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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

The Islamic State continues to operate in western and central-northern provinces, attacking mainly security forces and energy infrastructure. IHS Markit recorded an 83.3% increase in the average daily rate of attacks against energy sector targets since 1 July 2018, compared with the first half of the year. With Islamic State fighters increasingly moving across the border from Syria to Iraq, the frequency and scale of attacks is likely to increase further. After broad agreement among Iraq's Shia political factions, Adil Abd Al-Mahdi was sworn in as prime minister on 25 October 2018, following parliamentary elections in May 2018. As a compromise candidate with no parliamentary bloc of his own, he will be dependent on support from Muqtada al-Sadr's Sairoun and the political alliance of the Iran-aligned Shia militias, Fatah al-Mubin. Abd Al-Mahdi will be limited in his ability to effect promised reforms, including combating corruption and enacting decentralisation. A further groundswell of anti-government protests in Basra is likely but large-scale protests in Baghdad will become likely only if backed by Sadr. Scope for civilian activists not affiliated with Sadr to organise protests is limited given intimidation by Shia militias and the ongoing detention of protesters by state security forces. Restrained oil production under the revised Vienna Alliance agreement in December 2018 will be a drag on headline growth in 2019. IHS Markit has revised down Iraq's 2019 growth outlook to 1.5%, reflecting weaker oil output. Non-oil economic activity is expected to recover more gradually amid ongoing fiscal austerity. The federal government is likely to make some progress in its dispute with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) over its oil exports, with a deal reportedly close on exports from Kirkuk. A comprehensive agreement resolving the status of oil deals signed by the KRG with foreign firms is unlikely before the end of 2019. © 2018, IHS Markit Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Last update: December 28, 2018

Operational Outlook

Despite territorial losses and reduced capabilities, operational risks remain high as Islamic State fighters in northern and central Iraq will continue to conduct near-daily attacks on energy infrastructure in 2019. Broad economic reforms to facilitate foreign direct investment were initiated in the 2006 Investment Law. The lack of a strong unity government is likely to continue impeding the law's implementation. Lacklustre support at the February 2018 donors' conference for reconstruction, at USD30 billion, was likely partly due to international misgivings over anti-corruption efforts, as well as concerns, particularly among Gulf donors, over increased Iranian influence in the country.

Last update: December 28, 2018

Terrorism

Severe

In 2019, the Islamic State will likely continue to increase its operations in Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninawa, and Salaheddine provinces. The group's near-daily insurgent attacks are predominantly against security forces and energy assets, the latter intended to exacerbate the state's inability to provide basic services and to provoke a popular backlash against the government. Supporters, and redeployments from Syria, are highly likely to join sleeper cells in recaptured cities. This will likely result in more complex attacks against energy assets and increased use of IEDs and vehicle-borne IEDs in Baghdad. Insurgents are unlikely to establish a foothold in Kurdish or southern provinces.

Last update: December 28, 2018

War Risks

Interstate war is highly unlikely in the three-year outlook; Iraq’s armed forces are far from regaining their former strength and the government is focused on internal security threats. Civil war along ethnic (Arab-Kurd; Kurd-Kurd) or sectarian (Shia-Sunni, Shia-Shia) lines is unlikely in 2019 given the potential for deal-making amongst Iraq’s political elite and a vested interest in preserving the status quo. However, the government is unable to reign in heavily armed and well-funded militias. Rivalry between militias will entail targeted assassinations or shootouts. The prospects of Arab-Kurd conflict have decreased following the KRG’s failed independence bid in 2017.

Last update: January 22, 2019

Social Stability

Very high

Largely non-violent protests engaging hundreds to the low thousands are likely to recur in Baghdad's Tahrir Square and provincial capitals in the south, including Amarah, Basra, Diwaniyah, Hillah, Karbala, Najaf, Nasiriyah, and Samawah, over poor public services, unemployment, and corruption. There is a high risk of protesters blocking roads by energy assets and attempting to storm local government and political offices, with fist fights and rioting between rival supporters. Protests are also likely across cities in the Kurdish province, mainly Halabja and Sulaimaniyah, and Erbil against the provincial government, where the risk for violence, including small-arms fire, is moderate.

Last update: December 28, 2018

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: May 4, 2016

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: February 13, 2018

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: February 13, 2018

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: February 13, 2018

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: December 9, 2013