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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

Violent mass anti-government protests in Baghdad and the south began on 1 October 2019. Security forces killed at least 430 protesters and wounded over 15,000. IHS Markit assesses that the state will continue its lethal crowd-control measures against continuing protests.Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi resigned on 29 November but is likely to continue in his caretaker role until a new cabinet is appointed, which is expected to take at least six months. Due to the fragmentation of the Iraqi parliament, creating the largest bloc and presenting a candidate who can gain confidence is likely to be a prolonged process of collective bargaining. As such, a period of paralysis is expected, wherein the 2020 budget, the processing of contracts, and hiring in senior political and business positions is likely to be delayed. The Islamic State maintains a network of cells in central and northern Iraq, using hideouts in the Hamrin and Qara Chokh mountains. Its tactics include improvised explosive device attacks targeting security personnel, arson of agricultural land, and extortion of locals in Kirkuk, Ninewa, Salaheddin, and Diyala provinces.Iran-aligned Shia militias in the Popular Mobilisation Units are likely to regularly conduct symbolic rocket attacks targeting US government and diplomatic assets. Tribal factions and Shia militias are some of the most powerful actors engaged in criminal activity in Baghdad and the southern provinces. Their political influence impedes investigation into illicit activities, including extortion of international companies. Intra-tribal fighting over local resources, notably oil and drug smuggling, occurs frequently, but rarely in international business areas. We project the budget balance to narrow to 0.03% of GDP in 2019 amid a softening oil price outlook and restrained production growth, before reverting to a deficit of around 7% of GDP in 2020. Non-oil economic activity is expected to recover more gradually amid ongoing fiscal austerity.
Last update: December 3, 2019

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 late 2019. Broad economic reforms to facilitate foreign direct investment were initiated in the 2006 Investment Law; however, 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: August 28, 2019

Terrorism

Severe

The Islamic State continues to operate in Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninawa, and Salaheddine provinces using hideouts in the Hamrin and Qara Chokh mountain ranges. Improvised explosive device attacks in these areas target vehicles of the Federal Police, Army or Popular Mobilization Units. Supporters and redeployments from Syria are highly likely to join sleeper cells in recaptured cities. Ongoing security operations are likely to have inhibited larger complex attacks, including in Baghdad, but the intent to do so remains. The Islamic State is unlikely to establish a foothold in Kurdistan Region despite its proximity to the area, but will target Kurdish civilians and security forces in bordering areas and in Kirkuk province .

Last update: October 17, 2019

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. A civil war also becomes more likely if mass protests in Baghdad and the south were to be met by the use of deadly force from security forces and the PMUs. Interstate war is highly unlikely; Iraq's armed forces are far from regaining their former strength and the government is focused on internal security threats.

Last update: December 4, 2019

Social Stability

Very high

The conditions underlying the mass, violent protests that broke out in Baghdad and in a number of southern cities in October 2019 are unlikely to change in the one-year outlook, meaning that further protests are probable over the course of 2020. Neither the current government of Adil Abd Al-Mahdi nor a future government are likely to prove capable of delivering enough jobs for the fast growing population or implementing reforms to tackle corruption, because the structural changes required to make this happen would entail challenging the vested interests of powerful political networks. Protests are likely to be decentralised and disorganised with a high risk of property damage to government-owned assets.

Last update: October 18, 2019

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