary support, today’s IDPs will become tomorrow’s refugees. Humanitarian needs are now so great that they far outstrip national capacities. The Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government simply do not have the resources to keep providing assistance, not because of a lack of will or a reluctance to assume responsibility, but because of the grave economic and fiscal situation.

On 31 January, the UN jointly with the Government of Iraq launched a humanitarian appeal requesting US$861 million to help ensure that the most vulnerable people receive the assistance they need. On top of this, a potential catastrophe from the Mosul Dam adds new grave challenges and pressures and requires an urgent action of both the Government of Iraq and the international community, including the UN, as well as public awareness campaign and disaster response plans, including evacuation of the affected population in case of such catastrophe.

Mr. President,

Allow me to turn now to the ninth report of the Secretary-General on the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property, including the national archives.
As part of the Government of Iraq’s reform programme, the Council of Ministers agreed on the distribution of the files formerly under the mandate of the Ministry of Human Rights, deciding to transfer the technical overview of the missing Kuwaiti persons file to the Ministry of Defence. While this is a positive step, the Government of Iraq must now implement the decision and allocate the needed financial resources to ensure that work continues unabated.

Cooperation between Iraq and Kuwait continues to reach new heights. In December, during the fifth session of the Kuwait-Iraq Joint Ministerial Committee, the parties signed agreements covering several fields, including youth and sports, inspection and control, and communications. Nonetheless, the international obligation of the Government of Iraq remains to ensure further progress.

Mr. President,

The UN continues to operate in difficult and often dangerous conditions in Iraq. With deep regrets I inform that yesterday we received the news that UNAMI’s staff member abducted in April 2015 in Diyala, Mr. al-Kaissy, was found dead. I am deeply shocked and saddened about this news. I strongly urge the Iraqi authorities to conduct immediately a thorough and transparent investigation into this abduction and murder and hold the perpetrators accountable. I remind the Government of Iraq that national authorities bear full responsibility for serving justice in this case, as well as they do to safeguard and protect all UN personnel serving in the country.

http://www.un.org/undpa/speeches-statements/16022016/iraq

America announces the destruction of important sites for Daash Iraq

 

Friday 19-02-2016 | 4:41:25

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Twilight News / Joint Task Force said in a statement that the United States and its allies have launched 22 air strikes against al-Islamic state in Iraq and Syria on Thursday.

The statement, which was published on Friday 13 strike carried out in Iraq were concentrated near Mosul and Ramadi, where he hit a three tactical units of the organization in addition to the storage of weapons and more than a dozen combat outposts facility. The other strikes hit targets in Albu Hayat and al-Baghdadi, Hit and Sinjar.

In Syria, nine air strikes near the five cities including Hasaka carried out where wounded four units Tktikitin air strikes and five vehicles and two combat troops.

امريكا تعلن تدمير مواقع مهمة لداعش بالعراق