Anbar


Covering Corruption “Exposes Journalists to Arrest”

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned the arrests to which two investigative reporters have been subjected in different parts of Iraq in the past few days in connection with their coverage of corruption, and calls for an end to the harassment of these journalists.

The latest victim was Mostafa Hamed, a reporter based in Fallujah, in the western province of Al Anbar, where he works for the local TV channel Sharqeya. He was arrested at his home at 2 a.m. on 9 June by policemen who did not tell him what he was charged with, and was finally released today without being charged.

According to the information gathered by the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO), RSF’s partner NGO in Iraq, Hamed had been investigating the involvement of Fallujah city hall leaders in a real estate scandal. Sharqeya is owned by Saad al Bazzaz, a local businessman and political rival of Al Anbar’s governor, who tried to get the TV channel closed last December.

The other recent victim is Hossam al Kaabi (pictured), a reporter based in Najaf, 180 km south of Baghdad, who has repeatedly been harassed in connection with his coverage of an alleged corruption case involving the Najaf provincial airport’s former governing board.

What with money, women and threats, every kind of method has been used in an attempt to silence his reporting on the case, he said. The corruption case is however by no means a secret. He has also been the target of dozens of legal actions. The latest method was an arrest warrant, which resulted in his having to pay the large sum of 15 million dinars (10,745 euros) in bail to obtain his release on 6 June.

The warrant was the result of a complaint filed by Najaf airport’s former administration four days after Kaabi’s main media outlet, the NRT network’s Arabic-language channel, was forced to close for financial reasons. Defended by a consortium of lawyers, Kaabi told RSF he is concerned about the outcome because of the lack of judicial independence in Iraq.

“These two arrest warrants highlight the different kinds of difficulties for journalists in Iraq, which not only include being unjustly prosecuted but also the risk of seeing your work used for the purposes of the political rivalry,” said Sophie Anmuth, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “The absurd proceedings against Hossam al Kaabi must be dropped and the authorities must do their duty to protect journalists who are the target of threats.”

As Kaabi points out on Facebook, in theory Iraqi law protects the right of journalists to seek information and sources. But in practice, as JFO has often reported, local officials act with impunity when they use judicial pressure and sometimes death threats to pressure journalists who investigate corruption.

Iraq is ranked 160th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

(Source: RSF)

Video: Iraq needs $90bn to Rebuild

From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Entire cities, including western Mosul and Ramadi, have been destroyed in the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group in Iraq.

The Iraqi government says large-scale reconstruction across the country hasn’t started yet because it doesn’t have the money.

About $90 billion is needed to rebuild the country after 15 years of war since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, but Iraq’s allies pledged only $30bn At a donor conference in February.

Al Jazeera‘s Charles Stratford reports from Iraq’s capital Baghdad:

US and Iran “Face Off” in Former Extremist-Held Town

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Locals in Al Qaim, Anbar, worry that the current stable security situation can’t last. It’s being upheld by US troops and Iran-allied militias, whose antipathy toward one another is becoming more overt all the time.

The people of Al Qaim, a town in the far west of Anbar province, near the border with Syria, is a much happier place these days. During the past three years of the security crisis, sparked by the extremist group known as the Islamic State, it was considered an important base for the group. It was often referred to as the Islamic State group’s secret capital.

“Compared to a year ago the security situation is stable,” says Abdul-Rahman Karbouli, a community leader in Al Qaim, based in the Rumana area. “A year ago, this was a distant dream because of the presence of the extremists. Today we can stay up late without fear and my son works in one of the dairy factories in the city.”

It sounds good but Karbouli says it may not last; there is a big problem brewing. He fears that Al Qaim will fall victim to a conflict between the US military and members of the Shiite Muslim militias. The latter are former volunteers who fought against the Islamic State, or IS, group, but who are now an official part of the state security forces.

“The Iraqi army and the militias are protecting us,” Karbouli says, “but we are hearing an increasing number of threats against the US from the Shiite militias in Anbar.”

Iraqi officials say that the US efforts in Anbar have been indispensable when it comes to securing the country’s porous borders with Syria, borders that allowed the IS fighters to come back and forth at will and which made Al Qaim such a good base for them. The Iraqi military has welcomed US troops. However the Shiite militias, who are doing some of the same work as the Iraqi and US military, are not as keen on the idea.

After the IS group was officially driven out of Al Qaim in November 2017, US troops were deployed to barracks on the outskirts of town, in an area dominated by Sunni Muslim tribes with social and tribal connections to Syrian tribes over the border – in particular the Karableh and Mahalawi clans. But at the same time, Shiite Muslim militias, with strong affiliations to Iran, were also deployed in the area, in what appeared to be a clandestine race for influence in the border area.

Both military groups have a shared objective: To keep the area clear of the IS group and its fighters. In fact, last week, after IS group attacks in Kirkuk and Salahaddin, the Iraqi air force struck locations inside Syria in an attempt to knock out IS cells. And US-Iraqi joint units were able to arrest four senior IS leaders in early May inside Al Qaim.

But there are also other apparent aims of the two anti-IS forces here. Iran has long sought to carve out areas of influence that would allow it an unobstructed path to the sea: Such a path would go through Syria and Iraq. The Shiite Muslim militias associated with Iran, which supplies funding, weapons and advisory, want to open that road. The US forces want to keep it shut.

“The information provided by the friendlies [the way that the Iraqi military describe the international coalition, including the US, fighting the IS group] obtained with their drones and other intelligence information is essential in helping us secure these long borders,” says Saad al-Obeidi, a sergeant with the Iraqi army’s 12th division.

But his division doesn’t just work with the US forces, they also deal with a Shiite Muslim militia in Anbar, the Tafouf Brigade. “The irony is that we are working with bitter rivals,” al-Obeidi says. “The US forces fear the Tafouf brigade in the city and the brigade wants the US forces to withdraw. Every time we meet either group, we hear the bad way they talk about each other.”

When the Iraqi government declared the end of fighting in Anbar, all the Shiite militias withdrew from the Sunni-majority province except the Al Tafouf brigade, stationed in Al Qaim. Its leader is Qassim Musleh, who was actually imprisoned by the US during its invasion of Iraq. He was jailed in a UK base in Basra for three years.

The brigade he commands now is one that split from the Ali Akbar fighting units, which are closely associated with the holy southern city of Karbala and Shia Islam’s highest authority in Iraq, Ali al-Sistani. As such, the Ali Akbar units were more pro-Iraq than pro-Iran. However Musleh was removed from the job, allegedly for mistakes made in battle, and founded a new militia, this time one that was more closely affiliated with Iran.

Mostly the Al Tafouf brigade has been working on removing improvised explosive devices left by the IS group on the roads and trying to ferret out sleeper cells that may still be hiding in the Al Qaim area. Last week, it announced that it had found a secret base belonging to the extremists on the outskirts of the city, complete with tunnels and weapons stores.

“Our brigade has good relations with the people of Al Qaim,” one of the Al Tafouf members, Abdul Amir al-Masoudi, told NIQASH in a phone interview. “But the brigade is not happy with the presence of US troops here. We would like them to leave the city and we believe they are actually supporting the terrorists.”

This is an old rumour that has been repeated many times by the Shiite militias opposed to the US presence in Iraq. As recently as last week, Shiite militia Facebook pages were posting clips of what they said was an American plane over Anbar. They said the plane was being used to transport IS fighters. The Iraqi government and the Ministry of Defence have denied the stories and tried to put a stop to the rumours but some Iraqis still believe the tall tales.

“The US forces, the Iraqi army and the Syrian army are coordinating to control the borders north of the Euphrates river,” a member of Anbar’s provincial council told NIQASH off the record. “The Syrian army and Shiite militias are in control of border areas south of the Euphrates river. It is a complicated but useful equation in terms of defending Anbar. But there is a chance it could all collapse because of tensions between the two groups,” the council member admitted.

“Anbar is always under threat from the extremists and we need the US to help us secure our borders,” he noted. “But we also need the militias to fight the extremists.”

Saudi Arabia eyes Anbar for Potential Investments

By Omar al-Jaffal for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

Saudi Arabia is considering investing in 2.5 million acres of agricultural land in Iraq’s western province of Anbar, which has suffered both economically and otherwise after the bitter war to regain control of the province from the Islamic State. If such an investment is made, it would be facilitated by the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council, which was formed in October.

The Iraqi Ministry of Commerce announced the potential investment in a brief statement to the press April 4, but did not disclose any further details on the matter.

Iraqi-Saudi relations have remarkably improved since mid-2017, particularly after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited Riyadh in October. During that visit, an announcement was made on establishing the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council, in the presence of Abadi, Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud and then US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The council aims to develop economic relations at all levels between Iraq and Saudi Arabia after nearly three decades of estrangement. It also seeks to open land borders, encourage investments, review the customs cooperation agreement and study the establishment of a trade zone.

The Ministry of Commerce’s media office declined to provide Al-Monitor with any details on the potential Saudi investment in Anbar.

However, Yahya al-Mohammadi, a member of the Anbar provincial council, told Al-Monitor that officials in Anbar were indeed in contact with the Saudi Embassy in Baghdad, adding, “Provincial officials have noticed a Saudi desire to broadly invest in Anbar.”

Meanwhile, Salman al-Ansari, chairman of the Washington-based Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee, told Al-Monitor that the investment project in Anbar “will be launched soon.”

A Iraqi political source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity about the nature of the investment project in Anbar, its economic feasibility, and all related security and political aspects.

The source said the prospective investment will largely be “in the area of Nukhayb, which lies on the borders of the province of Karbala and is also adjacent to the Saudi border.” The project “aims to build fields for breeding calves, as well as producing dairy products and drinking water.” Large dairy companies will likely be established, mimicking a number of successful projects in Saudi Arabia.

The source did not deny the security objectives behind the project. “This area is lacking in security,” he said. “It is located on Saudi Arabia’s border, and the two countries are trying to turn it into a labor-intensive business center, which brings stability to it rather than it posing a permanent threat to both countries.”

He said that, politically, “Saudi Arabia certainly seeks to expand in Iraq, but will not follow the Iranian example, which occupies the Iraqi market without employing the labor force in Iraq.” Saudi Arabia, he said, “seeks soft dominance in Iraq by creating jobs for Iraqis,” which will make its “presence and influence in the political scene acceptable within the Iraqi society.”

Nukhayb has long been a disputed area between Anbar and Karbala. Nukhayb is administratively affiliated with Anbar province, but Karbala demands that it be annexed to its administrative borders. Security tension is common there, but the area has been relatively stable for nearly two years now.

Mohammadi denied “an actual start of investment operations in Anbar.” He said, “Saudi Arabia and Iraq only discussed the projects put forward,” noting that “this is due to the security and political instability in Iraq.”

In fact, not many political forces and Shiite factions welcome the idea of Saudi Arabia coming to Iraq and establishing business operations there. This rejection was demonstrated in March, when the media reported an upcoming visit to Iraq by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and, in response, Shiite factions and parties organized protests in a number of cities in Iraq.

Some Iraqi parliamentarians from Shiite blocs are seeking to pass a law similar to the American Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act to sue Saudi Arabia for allegedly allowing its citizens to enter Iraq and commit acts of terrorism on its territory.

Mohammadi ruled out the possibility that this would intimidate Saudi Arabia and stop it from launching projects in Anbar. “The Iranian-Saudi conflict has a wide impact on the countries of the region,” he said, “but Iraq’s neutral policy has been boding well so far, and I hope it continues to achieve what is in the interest of Iraq.”

Addressing whether Saudi Arabia fears for its investments in Iraq from pro-Iranian factions, Ansari said, “Saudi Arabia does not fear anyone and is capable of protecting its interests by all means, be it in the region or anywhere in the world.”

Iraq needs a very balanced policy in dealing with its conflicting neighbors Iran and Saudi Arabia, a fact that ought to be taken into account when either of these two countries wants to invest in Iraq, especially since both Iran and Saudi Arabia believe that investments are also a gateway to influence Iraq’s political situation.

Oil Ministry Offers 3 Refineries for Investment

By John Lee.

Iraq’s Ministry of Oil has invited international companies to bid for three new oil refineries, to be build on BOOT or BOO bases:

  1. Kut, in Wasit governorate, with a capacity of 100,000 bpd;
  2. Hadeetha, in Anbar governorate, with a capacity of 70,000 bpd;
  3. Diwaniya governorate, with a capacity of 70,000 bpd.

(Source: Ministry of Oil)

Locals Criticise Uncoordinated, Propaganda-Happy Reconstruction Efforts

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

By Kamal al-Ayash.

The authorities are spending a lot of money on reconstruction in the Anbar province. But locals are complaining, saying basic needs are not being fulfilled and the rest is just window dressing.

When you arrive in the major Anbar cities of Fallujah or Ramadi, you would be forgiven for thinking that reconstruction is well under way. But if you head out of the city centres and check the residential neighbourhoods you will see disconnected power lines and broken water pipes, as well as those who live here working outdoors, trying to fix such things.

Many Anbar locals, who were displaced by the extremist group known as the Islamic State, have now returned to their homes.

“In January 2018, for the first time in more than three years, there were more returnees than internally displaced people,” the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration reported recently. Thanks to improving conditions, Anbar province has seen the largest number of returnees in Iraq, the organization noted.

Many of those who returned say they came back because the Iraqi government told them there would be a swift return to normality and reconstruction. However many of the locals who have come back have found that although there is reconstruction, the authorities undertaking it seem to have some misplaced priorities and that they must provide for themselves, rather than wait for the government to fix things.

Ahmad Abdul-Hamid, 43, has just finished fixing up his barber shop in Fallujah. He was ready to open again but found he could not get to his premises because the municipal authorities were removing and replacing the sidewalks. This kind of work is impressive and shows that the authorities care about the citizens, Abdul-Hamid says, but their timing was off. They should ask the people here what they need and want, and prioritize that, he argues.

“The sidewalks that are being removed and replaced have no real impact on our lives. It wouldn’t have mattered if they had not been reconstructed for years,” Abdul-Hamid said, adding that he would have preferred to see the water and sewage networks fixed first, because these are things that actually endanger people’s lives.

“The money seems to be being spent in an unplanned, uncoordinated way,” Abdul-Hamid complains. “It should be used to compensate those who are still living in tents, in the middle of the rubble that was once their home.”

Locals say it is true that dozens of reconstruction projects have been completed. But they believe that at least some of these have been finished at the expense of their own basic needs.

Another Fallujah local, Jihad al-Dulaimi, 44, tells NIQASH that when he asked the city council for new wiring for power cables so he could fix his own electricity supply, he was told that there was no budget for this. Al-Dulaimi was angry and replied that they had somehow got enough funds to renovate their own council offices.

“Working in this way, the government is disregarding the real needs of the people here,” he says. “We don’t want to see huge sums spent on projects that are clearly not urgent and which could be postponed.”

Al-Dulaimi also questioned why efforts were being made to build a new park when bridges were still damaged and new sidewalks painted, when the streets were impassable.

Many Fallujah residents share that opinion. They believe that officials are embarking on easy-to-complete projects that make them look good, just in time for federal elections in May.

It’s not that we are not appreciative, says Mahdi al-Halbusi, a 51-year-old living in Ramadi, but “it feels like the authorities are decorating the outside of a house, in which nobody can live because the insides are so damaged”.

He and his family returned to Ramadi over a year ago and he feels as though a lot of the completed projects have just been attempts at image making. “Nothing has really changed, the situation is still tragic, since we returned,” he says.

Al-Halbusi says he likes walking around some areas, where there are new, coloured pavements and where the government offices and other nearby buildings look so nice. But that feeling gives way to dismay as soon as he enters any of the residential areas.

“I used to think my mother was the only person who would prepare the house for visitors by putting away our everyday things and bringing out the best,” he jokes. “After the visitors left, we would go back to normal, with everything back in its usual place. That is exactly what it feels like in this city now.”

UXO Clearance leads way to Normal Future

UNMAS Iraq ‘Clearance Mission’ Seen as ‘Tipping Point’ Between Past Conflict and a Normal Future

Lives and livelihoods in Iraq’s liberated areas are being restored at long last.

In Fallujah, as many as 1,800 vehicles and 100 pedestrians per hour can cross the re-opened ‘new bridge’ linking Baghdad with Al-Anbar Province. The fibre optic cable connecting more than 3,000 customers with Baghdad has been restored. The Jadidah fuel station, which had been closed for three years, now pumps an average of more than 31,000 litres for 300 vehicles per day.

In Mosul, the Al Qaysoor Water Treatment Plant has resumed providing clean and safe water to more than 300,000 customers across 34 service areas. The High Court can access deeds to validate land claims of residents returning to Ninewa Province. Valuable medical equipment, removed for safekeeping, awaits rehabilitation of a hospital in Mosul.

None of this progress would have been possible without infrastructure first being cleared of the explosive threats posed by debris of past conflicts and devices left by retreating ISIL forces, thus allowing the Government of Iraq, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the International Community to carry out the necessary rehabilitation work.

“We had almost lost all hope,” said Mr. Ali, manager of the Jadidah fuel station, speaking for its 20 employees. “We expected that the station would be blown up,” and it might well have been. United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS)-directed teams safely removed 34 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) weighing a total of 435 kg from the station premises. “You (UNMAS) gave us our jobs back,” he said.

“We eliminate threats along roads, under bridges, from power and water plants, from schools, from critical infrastructure, so that those displaced by conflict can return to their homes, begin again to work, to educate their children, to contribute to society, to live a normal life,” said Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Senior Programme Manager, prior to the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq.

Lodhammar says conference outcomes will help UNMAS to set priorities working in collaboration with the Government and other agencies supporting Iraq’s reconstruction. All infrastructure is important, but the sequencing of clearance missions itself is complex and the UNMAS top priority, Lodhammar says. “What comes first on our list in turn affects all other rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts ‘downstream’,” he says. “So, we always begin with a joint-assessment to establish our priorities.”

He cites the current UNMAS work to clear Fallujah’s power grid serving two areas outside of the city. As of December 2017, UNMAS-directed teams had searched nearly 34 km² along power lines and cleared 580 explosive devices. When the UNMAS work finishes, repair crews can begin restoring power to as many as 60,000 people and seven schools.

UNMAS-directed partners working at the community level, village level, even the ‘well level’ make a difference on a daily basis, Lodhammar says.

In Al Bokald, villagers spoke of the ground as their enemy. “We could not walk for fear that something would explode in our faces,” said one. Today, with explosive devices cleared, 20 families again have access to a well and water for their own needs and to grow their crops.

The story confirms for Lodhammar the need, primacy and urgency of the clearance mission as shared by all agencies engaged in Iraq’s reconstruction. “We have to do our job, safely, quickly and well so others can do theirs.”

In 2018, the mine action sector requires 216 million USD to respond to the rehabilitation efforts of retaken areas and critical needs in access to basic and municipal services, education and health of returning civilians. In the Reconstruction and Development Framework (RDF) presented at the Kuwait Conference, the Government of Iraq will prioritize the clearance of explosive hazards to enable the reconstruction of Iraq and support of accountable governance, reconciliation and peace building, social and human development and economic development.

(Source: UNAMI)

Security Forces hang on to Homes they Requisitioned

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

By Kamal al-Ayash.

In Anbar, Security Forces Hang Onto Private Homes They Requisitioned

During fighting against the Islamic State group, it was necessary for security forces to occupy private property in Anbar’s cities. But now the security forces appear reluctant to give back the homes they took over.

The argument went like this: Without establishing checkpoints and headquarters for security staff in residential areas, security cannot be guaranteed in the cities once controlled by the extremist group known as the Islamic State.

And so fortified houses and other suburban buildings became a common sight in cities of the Anbar province, a Sunni-Muslim-majority area where the extremists had controlled many of the major cities. The argument that these bases were necessary was also one advanced by less-official military groups, such as the formerly-volunteer Shiite Muslim militias and the anti-extremist forces set up by local often-Sunni Muslim tribes.

The homes and offices had security gates installed, were surrounded by barbed wire and roads leading toward them were blocked off. The security forces based in Anbar say converting the residences gives them an opportunity to protect the city without having to build whole new premises and it also means they can be in the best possible position in each city.

At first the bases in ordinary neighbourhoods were considered temporary. But now, even after the Islamic State, or IS, group, has been driven out of the province, the bases appear to have become more permanent. Even though Anbar’s local councils say that there’s an agreement with the various security forces that they will vacate the private property over the next few months, it doesn’t seem to be happening the way it is supposed to.

Senior security staff at Fallujah’s police department say that the houses security forces are still occupying now are those that were used by the IS group for their headquarters, or were also property belonging to the leaders of the IS group. Any other houses used by security forces were returned to the owners once the IS group was banished.

“When we get requests from citizens who want to return to their houses we vacate the property and that usually takes between one and two weeks,” says Jamal al-Jumaili, the chief of police in Fallujah. “But we do check whether the security records of the citizens are clean.”

And this is where problems arise. Proving a “clean” security record can be difficult. Some locals even suspect that local militia groups occupying their houses are promulgating suspicions against them, so they don’t have to give up the property.

Anbar local, Mathar al-Halbusi, says he has tried several times to return to his home in Fallujah. The last time the 65-year-old, who lives with his family in camp for displaced people south of the city, tried to return he was surprised to find that his house was guarded and encircled with barbed wire: It had become one of the new bases.

“I tried to go in, but I was not allowed to,” he told NIQASH. “Later I was told that the house was being used by tribal militias and they had taken it over because it belongs to a criminal family.”

Al-Halbusi told NIQASH that his son had disappeared several years ago and that gossip in the neighbourhood had it that the man had joined the extremists. Al-Halbusi said his son was dead although he had no idea where.

In Ramadi, it seems that some of the militias have taken over property even though the families to whom the buildings belonged had no blemish on their records.

Local man Firas al-Dulaimi says he has tried to return to his house in the Soufiyah neighbourhood in the suburbs of Ramadi but that the residence is occupied by security personnel. Al-Dulaimi says he’s tried and failed several times to get a security clearance, that would show that he has no connections with any extremist groups and would allow him to get his house back.

“I’ve tried so hard to prove my innocence but every time I do, I am newly accused of treachery,” he says. “My latest attempt to return home also failed and in fact I was threatened by members of the militias. Now I have to stay in a camp and wait for the government to do something, to help those of us who are oppressed and who are helpless.”

Anbar eyes Political Battle as Displaced Return

By Shelly Kittleson for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

Two months after government forces retook Iraq’s last major city from the Islamic State (IS), the country is preparing for parliamentary elections slated for May.

Anbar, its largest and westernmost region, is where IS took control of its first Iraqi city in January 2014. Fighters from the international terrorist group are reportedly still hiding in parts of its vast desert.

How the shift from fighting a terrorist group with roots in the area to competition at the political level plays out will affect the years to come.

Provincial Gov. Mohamed al-Halbusi, who took office in the fall, told Al-Monitor that voter turnout had been very low in the province for many years due to the fear of insurgents but that he expected this to change in the upcoming elections.

Local officials, security forces and a tribal leader echoed that sentiment to Al-Monitor over a number of days in the province in early January. “About 85%” of the province’s inhabitants are home, Halbusi said, and “I think about 60% of them will vote.”

However, with many of the displaced still not back in their homes, some have called for the elections to be postponed.

Recent reports of forced returns from internally displaced person (IDP) camps scattered around the Sunni-dominant Anbar region and elsewhere in the country have also raised concern.

In an interview in Ramadi, provincial police chief Gen. Hadi Rizej Kessar told Al-Monitor, “We decided to close all IDP camps and send families back to their homes because the security is now good. But if we have some families that remain in the camps, we can arrange for them to vote inside the camps.”