Iraq Country Report
The Iraqi government declared on 9 December 2017 that the war against the Islamic State was "over", following the recapture of its final remaining territory along Iraq's Syrian border. Despite its loss of territory, the Islamic State, or its future iterations, will probably continue mounting frequent insurgent attacks across Iraq. There is a growing risk of localised turf wars and criminality, particularly in southern Iraq, given the proliferation of armed groups and militias, both Sunni and Shia. The May 2018 parliamentary elections will probably see a face-off between the reform-minded incumbent prime minister Haidar al-Abadi and his predecessor, Iran-backed strongman Nouri al-Maliki, with the resulting government probably incorporating both camps.
Operational risks in Iraq are likely to remain high as Islamic State fighters revert to insurgency amid the loss of territory under its control in northern and central Iraq. Broad economic reform measures to facilitate foreign direct investment (FDI) were initiated in the 2006 Investment Law, which on paper at least provides a favourable investment climate. However, the lack of a strong unity government means that progress on implementation of the mechanisms of the law is likely to be slow.
As the Islamic State continues to suffer territorial losses in Iraq, its remaining fighters and supporters in Iraq are highly likely to join Islamic State sleeper cells in recaptured cities as the group redirects its resources away from conventional warfare towards an asymmetric insurgency campaign. This will take the form of suicide and vehicle-borne IEDs, in Baghdad, al-Anbar, Salahuddin, Kirkuk, Nineveh, and Diyala provinces for the most part. Although insurgents are unlikely to establish a foothold in southern provinces, including Basra, marine and energy assets are likely to increasingly become aspirational targets.
Iraq will not be in a position to enter into a conventional war with any of its neighbours in the three-year outlook. However, post-Islamic State, there is a growing risk of civil war given the proliferation of armed groups and militias, both Sunni and Shia. The federal government in Baghdad is both weak and dysfunctional and therefore unlikely to be in a position to disarm such groups or intervene in the event of fighting.
Largely non-violent protests numbering at least in the hundreds are likely in Baghdad's Tahrir Square and provincial capitals in the south, including Hillah, Karbala, Diwaniyah, Nasiriyya, Samawah, Najaf, Amarah, and Basra, in response to the lack of progress made by Prime Minister Abadi's government in bringing about far-reaching political reforms to tackle widespread corruption. Protests by rival party supporters are particularly likely in the months leading up to the coinciding provincial and parliamentary elections in May 2017.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are no emergency services in Iraq.
Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz