The below is a summary and discussion of recent developments throughout the region. Information is garnered from a variety of sources and has been vetted whenever possible. Please note: Friday and Saturday reporting is reduced at regional levels.
Note: For above mapping, please scroll over individual spots to see further details. Due to developments outside of Talos control, some map features are temporarily unavailable.
- Tribal fighting in northern Wasit
- Air traffic controllers strike in Basra
On 11 September, Iraqi air traffic controllers announced plans to conduct a strike affecting the Baghdad and Basra international airports beginning on 12 September, stating that only emergency landings would be permitted. These events stem from previously seen demands issued by air traffic controllers calling for the disbursement of technical allocations, and other demands related to the appointment of eight colleagues. The statement added that the air traffic controllers would not accept any verbal statements acknowledging their demands as these had not been honored in the past.
On the morning on 12 September, an air traffic controller at Basra international Airport, Luai Mahdi, stated that air traffic controllers at Basra Airport began the strike at 0700 hours on 12 September, with the strike slated to continue until their demands were met. Air traffic controllers are calling for an increase in salary and provisions, due to the significant responsibility their roles carry. He added that controllers had been encouraged to strike by what he called the “unjust actions” taken against three air traffic controllers at Basra Airport and five others at Baghdad Airport by the Ministry of Transport, after they demanded their rights.
Basra International Airport manager, Samir Yunus, stated that the strike would not affect operations at the airport, and a contingency plan had been initiated, calling in military air traffic controllers to stand in. He noted that aircraft have landed and taken off without issues. The existence of a contingency plan should not be surprising as there has been ample forewarning of this strike, though the potential for further complications and interruption to air traffic should remain a consideration for operations utilizing the airport. Threats of a strike were made in May 2017, but a verbal agreement was reached and a similar situation arose at the end of August when the demands of controllers failed to be met.
On 12 September, an anonymous security source reported that based on information received, a National Security Service force in Basra ambushed and arrested a drug dealer in Madinah district, north of Basra, while he was transporting drugs from ‘Uzayr in southern Maysan to be sold in Madinah. The previous day, Basra Police Command Counter-Crime Directorate elements arrested a three-man gang in the Ma’qil area of central Basra, with 20 robberies against residences subsequently attributed to the gang.
Other Southern Provinces:
On 11 September, Muthanna Police Command announced that based on a report received, that a military vehicle of the 5th Border Region had been stolen while parked in front of the home of a security member. The Counter-Crime Service, Warka and Rumaitha Police, and a SWAT Company were dispatched to the desert area in the al-Karama sub-district, and arrested the gang of seven members responsible for the theft. The vehicle was also recovered at the location.
Vehicle theft has become a regular occurrence in Basra Province but is far less reported in other provinces in the region. The fact that the vehicle in question in this instance was a military vehicle, is even more unusual, with civilian pick-ups the most common targets. The rapid identification of the perpetrators and recovery of the vehicle is suggestive of more extenuating circumstances in this instance.
On 12 September, the Muthanna Governorate announced the establishment of security and service plans to mark the Islamic months of Muharram and Safar, citing the general situation in Iraq as the motivating factor. All security agencies are to take part, and the plans will encompass six security sectors, including water, health and electricity sectors, as well as the oil products distribution company, all of which will be contributing to the service plan.
On 12 September, Karbala Counter-Crime investigated three separate crimes in Karbala and arrested the violators. In the first, an elderly individual was murdered by a blow to the head with a heavy object administered by his grandson due to a family dispute. In the second incident, an individual was accused of robbing a house armed with a knife and was subsequently arrested after police found him in possession of over 10 million IQD a short time later. The third involved a fight being reported in the area of the Karbala oil storage facility and resulted in an individual being shot and killed. Those accused of the crime were arrested and weapons and ammunition in their possession was seized.
On the evening of 11 September in Wasit, several civilians were reportedly wounded when an exchange of small arms fire broke out between members of two tribes in central Badra. This is the second incident in the area in the last 48 hours, and if confirmed as connected to previous clashes, is likely to suggest a more deep-seated issue which could lead to further conflict. Operations in the area should remain aware of these events and the potential for collateral damage or associated arrest operations in the area.
Also in Wasit on 12 September, dozens of al-Zubaidiya residents held a demonstration protesting the electricity distribution project, after the area was included in the General Power Company’s collection plan. A source stated that local authorities had previously rejected the project and refused to participate while demonstrators are reported to have threatened company workers and prevented them from entering the area. This incident will remain important to watch in relation to electricity privatization efforts, and the potential for backlash against the project by local residents.
There were a number of arrests reported over the review period within the southern provinces. In Dhi Qar on 10 September, Iraqi Security Forces at a checkpoint in al-Rifa’i arrested an individual accused of being involved in terrorism activities, though a lack of additional information suggests the detainment was likely related to identification of a suspect through name recognition on an electronic database. In Diwaniyah on 12 September, detachments from the Afak Police Station arrested three wanted individuals on various criminal charges during an operation conducted in the Afak district, though no further details were noted. On 12 September and based on information collected, elements from Shamiyah Counter-Crime Office and Shamiyah Police Station arrested a wanted individual under Article 446.