Iraq

Spotlight on Global Jihad (October 15-21, 2020)

In the Idlib region, exchanges of artillery fire continued between the Syrian army and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), albeit at a somewhat lower intensity. In Iraq, Syria and the Sinai Peninsula, ISIS has continued its routine activity. ISIS Spokesman Abu Hamza al-Qurashi released an audiotape in which he calls, inter alia, for the overthrow of the “tyrannical” Arab rulers, against the backdrop of the normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
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Spotlight on Iran (October 1, 2020 – October 18, 2020 )

Negotiations are continuing apace between Iran and Russia concerning the war in Syria: following the visit of the Iranian minister of foreign affairs to Moscow in late September, the Iranian ambassador met with the Russian deputy foreign minister and discussed developments in Syria. The bodies of eight fighters of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) who were killed in the vicinity of the town of Khan Touman southwest of Aleppo city, were identified as part of ongoing efforts of the IRGC in Syria to identify the location of dozens of Iranian fighters who have gone missing in action during the Syrian civil war. Media sources in Iraq reported that the Commander of the IRGC’s Qods Force, Esmail Qa’ani, arrived for a visit in Baghdad and met with senior commanders of the Shia militias, as part of ongoing discussions between the Iraqi government, the Shia militias and the Iranian regime.
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Spotlight on Global Jihad (October 1-14, 2020)

In the Idlib area, there was an increase in the intensity of the incidents between Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and the Syrian army in the first half of October 2020. At the same time, HTS is carrying out intensive military activity against rival jihadist groups with the aim of strengthening its control in the Idlib region. Routine activity continued in ISIS’s various provinces. The Syrian Democratic Council, the civilian wing of the SDF, announced (October 5, 2020) its intention to release 25,000 wives and children of ISIS operatives detained in the Al-Hawl camp. The intention is to release them gradually.
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Spotlight on Iran (September 20, 2020 – October 1, 2020)

On September 23, Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, arrived for a visit in Moscow and met with his Russian colleague. The Iranian minister of energy conducted a video call with the Syrian minister of water, during which the two agreed to establish a strategic committee to facilitate the implementation the bilateral cooperation agreement in the water sector, which was signed last year by the two countries. On September 26, the Iraqi foreign minister arrived for a two-day visit in Tehran, during which he met with senior Iranian government officials. At the same time, a military delegation headed by the deputy Iranian Chief of Staff for International Affairs arrived for a visit in Baghdad.
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ISIS gaining in strength in the Iraqi arena

Following the collapse of the Islamic caliphate, ISIS is undergoing a process of change, being transformed from a state-like entity, which in its heyday (2014) controlled vast territories in Iraq and Syria, to a terrorist and guerrilla organization. In the ITIC's assessment, about 5,000-6,000 operatives are active in ISIS’s Iraq Province furthering processes of rehabilitation and reorganization (which are still ongoing).
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Spotlight on Global Jihad (September 24-30, 2020)

In the Idlib region, the incidents continued, consisting mainly of exchanges of artillery fire between the Syrian army and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). ISIS’s provinces in Africa and Asia continued their routine activity. One noteworthy attack this week was carried out by West Africa Province operatives who attacked a convoy of the Nigerian security forces escorting residents returning to their homes, killing dozens of soldiers and policemen.
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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.