Iraq. During the year, the Iraqi military pushed the
Islamic State (IS) from much of the territory occupied by
the terrorist sect in 2014 and 2015. At the beginning of the
year, after a long offensive control over Ramadi, the
capital of the Sunni-dominated province of Anbar in the
west, was secured. The devastation of the city was reported
to be enormous, worse than anywhere else in Iraq so far.
Much was destroyed during eight months by the US-led
alliance's aerial bombings and Iraqi artillery field, and IS
blasted and destabilized many remaining buildings during its
Since Ramadi was captured, Iraqi forces surrounded
al-Falluja, on the road between Ramadi and Baghdad. In May,
an offensive was launched against the city and in June IS
was reported to have been driven away. Around 80,000
civilians fled from al-Fallujah during the fighting.
countryaah, the long-awaited offensive to take back Mosul, Iraq's
second largest city and IS's last major stronghold in Iraq,
began in October. In total, over 100,000 combatants were
estimated: Iraqi government soldiers, Kurdish peshmerga
forces, and mainly Shia Muslim militia groups. Support was
provided by the US-led alliance, which included some 60
nations, based on an air base six miles from the city. In
the first few weeks, more than 100 villages and small
communities were liberated outside the city and then the
attack was started against Mosul itself, where 1.5 million
residents are estimated to be located and perhaps 5,000 IS
The offensive against Mosul triggered a wave of
unprecedented suicide bombings - more than 100 suicide
bombers must have attacked the advancing soldiers over the
course of a few weeks. Often they used cars packed with
explosives that were driven at high speed to the enemy. IS
leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in a statement, ordered his
forces to stand and not retreat. There were reports that
tens of thousands of people were held as human shields in
Mosul and that IS warriors entrenched themselves in a
widespread network of tunnels under the city.
The fighting around Iraq triggered new refugee flows
during the year. In total, 3.8 million Iraqis were estimated
to have been displaced from their homes since IS proclaimed
its caliphate in 2014.
In addition to the fighting, IS carried out a long series
of terrorist attacks during the year, often by suicide
bombers and often with double-digit deaths. Iraq was the
country in the world most affected by terrorist activity.
The victims were often civilian Shia Muslims, whom the Sunni
Muslims in IS considered to be apostates. The deadliest
single act, which occurred in July, claimed the lives of 300
people when an explosive charge exploded in the Shi'ite
Muslim area of Karada in Baghdad.
In total, about 15,000 Iraqi civilians were estimated to
have been killed in acts of violence during the first eleven
months of the year.
After the terrorist attack in Karada, Interior Minister
Mohammed al-Ghabban resigned and later in July several
ministers left the government. In August, Defense Minister
Khaled al-Obeidi, who was suspected of corruption, was
deposed. The country thus stood without the regular chief of
defense for the Mosul offensive. A month later, Finance
Minister Hoshiyar Zebari was allowed to go, also accused of
bribery. It was considered to risk exacerbating the already
strained economic situation, with war economy, continued low
oil prices and a massive budget deficit. During the year,
Zebari had successfully negotiated with the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) for a billion loan in exchange for
economic reform. The settlement was expected to release a
total of $ 18 billion in aid over three years.
In October, Parliament voted unexpectedly through a ban
on import, manufacture and sale of alcohol, which was
justified by the fact that laws under the Constitution must
not conflict with Islam. Opponents appealed against the law,
claiming it constituted a violation of religious freedom.