RileySENTINEL Country Risk Report: Iraq

RileySENTINEL Country Risk Report: Iraq

Photo by أخٌ‌في‌الله / Unsplash

Last Update: June 6, 2023

Assessed Risk Level: High

SEO Description: This report offers a comprehensive analysis of Iraq's political, security, operational, environmental, and health risks.

Government and Political Context

Iraq's threat dynamics include armed conflict, terrorism, civil unrest, and crime. Geopolitical tensions escalated post a US airstrike killing Iran's top security commander, Qassem Suleimani, in 2020. Iran-backed Shiite groups are likely to continue targeting US interests, advocating for US withdrawal from the region. Control over areas captured by IS in 2014 has been reclaimed by government forces. Still, IS remains a significant threat, conducting terror attacks in major cities, including Baghdad. Civil unrest demanding political reform forced Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi's resignation, with Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi taking over in May 2020. The protest movement is expected to continue as calls for reforms persist.

Security Overview

Increased anti-US sentiment following the US airstrike in 2020 sees Iran-backed Shiite groups actively targeting US military and diplomatic interests. Insurgents continue to face international coalition forces in northern and eastern Iraq. Notably, Baghdad, including the International Zone and Baghdad International Airport, experience regular mass fatality attacks. Travelers lacking robust personal security measures are at severe risk from criminal activities like car-jacking, kidnapping, and robbery. Protests often escalate into violence, with ongoing unrest from October 2019 resulting in the prime minister's resignation and a political stalemate until May 2020.

General Operational Assessment

The safety of aircraft and airports can be compromised by conflict and terrorism. Numerous carriers have suspended operations, and flight schedules can change abruptly. Land transportation is hampered due to insecurity, necessitating private arrangements and armed protection. Iraq's infrastructure has suffered from prolonged wars and economic sanctions, leading to poorly maintained and underdeveloped electricity, water, and sewerage sectors.

Environmental Hazards

Iraq's hot, dry climate causes heavy rainfall that can lead to flooding, and dust storms disrupting travel. In northern and western Iraq, insurgents have planted hundreds of IEDs, and the border areas with Turkey and Iran are heavily mined.

Health and Medical Considerations

Health facilities in major cities are limited and are practically non-existent in remote areas. Healthcare quality is substandard due to instability. Better healthcare facilities are found in Iraqi Kurdistan, particularly Erbil. Serious health issues or emergencies necessitate medical evacuation to regions with appropriate facilities, like the United Arab Emirates or Europe. Tap water is unsafe to drink, and pharmacies in remote areas are limited and basic.

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