Iraq Country Report
Islamic State fighters continue mounting near-daily insurgent attacks across central and northwest Iraq, predominantly against security forces. There is a high risk of turf wars and criminality, particularly in southern Iraq between armed tribes and among rival Shia militias. The May 2018 election resulted in a fragmented parliament; ongoing protests in the south since July over poor public services and corruption are being politicised by parties to increase their representation in government. Muqtada al-Sadr's coalition formed a majority bloc with Prime Minister Abadi, but it is challenged by Iran's allies, heightening the risk of protests and intra-Shia militia violence.
Operational risks have remained high as Islamic State fighters have regrouped in northern and central Iraq, with increasing attacks on energy infrastructure in the first half of 2018. Broad economic reforms to facilitate foreign direct investment were initiated in the 2006 Investment Law, which on paper provide a favourable investment climate. 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.
Although the Islamic State lost effective territorial control in Iraq in October 2017, its remaining fighters continue to mount near-daily insurgent attacks across the centre and northwest of the country. Its supporters are highly likely to join sleeper cells in recaptured cities as the group directs its resources away from conventional warfare towards an asymmetric insurgency. This will take the form of IEDs and vehicle-borne IEDs, in Baghdad, Tamim, Anbar, Salaheddine, Kirkuk, Ninewa, and Diyala provinces for the most part. Although insurgents are unlikely to establish a foothold in southern provinces, marine and energy assets there are increasingly likely to become aspirational targets.
Iraq will not be in a position to enter into a conventional war with its neighbours in the three-year outlook. However, post-Islamic State, there is a growing risk of civil war given the proliferation of armed Sunni and Shia groups and militias. The federal government is likely to remain weak and dysfunctional, and therefore unlikely to disarm such groups or intervene in the event of fighting. Any attempts to disarm the Shia Popular Mobilisation Units (PMUs) would likely lead to the PMUs challenging the state and lead to armed conflict with other Shia and Sunni militias.
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 and attempting to storm oilfields and 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.
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