Wednesday, April 1, 2015

UN: Iraq’s Courts Accept Torture & Abuse of Due Process


Iraq has long been known for having a flawed justice system. The 2005 constitution and other legislation ensure due process and protections against torture, but those are rarely followed. Due to the fact that the Iraqi courts rely so heavily upon confessions to decide cases and the history of abuse within the system dating back decades there is a built in bias to force detainees to admit to crimes. Other issues routinely occur as well such as the denial of lawyers and the ability to form a defense, and misapplying terrorism charges. The United Nations released a report in February 2015 alleging that the root problem lies with the Iraqi judges who do nothing about torture charges and overlook other violations.

The Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq Human Rights Office did a preliminary investigation of cases in Iraq in 2013 that found widespread violations in Iraq’s justice system. That was initiated after the United Nations received complaints from northern and western Iraq that the government was not following due process, were not providing fair trials, was abusing the Anti-Terrorism Law of 2006, and torturing prisoners. From October to December 2013 the U.N. looked at several cases where they found evidence to support those claims. They observed nine cases involving 11 defendants where the police were accused of torture to obtain confessions. During the trials the accused brought up the abuse allegations, but none of the presiding judges did anything about it. In all of the cases the judges asked that the defendants prove that they had been tortured. That was impossible because the authorities held them from when they were arrested to when they arrived at court. In most of the cases the judges decided to use their confessions even though they were said to be obtained under duress. Torture is banned in Iraq yet there is a long history of its widespread use. Since the police know that a confession will generally guarantee a conviction they often beat one out of suspects. These charges have often been with terrorism charges, but the U.N. found that in all types of cases the police are accused of beatings and other techniques to get suspects to talk. This initial look into the court system led to a more in depth investigation the following year.

From January to June 2014 the U.N. observed 92 cases where it found its initial concerns were substantiated. The U.N. went to Basra, Muthanna, Dhi Qar, and Maysan for six months, and looked at capital, anti-terror, honor killing, prostitution, human trafficking, and drug cases. 28 defendants in 17 cases alleged that they had been tortured to force a confession. In none of those cases did the judge order an investigation into those charges. In 9 cases a judge did ask for medical records to prove that they had been abused. Only in 2 cases were those provided, but they had no affect upon the trial as the judges proceeded anyway. Only in one case was a suspect asked about his torture allegations. The judge asked why the defendant did not report the torture to the investigating judge when he was questioned. The man said that he didn’t say anything because the police that beat him where with him in the room during the interrogation. In five other cases the U.N. heard witnesses provided by the prosecution say that they had been tortured to get them to accuse a defendant. In the end, 19 of the 28 defendants were convicted, four were acquitted and five had their cases adjourned. This pointed to one of the root problems with Iraq’s judicial system. Judges routinely hear about abuse, but do nothing about it. This implicit acceptance of torture means that there is no reason to stop it and gives the green light to the police to continue with their practices.

In some instances, the abuse dealt out by the Iraqi police was extreme. One woman in Basra claimed she had been beaten so badly that she had a miscarriage and had her arm broken. Another defendant accused the police of murdering his co-suspect during questioning, which was supported by his lawyer at trial. Another was told that his sister would be raped if he didn’t implicate another person of a crime. Again, many of these involved common criminal cases showing that the police were just as likely to commit violations against terrorism suspects as regular citizens.

The U.N. heard accusations of corruption within the police. In one case involving terrorism charges in Nasiriyah, Dhi Qar, a suspect said that the police told him they would not torture him and would let him go if they were paid $20,000. In another case a defense lawyer claimed the police asked him for bribes to release his defendants. Corruption is rampant throughout the Iraqi government so it should be no surprise that the security forces are involved. What is another concern is the fact that the authorities were willing to let a terrorism suspect go for money. That raises the question of how many insurgents might have been let go over the years if they were willing to pay off the police.

Other violations the U.N. heard about were not providing lawyers, not allowing a defense to be prepared, denying communication with attorneys, and misapplying terrorism and capital charges. In hardly any of the cases the U.N. reviewed were the suspects told that they had a right to a lawyer. This was further complicated by the fact that few of the people had the money to hire one. Usually the judge picked a lawyer in court to defend a person even though they had not met with their client before and therefore had no time to prepare a defense. In many of the cases the U.N. witnessed the lawyers usually made very few comments during the trial as a result. In one case in Nasiriya involving three accused of terrorism they had hired a lawyer, but a judge refused to accept him and picked a lawyer from the court instead. In four trials in Basra involving prostitution judges added the death penalty to their cases for no apparent reason. In one case in Basra involving the murder of a taxi driver a policeman got terrorism added to the charges because he claimed the defendant had killed his father. In another case where Red Crescent workers were arrested for handing out old flyers with a picture of Saddam Hussein on them, intelligence officers got terrorism charges added to their case as well. That was dismissed. Just like the torture allegations it is only with the complicity of the judges that these abuses are allowed to continue. The judiciary did not appear to care whether due process was being followed, and in some cases would carry out violations themselves. The reigning view appeared to be that if people were arrested and their case went to trial they were presumed guilty. Therefore any post-arrest abuses were accepted because the defendants were likely going to prison anyway.

The United Nations investigation provided more damning evidence against Iraq’s courts. Many other human rights groups have issued similar reports in the past noting these types of violations. The Iraqi government has done little to address these issues until recently. Prime Minister Haider Abadi did issue an order that arrest warrants had to be issued for all arrests and that people who were detained without them had to be released. There are a few reports that this is being followed. The deeper institutional problems of torture and denying a fair trial however have yet to be dealt with.

SOURCES

Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) Human Rights Office, “Report on the judicial response to allegations of torture in Iraq,” February 2015

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Iraq’s Sheikh Akram Al-Kaabi and Hezbollah al-Nujaba


In March 2015 Al Monitor published an interview with Sheikh Akram al-Kaabi the head of Hezbollah al-Nujaba. Kaabi has a long history in Iraq with Shiite political parties and armed groups. He was a student of Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr in the 1990s, a military commander with Moqtada al-Sadr after 2003, then a leader within Asaib Ahl Al-Haq, before creating his own spin off group Hezbollah al-Nujaba that went to fight in Syria and is now engaged in Iraq. Today, Kaabi and his organization are one of many within the Hashd al-Shaabi, which are close to Iran and taking part in its rivalry with the United States for influence after the war is over.

Video featuring the clerical and military credentials of Sheikh Kaabi

In Sheikh Akram Al-Kaabi’s interview with Al Monitor he expressed his close ties to Iran and his opposition to the United States’ involvement in Iraq. Kaabi said that his group Hezbollah al-Nujaba was assisted by Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah advisers as well as receiving weapons from Tehran. He went on to say that he believed in vilyat al-faqih and was following the teachings of Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He then condemned the United States, blaming it for Iraq’s problems from the 2003 invasion up to the present day. He repeated an often heard claim amongst Iraqis today that the Americans were secretly supporting the Islamic State by dropping it weapons and that its air strikes were useless. He blamed Baghdad for letting them interfere in the war, and threated to attack U.S. aircraft. He repeated that claim later on after Washington began air strikes on Tikrit on March 25. Kaabi’s statements reflect many themes that other pro-Iranian armed groups have talked about before. Like Badr Organization head Hadi Ameri, many of these groups have publicly praised Tehran for all of the assistance it has provided in the fight against IS, while attacking America’s role. Since Hezbollah al-Nujaba is a spinoff of Asaib Ahl Al-Haq (AAH) they both claim to be the true heirs of Ayatollah Sadiq al-Sadr’s movement, while also professing their adherence to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s form of rule of the jurisprudent. That is a difficult balance since one of Sadr’s main arguments was that Iraq’s Arabs and Najaf should be the leading the Shiite religious establishment, not Iranians or Qom. That contradiction is at the heart of Kaabi’s history.

Kaabi got involved in politics as a student of Ayatollah Sadiq al-Sadr, which took him to the son Moqtada al-Sadr’s movement, then Asaib Ahl Al-Haq and finally his own brand, which brought Kaabi closer to Tehran in the process. In the 1990s, Kaabi was enrolled in religious classes in Najaf under Ayatollah Sadiq al-Sadr. He was classmates with Moqtada al-Sadr and Qais Khazali both of which would be influential in Kaabi’s future. At the end of that decade Saddam Hussein had the ayatollah killed, and Kaabi was probably part of Sadr’s core students that tried to maintain his movement covertly in the following years. After the 2003 invasion, Moqtada Sadr re-opened his father’s office in Najaf and Kaabi was one of his top deputies. He would eventually became the top commander of the Mahdi Army, and participated in the April and August 2004 battles for Najaf against the Americans. During those confrontations, Sadr was receiving advice from Iran and its Revolutionary Guards, but afterward, Tehran offered its full support. Sadr did not want to be open about these ties so it was agreed to create Asaib Ahl Al-Haq (AAH), which would be run by Sadr’s top lieutenant Qais Khazali and act as if it was an independent group, but would actually still remain an arm of the Sadrists. When the Americans arrested Khazali in March 2007 Kaabi took over the organization. The next year Tehran became tired of working with Sadr who it considered too difficult and encouraged AAH to split from his movement. It did, and Kaabi would become one of its main leaders. As a way to try to establish its legitimacy AAH would claim that it was the true inheritor of Ayatollah Sadiq al-Sadr’s legacy. Kaabi makes the same types of statements since he was a student of the elder Sadr. Given the fact that both AAH and Hezbollah al-Nujaba are funded, armed, and trained by Iran and now call for vilyat al-faqih it’s clear that they have moved away from Sadiq al-Sadr and are now firmly in Tehran’s camp.

In 2013 Hezbollah al-Nujaba emerged as a new armed faction doing battle in Syria. According to Kaabi he retired from AAH in 2011 after the United States withdrew its forces from Iraq, and went back to his religious studies. He claimed that the war in Syria brought him back, and that he created Hezbollah al-Nujaba to fight there. Like other Iraqi groups it said that it was defending the Sayid Zainab shrine in the Damascus suburbs. By Kaabi’s own admission though his fighters are operating throughout the country in places like Aleppo. He said they were acting as shock troops against the rebels in cooperation with the Syrian army and the National Defense Force also known as the Shabiha. Hezbollah al-Nujaba also has ties with other militias operating in Syria including Liwa Ammar Ibn Yasir, Liwa al-Hamad and Liwa al-Imam al-Hasan al-Mojtaba. It’s been speculated that these are all offshoots of Kaabi’s group rather than independent entities. Likewise, Hezbollah al-Nujaba is still believed to be connected to Asaib Ahl al-Haq rather than being a separate organization. This would be similar to how AAH was originally created to look like a new group, but was still actually part of the Sadrists when it was originally formed. Likewise Hezbollah al-Nujaba’s involvement in Syria came after Iran put out the call for assistance to defend the Assad government, which was eventually answered by most of the Iraqi militias with ties to Tehran.

Akram al-Kaabi represents how Iran has spread its influence within Iraq’s Shiite community since 2003 and is now attempting to use those allies to gain the upper hand in the country. Kaabi grew up under the tutelage of Ayatollah Sadiq al-Sadr who was an Iraqi nationalist, and was opposed to Iranian influence. When the U.S. invaded however some Iraqis were open to Iranian assistance to fight the occupation. That’s what led Kaabi under first Moqtada al-Sadr and then Qais Khazali towards Tehran as a friendly patron. Today, Kaabi is fighting in both Syria and Iraq for not only religious and nationalist purposes, but in support of Iran as well. The Iranians want to parlay their aid to Baghdad in the war against the Islamic State into becoming the dominant foreign power in the country. Part of that plan involves supporting militias like Hezbollah al-Nujaba and Asaib Ahl Al-Haq, and turning them into major military forces in the country. In turn this has garnered them more widespread support than they had before, and that political capital will be exploited in the future. This closely follows Iran’s strategy in Syria where it created irregular forces that eventually surpassed the regular army in defending the government. Its main rival in this endeavor is the United States, which is attempting to re-engage with Baghdad after putting the country in the rear view mirror in 2012. That’s the reason why Kaabi and others friendly to Iran routinely denigrate and threaten the American and Coalition air strikes. Tehran has played the Iraq crisis masterfully so far, and outplayed the U.S., which is criticized by many Iraqis with no connections to Iran for taking so long to join the war. Whether Iran is able to maintain this effort or over play its hand will be one of the major stories to follow in the coming months and years. Tracking groups like Hezbollah al-Nujaba will give an insight into how this all plays out.

SOURCES

Abdul-Zahra, Qassim, “Anti-US Iraqi cleric facing leadership challenge,” Associated Press, 2/20/09

Abdul-Zahra, Qassim and Yacoub, Sameer, “Iraqi commander slams US, hails Iran in fight against ISIS in Tikrit,” Associated Press, 3/14/15

Ali, Rafid Fadhil, “The People of Righteousness: Iraq’s Shi’a Insurgents Issue Demands for Hostages,” Terrorism Monitor, Jamestown Foundation, 2/12/10

Cochrane, Marisa, “Asaib Ahl al-Haq and the Khazali Special Groups network,” Institute for the Study of War,” 1/13/09
- “The Fragmentation of the Sadrist Movement,” Institute for the Study of War, January 2009

Gordon, Michael Trainor, Bernard, The Endgame: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, from George W. Bush to Barak Obama, New York: Vintage Books, 2013

Harari, Michal, “Status Update: Shi’a Militias in Iraq,” Institute for the Study of War, 8/16/10

Hashem, Ali, “Iraq’s Shiite forces claim victory over IS,” Al Monitor, 3/16/15

Heras, Nicholas, “Akram Al-Ka’abi and Harakat Al-Nujaba: Iraqi Shi’a Militia Takes On The Islamic State,” Jamestown Foundation, August 2014

Jihad Intel, “Harakat al-Nujaba,”

Jones, Sohpia, “Iran-Backed Shiite Militias In Iraq Contradict U.S. About Their Role In Battle For Tikrit,” Huffington Post, 3/26/15

Gilbert, K., “The Rise Of Shi’ite Militias And The Post-Arab Spring Sectarian Threat,” IDC Herzliya, International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, October 2013

Nordland, Rod and Al-Jawoshy, Omar, “Shiite Militias in Iraq Back Off Boycott Over U.S. Strikes on ISIS,” New York Times, 3/27/15

Reuters, “Iraqi militias vows to attack U.S. interests if Syria hit,” 8/30/13

Smyth, Phillip, “All the Ayatollah’s Men,” Foreign Policy, 9/18/14
- “From Karbala To Sayyida Zynab: Iraqi Fighters In Syria’s Shi’a Militias,” CTC Sentinel, 8/27/13
- “Hizballah Cavalcade: Liwa’a Ammar Ibn Yasir: A New Shia Militia Operating In Aleppo, Syria,” 7/20/13

Al-Tamimi, Aymenn Jawad, “The Return of Iraqi Shi’i Militias to Syria,” Middle East Institute, 3/16/15

Wicken, Stephen, “New War, Old Faces,” The Majalla, 4/23/14

Wyer, Sam, “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq,” Institute for the Study of War, December 2012


Monday, March 30, 2015

Casualties Continue To Drop In Iraq 4th Week of March 2015


Casualties continued their downward trend in Iraq during the 4th week of March 2015. The number of dead and wounded has gone down each week of the month. That was despite a slight increase in attacks. On the battlefront fighting remained stalemated in Anbar. Diyala saw a large jump in violence, some of which might have been by the Hashd al-Shaabi forces. The Kurds continued their push south into Kirkuk, and the Iranian-Hashd plan for Tikrit failed as Baghdad asked for Coalition air strikes. The government forces have regained the initiative in the war, but the fighting shows how hard it will be to clear the insurgents out of their strongholds.

During the 4th week of March there were 170 reported attacks. That was up from 141 the week before. So far there have been a total of 616 incidents, which means that March will likely end up with roughly the same number as February when there were 655. Since there were fewer days in March however, that means the average number of attacks per day will likely be lower. So far there has been 22.0 attacks per day for March, down from 23.3 in February.

As usual, almost all of the violence was concentrated in the middle of the country. Baghdad led the way with 58 attacks. Then there were 34 in Anbar, 29 in Diyala, 24 in Ninewa, 16 in Salahaddin, 6 in Babil, two in Kirkuk, and one in Basra.

Casualties have been decreasing each week of March. The first week there were 372 deaths, followed by 348 the second, 299 the third, and 235 the fourth. The number of wounded did not follow such a straight line going from 587 the first week to 656 the next, before dropping to 503 the third and 406 the fourth. Like attacks, casualties have been declining as well. There have been 1,254 fatalities so far leading to an average of 44.7 per day, and 2,152 injured or 76.8 per day. In February there were 61.7 killed and 95.8 wounded. At the same time the real numbers are always higher than what gets reported in the press. There have been some very high figures mentioned for the fighting in Tikrit for example.

The 235 dead broke down to 1 peshmerga, 1 sahwa, 7 Hashd, 22 Iraqi Security Forces, and 204 civilians. The 406 wounded were made up of 1 peshmerga, 3 sahwa, 51 ISF, and 320 civilians.

By province Baghdad led the way again with 86 fatalities. There were 50 dead in Anbar, 39 in Salahaddin, 32 in Diyala, 19 in Ninewa, 4 each in Babil and Kirkuk, and one in Basra.

Violence In Iraq By Week Jun. 2014-2015
Date
Incidents
Dead
Wounded
Jun 1-7
228
612
1,020
Jun 8-14
234
1,889
890
Jun 15-21
177
804
755
Jun 22-28
207
740
800
Jun 29-30
59
127
236
JUN
905
4,172
3,701
Jul 1-7
203
526
651
Jul 8-14
214
577
628
Jul 15-21
230
444
1,009
Jul 22-28
224
589
801
Jul 29-31
66
163
230
JUL
937
2,299
3,319
Aug 1-8
270
1,122
885
Aug 9-14
180
710
1,152
Aug 15-21
150
731
499
Aug 22-28
156
523
798
Aug 29-31
59
125
289
AUG
815
3,211
3,623
Sep 1-7
169
616
751
Sep 8-14
168
467
731
Sep 15-21
170
625
794
Sep 22-28
157
396
576
Sep 29-30
49
126
287
SEP
713
2,230
3,139
Oct 1-7
175
456
687
Oct 8-14
189
560
880
Oct 15-21
159
499
780
Oct 22-28
160
346
596 + 1,230
Oct 29-31
72
574
227
OCT
755
2,434
3,170 + 1,230
Nov 1-7
154
611
828
Nov 8-14
134
470
607
Nov 15-21
139
323
479
Nov 22-28
139
321
640
Nov 29-30
40
206
535
NOV
606
1,931
3,089
Dec 1-7
148
581
482
Dec 8-14
156
233 + 166
444 + 1,113
Dec 15-21
133
377
340
Dec 22-28
161
558
494
Dec 29-31
91
117
233
DEC
689
2,032
3,106
Jan 1-7
184
434
464
Jan 8-14
170
730
493
Jan 15-21
182
390
515
Jan 22-28
189
466
894
Jan 29-31
90
288
529
JAN
815
2,308
2,895
Feb 1-7
155
380
688
Feb 8-14
170
406
559
Feb 15-21
165
573
364
Feb 22-28
165
371
687 + 386
FEB
655
1,730
2,683
Mar 1-7
172
372
587
Mar 8-14
133
348
656
Mar 15-21
141
299
503
Mar 22-28
170
235
406

Violence By Province In Iraq March 2015
Province
Mar 1-7
Mar 8-14
Anbar
24 Incidents
71 Killed: 22 ISF, 31 Sahwa, 18 Civilians
77 Wounded: 31 ISF, 46 Civilians
14 Shootings
1 IED
1 Suicide Car Bomb
3 Mortars
1 Rocket
23 Incidents
58 Killed: 34 ISF, 1 Sahwa, 23 Civilians
147 Wounded: 26 ISF, 8 Sahwa, 113 Civilians
7 Shootings
1 IED
24 Suicide Car Bombs
1 Rocket
3 Mortars
Babil
5 Incidents
8 Killed: 1 Hashd, 7 Civilians
13 Wounded: 2 Hashd, 11 Civilians
1 Shooting
3 IEDs
1 Sticky Bomb
4 Incidents
8 Killed: 1 ISF, 7 Civilians
33 Wounded: 4 ISF, 29 Civilians
4 IEDs
1 Car Bomb
Baghdad
56 Incidents
75 Killed: 7 ISF, 4 Hashd, 5 Sahwa, 59 Civilians
229 Wounded: 16 ISF, 13 Sahwa, 16 Hashd, 184 Civilians
15 Shootings
30 IEDs
6 Sticky Bombs
1 Car Bomb
3 Mortars
2 Rockets
47 Incidents
88 Killed: 5 ISF, 83 Civilians
245 Wounded: 10 ISF, 1 US Soldier, 234 Civilians
15 Shootings
25 IEDs
4 Sticky Bombs
2 Car Bombs
1 Mortar
Basra
5 Incidents
4 Killed: 4 Civilians
3 Shootings
1 Sticky Bomb
-
Diyala
13 Incidents
17 Killed: 3 Hashd, 14 Civilians
23 Wounded: 3 ISF, 4 Hashd, 16 Civilians
6 Shootings
3 IEDs
3 Sticky Bombs
1 Car Bomb
2 Incidents
3 Killed: 2 ISF, 1 Civilian
3 Wounded: 3 ISF
1 Shooting
1 IED
Kirkuk
1 Incident
1 Killed: 1 ISF
1 Shooting
12 Incidents
103 Killed: 1 ISF, 23 Hashd, 26 Peshmerga, 53 Civilians
105 Wounded: 10 ISF, 5 Hashd, 87 Peshmerga, 3 Civilians
8 Shootings
1 IED
1 Suicide Bomber
4 Car Bombs
1 Mine
Ninewa
31 Incidents
120 Killed: 2 ISF, 118 Civilians
12 Wounded: 12 Civilians
17 Shootings
11 IEDs
20 Incidents
18 Killed: 1 ISF, 17 Civilians
10 Wounded: 1 Peshmerga, 9 Civilians
12 Shootings
5 IEDs
Salahaddin
37 Incidents
76 Killed: 24 ISF, 28 Hashd, 24 Civilians
233 Wounded: 54 ISF, 122 Hashd, 57 Civilians
18 Shootings
14 IEDs
1 Suicide Bomber
6 Suicide Car Bombs
1 Car Bomb
3 Mortars
25 Incidents
70 Killed: 61 ISF, 3 Hashd, 6 Civilians
113 Wounded: 98 ISF, 6 Hashd, 9 Civilians
9 Shootings
12 IEDs
3 Suicide Bombers
3 Suicide Car Bombs

Province
Mar 15-21
Mar 22-28
Anbar
20 Incidents
50 Killed: 5 ISF, 45 Civilians
80 Wounded: 8 ISF, 72 Civilians
9 Shootings
2 Suicide Bombers
3 Suicide Car Bombs
4 Mortars
2 Rockets
34 Incidents
50 Killed: 6 ISF, 44 Civilians
74 Wounded: 14 ISF, 60 Civilians
21 Shootings
3 Suicide Bombers
7 Suicide Car Bombs
5 Mortars
1 Rockets
Babil
5 Incidents
4 Killed: 2 ISF, 2 Civilians
10 Wounded: 6 ISF, 2 Hashd, 2 Civilians
3 Shootings
1 IED
1 Sticky Bomb
6 Incidents
4 Killed: 4 Civilians
17 Wounded: 3 ISF, 2 Hashd, 12 Civilians
1 Shooting
4 IEDs
1 Sound Bomb
Baghdad
51 Incidents
74 Killed: 6 ISF, 1 Sahwa, 1 Hashd, 66 Civilians
254 Wounded: 21 ISF, 5 Sahwa, 228 Civilians
13 Shootings
34 IEDs
4 Sticky Bombs
58 Incidents
86 Killed: 4 ISF, 1 Sahwa, 1 Hashd, 80 Civilians
241 Wounded: 17 ISF, 3 Sahwa, 221 Civilians
15 Shootings
27 IEDs
6 Sticky Bombs
1 Suicide Bomber
3 Car Bombs
1 Mortar
3 Rockets
Basra
1 Incident
12 Killed: 12 Civilians
30 Wounded: 30 Civilians
1 Truck Bomb
1 Incident
1 Killed: 1 Civilian
1 Shooting
Diyala
7 Incidents
5 Killed: 5 Civilians
4 Shootings
3 IEDs
29 Incidents
32 Killed: 1 ISF, 31 Civilians
7 Wounded: 4 ISF, 3 Civilians
14 Shootings
11 IEDs
1 Sticky Bomb
Irbil
1 Incident
1 Rocket
-
Kirkuk
8 Incidents
24 Killed: 20 Peshmerga, 1 Hashd, 3 Civilians
59 Wounded: 50 Peshmerga, 8 Hashd, 1 Civilian
6 Shootings
2 IEDs
2 Incidents
4 Killed: 4 Civilians
2 Shootings
Maysan
1 Incident
1 Killed: 1 ISF
1 Shooting
-
Ninewa
19 Incidents
37 Killed: 12 Peshmerga, 25 Civilians
9 Shootings
4 IEDs
24 Incidents
19 Killed: 7 ISF, 12 Civilians
14 Shootings
19 IEDs
1 Mortar
1 Rockets
Salahaddin
28 Incidents
92 Killed: 48 ISF, 6 Hashd, 38 Civilians
70 Wounded: 23 ISF, 26 Hashd, 21 Civilians
15 Shootings
6 IEDs
3 Suicide Bombers
2 Suicide Car Bombs
1 Mortar
1 Rocket
16 Incidents
39 Killed: 4 ISF, 1 Peshmerga, 6 Hashd, 28 Civilians
67 Wounded: 13 ISF, 1 Peshmerga, 29 Hashd, 24 Civilians
9 Shootings
7 IEDs

Car Bombs In Iraq March 2015
Date
Location
Dead
Wounded
Mar 1



Mar 2
East of Samarra, Salahaddin
4

Mar 3
South of Tikrit, Salahaddin
4
12
Mar 4



Mar 5
Abu Dishir, Baghdad
Alam & Tal Ksaiba x3, Salahaddin
7
37
Mar 6



Mar 7
Bastan, Anbar
Bani Saad, Diyala
Tuz Kharmato, Salahaddin
13
47
Total
10
28
96
Mar 8
Zoba, Anbar
Mahmudiya, Babil
Jamila, Baghdad
10
32
Mar 9
Mullah Ali x3, Kirkuk
5
30
Mar 10
Mullah Abdullah, Kirkuk
Baiji, Salahaddin
2
16
Mar 11
Ramadi x17, Anbar
Hurriya, Baghdad
Diom, Salahaddin
29
79
Mar 12
Saqlawiya, Anbar
3
5
Mar 13
Diom, Salahaddin
6
11
Mar 14
Ramadi x5, Anbar
11
14
Total
34
66
187
Mar 15
Ramadi, Anbar
5
7
Mar 16



Mar 17
Ramadi, Anbar


Mar 18
Um Qasr, Basra
12
30
Mar 19



Mar 20
Huiysh, Salahaddin

6
Mar 21
Ramadi, Anbar
Thar Thar, Salahaddin
2
8
Total
6
19
51
Mar 22



Mar 23
Husseiniya, Madain, Sadr City, Baghdad
12
31
Mar 24
Garma, Japanese Bridge, Khalidiya, Anbar x7
1
14
Mar 25



Mar 26



Mar 27



Mar 28



Total
10
13
45


After a huge surge in Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) the second week of March the number has evened out. There were ten the first week, six the third week, and ten the fourth. From March 22-28 all the car bombs occurred on just two days the 23 and 24. On the former there were three in Baghdad hitting Husseiniya, Madain, and Sadr City, and seven the next day in Garma, the Japanese Bridge, and Khalidiya all in Anbar.

Anbar remains the only province where the Islamic State continues to mass its forces and carry out major attacks. During the fourth week of March there was fighting throughout central and southern Ramadi as there has been for over a year now. Howaz was the main district under dispute, but the downtown area has also seen heavy fighting. The government forces have been focused upon re-taking Garma since March 5. Since then the center of the town has been surrounded but no move has been made to take it for several days now. Like Tikrit, it appears that either the ISF and tribes lack the manpower to take the downtown or will maintain or cordon and wait for the insurgents to be degraded over time. The struggle there and in Ramadi show the back and forth nature of the conflict in Anbar. Many of these areas have changed hands several times in the fifteen months since open fighting began there, and will continue to do so until the central government commits more forces there.

Diyala saw a large jump in incidents from 7 from March 15-21 to 29 from March 22-28. Most of these attacks occurred in the center of the province from Baquba to Muqtadiya. The town of Zagnah saw violence four out of the seven days. While the insurgents were responsible for the vast majority of the casualties, Iraq Oil Report found that Hashd al-Shaabi groups might have been carrying out attacks as well. For instance, Hashd forces were blamed for blowing up a house and executing four people on March 25, and then blowing up two houses in Jazeera on March 27. The Hashd claimed that the Islamic State did some of these attacks, some were done by rogue elements, and some were against supporters of the insurgents. Since Badr Organization head Hadi Ameri is in charge of security in the province, nothing will likely be done about these claims.

The Kurds continued their offensive in southern Kirkuk during the week. Twelve villages were cleared as a result. The ultimate goal is to free Hawija, which is the IS stronghold in the province. Otherwise there has been hardly any violence in the province throughout the month with only two reported incidents during the week.

In Ninewa IS continued it rule by fear, while carrying out harassing attacks upon the peshmerga. During the week 19 people were executed in Mosul, Qayara and Shura including five soldiers, two police and a reporter. IS also attacked Kurdish positions in Sinjar three times, Khazar twice, and then smaller towns in the Makhmour area as well. Otherwise the battlefield has not much changed in the governorate in the last few months.

The big news in Iraq during the week was that the stall in the Tikrit operation led the government of Haider Abadi to request U.S. air strikes. The Hashd and Iran planned the taking of Tikrit as a sign that they could take a major Iraqi city without American assistance. While there was steady progress initially, when the center of the city was reached, the advance halted for several days due to the defenses arrayed by the insurgents and mounting casualties. The ISF are now in the lead, which was part of the agreement to begin Coalition missions, while several Hashd forces said they would no longer participate as long as the Americans were involved. They does not mean they have withdrawn, but rather they are holding their positions around the city. Taking Tikrit may take many more days, but it is only a matter of time since there is only a small force of IS fighters defending it.

SOURCES

Al-Atbi, Adam and Van Heuvelen, Ben, “Militias oversee spiking violence in Diyala,” Iraq Oil Report, 3/29/15

Bas News, "Peshmerga Frees 12 Villages in Southern Kirkuk," 3/22/15,

Iraq Times, "A third car bomb explosion in Madain south of Baghdad," 3/23/15

Radio Free Iraq, "24 March 2015," Daily Updates from Anbar, 2/24/15

Salama, Vivina, "Iraq Officials: Baghdad Bombings Kill 19; Wound 36," Associated Press, 3/23/15