Weekly Iraq Update #45

November 2, 2012-November 7, 2012

Tigris Operations Command Continues to Cause Concern

On November 1, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered the incorporation of Salah al-Din province into the newly operational Tigris (Dijla) Operations Command (TOC). Formed in July, the Tigris Operations Command consolidates the previous commands of the Iraqi Army 5th Mechanized Division in Diyala and the 12th Infantry Division in Kirkuk. The inclusion of Salah al-Din province would indicate that TOC will also integrate the 4th Division, which operates in that area. Media reports and Iraqi Defense Ministry statements have not confirmed this move, however, suggesting that the 4th Division may be relocated elsewhere. Furthermore, two new divisions are expected to be created and deployed in Kirkuk and Diyala in order to “react to emergency situations,” prompting Kurdish officials to denounce what they see as the unconstitutional and dangerous consolidation of Iraqi military forces in contested areas. Maliki has not shifted on the issue, stating that “the movement of the army must be free on every inch of the Iraqi land.”

Tigris Operations

Most recently, Abdul Bari Zebari, a parliamentarian from the Kurdistan Alliance, described the formation of the TOC as politically motivated and called for the Iraqi Army not to take over internal security operations. According to Lieutenant Jamal Tahir, Kirkuk’s Chief of Police, Kurdish security forces have historically maintained an agreement with the 12th Division granting police forces responsibility for Kirkuk’s security and guaranteeing the inclusion of police in all military law enforcement operations. As such, a major concern regarding the TOC is the preservation of this agreement in light of an expanded operations command. This fear has been augmented by the appointment as TOC commander of General Abdul Amir al-Zaydi, who has had gained notoriety in northern Iraq for his involvement in military and intelligence operations against the Kurds. Thus far, TOC operations have been joint army-police ventures.

Car Bomb Targets Military Recruits

On November 6, a car bomb detonated outside an army base in the city of Taji, 12 miles north of Baghdad. In an apparent suicide attack, the blast killed at least 33 people, mostly soldiers and army recruits, and wounded dozens more. The attack followed a Baghdad Operations Command counter-terrorism raid in Taji that took place a day earlier and resulted in the arrest of 11 militants who claimed responsibility for attacks around Baghdad. Security forces also found two car bombs, silenced weapons, and explosives, suggesting that the November 6 Taji attack was planned to be much larger. While no group has claimed responsibility, the attack is likely the work of the Islamic State of Iraq, an al-Qaeda in Iraq affiliate.

Parties begin registering for provincial elections

Despite the judiciary having ruled the elections law unconstitutional, the Independent High Electoral Commission on Monday began registering political parties for the provincial elections scheduled for April 20, 2013. Registration will continue in Baghdad and the provinces until November 25th. Absent from the activity, however, is the province of Kirkuk, after parliamentarians failed to address the issue of holding elections in the disputed province, just as they did in 2009. The collective refusal among Iraq’s leaders to address the issue of Kirkuk provides a glimpse into the possible realignment of elements of the Sunni-secular Iraqiyya bloc. On Sunday, a Kirkuk member of Iraqiyya leader Ayad Allawi’s National Accord Movement criticized Iraq’s three presidencies – President Jalal Talabani, Prime Minister Maliki and Parliamentary Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, another key Iraqiyya leader – for blocking a proposed law that would allow for an election in Kirkuk. The criticism lends weight to rumors that key elements of Iraqiyya are contemplating looking outside the bloc for alliances in 2013.

Past Updates

Iraq Update #44- October 24-November 2, 2012: Iraq Sets Date for 2013 Provincial Elections as Maliki Renews Push for Majority Government

Iraq Update #43- October 17-October 24, 2012: Kurdish delegations arrive in Baghdad

Iraq Update #42- October 11-October 17, 2012: Central Bank governor suspended amid political disputes

Iraq Update #41- October 3-October 11, 2012: Iraq confirms massive arms deal with Russia

Iraq Update #40- September 26-October 3, 2012: Iraqi leaders gather in Ankara

Iraq Update #39- September 19-September 26, 2012: Protests present political opportunities

Iraq Update #38- September 12-September 19, 2012: Anti-film protests spread throughout Iraq

Iraq Update #37- September 6-September 12, 2012: Vice President Hashemi sentenced to death

Iraq Update #36- August 31-September 6, 2012: Iran resumes shipments of military equipment to Syria through Iraqi airspace

Iraq Update #35- August 22-August 31, 2012: Communications Minister resigns

Iraq Update #34- August 15-August22, 2012: Data suggests rise in violence along historic fault lines

Iraq Update #33- August 3-August 15, 2012: Baghdad’s Tensions with Irbil and Ankara Diminish

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 32- July 27-August 3, 2012

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 31- Al-Qaeda Leader Claims Credit for Deadly Attacks

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 30- July 16-July 20, 2012: Rebels Take Over Syrian Border Checkpoints

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 29- July 6-July 16, 2012: White House Says Daqduq Issue Not Closed

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 28- June 29-July 6, 2012: Sadrists Back Down

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 27- June 16-June 22, 2012: Maliki Requests U.S. To Stop Exxon Operations

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 26- June 9-June 15, 2012: Sadr Returns To Najaf, Speaks With Maliki

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 25- June 1-June 8, 2012: Sadr Goes To Iran, Pressure Likely To Increase

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 24- May 25-June 1, 2012: The Numbers Game

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 23- Efforts To Remove Maliki Intensify

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 22- May 22-May 18, 2012:Hashemi Trial Begins

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 21- May 4-May 11, 2012: Daqduq Case Dismissed

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 20- April 27-May 4, 2012: Ultimatum Issued To Maliki

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 19- April 20-April 27, 2012: Maliki Visits Tehran

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 18- April 14- April 20, 2012: Iraqiyya, Kurds Consider Vote to Unseat Maliki

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 17- Members Appointed To Human Rights Commission

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 16- March 30- April 5, 2012: KRG President Massoud Barzani Visits Washington

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 15- March 23- March 30, 2012: Baghdad Hosts Arab League Summit

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 14- March 15-March 23, 2012: Barzani Disparages Maliki

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 13- March 8- Maliki Visits Kuwait, Emir to Attend Arab Summit

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis,  Update 12- March 6- Diyala Appoints New Governor

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 11- Diyala Governor Reportedly Resigns

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 10- Judiciary Sets Hashemi’s Court Date

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 9- Investigation Escalates Hashemi Case

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 8- Iraqiyya Ends Boycott of Council of Ministers

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 7- Iraqiyya Returns to Parliament

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 6- Iraqiyya Contemplates Next Move

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 5- January 13- Iraqiyya Continues Boycott

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 4- December 30- January 13, 2012: Kurds Walk Out of Parliament Session in Protest

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 3- December 23- December 30, 2011: Tensions Increase between Maliki and Sadrists

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 2- December 19- December 23, 2011: Crisis escalates in Iraqi Media

Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 1- December 19, 2011: Timeline of political crisis