Iraq

Spotlight on Global Jihad (March 26 – April 1, 2020)

In the Idlib region, the ceasefire was generally maintained, with the exception of local incidents of artillery fire between the Syrian army and rebel organizations. In the Euphrates Valley, ISIS has continued its intensive activity against the SDF. In Iraq, there has been an increase in ISIS’s activity in recent weeks. Among ISIS’s provinces outside Syria and Iraq, Afghanistan was prominent this week.
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Spotlight on Global Jihad (March 19-25, 2020)

In the Idlib region, the ceasefire was generally maintained, with the exception of local incidents, one of which resulted in the deaths of two Turkish soldiers. In the meantime, there is an imminent threat of an uncontrollable outbreak of the coronavirus in the Idlib region, where there are about one million refugees, living in substandard conditions in refugee camps and makeshift facilities. In the Euphrates Valley, ISIS continued its activity in the form of sniper fire, launching rockets at an SDF headquarters, eliminating an “agent,” and activating an IED against a vehicle. ISIS operatives in the various provinces continued their routine activity this week.
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Initial Assessment of the impact of the COVID-19 Crisis on Iran’s Regional Activities

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) crisis finds Iran is one of the toughest points in its modern history. The withdrawal of the United States from the nuclear agreement (the JCPOA) and re-imposition of economic sanctions exacerbated the economic troubles the country is facing, pushing Iran’s economy to an unprecedented crisis.
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Spotlight on Iran (March 8, 2020 – March 22, 2020)

Iran, which is currently busy dealing with the Corona virus outbreak, is still maintaining its effort to affect developments in Syria and Iraq, although the magnitude of the crisis may challenge its ability to continue pursuing this policy over time.
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Spotlight on Global Jihad (March 12-18, 2020)

The ceasefire in the Idlib region entered into effect on March 15, 2020 following the agreement between Russia and Turkey. The Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham, and probably other rebel organizations as well, launched a campaign to disrupt the movement of the joint Russian and Turkish patrols on the M-4 highway (the Aleppo-Latakia highway. In the Euphrates Valley, ISIS’s attacks continued this week, focusing on the elimination of local SDF intelligence personnel in the Al-Mayadeen-Albukamal region.
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Spotlight on Global Jihad (March 5-11, 2020)

On March 5, 2020, an agreement was signed in Moscow between Russia and Turkey, which is intended to end the fighting in the Idlib region. In the ITIC’s assessment, this is a shaky ceasefire (like its predecessors). In the Euphrates Valley, ISIS’s intensive attacks continued, mainly in the form of activating IEDs. In Iraq, ISIS’s activity consisted mainly of activating IEDs, sniper fire and targeted killings. With regard to noteworthy ISIS activity abroad, the Khorasan Province recently resumed its activity and carried out two showcase attacks in the capital Kabul
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Iraq

The Republic of Iraq (الجمهورية العراقية – Al-Jumhūrīyya Al-‘Irāqīyya) borders with Turkey in the north, Syria and Jordan in the west, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in the south, and Iran in the east. Iraq has a population of over 31 million, the vast majority of whom are Arabs (97% Muslim, 65% Shiite and 35% Sunni). In northeastern Iraq there is an autonomous Kurdish entity known as Iraqi Kurdistan. There are no relations between the State of Israel and Iraq, and Iraq refuses to recognize Israel.

After the Iraq war, the country was run by a coalition of countries that had invaded Iraq, headed by the United States. In 2005, civilian control was transferred to the interim Iraqi government that was appointed after a general election for a temporary parliament, which was held for the first time in the history of Iraq. In 2006, a permanent Shiite government was formed, and thus a change of government took place in Iraq, which had been in the hands of the Sunnis up to that time. In December 2011, the last American soldiers stationed in Iraq left the country.

After the fall of Saddam Hussein, a branch of Al-Qaeda was established in Iraq, headed by Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi. This branch later evolved into ISIS. This branch, which enjoyed widespread support among the Sunni population in Iraq, carried out terrorist attacks directed against Shiite civilians and against the Iraqi regime. In 2014, in the city of Mosul, ISIS declared the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate and took control of vast areas in western and northwestern Iraq, with the intention of taking control of the Iraqi capital Baghdad as well. In the years that followed, through efforts by the Iraqi security forces and local militias supported by the United States, these areas were liberated and ISIS slowly began to lose its power.