By Tom Walker, Director, Assaye Risk
The tempo of violence this week off dropped considerably fewer high impact attacks and shootings taking place. There has however remained a daily churn of low level shootings and assassinations that remains commonplace in everyday Iraq. The main interest points from the reporting period have in fact come from transnational influences and have predominantly affected the northern regions of the country.
Of the few bombings that took place this week the most prominent were a number of attacks in Baghdad which killed 33 people in the commercial districts and an attack on the Port of Umm Qasr, in what many commentators are viewing as a widening out of insurgent MO as groups seek to also further target both the political and economic frameworks.
Insurgents drove a truck bomb into the Umm Qasr facility, which exploded at Iraq’s main commodities exporting terminal near the oil-exporting southern city of Basra, wounding four people on Saturday, but officials said shipping traffic at the Umm Qasr docks was not affected. The blast damaged an out-of-service Iraqi ship anchored there and wounded four porters in what has been described as a serious breach of the facility.
The port, near Iraq’s border with Kuwait, sits at the top of the strategic Gulf waterway and does not export oil but handles agricultural commodity shipments and heavy equipment used in the energy industry. Whilst it is not a key hub for the export of oil it remains a key piece of infrastructure that will play an increasingly more important role for the economy as it grows into a key hub and free trade zone, the plans for which are in place and in the process of being implemented.
In another attack on key infrastructure two bomb attacks halted the flow of crude oil through a pipeline running from Iraq’s Kirkuk oil fields to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan in Turkey, causing severe damage, two Iraqi oil officials said on Wednesday. This was the third such type attack in the past 10 days. One bomb attack took place at around 0100 local time on Wednesday near Hadhar in Nineveh Province, 80 km south of Mosul and another section of the line was also attacked near Fatha, between Kirkuk and the northern city of Baiji, the officials said.