Incidents associated with insurgent activity and sectarian tensions persist at an all time low in the Southern regions with what few incidents taking place being mainly inter Shia or tribal rivalry and organised criminal activity.
Whilst these levels remain low is should be noted that there remains a specific and potent kidnap and extortion threat toward foreigners and foreign businesses operating in the Basrah, Dhi Qar and Maysan areas. Furthermore, the possibility of a sectarian motivated high impact attack is omnipresent, especially in the sensitive and religiously important areas of Babil, Karbala, Najaf, Wasit and Basrah. With the looming Iranian national elections it will be interesting to see what influence this may have upon inter Shia rivalries that predominate across the southern provinces and especially in Basrah.
The information used to produce this brief is drawn from multiple open sources however only incidents that can be corroborated are used. Where possible Assaye Risk (AR) further corroborates this information with both Iraqi nationals and expert in-country sources. In terms of the breadth of reporting and the statistics therein AR has focused – and will continue to do so – on those incidents that constitute significant reporting at both the regional news and Iraqi Government level. There remains in Iraq an underlying level of entrenched conflict, sectarian violence and criminality that has little has changed since early 2009. Including the reports associated with this underlying sectarian and criminal violence can lead to a misleading picture of the nature of the threat in everyday Iraq. Given the prolific circulation of weapons, legacy munitions, IED devices (both legacy and newly laid), and the demonstrated desire to use them freely, reporting against the multiple number of arms finds, IED disposals and criminal activity does not necessarily reflect a worsening security situation or does not lend much to the understanding of what are the key violence indicators and influences in Iraq. To that end AR weekly reporting will focus upon those significant acts (combined with reporting on ISF and civilian deaths and casualties) and the underpinning political and social influences that combine to accurately reflect and assess the country security picture.