A vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attack targeted a ballot box storage site in Kirkuk (Kirkuk province) on Sunday, July 1, killing at least one person and wounding 22 others. Local security officials blamed the Islamic State (IS) for carrying out the bombing. Additional IS attacks are possible in Kirkuk and elsewhere in Iraq amid a manual recount of the parliamentary electoral votes cast in May, beginning Tuesday, July 3. Incidents of political violence are also possible in Iraq in the coming weeks.
The Iraqi parliament ordered a nationwide manual recount after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, citing a government report, claimed that there were "dangerous violations" during the May 12 vote. A ballot box storage depot in Baghdad subsequently caught fire on June 10, which Abadi deemed a deliberate "plot to harm the [Iraqi] nation and its democracy;" four people were arrested in connection to the incident, including three police officers and a member of the Independent High Elections Commission (IHEC).
According to the election results, the Saairun Alliance - headed by Moqtada al-Sadr and comprised of his Integrity party and Iraq's Communist party, among others - won more than 1.3 million votes in the May 12 election, gaining 54 seats in the 329-seat parliament. None of the competing blocs won a majority in parliament nor have the ability to name a prime minister alone. On June 12, al-Sadr announced that his Saairun Alliance would form a political alliance with Hadi al-Amiri's pro-Iran Fatah Coalition, marking a major step toward the formation of a government.
Individuals in Iraq are advised to closely monitor the situation, avoid all protests and large public gatherings as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas with proper security protocols in place, other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.