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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 maintains a network of active cells in central and northern Iraq, utilising hideouts in the Hamrin and Qara Chokh mountains. Tactics employed by the group include IED attacks targeting security personnel, arson of agricultural land, and the extortion of locals in Kirkuk, Ninewa, Salaheddin, and Diyala provinces. As an independent, Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi is beholden to Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's 'Sairoun' alliance and Hadi al-Ameri's Iran-aligned Shia militias, 'Fatah al-Mubin'. The Sairoun alliance is breaking up, extending government paralysis.Prosecuting corrupt government officials remains unlikely given the protection afforded to them by political allies, and potential for threats and intimidation by armed groups. Continued power shortages will likely drive violent protests in Basra, concentrated in the city centre away from oil sites and the ports. Political backing risks increasing the size and disruption of the protests, resulting in several thousand protesting on recurring Fridays outside government buildings. Escalating US pressure on Iran is likely to be met by largely symbolic rocket attacks carried out by Iran-aligned militias targeting US government and diplomatic assets. Iran's response will likely fall short of ordering the kidnap of US individuals, including oil contractors, for fear of inviting a military response. Al-Mahdi's government has taken a more conciliatory stance in its dispute with the Kurdistan Regional Government over the latter's independent oil exports. A lawsuit by the federal government has been repeatedly postponed and appears unlikely to progress over the course of 2019. 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.
Last update: August 9, 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 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: May 24, 2019

Terrorism

Severe

Despite ongoing security operations, the Islamic State will continue to operate in Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninawa, and Salaheddine provinces utilising hideouts in the Hamrin and Qara Chokh mountain ranges. IED attacks in these areas will likely target the vehicles of Federal Police, Army or Popular Mobilisation Units for the most part. Supporters, and redeployments from Syria, are highly likely to join sleeper cells in recaptured cities, boosting their numbers in Iraq. This will also 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: August 9, 2019

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. The government is both unable and unlikely to attempt to rein in heavily armed and well-funded militias; any attempt to do so would entail a risk of civil war. 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: June 21, 2019

Social Stability

Very high

Unrest triggered by power and water shortages is likely in southern Iraq in 2019. Basra province in particular experienced a significant jump in protests in July–September 2018, and small-scale protests continue to occur on a near-daily basis across the province, though without an impact on operations of oil companies. Particularly high youth unemployment in Basra is likely to drive protests beyond the summer months, and if left unresolved, this carries a risk of some protests moving towards oil sites given that IOCs are perceived as unfairly favouring foreign over local workers. Protests are likely to increase in size and disruption through political backing.

Last update: August 22, 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