The current world focus is on Libya, with AKE now ranking Tripoli as being much more hostile a working environment than Baghdad. However, conditions are still fluid and unstable in Iraq, and levels of violence have crept up in the country for the third consecutive week. Dozens of people were killed and hundreds injured in nationwide attacks last week, making it the worst reported since mid-June. Many of the casualties were caught up in a spate of bombings that swept the country on 15 August, outlined in last week’s report.
In Kurdistan the Turkish military responded to a recent terrorist attack by the PKK by launching a series of assaults and air raids against suspected terrorist locations in the Qandil Mountains. There have been at least seven civilian fatalities reported and localised agricultural damage, but the reporting climate remains poor. The majority of personnel in Kurdistan will remain unaffectedfrom a safety perspective, with the operations remaining limited to isolated mountainous areas. However, there may be sporadic demonstrations in some urban areas in response to the ongoing operations.
A rise in the number of small arms attacks in Ninawa and Ta’mim provinces left several people dead and injured last week. Personnel should note that the recent lull in targeted shootings may now be at an end. More assassinations, particularly against ministry employees and members of the security forces should be anticipated as a result.
While Diyala province saw the largest number of attacks last week, it was Wassit province which suffered the most casualties, with a double bombing on 15 August in central Kut killing many. In the days following the attack security measures were raised in the province, particularly around government buildings and trading areas in Kut where the authorities are anticipating further possible terrorist attacks. Conditions are still relatively quiet in Baghdad, but the situation has still gradually worsened over the course of Ramadan and the number of attacks could rise further in September.
Conditions worsened slightly in the southern region over the past week, with Najaf province still reeling from the double suicide bombing on 15 August. US military patrols continue to be targeted in roadside blasts while militants continue to target military bases with indirect fire (rockets and mortars). An Iraqi naval officer was also reportedly kidnapped from the Basrah area on 22 August. Kidnap for ransom remains a major problem in Iraq, although the frequency of abductions has declined in the south over the past two years. AKE produces a free quarterly kidnap brief which you can sign up for here.
In general, personnel and companies interested in working in the south of Iraq for the long term should bear in mind that conditions have worsened – albeit only slightly and gradually, since the beginning of 2010 in the region. The accompanying graph shows that the weekly number of attacks continues to fluctuate, but that overall the number of incidents has been slowly picking up over the past year and three quarters.
John Drake is a senior risk consultant with AKE, a British private security firm working in Iraq from before 2003. Further details on the company can be found here while you can obtain a free trial of AKE’s intelligence reports here.
AKE will be exhibiting at Offshore Europe in Aberdeen between 6 – 8 September. Please visit us at stand 5C110 and sign up for our updates here.