Iraq

Spotlight on Iran (September 9 – September 20, 2018)

Iran, Russia and Turkey continue to negotiate regarding Idlib’s fate. Two Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps members were killed in Syria. The Iranian ambassador to Iraq inaugurated a new building for the Iranian consulate in Basra, after the previous consulate building was set ablaze on September 7, 2018, by Iraqi protesters. Iran continues to closely follow and try to influence the process of new government formation in Baghdad, as the current Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, announced that he does not intend to run for a second term. Senior Iranian military and political officials justified the September 8, 2018, missile strike by the IRGC on the headquarters of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan in northern Iraq
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Spotlight on Global Jihad (September 6-16, 2018)

In the Idlib region, preparations for the impending campaign continue. These preparations included continued reinforcement of northern Syria and the Turkish-Syrian border by the various sides. Concurrently, intensive political activity is taking place. While ISIS is under severe pressure in Syria, its operatives continue to carry out suicide bombing attacks in various places around the world.
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Spotlight on Iran (September 2 – September 6, 2018)

A week following the visit of the Iranian minister of defense to Damascus, the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammad Javad Zarif, also paid a visit to Syria. On September 1, 2018, the quadrilateral security summit, attended by deputy chiefs of staff from Iran, Russia, Iraq and Syria, was held in Baghdad. Earlier this week, Tehran denied reports published in Western media about the transfer of ballistic missiles from Iran to the Shi’ite militias in Iraq
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Spotlight on Global Jihad (August 30 – September 5, 2018)

In the Idlib region, preparations for the impending campaign continue. The Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham and other rebel organizations continue to reinforce the front lines opposite the Syrian army, with an emphasis on the area south and southwest of Idlib. Russia and Turkey are in contact with the rebel organizations and local power centers. The goal is to prevent friction and prepare the ground for reconciliation arrangements (i.e., surrender arrangements) in the Idlib region, similar to those achieved in southern Syria. In eastern Syria, ISIS carried out a series of attacks against Syrian army bases in the Euphrates Valley
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Violent power struggles in the Euphrates Valley between rival militias affiliated with Iran and the Syrian regime

In August 2018, several cities in the Euphrates Valley witnessed violent clashes between the Syrian army and Syrian militias affiliated with it on the one hand, and Shiite militias handled by Iran on the other. The clashes took place in the region between Albukamal and Deir ez-Zor, and both sides sustained dozens of casualties.
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Spotlight on Iran (August 19 – September 2, 2018)

The focal point of the week was the visit to Damascus of Iranian Minister of Defense, Amir Hatami. The United States and Russia continue to hold deliberations regarding Iran’s presence in Syria. In Iraq, Iran continues to operate through political forces close to it in an effort to maintain its influence in Iraq after the upcoming formation of the new government in Baghdad.
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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.