Iraq- December 2022
Heightened security challenges amid several deadly attacks by the Islamic State
Multiple attacks by the Islamic State (IS) were recorded in December across Iraq, claiming the life of numerous soldiers and civilians and marking a clear escalation in violence. Although Iraq declared in 2017 that IS had been officially defeated, remnants of the group continue to carry out attacks in remote areas toward the centre of the country and stretching toward areas claimed by both the central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government. The terrorist attacks were the first major security development under Iraq’s new government. Amid the escalation of ongoing insurgency in the country, prime minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani announced intensified efforts by Iraqi security forces to pursue the defeated terrorist elements. Despite extensive counterterrorism operations, IS attacks remain a serious security challenge for the Iraqi government and deteriorating security situation in the country.
Activists in Iraq sentenced to prison for criticism of security forces
On 5 December, a criminal court in Baghdad sentenced an Iraqi activist to three years in prison for a tweet that mocked and criticized Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis, former head of the government-salaried paramilitary organization Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). The sentence, which follows a number of arrests targeting activists, sparked anti-government demonstrations. At least three protesters were shot dead and several injured as Iraqi security forces responded with deadly violence. Human rights groups have criticized the prison sentence and expressed concerns regarding the alarming escalation of legal threats against civil society and use of the justice system as a tool to suppress peaceful criticism by Iraqi authorities.