Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Iraq Conflict Update: 30th July, 2014

The Kurdish politician, Faoud Massoum, was appointed to the Iraqi presidency by the Iraqi parliament on 24th July. The appointment of both speaker Salim Abdullah al-Jabouri, elected on July 15th, and president (see below for biographies of both men) shows that the Iraq parliament has begun taking important steps towards choosing a stable government and putting an end to the parliamentary deadlock. However, a deal has yet to be brokered for the appointment of the powerful position of prime minister. Under Iraq’s constitution the President now has to ask a premier to attempt to form a government (presumably not before 5th August when parliament reconvenes). However it seems increasingly difficult for caretaker premier Nouri al Maliki to retain power. Grand Ayatollah Sistani gave his clearest indication yet that he does not support a further term for Nouri al Maliki when he said in a sermon on Friday that politicians should not cling to power. Sistani said it is time for politicians to think of Iraq’s interests, not their own: “The sensitivity of this phase necessitates that all the parties concerned should have a spirit of national responsibility that requires the practice of the principle of sacrifice and self-denial and not to cling to positions and posts.”

Following the election of Faoud Massoum, two car bombs exploded in Baghdad’s central area Karradeh, killing 21 people and injuring many more. 

Salah ad-Din Province
Many dead and injured following an Iraqi Army airstrike targeting insurgents in the region between Suleiman Beg and the Turkman village of Amerli.

Rebels still hold the Baiji oil refinery despite claims that 300 insurgents have been killed in the fighting.

A building in the Al-Qadisiya region of Tikrit functioning as an HQ for IS, was hit by an airstrike by the Iraq air force. However an offensive by the Iraq Army has thus far failed to retake the city.
Dozens were wounded and killed in an airstrike on insurgents in Al Dhuluiya.

Anbar Province
Syrian fighter aircraft targeted IS fighters in Rawah.

Between Al-Karmah and Abu Ghraib, there have been clashes between insurgents and the army. A number were killed by an airstrike targeting insurgents in Al-Shorta.

A number were killed in clashes between insurgents and the Iraq security forces in Al-Saqlaqiya and Al-Karmah near Fallujah. Clashes were also reported west of Ramadi.
Diyala Province
Clashes in the Tajneed district of Jalawla; Nofal village near al-Muqdadiya; East of Baquba; and West of Baquba in the Katoon district. A number killed (though Baquba, the capital of Diyala province, remains firmly in government hands, many of the surrounding Sunni villages change hands frequently). 

Controversially, Iraq security forces shelled orchards adjacent to the Diyala River near Buhriz. Airstrikes in the area also targeted insurgents in an attempt to halt their advance further towards Baghdad.

Ninevah Province
An air strike of the Iraq Army on the airbases of Tal Afar and Qayyara.

On the outskirts of Sinjar dozens of Kurdish Yezidi families were forced to flee their homes following an insurgent attack. IS continues to target the Yazidi, Shabak and Christian communities of the Ninevah region.

Biographies of Faoud Massoum and Salim Abdullah al-Jabouri

Faoud Massoum, President of Iraq
Faoud Massoum (76 years old) is dignified, mature, well respected throughout Kurdistan, and is head of the Kurdistan bloc in the Iraqi parliament.  Self-effacing and quietly mild mannered, he was born Muhammad Fouad Massoum Hawrami in Koye in the Erbil governorate in Northern Iraq in 1938. His parents came from the Hawraman area and his father was a notable cleric. He is a close confident of Jalal Talabani and the both of them are from prominent religious families and grew up in the same town. He and Talabani would go on to establish the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in 1975.

Massoum studied at Kurdish religious schools and in 1958 he began studies at Egypt’s prestigious Al-Azhar University, where he earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Islamic studies, and later his PhD.

Massoum was a member of the Iraqi Communist Party, which he left early in his career to join the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in 1964. He also taught at the University of Basra and was in charge of the KDP's military operations in Iraqi Kurdistan in the late 60s.

Massoum was a representative of the KDP and Mustafa Barzani in Cairo between 1973-75 before helping to found the new PUK. In the 1980s, he used his connections to help the KDP and PUK reconcile. In 1992, he became the first prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), replaced by the aggressive Kosrat Rasul who went on to attack the Islamists (Dec 1993) and fight the KDP during the mid 1990s, now vice president next to Masoud. During the mid-1990's KDP-PUK conflict he was captured by the KDP (the PUK forgot him when Iraqi forces entered Erbil in August 1996), taken very good care of and offered the opportunity to stay or return to the PUK.  He returned.

He was strongly opposed to Saddam Hussein and was involved in the drafting of the new Iraqi constitution following the invasion in 2003.

In 2004, he became the first speaker of the interim Iraqi parliament, and the year after he became an Iraqi MP. Apart from his other duties, Massoum has supervised the current Iraqi prime minister’s graduate dissertation at Salahaddin University in Erbil.

Massoum retains the respect of both the KDP and PUK. He is married and has five daughters.

Salim Abdullah al-Jabouri, Speaker of Parliament
On July 15th, Salim Abdullah al-Jabouri was elected speaker of the Iraq Parliament. The Sunni Arab is a professor of law at Nahrain University in Baghdad but was born and raised in Mugdadiya, Diyala province.

43 year old Salim Abdullah al-Jabouri is the youngest speaker in Iraq’s history. In 2010, al-Jubouri was nominated to parliament and headed the Human Rights Committee. He accused the government of Nouri al Maliki of torturing detainees. Salim Abdullah al-Jabouri is on record as saying he does not support a third term for Premier Nouri al Maliki.

Al-Jabouri has “serious crime cases” pending. In 2014, he was targeted by a roadside bomb, which killed two of his bodyguards.

In the general election of 2014, he was elected in the predominantly Sunni Arab list ‘Diyala Is Our Identity Coalition’ which is part of the wider Muttahidoon party. When al-Jabouri got elected speaker he expressed his belief in dialogue and mutual understanding, when stating in a press release, “that many political powers feel of the urgent need to this dialogue and hopes to reach a solution satisfactory to all parties to achieve the interest of Iraq at the end.”

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