Friday, September 28, 2012

Will Shell Take The Leap Into Iraq’s Kurdistan?


There are some contradictory stories emerging about whether oil major Royal Dutch Shell is in negotiations with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Twice before it was in talks with the Kurds, but withdrew to protect its investments in southern Iraq. Now the equation has slightly changed. It has secured all of the contracts it was interested in with the Oil Ministry, while other large oil corporations have taken the leap to work in Kurdistan. It could now very well follow their lead and move north as well. That would seemingly break with the conservative mold it has forged so far, while working in the country.

When it comes to oil companies deciding to defy Baghdad and signing a deal with Kurdistan, all news reports have to be taken with a large grain of salt. On September 21, 2012, Reuters had a story that Shell was considering working in Kurdistan. The article claimed that it was inspired by the fact that other major oil companies such as Exxon Mobil and Total had recently signed contracts with the KRG, and Baghdad had taken no serious action against them. Deputy Premier Hussein Shahristani’s office denied that story, and the central government allegedly threatened to blacklist Shell if it went to the north. There was another piece that stated the company had backed out of talks, because of those warnings. More importantly, a Shell spokesman said that while the company would eventually like to work in all parts of Iraq, at the time it was happy with its operations in the south. It would not be surprising if Shell were considering working in Kurdistan, because its terms are much better than those offered by the Oil Ministry. At the same time, many firms do not get paid, have to rely upon the hope that their stock prices will go up with any discoveries they make there, and the region relies upon short-term deals with Baghdad in order to export. The central government has also threatened to sanction any company that moves north, but its stories about majors dropping negotiations with the KRG or halting their work have consistently been wrong. Right now it is impossible to tell which direction Shell will take on the matter. However, one could look at their past history.

Twice before Shell was in talks with Kurdish officials. That occurred in 2007 and 2011. The first time, the Oil Ministry had not opened up to foreign investment yet, but Kurdistan had. Details of the matter are not clear, but it would appear Shell decided to wait until the central government offered up the much larger southern petroleum fields. In 2011, the company was finalizing a natural gas deal in Basra province, and did not want to jeopardize that. That showed a conservative streak within the company that could point to its future actions. Shell may again be unwilling to go north if it thinks its projects in the south are more important.
The Majnoon field is one of two that Shell has invested in (Wall Street Journal)
Shell currently has three contracts with the central government. One is for the Majnoon field in Basra, which it has a joint venture with Malaysia’s Petronas. Shell is expected to invest between $2.5-$3 billion into that project by the middle of next year, out of a total of $50 billion. It is also a junior partner with Exxon in Basra’s West Qurna 1. Finally, it has a $17 billion deal with Mitsubishi to collect natural gas from several fields in Basra, which took three years to finalize. As part of that endeavor, it has signed a memorandum of understanding to build a petrochemical plant as well. The company’s work has not gone smoothly in the south. Its natural gas project is still caught up in red tape. It claims that it is losing ¢60 per barrel on the Majnoon field, and won’t start getting paid until the first half of 2013 when it will reach its first production target of 175,000 barrels per day. It is then supposed to start earning $1.39 per barrel, but the actual amount will be less as it has to pay a ¢35 tax. Its payments for West Qurna 1 have been caught up in the bureaucracy as well. Shell obviously has a huge amount of money invested in southern Iraq, and plans on putting in a lot more. That includes the largest natural gas deal in the country, which has huge potential. It’s for those reasons, that it was unwilling to make the leap into Kurdistan in the past. That being said, it is facing problems dealing with Baghdad. That’s because of the unwieldy government that seems to make even the most mundane matters difficult. Working in the KRG is much easier, and a major draw.

Shell could go either way when it comes to its talks with the Kurdistan Regional Government. In the past, it has been weary of giving up its endeavors with the central government. It has been willing to deal with Baghdad, and even expand its operations in the south. At the same time, its profits look to be slim, Kurdistan offers a much easier business environment, and official threats of retaliation by the Oil Ministry appear to be feckless. Shell has followed a conservative course in Iraq however. That would point to it staying the course, and concentrating upon its three contracts in Basra rather than taking the jump into the north. That doesn’t mean it won’t follow that path in the future. Still, further details will have to emerge before Shell’s ultimate decision can be determined.

SOURCES

AK News, “Facts and figures: oil and transparency in Iraq,” 5/27/12

Aswat al-Iraq, “Iraq signs deal with Shell to set up huge petrochemical plant,” 4/6/12

Bertrand, Pierre, “ExxonMobil’s Iraq Oil Field Contract Could go to Lukoil, Shell,” International Business Times, 11/30/11

Dow Jones, Reuters, “Shell to Replace Exxon at West Qurna 1?” Iraq Business News, 11/21/11

Hafidh, Hassan, “Iraq in Initial Gas Accord With Shell,” Wall Street Journal, 7/12/11

International Crisis Group, “Iraq And The Kurds: The High-Stakes Hydrocarbons Gambit,” 4/19/12

Kramer, Andrew and Werdigier, Julia, “Exxon Spars With Iraq Over Lack of Payment,” New York Times, 12/22/11

Mackey, Peg, “Shell again weighs energy openings in Iraqi Kurdistan,” Reuters, 9/21/12

Mackey, Peg and Callus, Andrew, “Insight: Oil’s big players raise the stakes in Iraqi Kurdistan,” Reuters, 8/5/12

Markey, Patrick and Mackey, Peg, “Analysis: In Iraq, oil majors play north versus south,” Reuters, 4/5/12

Pfeifer, Sylvia and Blas, Javier, “Shell pulls out of Kurdistan oil talks,” Financial Times, 11/16/11

Rasheed, Ahmed, “Exclusive: Shell in talks to cut Iraq’s Majnoon output target,” Reuters, 5/8/12

Razzouk, Nayla, “Iraq Approves $17 Billion Gas Deal With Shell, Mitsubishi,” Bloomberg, 11/15/11

Reuters, “Iraq says Shell denies oil talks with Kurdistan,” 9/26/12
- “Shell to start pumping gas at southern Iraq project,” 7/11/12

Shafaq News, “Shell withdraw from Kurdistan negotiations after hours of Baghdad threats,” 9/23/12

Yackley, Ayla Jean, “Shell sees Majnoon resuming oil output in Q1,” Reuters, 9/18/12

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Rebuilding Iraq’s Electrical Network In A Warzone 2003-2005

 
Electricity production was one of the crucial issues that the United States and Iraqi officials decided to work on after the 2003 invasion. The national grid was an integral part of rebuilding the country since so many other sectors of the economy were dependent upon power such as services like water and sewage, in addition to businesses. The problem was the power network was in poor shape after the Gulf War and sanctions, and ran into more with the looting and insurgency that came after the fall of Saddam Hussein. That was only the beginning as American companies ran into huge cost overruns, the U.S. ended up revising their rebuilding goals, which led to more delays and cancellations in work, and the Iraqis proved incapable of running and maintaining many of the installations the U.S. built for them. In the end, the U.S. suffered from poor planning and management, as well as working in an unstable environment with the insurgency, which undermined its goals to provide uninterrupted power supply to Iraqis.

Even before the onset of hostilities, Iraq’s power network was facing major problems. Before the March 2003 invasion, the country was producing an average of 4,075 megawatts per day. This was not distributed evenly, as most of the power was sent to Baghdad. As a result, the capital enjoyed 16-24 hours of electricity per day, while the rest of the nation had about 4-8 hours. Not only that, but the national grid was a mess. That started with the Gulf War when power plants, transmission lines, substations were all targeted and damaged. This was denied at the time, but one of the goals of the strategic bombing in 1991 was to destroy Iraq’s infrastructure to undermine the government. (1) Then Iraq underwent thirteen years of sanctions, during which repairs were made, and the system was maintained in an ad hoc manner using whatever materials were available. Some of those techniques actually degraded equipment. By 2003, Iraq had a nameplate capacity of 9,000 megawatts, but was producing half of that, because of all the problems it underwent. The system was so fragile that if one part of the network went down, the entire system could be knocked out. This presented a wide range of challenges for the incoming Americans.

The U.S. started from scratch when it came to Iraq’s power industry. That was because the poor pre-war planning did not include any real ideas for the electricity network. The first thing the U.S. did was to put the Electricity Commission back together, which would eventually become the new Electricity Ministry. In May 2003, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) appointed Dr. Karim Waheed al-Aboudi the new head of the commission, who previously was its director general. U.S. advisers were also placed within the Iraqi administration. Second, in April 2003, the U.S. contracted Bechtel to do an assessment of the power system. It finished its review in May, and estimated that repairing the entire network would cost around $6 billion, and would require years of work. Third, the CPA decided to buy gas turbines to boost production. It thought it was a quick and easy way to generate power. It also believed that Iraq’s natural gas industry would quickly be rebuilt and provide fuel for the turbines. These plans quickly ran into difficulties. One was that during the summer, looters were systematically stripping electrical towers for their copper, which was then sold on the black market. During the invasion for example, 50 towers were damaged. In comparison, from April to mid-June, 700 towers were stripped. Iraq also lacked trained personnel to carry out repairs and upgrade the system. It didn’t have enough fuel to run its existing power plants. The CPA and Oil Ministry ended up scrapping their plans to build a national natural gas delivery system, and the industry was not rebuilt, which undermined the gas turbine plan the U.S. was implementing. To add to all that, the insurgency quickly began targeting the power network, leading to almost daily attacks. That led to huge cost overruns, deaths, delays, and employees and companies refusing to work out of fears for their safety. These problems would continue for years, and was one of the main reasons why Iraq’s power network never met the public’s demands.

That didn’t seem to stop Paul Bremer. In the summer of 2003, he announced that the U.S. would return Iraq to prewar power levels by October. At the time, the country was producing around 3,500 megawatts. The Coalition created the Electricity Action Team to follow through with Bremer’s promise, but found out there were no actual plans on how to achieve his goal. In August 2003, the Action Team decided to carry out quick repairs of the existing infrastructure, rather than build any new plants. By October, the Americans actually surpassed their goal, reaching 4,518 megawatts. At the time, Bremer was warned that achieving that amount would lead to breakdowns later on, which is exactly what happened. It also set the precedent that all progress in the electrical industry would be measured by daily power production, something that Iraq’s Electricity Ministry still uses to this day. The October level proved to be fool’s gold as it was not maintainable, and caused both short and long-term problems for the network.

Bremer wasn’t finished. On August 29, he said that in a year Iraq would have 24 hours of power. The CPA estimated that would mean producing around 6,000 megawatts per day. The Coalition created a new group, the Task Force Restore Iraqi Electricity to carry out this plan. It signed contracts with the $5.56 billion Congress allocated for the power system in November. Work orders for 110 projects were handed out, and almost every one ended up going over budget, because of the worsening security situation. When Bremer’s one-year deadline was reached, Iraq was only producing around 4,200 megawatts. That showed that U.S. officials were right. When Bremer pushed for a quick increase in production during the summer of 2003, it was going to cause problems down the line, which would decrease output. He didn’t listen to them however, which led to the failure of his August promise. As a result, many Iraqis began blaming the Americans for their power outages.

When the CPA ceased operating in the summer of 2004, new Ambassador John Negroponte ordered a review of the entire rebuilding program. That led to the diversion of $1.3 billion from electricity projects to other programs like the security forces. Many projects ended up being cancelled or revised as a result, which was another setback for the national grid. By March 2005, production was still below the pre-war level of approximately 4,000 megawatts. The U.S. blamed the lack of security, sabotage, fuel shortages, the limited capacity of Iraq’s ministries, the lack of maintenance, poor management, and cost overruns. That showed that the Americans were not able to overcome many of the problems that existed before the U.S. invasion, and was not able to contain the insurgency either.

By 2005, contractors were running into all kinds of problems operating in Iraq. Bechtel had a $1.1 billion deal to work on the power network. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Inspector General found that the company failed more often than not to meet its objectives. One example was the Dora Power Plant that serviced Baghdad. Bechtel was supposed to rehabilitate two of the four steam turbines at the plant. Poor maintenance led to them breaking down before the 2003 invasion. In August 2003, Bechtel started work at Dora, and was supposed to finish in nine months. It ran into delays, and didn’t complete its work until the end of 2005. The project was initially priced at $34.1 million, but ended up costing $121.1 million. One problem was security. Electricity Ministry employees and Bechtel subcontractors refused to work at the site, because of nearly daily attacks by insurgents, which often targeted the work camp that had been constructed there. In a rare case, the U.S. military ended up providing security at the plant. That still didn’t stop several subcontracts from withdrawing by the summer of 2004. By June 2004, work on the two turbines was nearly completed. By February 2006, only one was working however. The other just needed a simple process before it too could come on line. Because of cost overruns, the Electricity Ministry was given that task. The Ministry proved not ready to operate the plant or maintain it. In 2006, one of the turbines had a “catastrophic failure,” because of poor maintenance. A repair was made, but then it broke down again in April 2007. The U.S. then took over running the facility, but fixes were not completed until the end of the summer. Here all the problems with the American reconstruction effort were apparent, the most important of which was the insurgency, which made work nearly impossible for periods of time, and led to huge cost overruns, and the failure to meet deadlines.

There were other major difficulties as well. Bechtel had a $100.6 million contract to rehabilitate the Baiji Thermal Power Plant in Salahaddin. It stopped work in only three months, and then had the contract cancelled after spending $7 million. The company also had a $381 million deal for the Mansuriyah Natural Gas Power Plant cancelled. In February 2004, the USAID fast tracked the project, but work was stopped in the summer due to Ambassador Negroponte’s review. By the spring of 2005, the contract was negated after $62.7 million was expanded. All the turbines, generators, transformers, and other equipment Bechtel had purchased was donated to the Electricity Ministry, which said it would use them in Najaf. In March 2004, the Defense Department gave a $500 million contract to Perini to repair the transmission and distribution lines in southern Iraq. As part of that deal, the business was to rebuild five substations and rehabilitate the distribution network in Basra. Because of the high costs, Perini ended up only working on the substations. In October 2004, it started work, and was finished in September 2005. The problem was the Electricity Ministry didn’t install distribution and transmission lines to use any of the stations Perini had fixed. The Ministry took a year and a half to do that. From June to October 2004, Perini got another task order to build more substations and distribution networks in Babil, Anbar, Dhi Qar, Najaf, and Basra. By the end of the year, half of those contracts were cancelled. The company still earned $123 million, while only completing $26 million in projects. These all highlighted the poor management of the Americans. There were constant reviews and revisions of the reconstruction program. That led to work stoppages, and changes and cancellation of orders. There was also a lack of coordination with the Iraqis, hence instances where a U.S. company finished work only to find that the Electricity Ministry was not ready to use or operate the facility, and it sat idle as a result.

The U.S. set the rebuilding of Iraq’s power network as one of its main priorities. It was a basic necessity of the economy, and was felt to be a quick way to improve the living conditions for Iraqis. The lack of strategic thinking however undermined much of U.S. effort. Paul Bremer for example, made a series of promises about power production without having any plans in the works on how to achieve them. The Americans also failed to effectively manage many of the projects, there was a lack of oversight, constant reviews led to revisions and the cancellation of contracts, the Iraqis were often not included in planning, and they couldn’t run many of the facilities they were left with. That doesn’t even include the insurgency, which effectively retarded the reconstruction effort overall. The result was that by October 2005, Iraq was producing just over 4,500 megawatts, the same amount it reached in October 2003. The problem was that the end of sanctions led to a huge increase in power usage as people bought a wide range of appliances that had previously been denied them. That meant demand stood at approximately 7,400 megawatts. To this day Iraq still runs into problems with its work on the electricity network, and has not closed the gap between supply and demand.

FOOTNOTES

1. Gellman, Barton, “Storm Damage in the Persian Gulf,” Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 7/8-14/91

SOURCES

Gellman, Barton, “Storm Damage in the Persian Gulf,” Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 7/8-14/91

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Hard Lessons,” 1/22/09
- “Quarterly Report to Congress,” October 2004

Wolffe, Richard and Gegax, T. Trent, “The Best-Laid Plans,” Newsweek, 7/21/03

AL JAZEERA VIDEO: Q&A: Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyer Zebari


VIDEO: National Youth Orchestra Of Iraq Play Schubert In C Minor, 2nd Movement


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How Many Refugees Are Returning From Syria, And What Will Be Their Fate In Iraq?


The growing conflict in Syria is leading to more and more Iraqi refugees who reside there to make the decision to return home. Iraqi officials have claimed that thousands and thousands of people are making the trek back to Iraq. Those remarks do not always match the official numbers collected by the United Nations so far. What awaits these returnees is also an open question. Will they be able to find jobs and houses is only part of it, there’s also the issue of how the government will receive them. Overall, they are likely to struggle as they attempt to restart their lives in Iraq.
Iraqis returning from Syria on bus unload their things Aug. 2012
There have been various stories about a huge increase in the number of Iraqi refugees coming back from Syria recently, but they do not quite jive with statistics collected by the United Nations. At the beginning of August 2012 for instance, the Displacement and Migration Ministry claimed that around 20,000 people had come back to Iraq in just the last few months. That included 15,000 in just nine days at the end of July, according to the deputy minister. 4,000 of those were flown back on special flights set up by Baghdad, while the rest crossed back by land. That same month, Iraqi Airways told the press that 2,673 people had gone back to Baghdad from Syria, and around 8,000 went to Anbar. The United Nations recorded a large number of returnees as well, but not as many as reported in the press. From January to July for example, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had 43,950 people coming back to Iraq from Syria. Its numbers supported the 20,000 figure made by the Displacement Ministry for the last several months as it claimed 22,010 came back from April to July. Where it differed was in the huge influx in recent months. For instance, it only had 4,300 people for all of July, only a fraction of the 15,000 mentioned by the Deputy Displacement Minister for nine days of that month. The UNHCR numbers are nowhere near definitive, and could be revised in the future, but according to it, the number of Iraqis coming back has actually slowed down in the last few months, not picked up as the press has reported. The situation is definitely in flux, so the actual number of people making the decision to return may only be clarified later on.

UNHCR Refugee Returns From Syria 2012
January 7,440
February 7,910
March 6,590
April 8,330
May 6,370
June 3,010
July 4,300

The problem isn’t in the statistics, but what will happen now that all these people are back in the country. First, the government has offered cash assistance to returnees for several years now. In September, Baghdad announced that it was setting aside $50 million to help refugees coming back from Syria. It said it would give around $4,000 to each family that returned. The problem is that the notorious bureaucracy has often slowed up these payments, and the recent increase will only make that situation worse. Second, a UNHCR spokesman said that most of these people are coming back with little in terms of possessions and money. They are returning to a country where prices are rising, housing is in limited supply, and services are bad. Not only that, but there have been reports that the government has set up a holding area in Abu Ghraib to interrogate people heading for Baghdad. Supposedly, it is under the control of the Baghdad Operations Command, and it is checking people for Baathist ties. This is causing some trepidation amongst refugees still in Syria as a parliamentarian reported that they were afraid of being interrogated by the authorities if they went back. When looking at all the possible obstacles that might be in front of them, the questioning seems to be the least of their worries. Many refugees have said that it was easy to find work and accommodation in Syria. They have now lost that due to the rising violence there, and are going to be living in an Iraq where both of those necessities are scarce. That means they may well end up living with and off of family and friends for quite some time, and find a hard time adjusting.

Since 2011, there have been a large number of refugees making it back to Iraq. This was before the conflict in Syria even started. Now the fighting there is giving an added incentive to people to return. This will likely lead to added pressure upon the government that seems unable to deal with the increase. More importantly, many of these returnees seem to be heading towards a long period of struggle trying to find housing and employment, and dealing with the general high cost of living in Iraq compared to Syria. Their new life in Iraq therefore, may not be all that they were hoping for.

SOURCES

Agence France Presse, “Iraqis back from Syria face obstacles at all turns,” 7/25/12

Alsumaria News, “Iraqi government going flights between Mosul and Aleppo and Latakia Alsorretan to transport Iraqis,” 7/24/12

IRIN, “IRAQ: Returnees from Syria – a “humanitarian crisis” in the making,” 7/27/12

Mohammed, Fryad, “20,000 Iraqis return home from Syria,” AK News, 8/4/12

Msarbat, Anwar, “Baghdad and Anbar register return of 10,000 Iraqis from Syria,” AK News, 7/22/12

Sami, Zeena, “$50 million for Iraqi refugees fleeing Syria,” Azzaman, 9/3/12
- “Iraqi exiles in Syria fear for their lives but are afraid to return home,” Azzaman, 9/22/12

Shafaq News, “Dozens of Iraqis returning from Syria to Baghdad detained in search of “Senior Baathists,”” 7/21/12

UNHCR Iraq Operation, “Monthly Statistical Update on Return – July 2012,” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, August 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

Is Iraq’s Dawa Party Returning To Their Islamist Roots Or Just Trying To Shore Up Their Base? Attempts To Ban Alcohol, Set Public Dress Codes, And Attack Emos And Gays Raise The Question


Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Dawa Party was the first modern Islamist organization formed in Iraq. Dawa was created by laypersons and clerics in the 1950s, advocating the formation of an Islamic state run by technocrats, which would rely upon the opinions of the country’s religious establishment. Since Maliki assumed power in 2006, he has emphasized other issues such as Iraqi nationalism and security with the creation of the State of Law list. That doesn’t mean that he and his party have given up their Islamist roots. In recent years, Dawa members have taken certain actions in Baghdad that reveal their continued adherence to their history.

One example was attempts to ban alcohol in the capital. In 2010, the Baghdad provincial council issued an order against the sale of alcoholic beverages. This followed a similar action in Basra in August 2009 after Dawa took power there in provincial elections. Iraqi law only allows Christians and Yazidis to sell alcohol. In November 2010, security forces began shutting down bars, nightclubs, and shops selling liquor, claiming that they were unlicensed businesses. In January 2011, the head of the provincial council introduced a new ordinance on alcohol citing Islamic Law. That led to a new wave of raids on bars and clubs, including the Iraqi Writers Union, showing that the security forces were not just going after regular alcohol sellers, but intellectual organizations as well. Those moves eventually ended. Then in September 2012, they began all over again. Just like before, local authorities claimed they were targeting those selling alcohol without a license. This included the Cinema Club, the Ashurbanipal Cultural Association,the Iraqi Writers Union, and the pharmacist club. The Baghdad Brigade carried out the strikes in the Karrada and Arasat neighborhoods of the capital. The Office of the Commander and Chief, which Premier Maliki is the head of, claimed the action was taken because of a court ruling. A spokesman for the judiciary however, denied any such order had been issued. A security official claimed the real person behind the raids was General Farouk al-Araji, who is the director of the Office of the Commander in Chief. Right afterward, a parliamentarian from State of Law said he was going to introduce legislation to ban alcohol sales in all of Iraq. It’s hard to believe that the Baghdad Brigade, General Araji or the Office of the Commander in Chief were not working for Maliki in this situation. Some critics saw these actions as a sign that the prime minister was trying to impose the Islamic norms of his Dawa Party on society. While there are many Muslims that have no problem with liquor, the more religious believe it to be forbidden. The fact that many of the establishments that were hit from 2010-2012 had licenses to sell alcohol also showed that Maliki was not shy about using the security forces for his own personal agenda, and that he was willing to ignore the rule of law.
A club after a raid by security forces, Sep. 2012 (Al-Arabiya)
In 2011, the Women’s Affairs Ministry attempted to institute a dress code for female public workers. The order came from the Higher National Committee for the Advancement of Iraqi Women who demanded that women working for the government wear “moderate dress” in September 2011. The committee was under the Women’s Affairs Minister Ibtihal al-Zaidi of the Dawa Party. One committee member said that the ruling came as a result of public workers not dressing according to Islamic traditions. The Planning and the Higher Education Ministries, which were run by the Sadrists and State of Law respectively read the rules to all their female employees. Other ministries run by other parties did not comply. Again, this was an instance where Dawa members were acting against what they saw as violations of their interpretation of religion. Iraqi public workers wear all types of dress from traditional to Western. Some members of the Women’s Affairs Ministry were getting offended by the latter, and attempted to put an end to it. The fact that Iraq has a divided government with different parties controlling different ministries also showed the limited power the Dawa actually had over the matter. Those ministers with Islamist leanings attempted to enforce the ruling, but others who were either non-religious or opposed to Maliki, ignored it. That highlighted the unwillingness of Maliki and Dawa to go beyond those jurisdictions that they had direct control over.

The latest example of Islamist inspired action was far more violent. In 2012, there were reports that anywhere from six to forty emos and gays were murdered in Baghdad. This came after the Interior Ministry posted a statement on its website calling emos Devil worshippers in February. The Ministry then called for a police crackdown, while at the same time claiming that any deaths were being made up by the media. Stories emerged that Shiite militants were handing out lists of people they were going to kill. In March, Human Rights Watch blamed the government for the attacks, which was later substantiated by a BBC investigation. The BBC found that the Interior Ministry statement about emos being Satanists led to a concerted and covert campaign to murder gays and emos in the capital by members of the security forces. While Adnan Asadi is the deputy Interior Minister, he was appointed by Prime Minister Maliki in 2011, who is still the acting Interior Minister. Like the alcohol banning, this appears to be an instance where the premier has used the security forces to go after those he feels are in violation of his image of what an Islamic society should be like. Unlike those earlier events however, this one has led to several deaths, which will go unpunished since they are at the behest of the central government. At the same time, this again shows that Maliki and Dawa have only felt comfortable imposing their views on a limited scale, only going after emos and homosexuals in certain districts of Baghdad, rather than the whole city, other provinces or the entire country.

While Dawa no longer seems to publicly campaign on their Islamist agenda, it appears to still be committed to it. From 2010 to the present there have been several examples of Dawa members ranging from Prime Minister Maliki to ministers to members of the security forces using extrajudicial and official means to impose their Islamist ideas on certain sectors of society. At the same time, these efforts have been largely limited to the capital, and only affected specific and limited groups such as certain clubs, stores, female workers in certain ministries, emos, and gays. These actions have led to increasing yet ineffective criticism, which might be the reason why they were taken. Maliki and his fellow party members may be unwilling at this time to take more far reaching acts that could lead to a wider public outcry. Dawa doesn’t have the ability to act on a larger scale at this time either since the different ministries and provinces are run by other parties. At the same time, it can point to these events to their followers, and other like-minded citizens to shore up their base. That might be their goal at this time to show their brethren that they have not abandoned their Islamist past, and that they still want an Islamic society, while not going that far to actually push for one.

SOURCES

Arango, Tim, “In Iraq, Bottoms Up for Democracy,” New York Times, 4/16/11

BBC, “BBC investigation reveals police persecution of gays in Iraq,” 9/12/12

Decamme, Guillaume, “Iraq forces raid Baghdad nightclubs: officials,” Agence France Presse, 9/5/12

Habib, Musafa, “baghdad bans beer: why new Iraqi prohibition is an ominous sign,” Niqash, 9/13/12

Al-Haidari, Moyad, Rechnagel, Charles, “Raid On Nightclubs Raises Fears Of Islamic State,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 9/11/12

Ibrahim, Haidar, “Baghdad council demands harsher sentences for alcohol salesmen,” AK News, 7/23/11

Khallat, Khudr, “Baghdad liquor stores shut down by provincial council,” AK News, 3/9/11

Leland, John, “Baghdad Raids on Alcohol Sellers Stir Fears,” New York Times, 1/15/11

Mohammed, Abeer, al-Sharaa, Hazim, “Minority Businesses Fear Alcohol Bans,” Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 3/17/11

Musings On Iraq, “A History of Iraq’s Islamic Dawa Party, Interview With Dr. Rodger Shanahan,” 8/13/12

Muwafaq, Loay, “religious instruction: iraqi students drop out due to sectarian lessons,” Niqash, 3/8/12

Ramzi, Kholoud, “not short, tight or shiny: new dress code could see women forced into veils,” Niqash, 1/26/12

Rasheed, Ahmed and Ameer, Mohammed, “Iraq militia stone youths to death for “emo” style,” Reuters, 3/10/12

Al-Rasheed, Muntathar and al-Shibeeb, Dina, “Crackdown on Iraq nightclubs upsets rights activists, sparks mystery,” Al Arabiya, 9/22/12

Al-Saray, Ali, “Iraqi Nightclub Crackdown Fuels ‘Islamization’ Fears,” Al-Hayat, 9/11/12

Al-Shummari, Yazn, “Education ministry requires students to wear uniform in schools because of “emo” culture,” 3/18/12

Stork, Joe, “Iraq: Investigate ‘Emo’ Attacks,” Human Rights Watch, 3/16/12

United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, “Annual Report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom,” March 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Rebuilding Iraq’s Oil Sector In A War Zone 2003-2005

 
With oil being Iraq’s main source of income, both Iraqi and American officials were desperate to get the industry up and running again after the 2003 invasion. The oil business consists of three sectors: upstream, midstream, and downstream. Upstream consists of the oil fields and wells, and gas and oil separation plants. Midstream is made up of refineries, and gas processing plants. Downstream is the distribution networks, terminals, and service stations. Iraqis and Americans both believed that earning money was what Iraq needed the most so the reconstruction effort focused upon the upstream, and getting exports going as quickly as possible. This was eventually derailed by the insurgency, and the neglect of the other elements of the energy industry led to problems for the rest of the economy and shortages for the population.

The first problem Iraq’s oil industry ran into in 2003 wasn’t war damage, but rather the looting that took place afterward. The oilfields, wells, etc. were hardly touched by the invasion. Starting in May after Saddam Hussein’s government fell, they, along with other facilities, and the Oil Ministry were stripped. There were stories that the Ministry was the only building in Baghdad protected right after the end of hostilities, but the troops did not show up until after most of the building had already been ransacked. Before the war U.S. advisers had also pointed out places that were important to Iraq’s oil sector that needed to be protected, but the military said they didn’t have the personnel to take care of them. Originally, the Americans were worried that Saddam would set fire to his oil wells, similar to what that he did in Kuwait during the Gulf War. Instead, it was the Iraqis themselves that ended up causing $1.7 billion in damages. That just added to the costs of rebuilding the industry.

The Americans attention then turned to putting the Oil Ministry back together. They appointed Thamir Abbas al-Ghadban as the interim Oil Minister. He, along with U.S. advisers decided that getting oil production and exports going would be their main task. They wanted to get the country back to its pre-war levels, thinking that exports would bring in new cash that could then be used on the mid and downstream parts of the industry later on. Unfortunately, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) decided that oil production and exports would be the main measurement for success, to the detriment of the other sectors of the industry.

The U.S. and Iraqis were immediately successful with their plans. First, Iraq was able to sell 7.5 million in oil that had been placed in storage in Turkey during the invasion. In June, exports started as well. In May, production was down to just 300,000 barrels a day. That went up to 675,000 in June, 925,000 in July, and then quickly shot up, reaching the 2 million barrel mark in October. Exports went from 0 in May to 1.149 million in October. Those numbers gave great hope that Iraq was on its way to recovery, and would be quickly pumping as much oil as it did before the war. Unfortunately, that was not to be.

In the summer of 2003, insurgents started a concerted effort to take down the oil industry. From June to November for instance, there were 13 attacks upon pipelines and facilities. In December 2004, the northern pipeline to Turkey was shut down due to attacks. In June 2005, there was another large wave of operations targeting oil infrastructure. Militants also went after Oil Ministry employees, reconstruction companies, and their workers. The violence was so bad that it shut down all work in some areas. It also limited the ability of U.S. officials to travel throughout the country, and many ended up just staying in the Green Zone. That meant oversight was severely restricted. This trickled down to all levels. First, production and exports were cut. Supplies were delayed arriving at sites, while Iraqis were intimidated and killed. That led to a high turnover in the work force. All of that resulted in skyrocketing costs. Huge amounts of money were then put into securing the oil infrastructure, taking away funds from other tasks.

From June 2004 to June 2005, the oil sector stagnated. An October 2004 State Department report found that security had led to rising costs and delays in work on petroleum. The Oil Ministry reported 186 attacks during 2004, causing $6 billion in damages, and 138 oil security and workers being killed. By that time, the U.S. and Oil Ministry were spending most of their time doing repair work rather than advancing any of their other goals.

On top of that, the U.S. suffered from some very poor planning. An early case was the Al Fatah Bridge in northern Iraq. It was accidently bombed by the Americans during the invasion. This was no ordinary bridge. It included 15 oil and gas pipelines that connected the Kirkuk field to the Baiji refinery, and also the northern pipeline to Turkey. As a result of the bridge being knocked out, Iraq was losing $5 million dollars a day, and helped retard exports. In June 2003, the U.S. decided to fix the Al Fatah Bridge, and put in new pipes. It was estimated that the work would cost $5 million over 2-4 months. Bechtel and Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR) were given the job. Immediately, the plan ran into problems. First, Bechtel said it couldn’t start work for two months. Then the Americans decided to build the pipes underground instead of suspended from the bridge. Wilbros. Inc. and Laney were given a $50 million contract to do the work, with an additional $10,000 deal going to Fugro Inc. to do a soil survey before the drilling was to begin. That was over ten times the original estimate. Fugro came up with a bad geological report, and recommended that KBR do more pre-planning. That suggestion was ignored, and KBR went ahead anyway. In October 2003, the subcontractors on the job said they wouldn’t start until they were provided with more security. That delayed work until January 2004. They found the soil to be poor, and they couldn’t do any drilling just as Fugro warned. The companies went ahead anyway, and wasted five months of drilling with no success. In August 2004, the contract was cancelled, one year after it had been issued. KBR claimed it ran into unplanned problems, but it was really because it ignored the Fugro report. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction audited the matter, and found that $75.7 million had been spent completing only 28% of the work, before the job was abandoned. Because all the businesses involved received cost-plus contracts, they were paid even though the project was never finished. Bad management, and the lack of oversight led to this fiasco. KBR seemed to be able to operate on its own in this case, and there was no contracting official that noticed the Fugro survey that could have saved millions.

Another famous case was that of the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant. During the sanctions period, neglect and the lack of funds meant that pressure in many of the wells was allowed to dissipate, and there was not enough to pump oil. Water had to be injected into the fields to solve the problem. The Qarmat Ali water treatment plant was seen as the solution for southern Iraq. KBR was given a $225 million contract to rehabilitate the plant. In August 2004, most of that work had been done with six out of eight water injection pump stations working. Qarmat Ali however, kept breaking down, because its old pipelines, which KBR did not include in its original contract, had cracks and leaks. It took another deal with KBR to repair all these, and that didn’t happen until 2006. This created a major drag on southern oil production, as there was never enough pressure to meet all the pumping requirements. If the management authorities or KBR had done an adequate assessment of the area they would have included those pipes in the original work order, and saved a huge amount of time and money.

The affect of the Al Fata Bridge, the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant, and others was that the U.S. decided to reform its management rules. First, it decided to move away from KBR. In late 2004, American officials issued a “cure notice” saying that it was going to end KBRs work, because of cost overruns. It then started shifting jobs to Parsons Iraq Joint Venture, which had been working on the oil sector in northern Iraq. By the spring of 2005, Parsons was getting the majority of contracts. Then it began using foreign companies working with the Oil Ministry’s state-owned businesses to do most of the rebuilding. This ended up reducing costs, and more projects being completed. By the spring of 2005, the U.S. had given 82 contracts for the oil sector worth $781 million.

All the emphasis upon maintaining oil production and exports led to neglect in other fields. Iraq’s refineries were one such example. The Americans decided they didn’t have the money to renovate them, and suggested that the Iraqis do it instead. One U.S. estimate predicted that rebuilding all of the country’s refineries would cost as much as $7 billion. Baghdad didn’t have those types of funds either, and were just as focused upon exports as the U.S. was. The result was chronic fuel shortages. On top of that, insurgents went after the facilities, and there was a lack of storage capacity for refined products. This trickled down throughout the economy as the Electricity Ministry didn’t have the necessary fuel to run many of its power plants. The result was chronic power outages. The CPA was forced to import massive amounts of fuel to meet demand. It also instituted a rationing system. To this day, Iraq still does not have the refining capacity it needs, and Baghdad is still making large fuel imports as a result. It is still caught up in boosting exports as well, leaving its refinery plans to largely fallow.

Rebuilding Iraq’s oil industry proved to be a daunting task. When the Oil Ministry was put back together and petroleum production restarted it seemed like Iraq would quickly recover. The insurgency had other plans. Their operations led to stagnation in exports, and money being diverted away from important projects to security instead. The lack of oversight led to more waste. By 2005, the country was heading towards civil war, and it seemed like any further progress in the sector would have to wait until major fighting was over. That’s exactly what happened as real progress was not made until 2009 when international oil companies returned to the country in two auctions. That was quite a change as planners originally thought that the entire effort could be done in just months, and oil would end up funding most of the rebuilding. Instead, it ended up being a huge cost.

SOURCES

Agence France Presse, “Oil ministry an untouched building in ravaged Baghdad,” 4/16/03

O’Hanlon, Michael Livingston, Ian, “Iraq Index,” Brookings Institution, July 2012

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Hard Lessons,” 1/22/09

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Iraq’s Electricity Minister Once Again Fails To Reach Its Mark


Every year Iraq’s Electricity Ministry says it will reach certain levels of production. These are all steps that are eventually supposed to end the country’s long standing power problems that date back to the 1991 Gulf War. This year for instance, Baghdad promised to raise production some 3,000 megawatts to 9,000 by August 2012, and that it would end all of the power shortages by 2014. What ended up happening was that the government failed to reach its mark this summer. This is leading to increased criticism from parliament, and even more from the public. While overall output has continued to grow, so has demand, which means there are continued black outs. The result is that when it comes to electricity, very little from the authorities is believed.

This summer the government promised, but failed to achieve a large increase in electricity production. At the end of August 2012, output was at 5,842 megawatts. Demand at the time stood at approximately 15,000 megawatts, and August’s figures were below the average for the second quarter of the year, which was 6,200 megawatts. The cause of the drop was a series of technical problems. First, a fuel pipeline blew up, and there was a problem with pressure in another, which reduced the power supply by some 1,400 megawatts according to the Electricity Ministry. By July, the Ministry was supposed to reach 7,450 megawatts, and 9,000 by August. This was just the latest example of Baghdad failing to achieve its goals. It also brings into question its claim that it will end all of the country’s power problems by 2014. It is repeated setbacks such as these that cause widespread cynicism amongst the public when it comes to government announcements about electricity.

Despite the continued shortages, the Electricity Ministry revived plans to charge the public for usage. At the end of August, the Ministry said that it wanted to install pay as you go meters on households. Residents would have to prepay to ensure their supply of electricity. Electricity Minister Abdul Karim Aftan said that he wanted the meters to be tested in the Karkh and Rusafa districts of Baghdad first to go along with a public relations campaign to inform people about the new rules. Iraqis are already supposed to pay for their usage, but because the supply is so bad few do. The government has attempted to use fees as a way to contain demand in Iraq before, but the plans have always failed. In June 2010 for instance, the Ministry said it would double charges for usage in an attempt to cut consumption. Then when protests broke out over power shortages in early 2011, the government said it would give away a free amount of electricity to appease the public. The government would later undercut its own program when the cabinet voted for subsidies for power bills. In the end, few seemed to pay attention, and the government claimed it was owed billions of dinars in unpaid bills. Installing meters would obviously be a firmer way to ensure that fees were taken care of. Given the authorities previous spotty record, and the intense anger that electricity shortages instill, going ahead with this idea, might cause even more resentment, and therefore lead the government to back down once again.

The Electricity Ministry’s continued problems are leading to increased criticism from parliament. At the beginning of August, the energy committee said that the Ministry was not sending its daily reports to the legislature anymore. That led one lawmaker to say that the government’s figures about the electrical sector were no longer reliable, because they could not be verified. The month before, members of the committee said that the country’s infrastructure was too old to reach any of the government’s goals for upping production. Some on the committee have also accused politicians of pressuring the Electricity Ministry into deals with Turkish companies that are incapable of completing their work. Charges such as those are leading to increasing claims that Minister Aftan and other officials are involved in corruption. As a result, there are more and more calls for the Minister to appear before parliament for questioning, but nothing substantive has been done about it. The Iraqi constitution gives the parliament wide ranging powers to oversee and regulate the government. Unfortunately, it has completely failed at this task. Party bosses for example, have blocked ministers from appearing before committees out of fear that if it becomes a regular practice they would have to answer for their performance. Lawmakers can complain all they want about the Electricity Ministry therefore, but it will have little to no affect.

The Iraqi government has consistently said that it would find a solution to the country’s power shortages. In February 2011, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stated that the situation would be solved in just 15 months. That benchmark was only one of many to come and go without being fulfilled. Now, the Electricity Ministry has promised 14,000 megawatts by the middle of 2013, and 20,000 by the end of that year, which would end power shortages. The public has little faith in these announcements, and an increasing number of politicians believe them to be false promises as well. The government is moving ahead with construction of new power plants, and overall production has seen steady increases since 2003. Poor planning, and unrestrained usage however, has continually plagued the effort to resolve this issue. Several Electricity Ministers have been sacked as a result, and there have been two years of protests as well. Its continued failure to match rhetoric with results, is undermining Baghdad’s credibility, and hindering the economy as well since companies can’t operate without a consistent power supply. The authorities are feeling all of this pressure, but the dysfunctions within the government consistently undermine their efforts. It’s likely that Iraq will face years more of shortages as a result.

SOURCES

AK News, “Electricity bills subsidized,” 11/17/11

Ali, Nashoor, “Iraq only producing one third of its electricity needs,” Azzaman, 8/28/12

Aswat al-Iraq, “Electricity minister implicated in 27 offences, MP,” 8/21/12

Brosk, Raman, “Electricity production will reach 20,000 MW by end of next year, says ministry,” AK News, 7/31/12
- “Parliamentary committee warns of exposing politicians who pressurized Electricity Ministry,” AK News, 8/20/12

Al-Hamdani, Karim, “Unpaid electricity bills in Iraq amount to more than half a billion dollars,” Azzaman, 11/15/10

Hassoun, Nasir, “$28 Billion Allegedly Squandered on Electricity Projects in Iraq,” Al-Hayat, 8/2/12

International Crisis Group, “Failing Oversight: Iraq’s Unchecked Government,” 9/26/11

Kami, Aseel, “Iraqi electricity bills jump in power saving move,” Reuters, 6/1/10

Lee, John, “Iraq Exempts Citizens from Electricity & Water Charges,” Iraq Business News, 8/15/12

Rasheed, Ahmed, “Iraq subsidies power after protests over services,” Reuters, 2/12/11

Al-Rikabi, Basem, “Iraq’s power supply still way below domestic demand,” Azzaman, 7/29/12

Al Sayegh, Hadeel, “Iraq pays high price for lack of electricity,” The National, 7/13/12

Shafaq News, “Electricity Ministry announces the loss of 1,250 MW from the national system,” 8/27/12
- “Electricity ministry to install smart volt-ammeters based on prepayment and give energy for 24 hours,” 8/28/12
- “Energy ministry criticizes the electricity ministry,” 8/1/12
- “Parliamentary energy commission promise to increase electricity production unfeasible,” 7/7/12

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly Report and Semiannual Report to the United States Congress,” 7/30/12
- “Quarterly Report to the United States Congress,” 4/30/10

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Iraq’s Central And Regional Governments Reach Third Oil Deal, But Will It Last?


In September 2012, Baghdad and Irbil announced that they had come to a new agreement over Kurdish oil exports. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) halted their petroleum shipments in April over a payment dispute with the central government. It then started them again in August hoping that would lead to a new deal, which has now happened. There are two important and unresolved issues however. The first is whether the Kurds can meet their quotas, because they weren’t able to do so the last time they exported. The second is whether Baghdad can be counted on to consistently distribute funds to the energy companies working in Kurdistan, which was the issue that led the last two deals to break down. Both of those are likely to come up again, making this latest agreement, perhaps just as short term as the others.

In mid-September 2012, Baghdad and Kurdistan negotiated a new export deal. This came as a result of a meeting headed by Deputy Premier Rowsch Nouri Shaways that included Finance Minister Rafi Issawi, Trade Minister Khayrulla Hassan Babakir, Oil Minister Abdul Karim Luaibi, the head of the Board of Supreme Audit, and KRG Natural Resource Minister Ashti Hawrami. The two sides came to a five-part agreement. First, the Kurds said they would export 140,000 barrels a day for the rest of September, and then increase that amount to 200,000 barrels for the rest of the year. Second, Baghdad would pay companies operating in Kurdistan $833 million. Third, the two would work out an export quota and payments to be included in the 2013 budget. Fourth, Baghdad would provide 17% of refined oil products and 17% of fuel to the KRG for its power stations. Finally, two committees would be formed to keep track of production, remunerations, oversee the agreement, and try to resolve any problems that might arise. These were all issues that led to the breakdown of the last deal between the two. The Kurds for instance, accused Baghdad of cuttings its fuel shipments. Now the central and regional governments have supposedly worked out their differences. It also has two mechanisms to try to problem solve any issues that may come up this time around. This move was widely hailed in the press.

The new agreement was the result of the breakdown of the last one. On April 1, Kurdistan halted its exports, claiming that Baghdad owed companies there $1.5 billion. Kurdish officials told the press that firms in the region had not been paid for their exports from 2009 and 2011. The central government countered that the KRG never provided invoices for its exports to be audited, so that payments could be made. Four months later on August 7, the Kurds’ Natural Resource Ministry restarted sending oil through the northern pipeline to Turkey, hoping that it would lead to a breakthrough with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. At the time, the KRG was coming under increasing pressure from oil companies there over money. Norway’s DNO for instance, reported a loss in August, and that it had to ramp down production at the Tawke field in Dohuk, because it could not export. The few companies that produce oil in Kurdistan only make small amounts of cash either from selling to the domestic market there or through smuggling to Turkey and Iran, both of which pay below international prices. Having a deal with Baghdad only covers costs, but that is still more than they are currently being paid. This was the second time that relations between Baghdad and Irbil had broken down, so businesses were pushing Kurdistan to come to a firmer and longer lasting agreement with Maliki’s government, so that they could earn a steady income from their large investments in the KRG. It was for these reasons that the Natural Resource Ministry re-started exports in August. The problem is that there is no guarantee that Baghdad will keep up their payments, because they haven’t in the past. That could bring down this new deal just like it did the last two.

Another major issue is whether the KRG can reach its quotas. The Natural Resource Ministry has made many lofty claims about the potential of the region’s energy sector. Before, they said that Kurdistan could reach 200,000 barrels a day in exports by the end of 2011, an average of 400,000 barrels by the end of 2012, and 1 million by 2014. The problem is that it has never come close to any of these figures. In January 2011, Baghdad and Irbil reached their second deal over exports. The Kurds were to export 150,000 barrels a day as set in the 2011 budget, and then 175,000 barrels for the 2012 budget. When the details of this agreement were being worked out in early 2011 however, Kurdish officials said that they could only produce 100,000 barrels a day at the time, and wanted that to be their quota. That request was turned down. It turned out the KRG was able to quickly ramp up their exports, starting at 10,500 barrels in February, then 75,000 barrels later that month, rising to 100,000 barrels in March, and 115, 000 in April. By June, it finally hit an average of 175,000 barrels a day. The Natural Resource Ministry claimed it maintained that level all the way to March 2012, but Baghdad and the press said otherwise. A November article said that Kurdistan was only exporting 79,000 barrels a day that month, and 75,000 the next. In March, the KRG started complaining about the lack of payments, and stated that it had cut exports to 50,000 barrels a day to protest the matter. When Kurdistan re-started shipments in August it was at 100,000-120,000 barrels. While it only took four months for the region to reach the 175,000 set in the 2012 budget, there are questions about whether it was able to maintain that mark. Reports had exports quickly falling off afterward. Not only that, but some officials in Baghdad have claimed that Kurdistan doesn’t have the pipelines, pumps and other infrastructure to reach its quotas. The KRG will have to disprove these doubts, because it has to double output to 200,000 in just a few weeks under the new agreement. Something the Natural Resource Ministry said it could achieve by the end of last year, but failed to do.

This is the third time that the central and regional governments have cut a deal over oil. In 2009, it only took three months for the first one to fall apart over Baghdad not paying companies in Kurdistan. The second one lasted fourteen months, but then disintegrated over the same issue. There is no reason to believe that this latest one will be any different. The Maliki government has never objected to the Kurds exporting petroleum through the northern pipelines as long as profits are deposited in the central bank. That’s because it gives them control over the dispersal of the money, and allows it to claim that all energy deals have to go through it. The problems are that the KRG has not been able to maintain its quotas, which then draws criticism from Baghdad, and the central government has not kept up its payments. Both issues could be caused by a lack of capacity or political decisions to protest the actions of the other. With oil production and exports taking off in southern Iraq, that gives an added incentive for Premier Maliki to just stick to short-term deals with the Kurds, which can be quickly ended. It gives the central government the upper hand in its long-standing disputes over oil policy since it controls the purse and the pipelines to foreign markets. Rather than a solution, this new deal is likely just one of many that will fall apart, and then have to be re-negotiated in the future.

SOURCES

Agence France Presse, “Iraq pays Kurd oil contractors,” 5/6/11
- “Iraqi Kurdistan confirms oil deal with Baghdad,” 9/14/12

Ahmed, Hevidar, “Iraq’s Deputy Oil Minister Addresses Dispute Between Erbil and Baghdad,” Rudaw, 2/20/12

Ajrash, Kadhim and Razzouk, Nayla, “Iraq Oil Output Has Reached a 20-Year High, Shahristani Says,” Bloomberg, 12/22/11

AK News, “Kurdistan to produce 400,000 bpd by end of the year,” 3/11/12

Alsumaria, “Kurdistan Oil Exports increase to 100000 bpd,” 3/4/11

Aqrawi, Shamal, “UPDATE 1-Iraq starts exporting Kurdish oil – officials,” Reuters, 2/3/11

Associated Press, “Iraq’s February oil export highest since invasion,” 3/1/11

Aswat al-Iraq, “KA urges federal govt. to pay oil companies’ dues,” 8/3/12

Brosk, Raman, “KRG and Baghdad locked over budget bill and oil exports,” AK News, 1/17/11

Campbell, Robert, “COLUMN-The outsized impact of the Kurdish oil dispute: Campbell,” Reuters, 8/3/12

Carlisle, Tamsin and al Sayegh, Hadeel, “Iraq gives go-ahead to Kurdish oil contracts,” The National, 12/26/10

Chaudhry, Serena, “UPDATE 2-Iraq’s Kurdish region threatens oil export halt,” Reuters, 3/26/12

Chaudhry, Serena and Karouny, Mariam, “Iraq approves $560 mln for Kurdish oil payments,” Reuters, 3/27/12

Dow Jones, “Iraq Kurdish Oil Exports Sliding To 75,000 B/D On Payment Delay – Officials,” 3/12/12
- “Iraqi: KRG To Face Penalties If Oil Exports Fail To Hit Target,” 11/29/10

Faucon, Benoit and Hafidh, Hassan, “Iraqi Kurdish Oil Exports To Resume Within Days – Source,” Dow Jones, 2/1/11

Gibbs, Walter, “UPDATE 1-DNO boosts Iraq production, terms still not settled,” Reuters, 2/16/11

Hafidh, Hassan, “Impasse On Kurdish Exports Signals Broader Iraq Oil Uncertainty,” Dow Jones, 12/31/10
- “Iraq Kurdish June Oil Exports 175,000 B/D – Minister,” Dow Jones, 7/13/11
- “Iraq Kurds to Resolve Oil Issue,” Wall Street Journal, 9/13/12
- “Iraq’s Kurdish Oil Exports At 75,000 B/D – Official,” Dow Jones, 2/18/11
- “UPDATE: Iraq Plans To Export 2.75M B/D In 2012 Vs 2.2M B/D 2011-SOMO,” Dow Jones, 11/23/11

Holter, Mikael, “UPDATE 2-DNO says new Iraq govt to boost its oil export push,” Reuters, 11/11/10

Ketz, Sammy, “Iraq to respect Kurd profit-sharing oil deals: PM,” Agence France Presse, 2/5/11

Al-Khayat, Faleh, “Iraq’s oil exports reach 2.145 million b/d in December: SOMO,” Platts, 1/3/12

KRG, “KRG Oil Contractors to Get First Payment,” 5/5/11

Lawler, Alex, “Iraq Kurdistan oil export restart may be temporary,” Reuters, 8/2/12

Mackey, Peg, “Kurdish oil trade with Turkey rising, more to come,” Reuters, 9/9/12

Neuhof, Florian, “Charges in Kurdistan cause DNO to slide into the red,” The National, 8/23/12

Pfeifer, Sylvia and Blas, Javier, “Shell pulls out of Kurdistan oil talks,” Financial Times, 11/16/11

Rahman, Mohammed Abdul, “Erbil and Baghdad agree on reimbursing oil companies,” AK News, 9/15/12

Rasheed, Ahmed, “UPDATE 1-Iraq to pay expenses to oil firms in Kurdish region,” Reuters, 1/19/11
- “UPDATE 2-Iraqi Kurdistan to keep pumping oil to Sep. 15-sources,” Reuters, 9/1/12
- “UPDATE 2-Kurdistan warns Baghdad it will halt oil exports again,” Reuters, 8/28/12

Reuters, “FACTBOX-Oil companies active in Iraqi Kurdistan,” 1/5/11
- “Iraq’s Kurdistan restarts oil exports- source,” 8/7/12
- “Iraqi Kurdistan crude output at 115,000bpd,” 4/7/11
- “Kurdistan to keep Sept oil output in Baghdad deal,” 9/14/12

Al-Salhy, Suadad, “Iraq, Kurdistan end oil dispute, exports continue,” Reuters, 9/13/12

Smith, Grant, “Kurdistan Says Iraq Must Investigate Missing Crude Exports,” Bloomberg, 3/15/12

Al-Wannan, Jaafar, “Baghdad doubts Kurdistan’s ability to export 170,000 oil barrels per day,” AK News, 2/18/12
- “Erbil exports 75,000 barrels of oil illegally,” AK News, 12/17/11

Yeranian, Edward, “Iraq’s Kurdistan Region Halts Oil Exports to Baghdad,” Voice of America, 4/2/12

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Localized Nature Of Violence In Iraq


In an interview with Musings On Iraq, Dr. Michael Knights of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy pointed out that violence in Iraq has become increasingly localized. Between provinces and cities within the country there are great variations in the level of attacks and deaths. For instance, in places like Baghdad and Mosul there are on average a 100 a more attacks per month. That compares to places like Kut in Wasit province where an incident may only happen every few months. Even within cities there are differences. Mosul per capita, is the most violent urban area in Iraq, but even there 100 attacks spread out across a 10 mile area with around 1.8 million people means most only hear or read about an explosion or gunfire rather than actually witness it. This all points to the complicated nature of security in Iraq at present. Press reports of mass casualty bombings, especially now with the insurgents carrying out a summer offensive, give the impression that the whole nation must be on fire. A study of casualties across 30 cities shows that militants are in fact greatly limited in where they can carry out their deadly work.

Tracking violence in Iraq is extremely difficult today using open sources. Press reports capture many incidents, but not all of them. There are security firms like the Olive Group that issue weekly reports, but they do not capture everything either. The United Nations used to have a website dedicated to attacks and deaths, but it has gone down in recent months. Iraq Body Count is widely considered one of the longest running and most consistent in its coverage, but it too is limited, since it only records deaths. Given the fact that it provides daily statistics on casualties however, it will be used as the basis of this study.

Iraq Body Count’s database was used to track fatalities in 30 Iraqi cities that cover all regions of the country. This gives a sampling of the wide variations in insurgent activity today. Groups like Al Qaeda in Iraq for instance, claim that they are trying to regroup and expand their operations this summer. On July 21, 2012, its umbrella organization the Islamic State of Iraq announced Operation Breaking Walls, which was aimed at regaining ground it had lost, while the Americans were in the country. That coincided with a high number of deaths in June and July. There have since been reports that it is trying to impose a tax system in provinces like Diyala and Anbar to fund its work, and it has started issuing monthly internet announcements bragging about its effectiveness. Iraq Body Count’s figures however, show that Al Qaeda and other militants like the Baathist Naqshibandi are only able to sustain operations in a few of Iraq’s 18 provinces. Most of their attacks occur between Baghdad and Ninewa, which is roughly only one third of the country. In 2011, 68% of attacks recorded by the U.N. happened in just 4 governorates, Baghdad, Ninewa, Salahaddin, and Diyala. They are not even able to impose their will consistently across those provinces, as the numbers will show.

Baghdad is Iraq’s largest city and the seat of government. It has been a focal point for violence since the 2003 invasion as a result. That’s why it consistently has the highest death counts of any urban area. Even then, attacks come in waves that coincide with Shiite religious events, which are consistently targeted, and the summer when militants carry out their annual offensive. In August and September 2011 for instance, there were 86 and 68 deaths respectively. That then shot up to 156 in October, as the capital became the focus of the last month of the summer season, before dropping to 46 the next. Then in December, there were 139 fatalities, largely due to 17 explosions across the city on December 22, as the Islamic State claimed it was launching a new effort to rekindle the sectarian war and bring down the government. Those high numbers continued into January 2012, as Al Qaeda went after Shiite pilgrims. Those figures then saw a steady drop from 103 in February to 44 in March, 54 in April, and 49 in May, which is traditionally when insurgents regroup. June marked the beginning of the new summer offensive with 147 deaths, then 73 in July, and 102 in August. The figures for Baghdad show the up and down nature of attacks in Iraq. Certain months are extremely deadly, while others have relatively low figures. They also show how insurgents have concentrated most of their resources on the capital since it offers so many targets, and is an attempt to show that the government is not in complete control of the country. Still, in a city as vast as Baghdad with a population of at least 5 million, an average of 99.5 deaths per month shows that the vast majority of the populace is not really affected.

Baghdad Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 86
September 2011 – 68
October 2011 – 156
November 2011 – 46
December 2011 – 139
January 2012 – 127
February 2012 – 103
March 2012 – 44
April 2012 – 54
May 2012 49
June 2012 147
July 2012 – 73
August 2012 – 102

Mosul, in Ninewa province, is the last major urban stronghold of the insurgency, and a major source of its funding. Attacks there are different than in Baghdad. There most casualties are caused by bombings. In Mosul, shootings are far more common. In August and September 2011, there were only 23 and 31 deaths respectively. That jumped to 78 in October, before going down to 30 in November, and then increasing again to 62 in December. That pattern was followed in 2012 with 38 killed in January, 42 in February, 61 in March, 58 in April, 32 in May, 55 in June, 48 in July, and 55 in August. Like in the capital, security incidents go up and down in number, but not always at the same times. Since small arms are the main tools used, there are far fewer casualties there than in Baghdad where large explosions take a heavier toll, yet Mosul is the second deadliest city in the country. Still, there was only an average of 51.0 deaths per month amongst 1.8 million people from August 2011 to August 2012.

Mosul, Ninewa Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 23
September 2011 – 31
October 2011 – 78
November 2011 – 30
December 2011 – 62
January 2012 – 38
February 2012 – 42
March 2012 – 61
April 2012 – 58
May 2012 – 32
June 2012 – 55
July 2012 – 48
August 2012 - 55

The insurgents’ strong base in Mosul does not mean they are as active in the rest of Ninewa. In Sinjar and Tal Afar, which are to the west, there is very little violence. In Sinjar for example, there were no deaths from August 2011 to August 2012. In Tal Afar for that same time period, there were only a total of 35 killed. 20 of those were due to a car bomb and a suicide bomber at a restaurant in the city on March 7, 2012. This shows that militants are not able to operate freely across provinces, even when they have a large foothold in one urban area. This is highlighted in other governorates as well.

Sinjar, Ninewa Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 0
September 2011 – 0
October 2011 – 0
November 2011 – 0
December 2011 – 0
January 2012 – 0
February 2012 – 0
March 2012 – 0
April 2012 – 0
May 2012 – 0
June 2012 – 0
July 2012 – 0
August 2012 – 0

Tal Afar, Ninewa Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 0
September 2011 – 0
November 2011 – 1
December 2011 – 4
January 2012 – 0
February 2012 – 0
March 2012 – 21
April 2012 – 3
May 2012 – 1
June 2012 – 0
July 2012 – 3
August 2012 - 2

Salahaddin, Diyala, and Anbar are three areas that have traditionally been stomping grounds for insurgents. Like in Ninewa however, they only seem to be concentrated in specific cities. In Salahaddin, which was the province of Saddam Hussein, his hometown of Tikrit is largely quite, along with Samarra, and Baiji. Tikrit only had 35 people killed from August 2011 to August 2012. For that same period, 54 died in Samarra, and 21 in Baiji. In Diyala, Baquba was far deadlier for that time with 164 casualties. Those high figures were not seen in other cities of the governorate though. In Jalawala and Khanaqin, which are in the disputed territories, Kurds have consistently claimed that they have been under attack. Very few deaths have occurred in either city however with 11 in the former and 5 in the latter. Likewise, other cities in the province such as Mandali and Muqtadiya saw very few casualties as well with just 0 and 36 respectively. The same pattern is seen in Anbar. Fallujah and Ramadi have been longtime bases for insurgents and remain the most insecure in the governorate with 133 and 125 deaths from August 2011 to August 2012. Outside of those areas however, there are very few casualties. In Haditha there were only 9, in Rutba just 3, and 4 in Qaim. Again, the insurgents are not evenly distributed throughout these provinces. Some areas see monthly attacks, but most have only sporadic incidents with many being relatively peaceful beyond an occasional explosion or shooting.

Tikrit, Salahaddin Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 5
September 2011 – 2
October 2011 – 1
November 2011 – 0
December 2011 – 2
January 2012 – 2
February 2012 – 0
March 2012 – 6
April 2012 – 4
May 2012 – 2
June 2012 – 1
July 2012 – 1
August 2012 – 9

Samarra, Salahaddin Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 1
September 2011 – 0
October 2011 – 3
November 2011 – 11
December 2011 – 2
January 2012 – 6
February 2012 – 1
March 2012 – 6
April 2012 – 7
May 2012 – 0
June 2012 – 7
July 2012 – 6
August 2012 – 4

Baiji, Salahaddin Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 0
September 2011 – 0
October 2011 – 0
November 2011 – 0
December 2011 – 1
January 2012 – 2
February 2012 – 4
March 2012 – 2
April 2012 – 1
May 20 12 – 0
June 2012 – 0
July 2012 – 0
August 2012 - 11

Baquba, Diyala Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 11
September 2011 – 11
October 2011 – 13
November 2011 – 3
December 2011 – 6
January 2012 – 13
February 2012 – 18
March 2012 – 6
April 2012 10
May 2012 – 1
June 2012 – 52
July 2012 – 6
August 2012 - 14

Jalawla, Diyala Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 4
September 2011 – 1
October 2011 – 0
November 2011 – 1
December 2011 – 0
January 2012 – 0
February 2012 – 5
March 2012 – 0
April 2012 – 0
May 2012 – 0
June 2012 – 0
July 2012 – 0
August 2012 – 0

Khanaqin, Diyala Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 0
September 2011 – 0
October 2011 – 1
November 2011 – 0
December 2011 – 0
January 2012 – 1
February 2012 – 1
March 2012 – 0
April 012 – 0
May 2012 – 0
June 2012 – 0
July 2012 – 0
August 2012 - 2

Mandali, Diyala Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 0
September 2011 – 0
October 2011 – 0
November 2011 – 0
December 2011 – 0
January 2012 – 0
February 2012 – 0
March 2012 – 0
April 2012 – 0
May 2012 – 0
June 2012 – 0
July 2012 – 0
August 2012 – 0

Muqtadiya, Diyala Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 1
September 2011 – 6
October 2011 – 1
November 2011 – 1
December 2011 – 1
January 2012 – 4
February 2012 – 1
March 2012 – 1
April 2012 – 1
May 2012 – 0
June 2012 – 1
July 2012 – 8
August 2012 - 10

Fallujah, Anbar Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 9
September 2011 – 4
October 2011 – 6
November 2011 – 5
December 2011 – 15
January 2012 – 6
February 2012 – 10
March 2012 – 7
April 2012 – 2
May 2012 – 11
June 2012 – 24
July 2012 – 11
August 2012 – 23

Ramadi, Anbar Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 23
September 2011 – 11
October 2011 – 6
November 2011 – 9
December 2011 – 4
January 2012 – 13
February 2012 – 5
March 2012 – 6
April 2012 – 6
May 2012 – 13
June 2012 – 18
July 2012 – 11
August 2012 – 0

Haditha, Anbar Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 0
September 2011 – 0
October 2011 – 0
November 2011 – 0
December 2011 – 0
January 2012 – 0
February 2012 – 0
March 2012 – 0
April 2012 – 3
May 2012 – 0
June 2012 – 0
July 2012 – 0
August 2012 - 6

Rutba, Anbar Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 0
September 2011 – 0
October 2011 – 0
November 2011 – 0
December 2011 – 0
January 2012 – 0
February 2012 – 0
March 2012 – 0
April 2012 – 0
May 2012 – 0
June 2012 – 0
July 2012 – 0
August 2012 - 3

Qaim, Anbar Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 0
September 2011 – 0
October 2011 – 0
November 2011 – 3
December 2011 – 0
January 2012 – 1
March 2012 – 0
April 2012 – 0
May 2012 – 0
June 2012 – 0
July 2012 – 0
August 2012 - 0

Kirkuk in Tamim governorate has been a flash point in Iraq for years, because it is hotly contested between the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), which wishes to annex it and the central government in Baghdad. Its multi-ethnic composition has also been a target of insurgents who wish to divide the groups. It’s for those reasons that the city has a relatively high mark of 168 killed from August 2011 to August 2012.

Kirkuk, Tamim Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012

August 2011 – 6 killed
September 2011 – 19
October 2011 – 4
November 2011 – 8
December 2011 – 15
January 2012 – 16
February 2012 – 8
March 2012 – 8
April 2012 – 12
May 2012 – 9
June 2012 – 5
July 2012 – 14
August 2012 – 32

In southern Iraq, security is completely different. There attacks are far and few between. Insurgents like to target Shiite pilgrims heading towards holy sites, but their ability to carry out these operations within the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf are negligible. In Karbala for instance, there were only 14 casualties from August 2011 to August 2012, with 13 of those occurring in one incident when a restaurant in the city was hit by a car bomb. In Najaf, only 13 people were killed over that same time period, with 8 in August 2011, and 5 in July 2012. Similar low numbers were seen in other cities of the region, such as Nasiriyah in Dhi Qar where only 2 people died over those thirteen months, and in Samawa in Muthanna, Umm Qasr in Basra, and Amarah in Maysan where there were no casualties. That doesn’t mean insurgents were not active in the area. Certain cities did witness some large attacks. Kut, in Wasit, saw 40 killed in August 2011 by a twin bombing in a market. After that incident however, only 15 more died over the next eleven months. Likewise, in Babil’s Hillah, 73 died during that period, with 21 being police recruits and civilians dying in a car bombing of a restaurant in June 2012. Diwaniya in Qadisiyah was similar with 53 fatalities, 40 of which were due to a truck bombing in a market. Finally, the major city of the south, Basra, had 55 deaths, 23 coming from bombings of a market, and twelve from a motorcycle bomb outside a café, both in November 2011. Even then, violence across the south was sporadic. Babil saw the most militant activity, but even then, eleven out of the 13 months from August 2011 to August 2012 had less then ten killed each month. Basically, outside of the occasional large bombing at a market, most of the south was relatively quite. That showed that insurgents could only venture into the region. Carry out a car, truck or motorcycle bombing in a city, and then leave.

Karbala, Karbala Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 0
September 2011 – 17
October 2011 – 0
November 2011 – 0
December 2011 – 0
January 2012 – 0
February 2012 – 0
March 2012 – 13
April 2012 – 1
May 2012 – 0
June 2012 – 0
July 2012 – 0
August 2012 – 0

Najaf, Najaf Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 8
September 2011 – 0
October 2011 – 0
November 2011 – 0
December 2011 – 0
January 2012 – 0
February 2012 – 0
March 2012 – 0
April 2012 – 0
May 2012 – 0
June 2012 – 0
July 2012 – 5
August 2012 – 0

Nasiriyah, Dhi Qar Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 0
September 2011 – 0
October 2011 – 0
November 2011 – 0
December 2011 – 1
January 2012 – 0
February 2012 – 0
March 2012 – 0
April 2012 – 0
May 2012 – 0
June 2012 – 0
July 2012 – 0
August 2012 – 1

Samawa, Muthanna Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 0
September 2011 – 0
October 2011 – 0
November 2011 – 0
December 2011 – 0
January 2012 – 0
February 2012 – 0
March 2012 – 0
April 2012 – 0
May 2012 – 0
June 2012 – 0
July 2012 – 0
August 2012 – 0

Amarah, Maysan Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 0
September 2011 – 0
October 2011 – 0
November 2011 – 0
December 2011 – 0
January 2012 – 0
February 2012 – 0
March 2012 – 0
April 2012 – 0
May 2012 – 0
June 2012 – 0
July 2012 – 0
August 2012 – 0

Umm Qasr, Basra Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 0
September 2011 – 0
October 2011 – 0
November 2011 – 0
December 2011 – 0
January 2012 – 0
February 2012 – 0
March 2012 – 0
April 2012 – 0
May 2012 – 0
June 2012 – 0
July 2012 – 0
August 2012 – 0

Kut, Wasit Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 42
September 2011 – 0
October 2011 – 1
November 2011 – 0
December 2011 – 1
January 2012 – 1
February 2012 – 2
March 2012 – 3
April 2012 – 1
May 2012 – 0
June 2012 – 0
July 2012 – 0
August 2012 – 6

Hillah, Babil Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 11
September 2011 – 1
October 2011 – 1
November 2011 – 0
December 2011 – 5
January 2012 – 9
February 2012 – 2
March 2012 – 8
April 2012 – 0
May 2012 – 0
June 2012 – 32
July 2012 – 0
August 2012 – 4

Diwaniya, Qadisiyah Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 0
September 2011 – 3
October 2011 – 2
November 2011 – 0
December 2011 – 0
January 2012 – 0
February 2012 – 1
March 2012 – 0
April 2012 – 2
May 2012 – 0
June 2012 – 0
July 2012 – 45
August 2012 - 0

Basra, Basra Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 4
September 2011 – 0
October 2011 – 0
November 2011 – 35
December 2011 – 0
January 2012 – 3
February 2012 – 3
March 2012 – 5
April 2012 – 0
May 2012 – 3
June 2012 – 0
July 2012 – 0
August 2012 - 2

That leaves the northern Kurdish region, which is by far the most secure area of the country. In two of its main cities, Irbil and Sulaymaniya, there were only six people killed between them, none of which appeared to be due to insurgent activity. With its largely no-Arab population and tight border control the Kurdistan region is not conducive to militant infiltration.

Irbil, Irbil Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 1
September 2011 – 1
October 2011 – 0
November 2011 – 0
December 2011 – 0
January 2012 – 0
February 2012 – 0
March 2012 – 0
April 2012 – 0
May 2012 – 0
June 2012 – 0
July 2012 – 2
August 2012 – 0

Sulaymaniya, Sulaymaniya Casualty Figures August 2011-August 2012
August 2011 – 0
September 2011 – 0
October 2011 - 0
November 2011 – 0
December 2011 – 0
January 2012 – 0
February 2012 – 0
March 2012- 0
April 2012 – 0
May 2012 – 0
June 2012 – 0
July 2012 – 2
August 2012 - 0

The 30 cities included in this survey show how security varies across Iraq. Baghdad and Mosul remain the two most violent cities of the nation, but even then, the number killed are such a small fraction of the population, that most are able to go about their lives without fear of suffering wounds or losing their life. That’s even more so in the south where a bombing might occur just once or twice a year. Then there’s Kurdistan where insurgents are not able to carry out any attacks. Sunni armed groups are still active in Iraq, but they are limited to certain areas of the country. Not only that, but they are only able to carry out a large number of operations for a limited amount of time before they have to regroup and rearm. This is far different from the years of the civil war when thousands were dying each month, militants could openly walk down the streets, certain parts of cities were off limits to the security forces, and polls showed that a majority of Iraqis had at least personally witnessed an act of violence. Iraq still faces daily violence, but it is important to note its increasingly limited affect upon the general population.

SOURCES

Iraq Body Count

Al-Khoei, Hayder, “Al-Qaeda’s surge spells further turmoil for Iraq,” Guardian, 8/21/12

Mohammed, Bryar, “Khanaqin council demands peshmerga protection,” AK News, 7/26/12

Musings On Iraq, “What Is Security Like Today In Iraq? An Interview With Dr. Michael Knights,” 7/31/12

Olive Group, “Weekly Security Update,” Iraq Business News, 9/13/12

Reuters, “Qaeda claims latest deadly Iraq attacks,” 9/10/12

Shafaq News, “Source: Al-Qaeda imposes taxes in Diyala and Anbar,” 9/8/12

Mosul Campaign Day 189, Apr 23, 2017

People fleeing the fighting in central West Mosul (Reuters) The Islamic State launched a surprise attack upon a Federal Police bas...