Iraq

Spotlight on Iran (November 3, 2019 – November 17, 2019)

Iran vociferously condemned the IDF’s targeted killing of the senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad Commander, Bahaa’ Abu al-‘Ata. In early November, Iran and Syria signed an agreement on cooperation in the electricity sector, which includes the expansion and rehabilitation of Syria’s electrical grid by Iranian firms. Iran is working to mediate between the Shi’ite factions in the Iraqi parliament to end the ongoing crisis.
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Spotlight on Global Jihad (November 7-13, 2019)

About two weeks after the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS’s intensive activity in Syria continues. In Syria, attacks continue to focus on the SDF forces, the Kurdish military force. In Iraq, ISIS’s activity continues, at low intensity. Among ISIS’s various provinces around the world, one of the main events of the past week was a series of attacks against Nigerian army bases and vehicles in the northeast of the country.
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Spotlight on Global Jihad (October 31 – November 6, 2019)

On October 31, 2019, four days after the killing of ISIS leader Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS’s new spokesman officially announced the appointment of a new Caliph, codenamed Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi. An audiotape released by ISIS’s new spokesman calls on Muslims around the world to pledge allegiance to ISIS’s new leader and to rally around him. Even after the killing of Al-Baghdadi, ISIS’s intensive activity in Syria continues, mainly attacks against the Kurdish military force (SDF). The “routine” attacks in ISIS’s other provinces around the world continued this week, albeit at a relatively low level of intensity.
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ISIS announces appointment of new leader in place of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

On October 31, 2019, four days after the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS’s spokesman officially announced the appointment of a new leader (Caliph) for the organization, codenamed Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi. ISIS has refrained from revealing the real name and identity of the new leader, but in the ITIC’s assessment, he is an Iraqi senior ISIS operative. According to the spokesman, the decision on the appointment of the new leader was made the Shura Council, ISIS’s supreme institution which is authorized to make such significant decisions.
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Spotlight on Iran (October 20 – November 3, 2019)

The responses of Iranian official to the assassination of ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, reflected an Iranian attempt to minimize the significance of the American action and attribute it to domestic political calculations in the United States. Iran welcomed the agreement reached between the Russian and Turkish presidents concerning the withdrawal of Kurdish militias in northeastern Syria. Following the protests in Lebanon and Iraq, Iranian officials, chief among them Supreme Leader Khamenei, blamed the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia for fomenting the protests. Against the backdrop of ongoing efforts to end the war in Yemen, the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs met in Tehran the spokesman of the Houthi rebels in Yemen and discussed the latest developments in the country and ongoing political negotiations concerning the settlement of the war in Yemen.
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Spotlight on Global Jihad (October 24-30, 2019)

The main event of the week was the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by an elite force of the US Army in northwestern Syria, near the border with Turkey. A few hours after the killing of Al-Baghdadi, Abu Hassan al-Muhajir was also killed. Even after the killing of Al-Baghdadi, ISIS’s routine activity on the ground continued in Syria and Iraq and in the various provinces in Africa and Asia.
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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.