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Country Reports

Iraq Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

Following a rocket attack on the Taji military base on 11 March 2020, which killed one British soldier and two US soldiers and prompted retaliatory US airstrikes on PMU bases across Iraq, Iran-aligned Shia militias in the PMUs are likely to escalate rocket attacks targeting US military, diplomatic, and energy assets. Roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are increasingly likely, causing material damage and casualties to US companies’ Iraqi and foreign workers.Former prime minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi will likely continue in a caretaker role until an early election is held, at the earliest in mid-2021. Kurdish, Sunni, and some Shia parties obstructed Mohammad Tawfiq Allawi's cabinet for allegedly excluding their ministerial nominations. Parties will likely continue obstructing a new government in return for access to senior government positions.Hundreds of demonstrators will maintain anti-government protests and roadblocks in central Baghdad and across southern Iraq, with reduced numbers due to fears of the COVID-19 virus. By the end of February 2020, security forces had killed at least 600 protesters and wounded over 30,000. As of 12 March, 83 individuals had tested positive for COVID-19 virus, with eight deaths recorded. Iraq's dilapidated health system has extremely limited capacity to contain the virus' spread virus or treat those affected. The Islamic State maintains a network of cells concentrated in Kirkuk, Ninewa, Salaheddin, and Diyala provinces; tactics include IED attacks on security personnel, arson of agricultural land, and kidnap and extortion of locals.Iraqi GDP growth is projected to slow to 1.1% this year. We project the budget balance to revert to a deficit of around 7% of GDP in 2020, with further downside risks amid threats to oil company operations in southern Iraq. Iraq is particularly vulnerable to any fall in oil demand from China. Non-oil economic activity is expected to recover more gradually amid ongoing fiscal austerity.
Last update: March 14, 2020

Operational Outlook

Persistent anti-government protests in central and southern Iraq entail blockades of road, including those leading to oil fields, and intermittent blockades of Umm Qasr port, causing business disruption and delays to the movement of cargo. Broad economic reforms to facilitate foreign direct investment were initiated in the 2006 Investment Law; however, poor planning and governance have impeded the law's implementation. Post-Islamic State rebuilding of infrastructure has made little headway and is unlikely in 2020 as a result of falling oil prices and demand for oil with the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Initiatives put forward by Iraq’s Integrity Commission have not translated into action by the government to reduce corruption.

Last update: March 19, 2020

Terrorism

Severe

Shia militias aligned to Iran in the Popular Mobilisation Units intend to expel US forces from Iraq; increased rocket attacks are likely to focus on military bases. There is an increased risk of attacks and kidnap targeting Western individuals. The Islamic State is consolidating its presence in Diyala, Kirkuk, and Salaheddine provinces using hideouts in connecting mountain ranges. Improvised explosive device attacks in these areas target security forces vehicles. The US-led coalition suspended the anti-Islamic State campaign 5–15 January. The Islamic State may aim to exploit the confrontation between the US and Iran, with more complex attacks against security forces and energy assets in central and northern Iraq.

Last update: February 7, 2020

War Risks

The government is both unable and unwilling to attempt to rein in heavily armed and well-funded Iran-aligned militias in the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMUs); any attempt to do so would entail a risk of civil war. Following the US drone strike that killed IRGC Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani, a proxy conflict between the US and Iran on Iraqi soil is likely to intensify. The PMUs will likely conduct near-daily rocket and explosive attacks targeting US assets at Iraq military bases, and there is a risk of rogue attacks against Western civilian assets and personnel. Conventional interstate war is highly unlikely.

Last update: January 9, 2020

Social Stability

Very high

The conditions underlying the mass, violent protests that broke out in Baghdad and the South in October 2019 are unlikely to change in the one-year outlook. The government is unable to enact the structural changes required to deliver enough jobs for the fast-growing population or to reduce corruption given the vested interests of powerful political networks. Further protests entailing damage to government-owned assets are probable over the course of 2020. Iranian fears that continued mass protests will be used by the United States and its regional allies to destabilise the Iraqi government, which is close to Iran, will likely drive Iran-aligned factions to use greater force to suppress protests.

Last update: January 11, 2020

Health Risk

Severe

Vaccinations required to enter the country

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever (YFV) transmission and over one year of age and for travelers who have been in transit >12 hours in an airport located in a country with risk of YFV transmission. Certificate of yellow fever vaccination is valid for 10 years.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - chloroquine (sometimes marketed as Nivaquine).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks

Very high

Several provinces have, in the past, been severely impacted by short periods of torrential rainfall that have led to landslides and flash floods in Baghdad and southern parts of the country. As infrastructure is ill-prepared for such events, material damages are often significant, including in the capital. Flooding also increases the risk of the spread of cholera.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Transportation

Very high

Iraqi Airways, Iraq's national carrier, has been added to the list of airlines banned from flying in European Union (EU) airspace, commonly referred to as the EU blacklist. The ban, implemented due to subpar security and safety standards, went into effect in December 2015.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Infrastructure

Iraqi authorities have repeatedly voiced concerns about the condition of the Mosul Dam, the country's largest hydroelectric facility, which has been critically damaged by the conflict in the north of the country. Despite extensive maintenance that began in February 2016, risks related to a breach of the dam do still exist, though it is assessed that ongoing work to repair the infrastructure will negate the threat of a major breach.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

Iraq's climate is principally arid. Summers last from May until September, during which time it is very hot and dry with temperatures reaching as high as 50°C. Winters last from December to February and are mild, sometimes rainy, with temperatures ranging from 5°C to 20°C. Conditions tend to be slightly hotter and more humid in the south of the country.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +964

There are no emergency services in Iraq.

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019