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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

Iran-aligned Shia militias in the PMUs are likely to significantly escalate rocket attacks targeting US military, diplomatic, and energy assets following the 3 January 2020 US drone strike at Baghdad International Airport that killed the IRGC Qods Force commander General Qassem Soleimani and the head of the Iran-aligned Kataib Hezbollah, Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis.These assassinations are highly likely to detract from the momentum of anti-government protests in Baghdad and the south that began on 1 October 2019. Anti-government protesters will face even greater risks of lethal retaliation, having already been accused of being US-supported. By early January 2020, security forces had killed at least 500 protesters and wounded over 21,000.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. This is expected to take at least six months due to parliamentary fragmentation. Policy paralysis is likely, wherein the 2020 budget, processing of contracts, and hiring in senior political and business positions will be delayed. Having succeeded on 5 January in getting parliament to pass a non-binding motion calling for the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, pro-Iran factions will double down on efforts to issue an official request for withdrawal.The anti-Islamic State campaign, Operation Inherent Resolve, was suspended on 5 January, and future co-operation is likely to be undermined by the likely fallout from Soleimani's assassination. The Islamic State maintains a network of cells concentrated in Kirkuk, Ninewa, Salaheddin, and Diyala provinces, while its tactics include IED attacks on security personnel, arson of agricultural land, and extortion of locals. 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. Non-oil economic activity is expected to recover more gradually amid ongoing fiscal austerity.
Last update: January 7, 2020

Operational Outlook

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. Lacklustre support at the February 2018 donors' conference for reconstruction, at USD30 billion, was likely partly due to international misgivings over a lack of transparency; post-Islamic State rebuilding of infrastructure has made little headway. Initiatives put forward by Iraq’s Integrity Commission have not translated into action by the government to reduce corruption.

Last update: December 13, 2019

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 on 5 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: January 10, 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