This is December’s edition of my south Iraq SIGACT monitoring report covering the provinces of Basra, Maysan, Dhi Qar, and Muthanna. December has seen a further uptick in activity across several categories. Monitoring captured a total of 88 incidents (up from 66 in November and from 42 in October).
Of particular note in December was a spate of incidents targeting energy sector sites in Maysan and Basra. On 4 December an IED was discovered and deactivated at the entrance to Halfiyah oil field in Maysan run by Chinese firm CNPC (not previously targeted). On the same day security forces dealt with an incident involving two mobile phone activated IEDs that were discovered and deactivated at the bridge entry point to the Basra Oil Company’s Ratawi oil field. On 5 December security forces discovered and deactivated an unspecified number of IEDs placed on road to south Rumaila oil field. The photos of the IEDs reveal them to be near identical devices in each case. There does not seem to have been lethal intent behind placing the devices, suggesting the motivation was intimidation.
On 4 December there was also an incident in which a group of armed men opened fire on a Lukoil site at West Qurna. Meanwhile, on 7 December two sound grenades were used in attack on a nearby oil facility north of al-Huwair. These incidents are almost certainly linked to tribal extortion tactics.
On 15 December more than 15 armed men raided South Oil Refinery company offices seeking to exert pressure on a tender contract process. The gunmen remained in the office for 3 hours without any response for security forces. Local security sources point to Sadrist militia Saraya al-Salam as being behind the raid.
While all these incidents could well be connected to local tribal and militia activity, this remains an unusually active month in terms of attacks and attempted attacks on energy sector sites in south Iraq.
Protest activity has also continued to gather pace, particularly in Basra where there have been near constant demonstrations outside the new temporary government building in al-Ma’qil in the north of the city. However, these protests remain fairly small and sector-contained at this stage with nothing like the protest that occurred in the summer taking place.
As with other recent posts, I am currently focusing on trying to get my PhD thesis drafted and so only have time for this minimal analysis. The map and data for the month can, however, be explored below as usual.
SIGACT MAP: South Iraq December 2018 (Click “View larger map” for full functionality)
PIVOT TABLE: South Iraq December 2018