Iraq Country Report
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.
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.
Interstate war is highly unlikely in the three-year outlook. There is a high likelihood of intra-Shia militia fighting escalating to civil war in southern and central Iraq, especially if the government attempts to disarm dominant Iran-aligned militias. Separately, there is a risk of civil war along sectarian lines given the continued marginalisation of the Sunni population by the Shia-led government and continued crimes by Shia militias in liberated areas. The federal government is likely to remain weak and dysfunctional, and therefore unlikely to intervene effectively. The proliferation of armed Sunni and Shia groups adds to the risk of quick escalation to armed conflict.
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.
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